Guest Rachel Pike

"Arr-ay-pee-ee"...spell and say

65 posts in this topic

***T*** good deal of swearing, descriptive acts

Cancer.

Horrible word, isn’t it?  Conjures up imagery of hair loss, waxy, dark eyed faces, and grief. It certainly terrifies me. Cancer cancer cancer.  Rhymes with “you just shit your pants, sir”, as Stephen King put it so eloquently. Yes, it’s an awful one alright.

But it doesn’t make you want to have a bath, does it? No, there seems to be only one four-letter word that makes people want to run for the bottle of Dettol. And scrubbing brush.  It cannot be said sober, but with a little effort can be ground out if one is piss-drunk.

Rape. Rhymes with “Fuckin’ ugly ape”. Not quite the same effect as Stephen King gallows humour, I notice. My friends, fear of “that word” has been explored a few times recently, I’ve noticed.

These are just some thoughts of my own, and nobody needs to even respond. But I would love your thoughts, and my god, maybe even some strategies for taking away the bad ju-ju this word seems to hold for it’s survivors.  It seems to be a universal phenomenon that women who have been hurt by it fear to speak “that” word. It seems to have the feel of revisiting a curse upon oneself.

Why?  Having been on the receiving end of this fear, I’m seriously interested.

Ar-ay-pee-ee rape; it’s taken from the Latin  “rapere”, which means “to seize or carry off”. Anyone seen the famous painting “The Rape of Ganymede”?

It depicts Zeus in the guise of an eagle carrying a curlicued lad off to Mount Olympus to be his cup-bearer. Still, the motive was lust as it was in the Homerian tale “The rape of Helen”. It probably changed meaning as the intent of the kidnappers became more important than the seizing.

Nevertheless, by the time the (awful) painting “The rape of Lucrece” was done, it had changed to the god-awful meaning we all accept today.  Lucrece, a society matron, was raped by Tarquin the Proud, a nobleman. She was fully expected to suicide as a way of restoring honour to self and family; to live with the shame was unthinkable.

Ok. Miss Rachel has finished her history lesson.

But people, we’ve been internalising that values system ever since.

I believe Dana hit it on the head today when she said in Kiera’s thread that society must stop shaming rape survivors. It’s my belief that this word causes shame because others have taught us this. I remember Nica saying in Mistral’s thread Shame and Telling, (where some of this has been covered) that even her therapist would not use the word; referring instead to “the incident”. Inci-fucking-dent? What’s that? A broken fingernail? Or a broken spirit?

Other people’s shame infects us.

But why then, do so many of us euphemise; make up terms that go as close to it as possible; “sexual assault” or as benignly far away from it as possible; I’ll quote one of my own; “the thing that happened”. My first counsellor once lamented the fact that many of the rape survivors she saw actually referred to what was done to them in these terms: “and then he made love to me”. Oh god! That really does seem a desperate cat of removing oneself, doesn’t it? I’ve often had to remind myself not to say, “he fucked me” when I mean “he raped me”. Lovers  may “fuck”. I use the eff word in terms of what I would like to do with certain movie stars. But it’s got nothing to do with….violation.

We know what we’re talking about, so why can’t we just call it by its name? Is it the sound? Such a cruel, blunt sound, almost like a scrape (how appropriate!)  Cruel, blunt name for a cruel, blunt crime, maybe, and some of us have also made this point elsewhere.

Louise Armstrong, author of “Kiss Daddy Goodnight” points out that “rape” is easier to say and spell than “diarrhoea” So why do women so frequently avoid the use of it?  And while I take Ms. Armstrong’s point, a dose of the shits does not quite approximate sexual violation….rape.

I avoided it for years. for years. It…hurt. I felt incredibly dirty and ashamed. It felt like a BRAND.

The bible states that it's not what we put in our mouths that makes us dirty, it's what comes out. Never, ever has this seemed truer than when trying to say "that word", does it? Do we remain victims if we cannot clearly name the crimes committed against us? The trouble with that word is that until one learns that naming can be empowering, it seems as though use of it will revictimize.

But now,  I rap out the arr word with probably boring consistency. I look at it the way some holocaust survivors do; they resent people saying that there were 6 million Jews “killed” in the holocaust. People are also killed in car accidents and earthquakes. Smoking “kills”. The Holocaust survivors rightly say that their brothers and sisters were MURDERED, not “killed.

In the same spirit, I was raped. Not “assaulted”, not “hurt”. Healing the shame is an excellent tip.

