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Author Topic: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape  (Read 13441 times)

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Offline ZillahTopic starter

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I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« on: May 31, 2012, 02:28:53 PM »
Do you remember where you were on the night of December 31, 1999?
 
A lot of you probably remember Y2K Ė the night all the computers were supposed to go kablooie when they rolled over from 1999 to 2000. If you donít, you probably at least remember it as a really exciting New Yearís Eve, the start of a new millennium. And a lot of the parties were awesome.
 
Unfortunately, I remember it extremely well.
 
It was the night I was first raped.
 
I was a senior in college, and my boyfriend at the time had quite the marvelous fantasy of he and I having sex when the clock struck midnight. Which was a pretty good fantasy, except:
 
1. We hadnít actually ever had sex yet, and
2. He neglected to actually discuss this fantasy with me, or at least tell me about it.
 
Some background Ė weíd been going out a few months, and had been friends ever since freshman year of college. Then Ė much like now Ė I was something of an extrovert, quick with the sarcastic and suggestive comments with friends and acquaintances.  I was also a huge flirt (still am, at times). A lot of things Iíve said to guys and girls alike havenít been meant serious Ö but at times, theyíre taken that way.
 
I was also raised in a Catholic household. At the time I was going out with my boyfriend, I wasnít a virgin, but I took sex Ė at least the Ďinsert penis into vaginaí kind Ė as something to not be taken lightly. (Like Bill Clinton, Iíve never considered oral, um, pleasuring to be full-blown Ďsexí, so that was usually what I did with my boyfriends instead.) Iíd only had sex with guys three or four times prior to that night, and only with boyfriends that I thought I was in love with. Sex was something that meant more than having fun to me, it was about an emotional connection, something incredibly powerful.
 
And I didnít feel that connection at the time with my boyfriend. Nice guy (or so I thought), but I wasnít in love with him.

I went to his apartment on New Yearís Eve. He didnít want to go out and party, he just wanted us to hang out and have fun. That was fine with me. We put on the television, chatted, drank some champagne, laughed, drank some more champagne, starting fooling around Ö
 
Ö and then, with a couple of minutes to midnight, he whispered his plan in my ear.
 
I told him no.
 
He repeated his plan, louder, and kind of surprised. Like I wasnít allowed to say no.
 
And I said no again. Even offered my alternative, which you can probably guess at. That, I was fine doing. But I didnít want to have sex with him.
 
And then we were arguing, and then yelling at each other Ö and before I knew it, he was literally tearing my clothes off, and hitting me, and holding me down, and then Ö yeah.
 
Why didnít I fight back? Trust me, I did.
 
Why didnít I run away? Partly because he was way bigger than me Ö but, to be honest, partly because I was in shock. I was numb to it at the time, in a way Ė Ďthis canít be happening to meí kept echoing through my head the whole time. He was a friend, someone I really liked and trusted Ö and yet, he had no problem smacking me across the face with the palm of his hand, angrily calling me a cocktease and raping me.
 
The most haunting thing about it was Ö well, he got his fantasy. The television was on in the background the whole time, and when the countdown started in Times Square, he timed himself to it. Even now, if I hear some sort of countdown, I want to curl up in a ball and throw up, no matter where I am.
 
When it was over, I was still in shock. And I think I stayed that way because the bastard was smiling and talking to me like weíd both had the most wonderful time. He acted like Iíd agreed to have sex with him, because of course, why wouldnít I? It was like he was living in alternative universe Ė presumably one where no means yes Ė and everything was just sunshine and lollipops, and he hadnít slapped me or wrapped his hands around my throat while he brutally raped me. Iím not really sure exactly what he said anymore, but what I do remember is punching him in the face when he tried to kiss me and said we should do it again soon. Then I grabbed my clothes and got out of there.
 
I reported the incident to the campus authorities the next day. Absolutely nothing happened to my now ex-boyfriend. Total he said/she said. (Memo to anyone whoís assaulted at a college Ė when you report what happened, report it to the actual local police, and not Ďcampus securityí. The college has a vested interest in saving its own ass, not helping yours.)
 
What was probably more disappointing after that was that he and I had a lot of mutual friends. And thatís when I learned who my friends actually were. According to him, Iíd led him on, and Iíd been fine with everything that happened that night, and he didnít know why Iíd Ďflaked outí (his exact words) and was making shit up about him. And remember that Ďsome backgroundí part a few paragraphs ago? A whole bunch of people who I thought were my friends knew I was a flirt, knew I liked to make suggestive comments, knew I was an extrovert Ö and they believed him.
 
This happened twelve years ago. And Ö itís like a scar, or worse, a wound that never seems to fully heal. Some days, I forget itís there. Iíve even gone months without even thinking about it, or giving it a second thought. And other days, Iím reliving the whole thing, and itís vivid and depressing, and I feel almost paralyzed thinking about what happened.
 
Itís also easy to tell yourself the obvious and important things, which are true, and which you should never forget. You said no. No means no. Itís not your fault. You didnít ask for this. You didnít Ďlet ití happen.
 
But while itís easy to intellectually understand that, emotionally Ö well, I know I shouldnít, but I still find myself wondering what I couldíve done differently, wondering where the fault is mine.
 
Itís also aggravating that this one stupid night has so profoundly affected my life, and I hate admitting that at times. If nothing else, I have serious trust issues. Iím guarded and suspicious about most people, including those whom I know I shouldnít feel that way at all. And what makes me sad about that is that I know I push people away from me Ė very good people, who love and care about me Ė because I donít trust them. And it makes me sad that something stupid and awful and pointless twelve years ago that lasted less than twenty minutes has affected so many things and so many people in my life.
 
