T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 73284
posted 05-24-2012 09:42 AM
I was raped about a year ago. I can't quite remember the date of the first time. And really, that's the only one that's very memorable anyways, the rest is all a blur.
I didn't realize/admit until six months later that, yeah, it was rape, really rape. I remember the thought crossing my mind after it happened and he was driving me home. But I talked myself down, "No, it wasn't rape; I did this, this and this." I'm still conflicted. I still feel some guilt for even calling it a rape. Because on some level -- despite the fact that I was decidedly not consenting -- I feel like I could have stopped it. I feel like it's my fault for not forcing the issue. I was going to say "communicating clearly," but no. I communicated I did not want that clearly. He was just under the impression, I think, that unless a woman screams "No!" it isn't rape. That's my honest guess. That's how people I knew, including myself, were raised. But. It would make me feel much better to believe that wasn't the case, that had I been more aggressive, it wouldn't have changed anything. And that might be true, but I don't think it is. He was a lot bigger than me. I tried to fight back, but by the time my guilt couldn't stop my fear (and my arms), his arms and body weight could. And the following, um, "incidents." It had to happen 10 to 20 times after that. Sometimes I struggled, sometimes I meekly said "I don't really want to do this"(and he would get angry), sometimes I just winced and cried out from the pain, but most of the time I just tried to relax so it wouldn't hurt as much, turn away, zone out and wait for it to be over. And of course, there's the fact that I put myself in those situations in the first place. I was scared, but I wasn't scared for my life; I didn't think he was going to kill me. I was just coming out of an abusive home and scared to stand up for myself in any way. I was just a coward. And I'm ashamed of myself for all that. Of course, I was very much in shock and denial at the time. But shock, denial, and fear of hurting his feelings were reasons I kept seeing him. I did leave him. He's not touched me again. But I want to resolve these feelings.
Member # 3
posted 05-24-2012 10:37 AM
You know, the idea that most people can even get a yell or a scream out when they're dealing with the shock of being attacked or assaulted is a false one. What's much more common is for people to freeze up when anything like that happens. Even being able to try and fight back like you did is actually very unusual.
What a sexual assault is is when someone forces or coerces someone else into something sexual they do not want without their consent. Someone fighting back or not, yelling or not, doesn't change that. Consent is some form of yes, not a lack of no. It sounds clearly like you were in a sexuallly abusive relationship, to boot, and as you might now from growing up in abuse, the way ongoing abuse works is that it wears the person being abused down over time. You obviously experienced that, you talk about it in your fifth paragraph. I'm so glad you were able to get out of this: not everyone can or does. I hope you give yourself mad props for that. And I'm so sorry you went through this at all. That all said, how can we help?
Member # 73284
posted 05-29-2012 04:54 AM
I'm sorry it took me so long to answer this (I've been sick and busy with work).
I guess my problem is that, intellectually, I know the definition of rape and I know that was what happened. But I've had trouble from the beginning and am still having trouble internalizing it, as in, not feeling guilty for what happened or for not being assertive enough. And to be perfectly honest, *had* I been educated on how sexual assault works and my rights, had I had a good deal more self-esteem and lack of concern for "hurting his feelings" because I knew my own desires deserved to be respected, I could have gotten out of that situation. Maybe not the first time, maybe I wouldn't have acted on the signs (which were massive red flags; I just rationalized and ignored them), but I would have been able to get out afterward. It makes me feel like I did this to myself, even though I know I just wasn't able to get out at the time. I don't know exactly... besides the feelings of guilt/responsibility, I think I just feel like a lesser person because I wasn't able to "take care of myself" or because I "let" myself get raped. This is both a social and psychological thing, I mean, it's not like anyone I trust is telling me that now. I'm estranged from my parents and my partner and close friends are very supportive and feminist. But I just hear it around, accidently, doing my thing. And that's only a problem because it reinforces things I once believed very unconsciously, as if there wasn't any questioning them, they were just "obvious", and still impact me emotionally. I guess I'm just asking for advice on how to deal with those feelings. [ 05-29-2012, 04:55 AM: Message edited by: Thyme Black ]
Member # 90293
posted 05-29-2012 05:24 AM
HI Thyme Black,
I can understand how hearing the dominant culture's thoughts and opinions on what people "should" do when they're faced with rape would reinforce your own insecurities. Does it help to remember that they're dead wrong? No one ever knows what they'll do in a threatening situation and to judge someone else for that or assume that anyone else would do "better" is both disrespectful and downright wrong. You know, people who *are* educated about sexual assault and violence still wind up experiencing it; even people who work as counsellors or advocates for sexual assault survivors. When it comes right down to it, the most common reaction is, as Heather said, to freeze. ...and that isn't just freezing during the rape but feeling helpless to do anything about it afterwards. I say all this as a way of saying that perhaps it's time to stop beating yourself up. There's no knowing how you could have reacted had things been different, and the evidence is pretty strong that you would likely have reacted the same way. Sexual assault is one of the most insidious crimes out there, and that's only made more so by the harmful attitudes of mainstream society. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for in terms of how to deal with the feelings. Are you able to get ongoing support from your partner and friends around this? Do you think that seeking out counselling or a support group might be helpful? I know you didn't tdo t as soon as you think you "should" have, but you did take care of yourself; you did get out.
