Last night, I volunteered at the animal shelter. I always loved animals but started volunteering around the time I began attending rape counseling. Those memories had long been suppressed and by the time I finally got around to speaking to someone about them, I was in bad shape. I was definitely suffering from some sort of PTSD and was terrified of people as well as the most benign circumstances. In counseling, I talked about being date raped. I felt better after talking to someone and being validated. You see, I blamed myself for being raped, because I willingly entered the situation: I went over my “friends” house to watch the Superbowl and have a few beers. That was twelve Superbowls ago. A night that started off fun ended with a lot of memory loss, inability to determine sequence of events, physical pain, and then a loss of said friends -but not before an inquisition from said friends in which they slyly tried to determine what I remembered of the night, if anything at all.
For the next decade I did what I wanted to do fearlessly. I did not worry about consequences. I did not care. It wasn’t until after rape counseling that I developed a new and unsightly complex. Though I expected the counseling to make things better it did and it didn’t. Though I now felt validated, receiving formal counseling and talking about what happened opened up a can of worms. After going on a date or hanging out with a man alone, I would go home and scrutinize the night’s events, piecing them together again and again worrying to myself about whether or not something happened. The basis for this fear was a fear that during the date, I had some sort of memory loss, though I was fully conscious and sober the entire time. I would agree with most people, that this is pretty nutty, however, the fear was very real and debilitating. Once the anxiety began it took off like a speeding train. It could go on and on for hours and sometimes days. God bless the people around me who patiently listened to me and reassured me that it was unlikely that anything happened, and reassured me that I would remember it.
If you haven’t yet read these articles now you can check them out on The Huffington Post
Need a Miracle?
Recently, I found myself on Google doing some “research.” I was having a particularly bad night and typed in the following: “I need a miracle.”
Read the full article here
2011, The Lesson I Learned: Be Proud of Your Failures
Life is difficult sometimes. Is it just me, or is it true that when things feel as if they couldn’t get any worse something (or several somethings) else goes wrong?
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Sexual Assault: Can You Ever Move On?
If your first “sexual” experience is a violent crime, can sex and rape ever be dissociated?
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Sometimes when we don’t trust ourselves, we feel very insecure about stepping out into the world to live life. I know I was afraid to go out and be my own person because of the abuse and rape I experienced at a young age. I feared that I, again, wouldn’t be able to protect myself if put in a compromising situation. As a result, I entered into an abusive relationship and subsequently continued this pattern for years. I was attracted to these types of relationships because, on a subconscious level, the aspect of control imposed limits that made me feel “protected” when everything around me felt very out of control. Alone, I felt vulnerable; like I could become a victim again at any time.
Like a textbook abusive relationship, the imposed limitations ended up including a list of things he didn’t want me to do, people he didn’t want me see, and places he didn’t want me to go. Somewhere in my psyche I knew this and permitted it to happen because I felt more insecure out of the relationship than I did in it. Ironically, I ended up existing in this cocoon for several years instead of navigating the world on my own.
Read the rest of the article after the jump.
Sometimes when we don’t trust ourselves, we feel very insecure about stepping out into the world to live life. I know I was afraid to go out and be my own person because of the abuse and rape I experienced at a young age. I feared that I, again, wouldn’t be able to protect myself if put in a compromising situation. As a result, I entered into an abusive relationship and subsequently continued this pattern for years. I was attracted to these types of relationships because on a subconscious level the aspect of control imposed limits that made me feel “protected” when everything around me felt very out of control. Alone, I felt vulnerable; like I could become a victim again at any time.
Like a text book abusive relationship, the imposed limitations ended up including a list of things he didn’t want me to do, people he didn’t want me see, and places he didn’t want me to go. Somewhere in my psyche I knew this and permitted it to happen because I felt more insecure out of the relationship than I did in it. Ironically, I ended up existing in this cocoon for several years instead of navigating the world on my own.
My life truly began to change when I started to be completely honest. I started to write about and confront the things that I ignored for years. Publicly I published articles about dealing with sexual assault and healing on the web. The first time my article appeared on online, I felt naked. I started to cry and wondered if I had made a huge mistake. With each consecutive article, I felt equally exposed. This went on for about six months. Each time an article came out, I would cry. My boyfriend at the time asked me why I even bother to do it. He said that maybe I should just stop writing if it was this difficult for me to handle. Though it was difficult, I never considered stopping or quitting. Too many people wrote back to me saying that they felt very alone in their experience before reading my articles. Truth is before reading their comments, I felt very alone in the experience of surviving sexual assault as well.
For years I hid the truth about my life from everyone. I dodged reality and instead hid behind poor relationships, drinking, and substance abuse. No one understood why I was so messed up and always involved in something reckless. The addictions numbed the pain of rape. They also came to the forefront and caused immediate drama and issues that couldn’t be ignored. Perhaps they were the armor I hid the truth behind. With so much negativity going on because of my behavior, I had enough to worry about without delving into and exploring my past. Eventually I found out that you cannot hide the truth from others without also hiding it from yourself.
