linnea

A rose by any other name?

59 posts in this topic

As some of you know I've just started Rape Crisis Centre training. At our last session we ended up talking about what to call rape. To clients we are supposed to call their incident whatever they name it. This is for two reasons: 1) We shouldn't be labelling their experiences for them. 2) Often the information they give in terms of narrative is so dislocated as to prevent us from knowing exactly what they're describing.

That's all well and good...except that our conversation took us down a connected path, and ended up with one of the trainers saying that she didn't think words connected with sexual violence were exchanged for euphemisms any more than any other word. It was there I started to wonder if I was insane. I don't get how someone who works full-time with survivors can fail to see how we are linguistically encouraged into silence.

From the fixed collocation of 'cry rape' to the bloodless 'assault' and 'attack' used as a synonym for 'rape' on countless TV shows I feel that we are silenced by the use of words to describe experiences similar to our own.

I tried to explain how I felt when people persist in referring to what happened to me as 'what happened' or 'your childhood' or 'you know' [insert significant look]. It makes me angry that I'm being put into the position of feeling shame through their inability to articulate with any degree of truth and honesty what happened to me. If I can survive it, why the fuck can they not say it? It's like the word alone will taint them.

At the other end of the spectrum is the school of thought which labels all women as 'victims of rape' because we are subjugated by the patriarchy. While I agree that all women are kept in a state of fear by the prevalence of rape, I think it muddies the waters to an unnacceptable degree to start labelling other non-rape experiences as rape. I'm not talking about the so-called 'grey areas' here, nor am I saying that other incidents of sexual violence are in some way measurable as 'not as bad' as rape. Nor am I denying the realities of oral, anal, or digital rape. I just feel that when you label things accurately, you can begin to own them. To me it was intensely liberating to say 'I was raped', or 'I was abused'. It just doesn't fly for me to say 'when I was younger some bad things happened'. While that's true, it's not all the truth.

It seems to me from reading what others here have written that being given permission to use correct terms demystifies the horror in some way. The trainer at the centre said 'after all people don't call it CSA in everyday conversation'. I wanted to say 'well actually, I know a place they do'. I'm so #### glad that I found this place for a zillion reasons, but today I'm glad that it's given me freedom to call a spade a spade. Not a shovel. Not a trowel. To me, a verbal person, knowing that there was a vocabulary for this has helped me to put it into perspective. Living in horror of something is more difficult when you know its title. When you have a peg to hang your feelings on it seems to me that you have more latitude to explore what that peg represents. If you don't know what it's called, how can you deal with it?

How do you all feel about the real words: incest, rape, abuse etc.?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with you.  Euphemisms are not only silencing but diminishing.  It allows both victims/survivors as well as those around them to skate over the ugliness and horror.  I FULLY understand why the person involved might not be ready to confront the real words and what lies beneath them, but it really pisses me off that even though *I* am able to say that I was raped at knifepoint by two men, some of the people around me still avoid using the word "rape" as if me hearing from their mouth instead of mine could make it worse or somehow they fear that its like a disease and they could "catch it" just by naming it.

Lora

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Em,

I, like you, am a very verbal person.  I seem to <i>need</i> to call things what they are.  "That thing that happened" drives me INSANE.

I can definately understand the point of not naming someone else's experiences, I think all survivors need to find that place where they can say what happened in a term that fits for them.

<i>The trainer at the centre said 'after all people don't call it CSA in everyday conversation'</i>

I've had similar things said to me by various people.  Funny, if I, or one of my close friends is talking about rape or abuse, it is just that.  Not "what happened to so and so."  I understand that for survivors there might be a point where you can't find the right word, but that doesn't mean that no one can.

Ramble ramble...

<i>How do you all feel about the real words: incest, rape, abuse etc.? </i>

I wish they didn't have to exist, but since they do, lets call things what they are.

Laney

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think we have to be ready to use them - to be pushed too fast to refer to our own experiences in real terms I think can be a set back.

Even now there are times I struggle to use the words.  I wish I didn't and I wish my security in my ability to label what happened to me seventeen years ago wasn't so #### fragile at times.  I don't have the same issue with the childhood sexual abuse, though - that volation is so clear to me.  But has far as the rapes that occurred as a yound adult, the waters seem murkier for me.

