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I accepted another challenge this month. It is a writing challenge. One of truly to goodness straight up writing…
It’s about writing from the heart.
Contemplating what to write about, I have pretty awesome ideas on posts like “how to host a wicked fairy party,” “Venus VS. Mars and the quest of the conversation between men and women,” “how fierce you get as a mom of autism,” … but the one that keeps rearing its ugly head is “Let’s Talk About RAPE.”
The funny thing is I don’t want to talk about rape. It is actually the very last thing I want to talk about on the planet but there is a part of me that just wants to say one thing. That it stays with you. It will always stay with you.
As more and more women (& men) were including the #BeenRapedNeverReported admittance on Twitter last Thursday, I felt compelled to add my own experience to the rising number of people who were “coming out.” It felt comforting. It felt like I wasn’t alone.
I tweeted it. Threw up. Then went to bed. Only to have that fabulous recurring nightmare that night for the first time in eons and not be able to sleep past 4am.
I won’t talk about the rape. No I didn’t report it. It took many years before I could even tell my parents about it in fact. What I can tell you is that it fundamentally changed me and I am pretty sure I can say the same to anyone who has been assaulted, raped or molested. You can most definitely get past it but it will never GO away.
Let’s talk about what happens AFTER a rape…
- The Shame
- I can’t truly tell you how many times I used to berate myself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, how awful & stupid & responsible I felt for bringing this on myself. I blamed, bargained and berated myself for a really long time. I eventually stopped the shaming, but I can tell that there is still a small piece that sits with me to this day.
- The Nightmares
- For years I had a recurring nightmare of various scenarios from that night. Awful, violent ones that usually lasted right up until the moment I am about to get killed. I wake up flailing, out of breath, screaming–and as much as I know better, it takes me most of the night to settle down from one of those even now.
- The Counseling
- I had those nightmares for seven years, almost nightly, until I finally was convinced by my boyfriend at the time to go seek help. I tried numerous counselors. One had me “huff” all my grief and anger out and encouraged me to get primal with my anger. One had me scream at my assailant, which usually just exhausted me till I went home and slept for days. Nothing was helping until finally I went to Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg. The counselor understood rape and we talked a lot about giving away my power and giving him so much power in terms of holding on to what had happened. I realized it was done. I couldn’t do anything to change it. I had to accept it in order to move on.
- The Promiscuity
- I went through some really strange relationships. On one hand, I would have relationships that were wonderful, kind, supportive and fun and I would almost inevitably fuck them up. They were too safe, or too kind, and I would want to control them. On the other hand, I would somehow be drawn to sex addicts or abusive relationships that made me feel… what? Desired? Wanted? Taken care of (see: Christian Grey & his dominant personality)? The one good thing that came out of these were that they exposed me to sex in a different light. By pushing those envelopes I somehow stopped needing to control sex and learned more to experiment with it. I started to own my body versus giving it away all the time. As bad as it was, it ultimately made me much more deeply connected to this day in what I like, who I am and how open I am willing to be.
- The Guilt
- I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered if he has done this to someone else. I wondered if I had said something, would things be different? People 20+ years ago were in no ways supportive of a victim’s claim of rape and for me, I was not willing or wanting to go through that process (given what I had seen others go through). Defense lawyers were primed to target all aspects of your personality and your life and for me, it simply was not worth the exchange.
- The Forgiveness
- Eventually, I learned to forgive myself for that night and in some ways forgave him. I had to in order for me to live my life fully and completely in present day. There will always be a scar, but scars fade.
- The Never-Ending
- This will stay with me for my lifetime, but how I manage it is up to me. There are SO many more layers than simply asking “why didn’t you report it?” Before passing judgment or forming any kind of opinion, please just remember that you never… really… truly… know anyone else’s story.