Shame of Being a Rape Victim

I think many have thought this but no one wanted to say it. Glad someone did. We’re so worried about falsely accusing someone of rape that victims are the ones that are hurt the most. Shamed into silence. I was for almost a decade. This picture was shared on Facebook and it is so true. When will society change? We need to educate the world about rape and abuse. It is not ok, never should be ok. Speak up speak the truth. Don’t be afraid. You are not alone.

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Believing My Own Story

For the last two months, I have been struggling with my first rape. I seem to get nowhere in the “healing journey.” In fact, lately, I have been adding more blame to myself. I feel delusional and like I am making something out of nothing. Two days ago, I started to writing down my story and realized that I add a lot of excuses, explanations, and persuasion to my story. Maybe to someone else it doesn’t sound like that, but in my head, I HAVE to get others to believe me.

One of the many flaws of this survivor. Worrying that I will never be believed. And I am sure I am not the only victim that has felt like this. When these sort of things happen, my support tries to get me to see that if I don’t blame them, then I can’t blame myself… but that doesn’t always work. Could we really see someone in our shoes and think that they are innocent? In my case, it is hard to see.

For those who don’t know my story, when I was 11 or 12, I was bullied, abused (mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually), and raped by a girl down the street. I spent the night at her house one night and she “wanted to show me how it feels like to have sex with a guy.” This is usually where I tell about how she was, but the simple truth is, is that I didn’t want to be touched or kissed or fondled, but it happened.

My biggest issue is when people start telling me that it is ok to experiment at that age or that it is ok to be gay. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have jumped down your throat about me not being gay. Now, I know I am not gay but it still doesn’t make knowing what happened to me and placing the blame where it truly lies easy.

So how do we get to a point where we blame the perpetrator and not the victim? If society can’t do that, the how can we? People don’t understand how more difficult the victims healing becomes when the whole world is telling us to blame the victim. I told my mom about my second rape (my boyfriend coming into my home and raping me), yet she still blamed me. “You could have taken him,” “Why did you open the door?” and etc.

My family will never know about my first rape. Which is a shame because if they did, they might understand how difficult things really are lately. I just cannot put myself out there to be questioned and blamed all over again by my own family. I was strong enough to endure my mothers attitude but not with this.

Choosing to Move Forward

It’s been a while since I have been on here. Guess it’s time for a little update on my life.

  1. Started therapy in September
  2. Reported my second rape in October
  3. Separated and filed for divorce in November
  4. Been trying to deal with my first rape.

victim decide to survive

Months ago, I decided that I needed to stop playing games and choose to move forward whether it be with my family or not. As I am sure I mentioned, I spent the Summer in the hospital because of suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t escape. My life was going nowhere and I felt so trapped. I wasn’t in a good place at all. Once I started therapy in September, I realized that this was my time to fight. No more getting walked on, no more hiding my pain, no more “playing nice”. I needed to become healthy and that includes healthy relationships.

When I decided this, I thought I would lose my mom as she was toxic, but I soon realized that my husband was more toxic. Every time I would take a step in the right direction, he would pull me back 4 steps. This was no good. The constant circles and the bickering were killing me inside.

I remember sitting outside in my car so determined to finally report my rape. Days later, another argument about things we talked about for a whole year and a half. That was when I decided that my marriage came second and I came first. I was more worried about losing myself again than losing my marriage. Maybe my husband could see that because that was when things just started crumbling.

I honestly cant remember when or how I went to the police station to report but I did. The women’s center lady came with me and it was done within 30 minutes. I still haven’t heard back from them, but I am not so worried about that right now. At least it is filed. I have been trying to do that for a year and have been kicking myself for not speaking up for 8 years. So it was about time.

To be honest, I think that my marriage ended the way it did because I would not have sex with my husband once. I have only turned him down twice in 5 years, and both times he threw a fit saying “Let me know when I can touch MY WIFE” and proceeding to leave or sleep on the couch. If anyone has been a victim, they know that sometimes flashbacks and nightmares mess things up in your head. He couldn’t understand that. All he knew was that he spent all this money and did all this stuff for our date night, only to get no sex.

I see my therapist every Tuesday and most of the time we are and were talking about things that happened within our marriage. I have realized a lot wrong with my marriage and things I need to work on. But I have also realized that I deserve better and my husband is unwilling to do that, no matter how many times he NOW begs to get back together, after HE filed for divorce (which he blames on his sister).