The difficulty was in letting go of the need to feel some sense on control.  To say - I was raped and I was molested as a child - puts the responsibility of what happened on the perpetrator, right where it belongs.  But then I have to deal with all the despair and pain that goes with it.

letting go of the weight that isn't mine to carry would seem like the easier thing to do - but it is so hard.

that may be a rabbit trail, I don't know

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's amazing what we do with language sometimes. It can be used to silence, repress, imprison, deny... all sorts of things, really. You bring up an excellent point, Em, how can we heal from something that we are unable to appropriately label? Particularly when our very environment discourages use of appropriate labels as a way of--I think--protecting themselves from the feelings it evokes within [i]them[/i]. It's a selfish thing that others do, sometimes. Other times I genuinely believe it is their way of trying to protect some victims/survivors from further pain.

And, yeah, I think we do have to be ready to use the appropriate language in order to fully own our experiences. For many people there seems to be a cycling through self-doubt (eg. was it really what I think it was? Does it count b/c it happened to me and I don't feel like I count?) to being ready to handle the consequences of our experiences (eg. I was raped and holy shit it hurts) to healing from them (eg. I'm important, I matter, what happens to me is important. I deserve better. I can give myself better.).

How we each go through that cycle is a process as unique as our individual selves. In other words, everyone's process through takes it's own time. Everyone is unique, therefore everyone's process is unique. We need only honor ourselves and our processes and we walk through them striving for health and wholeness.

Did that make any sense? Repeat after me, "Rain should not write when sleep deprived."

I am working hard to own my experiences, heal from them while growing into someone I can respect. I'm finding that it is a challenging, often messy process that requires a great deal of gentleness from ourselves.

I'm also finding that we are the best role models for others... So, Em-babe, I have full faith that you will teach them what is true and real and how to use language in appropriate, respectful ways. As always, my hat goes off to you for your strength and courage in paving a gentler path for so many other survivors.

Take gentle care,
Rain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think we should use the words because it is what happenbed to us, however, its no use to us to make ourselves feel uncomfortable by using the words if we dont want to... i dont know if that makes sense.. but its all i could think of to add.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
<i>How do you all feel about the real words: incest, rape, abuse etc.?

I wish they didn't have to exist, but since they do, lets call things what they are.</i>

Well said, Laney.

I am a very verbal person myself... I have to know exactly what everything is... Most of you know that I had a REALLY hard time labeling the rapes with Kyle... a few people irl told me that I didn't have to label it... just let it go and it will come to you eventually. I couldn't do that. And, like you guys, it drives me NUTSO when others refer to it as "what he did" or "that thing that happened with Kyle." even before I knew what to call it, it drove me nuts when people used those "terms."

okay, I'm gonna quit rambling now. :)

Love,
Kristen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have never out loud said "I was raped". I'm not comfortable with that. I have also worked with many sexual assault survivors, and they vary with how they wish to describe their experience. Sometimes it can be a process, where you start out with "that thing that happened" and once you feel comfortable with that moving up to "my sexual assault".

In what I have seen from the real world, no one just talks about sexual assault. Here we are all survivors and feel like it is okay to use any words we want. I would never talk to other people I know the same way I talk here about myself and my experiences.

In terms of euphamisms (how do you spell that?). I would guess that they are used more for rape/sexual assault than for everyday experiences. However, I think some other trauma's could compare to rape/sexual assault. Like misscarriage, suicide attempt, murder, death, kidnapping, war, etc. Not every time, but often times euphamisms are used both by other people and the victims because the real words are too scary, or because we're afraid of the other persons reaction to those words.

I think oftentimes people who were not raped or assaulted don't use euphamisms for rape/sexual assault at all. I see survivors as the ones who use euphamisms more at least when talking to people who are not themselves survivors. But thats just my experience, what I've noticed. I'm sure it isn't true for everyone.

heather

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I could not say the word "rape" out loud for many years. I still stumble over it. I still only very very rarely say it. I understand to say it would be FREEING, and I would finally stop MINIMIZING my experience. But as you all know, minimizing is a coping mechanism. I've never dealt with the full realization that it was a RAPE and it was terrifying and yes, even violent. I wasn't beaten, but I was forcibly held down.

I can admit that here, but I don't really believe it. I still tell myself I ought to have fought. I shouldn't have been there in the first place. It wasn't rape because I didn't call the police after.

