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 🙂

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Child on Child Sexual Abuse

My first abuse was by a girl when I was 11 or 12. She was my age and I have struggled to understand why and how I could allow someone to do that to me. And yes, I know no child allows abuse. The more and more I read on the topic of Child on Child, Same Sex Sexual Abuse and Rape, the more I can come to terms with the abuse I endured. My issue, finding those like me who actually speak out about their abuse. Not many straight women admit to being same sex sexually abused as a child. Talk about taboo. I thought child-on-child abuse outside of family was taboo too, but apparently there is enough info about it to have others write about it. I don’t think I could say it any better than this, so I wanted to share.

the secret behind closed doors

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Child-on-child sexual abuse refers to a form of child sexual abuse in which a prepubescent child is sexually abused by one or more other children or adolescent youths, and in which no adult is directly involved. The term describes sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion.This includes when one of the children uses physical force, threats, trickery or emotional manipulation to elicit cooperation. Child-on-child sexual abuse is further differentiated from normative sexual play or anatomical curiosity and exploration (i.e. “playing doctor”) because of overt and deliberate actions directed at sexual stimulation or orgasm. In many instances, the initiator exploits the other child’s naïveté, and the victim is unaware of the nature of what is happening to them. When sexual abuse is perpetrated by one sibling upon another, it is known as “inter-sibling abuse”

The incidence of child-on-child sexual…

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Update, Hospitalization, and Progressive Health

Been a long while since I have been on this blog or any. Actually, I haven’t been on the internet in like forever because of what started at the end of May. I got to a point where I wanted to beat my husband up in his sleep, crying myself to sleep every night, major anxiety, and so much more. My husband confronted me at my work because he happened to see that I was talking about partial hospitalization on fb. I told him I was serious. He understood after reading about wanting to beat him up. I just couldn’t handle this “normal” (fake) life anymore. I was hurting and no one cared. Even my cousin (the only one in the family I talk to) told me she was tired of talking about it, and we only talked about it maybe 4 times within a year. Anyways, so off to the hospital I went.

I uprooted my family from one part of the country to the other with my wanting to go back to where I grew up to make sure I got the best care, since there were no trauma therapists or support groups within 2 hours of where we lived. Hated that town anyways!

I went into the ER at 4:30pm, brought to the Mental Hospital here at 2am, and finally laid my head down on one of the inpatient beds at 4am. I slept that whole day or two. I was that depressed. My husband had to go back and work but I was inpatient for 10 days. The best 10 days I could have ever gotten. I really do recommend people going and getting help if they are thinking suicidal or that depressed.

(On the way to my hometown, I wanted to jump out of the car, but I turned my music on and went to sleep for the 23 hour drive.)

After inpatient I was outpatient in the PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) there while I slept on my dad’s couch. Once my husband drove back down we got a hotel for Hubby and Cupcake (*Not her real name, our daughter). The suicidal thoughts started coming more frequent when interacting with my husband and daughter. If only I was dealing with my past rapes. Rape started a long process of unhealthy relationships for me.

Since they wanted to get me reevaluated again, I got sent inpatient for a LONG 5 days. It was unexpected and very aggravating. I made the doctors think everything was fine. It was easier that way because not having jobs or a place to live and my physical health was more important to me.

Now I realize that, yes, I am living my life after rape, but I am not defined by anything. Not MDD or PTSD or anything. I am me and all I can do is me. I took very colorful notes inpatient and outpatient and have finally been released from the programs. I wish I could stay there for those who are just now coming into the program and be an advocate for them. It is so essential that they realize it is more than just sitting there in the groups, but soaking up the knowledge the therapists and doctors are giving them. I feel like I did all I could do there for my own personal growth.

Now that I am out, I am still journalling from time to time (with markers in composition books) and looking into DBT. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses on Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness, which the inpatient therapist tried to go over with me. Thinking more rationally than emotionally minded when it comes to situations where I perceive distress in relationships. I feel like I have lots of resources and help and I will gladly pass them on to others who need help just surviving LIFE, let alone abuse.

