The Defining Moment: Was I Really Raped?

Many times, when I speak about those first few moments that I realized I was raped, people are shocked by the reaction I received and the insincerity of someone not believing such a horrible act. I’m not speaking of the remainder of that night, I’m not even speaking of that week. It took me a while to realize what happened to me and to open my mouth to someone about it. In my heart of hearts, I knew what just happened, but when I finally spoke about what happened that night, I was looking for someone I could trust to work through those emotions. What I got? My best friend telling me that she didn’t want to think that was a possibility and turned me down from speaking of it further. I stayed silent for seven years because of that day.

So what if this happened to you? What would you want that trustworthy person to say back? There’s a campaign called Start by Believing, and I think that’s one of the core issues survivors face. No one wants to believe such an act can happen to someone they know. They don’t want to believe someone they know could commit such an act. Or, the most devastating one, they want to know what the victim did to make them get raped. This needs to change. Society needs to change.

I could only imagine what would have happened differently in my life if my best friend believed me. I know I cannot change the past, but what a difference it could have made if one persons reaction was in support of a survivor. I believe its like a chain reaction. If that first person takes the news well and supports you , then you could tell another and another and another until one day that silence that at one time bound you was finally loosened. The more chain links (i.e. positive reactions) you have, the freer you are from burdening this alone. This was never the victims fault, but once that first reaction couldn’t withstand the pressure it was placed under, the more likely the rest will crumble.

We cannot deny that rape happens. In fact, I’m sure many people know at least one person who has been sexually abuse. Some may not even know about their family or friend. It’s not rare for a victim to stay quiet. Sometimes the fear of not being believed is stronger than the fear of people knowing what happened to them. Not because they are ashamed necessarily, but because they don’t want to be blamed.

I, unfortunately, got the worst reaction I could have expected from my ex husband. Someone who was supposed to love and care for me. Yes, it was years after the fact, but if someone doesn’t deal with it when it happens, it will creep into their lives eventually. That’s how it was for me. It actually amazes me that an old friend could be infuriated by what happened to me, finding out years later, but my own family and spouse are more concerned about how it affected them instead.

Where does that come from? Why do people do that? What happened to sympathy and empathy for the person who endured a traumatizing experience? We all need to be cognizant of how we come off to people who are sharing a deep pain of theirs. Believe them, care for them, let them know the survivor didn’t deserve it, and that they are upset at the attacker and not the victim.

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Emotional Abuse is more than just yelling

Seems like all I do lately on here is update how things have been lately. I guess this will be another one, with a twist.

Been going through divorce and custody battle (which is HELL), dealing with my baby being gone for the allotted summer visit time, and dealing with memories and emotions of the past… all while trying to get doctor visits, court dates, school, and birthday stuff done all within the last month. I don’t know how parents do this every year. I don’t see how anyone deals with a divorce or having kids with an abuser either. Before, when I was in (more of) denial, I could handle it easy-peasy, lately, seems to be more a struggle… especially since he threw a girlfriend into the works.

The more I deal with life and am reminded of things, the more I see how abusive he was and it becomes harder to deny it. To call it rape? Still haven’t gotten there. Sexual abuse? Financial abuse? Spiritual abuse? Emotional abuse? Yes, on all counts. No person deserves to be controlled the way I was. No one deserves to feel like a sex object or be demanded to do whatever someone wants and then feel guilty when it doesn’t go exactly how they want. Shoot, the other day, I was folding towels and out pops his criticism about how I was folding towels wrong.  Is there really only one way to fold towels? Am I wrong if they are neat and folded and put away? A few years ago, yes… today, hell no!

The one phrase that kept going through my mind today? ‘I am human, I stick my foot in my mouth sometimes, I’m not perfect. I asked for forgiveness, there’s nothing more I can do.’ I have to remind myself I am not perfect because for so long I had to be and I am afraid of not being a perfectionist. Emotional abuse is horrific. It’s not just someone screaming and yelling at you. It’s those who diminish everything you do, criticize you, and make you feel incompetent (among many other things). Sometimes its difficult to understand how things can be so complicated and how so many people don’t see that as Domestic Violence because the person did not hit them.