But besides that, every now and then, I am able to speak of my first rape. We had some issues where she pissed me off at one point, but we got past it. And in the last few days, I have been dealing with the blame I still have in my first rape. I am still not quite sure how grooming works and I am working on it, but it is very difficult.

{If anyone has found any good articles on Grooming, I would love to read them.}

Today, my brother been on my case about how I deal with my rapes and divorce. Eh, maybe I will create a whole new post on this topic as it is still on going and I am not exactly sure what he means by my current divorce affects how I blame myself with my first rape. Interesting concept, right? We’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll go into more detail later about things, but this is more generally what’s been going on.

Anyway, thank you for reading.

I am sooo confused!

I sit here looking at my life wondering where it all went wrong? I keep running in my head the last few conversations I had with my husband and wonder where I am supposed to go from here. I mean, once you hit rock bottom, is there any way up? Is change possible if no change is allowed? Do people change after getting married, and should I feel guilty for changing towards a healtier self? Am I really healthy if I am no better off than I was months ago? … WHO KNOWS!

In our last conversations, he made some pretty confusing statements, and this is what I have taken from them…

  • “I hate that ring” — He didn’t stop me from buying the ring, but I guess I was supposed to know by him practically pushing me out the car when I didn’t want to give up my original wedding ring.
  • “Sometimes I don’t like touching you [there]. I think it has to do with our age difference, in fact, I know it does.” — He has no problems being intimate or fathering a child by me, but touching me must revile him?
  • “I didn’t want to pressure you or make you feel like I was pressuring you to sign for the car.” — In fact, he didn’t say a word. They threw out numbers and he sat there chill, not having any type of communication, which in turn made me feel like there was more pressure on me to sign the car or not… but as he sees it, I turned it around on him.
  • “We just see things differently and always will.” — Right after a conversation where he yelled at me because I wanted our daughter to be put in her booster, like the law says. Apparently, I was yelling and he was tired of it.

There are others, those are just some that have been on my mind lately. {sigh}

Freezing During Rape is Normal

This is all well worth reading! The last part especially. I have been going back and forth in my head and beating myself up tonight. So, when I read this, it definitely helped me with that. The whole FREEZING thing gets to me all the time. How could he see it not as rape? Hmmm. Well, if you need a little help in that department, its a good read. If you’ve never been a rape victim, this is very educational. I know A LOT of people who need to read this. Mostly Family!

Freezing and paralysis during rape
from Resurrection After Rape by Matt Atkinson, LCSW
http://www.resurrectionafterrape.org/

“I just lay there and took it!”

At first, few rape victims can tolerate alternate explanations for their rapes. For example, you may habitually tell yourself “I should have fought more,” without considering the possibility that you might have been harmed even worse had you done so. Because rape is about power and control, a rapist will use a level of aggression that exceeds any resistance in order to maintain that control. Furthermore, during a traumatic assault the body’s sympathetic nervous system takes over, instinctively regulating your behaviors for the sake of survival. That means your conscious mind stops choosing what to do, and your physical systems grab control, producing one of three basic responses: fight, flee, or freeze.

All three instincts have helpful and harmful aspects about them; they may either increase or decrease your safety. But contrary to what we see in movies and what we read in booklets promoted by the self-defense industry, the “fight instinct” is actually rather rare in both men and women. By far the most common instinct is the “freeze instinct,” in which the body becomes very still, rigid, and silent. This is called “tonic immobility,” and is a simple survival behavior. During rape, temporary paralysis is very common (it occurs in up to 88% of rape victims during the assault, according to studies) and entirely normal, and probably even quite healthy. (source: Heidt, J. M., Marx, B. P., & Forsyth, J. P. (2005). Tonic immobility and childhood sexual abuse: Evaluating the sequela of rape-induced paralysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy,43,1157–1171.)

However, until someone explains to a survivor that this instinct is normal and appropriate, she will often spend years criticizing herself (“What’s the matter with me? I just laid there! I’m such a fool! Why didn’t I fight, or at least scream?”), and even lawyers and juries can be misled into lenience toward rapists whose victims are inaccurately described as “passive.” This behavior is not “passive;” it is a biologically-driven form of resistance! But this fact is so rarely understood that rape victims often multiply their own sense of guilt and shame because of the freeze instinct. One study even found that the link between this “temporary paralysis” during rape and later feelings of guilt and self-blame are directly related to increased depression, anxiety, and PTSD later.