Strive for PROGRESSION, NOT Perfection. I want to surround myself with progressively healthy people than people who are stuck and unhealthy to what my needs are.

Think I might coin that phrase if it already isn’t… “PROGRESSIVELY HEALTHY” or “PROGRESSIVE HEALTH”

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?

Fight, Flight, or Freeze Reactions

“When human beings are faced with danger, their adrenal glands flood their bodies with either adrenaline or noradrenaline. Adrenaline energizes the body in the fight or flight mode; noradrenaline creates a freeze reaction, or the numbing of the body and the emotions. This freeze reaction also can be caused by the endogenous opioid system, one of the body’s natural calming systems, which diminishes physical sensations and the intensity of emotional reactions.

As a result of these involuntary physiological reactions, during a sexual assault, the woman doesn’t have the power to decide whether she is going to fight back, try to run (flight), or go limp (freeze). His/her adrenal glands and neurohormones do. The same holds true when she is exposed to a reminder of the assault, also called a “trigger.” When exposed to a trigger, even if she is safe, her body responds as if she is being attacked.

If she responds with an adrenaline surge, leading to a fight or flight reaction, she may experience symptoms such as the startle response, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and increased nightmares and flashbacks. If she responds with a noradrenaline urge, she may have a numbing or freeze reaction. Or, she may alternate between the symptoms or fight or flight reactions and the symptoms of a freeze reaction.”

(The Rape Recovery Handbook, Chapter 4, Coping Skills)

A little more on RTS (Rape Trauma Syndrome)

I find that knowing what reactions are normal in rape victims helps me understand that the feelings I have are normal and that I am not alone. I already posted another article on RTS that I compiled from a few websites, but this one helped me understand a little more and, for me, anything helps. I hope that someone reading this can be helped, even in the least.

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often affects rape survivors.

Not all rape survivors will experience RTS. Different women respond to the trauma of rape in different ways. Some women will experience severe RTS, while others have few symptoms or none at all. ALL rape survivors need to be believed, taken seriously and supported, regardless of whether they experience RTS or not.

Experiencing some or all of the symptoms of RTS does not mean you’re crazy. The symptoms of RTS can be very powerful and distressing. As a survivor, it may feel as if you’re going crazy, but that is a normal reaction. If you are supporting a friend or family member who has been raped, you may find the survivor’s behaviors puzzling or upsetting. HOWEVER, the symptoms of RTS are a NORMAL reaction to a traumatic experience, and they will fade over time with proper care and support.

A survivor’s individual response to rape, and the degree of RTS they experience depends on many factors:

  • If the victim knew and trusted the rapist
  • If family and friends are supportive and patient, or blaming and unhelpful
  • Treatment by the police and justice system, should the victim choose to report the attack
  • Age and previous life experiences
  • Cultural and religious background
  • The degree of violence used by the rapist
  • Injuries, illnesses or disabilities resulting from the rape
  • Whether the rape brings up memories of past traumas
  • The victim’s emotional state prior to the rape
  • The victim’s practical and material resources

Remember: Every rape situation is unique and it is very important to treat each rape survivor as an individual.

It is next to impossible to completely forget about a rape. Many survivors lose or suppress memories of all or part of the rape, but it is not forgotten; however, the memories will almost certainly resurface later, and the survivor will need to face them.

If the victim is very young, or experiences the rape as especially traumatic, they may block the memory of the rape even as it is occurring. They may not consciously recognize that they has been raped or may not experience any symptoms until months or years later, usually when another life event, such as a first sexual relationship or another trauma, triggers the memories. Once the memories return the survivor will never forget what happened, but will learn to live with the trauma. Recovery takes time. Survivors must allow themselves to remember the rape and feel whatever feelings it will bring, even though this is often very difficult and painful. They need to work through the experience, and integrate it into their lives so they can move on.

