Sexual Assault, #MeToo, and protecting friends from themselves
This might be a long one, but there is quite a bit of backstory, so bear with me.
A friend of mine, let's call him Dave, has had a rough year and a half or so. He's one of my good buddies, stood next to me at my wedding, and we have been friends for 12 years now. I'm not quite sure what direction he is taking his life. He is making a lot of confusing decisions and I'd like some insight on how I can help.
Dave dated a girl, let's call her Karen, for a couple years back around like '13-'16. They were a very cute couple, lots of long-time mutual friends and they had a seemingly healthy relationship. But they broke up abruptly one day, and it was a mystery as to why until a friend and I cornered Dave at a party (when we were all very lubricated) and forced him to tell us why. He is kind of an introverted guy, he doesn't talk much about his feelings or anything, but he reluctantly told us "She was boring and I was an asshole." We could see that she was interested in settling down, getting a house, moving towards marriage, etc. And at some point, he must have hit the PANIC button and evacuated from that relationship. Dave wanted to continue somewhat of a party lifestyle and even though he told me he wants a marriage/family eventually, now wasn't the time. Fine. Whatever. Mistake imo, but who am I to judge, it's his life.
So after Dave broke up with Karen, he starts getting bored in his daily routine. Work, home, drink, jerk off, sleep, repeat. He's drinking and partying a lot, just like he wanted, but it's getting kind of degenerate. He, inspired by a movie or reddit post or some other nonsense, quits his job, sells his condo, and leaves the country to go backpacking across Thailand. We hold a going away party for him because from the sound of it, he's going to be gone for like 6 months. He quickly gets homesick and he flies back to the States within 3 weeks. So much for that. So he moves back in with his parents and finds a new job doing web development. He's lucky he's a programmer and that they are in such high demand, because it's not easy to just leave a comfortable salary behind and pick back up where you left off.
After the return, he continues where he was, picking up the habit of smoking cigarettes, drinking a lot, and partying. I had lunch with him recently and he didn't look or sound great. Sounded a bit depressed and a little uncertain of what he was doing. Thinking everything was fine, he continues forward but he drops the smoking habit (so he says).
Now recently, at a party, he hooks up with a girl who is in a big group of mutual friends (I'm talking 50+ people, we are all in a Google Group Chat as well). They are having sex, and she asks him to use a condom. They take a quick break, as people often do during sex, comes back to continue and he has, unbeknownst to her, removed the condom. She suspects something is wrong, he tells her that he thought she knew, and she gets angry and leaves. In the next couple days, she airs out all their dirty laundry for the entire group chat to read. "Dave sexually assaulted me by taking off his condom without my knowledge. I have now had to take Emergency Contraception and it is throwing off my body chemistry. I am inspired by all the recent strong women in the #MeToo movement to expose Dave for his sexual assault. I do not wish him harm, but I refuse to stay silent." In a moment of humiliation, Dave owns up to his mistake and tells the group and the girl he assaulted that he was sorry and it was poor judgement on his part.
Lots to unpack here, so if you guys don't mind, I'd like some help figuring out what to do. This is my long time buddy who has clearly fucked up, and has lost his way. A departure from a lot of people's life crises, he is not hopelessly addicted to drugs or alcohol, but he did make a series of bonehead moves which has put him in a position where his entire friend group will never look at him the same way again, and I feel that it is my duty as a close friend to help set him back on a better path. I'm no matchmaker and I can't find him a good girl to date, but by the same token, I think it would be helpful if he was in a fulfilling relationship. Unfortunately he was in that very situation and discarded it for rather poor reasoning in my opinion.
We are getting a beer this Friday and I want to approach it like a good friend would. I'm going to avoid admonishing him for his mistake and telling him how disappointed I am, even if that's how I really feel. Instead I want to try to get his side of the story, pick his brain and see how he feels about his last few years, and get an understanding of where he wants to go from here. I'd also like to encourage him to drop his habit of attempting to stay friends with ex-girlfriends and specifically the giant group of friends who now know that he sexually assaulted one of their own.
Any thoughts from the c0r? Was his act sexual assault? Where can Dave try to improve his life? Any advice from someone who has been there?
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