I personally believe it matters what we call a thing; but having said that I understand that some people never will choose to use that word. I have an eight-year old girl inside me who will never be able to say she was raped. I feel her twist as I write the word. It began to feel quite self-abusive a long time ago to force the issue, so I stopped. I can say it, but if I am operating from her feelings, forget it. “He hurt me” will do nicely.

Has the arr word magical properties? Is Maya Angelou right in saying that “words are things”?

In parts of Spain, the word devil must not be uttered; it’s like tempting him to appear.

But…. in a similar spirit to not saying “devil”, I cannot say abusers names out loud. I can’t. Does anyone else know this one? I can say I was raped, but I cannot say the name of the perpetrator of that crime. Like “rape”, it gets stuck.

And I’m going to get really honest here. Ms. Tough-Titties can say “rape”. Wow! Whattawoman. But I’d be defrauding you, my friends, not to admit that I stumbled across an interesting dilemma yesterday while chatting with two sisters from here. Yes, I rattle off  “rape” like my children’s names.  But….not all kinds.

I can’t explain it very well, but I will try…..

Oh god…how do I do this….I’m feeling as some of you sisters feel…..I can euphemistically issue the blanket statement that I have been raped in every body orifice. If I am drunk, or I have harnessed the sneering, street-fighting aggressor in me, I can say I was “butt-fucked”.  “Dirty bastard went up my backside”. Isn’t this odd? I can be so coarse, as you’ve just seen, but I never have, and I never can, use the “proper” words…can’t write ‘em either….not for myself.   “A/R” will have to do. Can’t even call it the S word….while I go on in genuinely-felt sympathy about others who were A/R’d / S’d…and I admire those of you who are honest with it….I am too scared. It seems to strip me of dignity. It feels so irretrievably dirty. Just the one bastion of indecency I cannot cross. I have no problem with vaginal or oral; not a one, but…there? In ten years of therapy, I only ever mentioned it ONCE. That was so hard I decided never to do it again.

Maybe there’s an extra pocket of shame there….one that I know I don’t deserve. I know it, but I still feel it, you know? I say that as I know for a fact that when I have trouble using  just “rape”, (and it’s so rare these days that I know something is wrong), I  am feeling shame. Shame clears up, and my tongue is freed again to NAME.

But naming can hurt too, there’s no doubt about that. It has to be at the right time. Has anyone ever felt that sense, when you began to say “I was…Raped” that it crashes and reverberates through all parts of you? It echoes: Rape…ape…ape...ape…happened to me….me.

Listen, friends, this rant may not be useful to anybody. I just wanted to put out some thoughts on it.

The difficulty of saying this word is something I all at once understand and yet am intrigued and confused by.

Love

Rachel xxxx

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 Rachael,

Okay, (trying to think clearly here) I'm going to try to contribute my thoughts but be warned I am having trouble with getting the words out properly tonight.  

I think it is really important that we try to see why words have such a great hold on us - especially when we are scared to use them or we see people use certain words to hurt other or put them down.

I have come to think that words are just things and what gives words so much power is not the words themselves but the meanings we attach to them.  

Let me explain myself...we use words everyday to explain our own reality -  we have a word for a 'man' or a 'woman' but man and woman existed before we had the words for them eg in ancient greek time the word 'man' and 'woman' did not exist but there were words that explained men and women as different versions of one sex.  The two sexes did actually exist...just not as we know and understand them in our own concept of 'man' and 'woman'.

So when I use the word rape I use it with reference to my own reality - that of shame and hurt and confusion and all the other millions of feelings i have - and thats why it is hard to say, because my reality is so hard to face.

 

(Dont know if this is making sense) but perhaps the word rape (and other various non-mentionables) are scary because of the lenses we individually see them through -  because of the meanings we give those words and of our interpretation and our associations with the words, we fear using them like we fear the acts themselves?

 

I can quite easily say rape in a conversation at uni but could no way utter it (even if someone offered me a million bucks to say it) when talking in relation to  myself.  And I can talk about almost any sexual act except for one, because of my association with that word.  I believe that as my interpretation of words change and as I no longer own the terror associated with those words, my inability to say them will change.  

  How to explain why I can say rape when talking in terms of others? i think it comes from not feeling responsible for the words - there is no connection of those words to me when speaking of others so i feel safe using them.  But get me to talk about my own story and I my throat seizes up and Im dumb founded - my ability to speak vanishes.  

 

I also believe the social context in which words are used determine their meaning - because there is a feeling of shame about rape in our society, we attach that shame to the word and therefore also to ourselves...because we know it is shameful to be raped, we feel shameful just saying it.  Perhaps once a person stops owning responsibility for the act they can stop owning the shame and can start using them without feeling as bad as the act itself made you feel?  And perhaps because the act conjured up bad feeling, so to saying the word will conjure up those feelings you associate with it.

