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Rape As Back Story

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A popular way to establish a character as having a motivation for their depression, angst, distrust of others, and other anti-social tendencies is to have the revelation that they were raped at some point. About 95% of the characters given this treatment are female, but there are still cases of male characters (although even that is predominantly by other men).

It is extremely common in bad fanfiction. What better justification could your Sympathetic Sue have for her boundless angst than having been raped? If given almost no weight to the story, it's because Rape Is The New Dead Parents.

That said, there is some Truth in Television to this trope, considering that rape is an extremely traumatic event and can cause serious mental illness and psychological repercussions. The fact that some writers use it to cheap effect for drama is not thought of highly.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


Anime and Manga

  • Though it's only a part of his backstory as a Child Soldier, Guts of Berserk had to deal with rape as a kid at the hands of one of the soldiers of his adoptive father's band, which among other things informs his reluctance to be touched by others.
    • Part of a joke in Berserk Abridged has Casca telling Guts about the time she met Griffith, who saved her from being raped by a nobleman. Guts, in response tells her that his backstory is a bit different.
  • Guts: "And do you know who showed up just in the nick of time, and gave me a sword and a blanket, and taught me to believe in myself?"
    Casca: "Was it Jesus?"
    Guts: NOBODY!
    • That joke is amusing, but could have been played for drama just as easily.
    • Guts' love interest Casca also serves as an example. In her case, she has angst because she was almost raped. And then it happened for real during the Eclipse, and it broke her.
  • Just about all the works in the Nasuverse. Kohaku (Tsukihime), Sakura Matou (Fate/Stay Night), and Fujino Asagami (Kara no Kyoukai). Yes, they all went crazy, really crazy.
  • Legato Bluesummers from the Trigun manga was shown to have been raped by the mayor of the town he was living in, and it definitely didn't help his view that all humans (including himself) are disgusting and must be exterminated.
    • Not just that: he seems to have been being kept as a sex slave his whole life. Nobody even bothered to name him. He'd just been found out in his ongoing plan to kill the entire town with his mind control powers and therefore Hideous Mayor was apparently raping him to death this time. Then Knives saved him. Accidentally, but still. Knives saved him.
    • Why he couldn't kill the mayor (was it a mayor?) with his mind control powers is another question. Possibly the whole town were psychics, or accustomed to dealing with psychics, and they shut him down. Possibly he had long since developed a psychological block against defending himself—abuse can do that kind of thing. Or maybe his powers simply weren't strong enough back then, or he was too young/inexperienced to fully use them. At any rate, he has a serious self-harm thing going later on. Except in the anime, where this may not be his backstory and he just has a more elegant self-loathing thing. (If Wolfwood can lose the human experimentation and Knives can lose the good Freudian Excuse between media, Legato can lose the rape.)
  • In Hellsing, it's heavily implied that Alucard, aka Vlad Tepes Dracul of Wallachia was sexually abused as a child during his time spent as a political hostage for his father under the Ottoman Empire by the sultan.
    • in the backstory of Seras, she actually witnessed a rape and was horribly screwed up by that. More exactly, she saw her mother being killed and raped. Yup, in that order.
  • Genkaku from Deadman Wonderland was revealed to have been beaten and raped by a group of bullies who hung around the temple. It was definitely a contributing factor for making him Ax Crazy.
  • In Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Three boys [[Attempted Rape|attempted] to rape Rena, who still went under the name Reina, at her old school. These are the same boys she beat with a bat when she was at a certain level of Hinamizawa Syndrome.
  • Kira of Mars was raped by her stepfather during or shortly before middle school. She became averse to male touch and shy to the point of muteness. When her mother asked the stepfather back into their home, Kira did not react well.
  • The manga Asa mo, hiru mo, yoru mo does this with the heroines backstory, with the main pllot being that a guy she has to work with for school looks like her rapist. IT'S PLAYED FOR LAUGHS.
