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#1842669 Rape Conception and Harmful Words

Posted by Louise on 25 April 2013 - 11:47 PM

Rape Conception: Mind your Language While Defending My Rights

© 2013 Pandora's Aquarium

All rights reserved, except that permission is hereby granted to freely reproduce and distribute this document, provided that it is reproduced unaltered in its entirety and contains this copyright information: © 2006 Pandora's Project, http://www.pandys.org - an online support group, message board, and chat room for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse victims and survivors.

This article is written anonymously out of respect for my daughter and her family.

I will commence this article with a brief history: In my late teens, I became pregnant by rape. I opted to keep my child. Here is my actual story if you would like to know more about what this time in my life entailed.

I have never been sorry for my decision. However, I am pro-choice, and for me that means that women who find themselves pregnant by rape must be free to choose what will be right for their life circumstances, be that termination, adoption, or keeping the child.

Although it was very tough to be put in the position of having to make such a choice at all, keeping my child was for me, the most empowering choice. Decades later, I remain convinced that had I terminated the pregnancy, or relinquished my child for adoption, I would have been more severely traumatized. I am talking about me here; I do not attempt to extrapolate on what is true for others. In turn, I would like others to not make assumptions about what is true for me, and other women who keep rape-conceived children. This is what this article is really about.

No Comfortable Place

Since the time I was pregnant by rape, I have been very aware that people have strong opinions about rape-conceived pregnancy. I feel the utmost disgust and disdain for the Todd Akins of the world who pontificate about “legitimate rape” shutting down the possibility of a pregnancy, together with those who insist that the pregnant rape victim must view the rape as a “Gift from God.” These people selectively ignore situations that do not fit their political agenda. It’s a fact that some women (and their children) do experience very great hardship as a result of being made to continue a rape pregnancy – for example, some excerpts of women’s stories from Andrew Solomon’s excellent book, Far From the Tree may be found here. Importantly, as a mother who kept her child, I refuse to be held up by the pro-life movement as a heroine at the expense of my sisters who terminated.

To tell a woman who has experienced sexual assault how she must feel or what she must choose denies choice to her yet again.

Hence, some of the language used by the “other side” – the pro-choice side – my side, over the years has saddened, angered and frustrated me too. It is not possible to view any online debate these days without hearing that carrying and giving birth to a rapist’s child is a dreadful woe without any redemption. Invariably, the poor mother has to live with that reminder, with horrible consequences for herself and the child. Professionals may generalize in this way too. For example, Linda Ledray’s book, Recovering from Rape, reluctantly tells us that a woman may choose to keep a rape conceived child, and then cites one disastrous example.

I have found myself being silenced over the years when I suggest that raising the child may not in fact be so dreadful for all of us. I have been howled down and dismissed by people who felt that speaking about my choice meant that I was “encouraging” pregnant rape victims to have their babies, or was inherently judging other women who hadn’t had theirs – something I have never, ever done. It seems to me at these times that I am the one being judged! Evidently, having a positive story makes me a rabid anti-choicer by default. What do I do? Sometimes it really has felt as though some people of the pro-choice persuasion want me to take my positive story and go away because it doesn’t fit with the scenario they want to create. It is fair enough if they are just focusing on the very real negative impacts that can result from rape-related pregnancy. But quite often they are more fixated than focused.

I do not wish to imply that I have met with these attitudes in all pro-choice settings, but I have noticed them sufficiently often. And I have had enough.

What Hurts the Most

I raised a beautiful child, and I have become most wearied and saddened by reference to rape-conceived children as “spawn”, “evil seeds” who are in some cases conflated with the perpetrator. It is right to talk about the consequences of forcing women to bear rape-conceived children. I absolutely do understand and empathize with a survivor who may see a rape pregnancy as spawn or part of the perpetrator that she could not possibly contemplate having. I have supported such women. It is not what I felt, but I am just me, and I respect that what is for me isn’t for another. What I would like is understanding and sensitivity for the fact that I love my child more than life.

I am writing this article because I recently had a very unpleasant and upsetting encounter, and it pushed me towards what I would call Critical Mass. I had read John Scalzi’s blogged article, A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians (PLEASE be aware that this article is triggering and disturbing), in which the author casts himself in the role of a rapist who has impregnated a woman. I wasn’t too crazy about his tone of unmitigated horror with respect to women who have rape-conceived children, but I understood that Scalzi was attempting to generate empathic thought about the plight of such women. I think the satire was an effective vehicle for his points even if it was rather unsettling, and I was in the main quite pleased with the article until I made the mistake of reading the comments. Some were great, and there were the usual references to “spawn” coupled with generalizations about the impossibility of keeping the rape-conceived child.