And here endeth my sketchy linguistics lesson.  Dont know if that made any sense but at least i tried?!?!  One thing is for sure - I know that the day i stand on my rooftop and can yell every word for every bastard thing what was done to me I will no longer own the shame and guilt that should not be put upon me and then the shame will be his reality, not mine.  

      EmmaB:)

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I have just been reminded of something I read in a book - unfortuantly I can not remember where it was but ifI find it again I will let you know - I suspect it was in I can't get over it - a book about PTSD by Aphrodite Matsakins.  I hope I can explain this properly.

Traumatic memory is stored in teh brain differently from normal memory - it is stoerd as sensations - sounds, smells, touches etc.   When it is being stored the speech part of the brain is immobolised. This is why people get triggered by sights, smells etc and also why it is hard to talk about - because in recalling the memories you are recalling them from this speech immobolised state.  This is why talking about what happened is so important - it helps to move the memory over to a more normal memory where it is less easliy triggered.

Ok not brilliantly explained but I will hunt for the passage and type it out when I find it.

Take care - Kiera

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I am right there with ya on this one.  I cant say it to save my life unless like you said I am drunk of my ass.  What I think is that if u say it that makes it real and i know I wish that it wasnt so i just dont say it.....I dont know if that makes sense.

Wendy

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((((Emma, Kiera, Wendy))))

God, but I'm glad I share spece here with such intelligent, insightful women!

You thoughts have got my brain chugalugging again.

Wendy, yes, saying the word brings it closer, doesn't it? And it seems unbearable to have it that close. And the frozen speech state of memory, Kiera....of course.

And yes, my god yes, Emma, the shame comes from without; it needs to be overturned, doesn't it?

Thanks for the thoughts, women....more rambling later...

Love

Rachel xxx

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Just wanted to pull this up again to see if it wouldn't pick up a few more brilliant thoughts.

Love

Rachel xx

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:) what a burden Rachel, not even you would like some thought, you would like them to be brilliant as well... I don't think mine will be, but it will lower the threshold for others ;)

The word rape... in English I can just about manage. Writing it and saying it. In Dutch, my own language... it asks a lot more from me. The Dutch word is 'verkrachting' (there you go, it only took me about 10 minutes to type 12 letters). It has the word 'kracht' in it, which means power. The word has power...

Now why does the word have so much power over it's victims...?

Growing up, learning the ways of the world, you also learn that rape is a terrible thing that happens to people sometimes (a lot more then anyone will ever know actually). It's a terrible thing and the victims are people you have to pity. When people talk about it in general you hear ' I don't think I could manage' things like that...

I think that's one reason that can make it very difficult to use the word. When you do, there is no turning back. People know. And you become one of those weak pityfull people. Suddenly you aren't Els or Susan or Jack anymore, you are the person that was raped. And looks change...

And those aren't pleasant looks. Not the looks you need. Not the looks you want. Those looks can make you feel ashamed...

Using the word makes it real, makes it impossible to hide. Not only from others, from yourself also.

I haven't decribed alot of the things that happened to me. By using the words, I make it more diffult to hide from myself, I make it more difficult to act as if I'm ok. But it can feel so much safer to hide...

- thinking - (about 20 minutes)

ok, I'm going to try and write this down, but the thought isn't clear in my head so I doubt it will be clear to anyone who reads it.

When a woman is raped, the rapist denies the fact that she is a person. A non-person looses everything, just doesn't exist anymore, and so also looses the possibility to speak. Saying 'I was raped' might sound to the victim as 'I am not a person'.

Words are powerfull, but words are also poor. There are no words to express what lives inside a person that was raped. Trying to find words, is always do wrong to the experience, to the feelings, the hurt. There just are no words.

When you say 'I was raped' you seem to say so much, but at the same time, it doesn't express a thing...

Some thoughts, just thoughts.

I can be totally wrong.

safe hug

Els

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Oh ho ho -- the R word.  How I used to hate that word.  How I avoided saying it.  In my house, growing up, it was a dirty word, right up there with bitch or bastard, or saying shit instead of poop.  I can still remember how my mother whispered it when she spoke of someone she knew who had been *raped.*

I learned the shame connected with the word, long before the "word" ever happened to me.  It was something that nice people just didn't talk about.  I said it once, after seeing a news story about rape -- my mother almost fainted, and took me aside and explained very carefully that I must never use that word, especially not in my dad's presence.  