Member # 73284
posted 05-29-2012 07:21 AM
It really doesn't help to say that they're wrong, because I've never been one to be able to say, "But I'm right," and leave it at that. There's always some nagging insecurity or anxiety. But thanks for the thought; I really do appreciate it.
There's definitely an insight for me in what you've said. I actually was relatively educated, I just wasn't prepared, and I was very beaten down psychologically from the abuse I suffered (and was still suffering at the time) from my parents. And it's completely unreasonable to expect myself to be prepared for that kind of thing. So, no, education isn't the issue. I misidentified that. But... it's not that I don't feel I shouldn't have experienced sexual assault or feel like I would always have been wrong for it. I do feel like the way it happened made me so complicit in it,* because I think that, had I pushed the issue earlier, had I been willing to get in a shouting match or say, "I don't care. Take me home," or "I don't care. I'm not seeing you again," (Which I didn't say until a month and a half after the first rape) that I would have been able to prevent it and/or the ones that followed. My thoughts aren't the most cogent on the topic because I'm still having trouble putting them together. Writing on forums tends to help me get my really explore what's going on, so I am. I'm not really sure how to stop beating myself up over this. My partner and friends are still great for support. I may join a support group or seek out counselling at some point, especially since I'm sure I do have some diagnose-able mental illnesses -- I've had the symptoms of PTSD since I was a very young child -- and it would really cut down on my stress and might be helpful to take sometime off trying to earn money** and get some disability assistance. I do feel like a lot of my emotional issues, right now, come from the idea that I somehow have to justify that fact that I got raped to the world or else I'm the bad guy. It's a weird feeling, and I'm not quite sure where it comes from. Some of these things do tie into the abuse from my parents, as well, particularly being the "bad guy" and not being responsible enough to take care of myself. *And these are never things I'd project on another survivor or anything. It's just the way my own feelings are beating me up. **A fuller story, concerning my economic situation: I've been trying to leave my parents house since I was 14, trying to earn money since I was 6 in order to do so. My parents put me in a weird blend of homeschooling, fundamentalist Christian schools, and briefly, public school. I dropped out in high school. I never graduated. I ran away at 17 as soon as it was legal and I had a real place to go. I was never able to earn money before I was 18 (this January) because my parents kept my SS and birth certificate from me. I couldn't get ID or a job. I'm in a rural area with no jobs at the moment and working to change that. I'm content writing online.
Member # 3
posted 05-29-2012 01:45 PM
Thyme: can I toss something out to you?
I know it might sound uber-obvious, but has it occurred to you -- and have you tried to really digest it -- that if no one attmepts to assault or abuse us in the first place, there is nothing TO attempt to stop or evade? In other words, this really, really can't ever be a victim's fault, because without someone trying to rape in the first place, an assault would never happen. Now, you probably know that as a fact, but I'm wondering what you think about how much you do or don't feel that as a truth, if you catch my drift. (By the way, if you want to talk about how to get evaluated for PTSD or anything else, happy to do that with you. I would just also make sure you maybe have a talk with someone at a disability office to understand that if some of your impetus there is financial, that getting disability also limits how much you can work and still get disability.)
Member # 73284
posted 06-07-2012 08:47 PM
I know it's been a long time since I've replied, and I want to say I really appreciate that. I knew it on some level, but to see it spelled out in a clear, simple way makes chewing it over easier. And that's what I've been doing these past few days: chewing it over, letting it interact with my other thoughts. That's going to be (and already has been) really helpful. Thank you.
I'm also getting better as far as work goes, and getting to a psychologist/ getting on disability is not my number one priority now; I'm not sure if I'll need to pursue that, but I might. What I'm focusing on now is simply building my physical and mental strength, and saving enough to move to the city. I'll have a lot more resources (government, medical and otherwise) available to me out there, as opposed to the middle-of-nowhereville house I'm crashing in right now. But if I do need advice on those programs, I'll come back here.