But then I read this:

“Do the folks who oppose abortion even in the cases of rape really want our genetic pool populated by these individuals? On a strictly pragmatic note, the perpetrators of rape are violent criminals who do not possess qualities that I would want propagated through our gene pool.”

This first chilled my blood, and then I cried and cried, feeling as if I would never stop. One of “these individuals” is my child, my little girl who is about as far from her biological father in nature as two people can be. What she has “propagated through our gene pool” is love and light She's funny, spunky and generous. She has given me a beautiful, smart little granddaughter with an uncanny empathy, whom I welcome home from school every afternoon, and for whose presence I had to calm myself down on the day I read this.

Words as Ongoing Consequence

Many people who champion a raped woman’s right to make her own choices in the case of pregnancy, quite rightly speak about the “reminder” that the woman will have to live with if she keeps the child. Beyond a certain point though, the sepulchral tones about “reminders” begin to flick on the raw. All rape survivors have to bear reminders, and for some of us, a child may be far from the worst.

I am asking that champions of choice please understand that seeing my child vilified as a monster or as dirtying up the gene-pool of humanity, is far more hurtful to me than any reminder of rape could ever be. You may mean well, but your assumptions and generalizations hurt. You are a reminder of times when I was made to feel like a freak for keeping my baby, or she was treated as not good enough because of where she came from. Please think about how distressing that can feel. You speak of the dire ongoing consequences for women who have rape conceived children, but words like the above, and actions like muffling those of us who are happy with our choice are also deeply hurtful consequences.

When you defend women’s rights to choose, you defend my rights. But you need to be respectful of all women’s choices. You do not truly defend choice when you make blanket statements about parenting rape conceived children. You can convey respect by making sure you clearly mark the difference between choosing to have a rape-conceived child, and being forced to have one. These are not mutually inclusive, they are not mutually repellent. Do not wave me away with lip-service, drowning me out with talk about how terrible it is. When you talk about rape and abortion rights, be aware that it is deeply hurtful to me to have it suggested that my born child is less than human. Stick to the point and stick to what you know; women must be allowed to choose termination because that choice is their right, not because a resulting child would be no good anyway or because a woman couldn’t ever possibly parent such a child. You don’t know this. Be factual.

I hope my beloved daughter never reads the statement quoted above. She found out about how she was conceived some years ago, and was heartbroken. I truly feared for her at the time. It was apparent to me that the rape had harmed somebody else, and she didn’t deserve to hurt because of somebody else’s actions.

You people who use passionate but injudicious words, help to ensure that rape goes on hurting others. Please don’t. Just don’t dictate how we must feel, and don’t level dehumanizing terms at the children we love. Yes, it is appalling for a politician to suggest that rape is a gift from God. But, without attempting to foist my view on others, don’t I have the right, personally, to call my child a gift; the only decent thing I got from my ordeal? May I not revel in a choice that brought me healing?

Maybe this article will help other women who may be feeling very alone with their choice. You are not alone; I stand with you.

Where to Get Support

When I stated above that I have had no comfortable place, I meant within the political paradigms of pro-life and pro-choice. I have, of course, been lucky to receive loving support from other survivors of rape at Pandora’s Aquarium. If you’re facing rape-related pregnancy now or in the past, you will be very welcome to ask and receive support there.

Here, also, is an article with links to help.

#290616 Who Deserves to Be Here?

Posted by Jes on 27 May 2006 - 02:58 PM

This was another thread I made that gotten eaten, so I've reposted :)

So many survivors have expressed to me that their wounds have been minimized by friends and loved ones, who may have told them to get over it, since it happened so long ago, or that it was not a big deal. Other friends may have asked questions like "Why didn't you fight" or "Why were you walking there in the first place?" These doubtful statements and questions only serve to minimize our pain and make us feel as though we do not have a right to feel as we do. It is unfortunate, but sometimes when we reach out for help, we find that our friends and families are not there.