Then the word happened to me -- I was so traumatized by it that I couldn't even let MYSELF think it.  So I repressed it for twelve years, and only recently let it in.  "That thing that happened"  "The assault"  "The incident"  "What they did"  

How I hate those euphemisms now, as much as I hated the R word then.  I never owned my anger, or my body again, until I could say the word.  I can say it now -- rape -- I can say it to anyone.  Sometimes I have to say it with a weird, stretched smile, especially if I'm saying it to someone who doesn't know I was raped.  Here's me, smiling this huge, toothy, flat smile and saying, "I was raped when I was thirteen" in a cheerful matter of fact way.  And the other person probably thinking, "well, it obviously didn't hurt you -- you think it's funny!"  The smile is protective coloration, you know?  To keep everyone from seeing the real pain inside.  

Rachel, I love this thread.  I love any thread that makes me feel strong and empowered -- I'll say it, I'll shout it, I'll sob it -- sometimes I'll even whisper it.  But I will never keep it inside me, unspoken, again.  I'm worth more than that.

love you,

Shaina

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((((Els and Shaina))))

I am incredibly touched by what you are saying......powerful word, yes, but you women are much more powerful. My loves; I have a bottle of chardonnay inside me, so I will respond better tomorrow (Aus time).

Love you

Rachel xxxx

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Rachel,

Ok, hun. Have another bottle of Chardonnay, sit back, because you have stirred the smoldering fire that has been burning inside me for so long.  I want to apologize if this is a rant or if it doesn’t make sense.

It wasn’t until I started coming to this wonderful site, reading your eloquent and insightful posts and talking to my fellow sister/brother survivors that I have been able to actually put a name to what happened to me.

YES, I WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AS A CHILD.  YES, I WAS GANG RAPED. NOT ONCE, BUT RAPED 4 TIMES BY 4 DIFFERENT GUYS.

No matter how I try to sugar coat it that is what happened to me.  

I have talked about how society blames the victim of a rape or sexual assault/abuse. Even in a court of law, the accused is presumed innocent until proven beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise.  Why can’t society hold the same standards for victims of rape. Until this can be changed, we as survivors are stuck with the stigma of just that….. Blame and Shame.

To give you an example…..

About 8 or 9 years ago, a year after starting therapy, a co-worker and I were talking.  Well during our conversation the subject of rape came up.  This woman went on to say that she would never have put herself in a situation to be raped.  That she would never dress inappropriately, drink to an extent that she would allow such a thing to happen to her.  It had to have been something the woman did to get raped.  Like it was the woman’s fault for being raped. My God, I wanted to reach over and slap the shit out of her.  I was so angry at what she said that I told her that I had been “assaulted” (couldn’t use rape back then).  She just stared at me in disbelief.  She even went so far as to say “I don’t believe it”.  

Back in November of 1975, when I was raped, no one ever talked about it.  “It” was never to be talked about, much less thought about.  Nice girls didn’t have things like that done to them.  Or if they did no one ever knew about it, because it was hushed.   So, as a 15 year old girl, who had just been gang raped, I shut down, never told a soul.  

#### it wasn’t until (I may have the dates wrong here..sorry) the late 70’s or early 80’s that there actually was a Movie of the Week on TV about rape.  It stared Elizabeth Montgomery and portrayed her as a woman who was beaten and raped in her apartment by a single perpetrator.  I don’t know if anyone remembers this movie or the name of it even, but it was the first time that the issue of rape had been addressed so publicly.  It was very controversial at that time and I remember sitting there watching the movie, my stomach in knots, shaking and thinking my God, that is what happened to me.   But still I said nothing.  

Now, I am learning that I can use the word rape when speaking of what happened to me.  That yes, rape is a word that conjures up all sorts of ideas and if you speak to the wrong person, yeah even shame or blame. Yes words have power, but I have started to take back the power that was stripped away from me all those years ago by those sick fucks.  Only I have that power now.   And by God, no one is going to take it away from me ever again.

As I said in my story, God forbid I should ever be raped again, for I will not be silent.

Ok, I have ranted enough for one day.  I don’t know if this is what you were expecting Rachel or not, like I said, you stirred a fire deep inside.  Thanks for posting this. And again I apologize if I didn’t make much sense or rambled..

Dana

(dootles)

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Whew...Why is it whenever I come here I find a thread with just the topic I'm grappling with? You all are incredible, strong, powerful people. Thank you for sharing both your strengths and your struggles with me.

I too have struggled all these years -- all 14 of them -- with the r word. No problem saying out loud in the context of someone else, a news story, a movie, whatever. But about me? Ohh...I find myself in the therapist's office referring to "the thing that happened" or "you know" or if I'm really feeling confident, "the assault." Yup, I even did it this morning! This after finding a deeper level of self-acceptance recently. Disappointing.