I kept this whole thing relatively bottled up for a long, long time. I think Iím only coming to terms with it now Ė not healthy, I know, but at least Iím trying. Iíve maybe only told a half-dozen people in my life about exactly what happened. Itís a really hard thing to talk about, mostly because Iím not really looking for sympathy Ö rather, Iím looking to make sense out of something that really doesnít make sense, and Iím looking to at least let go of the awful, sick feelings of pain and violation, if not to forget them the way Iíd like.
 
Talking about it reminds me of what I wrote in the title Ė ĎIím a survivor, not a victimí. And the more I talk about that, the more I believe it, and the closer I inch towards some kind of catharsis.
 
I donít know if writing all this will help me get any closer to what Iím looking for Ė but maybe it might help someone else. If it does, Iíll be fine with that. :)
 
Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 02:50:18 PM by Zillah »

Offline SeriousMoonlight

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2012, 05:31:57 PM »
Thank you for writing this, and for sharing your story. This was powerful to read and I'll admit I got a bit misty-eyed during it.

I was also raped by a man who - at the time - was my best friend, and I'm still working on feeling like a survivor and not a victim. But knowing someone else is approaching a catharsis, as you put it, gives me some hope that someday I, too, can move on from this and not let it dominate my life. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

Offline Florence

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012, 06:16:21 PM »
As a guy... whenever I hear something like this, it just sort of makes me hate my entire gender. I've never understood it, and frankly... I never want to. I mean, I can understand carnal pleasure and all that stuff... I guess I just don't understand how some people can live with themselves.

Anyway, I don't really know if there's anything I could say that would be fitting, so let me just close this by saying thank you for sharing this. As unpleasant as it is to hear, its important, I think, for people to make sure that others hear things like this.

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 04:10:51 AM »
*hugs Zillah*

I think you are very brave for exposing your vulnerable points so openly, Zillah. I haven't been able to in all those 11 years. I did try to get therapy for all that happened in that relationship, but it didn't help much. Like you, I have severe trust issues (I did let him in before the thing happened, he said he wanted to talk things out after I broke up with him). I didn't tell anyone for almost 5 years. 6 years after he raped me he contacted me and asked whether we could forget what happened and sit and talk like two grown adults.

What I hate most is knowledge that every day I spend in this shell, he wins. He did it to brand me as his, I recognized that much over time, so that nobody else would ever have me and knowing he succeeded gives me an awful feeling of despair. Knowing that he afterwards formed a happy family, whereas I struggle to form a simple relationship to build one upon, while there's nothing I'd want more...

I wish you many light days and a small minority of the dark ones.

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 08:38:54 AM »
@SeriousMoonlight: ~hugs~ Thank you for reading. I donít know if a total catharsis is ever possible, but I think Iíve moved much closer to a place where I donít feel like having been raped is negatively affecting the rest of my life. I sincerely hope weíre both able to reach that place someday soon. :)

@Finn: Please donít hate your whole gender. :) Doing that, to be honest, is what caused (and still causes, to a certain degree) a lot of my trust issues. Most guys arenít like my scummy rapist ex-boyfriend. But it took me quite a while after getting raped to not paint guys with that sort of broad brush Ė not ďoh, heís a rapistĒ, but more ďoh, he just wants one thing from me, he doesnít actually give a shit about meĒ. Which wasnít fair to some really, genuinely nice guys Iíve known Ö and part of the fallout of being raped (for me, anyway.) It took me a lot of time to let my guard down again and not automatically assume the worst in people.

@jouzinka: Well, I donít feel particularly brave, but thank you. :)  It took me maybe ten years to even be able to discuss the fact that I was raped with people. Apart from friends at college who knew about the incident, itís something Iíve rarely talked about with anyone until recently Ö Iíve still never told my parents about it. (Which is all sorts of stupid, because I still feel incredibly embarrassed and uncomfortable about the idea of talking to them about something that wasnít my fault Ö but again, much as I can rationally tell myself that, I canít emotionally bring myself to do it.)  Iíve come to realize, though, that for me, talking about it and confronting my fears and insecurities is helpful.

Knowing your rapist is awful on so many levels, but one of the worst is seeing how they get to move on with their lives while you donít. (Assuming that they arenít charged with anything, which mine wasnít, and Iím assuming yours wasnít as well, jouzinka.) My rapist walked away from that night essentially like nothing happened, apart from losing his girlfriend and a few of his other friends. But apart from that, it really didnít impact his life at all. While for me, it had a profound, unhealthy impact on my life and my relationships for years. Itís hard to let go of that sometimes, but at the end of the day all you can try to make better is your own life. Donít concern yourself with his.

I hope you have more bright and beautiful days ahead for you as well. :)

Offline kckolbe

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 10:32:13 AM »
You seem to have become a strong person, and if it is any consolation, what he lost that night was a pretty amazing woman.

Online arkhos

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 08:57:22 PM »
What a powerful, moving story. Thank you for sharing, Zillah. I hope being able to share it, gives you at least some sense of empowerment, another step towards you owning what happened to you, instead of the other way around.

I was married to someone who was raped when they were a teen. No matter how hard I tried, it destroyed our marriage - and it happened 12 YEARS before I had ever met her. I've seen first-hand what it can do to a person.

And when I hear such stories, I want to hunt down the men responsible, and see them get their just-desserts. I've -always- been for stronger punishments for rapists. I've seen people go to jail longer for stealing a TV than some men do for rape. Seriously?? I mean, seriously????? I've always supported castration for convicted rapists.

