The big R word that seems to put a wrench in any social setting. Only when it’s actually taken seriously, of course. Society today has an odd way of dealing with the topic. Socially, legally, it actually takes a lot of women I know, along with myself, by surprise.
First there’s victim blaming/shaming, which practically glorifies the rapist and puts down the victim.
Then we have people who actually consider the rapist’s point of view and even their feelings. Need I bring up the Stanford rape case?
There’s even times where it’s debated if rape is even rape. If you’ve taken a moment to actually browse this site, there is actually an article about how oral rape isn’t seen as rape.
So what do we know about rape? We know it’s non-consensual sex. We know it’s supposed to be illegal. We know that it damages people. We know what we are taught; what we see on television, what we read in books and magazines. Even with all of this, there is still this glamorized, rose-colored glass view of what it is and what the victim endures after.
That’s why I decided to share a few things that I wish I was told about being raped to raise the awareness and hopefully help people understand that it’s not over after the act, not for the survivor.
- They’re a person.
It’s a hard thought to swallow. A rapist is a person, a human being. They have a family & friends. People care about them, and they surprisingly care about people. You, maybe, at one point cared about them. I fall into that category.
That makes it so much harder. The monster that goes bump in the night actually has a heart AND a face you recognize.
There’s this generic view on who is a rapist. What they look like, who they are. People often place the thought in the back of their head that really anyone could rape, it doesn’t have to be a stranger. Actually, according to RAINN, 3 out of 4 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Sit on that.
- People will forget.
That sentence sounds a little harsher than it’s meant to be. It’s not that people necessarily forget that you were raped, it’s more so insensitivity or thoughtless comments.
I’ve known people who knew my rapist and talked about him like he’s a reckless kid. I’ve had one person specifically try to mend our whatever-type of relationship we had because he thought we could get over our “differences.”
Then there’s those mindless conversations with friends about play rape.
I am not necessarily the most sensitive person but there’s just some things that make me go…really? Rape is not a joke.
- You will be judged.
People, regardless if they say it or not, will judge you by the actions you choose or do not choose to take. I’ve gotten surprised responses when people realize that I wasn’t going to report being raped or didn’t report it, not realizing that technically I don’t have to.
I say this to prove a point, not to encourage victims to hide. For some people, reporting it and pressing charges works for them, they want and deserve their justice. For me, I didn’t want to go through the entire ordeal. I wanted to wait for it to blow over. It scared me to have to go through an entire process to possibly be told I deserved to be raped or he didn’t do anything wrong because of what I wore, because I liked partying, because I had x amount of boyfriends, etc…
One of the craziest things I’ve been told is that I should seek help or that I’m hurting myself/crazy because (get this) I like to watch Law and Order: SVU…First off, I can still enjoy regularly scheduled programming and once again I. Don’t. Have. To. Do. Shit.
I don’t think that all judgement is negative and I hardly took a personal offense to any of it. One, because I can lack sensitivity. Two, it’s just definitely a lot easier to tell someone what they should do, with situations like these, when you’re just bystander.
How you choose to handle it is your choice.
Here’s some stats about unreported rapes I found on RAINN to sort of provide reasoning for my choice:
Around 2 out of 3 rapes are unreported for a variety of reasons. According to a 2005-2010 report:
- 20% feared retaliation
- 13% believed the police would not do anything to help
- 13% believed it was a personal matter
- 8% reported to a different official
- 8% believed it was not important enough to report
- 7% did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble
- 2% believed the police could not do anything to help
- 30% gave another reason, or did not cite one reason
- You’ll search for control.
There’s a number of ways people search for control after a traumatic experience like rape. My go-to was to just blatantly ignore the situation or to laugh it off. When that didn’t work it was drinking, working a ton or having sex. Sex that wasn’t meant to be enjoyed but to show that at the end of the day I can be normal, that I can still function like everyone else.
I had something to prove.
I didn’t really understand that I wasn’t functioning. All I knew was that I felt like I lost my ability to maintain myself and I was seeking to get her back.
A number of sources like Wiki, RAINN, GoodTherapy, RapeCrisis, etc. cite that rape victims are about 26 times more likely to abuse substances to cope. Some even say that victims can respond in a number of ways in their sexual relationships. Some will shy away from sexual contact due to flashbacks while others can become hyper-sexual.
- It impacts your relationships.
I lost my on-again off-again long-term boyfriend after being raped, because I clearly was not the same person again. Besides my attitude and his reaction to the situation, most of the time he couldn’t touch me without me dissociating or crying. Among a number of issues this was just the icing on the cake.
But outside of the romantics, I’ve also put distance between friends and myself. Not necessarily because they’ve done something wrong but because it makes it easier to handle. Some friends I outright will not make an effort to see because in my eyes they are a living reminder of what happened. It’s like a knot in my stomach or that surge you get through your body that you’re going to cry but you try your hardest to hold it in.
The friends I am closest to, have dealt with me going M.I.A for hours or days at a time, along with what I call my “emotional imbalances,” moodiness or just outright shutting down.
- You don’t forget.
As stupid as this sounds, I’ve been waiting for the day that I just forget that it ever happened. Some days are actually like this, and others I randomly spend over-analyzing the situation. I even question myself if it really happened or if it was all a bad dream.
At this stage in my life, I’m sort of just accepting that nothing is going to make it go away. That doesn’t mean I have to think about it constantly but I should expect it to cross my mind once and awhile.
I haven’t been diagnosed with PTSD, which often roughly 30%-50% of survivors of rape do get, however, I’ve dealt with flashbacks but more so it’s been triggers (words/phrases or actions from other people) that have caused a stir in me.
- You’ll think you’re broken.
That sentence is basically the best way I can describe it. I thought for a while that something was wrong with me. I thought I should just be able to move on and was frustrated with myself that I wasn’t over it yet. On top of the other feelings that victims endure, I think this was one of the hardest because I had no patience for myself.
If you or someone you know someone has been a victim of rape do your best to seek help. Sometimes it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. But my advice is try not to ignore it.
You can follow this link to be taken to chat/phone support via RAINN. It’s not a permanent fix but it’s a start. Remember you still have a choice.