Somehow the words just freeze up inside my mouth. The old brain is telling me "go ahead and say it!" but there's this physical disconnect and just can't seem to push out the words. The trauma explanation makes a lot of sense to me; feels absolutely right.

But it's not just me, I know. And it's not just about the word but the whole experience. This week I saw a headline on a newspaper while walking with my husband. There have been a series of abductions and rapes in my city recently where strangers grab a woman off the street, throw her in a van, drug her and rape her. Horrifying. In fact the headline read "Rape Drug Horror." My husband commented about the sensationalism of the headline, but didn't know what it was about. I explained, and he said "My god, that's awful, can you imagine that?" A moment of silence and I'm looking at him sideways. Another verrrrry long moment of silence. Words jumbling up in me. I managed to croak "Well, um, yes actually, unfortunately I can." Has he forgotten the nightmares, the fear, all the various and sundry and seemingly endless problems I have had? This man who has supported me through so many years? No. Just a disconnect with the word, the experience, the person I am now. (Also, this kind of stranger abduction doesn't match my experience, maybe that contributed to the feeling of distance for him.)

Someone wrote about rape in other languages. In Italian, one word for rape as a verb is "violentare," which always struck me as a perfect combination of violence and violate. Somehow this word is easier for me to say than rape.

Silence, secrecy, or self-preservation? Do I have to own this word to be free of the pain of it?

Arrr...rrrr...raayyyy...yes, I was raped. Still so hard. Easier to write than say. Anyway, not sure if I've contributed meaningfully to this discussion. You all have certainly helped me think about it more.

Elle

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Well on monday I have my last therapy session and it is my last chance to say it.  I told my therapist this week that there was something I needed to say but had been unable to over the last two years.  Now I wish I had not said that - I have sort of set myself up a bit - don't know if I can or how or anything!

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Rachel-This may be triggering to you since I use *those words*

Rape.

The word is really hard to get out sometimes, isn't it?  I know I get onto my soapbox about saying it, but yes, I too, have a hard time getting it out.

Just last week, I was telling some friends of my partner's and it was really difficult. I got it out though, and I was proud of myself.

Rach, sodomy can never take away who you are.  You are a woman I admire more than I can say.  Your dignity is not at all altered by a heinous power play, disguised as sex.  The shameful part of anal rape isn't yours.  It's the man who did it to you.  According to many books I've read, rapists will sodomize women in order to further humiliate them and survivors who have been anally rape often feel them most shamed.  It shouldn't be that way, Rach.  I see you as being one of the most dignified people I've ever had the honor of knowing.  You confront everything that has been done to you head one, with honesty and unwavering bravery.  I have no doubt you'll be able to face this one, too.

Mistral

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Rape. I can say it.  I can write it.  I spent the afternoon in Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago telling complete stangers about the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network.  I was getting three very ugly words out effortlessly in one breath.

But then...

When I respond the the pregnancy thread, my first sentence read...I became pregnant after being asulted by the man I was dating...  Well I became pregnant, I contracted a virus that is primarily spread through sexual contact...we all know what kind of assult happened, but I spilled out the word assult instead.  

When I first posted my story here and in some earlier post I could use it...then something changed.  I'm not sure what it was but I just wasn't as strong anymore.  I stoped using that word.  I think part of the problem is that it can describe such a range of horror, but then you get the whole legal defenition in there to.  I don't know which is correct is a child simply always molested, or are they raped.  Notice I didn't say me...pretty sly but or some reason it works.  I can't admit to either right now...I can say I was hurt, I can even use the word abused...I was abused as a child.  Very weird...why do those other words have more power?  I think part of it is the way they make you feel...powerless, ashamed, dirty...and no wonder say them out loud while watching another persons expresion.  Watch them look away, shift uncomfortably, clear thier throat, and squirm...now I can't even begining to imagine putting an I was in front of one of those words and seeing how people react.

I really admire you strong woman that are able to claim back the power of these words.

((HUGS))

Shannon

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My Dearest sisters,

Thankyou

you have sparked reams of thought for me. I have a hangover, a half asleep brain (6.30 am here) and demanding kids (isn't that their job?) But I'm itching to grab me some fresh-minded space to respond, and just as soon as I can, I will.

((((Mistral)))) Thank you sister dear, for the necessary reminder.....

Love you, your minds, your spirits....how can one word (or two) detract from so many greatnesses....

Rachel xxx

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(((Dootles)))

Just before I bugger off and do what mothers/wives/domestic goddeses are supposed to do, I will just tell you that the awful movie you speak of was a 1970's piece of schlock called "Cry Rape". Says it all, don't it? There was another fuckawful one called "Lipstick" a couple of years later, starring Margaux Hemingway.

