A University of Minnesota student did that

The first words that caught my eye were the words “University of Minnesota student”. The second words were “pleads guilty to rape charges”. I read the story anyway and was horrified. It includes the full victim’s statement, and it was gut-rending. I can’t quite imagine the mind of Daniel Drill-Mellum — how can he do what he did to that woman? How can anyone cause that much pain to anyone?

Don’t read it. I regret having done so.

But there is one somewhat milder piece of the story that jumped out at me. The rapist was an acquaintance, as they often are, and a friend, the kind of friend you call after a traumatic experience, had praised the guy and acknowledged, after the fact, that Drill-Mellum had hurt other women before.

I remember stumbling out of the apartment and running in fear, thinking that he would surely come after me. That feeling still sticks with me to this day. I first texted a friend to come and get me, and then called another. The friend who, earlier in the day, told me, “I love Dan”. This friend answered the phone to me sobbing uncontrollably and said “don’t even say a word, I know what happened. He raped my friend too”. In the months to come, I would become angry about this statement, and the fact that this wasn’t the first time he had done this to someone, but at the time I was just happy that he had said “rape” so that I didn’t have to. I had no words for what I had just experienced, and I still don’t.

How do you do that, too? I hope this “friend” is also feeling some fraction of the guilt that ought to be wracking him right now.


  1. drst says

    Every dude who has ignored when women tell them a guy in their circle of friends is creepy or dangerous, every dude who ignores the nasty stuff a male friend of theirs says and does because they don’t want to be “that guy” or because “well he’s really not that bad” or “he’s never done anything to me personally” enables this shit.

  2. Onamission5 says

    How do you do that? By not believing the first woman until it happens to a second one. By pushing down that nagging hint of doubt because Dan’s a fun guy who doesn’t really mean those things he says, he just likes to shock people, you’re not the sort of person who’d associate with or enable a rapist, so you don’t want to believe that is exactly what you’re doing even while you continue doing it. By allowing his behavior to be described as “lucky with the ladies” by the other people who know him, and not speaking up, allowing the relief of plausible deniability to wash your silent complicity away. By assuming from the start that women don’t know our own minds, bodies, or lives, and therefore our reports on our experiences with men aren’t to be fully trusted without outside verification– which you get from the second rape victim. By believing that rape’s not really that big of a deal for most women, or that it’s not your problem, it’s their problem.

    Just guessing. Pick one. Pick all of them, in fact.

  3. wzrd1 says

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    ndd, lckd ny crdblty, v hs bllsht, t try t hlp t. Hlp t, dd, bt hnstly hv lst ll grndng n mrl scp wth hs ctns!

    Srsly, t trs t rmv my wn mrl cmpss.
    h wt, t’s cmntd n plc.
    t stll twrls n my mnd, bt t’s lk bk hrm nd thr ll grl bnd, wrthlss n th grnd schm f thngs.
    t stll blw my ntl mntl prcssng, bdly, hrrfclly, hvng hlpd frnds thrgh sch hrrr, bt stll, fckng srsly?!

    My h b ss rpd ntl mnth bynd th dy tht h rlzs tht t ws bynd wrng t d wht h dd.
    ftr, my h xprnc yt nthr mnth f ss rp fr vry mmnt tht h fls t s tht t ws wrng.
    Thrby sng th jstc f tht whch ws jst plcd pn hm.

    Ys, n ncnt jstc crs, bt t’s th bst tht cn d t vn mng t prcss ths hrrr. Wll, bynd wntng hm smmrly xctd, whch s n nd f tslf hrrfc ntn t m n th xtrm.
    Srsly! jst tk sm vry pwrfl mdctn! Nw, ths md m wnt t pk, lsng my fd nd thn crtng cndtn whr ‘d dry hv fr th nxt fr hrs, t mnmm.
    nd hv t b t wrk n sx hrs!

    Scrw tht, fd hm hs wn blls. Th cntnts r lkly wrthlss nywy.
    h wt, ‘v lng rjctd gncs!
    h wll, th ml snds ft fr tht “kng”…

    N, cn’t dscss hw dsgstd tht m bynd tht.
    hnstly, trthflly, cnnt dscss th hrrr nd dsgst t ll.
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    Cn sm mrlly dfcnt bstrd kndly nvnt hll fr ths?