This is why it is so crucial that rape survivors receive basic education about the body’s adaptations to trauma, so that you can understand and accept these behaviors as normal, rather than as failure. “This is a biologically hard-wired response that just kicks in, typically when there’s extreme fear coupled with physical restraint,” states one study of victims’ temporary paralysis during rape. Jennifer Heidt, commenting on a study she helped organize, wrote, “if we can help to show them [in therapy] that they weren’t letting this happen to themselves, that this is an unlearned response, that they were incapable of changing it, that they were incapable of fighting back, then we can help deal with that guilt.” (source: Finn, Robert. “Involuntary paralysis common during rape – Legal and TX Implications.” OB/GYN News, Jan. 15, 2003. http://findarticles.com/p/articles…)

It can also be difficult to separate the issues of “compliance” with “consent.” In most rapes where the victim is conscious, there is some degree of forced compliance with the rapist, simply as a reasonable way to protect herself from further harm. Although this is a very normal form of self-preservation, it can also produce one hell of a stuck point afterward:

• “The fact that I stopped struggling when he ordered me to means I am guilty of permitting the rape.”
• “I removed my underpants when he told me to. That means I participated or led him on about sex.”
• “I kept quiet and never screamed. Does that mean I wasn’t really raped?”
• “My whole body froze and I couldn’t move.”
• “They always say ‘no means no.’ But I never said the word ‘no’ because I was paralyzed with fear.”
• “I can’t remember how I got into the closet [where the rape happened]…If I put myself there, it must mean I helped him rape me.”

When a person is mugged, they instinctively freeze and will typically say to the attacker, “Take whatever you want.” They will compliantly hand over wallets, purses, watches, anything demanded of them, in a desperate, terrified hope that the assault will end without further injury or death. And nobody questions this cooperation; police even advise it as the correct course of action. People will support you and assure you that you did the right thing. Nobody blames you for carrying money by saying, well, didn’t you realize that would only lead a robber on?” Nobody would blame you for all the times you willingly spent money by implying that this means you “have a history of giving it away, so aren’t you just ‘crying robbery’ now?” Nobody would claim that the incident was probably just a cash transaction that “got out of hand” or you regretted later.

Yet when the violent assault becomes sexual, many people implausibly lose all their insights about the importance of cooperation to reduce harm. Suddenly, the guilty questions begin: “Why didn’t I fight back? What if I had resisted more? Why did I stay quiet? Why did I freeze? Why did I take off something I wore when he ordered me to?”

These stuck points exist because of the gap between what we want to believe (“I would never ‘let’ anyone rape me”) and what the rape itself seems to prove (“I must have failed to prevent rape. Or worse yet, I must have permitted it!”). It may seem like an unusual statement, but analyzing your stuck points is really a form of forgiving yourself for whatever actions you had to do to survive, and for whatever it’s taken to cope since, and for whatever misguided self-blame you have felt in spite of the facts. When Shannon* wrote the words “I’m sorry, little girl” in her story, it was written after she had finished writing and reading it aloud, and she had recognized the many forms of resistance she had used. The comment was her apology to herself for spending the next three years crucifying herself. She discovered during her “stuck point” work that she was neither weak nor willing, and that her younger self had never deserved the heaps of blame and guilt she had carried.

After Reading My Rapists Reply

I do have to admit, although we know rapists are dumb, they are pretty smart too. They seem to get everyone on their side, play the victim, and get the REAL victim to blame themselves and hold onto their guilt. They don’t live with the consequences, the victims do. And only a small percentage are ever reported and even fewer put in prison. About 5% is a pretty tiny number. What other crime happens that the victim and everyone around them say it’s their fault? None. That’s right. So no wonder they don’t get convicted. In the court room, the guilty party is the victim who has to practically prove their innocence. This needs to change. Society needs to change. Rapists need NOT to rape! Nobody asks for it. If they didn’t say yes, it was rape. I don’t care what you “think” the person wanted. They HAVE to give consent! And we have HAVE to start believing the victims. The trauma never goes away. The survivors need to be accepted and given time to put their lives together. I don’t care if it was 1 month ago or 8 years ago. Rape is rape. And we all heal at our own speed. Will you stand up for your loved ones?