Do you know that over a period of nights where these were screened, there were fewer reports of rape?

Wonder why?

Is it any wonder the word hold such shame when it's survivors are portrayed in thse ways?

Love

Rach xxx

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This is just a stream-of-consciousness rant, it might be triggering or incredibly boring.....

My dear women....I was reticent about coming back to this one at all; I thought it might be best to let it die....but my thoughts about the power of words won't go away.

(((Els))) Your thoughts about whether saying "I was raped" are equivalent to saying " I am not a person" have been constantly with me. I know it's how I have felt.....

We live in a society which seems to need to blame people if they have been victimized; this extends not only to victims of rape, but Jews; many bizarre (and extremely offensive) theories have been trotted out about how they were complicit in, or even deserving of,  their own murders. As a refugee worker, I have seen groups of people who have lived through shocking circumstances being blamed. People often create a "moral equivalency" situation; oh well, they are just as bad, you know? WHY are war-victims, rape survivors and others who have lived through severe trauma seen to be "less?" It goes back to what Mistral said some time ago; if we imagine we can control horror by behaving better, we will feel safer. It's magic-think, you knoww, like "step on a crack, break you mother's back".

But it's also a perpetrator-compliant mentality, and that's terrifying. It's terrifying to me that 90% of society seems  to think that anybody horribly abused must be somehow "inferior", and this especially if they are hurting about it.

I have come to the conclusion, and it will be nothing new to you all, that being open with the "r" word means that we can be opening ourselves up for that inferiority. Stigma, yes, that's it.

((Shaina)) I remember, like you, the mixture of pity and revulsion that my mother spoke of somebody who had been raped with. I think it infects more than we might be aware....and pity help when we are stricken by it. What have we got to fall back on except what we have learned?

The thought occurs to me that perhaps it's fruitless to ask society to change. Ask it to stop stigmatizing rape/CSA survivors.....remember that line in "Top Gun" where a perfect #######'s behavior was sneeringly excused on the grounds that "he was abused as a child"?

Oh, Shannon! You are so right, people's looks do change; instead of thinking, that's a terrible crime for somebody to commit against another person", it becomes about you!

SHOUTING:l WHY IN GODS NAME ARE RAPISTS NOT STIGMATIZED FOR NEEDING TO DO THAT TO A PERSON IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER AVBOUT THEMSELVES! IT'S SO WEAK!.

I don't think it will change because we think it should.

My belief is that I need to not keep begging and pleading with society to change it's mind about rape; perhaps I can boldly change how I respond to it.

Maybe I can tell it that no matter what crap is dished up, I will refuse to wear the garment of stigma anymore.

But I wax and wane, I can be very "out there" with some, but not with others. It depends whether I fear they will see me as less. I would say "I was raped" to an impersonal journalist, I have no vested interest in what their opinion is. But in front of my two sisters.....never....I couldn't stand that they would see me as less....maybe that makes sense, maybe not.

Isn't it frustrating, Elle, that some husbands see rape as not quite something they can see hapenning to their partner? Other people's concept of a word, which impacts on us....we can see and feel their thoughts...

But to get more personal, Emma, yes, I have begun to think that we have our own personal connotations around words, too. And magical or not, uttering them seems to bring them closer. Wendy, thank you for that timely reminder. I realized I had been doing a lot of telling people how to say what......and I'd forgotten that I still feel bound myself. By the "other" thing, as I call it, that he did.

I cannot say....those words, because I am ashamed still. I know I did nothing wrong, but I feel as though, if I say them in their technical terms.....he will somehow still own  me. He did it for that reason, that I would have nothing left for myself and to humiliate.

Why is it that I never see a sister who experienced "that" kind of rape as less? But I do see myself as less. I feel lessened, humiliated, owned.

(((Mistral)))I didn't know that it was common, (although it shouldn't have surprised me) to know that women feel more shame around this form of rape. Thankyou for affirming that I'm not unusual, it was so helpful.

It's probably false pride, but I just can't stand the thought. I feel angry, enraged, sick.

Why? this will sound patently ridiculous, but the invasion of my vagina just feels more "acceptable" than...where you go to the toilet for christ's fucking sake.....I have never put it out quite like this; please excuse me....sisters please I am so sorry.

Yet I am amazed at those who can say it. Say...that somebody put his thing there....oh it feels so weak. Especially when I can be so coarse....but that coarseness takes me away from my feelings; "gutter-girl" is tough and nothing matters. Not even men who do things like that, she does not fear. It's as if she stands in front of the cowering child I was.

But too, my women, I was only thinking this afternoon, that if words have negative power, they also have positive.