Some of us struggle with minimizing our own experiences. Validating ourselves can be difficult. It's hard to admit that what happened has affected us. Sometimes we look at other people's experiences, judge them to be worse than our own and think we should not feel as badly as we do because othes have had it much worse than we have. I've talked to other survivors who doubt their memories of abuse, which makes the healing process more difficult for them.

Each of our experiences are unique and our reactions to them are just as individual. A friend of mine gives the wise advice, "Honor your process." Honoring our processes is to accept our feelings as legitimate and justified. If you are here because you are healing, I hope that you will honor yourself and your feelings. We all deserve to heal.

Who Deserves to Heal

If you were gang raped, you deserve to heal.

If you were raped once, you deserve to heal.

If you have been raped more than, you deserve to heal.

If someone has sexually assaulted you, you deserve to heal.

If it was attempted rape, you deserve to heal.

If it was your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend who raped you, you deserve to heal.

If it wasn't rape, if it was unwanted and inappropriate touching, you deserve to heal.

If you did not fight or scream, you deserve to heal.

If you were drugged or too intoxicated to give consent, you deserve to heal.

If you did not say no, but indicated through your actions that you were unnwilling, you deserve to heal.

If you are a man who has been sexually assaulted, you deserve to heal.

If it happened ten or twenty or thirty years ago, you deserve to heal.

If it was incest, you deserve to heal.

If you barely remember it, you deserve to heal.

If you were sexually harrassed, you deserve to heal.

If you are someone who supports, you deserve to heal.

That's all there is to it.

I've met people who have the feelings that their rape was not a particularly "bad rape". My rape was not a physically violent rape. I was only conscious of being raped for a few seconds and when I realized it, my boyfriend violently beat my rapist. He was the only one who got hurt.

It didn't make any difference to me. I had still been raped. It still hurt on the inside. I needed to heal.

The degree of the rape, abuse or assault doesn't matter. We feel many of the same emotions. And we all deserve to heal from them.

#390182 Grey Area Rape

Posted by Stephanie on 06 January 2007 - 03:19 PM

Grey Area Rape
© 2006 Pandora’s Aquarium
By: Stephanie

Grey area rape

It is a widely held belief that you get ‘real rapes’ and then those that fall into the ‘grey area’. The idea of grey area rape is bourn out of the way that society has constructed rape – as a violent act carried out by a stranger. This understanding of rape has been built around rape supportive myths and does not reflect the experiences of survivors.

If there can be a half-rape or a grey-rape then it follows that it must be possible to give half-consent. The idea that there is grey area consent however clearly makes no sense. Either someone has consented – willingly and actively without coercion– or they have not. If a person freely and willingly wants to have sex with someone then it is clear. If it is not clear, then that person does not have consent - there is no grey area.

There are many factors that people use to define a grey-area rape such as being drunk, flirting, being in a relationship with the perpetrator, not fighting enough or not fighting at all. However there is no such things as a 'rapeable offence' - being drunk/dressed in a certain way/doing a certain job/being intimate with a person/alone with a person/having slept with them before does not make rape inevitable or acceptable. Rape is not defined by the behaviour of the victim but by the actions of the perpetrator. A person either consented to sexual activity or they did not and if they did not then this is rape – there is no ‘grey’ about it.

Male or female, stranger or partner, date or acquaintance, child or adult, drunk or sober - it is all serious and it is all traumatic. If you have experienced any form of unwanted sexual contact then you have been sexually assaulted and you deserve to be here and you deserve to heal.

#2194576 Perhaps a rule...

Posted by Meliora on 12 February 2015 - 12:26 AM

...or at any rate a norm, that it is inappropriate to post material expressing the wish (or hope) that other people will be raped. Yes, even perps.


It can be somewhat upsetting.

#2051335 What have you learned from Pandy's?

Posted by Qrious on 06 June 2014 - 09:32 AM

I have learned that it wasn't all in my head, but that that doesn't mean I can't aim to be as awesome as my Pandy's friends.

I have learned that there are deeply courageous people willing to listen and comfort, wherever your head is taking you

And I have learned what a great privilege it is to give understanding or comfort to others here, to extend care and to sometimes realise through doing so that the world is better for having people like us in it, which can be hard to see when real life is completely overwhelming.

I have learned that there can be moments of calm, and that these are precious but magically extendable through sharing.

And that humour, like hope, can live in the strangest places!

#2050804 What have you learned from Pandy's?