Physical Symptoms of RTS

  • Shock: usually an immediate response. May include: numbness, chills, faintness, confusion, disorientation, trembling, nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems: unable to sleep, sleeping more than usual, or other changes in sleeping pattern
  • Eating problems: no appetite and subsequent weight loss, or compulsive eating and subsequent weight gain
  • No energy or too much energy
  • Physical illness: the stress may weaken the immune system and making them more vulnerable to illness. The rapist may have infected the survivor with an STD, or other illness. A general feeling of “unwellness” is normal
  • Physical pain: this may be as a result of injuries inflicted by the rapist, or a physical reaction to emotional pain
  • Cardiovascular problems: heart palpitations, breathlessness, tightness or pain in the chest, high blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal problems: loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dryness in mouth, butterflies in stomach, feelings of emptiness in stomach, etc.
  • Exaggerated startle response: over-reacting to sudden noise or movement
  • Over-sensitivity to noise

Cognitive Symptoms of RTS

“As if” feelings or flashbacks: re-experiencing sensations that were felt during the rape, or actually reliving parts of the experience in memory or dreams.

  • Intrusive thoughts: sudden or forceful “intrusive” memories of aspects of the rape. Constantly thinking about the attack.
  • Memory loss: the survivor may be unable to remember the rape or parts of it; this is usually temporary, although it can last for many years
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased alertness
  • Speech problems: stuttering, stammering or other difficulty talking
  • Indecisiveness
  • Difficulty problem solving
  • Nightmares
  • Violent fantasies
  • Revenge fantasies

Behavioral Symptoms of RTS

  • Crying
  • Avoiding reminders of the rape
  • Pretending that it never happened
  • Neglecting themselves or other people
  • Increased washing or bathing
  • Self-blame
  • Fear of being alone
  • Not socializing or socializing more than before the rape
  • Relationship problems: the survivor may be irritable, argumentative or easily upset; they may withdraw from people they felt close to before the rape or form sudden new connections; they may grow overly dependent on others or become too independent.

Survivors may experience sexual problems after the rape. They may not want sexual contact of any kind, or may no longer enjoy it – this may be exacerbated if their partners blames them or are impatient with their recovery; alternatively, they might become more sexually active than before.

Survivors may make drastic changes in home, work, school or relationships; this can be an important part of helping them feel safe and in control again.

  •     Substance abuse
  •     Emotional Symptoms of RTS
  •     Denial
  •     Numbness or lack of emotion
  •     Rapid, inexplicable mood changes
  •     Shame
  •     Guilt
  •     Feeling dirty
  •     Anger or desire for revenge
  •     Fear
  •     Nervousness and worry
  •     Being easily upset
  •     Powerlessness and loss of control
  •     Grief and loss
  •     Feeling “different” from other people
  •     Loss of Self-esteem
  •     Losing interest in life
  •     Depression
  •     Suicidal feelings

RTS symptoms change over time.  In the first days after the rape, survivors usually experiences shock. They may be visibly upset, or may appear calm and reluctant to talk. Once the shock has passed there may behave as if nothing has happened. This is called denial or apparent adjustment and helps the survivor block painful memories and feelings that they may not yet be strong enough to deal with. This phase can last for weeks or months or even years, but is almost always followed by a long phase of active healing, during which the survivor will probably experience other RTS symptoms. With care, attention and time, the symptoms will decrease and finally disappear completely.

Many rape survivors who experience symptoms of RTS, may find it helpful to talk to a counselor trained in working with rape victims. A counselor can help them deal with the strongest symptoms, or to work through memory loss. Other survivors may find that the rape brings up other underlying problems, and in these cases, more help may be needed. If you would like to find a capable counselor, contact UASA or another women’s help group.

For more information contact United Against Sexual Assault (UASA). We offer a 24/7crisis line for victims and also offer training, education and information about rape and other forms of violence against women, teens and children.

http://uasasonoma.org/services/rts.html

Things Not to Say to a Rape Victim

I’ve seen this floating around the internet for a while now. Out of all the do’s and don’ts that I have seen for this topic, this is by far the best one I’ve seen. Some of them may sound goofy or dumb, but I am sure some how somewhere someone was told that particular thing. It’s amazing that the only people who ever seem to read these things are rape victims hoping that someone they know will be sincere enough. Or at least that’s my opinion. I hope everyone takes a minute to read over these. Chances are, you know someone affected by sexual assault. Many victims (like myself) stay silent for many reasons. We need to help break the silence once and for all. The victims did nothing wrong… the rapists did.

Ways to Help

Your loved one may need your help right now, but be unable to ask for it. I hope you’ll consider offering it. You can help her heal more than you know.

Believe him or her. This is the most important thing you can do. Even if the assault or abuse happened many years ago, she needs to be believed now.

Validate the emotions your loved one expressed. Healing from sexual assault presents survivors with a myriad of feelings. Your loved one has every right to each of his unique feelings.

Offer a somewhat detached perspective. It may be easier for your friend to talk about rape and sexual assault if you respond by letting her know that you care about what happened to her, but avoid showing very strong emotional reactions. This is because many of us feel somehow responsible for our supporter’s feelings about the sexual violence. Of course, you probably do have strong feelings about it and will need support for them. Try to avoid depending on the survivor for that support.

Offer practical support. Your friend may find that organizing her life is difficult while she is in crisis. You can help by offering to help. For instance, she may need help moving out of her apartment or she may be nervous about attending her first counseling session. Just by offering your help, she will know that you care and if she needs you, she’ll be able take you up on it.

Call her and make plans with her. While I was in crisis, healing from my rape, the friends I most appreciated would call me up, with a suggested activity and a date and time. Your friend may be feeling to overwhelmed to pick up the phone and make plans with you, but she will probably appreciate it if you do.

Let her know you are thinking of her. Send flowers, a card or a note. Knowing that you care will lift her spirits during the tough times. I still keep notes from thoughtful friends and sometimes am moved to tears by the love they extended to me.

Express your anger in a controlled manner. Your loved one has likely experienced her rape as violent and out of control. Expressions of heated anger will likely make her feel further out of control.

Educate yourself. Sexual assault triggers a wide range of emotions. Your loved one may find herself becoming anxious, disassociated from her feelings, or depressed. If you educate yourself about the responses to sexual assault, you’ll be better prepared to help her deal with his.

Take time for yourself. Talking to someone in such pain can be difficult. Take the time that you need. You’ll do more help by stepping back for a moment than you will by listening resentfully.

Most importantly, let her know she can talk to you. Your compassionate, listening ear is the best you have to give her. Let her know that you are not afraid to listen to what she has to say. However, please bear in mind that she may not always want to talk about her feelings about her assault. Sometimes it is just too difficult, but knowing that you are available can be enough to get her through the painful times.

There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been a victim of rape or sexual violence:

Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental. Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime. Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.

It is also important to note that having a friend or family member who is raped or assaulted can be a very upsetting experience. For this reason it is also important that you take care of yourself. Even if your friend and family member isn’t ready to talk, you can get support for yourself.

Things to Say

Many people do not know what to say when a friend is talking about sexual assault. Most of the time, your supportive listening ear is all that is needed. Please bear in mind that your friend has had total control taken from her and is probably struggling to reclaim it. Offering ideas and suggestions is a better idea than giving direct advice. It is not always necessary to come up with the perfect words, but here are a few ideas.

You are on my mind. How are you? How can I help you? Can I do anything to make things better for you right now? I’m glad you told me. It just happened to you. You didn’t cause it and you didn’t deserve it. I’ll support you no matter what you decide to do. What would you like to do next? It’s okay of you are at a loss for words. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You are doing the very best you can.

What Not to Say

Talking about sexual assault is very difficult for a survivor. If she is telling you about what happened, she is probably revealing a very intimate part of herself to you. She deserves to be believed and treated with respect. If you have said any of these things, though, you could probably just apologize and she’ll feel a lot better.

Silence: When I told others about my rape, embarrassed silence felt like shame to me. “I’m so sorry,” is a good reaction.

Any sort of minimizing statement: “It could have been worse,” “Don’t think about it,” “Life goes on,” and statements that ignore what we are feeling are likely to be received as minimizing our pain and it will hurt. A simple “I’m so glad you are here with me. It will take time, but you will get through this. I am here for you as you do,” will make your friend feel better.