Calling it RAPE terrifies me. I'm trying to come to terms with it now, and I'm having constant anxiety attacks. I'm awfully depressed. Years of calling it "what happened that night" or  "He made me have sex with him" allowed me to shelve my pain. I'm trying as hard as I can to deal with it now, lay it to rest.

:( It hurts so, so much. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(Fair warning - I'm completely sleep deprived and it's entirely like that I will say a lot without really contributing anything)

I've always hated how others referred to some of my experiences.  I hate hearing it referred to as "What happened with D---" or "The situation with Jody" or if I was really lucky sometimes it was "The time Jody took advantage of you".  'Took advantage', my foot.  And the stumbled "You know..." with that meaningful, slightly uncomfortable <i>look</i> has been more hurtful to me than anything.  I always want to blurt out "Yes, I know and so do you, so why don't we just call a spade a spade?"  I know that these people are often simply trying to 'protect me'.  But to that little girl inside of me, what it translates into is "this is so shameful that we can't even call it what it is."  To me, it translates into silence.  Suddenly, I feel uncomfortable about labeling my own experience with them, because there is now the feeling that they are more comfortable if they don't hear the 'r-word'.  I remember when I was first dating Chris and he learned I had been sexually abused as a child.  He told me about the fact that his mom had been sexually abused as well.  While I know that he was just trying to help me to feel comfortable in confiding in him and his heart was completely in the right place, one thing about that conversation has always stuck out in my mind.  When he mentioned it, he said that his grandpa had "tried to get into bed with" his mom...or something to that effect.   He wouldn't label it, and I felt like dryly saying "Oh, you mean she was sexually abused." - though I guess it's not mine to label. It's just that what I heard in what he said is "I'm uncomfortable talking about this and therefore am probably not the best person to confide in."

In talking with another member recently, she told me about her 'experience' (for lack of a better word, because I don't want to label what is not mine) and asked me if I thought it was rape.  I was glad that she had the guts to ask and to voice her fears and her questions, but I was kind of like, "Okay, I want to validate her, but how can I label something that isn't mine to label?"  

Labeling is something that is very hard, and I think there is some damage in forcing one to label 'it' before they are ready.  Years ago, after the second date rape, I was talking about it with one of my close friends, and she said to me, "You know, you were raped." and I about lost it.  I was just not ready to face it, to see it for what it really was.  In some ways, she helped me to see later on that it WAS rape, but there was also something greatly disturbing about having someone take my experience and label it for me.

However, I am of the belief that labeling our experiences is one of the most powerful things we can do.  It's so very hard, because we are forced to acknowledge that something did happen - we are forced out of the denial that we have lived in.  We are forced to take ownership of the rapes/abuse.  We are forced to acknowledge that it was a big deal and that it does matter.  There is a certain fear there.  But yes, doing so helps us to heal.  How <i>can</i> we heal from something if we don't know what it is we are healing from?  To me, labeling each of the experiences has been validating and empowering.  It has given me the chance to say "I was raped.  This is what happened to me.  I don't want it, but it is mine.  It's not 'the situation' or 'that thing that happened'.  It is not something that I wish to hide from any longer.  It was a big deal.  It did hurt me."  For me, labeling it (although it made 'it' painfully real) has helped to dispel the shame.  It has helped to make it less scary somehow.  I do have a hard time talking about the rapes in RL.  I have a very hard time saying "I was raped.  I was sexually abused."  But I think that it is something that we all must do in order to heal.  

Good grief, would someone tell me to shut up?!  I've rambled far too long, and probably contributed nothing.  I should follow Rain's example and post only when fully awake. :)

~Lynn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When I wrote the the Rape Crisis Centre a few years back it was because I needed them to tell me if it was rape or not.  That was what I needed to know to get better.  They didn't - they sent back a generic letter to my personal one.  I think other ppl need a lot of help to feel that they can use the word rape.  It has been totally essential for me to be able to use the word rape and I couldn't have done it without other people saying that I was entitled to.  I think my concern with the approach they have at rape crisis is that it may reinfource people's doubts about what happened to them.  I know therapists have done this in the past by refering it to the incident or as unexpected sex.  I valued their opinions and belived that they would use the word rape if they thought that was what it was but as they didn't they must think it wasn't.

