In the wake of the media circus surrounding the Steubenville rape case, people are taking notice of the way our culture treats rape. There are now many articles and blogs that talk about the case, what it means for our society, and what should or shouldn’t be done. If you are here reading this blog, I assume you are already aware of what is happening, so I won’t rehash the details.
Many of you are probably aware of rape statistics in the United States. Given these numbers, you probably know someone who has been raped. If you know me, then you definitely do. I have learned from past experience that the mere act of stating you are a rape survivor can cause people to treat you unpleasantly. It took me years to be able to say it, and even longer to be able to talk about it without crying. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or level of sobriety.
It is not any more or less rape if you know the person, if you are wearing something “revealing” or if you have had alcohol.
I do not wish to discuss the details of my personal trauma on a public platform, so let us just say that the “friend” rape I experienced in high school influenced my decisions for the following summer. That next summer, I was subjected to some very violent, terrible things over a period of many weeks while being kept from going home. It is not something I like to think about.
In fact, I doubt that any survivor of violent crime enjoys the memory of what happened. Yes, rape is a violent crime. Rape is wrong. I wish more people would understand this. The societal tendency to blame the victim and pity the criminals is horrible. It is also highly triggering.
For many survivors of rape, like myself, this constant barrage of media victim blaming is traumatic. I read about what is going on, and it brings back the fear of the moment. Not as extreme as when it was happening, but it makes me remember things I had not thought of in years. It has made sleeping difficult, because the dreams are now replays of the violent experiences I lived through. I knew from past experience that it is taboo to talk about your experiences of this sort. Saying you survived a rape is considered TMI. If it weren’t, far ore crimes would be reported. The fact still remains that, in many cases, rape survivors who are having resurfacing fears from triggers do not have anyone to talk to… or so they think.
Because, if you have ever been raped – recently, a few years back, several decades ago, whenever – there is free help available to make it easier to work through. A wonderful friend of mine told me about RAINN – which has a phone hotline AND a private internet chat with a trained counselor available for free. They can help you find the resources you need to be able to talk about what you are feeling, and they are there to listen. Although it us very sad that rape is so prevalent in our culture to make this service necessary, it is wonderful to know that it is there. If you visit the main website, they also have resources for parents to help keep children safe.
Until today, I did not know that RAINN existed, and I am willing to bet that many other survivors out there are also unaware of this valuable resource. It is extremely difficult right now to read or watch the news. The comment threads on websites are incredibly cruel, and often treat rape as a joke. It is not a joke. It is a serious crime that can haunt those who live through it for the rest of their lives. I hope that, by sharing this link, I am able to help someone out there who did not know there were resources available.
Thanks for reading.