My ex said all the wrong things in the right tone of voice. He would tell me he loved me in the same sentence he would tell me that I was getting fat or was I sure I wanted to eat that or how I shouldn’t correct him or how I needed to let him be right at least once. I thought it was my fault. I thought I did things horribly wrong. He used to tell me that I was gonna leave him for a younger person, how if we ever got a divorce or separated that he would do anything and everything to get his child, and make comments about the people I dated in my past because they were a different ethnicity. Along with making comments about our daughter not being his, she being the mailman’s (which was a woman) and making other homophobic comments. All of this was “funny” to him. This was his sarcasm. He thought he was so funny. What he didn’t realize was that he was squashing the person I was and trying to mold me into what he wanted.

Even after speaking about my rapes, I asked him not to say comments about sexual or homophobic comments towards me as they trigger me and make me uncomfortable. His response? I’ll try but I cannot promise anything. Before I dealt with being raped by my female abuser, I used to lay in bed worried that I was gonna talk in my sleep about it, that he was gonna find out about what happened and blame me. I was going to go to my grave with her abuse because of the comments he made towards me. Eventually, he told me as his wife, he had a right to know about my abuse, then when I wrote it for him to read, he told me that he didn’t need to know because he knew how to handle rape victims (he used to be a cop), which was an obvious lie.

Who speaks to their spouse this way? Who thinks this is appropriate? A narcissist, controller, manipulator, abuser.

If anyone reading this has been put down by their partner and they think they have a right as your partner, please know that is not the case. The more I hear about guys and the games and relationship issues, the more I realize that I have no time or energy to deal with bull ish. After years and years of abuse, I realize that I do NOT have to settle for whoever looks my way. I am a loved individual, just like everyone else, and no matter who or what gets in my way, as long as I push forward in my healing and speak my mind when something bothers me, I can get to a better place… we all can! We don’t have to live this life silenced or confined into someone else’s mold of us. Speaking up is difficult, but so worth it in the long run.

I have never been more relieved to be away from my ex. I feel bad for his new girlfriend, but am relieved that the majority of the abuse has finally stopped… now if I can just get through this divorce in one piece 🙂

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.

Orgasm during Sexual Abuse

Just a thought: If you can’t freely say no, then how can you ever freely say yes?

Blooming Lotus

Looking out over ocean (c) Lynda BernhardtI frequently see people struggle with the fact that their bodies reacted to a rape or other form of sexual abuse by having an orgasm. People wrestle with whether the sexual abuse could have been “that bad” if they had an orgasm during it. Also, some people who first began having orgasms during sexual abuse as young children question whether this means that they were some sort of “bad seed” who brought the sexual abuse on themselves.

It is actually quite common for a person’s body to react to sexual abuse or rape with an orgasm. This does not mean that you wanted the sexual contact or that you enjoyed it. This is simply an indicator that your body was working the way it was designed to work.

Human beings are born into the world wired to respond to sexual contact. Baby boys often get erections during a diaper change…

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Was I Raped? Too bad Rapists don’t read this stuff.

The exact definition of “rape,” “sexual assault,” “sexual abuse” and similar terms differs by state. The wording can get confusing, since states often use different words to mean the same thing or use the same words to describe different things. So, for a precise legal definition, you need to check the law in your state. But here are some general guidelines based on the definitions used by the U.S. Justice Department. Please note that these definitions are a bit graphic, which is inevitable when describing crimes this violent.

Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.

Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape: women, men or children, straight or gay.
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But, be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.)

So, how can you figure if what happened was rape? There are a few questions to consider.

There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual (which means that both people are old enough to consent, have the capacity to consent, and agreed to the sexual contact) or is a crime.

Are the participants old enough to consent? Each state sets an “age of consent,” which is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no.

In most states, the age of consent is 16 or 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age difference between the participants. Generally, “I thought she was 18” is not considered a legal excuse — it’s up to you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part.

Because laws are different in every state, it is important to find out the law in your state. You can call your local crisis center or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE to find out more about the laws in your state.

Do both people have the capacity to consent? States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity — for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious — may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex.

These categories and definitions vary widely by state, so it is important to check the law in your state. You can call your local crisis center or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE to find out more about the laws in your state.

Did both participants agree to take part? Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape.
It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex — “No” also means “Stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state (check your state’s laws for specifics).
Common Questions

I didn’t resist physically – does that mean it isn’t rape?

People respond to an assault in different ways. Just because you didn’t resist physically doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape — in fact, many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent. Lack of consent can be express (saying “no”) or it can be implied from the circumstances (for example, if you were under the statutory age of consent, or if you had a mental defect, or if you were afraid to object because the perpetrator threatened you with serious physical injury).

I used to date the person who assaulted me – does that mean it isn’t rape?

Rape can occur when the offender and the victim have a pre-existing relationship (sometimes called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape”), or even when the offender is the victim’s spouse. It does not matter whether the other person is an ex-boyfriend or a complete stranger, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex in the past. If it is nonconsensual this time, it is rape. (But be aware that a few states still have limitations on when spousal rape is a crime.)

http://rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault/was-it-rape

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.

Seeing the Effects Rape has Caused

Sorry I haven’t been on here in a while. I have been dealing with personal issues that have truly crippled the person I used to be before dealing with being a rape victim. It turns out that I was able to manage life (however much in denial I was) before I defined it as rape. Now that I am a victim, I see how much it  has truly affected my life and how upside down I feel most days.

See, I met my husband four years ago. I told him back then there was something that happened with my first boyfriend, but I could never call it rape, he did. In fact, I remember that “something” affecting how I reacted to guys when it was brought up again. I’m not proud of how I reacted, but I was trying to protect myself. Anyways, when I told him back then, he didn’t push me into the intimacy part of a new relationship (like every single guy before him did). I was comfortable with him and fell in love with him. We married six months later.

Turns out we were having difficulties for a while, but I was never strong enough to stand up for myself (or I thought that was how I was supposed to be as a girlfriend, wife, mother). So when I started to isolate myself and do things other than what he had been used to, it really aggravated him. Would tell me I am changing. That if I just got off of my support group, then things would be back to normal, etc. None of that was a key to a healthy relationship as I started to see that we didn’t have a healthy relationship.

About three or four weeks ago, I started having multiple panic attacks a day for five days until the “big” one came. I literally was lying on the dining room floor so dizzy and ready to pass out, crying my eyes out, barely able to breathe because the thought of moving to a different state with all of my marital problems put me in a tailspin. Needless to say, the hubby has not been supportive at all. It took him until I reached my breaking point before he would see that things NEEDED to change or we wouldn’t make it.

I reached the point where I literally thought “too little too late”. The thought of death was more appealing than living how I was living or putting my child through a divorce. I still wonder if it is a better option, but I know that I could never kill myself (and I thank God for that). My faith and my fear of dying has held me up when nothing else would. Not that I have practiced my faith, but what I do know helped me not give up when all else failed me.

I often wonder if my husband is doing all of this because I told him things have to change, if he is doing it because he is afraid to lose his daughter (not me), or if he is doing it because he is afraid of another failed marriage. Either way, he is trying, and I feel like I need to let him try… even though he’s had many chances and things get good, and then turn sour quickly. I really don’t know if I will make it through another one of those episodes. He told me after four years of marriage that he finally took down some wall he had up in our marriage. I was like what the heck?! You think I set you up because I didn’t tell you all my problems before we married and you have a WALL up???

Anyways, I say all of this because it truly has made me see how my past has affected my present. It pains me to see the effects. It’s not like I can go back to being in denial about our issues, I just have to find a way to work with them or walk away. And last thing anyone wants to do is walk away. I love my husband, but I need support. He can tell I am depressed. I’ve been depressed for a while now. Even while writing this, I am in a fog… distancing myself from any kind of real emotion and just overwhelmed with the thought of pushing forward to heal. It’s sad. I really am an optimistic woman. I’ve just been torn down so much that I feel myself protecting myself from anything… like I am the one with the barricade around my heart not letting anything in, until I am ready.

I really love being inspirational and sharing information on this blog, but I thought I’d share a little bit about what I am going through lately. None of it has been easy. I am still going through counseling, finally scheduled my depression evaluation (just in case meds could help me get a hold of things for now — never permanently — hate meds really, but I NEED HELP), and am searching other avenues to help me heal.

What ways have helped you through your journey?