The way people won't talk about rape drives me crazy.  I have seen it at college with the play I am taking to schools on sexual violence.  Another group are doing one on child grief - everyone can say death and grief but no one refers to our group ever.  I had tutors tell me I shouldn't use the word rape in schools and that we should just do our play on relationships in general instead.  I fought them and fortuantly won but it wasn't easy.  My tutors called us the WOmen's group - they couldn't even say rape.  I feel a bit hypocritical because I find it hard to say too - in relation to myself anyway I do.  I am trying to change that as I figure that I can't expect others to talk about it if I won't.  Hopefully this play we are doing will help people to talk about issues around sexual violence more easily, but it is a small fish in a big pond.  I hate that people can talk about murder, cancer, death  - all these things -but not rape.  I do belive that it adds to the shame, the silence that surrounds rape.  Well I could go on about this all day as it is one of my pet hates but I will shut up for now! - Steph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it's hard for some people to say the real words. But i have to agree with stefka because if they need to hear the real words and knowing what happened to them is raped. Then why not call it for what it really is. I mean why should we be ashame for what happened to us and not called it rape. We have to call it for what it is don't we? Thats the only way i knew how to be strong by using the real words and to move on with my life. But they are alot of people who doesn't feel safe or feel confortable using the real words. I don't think there is an easier way to say the words or to say what happened to me. But it's always going to be hard to use the real words  though. I don't know if i made any sense or not.

Take care
Rhonda


(Edited by Rhonda55 at 10:38 pm on June 8, 2003)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well labelling my experience has been difficult - here and in therapy/counselling I admit I do use the terms sexual assault (well sometimes in therapy) or I refer to my childhood experience as CSA or simply child abuse. But in rl I find I use the term sexual abuse (rather than assault)or sometimes I even say 'he use to touch me in a way that would make me feel uncomfortable and i'd ask him to stop but he didn't' So i'd basically be sitting describing the experience rather than labelling. My father has always referred to such experiences (not my own necessarily) as someone 'interfering' with another eg 'he interfered with his daughter.' For some reason he couldn't say 'he sexually abused his daughter.' I accept that - that is how he is with using those words - they are difficult for me to use so I don't feel bad that he has difficult with them also. As long as people can accept the label I put on things. Oh and the reason I don't use the term sexual assault in rl is because legally sexual assault means rape or some kind of forced penetration where I was not - I was only indecently assaulted. So it does come under sexual abuse. But I don't even say indecent assault a lot because many people wouldn't really understand what that means (well I think many in my family wouldn't) but they understand sexual abuse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
These words describe certain actions.

For some people, these words also signify something more about a dark side of human nature, about peoples' vulnerability and lack of safety, and about shame.  That's enough to keep a lot of victims silent.

In my opinion we will never heal unless we can talk about what happened.  It isn't necessary to give it a name, but it seems like this is a good thing to do.  As people use these words more often, the words will come to represent only the actions that occurred, and not all the other things that might be signified by the words.  I think that change is already happening, but it changing slowly.  

I hope this makes sense.  Personally, I have enormous difficulty with the word "incest".  I can barely type it here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thankyou so much, my dear McEm, and the other wonderful respondents to this thread. I completely agree and am infact in the stages of editing a chapter on the recognition and naming of rape, so my mind has been largely preoccupied with just such thoughts as you people have written here.

As I am writing about partner rape, I've submitted that naming is a particularly important turning point, because the survivor of partner-rape so often feels as if she has no actual right to call her experiences rape.

By the same token, it is acknowledged that naming for her may be intensely painful because it is laden with many implications - not least that somebody she loved, or whom she may still love, has hurt her in this way - naming may throw up dilemmas or dictate actions that she feels ill-equipped to handle.

Her supporter/s will ideally walk with her through some of those painful implications in preparation for naming - exploring those implications might be hurdles that need to be jumped before naming can occur safely. The supporter, however, must be sensitive to the fact that she may be looking for validation that what happened to her was indeed rape, and not lessen it in any way.

There are many social institutions that do not infact want naming to occur - the survivor of partner-rape has been silenced by social institutions such as law and church. While euphemisms may appear to serve the survivor for a time because she fears naming, in the larger scheme, they also serve the interest of patriarchal authority, and of perpetrators themselves who know that there is great power in naming. Naming rape rebels against the status quo; it asks for justice and responsibility.