I thought about some of the things some of you have said that have had life-changing impact on me. It has brought me to a stage here I am saying things nobody knows....ad after tlling here, I often laugh that I was so worried....maybe there is truth in the idea that the reaction you get when tyou tell will be the one through which you come to expect all other responses to be.

Oh ####! I have a bottle of Guinness (which is usualy nothing) down me, and I am rambling like mad. I feel fear at carrying on like this. But beneath that fear is the absolut knowledge that my fear is groundless here.

It's madness, I'm scared you'll see me as diety even though I know you won't. Does anybody know that feeling?

Thank God I came to know you;

love

Rachel

Things seem to hurt much less after airing them here.

(Edited by Rachel Pike at 8:03 am on Sep. 1, 2001)

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Hi guys

This is probably going to be a bit of a ramble, I'm not sure if it's entirely on-topic either...

I was thinking about what you said Rach, about victims and how eager society is for them to be complicit in their own misfortune. It seems to me that although our society is happy to be titillated in an 'Oh no, isn't it awful' fashion by serious and violent crimes and occurrences, we are collectively unwilling to confront and face human misery.

Lovely Josey asked me a question the other day which started me thinking: do I know many people older than myself? The answer is 'no, not really'. I did know a lot of older and younger people through attending church, but now, not really. I met most of my friends at university, and they're all approximately the same age, with the same opinions and aspirations as me. Somehow I've ended up in a society where my family ties (although very important to me) are subsumed on a day-to-day basis by my relationship with my friends. So where do I find wisdom, who do I seek knowledge from? Books and newspapers primarily. And I seek knoweldge and wisdom out rigorously. This isn't a perfect solution though, and I am aware of its limitations. I was speaking to a very close friend the other day - who is planning to go and get tested for HIV. It's unlikely that he will test positive for the virus, but his decision made me think. I have led a very privileged life in that I have had almost minimal contact with death and disease. I have lost no close friends, the only bereavements in my life have been the deaths of elderly family members.

Our society removes old people from the general community, preferring to place them in retirement or nursing homes. Disease and poverty are isolated into particular geographic areas in the western world. The isolationism and selfishness  endemic in our cultures make if possible to go through life surrounded only by people 'like us', blunt us to the needs of the poor and ill within our midst. Protected by our rights to free speech, to legal representation, even to welfare, we will travel through life blissfully ignorant to the suffering of those who experience torture, disposession, 'ethnic cleansing', famine, and the pain of watching our children die for the want of clean water.

Many of us on this board are concerned for the needs of these others, but they still remain 'other'. Most in our communities are not concerned: they read the stories of grinding human misery in their wordy newspapers and they shake their heads, and plan to buy new clothes, new cars, gourmet dinners, theatre tickets. We have broken ties with our families to the extent that many of us will not nurse our own parents through their final illnesses, but will leave them to the tender mercies of hired strangers. How can we even begin to ameliorate the hunger and desperation of the rest of the world?

What has this to do with us, we survivors of rape and abuse? Many of us have been forced by these terrible events to evaluate our lives, our opinions, our relationship with our 'selves'. Our irony-saturated culture does not appreciate or endorse these efforts. The recent thread on rape on tv hinted at the gulf that exists between popular culture representation of 'our stories' and what actually happens to us. Rach cites a line from Top Gun, but we could all think of our own examples of a book, TV show, or film that has made light of our experiences. The population at large needs to make light of what we have been through, what we've survived, because our pain hits on something that most people try frantically to suppress with the trappings of success, wealth, popularity: what it is to be human. What is is to be a genuine, feeling, conscious liver of life. What is is to be a dutiful, sacrificing friend. What is to remember that much of the world is in pain, and that no amount of Manolo Blahnik shoes will silence that bitter anguish. That must of us wander precariously on the crust of life, never exploring the depths, because this is easier than being an earnest seeker of truth.

Love

CA

(Edited by crying angel at 3:24 pm on Sep. 1, 2001)

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*****t for swear words and sad things*****

Dear everyone,

Wow.  

I am truly at a loss for words; I think you all have said them for me.

For some reason I feel so angry now, for all of you and what you have been through, for myself, and for the ignorance and reproach we all face because this dirty thing(s) was/were done to us.

Yes, it is sooooooo very like putting away the elderly because we don't want to think of our own mortality!  Nobody wants to imagine this happening to themselves!  So they avoid us like the fucking plague!

I can't believe that film was called "cry rape".  It makes me sick to my stomach.  A woman in my group was talking about how in the movie, "Saturday Night Fever", there was a rape scene and then john travolta's character said to her something to the effect of, "now are you happy, you really are a pig".  