If we as human beings are nothing but animals, then I think we need to simply stop with the false-pretenses of being 'superior' in any way to animals. But if we want to live and act like we ARE better than animals, then we need to just do it, and realize that a woman's body belongs to her - and that she has a -choice-.

Thanks for sharing.

Offline Kimbersqk

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2012, 07:54:33 PM »
Hey there.

Wow. Powerful and touching story. I can relate in more ways than one. My ex-fiance did the same thing, but repeatedly. I had two choices, be beat or have sex. Well, which would you choose? Sadly, I was with him for 2 years. Eventually when he threatened to kill me, I kicked him out. Then I moved a few months later to a different county because of a job offer.

There was a lot to our relationship. I tell you, even writing stories on here, I cannot have verbal abuse because of the relationship. Now, I have a "kind of" (long story on that but for now is because of distance) boyfriend. He has had to deal with a lot thru me because of my experience.

I did the whole therapy thing as well. First started at a "Battered Women's Shelter" to try out some kind of something there. Then, after one night, I knew it wasn't for me. I almost walked out because I was quite angry the way things were said and handled. Then I tried a one on one therapist thing. I went for a few months. Then just came to a halt because nothing more was really said.

I still relive some of the things that were done and said. In my dreams, I hear and see it. When I get out of the shower, in the mirror, I see his face and hear his voice. It scares me so bad. I know he is at least 1600 miles away (I don't know the conversion in km).

Good for you of telling your story. Seriously, right now I cannot believe I am writing this. I want you to know that there are more people out there who have experienced something to the same and that I am here to talk to if you wish. I think I speak for everybody that responds to this, if you wish to talk to any of us... Feel free. *hugs*

Offline Chris Brady

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2012, 08:28:53 PM »
I hate rape.  I can handle in a 'fantasy' environment such as E, but in real life, it makes me want to take a chainsaw to the genitals of the offender.  And maybe wiggle it a bit.

You ladies are among the bravest and strongest people I know.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2012, 10:29:45 AM »
@kckolbe: Thank you, although I think I lost a lot more that night than he ever did. I know what you meant, though, and I really, really appreciate the kindness of your words. :)

@arkhos: ~hugs~ I'm sorry to hear that. I know that the experience of rape has affected every relationship I've been in since it happened, unfortunately, and usually not for the better. And I've had partners who've been there for me, offering help, and I've still turned them away - and often, treated them badly in the process. It really destoryed my ability to trust people and let them into my life. All I can say that if you're in a relationship with someone who's been raped, just try to be there for them, and if they push you away, try to understand that they probably aren't pushing you, but rather the demons they can't let go of, no matter how much they want to.

Also, something more than worth stating - since I've become more involved in the LGBT community the past few years, I've become acutely aware that rape is far more than just "guy assaults a girl". I've met guys who've been raped by their boyfriends, girls brutally assaulted by other women ... it's an issue that cuts into every community, regardless of sexual orientation.

@Kimbersqk: ~VERY big hugs~ Again, sorry to hear that ... and incredibly glad you got out of that. I went through something of an abusive relationship a couple of years ago, and it's hard sometimes to recognize it as abusive when you're deeply immersed inside one. No one deserves what you went through.

Organized therapy hasn't really worked well for me either - I've done the group therapy sessions, and seen an individual therapist. Neither particularly helped. Finding some kind of healing has been something I've needed to do on my own terms, in my own way, at my own pace. But for anyone who's ever been raped, I can't recommend enough that you at least try therapy. At least you'll meet other people who've been through what you've been through, and will understand your pain. And just because it doesn't work for some people doesn't mean it won't work for you.

@Chris Brady: Thanks. :) I'm actually not offended by anyone with rape fantasies here on E, although it's not really something I understand. I've actually participated in one or two RPs here involving rape, in fact, just to see if it would help me understand the fantasy ... suffice it to say they didn't really work out too well for me, and I still don't understand them.  ::) But if they work for other people, and more importantly, if they stay as fantasies, that's fine with me.

Offline zbeast

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2012, 12:07:42 AM »
Thanks, Zillah, for sharing all you've shared.  I think it is particularly important here in a forum where we sometimes (perhaps often) engage in fantasy.   I find myself wondering (and not just here, and not just because of what you wrote, but because of what you wrote, I'm moved to discuss it), find myself wondering why we engage in fantasies, why I engage in fantasies, why certain ones turn me on, why others are turned on by what I abhor (even in fantasy).  Relatively anonymous contact in a fantasy world does seem like a relatively safe way to explore dangerous ideas.

Anyway, for me, I've found that I can only be fully engaged in scenarios that seem real to me - where I can really imagine myself as my character.   I can be mean.   I can be rough.   I cannot rape, even when I know it's not rape.  I cannot hurt even though I know it's not physical hurt.  I have tried playing a rape scene a couple of times because my partner at the time wanted one and I wanted to please my partner but I was uncomfortable (I don't know if that showed in the performance or not - I hope not) and don't ever want to again.   I do think one reason (other than satisfying the request) that I was willing to do it was that I wondered if it would help me understand the mentality of a rapist.  I don't think it did because I can still not fathom why.   It is clear to me that the cruelty, selfishness, control, all must play a huge role.