Okay honeys I'll take my feminist-writer hat off now.

Personally for me, naming was hard because of the [i]stigma[/i] attached to the word rape; stigma which told me that is such a thing was done to me, there was something wrong not with the perpetrator who used such a vicious means of getting power over me, but with [i]me[/i].


I felt that being raped was the equivalent of somebody going to the toilet on me, and I felt that euphemisms, or trying to say I was raped without saying it in so many words, was a way to pretend to still have some dignity.

Of course, I ALWAYS had that dignity - I just didn't know it because society has for far too fucking long stigmatized and reviled people who have been raped, and I believe I had internalized this stigma. This stigmatizations silences rape victims, and it is bullshit.

I decided I could not and would not wait around for society to stop stigmatizing rape victims before I could name, because that wasn't going to happen. I knew I had to open my mouth and name; say 'he raped me' and know that the stigma, however prevalent, was not actually mine to bear. Overthrowing that stigma starts with our courage to name.

Quite possibly some of my lovely friends here have found, as I did, that saying "I was Raped" out loud makes it more "real"; it can bring the rape and all it's implications much closer. It often lets in feelings and memories that people often spend lots of time and energy pushing away. That's scary and might initially be disruptive, but it's my firm belief that there is always eventually rich empowerment in calling our experiences by their name.

There are no euphemisms that can adequately cover the pain of what we've been through.

To answer your title question, Emmie me mate; yes I do absolutely think it matters what we call our experiences. I've said in another thread that Holocaust survivors object to people saying six million people "died" or were "killed" in the Holocaust. Smoking "kills" People "die" in car accidents. These six million people were MURDERED. Giving it it's rightful name acknowledges that there was a human agent responsible for their deaths, and gives that responsibility to the perpetrators.

So too is it with rape - it is not a 'thing that happened', it is something actively caused by somebody else.

The power of the word rape, and it's stigma, is something we are a lot bigger than, my friends.

Naming hurts, but naming rocks too - I am not what he did to me. I will not be silenced again.

Whew! What a rant this turned into loves. For my friends afraid of naming, I strongly recommend a reading of Patricia Weaver Francisco's beautiful book "Telling".

The magnificent book "Transforming a Rape Culture" has a terrific contibution by Carol Adams on specifically naming' she tells us that:

"A problem inadequately named can not be adequately adressed" and that "Victims need to name their world so that they will stop being victims and become survivors". She says too, and many of us will know what she means, that "naming is the opposite of denial".


This will be as typo-ridden and woolly as #### because it's first thing in the morning, but these are my thoughts and thankyou, my friends, for yours.

Lou xxx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, first of all congratulations on starting your training.  I think that is great.  As for your question..I don't have a whole lot to say except that using real names can sometimes make me feel guilty.  Like my abuse doesn't "deserve" to be called "r*pe" because there are so many out there whose abuse is much more severe.  Besides, I always blame myself about not being clear enough with saying no...so, when r*pe comes to mind, I think of something far more serious than what happened to me.  I know this is weird, but it's all I can think of right now.  Again, congrats, i'm proud of ya! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm really tired so I don't know how this is going to come out, but here goes...
I also have trouble using the word 'rape' to describe my experience, because it makes me feel like a fraud, like what happened wasn't serious enough to warrant being called by such a serious name. Like Stefka, I feel I need confirmation by, and permission from, other people to use the word.
I am also very reluctant to say it because I think people will think I'm just being dramatic and looking for attention; I think that's related to the fact that I don't expect people to believe me, and also to popular perceptions of what rape is like: unshaven strangers in parks, with knives; violence; torn clothes etc. What happened to me was nothing like that so I have a hard time convincing myself that it was rape, let alone anyone else.
Rachel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
in my own mind i call it rape. but i think it is the stigma that goes along with it that often prevents me from saying it out loud. i will usually call it 'the bad thing that happened at school'. those close to me know what i am talking about because i have used the word rape to discribe it with them before. but since it is hard to continuously say it i just refer to it as that.

i think i also do this to try and downplay it because i am tired of people worrying about me and expecting me to be a different person because of this