Posted by eeyorestale on 05 June 2014 - 08:27 AM

I have learned that I can't do this by myself and asking for help is a sign of strength and healing not weakness.


I have learned that through our shared experiences, as horrible as they were, that we we lift each other up and as a group, as a community, we can rise above our individual challenges in a way that I don't think we can on our own.


I have learned that while I can't always see it or connect with it that I am worthwhile and....  


I have learned is that I can feel lonely but I will never have to face another day, another crisis or another memory by myself, for sure the most important thing I have learned is that I don't have to struggle alone and in silence.

#290615 Shame and Telling

Posted by Jes on 27 May 2006 - 02:53 PM

I wrote this a long time ago, and noticed the thread it was in is distorted, so I thought it was worth a repost :)

Rape. Molested. Incest. Abuse. Sexual Assualt.

These have words have such power. From us, they have taken control, safety and power. In replacement, we have been given hurt, anger and shame and we are silenced by it. They have power over our families, our friends, our peers and co-workers, too. These words have the power to them say things like "Are you sure?" or "Why didn't you do this, that or the other thing?" They make them call us liars. They make people we know and trust physically recoil from us, look away or just blush. It's all hurtful, so hurtful that it silences us.

Why do we feel shame? Before we even tell, we are ashamed. This is a society in which sex crimes are unspeakable. When we tell, our feelings about the rape, molestation or incest are influenced by the way the person we trusted enough to tell reacts to us. To those of you who told and received no support, I applaud you. Your search to heal is just heroic, and shows unwavering bravery. To tell takes untold courage. Again, I applaud you in your search to heal despite the shame given you. Rape is not the unspeakable crime; What your friends and families did by silencing you with shame is.

So why DO these people we trust so much look away?

Fear. Thinking that, "Well, rape happens to other people. Not to people I know. If it happened to someone I know, then it can happen to me, and it can't." Therefore, my friend, my daughter, my sister, wasn't raped."

Ignorant. Just fucking ignorant.

Control. Blame is a way to control. We blame our own selves, too don't we? By saying, "Why didn't you, run, scream, fight harder, etc...." our friends, families and peers put the control into our hands. They think..."If she had fought harder she would have gotten away. If she had yelled, someone would have heard her. I would have yelled. I would have gotten away. I would have been heard. This can't happen to me." It's a way for non-survivors to think they actually control their own environments. "The survivor, she didn't. But this can't happen to me." When we blame ourselves, we give control back to ourselves. I should have fought harder. I should have yelled. It's a way to protect our own mistaken belief that we control our own lives. We don't. Shit just happens. Us survivors, we learned that, in one heartbreaking minute.

We don't want that control, do we? Not when the shame comes with it. But people give that control to us, unasked for. And it makes us really ashamed. And silent.

Discomfort-People are generally uncomfortable with discussions about genitals, and when we tell them that our genitals were so horribly abused, they become uncomfortable.

I was mugged, two years ago. Total control was taken from me, by a man with a gun to my face, and I reached into the back pocket of my jeans and gave him money. He walked away. Was I ashamed? No. Did people treat me differently? No. I found sympathy. "What can I do for you?" "Are you okay?" "That must have been scary." This is how people reacted.

Rape is the unspeakable crime because it involves the control of our genitals. Our genitals to be treasured. They are to be worshipped. We do not speak of them.

Seven weeks ago, penis was put into my vagina without my consent.

The reluctance to speak about a crime involving genitals makes what is essentially a horrible mugging more awful for me. I am horrified that this happened and people don't want to hear about it, even though I desperately need to talk about it with those who can help me make sense out of this world. However, people don't talk about these things, so I am quickly and effectively silenced.

I am silent, because their words hurt, because I am afraid of more abuse, because I am afraid of their pain and their reactions.

For those of you, especially those of you who have been more effectively silenced than I have; I am in awe of you. To heal must be incredibly difficult.

Too many women are raped, molested, abused and assaulted because of the silence.

Too many women feel this Collective Shame, because of the silence.

I am going to ask people a favor. Don't be silenced.

Stepping out can be so frightening, but so much can be gained. Sometimes statistics jump into my head and I can't help but think about what would happen if every victim of sexual assault were to simultaneously scream. People would begin, and those who had hadn't been able to acknowledge what has been done to them, would hear, look around, realize that they were not alone and join in. It would be the scream heard across the world and it would be the scream to change the world. No place would be silent, no person on this earth would not hear that scream and the effects of sexual assault would be frighteningly audible and thus undeniable.

