Rape as Backstory

aka: Rape Is The New Dead Parents
"I suppose it was necessary to have a scene in which the heroine is cruelly treated by men. But (a) couldn't they have thought of something other than rape by a garden hose? and (b) shouldn't such a traumatic event have had some effect on the character?"

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 in their past. The overwhelming majority of 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 in her past? If given almost no weight to the story, then it's been handled very badly.

There is 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. See also Child by Rape.


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    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.
    • In Berserk Abridged Casca tells 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. Word of God is that he intentionally didn't play any of the sexual abuse for laughs, though this scene does contain a level of Black Comedy regardless.
      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?"
      Guts: NOBODY!
  • Legato Bluesummers from the Trigun manga was shown to have been raped by the mayor of the town he was living in, and 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 the Hideous Mayor was apparently raping him to death this time when Knives saved him. Accidentally, but still. Knives saved him. It definitely didn't help his view that all humans (including himself) are disgusting and must be exterminated. It's not certain if this is also the case in the anime, where he's still nuts, but it's not clear if he was raped.
  • In Hellsing, 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 Turks.
    • Also, in the backstory of Seras, she 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.
  • 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.
  • It's implied that an offscreen rape is responsible for Rose's muteness (and the baby that leads to her being the figurehead of a maternity cult) in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • The manga Asa mo, hiru mo, yoru mo does this with the heroine's backstory, with the main plot being that a guy she has to work with for school looks like her rapist. Incredibly, IT'S PLAYED FOR LAUGHS.
  • Descendants of Darkness 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 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. The fact that 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, never loses and frequently wins, makes him a very depressing villain.
  • Bitter Virgin's main plot revolves around this, as Hinako 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.
  • Strongly implied for 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.
  • 14-year-old Rena Sendou in Get Backers was raped by both a teacher and her stepfather, although as soon as Himiko defeats her, it loses its seriousness, as Ban runs right up and rips the bodice of her dress to show Himiko her curse scar. After her Heel-Face Turn, she goes straight to Good Is Dumb and Out of Focus, and it's never mentioned again.
  • Tsubaki Kasugano aka the 6th Diary Holder from Future Diary. Blame the Religion of Evil that kept her imprisoned as their sex toy.
    • In the anime, Ai, one half of the Seventh pair was set up to be raped by her jealous classmates, and Marco, the other half of Seventh never forgave himself for being too late to save her.
  • Satellizer from Freezing was molested by her half-brother.
  • Chizuru "Chizu" Honda from Bokurano, particularly in the manga. Long story short, Hatagai is a bastard.
  • Sawa from Kite as a young teen was 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.
  • Jim Macken aka Alois Trancy, from Black Butler, the second season. It's confirmed in episode 8 that he was one of several young boys picked up as Sex Slaves to the the elderly Earl. In addition, he had to pose as the Earl's son too, which adds an uncomfortable Parental Incest aspect to the whole thing even though they were not related.
  • In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Gilbert, RosemarinÚ, 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 repeatedly raped by her father first. After she killed him and was acquitted of said murder, she was raped again - this time, by the Alpha Bitch of her school and her Girl Posse.
  • Apparently in Zeta Gundam Reccoa was at some point, though we only learn this in the second to last episode.
    • As well as Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Marida, who views this as just another order. A cruel but unsual order. But an order she doesn't object to given the fact she was conditioned to be a tool.
  • The Black Lagoon OVA shows that Revy was raped by a policeman as a teenager (among other really crappy stuff that her early years entailed). Handled better than many examples in that the sexual assault element is only introduced relatively late in the series after her background had already been established as horrific and is presented more as part of a long Trauma Conga Line than the single deciding event that sent her over the edge, with the real tipping point being her abusive father's complete indifference to what happened and his only reaction being an order to get him another beer. Apparently, it was this event that finally made her snap and start fighting for herself — by killing everyone in the way including said father, who was in fact her very first kill.
  • In Tsukigasa, Azuma being raped by his uncle provides explanation both for why he Hates Being Touched, and why he freaks out as badly as he does when Kuroe makes advances on him.
  • It's far from his entire backstory, but Soubi from Loveless was raped by his former teacher.
    • Mikado, by Nisei, while Seimei watched. Although she was more traumatized that he didn't give her a reason for it than by the rape itself.
  • Played with in Saiyuki with Sanzo's backstory. After leaving the temple he was raised after his master's death in pursuit of his killers, Sanzo is attacked while exhausted and starving to death by some bandits who attempt to rape him. The farthest the guy got was a hand on his ankle before he shot him (his first time killing anything). But it is implied to have not been the last time this occurred, and obviously ties in with his trust issues and dislike of being touched once he's grown.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: The series immediately launches into a 6 volume flashback telling the audience about the 6 months of sexual and physical abuse the main character, Jeremy, suffered at the hands of his stepfather.
  • Yoshimi Yahagi and Mitsuko Souma in Battle Royale.
  • Subverted in Gunslinger Girl as the conditioning process that turns the girls into cyborgs wipes their memories. However Henrietta was raped and mutilated in a home invasion, and it turns out she was only repressing the memories, with fatal consequences for her handler Jose and herself.
    • Triela's backstory is that she was in a child sex trafficking ring and nearly died due to being in a Snuff Film.
  • Chie, also known as Shogun Iemitsu the Younger, gets this twice in Ooku: The Inner Chambers. Not only was she a Child by Rape, but her virginity was raped from her when she slipped away and was found by a palace servant who, not knowing she was the acting shogun, took advantage of her. It eventually led to a decree that the first man that lied with an unmarried shogun would be put to death for 'causing harm to the shogun'.
  • Yui Kiriyama from Kokoro Connect was nearly raped as a junior in high school and developed a fear of men (androphobia) as a result.
  • Satsuki Kiryuin of Kill la Kill is subjected to sexual abuse by her mother, and it's implied that the abuse has been going on since she was as young as five years old however her blasÚ attitude about it comes off as either Angst? What Angst? or Conditioned to Accept Horror.
  • Maken-ki!: Zigzagged in chapter 48. Otohime reveals that Takaki had been scouted for her talents, by Kamigari, despite only being a second year student. But when she refused to join them, Ouken Yamato thought she was being prideful and decided to punish her by taking her as one of his mistresses. That is, until Yuuka saved her by volunteering to take Takaki's place. Regardless, the incident was so traumatic for Takaki, that it left her androphobic and caused her to become a lesbian.
  • Touga Kiryuu was revealed to have been raped by his stepfather in the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie. For worse, the Utena script writer Youji Enokido has all but stated that the Touga of the TV series also was raped by his stepdad.
  • Similarly, in Mawaru-Penguindrum it's strongly implied that Yuri Tokikago was sexually abused by her father. Who looks a disturbing lot like Touga's rapist stepfather.
  • In the manga Honey Bitter, the repeated rape and abuse of Shuri Otokawa by her ex-boyfriend and molestation by other characters caused her to hate men. However, it's only taken seriously in the first chapters, other characters later joking about it and trying to get she and her ex back together as friends and, later, lovers. Her ex is excused by the cast in pity for his angsty backstory.
  • When Kureha from After School Nightmare was walking home from school alone when she was a kindergartner a man grabbed her and raped her in the woods. This, and her abusive dad, is the reason she Does Not Like Men.
  • Osamu from Bokura no Hentai has Repressed Memories of being raped when he was younger by an older male friend. He thought his vague dreams were memories of a past life where he was a woman.