Mary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hmmm, great thread. *puts thinking cap on*

well, if i'm in a situation where there are other survivors, i will take their lead and call it whatever they call it. if somebody says to me, "i was raped" then i refer to it as such. i don't try and tip-toe around when i <i>know</i> the other person is comfortable with a term (insofar as one can be comfortable with such a word).

as for myself... well, i've never once said anything out loud, even to a mirror, about it. i don't know if i can (if i'm "allowed", as it were), because i don't know where i really fit. i don't want to use a term like 'rape' if i'm not 'entitled' to use it. if i was clear on this, then yeah for sure, i'd definately address it. i'd put it in it's place. but as it stands now, my mind says there's too much grey. so for now, i don't discuss it out loud, and here, well here is the one place i definately don't want to mis-name it (simply out of respect for everyone here; i don't want to just charge in and declare it rape when maybe it's not). so i guess i don't usually refer to it as anything. (reading back over this, i'd say i just call it <i>it</i> :) )

gee did i make any sense at all? :)

i didn't mean to turn this into such a ramble.

<i>How do you all feel about the real words: incest, rape, abuse etc.?</i>
i don't tend to engage in bullshit; if it's rape, it's rape. i will call it thus, if the other person is comfortable with it (i don't want to run about the place applying my own concepts and terms to other peoples experiences). but i suppose that's fairly hypocritical of me, considering i do pull some bullshit with myself.

i'm going around in circles here, i'll stop now :)

luv'n'hugs,
mithril

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Em,
I do think it matters.  I tend to the use the word "assault" to describe the "maybe rape" I can't quite recall, but that's for my own conscience's comfort.  I have no trouble calling the sexual abuse what it is, and it doesn't bother me to say that what my cousin did to me when I was five was incest.  If I can ever recall full details, then the assault will become rape.
Others have named reasons why the real words should be used, and I won't go into those -- they've already done a bang-up job.  But I will say that using euphemisms only gives power to the stigma surrounding survivors of rape -- why should we be ashamed or embarrassed to say a word?  Why should society be ashamed to hear it?  Call a spade a spade.
Or call it a fucking shovel, if you like.  But give it it's right name.
Love,
Amy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Em, thank you for posting this...
& Lou.. you go girl..

I have been through several years of therapy trying to deal with my gang rape, and until I found Pandy's I could never call it rape, much less gang rape.  It was always the "assault" or the "attack", never that I was raped.  The longer I was here, and realized deep inside that I wasn't alone, and that I didn't have to be ashamed or afraid, I felt such a liberation.

I know this is going to sound strange, and please don't take it the wrong way, but now, saying that I was gang raped, I feel empowered.  Because of the strength, comfort and compassion of all the members of this site..  I no longer carry all the shame and guilt that I once did.  It's like a new day.


My dear friend Lou...(((LOU))))  You say it so well..
***Of course, I ALWAYS had that dignity - I just didn't know it because society has for far too fucking long stigmatized and reviled people who have been raped, and I believe I had internalized this stigma. This stigmatizations silences rape victims, and it is bullshit.***

All too often this is what we as survivors have had to put up with.  

***Quite possibly some of my lovely friends here have found, as I did, that saying "I was Raped" out loud makes it more "real"; it can bring the rape and all it's implications much closer. It often lets in feelings and memories that people often spend lots of time and energy pushing away. That's scary and might initially be disruptive, but it's my firm belief that there is always eventually rich empowerment in calling our experiences by their name. ***

My feelings exactly..

Well, better stop rambling..

Take care all..

Dana

(Edited by Dana at 11:21 am on June 9, 2003)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
((((Em))))))
Its late so I will probably repeat a few folks...
Naming is critical to owning our reality.  I totally agree with you Em, the hesitation and using the less charged words minimizes our experience and feelings.  Its really a shame that the crisis center doesnt share your viewpoint.
Yes, there is a time for naming and you cant force someone to accept and face the reality until they are ready.  But not speaking the real words is in a way denying permission for the person to own her/his reality.
Personally I understand this fully.  Its taken me a year to be able to say I was raped without hesitating. I still have work to do though, I can't say I was gang raped, those words still have too much power to link to my feelings and soul.  But I'll get there eventually.
Part one of this is being able to say it yourself and part two is not letting the people in your life and their inability to follow you there silence you in any way.  Our community is a crucial ingredient for being able to do this as we each come to it in our healing.  Sometimes we need the truth and sometimes we cant deal with it and that is ok.
When each of us does not censor ourselves in the world when we are comfortable internally, that slowly effects the whole, the more truth is heard the more it is heard.
Hugs, Kala

PS: I think this is a Wonderful Threads candidate...