What do you all think of "taking back" the word, like the way gay people have taken back the word "queer" ("we're here, we're queer" - I love that slogan and the pride with which they say it!)  Speaking of pride.....look at how the gay community speak of gay pride, and pride week, etc.

Although this is different.....is rape something to be proud of?  

I am proud of my courage.

I am proud of the way I am rebuilding my life, my spirit.

I am proud of my ability to re-claim my victimhood, and my survival, and my attempts to actually thrive.

I am proud of my strength.

I am proud of all of you!

Anyway....that's my disjointed ramble for the day.  This is a lot to take in.

love to you all,

Kimby

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CA, my friend, yes we live in a socity that seems to need to "ghetto-ize" what isn't attractive, whether that be age or victimization of one form of another....

Hmm... Kimby me foine girl, seems we've shifted gear from naming to questions of identity, and I think they are related. In naming what happened, I know I can sometimes forget the advice I so easily dole out to others; that we are not what happened to us.

Is the opposite of shame, pride? In this context, I think the opposite of shame could be "shamelessness".

Maybe this our "ghetto"; a place were we all hang out together and mutually encourage eachother to become "shameless"....I know it's like manna from heaven to me that there is somewhere I can be as raw or as honest as I like about my history....I can be a "victim"......

What's wrong with the rest of the world? Why can't it see the strength and guts that underlies what we share?

Maybe while the world looks on and blames us not only for being raped, but for being affected by it, we are the only ones truly sane!

Rambling again......thankyou sisters, for allowing and encouraging my "shamelessness".

Love

Rachel  xxxxxxxxx

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Rachel,

It's okay if you can't say it (that other thing, you know).  I get the sense that not being able to say it really bothers you, as if not calling it a spade somehow gives him continued power over you.

It doesn't, sweetie.  You're protecting yourself from that trauma, that's all.  You talk freely about the assault; you aren't afraid and you aren't ashamed.  I haven't given every little detail of what happened to me either, you know?  There are things that they said and did to me that I will NEVER disclose to anyone.  Period.  Too painful, too embarrassing.  But I've accepted them.  They don't rule me.

I don't believe "that" rules you, either.  And I certainly don't think less of you for not saying those words!

I do believe that the reason so many people seem to blame rape on the victim is because if they admit that we had no complicity in the assaults, then it could happen to ANYONE.  It could happen to them, to someone they love.  Because they can't face that, they villify the victims; they make us part of the problem.  That way, they are safe, at least in their own minds.

Thanks, Rachel, for starting this thread, and for all the other wonderful, illuminating threads you've started.  We'll weave something beautiful yet, won't we?

love,

Shaina

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****T*** those words....descriptive

You are absolutely right, Shaina, my dear friend...it does not rule me......thankyou for affirming my strengths.

What started as a discourse on naming acts has spawned so much more, and you just reminded me how another part of the difficulty is repeating things which were SAID during the course of rape.....for me there were things said that are just as horrible as what was done, and no, I will probably never let them cross my lips. And that's okay too. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But to be honest, I lay in bed after posting about "that" squirming with embarrassment. I nearly got up and edited it out.

But experience has been teaching me to rely more on the love of my sisters here.....so I didn't and I'm glad.

Mistral, my darling, your wods "triggered" me in the most helpful possible way. Thankyou, what a blessing you are; it can take some time to sink in that it's really true that we can tell awful things here, and others still see us as having dignity.

Shaking but leaping the hurdle: I don't know if this will ever lead to audible words, but here I go. A dirty, low down fucking bastard Anally raped me.

I, Rachel, was sodomized four times. A man forced his penis into my anus....and I thought I would dire of the same, never thought I could tell...that.. but I can.

Oh, sisters, I'm going to submit before I edit again.....it's a birthday present from my courage to me, and would be impossible without the strength of you who encourage me.

So much Love

Rachel xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Please, I need to know that I am still dignified...

(Edited by Rachel Pike at 9:36 pm on Sep. 2, 2001)

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(((((rach)))))

a tender and warm smile for you...

yes darling... it's true...saying it hasn't taken away any of your dignity

you can still walk through life with your head up high

and nothing you can say or do will ever change that to me

I'm so proud I know you

big hug

Els

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Els, love.....I somehow knew it would be worthwhile....I think there is trtuh in the fact that the first respoinse we get in naming, will aid or hurt.....you, my friend are definitely aiding...thank you more than words can say.

Now, maybe I can read what I wrote without being sick or editing.

Love you

Rachel xxx

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(((((Rachel)))))))

Well done hon - you are really brave

Kiera xx

(Edited by kiera at 12:05 pm on Sep. 3, 2001)

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