    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.
  • Sergeant Alexandra "Alex" Brand in the Gears of War comics. She was taken to a "baby farm"(for repopulating Sera) and raped for the first time at the age of 12, and until the age of 18 was raped at regular intervals until her captors realized she couldn't get pregnant and sent her off to the army.
  • Damian Wayne has been retconned into being the result of Talia drugging and raping Bruce Wayne. In the original story the encounter was consensual.
    • Tim Drake (Robin III) has had two of his girlfriends in this situation (Stephanie was an almost-rape case, but Ariana was straight rape). Apparently it left a traumatic impact on both of them — with Ariana, she tried to have sex with Tim (even though they were too young for it) because she wanted to get rid of her unpleasant past with a new experience; and with Stephanie it made her vulnerable and constantly seeking for approval from men, which even caused her to get pregnant once. It's no wonder Tim's a Celibate Hero — after seeing what Ariana and Steph went through he probably wanted to atone for his gender or something.
  • Red Sonja became the Bad Ass warrior she did partly out of a reaction to being raped when she was a girl.
  • Janissa, Conan's occasional enemy and ally, was raped by Demons every night until she could fight them off as part of her training to become a master swordswoman in Dark Horse's Conan Comic Book. Needless to say, people wrote in pissed that the writers were lazy enough to resort to this and her every other appearance in the series inevitably led to the authors apologising, printing the letters of angry readers and promoting rape help-lines.
  • Bleez of the Red Lanterns was ganged raped by Sinestro Corps members in a creepy 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]
  • Kelsey Leigh, the second Captain Britain (later Lionheart) from The Avengers and Excalibur. She was sexually assaulted years earlier, which lead to her divorcing her husband (as he was unwilling or unable to help her) and taking sole custody of their two children.
  • 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 Marshal 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 Warlock and the Infinity Watch, among others, but now best known for Guardians of the Galaxy) 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.
    • Jim Starlin is a very good writer, but he has applied this trope to virtually all of the female characters he's written, including Gamora. Even decades after they have been established. One theory is he was going through his own Cerebus Syndrome.
  • 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.
  • A rare male example is Striker from Avengers Academy. He was molested by his manager as a child, and accidentally killed the man after his powers manifested for the first time. In the present, he wonders if the incident is the reason why he's gay, but Julie Power assures him that's not true.
  • Averted in Josh Lesnick's Wendy: The comic ended before Josh could introduce this trope and further send his series into full-blown Cerebus Syndrome, and only revealed his original ideas for the ending after he finally went back and tied up all the loose ends years later.
  • 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.
  • Inertia in Supreme Power was super strong and durable as a child, but her father thought this unnatural for a girl and forced her to never exhibit her powers. So when some local boys started harassing her and got a little too "friendly", she could only sit there and take it. This was the beginning of her falling out with her father, and the start of her general hatred for most men.
  • Rape was just one of the many cruelties suffered by young Klara Prast prior to her joining the Runaways.
  • Toyed with in the origin of Meteorite/Valerie Barnhardt, a Thunderbolts supporting character. In her case, it was Attempted Rape. While she was serving in the United States Air Force, one of her commanding officers attempted to rape her. She fought back and accidentally crippled the man. The authorities of the Air Force believed his story and not her own, resulting in a dishonorable discharge for her. The only reason she acted as a government agent was that they promised to eventually expunge her record and give her a chance to return to the Air Force.
  • In Justice League we're told that the reason Jessica Cruz, the new/unwilling Power Ring, had spent years as an agoraphobic locked in a room, is because she was assaulted by a group of men who were never caught, and it is implied that she was gang raped.