That is an unrealistic vision right now, but it is not unrealistic to break the silence on a smaller scale. End the silence at your own pace. Any step is a good step, no matter what it is. These steps are acts of bravery. Stay safe when you take steps. If just reading this was the biggest step you can take, then good for you. You have something to be proud of. If you can, write it. If you can say your word to yourself, say it. If you can say rape, incest molestation to a friend, try it on for size. If you can yell it, like I did last night, yell it. If you can speak out, then do so.

Any step you take, is a step in ending this collective shame and silence, that we all feel. Now that is empowering, to us, the survivors, and to all women.

#2051478 What have you learned from Pandy's?

Posted by Mand on 06 June 2014 - 04:07 PM

I have learned that healing is possible

I have learned I am not alone

I have learned I can help others

I have learned I want to live

I have learned it was not my fault

I have learned I am human

I have learned to feel, to reach out, to feel emotion. I have learned to cry.

#2036240 Without Pandys...

Posted by johnfinster on 07 May 2014 - 12:04 AM

Without Pandy's, I would still be another stone-cold, dead-to-the-world survivor, unable to let the child in me off the hook in a morally responsible way. Now I can say, sometimes with a sense of pride, I was raped as a child. I've never seen Pandy's as the way to heaven -- rather a way out of hell.

#384766 Tips for Friends and Family of Survivors

Posted by Shannon on 29 December 2006 - 10:42 PM

Tips for Friends and Family of Survivors
© 2006 Pandora’s Aquarium
By: Shannon

It can be hard to know what to do to help a friend or family member who has been raped. Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) and how to cope yourself.

What to say to a rape or sexual abuse survivor:
I'm sorry this happened to you.
It wasn't your fault.
You survived; obviously you did the right things.
Thank you for telling me.
I'm always here if you want to talk.
Can I do anything for you?

What NEVER to say to a survivor:
It was your fault.
You could have avoided it had you ____________.
It's been so long! Get over it!
You wanted it.
It's not that big of a deal; it happens to lots of people.
I don't believe you. (that's the very worst thing to say)

DO respect him enough to not pity him.

DON'T assume she does or doesn't want to be touched. Some people can't stand a hug at this point; others can't make it without one.

DO comfort her. Bring a cup of tea and a blanket. Play soft music. Make the environment comfortable.

DON'T try to solve all the problems for him. He has had her control taken away from him; try to avoid doing that again.

DO offer to accompany her to her first therapy session.

DON'T demand to know every detail of the rape or abuse.

DO allow her to tell you as much or as little as she needs to.

Further Suggestions...

review facts and myths about sexual abuse and assault
It is crucial to understand the basic facts, and for secondary survivors to examine their own attitudes and feelings in order to be a positive support. Don't allow the myths to affect how you perceive the survivor.

as a secondary survivor, you are also affected
Crisis centers and lines are available to help you also. Call RAINN: 1-800-656-HOPE. Consider seeking therapy yourself (however, see don't see the same therapist as your friend). Pandora's Aquarium has a forum dedicated to secondary survivors, so do consider joining if you have not already.

helping yourself helps the survivor
There is no reason to feel guilty or selfish for taking care of yourself and your many emotions.
It is normal to feel the following and more:
helplessness - guilt - shame - loss of intimacy - loss of routine - frustration - need for retaliation - overprotection - anger

aim to find the difference between being supportive and overbearing
I can't give you exact definitions. The supportive friend is there when I need to talk, is open to hearing what I have to say, and doesn't always press for more. The overbearing friend is constantly checking up on me, forces me to talk to her, and tries to solve my problems for me.

don't be afraid of silence
If you don't know what to say, that's okay. The most powerful statement a friend can make is by simply being there, not trying to fix everything or pretending it's okay. Silence often says more than words.

Depending on your relationship with the survivor and the trust she has in you, she may experience a flashback or panic attack in your presence. It can be frightening and difficult to know what to do during a situation like this, and it's difficult for me to even try to tell you....but here are a few suggestions.

Panic Attacks
* Remind the survivor of where she is. Ask her to sit down and place her feet on the floor. Describe her surroundings to her, and ask her to do the same.
* Remind the survivor to take deep breaths.
* If the survivor has medication she is prescribed to take during panic attacks, such as Xanax, remind her that if she needs it, it is available.

