It takes a strong person to confront their rapist. Sometimes it is unavoidable. In cases of rape between family members or close family friends, you will undoubtedly see this person again. Other times people are forced to confront their rapists in the court of law in order to get the justice they seek. The majority of rapes go unreported ( 95% of sexual assault victims do not report the crime to the proper authorities).
I was so young when I was raped I thought I would be the one who got in trouble if I reported it. So I didn’t get the courage to speak up for a decade. By that time, any physical evidence that was left had faded. I spoke to police and counselors about reporting it but they told me it wouldn’t be an easy case to prove with only circumstantial evidence. Since there were two rapists involved, I thought maybe it was possible that one would rat the other out to save their own butts. It was a possibility, but nothing was for certain.
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.
When people fall prey to abusive relationships, it is often difficult for them to get out. When they do finally get out of the relationship, they often find themselves repeating this same pattern again and inevitably ending up in another abusive situation. For somone who has never been in this situation, it is difficult to understand why the abuse victim continues to live this way. Usually, the abused party will continue to play the role of the victim in this cycle of abuse until they have their “Tina Turner Moment.”
Ike and Tina Turner had one of the most widely publicized abusive relationships in entertainment history. Through over a decade of marriage, he abused her and other band members. When we think of their relationship, we often think of the physical abuse, the most difficult type of abuse for an abuser to hide as there are immediate physical scars and symptoms, but there was undoubtedly more to it than just physical abuse.
I was once victim to these circumstances. I had grown up with abuse and the pattern naturally took a role in my relationships when I began dating. Each boyfriend became progressively worse than the last. Until I met one guy who was everything the others weren’t. He was nice, polite, and gentle. He loved children and animals. Though this is who he portrayed himself to be, there was something empty about his actions, as if he was acting the role of this nice guy without emotions behind it. That was one of my first impressions of him; that he was pretending to be nice but was really a psychopath. I soon learned why they tell you to always follow your instincts.
My family and friends met and liked him. I confided to a few of them my fear that maybe he was just pretending to be nice and that he was truly a psychopath. Since I have a reputation for being overly cautious, they brushed my statement aside and cited that I was so used to being in bad relationships that I was scared that a nice guy was actually interested in me for once. Regardless of what they said, I still thought I might be right. I wasn’t yet strong enough to break out of this cycle or to listen to my inner voice, and of course, I wanted to buy what they were selling. Everyone wants that nice person to sweep them off their feet, to kiss their tears away, and to (insert other ridiculously overused love cliches here). Anyway, I wanted what everyone wanted: love, and here he was promising literally to be my knight in shining armor. I was incredibly vulnerable as I fell into this trap. I had just been ditched by another guy who I dated briefly, after confiding in him that I had survived rape.
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.
Someone once told me that rapists scope out their victims and deliberately choose certain type of person; who they view as easy prey. By sizing up their victim in this way, they gain control of the situation. When I heard about this, it really upset me, and I wondered if my persona could make me the victim of this violent crime once again. Once a rapist selects their target, they stalk him/her and plot their attack. Then they ambush their victim in a variety of ways such as coercion, date rape drugs, and violence.
There is a common misconception that rapists rape for sex. This is wrong. In fact, it is noted that rapists have access to legal sex; many of them have wives or girlfriends. Rapists rape for power. Serial rapists might even do it for sport, for some type of twisted thrill, that is perhaps comparable to the jolt of excitement kleptomaniacs cite to explain their addiction to stealing. After committing a rape, the rapist does not care that they just traumatized and possibly destroyed a living and breathing being. The rapist didn’t even consider that their victim was an individual with thoughts and feelings. The rapist only cared about one thing: getting what they wanted through control and domination.
A friend recently brought an article to my attention about a seasoned sexual assault detective who, after years on the job, was sexually assaulted. Aside from the irony of the victim’s profession, I read the article to see why else this story had attracted so much attention. It was not surprising to read that the officer-turned-victim experienced the same shame and anxiety that is common for most victims of sexual assault. Additionally, like 95% of sexual assault victims, the officer did not want to report the crime to the proper authorities. There was only one outlier in this story: the rape victim was an adult male.
When most people hear the term “rape victim,” the image of an adult male is not what comes to mind. In cases of rape, men are usually associated with assailants rather than victims. Perhaps this is because 90% of rape victims are female, and the majority of rapists are male. These statistics do not make men immune from rape, in fact, 1 in every 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In the US a sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes.
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.
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, 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 victims of rape 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 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’ve guessed that one day being raped would brand me as undesirable.
Photograph by Hayley Rose, Copyright 2005
As I am writing, I can hear a story blaring from the TV about an 11-year-old girl who has been raped by 19 young men. The story gets worse as this little girl, who has just been gang-raped becomes the target of victim blaming. The TV anchor quotes one of the rapists, who defends himself by saying, “She looked older than 11.”