    Fan Fic 
  • In the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Family Ties this is only implied in the main story for England and Ireland as a reason for some of their behaviour and relationships with other people in their family. In Vincere and the related drabbles it is made clear that this is the case for both of the above- the first by Rome and the second by England, making Northern Ireland an unknowing child by rape and Brother-Sister Incest.
  • 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.
  • To the Moon: Draco has been molested by his father his whole life.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog Prison Island Break Shadow the Hedgehog was sexually abused at various points in his life. The reason it is not discussed in depth is because, quite simply, he doesn't want to talk about it.
  • In the back-story of Origins, the second story of the Streets Of Rage Saga, Blaze Fielding had this happen to her multiple times from as early as 12 years old, by a doctor assigned to her case while she was wrongly imprisoned at an insane asylum owned and operated by The Syndicate.
  • In the Death Note fic A Cure for Love this is V's Back Story. At first she is set up as The Ace and sounds like a typical Mary Sue however she's the new Big Bad and her Back Story establishes both her otherwise improbable relations to other characters and why she's so unstable. Not only did this horrible thing happen to her but the people who were supposed to be "safe" took her son away from her.
  • Legolas By Laura: the ten-year-old heroine Laura is kidnapped by Sauron "because she got a power and she can distoy us all the bad guys" and raped by orcs, and seems surprisingly calm about this. Legolas comes to rescue her and casually mentions that "when I was your age they did the same thing to me", never mentioning why they did this or how he escaped, and it's never brought up again.
  • In Scars and Stitches, a Soul Eater fanfiction, this is primarily used for Soul and why he left his home in the first place.
  • In the Death Note fic Solitude this becomes Light's Freudian Excuse and does it very believably given what is known about his psychology and character.
  • Hivefled's prequel Reprise is Torture Porn focusing on terrible, terrible things happening to Gamzee Makara; Hivefled proper details the aftermath and the gang's plan for revenge/ensuring it doesn't happen again.
  • Shadow of the Dragon: Himiko Satome, Tomoeda's district attorney, is revealed to have been raped in the past, her rapist never having been caught. She ended up giving birth to Ryujin Satome, The Bully at Sakura and Syaoran's school, and abusing him, seeing him as nothing but a reminder of said rape. As a result, she turned her son into a misogynistic Serial Rapist.
  • In this Maleficent Fanfic, Maleficent has rape in her backstory. She distrusts men, but never crosses the line into straw-misandrist territory, and is very protective of her boyfriend even before he earns her trust.
  • In Seinen Kakumei Utena, Touga's Movie-canon childhood gets deeply explored.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, it's revealed that one of the boys went through this before coming to Hope's Peak Academy. It isn't specified who it is, but the author has denied that it was Ryouta or Hikaru.
  • In Once Upon A Time And Again Belle has this as her backstory. She is, as a result, very reclusive and rarely leaves the library at which she works. However, she doesn't seem to distrust all men as a result of it and is very close to her rescuers, Princes James and Thomas of Seaborn, whom she sees as surrogate brothers.
  • In New Feelings, Pearl was nearly raped by the fanfic's antagonist Peridot while they were dating. As a result, she's very distrustful of men except when it comes to Steven and her son Jonah.
  • Strongly implied with Alina t'Aimne, a Romulan prisoner rescued from the Kazon-Ogla in the first chapter of The Mysterious Case of Neelix's Lungs. (It's known for a fact her CO died a Sex Slave.) She takes a special pleasure in killing Kazon after joining the crew of Vetar.
  • Played for Laughs with an aversion in My Immortal Parody Fic Xtremly Scray, where Rouge Angles of Satin turns out to be literal: When the Mary Sue OC says her uncle "rapped" her, he literally rapped her.