(Edited by Kala at 3:04 am on June 10, 2003)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have only used the word r*pe once out loud, other people eg mum,dad and my counsellor use the 'real' word. But i still refer to it as either 'it' or 'what happened'. Sometimes i wish that i could use the real word, but i find when it is used i almost always get a visual in my head, and obviously i don't want to see that visual, i don't know if any-one else gets this.
I have many times wanted to say 'please don't say that word' but something has stopped me, whether it be, that i believe that 'they' need to use it for their own good or whatever.

To sum up, i don't belive that useing the real word is appropriate in some circumstances or when the victim his/herself doesn't use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey darlings...I've just been thinking about this thread and thought I'd throw in something I wrote recently about naming before one is ready - it just represents how it was for me:

"One day, I called a friend of my mother’s, whom I’ll call Judy, to ask if her daughter, let’s call her Katie, could come and baby-sit my children for an evening. Judy didn’t think this would be a problem, and said she would drop Katie off.

A few hours later, Judy’s car pulled into the driveway, and I went out to greet her. I noted that Katie was not with her. Judy said, ‘Listen Rachel, it’s fine for Katie to mind the kids, but they’ll have to come to my place’. I asked her why, and she said, ‘well, I wouldn’t want Paul to turn up’. When I said that was unlikely to happen Judy bluntly replied, ‘well, but he raped you, didn’t he?’

I could not have been more frightened if Judy had presented a blowtorch and threatened to set me on fire. I gasped sickly; I did not answer her, but turned and fled back into my flat. I felt as if I were possessed by that word, rape, and had nowhere to put what I felt.

Years later, I understand that Judy intended no harm, and that her actions were those of a responsible mother. I am grateful for her having named what happened to me without filtering it through myths about partner-rape.

But at that time, the truth frankly hurt – I felt like I imagine somebody would feel if the elastic in their underwear snapped in public; as if my most secret and shame-filled parts had been exposed. I had no visible supports, and had not even contemplated that healing might be a possibility. At that stage my inner resources were concerned with keeping it at a distance. I was not geared to cope with the confrontational nature of Judy’s statement".

[b]I should add that I'm tremendously glad I'm so far away from that place now. I wish there were more people like you around, because it was a few rl souls I met who were just as beautiful as you folk in here, that enabled me to know that naming would be safe, and who supported me as the implications of doing so hit me.[/b]

Thanks once again Emster, and all for this thread - naming is something that really ignites my mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Em

Very well said.  I agree.  Thre is a danger for the word rape to ecome such a horid word that no one will be able to say it.. that in stself takes the "power" away from a "victime" if you will.

To me being able to say the word "rape" or "asult" empowers me.  I name what was doen to me,,, and I in turn point blank can stand my ground and say ,, yes he raped me.  When you think about the abuser or attacker tries to "bully" us into submission with negative use of sex and control.  By calling a Spade a Spade,, we say,, nu uhu buddy,, I know hwwwta you are doing.

When working at the womans shelter we tried to instill in the woman that there is is a celebration is surviviing the attacks, rapes and beatings.  When a woman is able to point blank say "I was raped by my bf" or "I was beaten by my husband" we applaud that success.  That's the first step in healing for a lof of woman in our shelter.. naming the feeling or action takes the power AWAY from it.

Labels can be very dangeroouse I have learned.  I prime example is the word "retarded".  It is so hated that it is used to humiliate and demean certain people when really it was originally used to discribe a medical condition.  It's the one and only word that can set me off when I hear it used in a NEGATIVE manner.  When used in the wrong context it can really hurt.

Same thing with the words we use to discribe our experiences.  to "hide" it in words that are covers for it only will give more power to the negative view of them.

At the same time,, allowing a "victim" to say them only WHEN THEY are ready.. when they are ready to stand up and say,, "yes,, this is what was done to me".

Empowerment is the key,, and that comes from the ability to make choices.  We can choose what ever we want to discribe how we feel, and think.

frenchie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites