Recovering From Rape by Linda E. Ledray, R.N., PH. D
Weight: 11.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating
It is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I hope we will all take a little bit of time at some point this month to think about rape prevention, the consequences of living in a rape culture, and all the people we know who have endured. I am not writing about prison rape much in this blog entry, but I would like to bring some attention to how serious this has become in the United States. Please take the time to check out this website and support this group : www.justdetention.org. We cannot continue to ignore or make jokes about the abuse that is suffered in our prisons.
This is how rape seems to me, as someone who has been raped and sexually assaulted on more than one occasion. Someone who experienced this with a friend and from a stranger. Someone who has never experienced rape as a hate crime or in a time of war. Someone with a support system (now) and a deep understanding of rape that existed before, during, and after my encounters. I think what I am trying to say is that I felt very prepared to handle rape, though I never have learned how to. In theory, in thought, in my mind I understand it and deal with it. In my body, my emotions, and my insecurities there it lies. Rape has become insidious.
I move on. I move forward. I return to life and continue onward. I am over it and it is over. If you really think about it, it was not the worst thing that has ever happened. It was terrible, but there are other terrible things. I was lucky. I am alive, there was no real damage, no pregnancy or disease, no long trials. I am completely fine…and then my mind takes a turn. I walk around the wrong bend and there he is rubbing his penis through his basketball shorts and asking me how much I cost. It does not dominate my life, but it is always lingering backstage and when it makes an appearance it can knock me to my knees. I really just don’t know when it will happen or what will happen until I catch myself reacting, as if I am out of my body, watching some other person struggle with some new question or concern.
It happens, sometimes, when I watch a movie, and I see a woman struggling underneath a man. I get a pain in my gut and it grows and envelopes me. It happens on the anniversary of the day I was raped by a total stranger named Mark. Or is that just the name he gave me? I was raped in March of 2007. I went to the emergency room days later on March 22nd. So close to Sexual Assault Awareness Day. So close to my dearest friend’s day of birth. So close to right now. It happens when someone makes a bad, off-handed joke about rape. I am racked with anger, guilt over my anger, embarrassment that I’m so angry, angry that I am so embarrassed, furious that they don’t understand that it is not funny. It happens when an old friend calls me into question or acts condescending. Why didn’t you call
the police? Why would they believe me if YOU don’t? It happens when I wear tennis shoes. Every. Single. Time. I wear tennis shoes I hear him saying, “You look like a little girl in those shoes.” I feel his stubble rubbing my cheek raw. Sometimes it happens after too many beers. It happens when I have sex with someone for the first, second, third, or one hundredth time. I feel like I can never have sex without him somehow coming into the room. That is one of the most frustrating things I have ever encountered. It makes me feel inadequate, unattractive, and unable to relate. Sex used to be my favorite activity, it is where I had some of my most happy and bonded moments. Now, it is full of doubt, fear, and distraction—but I still want it. I cannot stop trying. It happens all the time, and that is the truly terrible thing about rape. For me. No matter how “over it” I am. No matter how far I get away from it, rape spreads and leaks into my ordinary everyday life. It rears up when I am not expecting it to. It introduces insecurity into my safe places. It embarrasses me in front of my friends. It makes me feel weak when I remember having been strong. It makes me question things I never questioned. That is what rape is like to me, 5 years later.
Let’s do something preventative for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. You cannot erase what has been done, but you can stop it from happening. Check out www.ihollaback.org and stand up for other people experiencing sexual harassment/violence. Tell people it is fucked up when they blame someone who has been assaulted. Tell people not to make jokes. It isn’t worth it. Tell the street harassers that what they are doing is wrong. Don’t leave someone alone when you see them being made uncomfortable. Talk to people about consent. A lot. Think about what consent means to you and how you use it in your life. Know that it is far more than just saying “no.” Support your local rape crisis center. Listen to your friends and family. Allow yourself to grieve and to feel pain. Allow yourself to feel frustrated.