Denial can kill people. Until I spoke my truth and seeked professional help, the road I went down only got progressively worse. Addictions will kill you eventually. Suppressing trauma can cause unhappiness, depression, and serious illnesses.
Believe it or not, even with the career success I’ve had thus far, my life is far from perfect. I am of course grateful for the opportunities I’ve gained and work hard every day to become better and better. Being human, however, I am infallible and I end up in really bad relationships a lot of the time.
I am a hopeless romantic, this might actually problem numero uno. When you think in Cinderella terms, the love at first sight and other promises many men are more than willing to deliver are taken to heart far too prematurely. Growing up with abuse and neglect I am forever searching for a person that I can rely on. It is not one sided. I would love the opportunity to be someone’s rock as well, to really step up to the challenge and be there for someone else selflessly.
Rape, domestic violence, abuse, I’ve been through it all, and I am an open book. I’m not hiding my life story nor am I brandishing it without request. I feel that good can come out of the bad things that happened to me. I believe sharing my story is one way to validate these traumatic experiences while helping others heal.
Like many of the artistic and literary predecessors before me, I am neurotic. Yup, just a little bit. This doesn’t translate well into relationships, well that’s according to the people I’ve dated. I’m not sure if I believe them, however. For one, my friends haven’t left me yet despite my anxiety and neurosis. If I was truly that bad, I’m sure they wouldn’t have stuck around this long. Secondly, I have many good qualities that certainly outweigh the bad ones. I am loving, compassionate, kind, I will do anything to help.
I was surfing the web looking at different statutes of limitations and legalities for rape crimes, when I found an article that proposed a repeal of statutes for certain rape cases in the state of Connecticut. In the article, Governor Jodi Rell is quoted as saying of rape crime, “It is violence of the most personal and devastating kind, as brutal in its own right as murder.”
In the article, Rell points out that rape is not a crime of passion, but rather a violent crime, which is a common misconception for many. The term rapefrom the Latin word Rapere, originally had no sexual connotation, and meant “to seize or take by force.” It simply meant to steal. If you are someone or know someone who has been raped, you can testify that this definition is still applicable to the verb “rape” as we use it today. Because when you are raped, something is taken from you by force.
Justice systems for centuries have considered rape as brutal of a crime as murder. Even in ancient Greece, Rome, and Colonial Times, rape was considered a capital offense within the same category as murder. In the 12th century rape victims’ families were granted the right to carry out the rapists’ brutal and sometimes fatal punishment. In 14th century England, the rape victim was expected to gouge out their rapist’s eyes or castrate him. Today in the United States, current death penalty standards consist mainly for convicted murderers. Modern day rapists typically receive much cushier punishments than their violent predecessors.
Read the rest of the article at The Huffington Post.
How does a caterpillar transform into a butterfly? It doesn’t just happen. There are many steps involved in this transformation, as there are in the journey from victim to survivor.
Going from victim to survivor has to be a conscious choice, because often times as we suffer through “victimhood” we rarely realize we’re doing it. We grow so accustomed to the misery of our victim mentality, we forget that we are making the conscious choice to live life this way.
As a former victim of victim mentality myself, it felt like unfortunate things were always happening to me; that I had the worst luck in the world while the people around me appeared to have it much easier. After being raped, I sulked in my depression, running from one addiction to the next trying to numb the memories and feelings of worthlessness and humiliation. They were hard to numb, and in the sobriety I experienced between substance abuse and eating disorders, I couldn’t handle it when my feelings of being violated came flooding back in.
To move on with your life, you must break away from identifying yourself as a victim and transcend this experience by becoming a survivor. After being sexually assaulted or experiencing any great trauma, consciously processing your thoughts and feelings is not always your first response. More often we are just trying to survive, to live day to day without our pain burdening us to the point of inactivity. I found that running away from my emotions through the use of substances inevitably complicated things. Not only did I have to deal with being raped, but now I had to battle addiction.
Societies have stigmas. These typically vary from country to country and are based on outliers that differ from what a society deems normal. An unusual physical attribute or a mental or physical disability is sometimes enough to generate harsh judgment and alienation from others.
In Morocco, being a known rape victim is so stigmatized that they are often forced to marry their rapists in order to avoid this label. Through marrying their rapists, victims escape this scarlet letter in favor of a typically short and abusive marriage. These victim-rapist nuptials don’t usually last long, and they usually end in divorce. In Moroccan society, being labeled “divorced” is much more acceptable than being labeled “raped.”
Rape is my scarlet letter, too. Although people cannot tell I’ve been raped through common interactions with me, I used to think they could. As I silently suffered through the aftermath of sexual assault, my friends and family could tell that something was wrong but didn’t know what. Although it always clouded my consciousness, it still took many years for me to speak about what happened. As a result, my healing process began, and I never would have guessed that one day, being raped would brand me as undesirable.