  4. Onamission5 says


    I know you’ve been asked before to let up with the graphic torture fantasies. Now you’ve added goddamned revenge rape, in a thread about rape, no less. Please think for two fucking seconds about the people who are going to accidentally read your screed while already triggered by the article, and stop yourself.

  5. Artor says

    wzrd1, I get that you just took some drugs, but maybe this is a time you shouldn’t be free-associating on the net. Keep your ass-rape fantasies to yourself.

  6. vucodlak says

    I honestly can’t say I’d know how to deal with an acquaintance who raped someone. Fortunately, I’ve never been in a position to have to figure it out, but it’s something I’ve struggled with, because it could well come up some day.

    Obviously supporting the victim’s choices would be paramount, but if the rapist escaped consequences (as so many do), I really don’t know what to do. A torturer of any stripe cannot be tolerated, because they almost always continue to harm others. Morally and ethically, I’m bound to stop them from doing so, but I’m at a loss as to how to do that. Contacting the authorities isn’t an option in the current environment, since that would virtually guarantee that the torturer would be tortured. That’s an unacceptable outcome, if I’m the one making the decision.

    So, as I said, I haven’t a clue what I should do.

  7. says


    I honestly can’t say I’d know how to deal with an acquaintance who raped someone.

    In this case, it’s really easy. In the story, the victim says she called her friend, who right away says: “I know what happened.” But prior to the rape, he had told the victim that he loves that guy [the rapist]. Now, that might well be so, that those two men were close friends, and rapist was really liked, but friend fucked up and failed his woman friend, because he could have simply told her about the rapist’s prior bad acts. This is known as the missing stair, and it’s part of the whisper network. When something hasn’t been proved via court or conviction, women will warn other women.

    It’s time for men to step the fuck up, and warn about those missing stairs, too. There’s no good reason to stay silent, but men take refuge in this “oh, hey, he’s a buddy” and “well…it’s a guy thing” and any other amount of highly specious reasoning. If you know something like that, I’d say you have an obligation to warn, at the very least.

  8. raefn says

    Since you seem to be asking for advice:
    Watch the video Marcus posted, and then think about Caine’s post.

    Realize that the only person you can change is yourself, and act on it! If someone you know ‘jokes’ (they’re not actually joking, they’re testing their listeners to see if their thoughts are acceptable) about rape, say something like ‘Hey, that isn’t cool.’ No lectures, because they won’t listen. If they push the issue, ask them if they like being respected. When they say yes, reply with ‘so do women.’

    If you’re feeling especially confident, take a Socratic approach. When someone makes a rape/abusive comment, ask them why they said that. They’ll probably say ‘I don’t know.’ Then proceed with ‘that isn’t cool; people want to be treated with respect.’ The strength of the Socratic method is that it encourages people think about their impulses, and perhaps change their own minds.

  9. Vivec says

    Yikes, glad I didn’t read this before the disemvowelling.

    Regardless, this does hit close to home. I was sexually abused by a friend of mine, a fairly central person in the extended friend group I had.

    I eventually broke up with them (we were fairly long distance so I was thankfully not in any immediate danger), only to have the other friends in the group talk shit at me for breaking up with him and disbelieve me when I explained the situation.

    When people respond like that, it really makes sense how situations like this arise.

  10. Saad says

    That is fucking tragic. And to think of the countless women who have to suffer like this around the world daily.

    I’m just surprised they didn’t release a photo of him in a three-piece suit. The internet must have been down or something.

  11. says

    Marcus Ranum

    Would you treat it any differently than if you found out a friend had murdered a hitchhiker?

    Actually, yes.
    Because, you see, the dead hitchhiker is of no concern in this scenario. They’re dead. They’re gone. We cannot do anything to help them and they will not be harmed further.
    A rape victim is still there, they can still suffer. Reporting it may make things much worse for them and help nothing and no one.
    Because once there’s a body with stabbing wounds very few people argue that they actually enjoyed it and that they are not actually dead.