  • In Forrest Gump, it's heavily implied that Jenny and her sisters were sexually abused by her father.
  • In Dr. No, Honey Ryder tells James Bond that after her father was made to disappear by Dr. No, their landlord let her stay on for a while without paying. Then one night he raped her. She avenged herself by putting a female black widow spider in his bed, which fatally bit him.
  • Carin, the Straw Feminist of Patch Adams was molested as a child, hence why she distrusts men. Once she learns to trust them again, she lets herself get too close to a crazed patient who murders her. Being a biography film, this would typically go into Real Life except that Carin never existed and was created for the purposes of the film.
  • The eponymous character of Chasing Amanda mentions being raped by her brother almost casually. Her uncle is appropriately stunned, but she zips right by it. Her treatment of the subject may be partly due to her tendency to "hide" from her own life, but it still feels like an attempt at cheap sympathy for a movie lacking in sympathetic characters.
  • Lexy in Adulthood.
  • Martha Beck in The Lonely Hearts Killers, though this is Justified, as the Real Life Martha Beck claimed to have been raped by her brother.
  • Chances are at least one character in a Tyler Perry film has this excuse.
  • A rare unsympathetic male example in Bad Education. Ignacio was molested by a Pedophile Priest when he was a child. As an adult, he chooses to blackmail this priest into giving him 1 million pesetas to pay for his heroin addiction.
  • In Wild at Heart, Lula was attacked at a very young age by a family friend; upon learning that, Marietta arranged for him to be murdered.
  • You can infer in The Missing that Maggie's first daughter was conceived this way.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road and its tie-in materials all suggest—though never outright confirm—that Furiosa was originally used as one of Immortan Joe's "wives", only to be cast out for being infertile.
    • Joe also had raped all of his current wives except for Cheedo (and even then, the only reason he hadn't successfully assaulted her was because The Dag stood up to him when he tried), and at least two of them are pregnant as a result. In fact, the whole plot of the movie is kicked off by the wives wanting to free themselves and their future children from Joe's tyranny.
    • It's also possible that this is the case for the women used as cattle for mother's milk, as Joe has been a slaver-polygamist for a long time. Basically, if you're a relatively healthy (as in, not terminally ill or horribly mutated) woman living on the Fury Road, there's a solid chance you've been raped by Immortan Joe at some point.