Remember that during flashbacks, the survivor is often actually reliving the abuse or assault. Be cautious in your actions, and get to know the survivor and what she needs before you do anything at all. Here are a few suggestions.

* Name it. Not everyone realizes that what they're suffering is a flashback.
* Tell the survivor that you know it feels real to them, but that it is not really happening.
* Turn a soft light on.
* Turn triggering music or television shows off.
* Get to know the survivor's triggers as well as you can.
* Help to ground the survivor. Encourage them to take slow, gentle breaths. Tell them they are remembering. Talk softly to the survivor. Remind her of where she is. Ask her to describe her surroundings to you. Point out the fact that the abuser is not present. Remember that she may not be able to respond to you, but often is aware of your voice.
* Consider placing your hand on her hand or arm (*not* on the stomach, thigh, etc). This may trigger her further, but may also remind her of where she is.
* Inform the survivor of the importance of flashbacks. They are an opportunity to learn and understand. They are often seen as an indication that the person is ready to remember; that the body has information to share. Many people are very frustrated by lack of memory; flashbacks can validate a survivor's experience.

Most important is to get to know the survivor and what works and what doesn't. There's not a lot you can do during situations like this, which can be frustrating. Just be there for her during and after the flashback. Don't press her to talk about it, and avoid triggering her further. If she wants to discuss what just happened, be open to that, while at the same time being aware that many of the emotions she felt during the rape or abuse may be present now.

What survivors want you to know...
* We often take a lot of responsibility for the abuse. Telling us it is not our fault may help to lessen the guilt of shame, but it can't take it away.
* We deal with a lot of shame. Please don't shame a survivor. It is the pattern we are trying to break.
* The healing process for a survivor may take years. We may be in and out of therapy several times. New memories may surface, and new experiences may trigger us.
* People who are survivors are often caretakers. It is a survival technique. It takes a long time to unlearn that behavior.
* Survivors often resent being judged. We have judged and punished ourselves for years. We are usually harder on ourselves that anyone else can be.
* People who are survivors don't want your pity.
* Don't try to excuse the abuser's behavior.
* Don't categorize survivors. Each case of abuse, although it may be similar, is a unique case. We don't all follow the same pattern of healing or behavior.
* Not all survivors have clear images of the abuse or assault. We may need to deal with that lack of memories on a regular basis.
* Even if we are safe now, we still may be fearful of our attacker or abuser.
* Talking about it means "breaking the secret." Many of us are faced with the terror "breaking the secret" every time we talk about the abuse.
* If a survivor chooses to talk to you about the abuse or assault, and you are uncomfortable about it, please say so. Let the survivor know you aren't uncomfortable with them, only the issue. The offer to find someone who is comfortable with the issue.
* Please don't ask a survivor to forgive and forget. First of all, there is nothing we would rather do than be able to forget. But we can't--we have to learn how to deal with it.
* Please don't ask a survivor if they are done dealing with it yet. That is a shaming question. The process of healing may take an entire lifetime.
the above was adapted from a list by Cedar A. Morrigan/Paula, from the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault/Training Manual.

#1730813 If/when information about a minor might be disclosed

Posted by Susan on 17 October 2012 - 06:54 AM

Hi all,

We hope this clarifies our position on disclosing information about minors.

Occasionally, a member may disclose information at Pandy's that is deemed to be serious enough to warrant reporting that information to the emergency services for real-life assistance. While we want to ensure that members who are hurting have a place where they can talk about their lives and their feelings, in some situations a member may require immediate professional assistance in order to ensure their safety.

Please be advised that the situations where we may feel legally obligated to pass information onto the emergency services are:
  • When a minor, as defined as someone under the age of 18, discloses that he / she is currently being physically or sexually abused.
  • When a minor or an adult announces imminent suicidal intent or announces that he or she plans to harm another person.
We will not consider reporting to the emergency services in situations:
  • When a minor discloses that abuse happened in the past (unless it is also disclosed that she or he fears it will happen again).
  • When an adult discloses that abuse is currently happening.
  • When a minor or adult discloses suicidal ideation without intent.
I am concerned about the safety of another member, what should I do?
If you are worried about a member because of information disclosed at Pandy's and you feel that it meets the criteria to report to the emergency services, then please let the board moderating team know so we can then investigate further. Any information you pass to us will be treated sensitively and in confidence.

