Three Lessons Vital to Rape Survivors
There are three lessons vital to rape survivors. With convicted sex offender Brock Turner's release from prison and Jared Fogle's lawsuit blaming the victim's parents for her "destructive behavior," sexual assault has been in the media a lot lately. I, myself, am a sexual assault survivor whose attacker got off on a technicality. Part of my healing was writing a recently published Bible study for sexual assault survivors. There were three lessons I learned that are vital to rape survivors.
Rape Survivor Lesson 1: No One Wants to Be Raped
Rape fantasies are common for women because American culture does not want a woman to enjoy sex. All it takes to prove this is the double standard we have for men and women when it comes to promiscuity. Women are not supposed to like sex. So a fantasy about being taken into erotic bliss by someone powerful is common. Being beaten up during the fantasy is also common as a way to punish yourself for having the fantasy. The important thing to remember is that you are in control during the fantasy--this is not the case during rape. Rape fantasies do not mean you want to be raped.
While we're on the subject, orgasms during a rape do not mean you wanted to be raped or that you enjoyed the rape. Your body was not programmed to know the difference between consensual sex and rape. It's an aspect you have no control over.
Not resisting does not mean you wanted to be raped, either. You did what you felt you had to do to save your life.
In short, no one wants to be raped. It's not something you can consent to. Rape by its very nature is about control--the rapist has it, the victim doesn't. Who would want that?
Rape Survivor Lesson 2: Drunkenness Does Not Equal Consent
Fortunately, some modern courts recognize that a drunk person can not consent. There is a movement to declare alcohol a date rape drug because so many people believe that drunkenness is a "one night stand." Drunkenness does not equal consent (After the Rape: Three Lies Rape Victims Believe). It doesn't matter how much you've had to drink--if you said no, it was rape. If you said stop, you did not consent, and it was rape. End of discussion.
No is not spelled y-e-s. It does not matter how much the victim has had to drink; drunk does not mean consent, and unconscious means call 9-1-1. No one deserves to be raped, no matter how much she or her had to drink. Drunkenness does not mean you were asking for it.
Rape Survivor Lesson 3: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Is Real, but So Is Recovery
Many, if not most, rape survivors suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a very real mental illness that results from exposure to a traumatic situation in which you feel helpless. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of triggers, and hyper-alertness. A long time may elapse between the rape and the onset of PTSD symptoms--for me it was a year. PTSD is real--but so is recovery.
Some days are better than others. What triggers one survivor may not trigger another. There are as many ways to suffer from PTSD as there are people who suffer from it. On the flip side, there are as many ways to recover from PTSD as there are people fighting it. Therapy is vital to recovery, whether it's group therapy or individual therapy. Medication may be helpful. Learning coping skills to deal with the anxiety, and grounding skills to deal with the flashbacks is crucial.
I found that writing about the experience, while difficult, was liberating. Some find that talking about it is freeing. But do so in a safe way. Be ready for flashbacks and other symptoms such as self-harm ideation. You survived the rape--you can survive the aftermath. You are a strong person with a very real wound that can heal.
I wish you well in your recovery.
Oberg, B. (2016, September 5). Three Lessons Vital to Rape Survivors, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2016/09/three-lessons-vital-to-rape-survivors