“You’ve got to move on with your life.” — Healing is the survivor’s life right now. She’s doing the work she needs to do so she can feel whole again.

Statements that begin with “You need to…” — Please respect her enough to let her decide what she needs to do. She may, however, appreciate it if you pointed out options by rephrasing those statements to begin with “You could…”

“What did you do to cause it?” — The survivor did nothing to cause what happened. Nothing about her could provoke a normal person to assault her. The blame lies on her attacker.

“It doesn’t sound like it was a bad rape.” — Since rape is prevalent in our society, a lot of people think it is no big deal. However, having an unwanted object put inside of your body is just about the most violating and violent thing that can happen to a person, even if there are no wounds or bruises. Please don’t minimize what happened to your loved one.

“Isn’t it time you got over this?” — Healing from sexual assault takes time and sometimes things just come up to remind a survivor of what she endured. Healing from trauma cannot be neatly enclosed into a time limit.

“He didn’t actually rape you.” — If someone attempted to rape your friend, but was not able to complete it, she may very well feel horrible. After my rape, I found myself questioning the humanity of others. How could someone have wanted to do this to me? Did I provoke this? What does this say about my humanity and the humanity of others? It is likely that your friend is having similar questions.

“If this were true, you would have reported it.” — If we went by statistics, rape and child abuse would, in fact, seem rare. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2000, only 28% of rapes were reported in 1999. Of sexually abused children in grades five through twelve 48% of the boys and 29% of the girls told no one about the abuse, not even a friend or sibling. Many people do not report for a myriad of reasons, but that does not mean it did not happen.

“I’m going to kill him.” — This will probably frighten her. You have every right to be angry, but please keep her feelings in mind. A simple, “It makes me very angry that you were violated,” said calmly will validate her feelings and will probably not frighten her.

“You knew/were married to him. It can’t be rape.” 62% of female survivors knew their assailant. 43% of survivors are raped by a friend or acquaintance. 17% were raped by an intimate (NCVS, 2000). The rapist is very rarely a masked man jumping out of the bushes.

“Why didn’t you report it?” — Sometimes this question is asked out of honest curiosity, but a lot of survivors will see it as a criticism of their choices.

“Can we talk about something else? This is disgusting.” — What was done to your friend is unconscionable, but she is not. Don’t make her feel as though she is.

“You are doing this for attention. I very much doubt that your friend is trying to call attention to herself by making herself known as “The Victim of Sexual Violence,” It’s not a title many people want.

“Move on. It happened so long ago.” A survivor would like nothing more than to be able to “move on.” That is not possible without processing the resulting feelings. To do so, she needs to talk. Please don’t silence her as she moves through the process. Perhaps you could tell her you are glad she is dealing with it now.

“He would never do that!” Rapists can be anyone. They can be the most popular boy in school, they can be a friend’s brother. It is doubtful that your friend is lying. A better thing to say would be, “There is no way you could have known he would do that.”

“But you went out on a date with him.” Date rape is very common. Going on a date does not make a person obligated to have sex.

“Why didn’t you scream or fight?” Rape is often seen as a life threatening experience. In life threatening instances, humans fight, freeze, or flee. Your friend may have frozen, which is a very common response. She may already be asking herself those questions. What she needs from you is reassurance that it is a totally normal reaction and does not excuse the rapist’s actions

And here are some more… We’re still your friends, family, wives, moms, students, husbands, teachers, doctors, brothers and loved ones. There’s no need to back off or be scared of us. For the most part these suggestions are pretty easy to avoid, as you will see in a minute. Please don’t…

