I think it's better to call a spade a spade, to call rape rape. It can be an ugly, hateful word, but it's an ugly hateful act that's being described. And sometimes, as a victim and survivor it's too hard to say, it's better to say "the thing that happened," "that night," "my childhood."
But what bothers me about the words rape, sexual abuse, sexual assult is often not their specificity but their lack of it.
I have been able to tell the guy I sometimes sleep with that I have been raped, that I was sexually abused as a child. I thought I'd keep it straight and to the point. Get it out quick or not get it out at all, you know? And he could barely stand to hear it. The words were like blows with a 2*4.
Part of the reason for this reaction, I think, was what I've named his "lack of emotional development" and in large part nothing I can do anything about. (I do love him, but that doesn't mean I'm responsible for his all-too-human stupidity, you know?)
But part of his reaction, part of the reason he shut down and refused to hear any thing else was the lack of specificity paired with the horror of the words. And what he imagined to somehow make the horror specific and contained was, I think, no matter how terrible the thing it was that happened to me, worse--because it mutates, and thereby grows.
And on my part I'm not willing to go into the details unless I'm given the space to get it *exactly* right. I know, I want, the story to replace the experience/reexperience. I owe it to myself, I think, to not take one ounce of pain or shame or wrongness away from what was done to me, to make the men who attacked me fully responsible for what they did. And I also deserve not to have an ounce of pain or shame or wrongness added to what has already gone far too wrong. This is what I have control over, and I keeping that control and exercising it to its fullest. It's a struggle. I get fragile. I'm beset my doubt. I cut myself. I steady myself. I fight back. I thrive.