  • In a male example, the manga/anime Yami No Matsuei has the reveal of Dr. Muraki having impulsively raped thirteen-year-old Hisoka, then cursed him so that he slowly and painfully died over the course of three years as major character development for both of them. Made particularly painful by Hisoka being an empath who can feel other people's emotions especially strongly through physical contact, to the extent that Tsuzuki grabbing him when he's upset causes Hisoka to scream, making it a sort of Mind Rape too.
    • Extra points for 1) the heavy implication later on that Muraki's mother molested him and 2) the possibly-accidental revelation that twelve-year-old Muraki Kazutaka looked frighteningly identical to little Hisoka. So...yeah, he was working out his own backstory issues there, too.
    • After the Queen Camelia arc, in which Hisoka was actually both competent and effective, (though the trauma of having to kill the girl he liked seems to have messed him up some more, based on how he freezes the next time he has to face his nemesis), he meditates on his fear of becoming Muraki if he isn't careful, of 'losing to the Muraki in him.' There seems to be some tenuous connection to the rape here, at least in many readers' minds.
      • Muraki started as the Foil to Tsuzuki, but flexibly fills this role for Hisoka in a different way and even Tatsumi in another over the course of the story. The fact that Muraki never loses and frequently wins makes him a very depressing villain.
  • Bitter Virgin's main plot revolves around this: the titular Bitter Virgin was raped repeatedly by her stepfather. Her mother kicked him out (by chasing him out with a kitchen knife) after Hinako got pregnant for the second time.
  • Altena from Noir. A flashback shows her as a pre-teen girl, walking aimlessly with her doll in the middle of a battle zone. Then a soldier grabs her, and the doll falls to the ground...
  • Gravitation has Yuki, although the main trauma was the self-defense.
  • Oyuki of Lady Snowblood wasn't raped in her backstory, but her primary motivation is revenge for her mother, whose family was murdered by four men who then proceeded to rape her. The mother took vengeance upon the first of the men, but got thrown in prison before she could take out the rest, and had to charge the daughter she had in prison with the task of killing the rest.
  • Tsubaki Kasugano aka the 6th Diary Holder from Mirai Nikki. Blame the Religion of Evil that kept her imprisoned as their sex toy.
    • She also tries to use rape to get at Yukki and Yuno, ordering her followers to strip and gang-rape the latter (then their prisioner) to try lure the first out. It works... just not as she expected it to, as Yukki manages to destroy her Diary.
  • Satellizer from Freezing was molested by her half-brother.
  • Extreme, the fourth manga series of Bondage Fairies, reveals that eternally-horny heroine Pamila was molested - and beaten - as a child.
  • Chizuru "Chizu" Honda from Bokurano, particularly in the manga. Long story short, Hatagai is a bastard.
  • While it is not clear that it was entirely non-consensual, Sawa (from Kite) as a young teen was at the very least the victim of statutory rape by her guardian Akai as part of his plan to brainwash her into being his personal assassin. Given her treatment at the beginning of the ova, as well as his inclination against ever taking "no" for an answer, one can assume that he raped her more than that throughout her life.
  • Nakago, the Big Bad from Fushigi Yuugi was taken to the palace of Kutou when he was 11 years old (and then known as Ayuru) because he was one of the long sought-after Seiryuu warriors. The emperor looks at him, and says, "He's pretty. Like a girl.". Then proceeds to instruct his servants to bathe Ayuru and bring him to the emperor's chambers. The next scene is Ayuru lying on a bed, naked, on the verge of tears.
    • Also Soi, who was a child prostitute subjected to years of sexual abuse until Nakago rescued her.
  • Alois, from Kuroshitsuji, the second season. It's not said outright, but, it's implied in the first episode, with his nude, bruised body getting up from a bed with an equally naked old man. Said old man, who, may or may not be his father. The times add up to when Alois got his contract and when his father died.
    • As of episode 8, it's confirmed, although it turns out that Alois is not related to the man but is rather one of several young boys picked up as Sex Slaves to the earl. In addition, he had to pose as Earl Trancy's son too...
  • In Kaze To Ki No Uta, Gilbert, Rosemariné, and Auguste all have this to varying degrees.
  • In Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest, Aoshika-sensei was sexually assaulted when she was a highschool student, and later is violently gangraped by Big Bad Haguro and his Yakuza goons.
  • In Ikki Tousen, Ten'i (Dian Wei) was repeteadly raped by her father first. After she killed him and was acquitted of said murder, she was raped again - this time, by The Libby of her school and her Girl Posse.