  1. Ask if we liked it. No one likes being physically overpowered.
  2. Tell us “it’s just sex”. Rape is a crime of power, control, and extreme violence where sex is used as a weapon against someone weaker. It is not sex.
  3. Tell us how we could have avoided it. Believe me, if we could have prevented it we would have.
  4. Make fun of us. We have faced an attacker who sometimes is willing to kill and have survived. What’s there to make fun of?
  5. Tell us it would never happen to you and why. We didn’t think we would become statistics either.
  6. There’s no need to avoid us. We’re still the same person you’ve come to care about or learned to care about. We’ve just been unspeakably hurt. We’re not contagious.
  7. Please don’t treat us like we have the plague. Chances are we don’t. Do you?
  8. God isn’t punishing us for some misdeed by allowing this to happen. God helps us heal. He doesn’t send someone to hurt His people.
  9. Don’t tell us it was God’s will we were raped. Do tell us it was God’s will that we survived!
  10. Don’t disbelieve us. According to survey respondents being disbelieved is a survivor’s greatest fear.
  11. Don’t tell us that survivors make up tales for attention. According to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault false rape reports only happen 2% of the time. That’s a 98% chance that no matter how strange it sounds to you the rape isn’t being abricated.
  12. Don’t tell me not to talk about it. Yes it upsets me to talk about it but that is the only way that I can sort through it.
  13. Don’t say, “It happened on a date, that’s common”. When you say that, it belittles me and my feelings about the assault. It’s not common because it happened to me and I’m not a statistic.
  14. Don’t say “other people have it worse off than you”. I’m not “other people”. I’m me.
  15. Don’t feel you need to retaliate against our attacker. We know the perpetrator is capable of violence. Please don’t make us worry about you being hurt. We’ll feel more secure knowing you’ll remain in one piece.
  16. Don’t blame us for what happened. It’s not our fault.
  17. Don’t tell us to “get over it”. We would if we could and we are trying our best. Support us as we struggle to find our way again.
  18. Don’t tell us to put what happened out of our minds. It’s not that simple.
  19. Don’t tell us “it’s no big deal”. Rape is an enormous challenge to heal from. It haunts even our dreams.
  20. If we disagree about safety issues in the future please realize that what may sound strange to you may help us feel safe.
  21. Don’t say something like, “Well, it’s been six months (a year, 5 years etc.) and ask if we’re “over it” yet. Chances are that we may not be ready to go back to life as it was. We may never be ready and may have to create a new life for ourselves as we learn to be safe again.
  22. Don’t tell us we are weak because it impacts our life. We are stronger than words can describe.
  23. Don’t ask us what you are supposed to do to get past what happened to us. We aren’t sure what we’re going to do.
  24. Don’t ask us if we did this on purpose. We didn’t do anything except survive.
  25. Don’t ask us if we couldn’t have done something differently during the attack. We made the best choices we could to survive. We got away without being killed didn’t we? That’s proof our instincts were right. Please help us learn to realize that ourselves.
  26. Don’t tell us that it’s not rape because we knew the attacker. Numerous studies tell us that our perpetrators are more likely to be known to us than unknown.
  27. If you give us a hug and we pull away please know that chances are we’re not rejecting you. We may have a hard time being able to respond right now.
  28. If we do pull away from you please don’t get mad. Tell us you care. Chances are you’ll get that hug after all!
  29. If you’re together and the survivor has a flashback, try not to be mad at the survivor. We hate the darned things too! Flashbacks are always rough. It’s difficult to know what to do. It’s got to be difficult to watch. Any anger should go the one who caused the rape and not the survivor who has to put her life together.
  30. Don’t be afraid to talk to us if we’re upset. Knowing you are there may be just what we need.
  31. If we become suicidal please don’t take that as a sign of weakness. Take that as a sign we’re overwhelmed, trying to cope, and need help.
  32. Don’t pretend rape doesn’t happen to people you know. It does.
  33. Don’t get the idea rape just happens to “those” kinds of people. This crime happens to as many as 1 woman in 4 crossing ethnic, racial, economic and social boundaries.
  34. Don’t be afraid of a person who was raped. I promise as a survivor, the rape will affect you but won’t rub off on you. The person you love is still the same person as before.
  35. Don’t deny your feelings after finding out a friend was raped. Call a rape crisis center’s hotline and find out what support is available for you.
  36. Do not tell us we should take it as a compliment. Rape isn’t about lust or attractiveness, it’s an act of power and force.
  37. Do not tell us “Oh yeah, I know a bunch of girls who’ve been raped” as if it were no big deal. We realize we aren’t the only ones but by saying that it belittles how it hurts by making it just another number.