  • In A Brother's Price, this is part of the reason why Trini is reluctant to remarry after the death of her first husband, the rapist. Differs from other examples in that she lives in a society where male on female rape does not usually happen - her sisters don't refer to it as rape, but use the normal euphemism for sex while talking about it, and emphasize the physical violence (the rapist also beat her up) far more. She neither goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, nor does she become a Fragile Flower, she just makes decisions that prevent such a thing from happening again, making this one of the more realistic examples of Rape as Backstory.
  • In Dragon Bones, Garranon and his brother were raped when their country was invaded, which may be part of why Garranon is very protective of his younger brother even though they're both adults. Garranon also wants revenge, but is sensible enough not to take it immediately.
  • In the original Japanese novel that inspired The Ring (and its various remakes,) Sadako is raped by Nagao Jotaro - who finds out to his disgust that she has Androgen insensitivity syndrome, an intersex condition that causes the woman affected to be born with a vagina, but with XY chromosomes, no uterus, and internal testes where the ovaries would typically be. 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 partially 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.
  • 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 The 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 only 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 the 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 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.
  • This happens to Maya in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in Saint Lousis, though it's an autobiography.
  • 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 gang raped and left for dead by her fiance and his friends the night before her wedding. Don't worry, though; she definitely got them all back.
  • In Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey was underage when an adult woman had sex with him. He denies that this was rape, and the heroine is jealous instead of disgusted when she meets his rapist, but in any case it was statutory rape. Considering his inability to differentiate between consensual sex and rape in the relationship with Ana, it is highly unlikely that this sexual abuse didn't affect him negatively.
  • Creepily a James Bond recurring theme:
    • 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.
    • Goldfinger. Pussy Galore reveals she was raped by family members, causing her Rape and Switch lesbianism.
  • 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 trilogy, is so messed up is that he was repeatedly raped (among other abuse) as a child. This leads to...repercussions, later.
  • In Death series: Eve and Dr. Mira have been raped as children. Dr. Mira seems to have dealt with it, while Eve basically spends the entire series trying to deal with it.
  • A complicated male example in A Song of Ice and Fire. The dwarf Tyrion Lannister met a woman named Tysha, with whom he fell in love and tried to hide from his family because she was not a noble. Then, his father reveals that she was a prostitute who Tyrion's brother had hired secretly for him because A Man Is Not a Virgin. To "prove" how she was a hooker, he hires her to have sex with the entire family garrison and then forces Tyrion to go last. This experience naturally scars Tyrion his entire life, until he later learns the truth: She was never a prostitute, Tyrion's father lied, and the scene with the garrison was in fact a gang rape. Cue Berserk Button.
    • Although it was just another addition to the HUGE Break the Cutie process that formed his childhood, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish was raped twice by Lysa Tully. Both times he was unconscious, the first from having drunken too much after being rejected by the girl he loved, the second at the brink of death and hallucinating because of a feverish wound.
    • This is also implied in the case of Aeron Greyjoy, aka Damphair. He has a recurring nightmare of his brother, Euron, sneaking into his bedroom at night (namely the sound of the hinges on his door) and doing something unmentionable to him.
  • In Sputnik Sweetheart, this is implied for Miu.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The first book Weekend Warriors reveals that three bikers raped Kathryn Lucas in front of her disabled husband, and they knew that her husband was disabled and helpless to stop them. Naturally, she was left badly scarred by this. The book has her and her new friends track down the three bikers responsible and give them the John Wayne Bobbit treatment in order for her to obtain closure in this matter. After that book, her attitude remains as combative, confrontational, explosive and fiery as ever, which suggests that her behaviour may simply be part of who she is, and not just the result of her being raped.
    • Or perhaps that the scars were too deep to be healed by one act of vengeance....
  • Used to effect in Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel when toward the end, the narrator reveals that he got raped one time. He's already so completely insane that its lack of effect on him feels wholly in-character.
  • Subverted in-character in Russka, where a young woman from the Ukraine confesses to her fiance that she's no longer a virgin, having been raped by a Tatar when she was younger. (Truth is, she's been in an incestuous relationship with her widowed father for years, brought about due to mutual grief and social isolation, plus her father's alcoholism.) The alleged rape is only alluded to once after that, when her now-husband kills a Tatar raider, and by that point she's forgotten telling him the story.
  • In John Dies at the End it is heavily implied that the genesis of Dave's cynicism, as well as the reason he was put in the 'Emotionally Disturbed' school program where he met John and kicked off the book's plot, was because he took bloody revenge against a man who had raped him.
  • Rosemary in Tender Is the Night. Largely to justify her bizarre behaviour and highlight the fractured nature of Dick Diver's life.
  • Honor Harrington has attempted rape in her back story. Lord Pavel Young tried to ambush her in the showers at the academy, without accounting for the fact that Honor was a heavyworlder in Earthlike gravity. Unfortunately she reacted to the near-rape in stereotypical female fashion, giving Young time to report his injuries as sustained "falling down the stairs". The academy instructors didn't believe it, but Honor refused to press charges.
