It has come to my attention over the past many months that people who have never been sexually assaulted really don’t “get it.” And despite the fact they don’t have a clue, they go right on ahead and post snotty memes about it. Many of these people are (right wing) women and when I see women spreading this stupid crap I find it mind-boggling.
So Why does it matter so much? Apparently some people think you should just go to the Police right away or just stuff it down and forgeddaboudit . . . I even had one male relative comment that the damage from it was no more than a woman “getting her feelings hurt.” (Huh??!!) At the time that infuriated me into stunned silence. But let me just tell you now – if “hurt feelings” was all it was about there would be no #metoo movement. Women are far more resilient than men about getting their feelings hurt. – Just compare the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh at the recent hearings on Capitol Hill. Lots being said about that. I’m not sure I need to go into it here. (But what I saw was composure and grace in the face of pressure from the first person and totally unhinged outrage and a Drama Queen level of self-pity from the second person, the person who wants to – no expects to – be elevated to the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment cuz his buddies told him he was a shoe-in.) But that’s a whole discussion by itself.
What I wanted to go into with this post is just this issue: What Rape does to the victim. And why that matters or should matter. I know a lot of people like to use the term ”sexual assault” these days instead of Rape, but I grew up with that word, and it relates to my own past experiences, so I use it here.
What Rape Does:
It tells you WHO you are.
It tells you WHAT you are.
It CHANGES you.
It does this and imprints this at the basic core of your humanity. It imprints so heavily at some concealed emotional core of your being, that no matter how you try to “get over it” or “put it past you” it continually rears its ugly head at every unforeseen opportunity anyway. It has lasting permanent effects, deep down effects.
In short, it tells you that WHO you are is NOTHING, a thing of no consequence.
And it tells you that WHAT you are is not a real Human, but a pile of GARBAGE or SHIT – that can be flushed away and forgotten, with no consequences to anyone but you.
It changes you. It changes who you were before the incident of your violation into something much less than what you were. It changes your basic sense of self. Your “authentic self” gets lost and replaced with a “you are nothing but a piece of shit” self, or a “you are Damaged Goods self.” Then you have to try to hide that change – if you can. Because if you do try to talk about it, you see that look on people’s faces, the one that tells you they now see you differently too.
Yes, rape/sexual assault is on the books as a Crime in most jurisdictions, but it is much more than that to the persons who have suffered this gigantic stumbling block thrust into their lives. You don’t walk out of the experience thinking “Well that was a crime . . . my feelings are hurt.” – No, you walk out in a daze thinking “My life has just been shattered…” or “Everything I ever wanted for my life was just splintered into a million pieces and I don’t know how to put that back together.” It is usually mixed with violence or a threat on your life, but it is followed by a sense of supreme Loss, and your first reaction is to that Loss – maybe to grieve, maybe something, like this:
You will hear many rape survivors tell how they were in a fog after their incident. Some will spend hours in a shower, others will spend hours or days in bed, trying to process the intense confusion they are left with. Eventually they try to figure out how to put on a “normal” face even though they feel they’ve just been changed forever.
I’m sure it’s a very individual thing how people react initially and later. It can depend on when the violation(s) occurred in your life (how vulnerable you were), and also what you were told to believe about it, what “instructions” you received from the perpetrator or others. (Ex: “Don’t talk about this to anyone.”, “You know you like it.”, “It’s your fault.”, “I have to cuz you’re so cute or pretty.”, “It’s normal.”, “Why are you so messed up about this?”, “Men can’t help themselves.”, “Hold still.”, “Be quiet.”, “But it’s our special time.”, “But look at what you’re wearing.” – the list can go on, quite endlessly. ) – For more see: https://freethoughtblogs.com/nirmukta/2014/02/22/how-rapists-manipulate-their-victims/ . The younger you are, the harder it might be to sort out what you are being told or even if it might be true. And maybe for some this is the only real personal attention they are getting from an adult. Circumstances vary, but these things will get tucked away in that little box of “Never look at this again.” Regardless of where it gets tucked away, it can still affect you later.
Maybe some things have changed with time and increased awareness of the criminal nature involved with sexual assaults. But in my time, going to the Police about it was not something you would think of as a solution to how you were feeling. And I suspect that even now, there are many situations where it doesn’t feel like an option to go to the Police. Especially with childhood traumas of this kind. The younger you are, the more confusing and deep seated the damage is. (It’s not something you can “grow out of”.)
So my main point is this: Suffering such an assault DOES matter (even if the victim can’t or doesn’t talk about it at first, early on, or ever). I thought I would attempt to show WHY Rape matters by illustrating with a few “Before and After” comparison pictures. They might speak better than my words. Look for what has been lost. (The individuals in the photographs may or may not have ever been sexually abused, this is meant to illustrate the effects, not to be a factual comparison.)
The Before and After of Sexual Abuse/ Rape/ Assault.
I hope these faces have helped to illustrate what has been lost by survivors of sexual assaults. I prefer to see happy not sad. Don’t you? Wouldn’t you really prefer that your child, your daughter, your son, your friend or your relative never had to endure the pain of an assault on their self-image, their hopes and dreams? Just so some asshole can get their rocks off? So let’s stop being jerks about it, and stop tolerating the perps.
To those who make fun of people who have gone through this and who like to post mean-spirited memes and jokes, or their support for the perpetrators on social media, please think again and show more empathy. You are lucky if you were not sexually assaulted. Because if you had been you would not be posting that crap.
Oh, by the way, if you WERE sexually assaulted, went to the Police immediately and had a success story, feel free to post those experiences in the Comments to this post. I just have never heard of any “positive experiences,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. However, many “rape kits” (used for collecting DNA and other evidence) go untested and many prosecutions never happen.
To the would-be or past perpetrators – Please don’t be teaching your kids (or setting an example) that getting wasted and forcing yourself on somebody because you’re feeling horny is an OK thing, or an understandable thing to do. And especially not that sexual assault is a “manly” thing to do! Take a hint. It is not. It damages lives. Not to mention – somebody might come back to haunt you.
Newsflash for Perps: The 15 minutes of embarrassment or “damage” to your reputation (when your victim says something) does not – yes I use this word – trump – the damage done to your victim’s life.
I want little girls (and boys) to feel like this (below pic) and to keep that smile, their belief in themselves and their trust in the future:
Thanks to the photographers on Unsplash for their contributed photos used above.
For further Republican Party (strange) views on this subject see: Did Republicans Actually Say These Things About Rape? (Snopes.com, fact check, by David Mikkelson, updated: 20 October 2017), at: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/personal-foul/ . (giving the politicians an opportunity to explain their views.)