Am I betraying the member's confidence by reporting my concerns to the board moderators?
Absolutely not. If a member is at serious risk of immediate harm, its very important that we get them the help they need so that they can be safe. We have had members return to the board following involvement by the emergency services and they have often expressed gratitude for the moderating team intervening and assisting them in getting the help they felt unable to ask for themselves.

I am worried now that something I've said may be reported?
It is very important that members feel free to talk about what they are feeling or going through without fearing being reported to the emergency services. Please be assured that, in reality, the situations where we have been obligated to step in and contact the authorities are few and far between - and that we have only done this after discussion of all of the options. By providing you with this information, we have provided you with the opportunity to make an informed choice about what you disclose at Pandy's.

Off the board, I am actually a mandated reporter. What should I do if I see a member who is unsafe?
We know that some members of this board are also mandated reporters in their offline lives. It is really important that members feel able to speak about what they are feeling or going through without fearing being unknowingly reported to the authorities. In the case of chat, if you are a mandated reporter and are legally bound to report abuse or the risk of suicide of people you encounter online, then we ask that you identify yourself as such to a member if you feel they may potentially disclose information that you may feel the need to report. This is in line with the process used in real life in order to give the other person the opportunity to make an informed choice of how they wish to proceed.

If you feel a member is in danger and believe you have a legal obligation to report, we do strongly encourage you to discuss this first with the moderating team so that we can collectively come to an appropriate decision. If you feel you are legally compelled to report information to the emergency services before discussion with the moderating team, then please be aware that we will not turn over any information ourselves unless we deem it necessary as per our own guidelines.

#731572 Overcoming the Fear of Saying "No"

Posted by Ash on 11 June 2008 - 02:16 PM

Overcoming the Fear of Saying “No”
© 2008 Pandora’s Aquarium
By: Ash

It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence to struggle with or have a fear of saying “no”, even in consensual sexual relationships. For many, this stems from the fact that during their assault, they never had an opportunity to say no, or their requests were ignored. Understandably, this can cause survivors to believe that any future attempts to say no will be futile, so there is no point trying.

Reasons survivors may struggle with this may include:

• They do not realize that they have the right to say no. This is particularly common for survivors who were abused at a young age or for whom rape was their first sexual experience.
• Their religion has taught them they do not have the right to say no in a marriage.
• They do not have enough self-confidence to realize they deserve to be respected and that they are able to say no.
• They do not want to admit they are struggling with their sexual healing, so they go along with anything to push through the difficulties.
• They have no basis for what is a healthy relationship, so they believe that sex will always be forced.
• They mistakenly believe that because they were okay with something before, they should not say no at a later date.
• They are made to feel guilty by their partner for refusing certain things.

Effects of not saying no
You may start to notice some effects in your life and in your relationships from your fear of saying no. You may end up feeling silenced in your relationship because although you are not happy about being unable to say no, you are still not able to find ways to express your desire to say no. If your partner is not aware of this, you could end up feeling resentful towards them.

Many survivors struggle with showing affection with their partners, because they fear it could lead to more and they would be unable to say no. In turn, they end up doing things they are not comfortable doing. Having sex when you are uncomfortable or do not want to can be harmful even to healthy relationships. Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to agree to something one day, and to say “no” to it the next. Even in a good, healthy relationship, you and your partner do not have to be up for doing everything every day. A good sexual relationship includes knowing what acts you do and do not enjoy, and choosing when to engage in them.

What do you fear?
One of the main reasons that survivors of sexual violence fear saying “no” in their relationships is because in their past, refusals have always been ignored. They then believe that all future relationships will be similar, and that any attempt to say “no” could make the situation worse or more violent. This is a very common fear among survivors, and you are not alone.

Survivors may also worry that if they refuse certain acts, their partner will be upset or will leave the relationship. Some may even feel as though saying no means they are not performing their duties, however misguided that belief may be.

Overcoming the fear
It is important for you to realize that you always have the right to say no. It will take some time to find ways to address these fears, but it is possible. Some suggestions include:

• Talk to other survivors and non-survivors to learn about relationships and what is appropriate and acceptable in a healthy relationship.
• Reassure yourself that saying “no” does not have to result in rape.
• Practice saying “no” in safe, non-sexual contexts until you become comfortable using the word. (i.e. “No, I do not like olives on my pizza.” “No, I do not want to go see that movie.”)
• Talk to your partner and explain that you have a hard time saying “no”. Consider developing a code word or non-verbal sign.
• Explore your sexuality to learn about your genuine likes and dislikes.
• Realize that you don’t have to like everything, and saying “no” doesn’t have to have a negative impact on a relationship.