Comic Books

  • This seems to be the backstory of Hawkeye of the Young Avengers. She was assaulted and strongly hinted to have been sexually molested while walking home one night. She decided to deal with the trauma by taking up a bow and arrow and fencing, dressing up in purple, and beating up aliens and criminals. Her therapist approves.
  • The Black Cat had rape retconned into her backstory, making her similar to the Young Hawkeye version, and removing her freewheeling adventuress origin in favor of a rape victim who turned burglar as a displaced reaction to her attack.
    • Many fans were furious as it changed a major portion of the character which people loved, and it didn't win Kevin Smith any fans. His years' long delay in writing the series didn't help matters either.
      • Nor the fact that he was singularly unapologetic for it and actually had the audacity to say that the delay meant it was a "better" story. The implications for the story if it had been released on time thus become somewhat terrifying.
  • And then there's Frank Miller's infamous retcon of Catwoman, which gave the classy catburglar a background as a dominatrix.
    • Speaking of comics, if this trope is true, imagine the next Batman retcon...
    • Already happened. Where do you think Damien Wayne/al Ghul came from? An old story where he slept with and fathered a child by Talia al Ghul was retconned into being canon...except Talia had actually drugged him. Ayup.
      • But everyone knows that [[Rape Is OK When It Is Female On Male]!
      • In the actual story where they conceive Damien, not only was Bruce walking and talking normally, they'd been married by Ra's (that's where the drugs came into play). Of course, Grant Morrison was unaware that Zero Hour was supposed to have retconned Damien away, so who knows how clear his mind "really was" that night?
  • Red Sonja became the Bad Ass warrior she did partly out of a reaction to being raped when she was a girl.
  • Bleez of the Red Lanterns was ganged raped by Sinestro Corps members in a creepy Rape Is Love kind of way, at least it goes with the current theme that all Red Lanterns are victims.
  • Lady Bullseye from Daredevil. She was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by the Yakuza, before being accidentally freed by Bullseye, which inspired her to become an assassin like him.
  • Uncanny X-Men #434 lists this as the reason for the villainess' "Take Over the World" plan, on the last page. Linkara comments on the poor construction of the story here: [1]
  • As revealed in New Mutants #1, Thai pirates attacked Karma's family on her way from Vietnam to the United States, raped her and her mother, and killed her father. Her mother died soon afterwards.
  • Whiteout. The US Marshall protagonist is Reassigned To Antarctica after she kills a prisoner who tried to rape her. This event and the death of her husband is shown as the reason for her emotional distance.
  • Gamora (seen in in Warlock and the Infinity Watch, among others) was raised and trained by death-worshipper Thanos of Titan after she was orphaned. When she runs away while they're on a trip, she's beaten and raped by a group of thugs, which provides the impetus for Thanos to rebuild her stronger and more powerful than she was before.
  • Parodied by Garth Ennis in The Boys when Vouight-American attempt to revamp Starlight's back story. This may be a direct parody of the Black Cat story mentioned above.
  • Ultimate Comics Avengers pulled this one out as for the backstory of the second Wasp. Promising scientist, married to an activist, has a baby. Great life, right? Then the Red Skull shows up, because he's working for the side the husband is protesting against. The scientist, forced to choose between her husband and child, kills her husband, only for the Skull to toss her baby out a third story window, then allow his men to gangrape her. She ended up going into bioterrorism, before being caught by the US government, brain-chipped to make her comply with orders, and put on Fury's new black ops team.
  • Copperhead of Teen Titans spinoff Terror Titans is a rare male recipient of this, being molested and forced into prostitution as a boy. Naturally, as a teenager his ability to form personal attachments is extremely stunted.
  • The original "The Crow" comic (1989) by J. O'Barr.
    • Eric and Shelley are attacked by a violent criminal gang on the side of a rural road. Eric is shot in the head and Shelley is raped, killed, and raped again. This incident is the catalyst for Eric's resurrection one year later.
    • Unlike many examples, Shelley is a fairly well-developed character. While her motives all seem to revolve around her boyfriend/fiance, Eric, she has a personality, and through flashbacks, the reader comes to know her in retrospect. She also remains present in the story as a spirit or hallucination.
    • Another example of "I Am Awesome Because I'm Avenging My Dead/Raped Girlfriend." Though Shelley fairs better than most plot-device girlfriends, she remains a footnote in Eric's transformation.

Fan Fic

  • In a "Wicked Lovely" fanfic, this is implied for Ren. Here it is
  • In "The Other Side Of The Curtain", a LOTR real-people fic, the Mary Sue confesses to her true love Orlando Bloom that she was raped by her brother. This plot element serves no purpose than to give her a reason not to invite her family to their wedding.


