Read Kendra Davis’ brilliant article about the emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex, and the traumatic accident that brought her to the realisation of just how wrong things were.
When I was 18 I was raped by a friend of my boyfriend.
It is something I very rarely mention, yet think of quite often.
I like to think I’m doing quite well in my recovery from addiction, and actually consider my relapse last year as a part of the journey, I learned a lot from it. I try to maintain a positive mindset. I go to groups, I’ve made great friends, I work hard to confront my irrational thoughts and beliefs head on in order to understand myself and become a better version of me. I’m a constantly evolving organism, my own masterpiece in the making.
I try to understand how the events in my life have shaped the way I’ve lived in order to take control over how I live now.
I’ve tried to deal with all my open emotional wounds in order to stop myself picking at them little by little and causing deeper scars over time.
And yet, this one event, this trauma, never quite makes its way out. I never quite pluck up the courage to mention it, not to anybody, friends, family, many counsellors over the years. It’s the one taboo I just can’t bring myself to discuss. And I obviously need to. As I said, I think of it often. And it hurts.
So why can’t I deal with it?
And then, a few weeks ago, I had a sudden moment of clarity. It happened in the group life coaching I attend weekly. We do a brief check in at the beginning. A girl, I’ll call her Kate, just mentioned when it came to her turn how much the life coaching and the various support services had helped her to learn how to manage her feelings and, in turn, her life. She just dropped it in, in rather a blase way, that she had been raped. The way she said it made it clear that it was a past event that was dealt with and put to bed. Which got me started with this train of thought. Why is my rape not dealt with.? Why can’t I announce it like that? Why is it the one thing I can’t be truly honest and open about?
Because, the answer came to me, I am ashamed and I am embarrassed.
I tried to put into words my new understanding to my partner the next day. Why can I not be as brave as Kate and just declare it with no shame? His response was that I don’t want to be identifying myself as a victim. And this got me thinking even more.
Why am I worrying about how it makes me look when it’s not something I had any say in, it’s something I had no responsibility for?
I’m carrying all this shame about something that was done to me. I’m shouldering the blame for somebody else’s decision to ignore word “stop” and beating myself up for failing to change his mind.
To hear Kate so matter of factly saying “I got raped and struggled to get my head together for a while,” was the catalyst for a huge awakening for me. It seems such a small, simple thing:
“It wasn’t my fault”
And yet it’s taken me 13 years to come to that conclusion. I’m not suddenly ‘over it’, how could I be after battering myself with it for so long? But I understand now why such a painful memory has been walled off and hidden for all this time when other traumatic emotional events that also caused me to feel guilty and ashamed, such as being unable to care for my children and their removal to a family member, or the death by heroin overdose of my best friend and my subsequent arrest, have been plucked out of my head, thrust into the light, discussed and dissected with several friends and professionals throughout the years, until reaching the point where I can think about it and feel the sadness without the onset of anxiety that inevitably leads to me tearing myself apart with one destructive behaviour or another.
So although it will take some time and effort on my part, I can’t help but feel positive about this small break through. Having read up on it, I now know that it is extremely common for people who have been raped to feel this way. Most of us feel that we could have, should have, done something to prevent the attack. Why didn’t I look into this years ago?! By closing myself off to any chance of support, i have been dragging out my suffering all these years. I’ve been letting him win! Well, no more.
Now that I have been able to find the root of the disturbance that the memory of my rape causes me, I can start to come to terms with it and move forwards a little lighter in my heart. One person’s actions don’t define who I am. I know I can overcome what somebody else did to to me and I know that my journey of recovery from addiction has just been made a little easier to travel because of this knowledge.
And, of course, I would not have been in the right place, emotionally and mentally, to have come to these conclusions, to have taken the rape out of its box and had a good look at why it was still messing me up, if not for the life coaching and the Smart Recovery meetings, provided by The Hidden Homeless. It is thanks to that support in working on myself that I have come this far and feel ready to confront my remaining demons.
Today, I am grateful.
Forum discussion of why the victims of rape feel guilty and ashamed
An interesting article exploring and trying to find a way through these emotions
The Hidden Homeless, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
I love this post, as soon as I read it I knew I had to reblog!
I wish I had felt like this growing up. I was a wreck as a kid. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t trust myself not to say something stupid in front of people that I thought were much cooler than me, which was basically everyone. I was a complete try-hard and I got it wrong every time. I didn’t know who I was so I tried to be all thing to all people and I messed it up.
And now I have daughters.
I have nightmares about them going through school feeling the way I did. I try so hard to instil them with confidence, to explain the importance of being yourself without caring what anybody thinks. When I look back, the ‘popular’ kids at school were the ones who had enough confidence in themselves to act naturally. They never stuttered when they tried to talk in a group, they never blushed when asked a question in class, they never tried too hard.
But how to explain that to young girls whose whole lives revolve around what people think and how they are portraying themselves? I was trying to explain about the effect being confident has on the image you portray to those around you to my 12 year old daughter recently. Her reply, “Mum, nobody acts like that, that’s how you end up being bullied”. I think my heart broke.
I struggled at school. But at least I got to leave my try-hard self behind when I got off the school bus and could just be myself when I got home. Now, kids have smartphones that keep them constantly connected to their peers. They have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and however many others I’m too old to have a clue about. And every single thing they post is scrutinised by everyone they know, or an attempt to reach the notice of those they want to know. Every thought they have and every picture they take is an effort to bolster their image.
So I found the post below so refreshing to read. The op is obviously quite young, probably not much older than my daughters, and it’s so comforting to see that some kids are coming through this minefield unscathed. I hope my girls learn this confidence much sooner than I did.
I’m only just coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been worrying myself sick for years over something that just does not matter. I love who I am. Nobody else’s opinion matters!
If somebody else thinks I’m being stupid, so what? If I’m feeling boisterous and skipping down the street chatting to Charlie, my Staffie, or singing loudly along to Muse while playing air drums, then I’m expressing my contentment and feeling good, and I probably look a complete tit to anyone that sees me, but so what?
I suppose I have to accept that this isn’t something I can teach my daughters. They’ll have to come to the realisation that they are just fine exactly how they are in their own time, just like I did. I can bolster their confidence, praise their intelligence and wit, and make sure they know they are loved more than life, but ultimately they have to develop that self-love for themselves.
I only hope they don’t suffer in the learning as much as I did.
I recently noticed that most people hate certain things about themselves, or wish they were someone else. With me, I don’t. I believe that what I have makes me, me.I may not be the prettiest girl in the world, I may not have the nicest personality, I may be weird, odd, etc, but I am me.
I am a lot more comfortable doing what I want, rather than what the people around me think I should do. I hate dresses with a passion, and am a lot more comfortable in a tux. I HATE makeup, and am a lot happier without it. I am not girly at all. I don’t run around lusting after attractive people. I don’t keep myself in a shell so I don’t embarrass myself. I will laugh when I throw the ball in the complete opposite direction it’s meant to go in PE…
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