  • DS Diane Fry in Stephen Booth's Cooper/Fry detective series. Fry was gang-raped shortly before the first novel in the series. Eventually, she discovers that one of the rapists was her foster brother, and her foster parents helped cover up the crime.
  • Angel, the heroine of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, was raped at the age of eight and then forced into prostitution by her rapist. Aside from a brief bout with Stockholm Syndrome, the subject of this experience emerged a deeply cynical and lonely Broken Bird, and the premise of the novel is that The Power of Love (unconditional ''agape'' love, not only romantic love) can heal her deep psychological and emotional wounds.
  • Zilpha Keatley Snyder came as close as she could in 1970 to giving Ivy Carson this backstory in The Changeling. This was written just prior to the time publishers began to allow children's fiction that dealt openly and frankly with sexual abuse.
  • If it doesn't happen in the novel proper, it is often revealed that the heroine (or one of her friends or relatives) of the average Danielle Steel novel had this happen to her.
  • Zarate Arkham, main protagonist in Daniel Gonzalez's horror novel Un grito en las tinieblas (A Scream in the Dark) was raped by her father as a child. Gonzalez also use this resource with his character Laura Talbot on the Ravencraft series, when at the beginning of the first novel she is raped by a werewolf -and turn into one as well-.
  • Also Cara (and maybe all the Mord-Siths) in the Sword of Truth series, Darken Rahl raped them often. In the TV series it is never mention if Cara was raped.
  • Sleepy, narrator of Glen Cook's Water Sleeps, was raped repeatedly by at least one of her uncles as a child and young teen. Her justification for joining the Black Company and then sticking with it when their fortunes fell after the events of She Is the Darkness is that the Company is her family now, and it's either stay with them or go back to the blood relatives who abused her.
  • Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower via a friend of her father's. The climax of the story reveals that Charlie himself was molested as a child by his deceased Aunt Helen.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Justified, Detroit mob lieutenant Quarles reveals to Donovan and Duffy that his father pimped him out when he was a child to get money for heroin. Quarles's proclivity for abducting and torturing male hustlers seems to be a pathological attempt to process his childhood sexual abuse.
  • 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 & Order: Special Victims Unit believes that she 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. However, this is left ambiguous with his Law & Order: UK expy, Matt Devlin: though Devlin does mention that the priest in question was always eyeballing him, implying that the man was at the very least grooming him even if not abusing him outright.
  • 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 on 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 killed her father in response to him raping her.
  • Veronica Mars:
    • The main character herself. Later it turns out she wasn't 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.
    • There's Cassidy Casablancas, who both had Rape as Backstory and caused it.
  • Gabrielle in Desperate Housewives. It's casually mentioned in season 1 that she ran away from home after being raped by her stepfather and later referred to as to why she has a cold relationship with her mother.
  • James Robson on Oz was a murderer who enjoyed raping other inmates. It is later revealed that he himself was raped as a child.
  • Jenny Schecter from The L Word. Her entire second season story arc revolved around dealing with the trauma.
  • On The Wire, Michael's coldness, aversion to physical contact, and distrust of authority figures stems from his molestation by his stepfather.
    • Its hinted that Cris was also raped.
  • Sookie of True Blood was molested by her great uncle as a child. When vampire boyfriend Bill finds out, he doesn't take it well.
  • Don Draper of Mad Men lost his virginity when he was raped by a prostitute as a teenager, as revealed in the sixth season episode "The Crash." When his mother found out about it, she beat him with a wooden spoon.
  • Derek Morgan of Criminal Minds was raped by his football coach as a young boy
  • ER: Dr. Simon Brenner reveals that he was molested by one of his mother's boyfriends. The person he's confiding in has already begun to suspect this, given his Berserk Button reaction to a pedophile admitted to the hospital.
  • On One Life to Live, Luna Moody is revealed to be a rape survivor when she's assigned to be Marty Saybrooke's rape counselor. This is a frequent trope of soap operas—if a heroine isn't raped onscreen, it's often revealed that this happened to her. Even the legendary Erica Kane was revealed to have been raped as a teenager.
  • Nicci in Legend of the Seeker, she was raped twice by the same man when she was a novice.
  • Alex in Nikita, after her parents were killed she was sold into sex slavery.
  • Alan Shore of Boston Legal was raped by a friend of his mother's when he was fourteen. It's implied this is why his interactions with women are, in general, so messed up.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Imprint", the prostitute eventually reveals that a big part of why she's so emotionally scarred is her horrific youth, where she was separately raped by both her father and a local Buddhist monk.
  • Cases of the 1st Department: The team suspects that the perpetrator in the episode "Hatred", Ms. Fabianova, was raped when she was small but they don't confirm it because she refuses to answer their questions. Her female lover was raped by an old pedophile when she was a teen, among other unfortunate girls. The old man was Ms. Fialova's first victim.
  • Defiance: Pottinger reveals that he was gang-raped by Votan soldiers to Amanda, who then tells him of her own attack, so that he'll know he's not alone, which he seems to be genuinely touched by. It's later revealed that Pottinger was probably Amanda's rapist
  • Claire from House of Cards (US) was raped in college. It becomes prominent in the second season after she runs into her rapist (now a Marine general) and launches a campaign to curb sexual assault within the military.