  • In the original Japanese novel that inspired The Ring (and its various remakes,) Sadako is raped by Nagao Jotaro - who finds out too late (and to his horror) that she suffers Testicular Feminization Syndrome, which gives her a healthy set of testes. Ashamed and humiliated, she retaliates with a massive telepathic attack, but he overcomes her long enough to strangle her and toss her down the infamous well. Sadako's vengeance against the world therefore stems from that incident.
  • Esmay Suiza in Once a Hero by Elizabeth Moon was raped as a kid. That, and even more how her family handles it, gives her major personal issues to work through. She does seek therapy by the end of the book.
  • Not exactly fitting the trope (move it if you know a better category): In one The Destroyer book, a minor antagonist sincerely believes that it is not only the right, but the duty, of a true man to have sex with a woman when the opportunity presents itself, regardless of what she feels about it. He even adds that he's raped several lesbians just to "show them what they're missing out on". This serves to establish, very heavy-handedly, how utterly morally bankrupt the character is, so you'll cheer when the protagonists kill him in gristly fashion later.
  • Forms part of the back stories for the James Bond heroines Honey Ryder (Dr. No) and Pussy Galore (Goldfinger).
  • Germain from Eric Nylund's A Game of Universe has Attempted Rape in his backstory. His brother was prostituted out by their father, and then his brother tried to rape Germain in retribution for not attempting to stop his rape. Germain stopped the rape by hitting his brother over the head with a jar of fermenting fruit, accidentally killing him. Germain ran from home before this was discovered and got mixed up in the events that would lead to him becoming a mentally twisted assassin.
  • Most characters in "Hotel New Hampshire" have rape as a backstory.
  • Sookie Stackhouse's Cousin Hadley is mentioned offhandedly at first. She ran away from home as a teenager, got into a life of drugs and prostitution, before finally getting mixed up in vampire politics and murdered for it. As Sookie begins investigating her long-lost cousin's life and death, she realizes that Hadley was also raped by the same great uncle. Unfortunately, Hadley's parents didn't believe her, leading her to run away from home.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey uses this on several occasions. Tarma from Vows and Honor is a classic example: beaten, raped, and left for dead by her clan's murderers. Her partner Kethry also suffered this fate, having been sold into "marriage" as a child and only managing to escape due to the kindness of a servant. Each deals with it in different ways: Tarma by becoming a Swordsworn of her Goddess (and thereby Asexual); and Kethry by being forced to confront her rapist and defeat him. There are some Heralds from later novels that also have rape (often child rape) in their backstories — Talia became Chosen after fleeing from a child marriage that would have been tantamount to rape.
  • Carnival from the Deepgate Codex series. It was particularly brutal, and even after three millennia, she's still not over it.
  • Lots of characters in the Outlander series have rape somewhere in their backstory. But we actually only even meet Fergus because Jamie managed to interrupt Jack Randall raping the boy.
  • The final novel of The Dark Tower reveals that Randall Flagg/Walter o'Dim (a Big Bad in the series as well as King's other novels had been raped when he was thirteen years old.
  • Segnbora from The Tale Of Five was raped as a child.
  • Wicked Lovely series- Leslie's brother drugged her and handed her over to his friends to be raped as a way to pay for his drug addiction.
    • Also Niall, revealed to have been raped and abused by the dark court after declining Irial's offer of kingship. Made particularly painful when you see the full extent of his scars and realize that they came from the same event. And the fact that Irial, whom Niall was in a relationship with, not only allowed them to but actually ordered it...many of the fans consider the rape to be a Moral Event Horizon crossing. Oh, and Niall either had to give them himself or the mortals he had enchanted... Give the guy a break already!
"You entertain the court or they can, gancanagh. Fear and pain is the coin for their ransom; it matters little to me who pays it." ~Irial.
  • In Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History, Ash, aged eight, is raped in the book's very first pages. She kills her attackers, and this begins a life of violence. It's part of what makes her into someone who's callous and lacking in introspection.
  • Rosalie from The Twilight Saga heavily implies in Eclipse that she was turned into a vampire after being raped and left for dead by her finance.
  • Diamonds Are Forever. Tiffany Case was the daughter of a madame who stopped paying protection money to the mob, the mob chased out the hookers and gang raped Tiffany at a young age.
  • In Codex Alera Odiana was enslaved and gangraped, at the same time as her empathic powers activated. She is as a result quite mad.
  • Part of the reason that Kennit, of the Liveship Traders, is so messed up is that he was repeatedly raped (among other abuse) as a child. This leads to...repercussions, later.