Anyway, the only way we can live is to come to grips with ourselves and I think you're well on your way and I do hope you find your catharsis.   I've never been raped but I do understand what it's like to be guarded, to be hesitant to trust, to not reveal oneself.   I'm not entirely sure why I have such a thick shell - sometimes it seems pretty damn thin and I feel very exposed - but I do know that it's hard for me to share myself, at least completely.   You know, I think that roleplaying with strangers may just be an attempt to better understand myself, to figure out what I'm comfortable with and what I'm not and why.   It's like a little laboratory.   

Well, hmm... that was a bit of a tangent.  I hope you don't mind.   Thank you for sharing and prompting me to share.

Offline Shjade

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2012, 04:00:26 AM »
Organized therapy hasn't really worked well for me either - I've done the group therapy sessions, and seen an individual therapist. Neither particularly helped. Finding some kind of healing has been something I've needed to do on my own terms, in my own way, at my own pace. But for anyone who's ever been raped, I can't recommend enough that you at least try therapy. At least you'll meet other people who've been through what you've been through, and will understand your pain. And just because it doesn't work for some people doesn't mean it won't work for you.

It's weirdly selfish, I know, but this is always the hardest part of hearing/reading stories like these: I always want to do something about it, to try to help somehow, and at the same time I know there's just no way to do so. It just doesn't work that way; you can't "fix" a person, nor does pushing an attempt to do so ever turn out well. It creates a rather unnerving sort of frustration and uncertainty: what should I say? what should I do? will X help or just make things worse? Blergh. x.x

There's also the side-effect of usually wanting to find the guilty party and introduce him to a car bumper moving at an unsafe speed, which probably isn't good either. >.>

That aside...there's really nothing I can add to this. I'm glad you feel able to share something this personal, and painful, here. Anonymous or not, opening up a little invites so much space to push out the bad and let it get some sun, as it were. Give it some exposure to get it gone, if only a little bit at a time.

...that bit about the countdown just...some people, I don't even know. I mean, I understand how and why people can be born a little "off" in the head, but I always have trouble understanding how people that far off can lead otherwise normal lives. It seems like they shouldn't fit in as well as they do. Mystifying.

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2012, 11:28:27 AM »
@zbeast: Thank you Ė and I didnít mind at all. Appreciate your thoughtful musings. :) Fantasies, for the most part, I think are great things Ė they let you explore things that you probably canít experience in real life, or you wouldnít want to experience. When it comes to rape fantasies, I suppose itís wanting to see what itís like have total power and control over someone else.

As Iíve mentioned, I donít understand it, but I have no issue with someone with those sorts of fantasies. Just donít expect me to explore them with that someone at this point. :P I also wonder sometimes if darker fantasies like that are either a healthy outlet that lets a person ďdoĒ such things without ever needing to act on them in reality, or maybe theyíre unfortunately a stepping stone sometimes to the real thing. I personally believe that 99% of the time itís the former and not the latter, but I try not to dwell on that too much.

@Shjade: Thanks. Iíll say, at least for me, itís been awkward as well accepting help. Iíve known well-meaning friends whoíve tried helping me through tough times Ö but what they think is help at times really isnít, and sometimes itís been hard to keep in mind the good intentions instead of lashing out at the results. Which, of course, usually means that those nice people will then Ďkeep their distanceí, Ďrespect your privacyí, etc., Ö except thatís not really what I want. Trouble is, much as friends want to help but donít really know quite what to do, most times Iíd like help and support but I donít know what to ask for, or how to ask for it. So I think supportís often an awkward thing for all parties involved.

That being said, support is crucial for anyone whoís been raped. If youíre trying to help someone out, just be there for them, even if theyíre actively pushing you away. In the long run, theyíll appreciate it. And if youíve been raped, remember the bottom line Ė these are friends who are trying to help me, even if it seems like whatever theyíve been doing is anything but help. Iíve gotten better at recognizing that, and reminding myself of how awesome it is to have friends with good intentions that want to help me.

Offline Kirce

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2012, 04:53:51 PM »
~hugs Zillah and squeeeezes~

I'm so sorry about that horrible experience but I thank you for sharing it so openly, it really says a whole book about you, you ARE very brave! As for that guy, I honestly hope that he dies in a fire. I know that you probably hear this quite often but if you ever need a friendly girl to talk to, about anything, then simply shoot me a PM! Sometimes talking to a stranger helps a lot! :)

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2012, 01:08:57 PM »
@Kirce: ~hugs back~ Thank you. If I need someone to talk to, Iíll definitely keep your kind offer in mind. :-) And yes, itís odd how talking to strangers is sometimes easier Ö I guess thatís because you worry (or at least I do) about what friends might think of you, or how theyíll react to what you say. As much as therapy didnít really work for me, it was easier talking to strangers in a support group for the first time about my experiences Ö and when I talked to my friends and family much, much later, I think it was easier because Iíd done it with the group first.

As for hating my attacker, I canít really say I hate him anymore. That being said, I still think heís a piece of shit for what he did, and Iím not about to send him Christmas cards anytime soon Ö and I certainly donít think Iíll ever forgive him. Iím not that big of a person. But when I think about how much of my life heís affected, and how much heís taken away from me over the years Ė well, I just donít want to spend any more negative energy on him. Iíd rather keep my thoughts and my dreams on more positive things. Iíve wasted enough time channeling my anger and frustration in unproductive (and occasionally hurtful) ways because of him, and I donít want to do that anymore. When you hate something, you canít let go of the bad parts of that thing, and Iíve reached a stage in my life Ė I hope Ė where Iím ready to let go.

Offline Remiel

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2012, 02:16:01 PM »
Zillah, thank you so much for sharing your story with our community.  I'm truly sorry you had to go through this ordeal.  Hopefully, the act of telling it has been therapeutic for you in some way.

