My therapist told me once that if I had reacted differently I could’ve died. so I wonder why I didn’t resist more. because then maybe I would’ve died at a happier time in my life. sure, rape is not fun and didn’t make me happy and I don’t want to do it again… that’s not how I want to die but If I’d died… It would have been before I lost my faith, before I’d been pregnant, before I lost all my friends, before I became the person that I am now. because that was what made me what I am now. If I died during it, then I would never have known a life without sleep… I was just okay. I hate who I am now but I don’t know anybody differently. I don’t remember how to be anybody differently. I wish that my therapist hadn’t said that because now I feel like I’ve done everything wrong. If I had died, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I guess I would’ve died a nobody because at least I know who I am now. If I died before then, maybe I wouldn’t have known who I was. Because my life is defined by that moment. Before is inconsequential. After is everything that I am. Without the rape, I would have never been anybody. I would never have been defined. The rape makes me who I am, without it I am nothing. With it I am nothing. Because of it I am nothing. I am not my own. My rapist makes that very clear. That is the only constant. Therefore I am nothing. Nothing but a victim, and that is how I am allowed to defined myself. He sets my parameters for me, because I belong to him. He took ownership of me. I don’t know who I am. I’m nothing with the rape; I’m nothing without it. I think what I want is just to be somebody. Maybe that’s why I take my art; my work so seriously. Because I need something to define me. And I want to choose my definition. And I wanted to be something I like. Unfortunately I didn’t pick something I was good at, but maybe that will come
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Today I went on a date with a man. And, to be honest, it was a terrible date. He stayed on his phone the entire time and wouldn’t stop talking about his ex girlfriend. By most people’s standards, not worth a second date, despite him being pretty cute.
But I’m not most people. I’m a victim. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I can meet a man. Alone. Even in public. Constantly trying to judge his movements and how turned on he is, if I could take him down in the case of a physical confrontation. And all that on top of being a little too afraid to meet his gaze or do anything that migt set him off into a mental space where he was so turned on that it would render me helpless.
Getting ready for any outting of this sort is a nightmare. I spend hours picking out clothing that will make me look attractive, but not overly sensual. Today: a long-sleeved shirt that makes my boobs look nice, and a pair of jeans that doesn’t make my ass look terrible. And, of course, sneakers to make it seem like I wasn’t trying too hard. My makeup today was a minimal, because I want to look drop-dead gorgeous, but ugly enough that he doesn’t actually want to sleep with me.
This picture of me getting ready to meet a guy in a park is so wrong. First of all: no matter how I look or act or what I say, nothing I can do can prevent me from getting raped. Or maybe it just shouldn’t have to. No woman makes the decision to be sexually assaulted, attackers make the decision to bring pain to their victims. This is a really difficult concept for me to wrap my brain around, so I’ll have to return to it on a later date. Second of all: the poor guy who I was seeing has no idea about what happened to me. And for God’s sake, it was a first date. I’m not going to tell this random guy my entire life story. But I’m judging him and holding him to the standard of awful that I know men can be. Not every man is a rapist or sexual attacker. But, because of my past, I treated him as if he could be. I was afraid to even make eye contact with him. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if that’s a way to say “that’s unfair to him,” or “it’s so much better to be safe than sorry, good for you.” But I do know that I’d rather not have to live in a workd where I have to be overly cautious.
Here’s the punchline: I feel like I’m not supposed to go on dates with men anymore. And the few times that I work up enough courage to actually go on a date, there is always that wall between the two of us (often that he is unaware of): I AM A VICTIM. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to enjoy dates with men; I should hate all of them all the time because one hurt me, right? Or maybe if I never went on dates, I wouldn’t have gotten raped. So maybe it’s my fault?
No, no. It’s not. It’s not my fault I was raped. It’s not wrong if I have fun with a man. It’s also not necessarily my date’s fault that I was raped, either. If it feels fun, good, plesant, safe: then I should be happy. My happiness is allowed.
But I still won’t be asking Mr. Basketball-shorts-and-flip-flops for any more of his time. Because I’m worth it.
Friends, family, countrymen.
These are what have gotten me through the most difficult parts of my recovery. PTSD hit me full force at the beginning of my first year at college and I was drowning. I began having debilitating panic attacks that would, and still do, render me utterly incapacitated for hours or days at a time.
And I was so ashamed. People that don’t have ptsd or who have never been raped don’t understand the utter shame that comes with absolutely everything. My goal today is not to try to explain that shame.
But I know how awful that shame is. And I know that, for some reason, people keep telling me it is nothing to be ashamed of.
The first time I told someone ‘my story’ (as I have come to have mixed feelings about calling it) it hurt. I felt no release of telling another person what had happened to me. In fact, somehow, it felt worse.
But after that. I had a panic attack. I called the person that I had told. I told them I needed help. They came over straight away and we went for a walk and I cried and threw up a little and talked through what I was feeling.
That was what was good. Having someone there for me was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. They didn’t know all the grisly details of everything that had happened to me. They still don’t. People are the greatest thing for me when I am in so much pain. If I have a problem, a bad day, or a panic attack, my friends know what is wrong and I don’t have to beat around the bush. When I need help, when I need someone, I can just ask, and I have someone.
At this point, I’ve told six people about what happened to me. And I always have someone. Because people get busy, and that’s okay. You can’t always expect one person to be there unconditionally for you. But to have someone always be there is the greatest thing in the world.
And the more people I’ve told, the easier it gets.
No, telling the first person was not easy. But now when I share my story, it is a release. And it means that I have another person to call when I need it.