Live Action TV

  • In the episode The Satyr of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, it is strongly implied that this has happened to Dolph's mother.
  • In Prison Break Gretchen, when she was still going by the alias "Susan B. Anthony," rather creepily tells her hostage, L.J., all about her own abuse at the hands of her captors when she was a prisoner of war, all to explain why he shouldn't ever attempt to escape like she did.
  • Det. Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU is the product of her mother's rape, and it forms the core of her character, although in later episodes it is debated whether or not her mother had fabricated this story to cover the shame of a drunken sex act; her mother was an alcoholic.
  • ADA Abbie Charmicheal on Law & Order was raped by her boyfriend in law school.
    • And Detective Mike Logan was molested by a Catholic priest, alongside other kids.
  • In Higher Ground, Scott, Shelby, and her sister Jess were all victims of sexual molestation at the hands of a step-parent.
  • In The Listener, it's revealed that Charlie was raped by a teacher. This is used to explain why she is so upset about Toby being able to read her mind, because no-one who hasn't been raped is ever protective of their privacy, no sir.
  • In a first season episode of Beverly Hills 90210, Kelly reveals that the way she really lost her virginity was not to her ex-boyfriend Steve, but to Ross Weber, an older boy she had a crush as a freshman, who took her into the woods and had sex with her. The word "rape" is never used and so the scene is open to interpretation, but a good number of the fans (and Jennie Garth herself) regard the story as a case of date rape. In the seventh season, the show's vixen troublemaker Valerie, is revealed to have been raped by her father since she was 11 until he killed himself when she was 19. It is also revealed that he killed himself because she and her boyfriend had threatened to tell the cops on him if he didn't get help. In the next season, the story changes in that Valerie actually killed her father in response to him raping her.
  • Veronica Mars. Later it turns out she wasn't actually raped, she had consensual sex with her equally drugged ex-boyfriend who left because he thought she was his sister. Then even later it turns out she was raped after all.
  • Nick from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was raped by a female baby-sitter when he was 9 years old. This was only mentioned once to Catherine in the second season. His rape was not even brought up in a recent episode which dealt with him trying to help a young boy that was raped despite 2 times when it would have been helpful, when the rape councilor accused him of not really caring about the boy and when he was trying to get the boy to tell him about the rape.
  • James Robson on Oz was a murderer who enjoyed raping other inmates. It is later revealed that he himself was raped as a child.


  • An interesting subversion can be found in Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, in which the titular character explains to the protagonist that her ancestress, Princess Lo-u-Ling, was raped and killed by an invading foreign prince. As a revenge, Princess Turandot challenges her suitors to answer her three questions, with the terms that, in the case of failure, they will be executed.

Popular Music

  • The song Coward of the County recorded by Kenny Rogers:
    • "One day while he was workin' the Gatlin boys came callin'.
      "They took turns at Becky.... n' there was three of them!
      "Tommy opened up the door and saw his Becky cryin'.
      "The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand..."
  • The Coward subsequently becomes a Real (butt-kicking) Man by avenging his lover. No further information about his plot-device girlfriend is revealed. She's fulfilled her role in the story by being the catalyst for Man Up.

Video Games

  • In the computer game adaptation of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, Harlan Ellison expanded on Ellen's backstory by making her a rape victim in the past: Specifically, she was once assaulted by a man in a yellow repairman's jumpsuit in a halted elevator. AM uses this fact to his advantage in torturing her in the game, by decorating every environment with the colour yellow as a reminder of the event. However the player is given the chance to help her conquer her fear and give her the strength to fight back against her rapist.
  • Otacon's social awkwardness in Metal Gear Solid was explained in Metal Gear Solid 2 as the result of being sexually abused by his stepmother at age 14. Later his father committed suicide by drowning himself in the family's pool after he learned it and his step-sister nearly drowned and is still terrified by water due to that.
  • In [ Mass Effect 2, Jack has apparently been repeatedly sexually abused since she was a young child. Unlike many characters, though, Jack doesn't apparently angst over it; it says something about how screwed up her life is when being sexually assaulted as a child is one of her least traumatic memories.
    • When talking about her escape from the Cerberus lab, Jack mentions that she hitched a ride on a transport freighter, and that "the crew used me, then sold me." It's spoken with the same casual tone one would associate with getting the mail or ordering coffee, which makes it all the more chilling.
      • She seems more emotionally involved when she describes being caught by guards in the toilet and beaten and raped while she was in prison. Though the emotion in that is mostly restricted to her description of later killing her attackers.


  • In the webcomic A Modest Destiny a character is bizarrely unhappy that she doesn't have a rape backstory. Instead it was attempted rape, and what happened instead mentally scarred her for life. Yes, this is a webcomic.
  • Dominic Deegan has two characters with a back story like this. It's debatable whether the love interest of the protagonist would count, since she consented beforehand, but was heavily pressured into it and was verbally abused immediately after. The character Melna, however, is raped in one of the most mind-boggling arcs in the entire series.
  • The webcomic The Law of Purple has two male examples.
  • Tom's rant in this strip of Home On The Strange hilariously ravages the trope.
  • Boudica in Shades, of course she is a Historical Domain Character and the event actually happened. 2000 years later and she still isn't quite over it.
  • It's revealed in the Interview section for the characters of Flipside that Umber was raped as a girl.

Web Original

  • Shin in Sailor Nothing. A rare example of it being done just right — she's mostly gotten over it, but it does subtly color her character. When she realizes Himei is going to be raped, her reaction is heart-rendingly visceral.

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