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2012, 02:47:51 PM »
This is partly inspired by Shjadeís post above.
 
I was going out with this guy a few years ago, well after the incident mentioned in my first post, and after a few other unpleasant incidents in my life as well. One of the things I both loved and hated about him was that he was one of the most painfully honest and blunt people Iíd ever met in my life. No bullshit from him Ė he didnít sugarcoat anything. Conversations with him usually went right to the point. Which most of the time, was something I really appreciated Ė I can be painfully blunt as well Ė but sometimes it led to some very uncomfortable moments, and on more than a few occasions, an ugly screaming match.
 
I forget how we got on the subject, but we were talking about something, and I mentioned that I wasnít comfortable with a situation, and brought up being raped as a reason that I wasnít comfortable with it. And so Ė and I mean this, he meant this without any maliciousness Ė he asked me with all sincerity so, when are you finally going to get over all this?
 
And my response Ė without the loud volume and the four-letter expletives, and the slamming doors Ė was essentially this: If I fucking knew how to Ďget overí this, donít you think I wouldíve already?
 
In hindsight, in his weird way, my then-boyfriend was trying to be helpful. But he wasnít, although he genuinely intended to be helpful Ė it just didn't come out that way. And in thinking about it, I think itís because he saw rape as an event. To him, it was a finite point in time. It was something that happened to me, something very painful and traumatic Ö but as far as he could tell, it was just something in the past, something that could simply be left behind.
 
However, for me, and for anyone I know whoís ever been raped? Itís not an event. Itís an experience. And itís probably the most brutally personal violation anyone can ever experience. Itís a total, humiliating loss of control, where someone does something so intimate to you against your will Ö itís not something I think someone can ever fully leave in the past. It haunts you. There's times I can still smell my rapist's cologne, cheap and shitty as it was. I can picture every last detail in that apartment, and remember every single word of the conversations we had that night. I wish I could forget it all, but I can't Ė it's burned into my mind. And like a burn, it's slow to heal, and the scars won't go away.
 
There's the obvious ways the experience affected me. For example, for a long time, around New Year's Eve, I became an insecure, paranoid mess, to the point that I'd lock myself in my room that day and that night and turn off the lights. I didn't want to hear any celebrations, and I definitely didn't want to hear a goddamn countdown. And if I happened to be in a relationship at the time, under no circumstances did I want to see or talk to my significant other at the time. I wanted to be alone, even though I was miserable and depressed, and was doing little but reliving the whole thing in my head. I did that for ten years. It's only been the past two years that I've gotten past that Ö and even then, I don't drink, I don't go out, and I try to have an extremely quiet evening with the people I love most in the world instead.
 
But this experience also affected so much more in my life. I've mentioned my trust issues Ö by that, what I mean is that I would (and still occasionally do) intensely distrust most people when I first meet them. Especially if they're nice Ė I automatically assume that they've got an ulterior motive. But beyond that, assuming I don't push them away completely and then they somehow get my trust Ö well, then I tend to trust them too much. I put them on pedestals, and then expect too much from them. So when the inevitable breach of trust finally comes (which, a lot of time, isn't actually a breach at all, but at the time it happens I sure as fuck perceive it as one), the pendulum swings back too far the other way, and once more I'm back to intensely distrusting someone Ė sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad ones, but either way it's way more intense that it probably should be.
 
Also Ö well, sex. I mentioned in my initial post how it had been something special to me, something with an emotional component, something that was very personal and intimate. After being raped, the obvious happened at first Ė I didn't even want to be touched by anyone, let alone have sex with them. But later on, when I starting having sex again Ö the emotional component was gone. Vanished. Bye-bye. I got a lot of physical pleasure out of it, but absolutely zero emotional pleasure. Which, I'm sure, worked for a few of the guys I went to bed with, but for others, it was a problem. They wanted to make love, I wanted to fuck. Sex became very distinctly 'not special' to me for a very long time, at least on an emotional level, and certainly not personal and intimate. Being unable to connect the physical pleasure with that emotion caused a lot of destructive things to happen in my life, and ruined more than one good relationship in my life.
 
There's many, many other ways this has affected me Ö probably too many to mention, or at least coherently write for this blog. And for me, probably the most awful part of shit like this becomes the realization of how profoundly this one incident Ė fuck it, being raped, I'm sick of typing 'this incident' Ė has affected so many aspects of my life Ö and not wanting that to be an excuse for the bad things that have happned in my life. I think Ė and if I'm wrong, I apologize Ė but I think that depression can be sort of like this, too. I don't want the thought of yes, I was raped to be an excuse or a crutch for my shitty behavior in good relationships, or my severe trust issues, or my inability to connect emotionally with people, or in anything. To me, it sounds like a cop-out. I've consciously made a lot of bad decisions in my life, some of them appallingly bad. Nobody forced me to make these bad decisions, and rape didn't hold a gun to my head when I made them. So to say things like "well, I don't trust people because I was raped" and 'I didn't connect well to people emotionally because I was raped" doesn't sit well with me.
 
But at the same time, if I say that the experience didn't have any effect whatsoever on these things in my life Ö well, that's a lie. Because it did. It's not the reason such things happened Ö but it's certainly a reason. Acknowledging that can be depressing at times, but it's also true. Pretending I wasn't raped and everything's fine in my life and it didn't affect me in the slightest doesn't really work, and not only that, it's stupid.
 
