Bringing rape out of the closet

Dedication: After I had started writing this site news reports hit the world headlines of a young woman gang-raped on a bus in India, sexually abused with an iron bar, thrown off to die, and who subsequently did die. No-one should ever have to contend with that sort of violence against them. This site is dedicated to her memory.

 

When I started researching for this site, I found there were a lot of very good resources available for rape victims in the immediate aftermath of violation, many sites that covered off on anger management in general, but very few that specifically addressed the kind of anger and ongoing emotions that I continue to feel many years after being raped. I thought there must be others who, like me, simply coped alone. I decided that sharing would not only be therapeutic for me but may also help other women to express their own emotions about the total loss of control a rape victim feels and the ongoing emotional battles many of us still face many years later.

The idea of putting myself "out there" was a pretty scary thing. What happened to me was decades ago and I'd hidden it from all but a select few. I'd never truly faced it but I couldn't leave it behind, so how could I presume to help people who were going through now what I went through then? How could I hope to relate to people a generation apart from me? But in the end it is the commonality of our experience that matters.

In the 1970s I didn't have any resources, not even people resources. I was scared, lonely, and so full of self doubt - it must've been my fault, I must've done something to deserve it. I just knew no-one would believe me and I would be judged. So I didn't tell. I bottled my guilt and my anger for many years until it finally broke free and very nearly broke me. That's not a new reaction or one limited just to me. It wasn't then, and it isn't now.

It is OKAY to be angry

RAPE is an emotive term - rape is the ultimate violation. Anger is a perfectly normal and natural reaction to atrocity. We feel anger when we hear of someone else being hurt on purpose, so why shouldn't we feel anger when we are hurt on purpose?

We're told that anger is a destructive emotion, but we're not often told that we will feel anger, and continue to do so, and it's okay that we do. Don't bottle your anger and your emotions. Don't feel guilty. Do feel angry, do scream. You have a right to be angry. Anger doesn't have to mean retribution. It doesn't have mean loss of control, or hatred, or repaying violence with violence. You've already been through that. Rape isn't about sex, rape is about control - vicious, violent, inexcusable control by one person over another. Gang rape is an atrocity by many against one. No single person can fight that. No one should have to.

Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if there was no such thing as rape? If no really did mean no, and no person was ever forced against their will to submit to an invasion of their body that they didn't want, didn't ask for, and didn't agree to?

Use your anger to heal.

Rape is still a taboo subject in so many cultures and communities. It shouldn't be. Channel your anger. Use it. Direct it. Make it work for you and for every other victim of rape. Feeling anger is not what counts. It's how you channel your anger that counts. There's an old saying, "Don't get mad, get even". Today, worldwide, there is no chance for so many violated women and men to get even, so we have to let our communities and the wider society know that our anger is OKAY, what happened to us is NOT okay.

For me, this site and my blog have been born out of my anger. During my research I found that I am not alone in my feelings. One publication in particular, List of Rape Myths, a study from the University of Minnesota Duluth, made me understand that many people repress memories of the violence perpetrated on them, only to have them rise up many years later. It's not unusual, it's not wrong, it doesn't make me mad.

It makes me angry.

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