Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Life after rape

Yesterday's blog post got me thinking... all too often the media focuses on the rapist. Yet little is said about the victim.

Granted, I know they try to keep the anonymity of the victim. But what must she go through.

So I thought about my survival story. How were the days after the rape like for me?

First, let me say that I do not compare my story to the story of any other victim. Each victim is unique. Each rape is unique. Each healing process is unique. I am simply sharing this to give a little insight.

The first few days were surreal. Did that really happen? I mean, my rapists were guys that I knew. Was it all a nightmare?

Then came the blame game - did I do or say something that gave them the impression that I wanted it? How was I dressed? Had I been drinking? Did I say no enough?

What makes my story unique is that I was assaulted twice, on 2 separate incidences. Once occurred at my home by an ex-boyfriend, the second occurred about a year later by a guy that I was dating and his best friend.

The first assault took time to sink in what had happened. Rape wasn't talked about back then. Neither was sexual assault. It wasn't until a few days later, watching The Accused, that I had a light bulb moment.

Shortly afterward I began attending a rape victim support group. This helped tremendously because I learned that I was not alone. That the lack of sleeping and jitteriness was common. That while I was in a bad place now, one day there would be healing.

A year later, the 2nd rape. Yeah that one wrecked me. I blamed myself.

How could I let this happen AGAIN?

No one will ever want you. You're used goods.

Who the hell gets raped TWICE?

No one will ever believe me a second time.

I began retreating into myself. I started having trouble sleeping. I had to sleep with the lights on. Then I could only fall asleep once the sun came up. I didn't feel safe sleeping at night - even if I had the lights on. Eventually, I struggled going to work and  being around people. I would lock myself in the bathroom at work and cry. Finally, I would have a complete breakdown if someone stood too close to me (within 20 feet). I would shake & sweat. I couldn't cope with life.

And the flashbacks. Oh man. Those were the worst. They weren't just when I was sleeping. I would be out with friends and suddenly feel hands on me. I would struggle to breathe.

Even after a year or 2, I still struggled. I would have a complete meltdown, fall asleep and wake up not remembering the meltdown.

Then I started gaining weight. Eating my feelings. Trying to forget the pain.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol didn't numb the pain either.

This is what these victims have to look forward to. While their attackers get to live their lives as if nothing happened, these women will forever be changed because of what happened to them. Their lives are no longer care-free. Instead, they will worry. Worry what they did wrong. Worry if this will happen again. Worry if their attacker will find them. Worry that no one will want them because they have been 'ruined'. Worry that their friends and family won't accept them.

These women will have to learn to have a new NORMAL. A normal that is life after being violated.

My hope & prayer for these ladies is that they have a strong support system; friends and family who will help the healing process. Who will listen to them and not dismiss their feelings. That they are able to find a support group so they know that they are not alone in this. That every emotion they are feeling is the right feeling. That they will be able to one day share their story as a SURVIVOR and not as someone's victim.