A lot of this stuff, I guess, is mostly stuff that seems obvious. And to me, it should've been obvious Ö but it wasn't, not at all, at least not while I was living through it. There were plenty of nights I'd come home after fighting with one boyfriend or another about something stupid, and telling them what miserable, untrustworthy pieces of shit they were, and only then would I realize what I'd done Ė and why. I've found that it's one thing to be aware of the scars you have, and quite another to know how to live with those scars.
 
A couple of people have asked me if I've found the catharsis yet I was looking for by starting this blog. So far, the answer is no Ö but I'm feeling better for writing it. And I feel like I'm slowly inching closer to that day.
 
I also feel like I'm learning to live with scars a little bit better as well. :)

Offline NejraTu

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2012, 02:46:43 PM »
Please bare with me while I relate to you because I'm not always good at distilling my mind into these neat, linear sentences. I am moved by your open honesty and the conflict you feel in yourself about being raped. Reading everyone else's replies it's obvious you have a support network here that is as open as you are to facing reality even if we don't understand it or quite know how to respond to it. It warms my heart and makes me hug you all in a cosmic sense for we are human beings, not human doings.

I was seven years old when I was  first raped by someone I knew and I got the sense he was just repeating what had been done to him with a desire to be the one in control and I escaped into my mind and the reality I've come to call "Mandy land" where there is peace and understanding for all. I didn't tell anyone for about ten years (when he was scheduled to be released from prison for a different crime) after it stopped because I was afraid my Dad would kill him. Even as a child my heart was full of hope for peace even through atrocities and through my experiences and knowledge I can share some things that have helped me find peace in my life as a rape survivor.

1) Trust isn't something you just get, it's earned and every person is different so know that your lack of trusting people isn't entirely misplaced or your desire to trust them 'too' much. That said there are also different levels of trust and to assume giving one gives all is naive to the complexities of life. I trust my cat to love me but I don't trust him to catch my fall, if you know what I mean. :D I'm over simplifying so I don't ramble. Celebrate the small ways you trust and learn to identify the ways you don't and why. Is it a specific, displayed behavior or an expectation that it might turn up? When you feel you trust too much, consider why you feel let down or why you thought they wouldn't. Sometimes it's not trust that's the culprit its your own expectations and misunderstandings of anther's mind. Communication is key and understanding the combination.

2) I'm not sure how much you know about your brain but it doesn't actually know the difference between a memory and what you experience in your physical reality right...now. ;) ;D  -chuckles- Ahem, this comes into play when you feel the way you do about countdowns and how some people make you feel that prompts your lack of trust. All it takes is a trigger to act like a shortcut on your desktop to the memory of that night and your mind releases chemicals that allow it to experience the memory as it does reality which leaves you feeling sick. The key to breaking this is to rewire your response to the memory (neurons that fire together wire together). I do this by being aware of when I'm having an echo -as I call it- and forcing myself to think of something I enjoy instead, cutting short the memory and lessening the strength of the 'wires.' For you it could be thinking of something a countdown would make you excited about. Like a shuttle launch, or the countdown to the opening of a film, etc to force your connection to countdowns away from your rape and back toward the things that you enjoy. It's not easy, but it can be done.

3)  To the same effect as the above; the ways being raped has effected your life since then, you have to realize, IS a choice you made. The way you feel about something is a response, but what you do about it is a choice. Its a hard pill to swallow but by closing yourself in and allowing yourself to assume the worst in people you kept re-enforcing your connection to that memory and your experience but also tagging new experiences to it that become apart of it's network as seen in your recount of how your became. That you realize this (and even better) feel sick of it is an amazing step to recovering the life you want to live.  ;D I'm very proud of you even if that seems weird coming from a stranger, it's the Quantum Activist in me. So being aware of your echos and choosing to think differently about them is within your own power, you just have to believe in yourself and chose to do it.

4) Which brings me to that recovery and the "how do I 'get over' it?!".... the answer is, you don't. But some part of you already knows that because you very clearly understand that experiences aren't dots on a line, they are networks of impressions and realities exploding from the dots on a line we consider time. Right now your networks are like rapids, churning and coiling, sometimes swirling in on themselves with confusion and conflict of understanding and emotion. Once, I'm sure, you fell off your bike and scraped your knee real bad or some such and what ever you did to cause injury made you feel sick and shaky to do again but eventually, over time, you learn that the experience was an exception, not a rule to reality. You also learned that there were ways to avoid falling again while also knowing you can't control everything as I'm betting it wasn't the last time you fell or the last time you got back on the bike...You turned those rapids into an exciting and winding river of experiences that sometimes got stuck but you were always able to paddle through. I don't mean to compare rape to a scraped knee or kayaking but rather the way the mind and heart can overcome the echos of a scarring experience and find the freedom of enjoyment in future experiences again. The experiences are different but the 'fixing' hows are parallel as apart of human nature and the power of the mind.

5) It's not a race. It's been almost twenty years for me and I still have to remind myself of these things. I still feel uncomfortable when some men touch me but here's another little nerd tid-bit for you... people's intentions have an effect on the molecules of water (among other things) and being that people are oh-so-hydrated, the "feelings" you get from people sometimes is a literal reaction of the water in the cells of your body to the intentions projected toward you; so, trust them. If someone touches you and it doesn't make you feel good inside (in your heart too with compassion or excitement, etc) then there's a reason for it. Your body isn't just a husk it's a machine and like any good (superior) machine, it has built in warning signals.  ;D Life is an experience so don't let one rule your life. Choose to embrace others and know you are who you are, not what's been done to you.

