I'm writing a book and I want to write a chapter where the antagonist beats the protagonist and, well, I want to imply that he rapes her without really writing details about him raping her or writing anything too explicit. How might I do that? What vocabulary should I use for this?

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    I'm afraid this question will lead to answers that are very subjective to the sensitivity of the one who replies. Let alone being answers on "what to write" rather than the suggestions you are looking for.
    – FraEnrico
    Jul 4, 2018 at 6:57
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    Welcome to Writing.SE! I am afraid we don't do "What should I write?" requests here, which means that you are on your own for this problem. I am voting to close this question as off-topic. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun!
    – Secespitus
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:05

3 Answers 3


I want to imply that he rapes her without really writing details about him raping her or writing anything too explicit

Don't write the scene. Just write the lead up to it, and then afterwards. Each character should have a very different "opinion" of the event, he-said-she-said, so the reader will have to work it out, and nothing is worse than their imagination.

Like a monster movie, never show the whole monster. Just show bits and glimpses half hidden in the dark.

  • +1. While many works of fiction are dealing with this subject, it's very rare to see a full scene written up.
    – Alexander
    Jul 5, 2018 at 20:53

Talk to someone who has been raped, and ask them what it is that they did afterwards / what went through their mind / what the scene was like.

There are various voices your narrative can take - pain, confusion, horror, even humor. All can be utilized well here, but for all of them I would advise making sure that they do not come off as fabricated or fake. This may seem flippant (not my intent), but there isn't a correct rape vocabulary. This is about understanding it as best you can, and fitting it to the narrative's voice.

  • Yes, tearing up old wounds is exactly what I should do! Jul 4, 2018 at 10:08
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    @Mephistopheles If you don't know how to have a conversation without forcing one, then I would suggest searching for written recollections on the internet instead. But talking to a real person is generally better, if you have that skill.
    – Misha R
    Jul 4, 2018 at 16:31
  • ...and that person. I mean, it's still impractical, written recollections sound better. Jul 4, 2018 at 17:34
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    @Mephistopheles Talking to people about their experiences is a critical skill for writers. One-on-one conversation gives you control over the kind of information you get, the tone of the conversation, and its exclusivity. It does not depend on the victim's writing skill. It allows you to read body language and tone of voice. If they're someone you know, it gives you intuitive access to them. An internet search is easier than a conversation, but rape is a tough subject. It's better to make sure you understand it before you write about it.
    – Misha R
    Jul 4, 2018 at 18:07

I'd have her use language like "She couldn't focus on what was happening. She couldn't focus on the pain, the thrusting pain, the violation. The guilt. Not that. It was easier to think about the ceramic floor tiles, the ones that she had chosen when her cousin was in town. The man had said this line picked up the color of the paint, and they had, he'd been right about that. But they were so hard, and cold, and were supposed to be stain resistant but she wasn't sure. The grout wasn't. The coffee she'd spilled that morning, that was probably right underneath her. She thought about that. She needed a new bottle of bleach."

Of course, more than this, so that it does not come off as dismissive. But the idea of dissociation can work to your benefit.

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