  12. lotharloo says

    And now he’s receiving 74 months, almost two years after the crime that he committed.

    I would have no problem with this guy getting a life sentence. I don’t what’s the typical sentence for a crime like this but 74 months seems like very short time for the things this asshole did.

  13. tbtabby says

    “‘Down there,’ he said, ‘are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathsomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don’t say no.'”

    That passage from “Guards, Guards!” comes to mind whenever I see rape culture in action.

  14. says

    There’s that, but the thing is – just as someone who rapes and gets away with it is likely to do it again, so is someone who kills.

  15. quotetheunquote says

    @ gilliel #17.

    Ah yeah, US justice system. Woman with injuries all over her body reports rape. Rapist says “she likes rough sex”. Case closed.

    I am sad to have to point this out, but this sounds more like the Canadian justice system, particularly the Ghomesi case. (CW – assault, egregious douchebaggary).

    On the other hand, we have yet another reminder of how bad things are in the U.S., we’re seeing the release of Brock Turner this week. What, already?

  16. says

    Marcus Ranum
    Yes, but we’ve been through this before: Since a police report in case of rape has a low probability of getting the rapist convicted and a high one of having severe negative consequences for the victim (even in the rare case of a conviction), the decision to report must be with the victim.

    That’s from the article. The victim whose letter is quoted reported after the assault but it apparently took the second assault to get the case re-opened. They closed the case after he said he had wanted it and was into “rough sex”.

  17. Siobhan says

    That’s from the article. The victim whose letter is quoted reported after the assault but it apparently took the second assault to get the case re-opened. They closed the case after he said he had wanted it and was into “rough sex”.

    That’s also one of many reasons kinksters don’t go to the cops, either. Try explaining that you do, in fact, like rough sex, but that someone still violated your consent because you never gave it/withdrew it and was ignored.

    “Snowball’s chance in hell” comes to mind.

  18. vucodlak says

    @ Marcus Ranum, Caine, raefn

    Well, that depends. Unlike rape/torture, murder can sometimes be justified. So if my friend says “I picked up a hitchhiker, and they attacked me, and I had to kill them in self-defense,” I wouldn’t be conflicted about what to do, unless I had a good reason to disbelieve them. I would help them if I could, and stand by them.

    I would not stand by a rapist, except possibly in the unlikely event that they were asking me to help them seek help, so that they didn’t hurt anyone else. In this last case, I would have to believe that they were genuinely unable to control themselves, which is extremely unlikely. I would not stand by them if I suspected that they were simply trying to escape consequences.

    If, on the other hand, my friend says they killed someone for reasons I don’t find acceptable (they killed someone for insulting their lineage, or for cheating on them, or because they enjoy killing, etc.), then my responsibilities would change. If I thought there was a chance they could change, I would urge them to get help. I would have to stick with them until they did so, or risk them harming others, a harm I would be responsible for.

    If my friend felt their actions were justified (or, more likely in the case of rape, “no big deal”), and I did not, then I have really only have two options: turn them in to the authorities, or kill them. If I turn them in, it’s likely they’ll face decades of torture, abuse, and dehumanization. In the case of a murderer, they’d be looking at a life sentence.*

    With regard to this specific case, it’s clear that the “friend” didn’t do what he should have done, which is to warn anyone he knew that might be in contact with the rapist that the rapist is a rapist. I guess the question I’m asking is, does his responsibility go farther? He definitely should have spoken up, but is that enough? Or, rather, is that all he should do?

    I do have some relevant experience in this sort of thing. Long ago, when I was just a stupid kid, there was someone in my life who did not tolerate certain kinds of talk, talk that I now recognize as a rape culture. This someone also taught that words aren’t always enough, and sometimes our responsibility extends beyond a pointed discussion. Of course, I don’t have (nor do I want) the kind of authority she had, which rather limits what “doing more” could mean. So I’m left with: Is warning others enough, and can/should a person do more?

    *I despise the term “life sentence,” because it’s just a bullshit term for what amounts to extremely slow, torturous execution.