All six of those that I’ve shared this with are able to love me better than those who don’t know as many things about me. These people know how hard it is for me to share, but they know that they can love me in ways that others can’t. They usually know how important they are to me and are grateful that they can love me better.
I think it is important to note that friends are different than therapists. Friendship works two ways and you can’t expect a friend to be there unconditionally for you without you also being unconditionally there for them. And it’s sometimes hard to remember that rape is a lot to deal with. Victims of rape have been forced through it. So be gentle with your friends if you do decide to share what happened to you.
But do share. It gets easier. Let those that love you learn to love you well.
PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder is something that, according to ptsd.va.gov, 94 in 100 women who experience a type of sexual assault go through.
Here is what they’ve written on it, and the link to their page.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) involves a pattern of symptoms that some individuals develop after experiencing a traumatic event such as sexual assault. Symptoms of PTSD include repeated thoughts of the assault; memories and nightmares; avoidance of thoughts, feelings, and situations related to the assault; negative changes in thought and feelings; and increased arousal (for example difficulty sleeping and concentrating, jumpiness, irritability). One study that examined PTSD symptoms among women who were raped found that almost all (94 out of 100) women experienced these symptoms during the two weeks immediately following the rape. Nine months later, about 30 out of 100 of the women were still reporting this pattern of symptoms. The National Women’s Study reported that almost one of every three all rape victims develop PTSD sometime during their lives.
For me, I didn’t experience any symptoms of PTSD until almost a full year after the event. At first, I was convinced that there was something wrong with me. If I was going to have these reactions, I reasoned, they’d have happened right after the event and already started to deteriorate. At this point, it’s been just over three years since the incident for me. As, I said, my PTSD developed last year and it goes and comes in waves. Although it seems that, recently, it’s been getting worse.
I have severe panic attacks when I’m at my lowest points, or if I’ve been exposed to some kind of “unhelpful media.” Personally, I experience a lot of restlessness and fear and jumpiness and especially nightmares. Sometimes I can go a week or so without having any sleep due to the nightmares or fear of falling asleep.
I have a couple of really good friends that help me through panic attacks on occasion. And I feel guilty as hell when I see that look of pity on their faces. But those people still hang around me for some reason, and people love me. I can’t bear to be that victim sometimes, but I am.
The thing is, it’s okay to need them. It’s okay to want to be loved. And if something they do freaks me out, it’s okay for me to want to be in control of that situation and to ask them not to do that thing or say that thing. And, eventually, my hope is that the things that others do around me won’t freak me out. Either because I’ve gotten better, or because they’re really conscious of the things that I can’t stand.
Control. It’s something that I and people like me have experienced an utter loss of. And it’s okay to go to extreme measures to regain that control. The one rule I keep to is try to make sure I’m not taking anyone else’s control from them while trying to regain my own.
Sorry for the ramble. I guess the nugget to take away is don’t be afraid of the things you need.
No, I am not writing this blog as a person in the medical field.
I am not, and will never claim to be a doctor, nurse, psychologist or psychiatrist.
But I am someone like you. Or a friend. Or a family member. I am someone maybe going through the same thing as you. Maybe I’m further along the road or way far behind you, but I’m someone who has lived through the atrocities of rape.
To some of you, that is incredibly comforting news. To others, maybe that doesn’t make any sense or it makes things more difficult.
Some of you are relieved that you’ve found someone who wants to say the things that we are prohibited from saying due to social, religious, and personal rules.
I will tell you this: I am not divulging information about myself and my recovery as a professional giving advice. I’m here as a friend sharing things that might be easier to hear from a person with a similar experience rather than someone who read about it in a textbook, but knows all the “right” answers.
That is who I am. My “mission” is to reach out to others so that, together, we can become survivors.
I want to be careful, because this is a sensitive topic. And I don’t believe that everything that worked for me will work for every human out there. But if something worked for me, why not share it in the hope that it will do another some good? If something worked for me, there has to be something that will work for you, too. I hope that you will share it here so that we can all learn and grow together.
So that it feels less as if I’m a total stranger, here are some things I love about me:
I love coffee.
I have a cat named Dixie.
I own several plants.
My favorite color is orange.
I pretend that I’m a vegan, but really I’m a vegetarian.
I love classical music.
I have nice hair.
I was raped.
I like shoes.
I am studying to work as a hair/makeup/costume designer in theatre.
Nothing is more important to me than friendship.
What are some things that you love about you?
What do you want to know about me?
What questions do you have?
Leave a comment below, or under the “feedback & sharing” tab.
All my love
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 now.
I myself am on the long and horrible road to recovery. I am a victim of rape. That was why I started this blog, or at least really dedicated myself to it three years ago. I thought that the art of poetry would help me through the tough times, and it did for a while. But people really just don’t talk about the big R-word enough. That needs to change. I know that I’m not the only person out there with problems and questions and a need for answers as well as someone to talk to.
So I’m changing the face of this blog. I am going to talk about what happened to me. I am going to talk about the things that I’m doing to get through it. I invite your questions, should you have them. Or share your story. Or read about the story of my life and recovery. Share tips and tricks or just read about them. You do you. I just need there to be a space where this can be talked about.
Everyone’s too scared to do it, so I will.
And for those out there that want to be dicks. Just don’t. People like me need a safe space for this. If you feel the need to be aggressive/passive aggressive. Awesome. I understand that. Don’t do it here. Because this is important to me. I’m not going to rain on your parade.
This is important.
It needs to be talked about.
So let’s talk.
Because you and I
We like to sleep
Covered in love
Your weary head
Like a woman in labor
Is waiting for you to