I apologize for taking up so much room and time but I trust my compulsions to speak up and share and thank you for your time.

Cheers,
Mandy aka Tu

P.S. I welcome conversation so if I'm welcome I'll be checking back in again! :)

Offline NejraTu

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2012, 02:49:13 PM »
Oh... one last blurb: What others know about you doesn't change who you are, just how much of what makes you: you, they know. ;) Keep that in mind and other peoples responses to what you share will only embarrass them, not you.  ;D

Offline persephone325

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2012, 05:08:03 AM »
Wow. I know we don't know each other. Hell, I'm not even an approved member yet! But having the courage to talk about something like that is amazing. It might have taken many years, but at least you're talking about it and maybe getting some unresolved emotions off your chest.

I have never been raped, so I can't say I understand what you went through. Or what you're currently going through. You should just know that there are people who care about you and believe that you are a strong woman. Just by reading this, I admire your courage and strength.

You are your own worst enemy, so don't doubt yourself or anything else about you.

Offline Sujini

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2012, 11:07:19 AM »
Hello dearie,

It is unfortunate when something like this happens and I do know your pain. I won't talk about my experiences because it sounds so fiction even though I know it isn't. The unfortunate part is that once rape happens it stays forever. The key is to accept the fact it has happened and it is also in the past. It is when we are in denial that learning to live with the experience is detrimental.

Looking back at the experience, examining it and trying to figure out what went wrong and try to learn from it is natural and not always a bad thing. The only problem is you only have one experience so it is hard to look for the tell-tell signs of oncoming dangers. I am not saying you need more experiences just it is harder to learn from the experience. Most of the painful experiences we go through have a life lesson and when we do not learn what it is teaching us, it tends to happen again. I guess for me my experiences taught me enough to save myself twice from abductions, once when I was 8 years old and another when I was 17. I am almost 2 scores.

Rape is so all consuming because it affect not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. When your mind forgets, your body remembers. When you body forgets, heart remembers. There is always one part of you that is always in tune with the traumatic effect. You should set a side an appointment with yourself once a week for about 5 or 10 minutes and just grieve privately. One of those open mouth crying sessions where you can cry out all your pain. Eventually you get to a point where you do not need to grieve. Eventually you get to a point where it won't control you and you will learn to control it.

Eventually you do need to get to a point where you have to believe it is not your fault and you did not deserve it. You got to get to the point where you believe you deserve better and make sure it is part of your confidence. If you continue to have fear, it will pour out in your aura and your energy. When you go out and talk to people, you will unconsciously broadcast the fear and it comes across as being meek. The reason why I say this so you do not fall victim to other monsters in this world.

There is so much more I can write but I am out of time. But I will be back later to say more. You are not alone, and there is a way to find your center. Keep your chin up and shoulder squared, believe you are worthy.

Offline Sujini

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2012, 12:59:55 PM »
Hello dearie,

It is unfortunate when something like this happens and I do know your pain. I won't talk about my experiences because it sounds so fiction even though I know it isn't. The unfortunate part is that once rape happens it stays forever. The key is to accept the fact it has happened and it is also in the past. It is when we are in denial that learning to live with the experience is detrimental.

Looking back at the experience, examining it and trying to figure out what went wrong and try to learn from it is natural and not always a bad thing. The only problem is you only have one experience so it is hard to look for the tell-tell signs of oncoming dangers. I am not saying you need more experiences just it is harder to learn from the experience. Most of the painful experiences we go through have a life lesson and when we do not learn what it is teaching us, it tends to happen again. I guess for me my experiences taught me enough to save myself twice from abductions, once when I was 8 years old and another when I was 17. I am almost 2 scores.

Rape is so all consuming because it affect not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. When your mind forgets, your body remembers. When you body forgets, heart remembers. There is always one part of you that is always in tune with the traumatic effect. You should set a side an appointment with yourself once a week for about 5 or 10 minutes and just grieve privately. One of those open mouth crying sessions where you can cry out all your pain. Eventually you get to a point where you do not need to grieve. Eventually you get to a point where it won't control you and you will learn to control it.

Eventually you do need to get to a point where you have to believe it is not your fault and you did not deserve it. You got to get to the point where you believe you deserve better and make sure it is part of your confidence. If you continue to have fear, it will pour out in your aura and your energy. When you go out and talk to people, you will unconsciously broadcast the fear and it comes across as being meek. The reason why I say this so you do not fall victim to other monsters in this world.

There is so much more I can write but I am out of time. But I will be back later to say more. You are not alone, and there is a way to find your center. Keep your chin up and shoulder squared, believe you are worthy.

Sorry about the abrupt leaving. I had a friend bugging me to go with him to eat and it was messing with my thought process and putting it into words. Now that we have full bellies and he is busy with a shower, I should be able to finish this or add more.

Please also keep in mind, I tend to be very blunt and outspoken so I may come across as ridge and not empathetic. There is nothing wrong with not trusting because you did go through something traumatic and then you were victimized even more afterwards. The people who you thought would be there, were not. You told someone and nothing was done. The monster is still free to do whatever he wants to anyone he wants. The people around you who should be there for you taught you not to trust even those you think you should. The problem with people you think you should trust are the ones who will hurt you the most because you hold them close to your heart. They can hurt you easily without even know that they did. The key is you need to learn to trust your self first. If you cannot trust yourself, you will never trust anyone else.