Note: This article was compiled from the discussion “Overcoming the fear of saying “no” in the Sex & Intimacy forum.

#2203087 Marking your place?

Posted by scrchnpy on 28 February 2015 - 02:50 AM

I see this thread is from a while ago, but I have a suggestion that might help.


Each post is marked with a number. So for example, blondie2002's post is #7 in this thread. If I click on the #7 in the upper right hand corner of her post, and save that link, I'll be redirected straight to her post, instead of being directed to the first post in the thread.




Meanwhile, the main topic is at: http://pandys.org/fo...howtopic=246498


Hope this helped. :)

#2063066 Top 10 Stupidest Comments

Posted by TinaL on 29 June 2014 - 01:08 AM

Just reading some of the ignorant, hurtful remarks that have been spoken to survivors....


I wish there was a televised, public campaign educating everyone on the devastating affects of SA and CSA.  I know I am grasping at straws here, but at least it would be a start to overcome the ignorance that most people carry.  Just wishing.....

#2050790 What have you learned from Pandy's?

Posted by Anastasia190 on 05 June 2014 - 07:06 AM

I have learned that I don't have to be alone with my negative thoughts, that there are supportive people here who will help me through. I have learned that it is okay to cry or not react at all. I didn't know that was normal. I learned how to handle tough situations and I am using that to help people that I know who are going through tough times in their lives. I learned to enjoy the little things that make me happy everyday and to take care of myself when I need to. I have also learned that I am important and what happened to me was not my fault. None of it was.

#2147174 Top 10 Stupidest Comments

Posted by TinaL on 20 November 2014 - 01:43 AM

Sorry you went through that abuse with the step father Indyana.  He sounds like a d@ckhead...rationalising his abusive behaviour.  sorry....but felt I had to say that.  

#2065954 Top 10 Stupidest Comments

Posted by TinaL on 04 July 2014 - 03:00 AM

Hey Mamielou,


No, it doesn't mean anything is inherently wrong with you at all.  And...no neon 'victim' sign.  


I don't know if I can explain it properly...


There is a lady at my work...a scientist.  She is outgoing, intelligent, social, confident.  But....deep down I knew there was something there.  No, she doesn't scream victim at all in her demeanor.  I just knew that intuitively that something had happened to her.  And....she eventually told me that she had been CSA'd by her father.  (like myself)  She opened up to me after I alluded subtly that the same had happened to me.  


From a survivors point of view, I guess we learn to hone in on our intuition that someone else may be a fellow survivor.  This may or may not be the case with the men you disclosed your SA to.  Maybe it is a certain type of vulnerability but that in itself is not bad.  I am vulnerable.  I probably flash 'survivor' because I don't socialise much and keep to myself.  (protective behaviours).   


Don't take it personally.  We are what we are.  If being a survivor is somehow broadcasting itself to others...well so be it.  Maybe, those who see that will be a little bit more considerate of their dealings with us?

#2054077 What have you learned from Pandy's?

Posted by nebulas on 12 June 2014 - 01:43 PM

I have been a Member Since 21 Jan 2014.


I have learned that I am never alone.  I have learned that the way I feel about myself is not how I deserve to feel about  myself.  I deserve to heal. 

#1976450 Without Pandys...

Posted by slkhamby on 16 January 2014 - 04:44 AM

Without Pandy's I would still be a frightened little girl - crying alone.  With Pandy's I am learning to hold my head up and face the world as the strong woman I strive to be. Thank you rainbow.gif

#1974052 Without Pandys...

Posted by Sport4956 on 11 January 2014 - 11:53 AM

Without Pandys, I wouldn't have met the people on here I have that helped me through so much. I just want to say thank you for helping me find my voice and start to realize things about myself. And thank you for being there and offering great advise.

Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance. All members and visitors are encouraged to establish a relationship with a trained counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. offers rape and sexual abuse survivor-to-survivor support only. Despite any qualifications staff or members possess, they are not engaged in a professional relationship with any other member. Survivors in crisis are urged to seek local help by contacting 911 or their local rape crisis center. Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Service located here.