I want to talk about rape but I’m not really sure where to start. I only have three sessions left with my current therapist. We’ve been working together for about eight months, yet it’s only in the last three sessions that I’ve been able to voice anything further than, “So that happened” or discuss what other people have told me they’ve felt about it. For a really long time it felt as though everyone else’s reactions were more valid than my own; that when they questioned if it had happened or how much responsibility I must take for it, there was no space for me to retaliate. How does one speak of a violation, of a silencing, when the conversation that follows it feels an extension of the original act?
I want to talk about rape but I want to talk about the lack of a manual for those it has happened to, as opposed to the manuals I can find for partners and parents. Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea that someone has written a cheat sheet for supporters, but I want my own cheat sheet? I need someone to hold my hand through this; to reassure me that the world will swing straight again soon. I know it’s unfair to expect someone else to be able to offer me this when I don’t even know the answers myself, but I want there to be a guru who’s able to lead me through this. I want to go on a course where someone teaches me how to move past this; I want my twelve-step program.
I want to talk about rape but I want to talk about language – the language that ignores the victim in news articles, but makes sure we all know what happened to everyone else involved. The language that dictates me a ‘survivor’, suggesting I’ve fought through something and ‘survived it’ when the person I used to be is long gone. I didn’t ‘survive’ at all. This new person isn’t quite me yet. I’m someone new.
I want to talk about rape, but I don’t know the language to do so. If not a ‘survivor’, what am I? A work in progress? That makes me more similar to everyone else I suppose, and more than anything, I want to be like everyone else again. The clean, unblemished everyone else I held in my head before rape ran riot. I can rationally view every human as a work in progress, each on their own individual journey to self-actualization, as I am on my own. But what I cannot do is escape my envy that they may be able to achieve that without being touched by rape. Not that I wish this experience on anyone, nor am I naive enough to think their lives haven’t been touched by rape, but that somewhere there is a story line where I am unblemished, perhaps where we are all unblemished and I didn’t get that.
I want to talk about rape but I want to talk about quiet rape, the one that is perpetrated by the person you know, perhaps when you’re asleep, when you don’t yell because you don’t actually know who is doing this to you because you haven’t opened your eyes yet and if you’re lucky it’s the person you’re dreaming about. (You are not lucky. It is not them.)
I want to talk about the rape that happens in the grey area of friendships with blurred boundaries and expectations that are inferred rather than discussed. I want to talk about counseling services that only want to talk to me if I am under 18 or a victim of incest. Or they stipulate that they will only help if I promise to file a police report. I want to talk about my lack of agency during and after. I want to talk about what it’s like to scream and not be heard, either by those physically assaulting in the moment, or those verbally assaulting after the fact.
My therapist made a link between rape and initiation ceremonies – in an initiation ceremony, something scary often happens that takes the current world view and spins it on its head. Afterwards, there is a celebration, a party, which heralds the survivor and welcomes them back to the world they once depended upon. And the shift falls back.
I didn’t get my party, and I don’t feel as though my initiation held any greater purpose. While I quite like this metaphor and can see its value, I am horrified that we could in any way make a comparison between rape and initiation. All I hear in this metaphor is fear. Quite horrifically, my ‘initiation’ most likely had fuck all to do with me and a lot more to do with the one who did it. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or with the wrong person.
That decision that I didn’t know I was making flipped my world out of focus and if I’m honest – it’s still spinning.
I want to talk about rape, but I’m scared. I’m scared no one will listen, that no manual exists and that my party isn’t coming.
I say I want to talk about rape, but actually I want to scream.
(Image found at http://everydayfeminism.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/end_rape_img-f.jpg)