  • An interesting subversion can be found in Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, in which the Femme Fatale 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.

    Video Games 
  • Betsy, an elite sharpshooter of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in Fallout: New Vegas was raped by a Fiend gang leader after her squadmate was knocked out. Although she claims she's fine, her C.O. explains that she's getting progressively more unhinged. The player can convince her to see a counselor and treat the PTSD.
  • 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.
  • Metal Gear:
    • 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.
    • Subverted by the Beauty And Beast unit in Metal Gear Solid 4, despite the horrible tragedies afflicted upon them. None of them were supposedly raped by the soldiers in the past. However what happened to them is pretty much Mind Rape in the worst way possible.
    • Both Chico and Paz were raped in between Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which justifies their drastically darker personalities in the later game and the Darker and Edgier tone.
    • Made even worse in Ground Zeroes after Big Boss has his medic on the copter hurriedly pull a bomb out of Paz's stomach, only for Paz to attempt to jump out of the copter to save them saying there's a second bomb. Fridge Horror ensues when you realize the only two possible places her captors could have hidden a second bomb while the obvious fresh stitches on her stomach for the first bomb provided a distraction.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Jack has apparently been repeatedly sexually abused. 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 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 Dead or Alive, Ayame, the wife of the leader of the Mugen Tenshin clan, was raped by a rogue ninja named Raidou. As a result, she would give birth to Ayane. The truth of Ayane's origins was kept secret from her for years, and when she finally learned where she came from, it changed her profoundly.
  • Although not the actual rape victim, Luca Blight from Suikoden II was forced to watch the rape of his mother, the Queen, on the hands of bandits hired by the Muse mayor. . Luca will hold a deep grudge against his father because of his perceived inaction, culminating in the prince killing the king with a poisoned chalice. His sister Jillia is the result of the rape, and the queen descended into severe depression.
  • Sapphire, a member of the Thieves' Guild in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, had her family murdered by a bandit gang, which then took her back to their camp to be gang-raped for two weeks. Then she managed to get her hands on a knife and slaughtered them.
    • Astrid, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, had a Creepy Uncle who made certain "unwanted advances" on her, resulting in him becoming her first kill.
    • In the Dawnguard DLC, Serana and her mother are "Daughters of Cold Harbor" and became vampires during a rite to the Daedric prince Molag Bal. Molag Bal, known as the King of Rape, raped a girl to make the first vampire, and it's implied that event is re-enacted during this rite. Neither of them like to talk about the details.
  • Rapha from Final Fantasy Tactics is implied to have been raped by her surrogate father, Duke Barrington. Her brother, Marach, is unaware of this, holding the Duke in great regard for taking them in after their village was razed, unaware that the Duke ordered the village to be destroyed when they refused to hand over the children to him so he could exploit their powers.