You did nothing wrong. At the time, you were not aware that there are monsters in this world. They are not grotesque beings but people who look like your mom and dad. People who are other people brother, sister, mother, fathers, whatever. If you are not aware of real monsters, how can you prepare for it? Keep in mind, these monsters don't just victimize women. There are men who are victimized also but it is so much more harder on men than women because they tend to question their masculinity at that point.

Now that you are aware, you can now prepare yourself. Looking back on the experience is not bad but it is better if you can do it without the pain so you can analyze it better. Pain clouds our view and our judgement where we do not see what needs to be seen. When you are ready and had enough of the fear and pain, you will take that first step. The first step is always the hardest. Once you do, you will be able to live life and not just survive it, but you have to go at your own pace. You have to redefine who you are and believe in you.

I spent the first 8 years of my life in hell and plagued with monsters before I realize I can do something about it. It took me another 3 years to get rid of all the monsters in my life. I paid a hefty price to get rid of them but once they were gone, I started my healing process. I was alone in my healing and I stumbled a lot before I found my footing. There was no one there. I realize there really cannot be anyone there. They do not feel my feelings so how can they help. Only you know what you gone through and you are the only one that can feel your feelings. Only you can heal yourself. Stop looking for a hero to come save you. Be your own hero and save yourself.

Don't get me wrong I am still broken and damage but I am more damage than broken though. If you do not know what that means, broken is open sores that has not healed. Damage is when the sore is healed but left scar tissue. 

You need to find out who you are. Set up your own code of conduct. Sometimes writing your code down helps. Live by your code and do not deviate from it for anyone. If you do, you will feel worse because if you cannot trust your self, who can you trust. Once you get your code settle and you are living it as if it is a 2nd skin, you will be able to trust again. You will be able to live life for what it is worth in its true form and not the clouded one from your experience.

Also keep in mind, you have to take care of yourself. Eat proper, drink enough water, get enough sleep. If you do not take care of yourself, you are prone to negative emotions and it makes dealing with trauma even hard. When you are tired, you are prone to depression. Depression does hurt physically too. Don't forget to be active. Exercise is good but not everyone likes exercise. If you sub standing instead of sitting, you are still keeping your body active and in motion. Eat properly requires you to eat foods that have nutrients for your body. If you do a lot of physical work, not only have protein to build the muscle but have some potassium and calcium too. Reason being, calcium helps your body to absorb potassium and potassium helps your body absorb calcium. If you are diabetic, potassium absorption is hard. We need potassium for our muscles to avoid muscle cramps. This is why it is good to eat broccoli and cheese, or cream of spinach or spinach dip or even banana pudding (preferably the pudding made with milk and not water) after a work out or physical work. Increase your raw garlic intake (cook it in your foods), it is a natural antibiotic. It will help you fight off illnesses. I have digress back on topic, I think...

Even after this is accomplished, there will be triggers that will bring the memory back. Don't consider this a set back. Just consider this as an aftershock after the quake. If you have questions, ask them. If I see them, I will definitely try to answer them.

Hopefully I have helped some. I am still a novice at writing and sometimes I am not good at it. Good luck!

Offline ZillahTopic starter

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Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2012, 02:19:36 PM »
The only problem is you only have one experience so it is hard to look for the tell-tell signs of oncoming dangers.

I wish that was the case. ::) Unfortunately, it's an experience I've had a few times ... just one I've ever been comfortable - if "comfortable" is indeed the right word - talking about. If it's germane to this blog, and I can find the right words to talk about those other experiences, I guess I will someday. Just not today. :)

But your words are appreciated, Sujini. Much so. :) As are everyone's who have been nice enough to comment.

I know I've made progress in dealing with my experiences, if only because I can admit they've profoundly affected my life. A couple of years ago, I never would've made that admission. I would've tried being the tough chick with the chip on her shoulder, who, y'know, nothing affects her. Which is complete and utter shit, of course, but I'd absolutely convinced myself of that. Now, I think I have a better (and more honest) perspective on how I've been changed by the times I've been raped. The struggle now is to take the objective, slightly clinical analysis - the stuff you know to be true, even if you don't like admitting to it - and actually using it in real life, which is far less objective.

« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 02:22:17 PM by Zillah »

Offline Kirce

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2012, 10:24:13 AM »
Hi Zillah!

I'm happy to see that you're still keeping your blog open; I truly think that it's a really good and healthy idea. As for your past experiences, I truly know what it feels like although maybe not at the same degree as you, everyone is different so it's difficult to find the right words in a delicate subject like this. But, I agree on that trying to be the tough chick doesnít work and it's actually a really bad idea. I used to keep everything to myself and that proved to be a time-bomb kind of deal. It was a horrible idea but it looks like you're on the right track so, yay! :)

I know that it sounds clichť, but sometimes the only thing that you need is time, little by little it really heals the wounds.

~hugs and squeeeezes~

Offline Gekido

Re: I'm a Survivor, Not a Victim: Coping with Rape
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2012, 03:18:22 PM »
I truly want to say that I am glad you got out of there alive. A good friend of mine was raped and murdered over five years ago, that is a pain that I still live with. I can relate in a way, actions like that it's what give man a bad name. Trust me I wish I could get the guy who raped and murdered my friend and blow him up to pieces however nobody ever found out who he was. I truly congratulate you on getting out, of fighting and clawing your way out of there. I want to say that you have a friend here that, well in a way went through the same thing. I truly wish I could grab the bastard that did that to you and show him some respect for woman. Woman are queens and should be treated as such. If you ever want to talk about what happened or just chat with a person that could relate to you in a way don't be afraid of contacting me.

I wish you the best luck in the world getting through what happened...
Love
Geki