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.
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.
"Pearl in Shell" via Blue Eyed Ennis
I recently had an anniversary. About a year ago, I was unable to sleep and up late at night calling anonymous help lines. To even admit this, I am bashful. Who wants to represent the image of a person who has reached the point in their life when calling anonymous help lines in the middle of the is nothing out of the ordinary? I did this for about a week until one night I was connected to a local hotline, not one of those 24-hour hotlines that have someone sitting by the phone around the clock. Nope, the person I spoke to on this particular night had been sleeping and was woken up because it was their night to watch the hotline. For the next few days this counselor, the one I had awoken, relentlessly called me until I agreed to go to the Rape Crisis Center in my area.
Not long after that, I reluctantly showed up at the doorstep of this old house turned office building in the middle of the city ready to talk about what happened to me ten years ago. As I rang the doorbell and waited for security to let me in, I figured that talking to a counselor couldn’t possibly make me feel worse than I already did.
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.”
Tree in Saguaro, Hayley Rose, Copyright 2005
You too may be like me, a rape survivor, essentially a member of a club that no one ever really plans on joining. As you probably know, this club is not all that elite, as one in every six women has been sexually assaulted. If you’ve successfully survived this ordeal, perhaps you identify with the dictionary’s definition of survivor, one who continues “to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.” For me, this wasn’t always the case.