    Visual Novels 
  • Characters with these backstories feature in 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.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry three boys attempted to rape Rena Ryuugu, 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.
    • In the manga, it's revealed that Miyoko Tanishi aka Miyo Takano was violently raped in the Orphanage of Fear that she was stashed in until her grandfaher rescued her.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice Ushiromiya unfortunately grew up to look identical to her deceased mother, leading her father Kinzō to lose it and eventually rape her. The result is the third Beatrice. When learning how (s)he was born, (s)he doesn't take it well.
  • The second thing that started the screwed up life of Shinji in Kara no Shoujo. And it only got worse from there.

  • In 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, was raped by Stonewater in one of the most mind-boggling arcs in the entire series, in what was essentially a mix of Scarpia Ultimatum, Mate or Die and Rape by Proxy that effectively victimized both of them.
    • As for Luna, it's generally accepted that if one participant is under emotional duress and would not have consented if mentally sound, it is rape.
  • The Law of Purple has two male examples.
  • Boudica in Shades:She is a Historical-Domain Character and the event 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.
  • Survival of the Fittest has several characters in version one and the version two pregame (most characters in version two proper either retconned it out or didn't use it to begin with) who mention having been raped in their profile, to the point that some handlers were exasperatedly asking if anyone had not been raped.
  • Scratch from We're Alive reveals that she became pregnant as a result of rape and had an abortion which left her sterile. She now treats Lizzie and her unborn baby as something of a Morality Pet.
  • The Nostalgia Critic was date-raped when he tried to go to prom. When he's raped again by Spoony, he's so traumatized he can't speak, but then goes into Rape is Love mode.
  • The Nostalgia Chick was molested by her uncle when she was a child.
  • Rebecca from Demo Reel is another case of Creepy Uncle, which admitting while stoned is what drives Tacoma to try and look after her. Grossly, her parents sent her on camping trips with the guy.
    • Donnie was raped by someone who wanted to reenact the sexual assault scene from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but the horror for Rebecca and Tacoma mostly comes from just how casual he is admitting that it happened.

    Western Animation 
  • Agnes Sculptham on Moral Orel. Although it was not part of her "backstory" at the beginning of the show, it was revealed in the third season this had occured offscreen at one point sometimes between "Courtship" and "Alone."

Alternative Title(s):

Rape Is The New Dead Parents