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A rose by any other name?

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#31 Guest__*

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:10 PM

I read this thread earlier today and I've been thinking about it in the back of my mind all afternoon. Part of me thinks that I can't really add to what has been said so wonderfully by everyone else, but also think "rabbit trails" are important.

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.

#32 Guest__*

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 01:26 PM

What is the difference between child sexual abuse and rape? †I think using sexual abuse instead of rape is to me demeaning of what the child went through (me being one of them). †I WAS RAPED AS A CHILD!! †Where does sexual abuse end and rape start, I guess is my mental question that I just can't answer. Is rape only when there is penetration and sexual abuse everything else? †If that is so then there is a lot of both going on for so many people out there. †Maybe there is a technical difference which is a legal description. ††This is one reason I think that labels can be hard for people to properly use. †Confusion of what is the correct term for what really happened to someone.
It is still a destroying event no matter what the name or what exactly happened. †We were used to satisfy someone else's impulses against our wishes. †We were used with no thought of us being a person. † We lost control over our own bodies to do with it only as we please. †

I guess to me it is important to use words as close to accurate as possible to describe what happened. †I know that I can't always since I still am not always sure what really happened to me during all the different times I was used. †But rape does keep coming back to my mind as the most all encompassing for description sake. †Sexual abuse seems to me to be too generic of a term used for so many things that maybe should have been called something else like possibly rape.

Maybe I should spend some time looking up the word in a few different dictionaries to see what they think. †

#33 sweetness

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 03:24 PM

i never could say the words, that "i was raped" wen i wanted to tell one friend i told her, i'd lost my virginity in spain, and i gave her this look, and she asked if it was consensual, and i said no. even now i can't say the word. whenever i have to talk about it i always say "what happened in spain". i'm sorry, but i still have a way to go!

#34 Guest__*

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:48 PM

I'm of two minds about this: I think that survivors deserve the honesty and acknowledgement of what they went through, but I can see that it can be very hard for survivors to do so themselves.
I know I tend to minimise what happened to me (and there I go again...), but part of that is the fear that whoever I tell will say, "oh, that wasn't so bad" or something like that, so I beat them to it.
I think that people who are involved in helping survivors should be willing to label a rape a rape. Especially when the survivor is sitting there going "but I didn't (fill in the blank)". In High School there was an awareness campaign whose slogan was "Without consent, it's sexual assault" Without that slogan I would never have dared call what happened to me a sexual assault.

I also think that there shouldn't be pressure on the survivor to call it rape or sexual assault until they're ready. If they have the validation of those around them, it'll come with time. If they're surrounded by people who call it "your experience" "the thing that happened" or stuff like that, I think it would be a lot harder for them to come out and name their experience

Sorry, I'm rambling a bit.

#35 jfinnova

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Posted 14 June 2004 - 10:48 PM

I admire your frankness and your strength in calling a spade a spade.  I rarely say the word rape to describe what happened to me.  (I'm not sure why writing it is much easier).  Even though it happened a long time ago, and I am beginning to see lots of progress I have made, I still hate to say that I was raped.  It's as if by actually saying it, I can't take it back.  I know what happened.  I know what it was, but even now, I don't want it to have happened to me.  Instead of calling it rape, I've found several other creative ways to describe what happened if I need to.  I hope one day I can be as strong as you are.

#36 Guest_dolf_*

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 03:15 AM

I hate saying THAT word out loud, it makes me sound so powerless, which I'm not. I dont want to say a word that makes  me a victim, that makes me vulnerable to those that hear me say it, incase it encourages further attacks. I want to be a strong, scary woman that guys like that avoid.

do I give it another name?..........No, I don't tell people about it.

#37 Lora

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 11:45 AM

I don't have trouble using the word "rape".  But I can't say "gang rape" out loud... even though I question whether 2 is really a "gang", it makes me shake and feel queasy inside...  so I guess 2 IS a gang. But if/when I have to tell people about it now, I never tell them there was more than one.

Somehow, I can admit to a man raping me without feeling guilt and shame.  Admitting there was more than one makes me feel dirty and *filled* with shame (even if I don't say what they did).


#38 Gator

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 10:55 AM

I guess I'm a little different because I only have trouble using the word rape when I'm talking about what happened to me... †When I talk with my friends that were raped, I call it rape, I just can't bring myself to say anything other than assault when I talk about myself. †I think it has something to do with the fact that the one day I got up the courage to say the word rape to my parents, they said "what happened to you was not rape." †Okay, so if you want to get technical, it was oral rape, not vaginal... does that matter? †I don't know... †but I just can't bring myself to use it again in reference to me, because I have this nagging feeling like I'd be misleading people into thinking something worse happened.


Edited by Cricket, 20 March 2008 - 07:43 PM.

#39 Loops83

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Posted 27 July 2004 - 08:02 PM

I know its a while since this topic was active but I posted about this in my voice tonight and so its really relevant for me right now.  I haven't read everybody's responses....its very late here!

I do think being able to name an experience can be liberating and empowering - like it gives you back control.  Just being able to say 'I was raped' has helped me to resist some of the shame I've taken on board about this issue.  Its something my therapist has helped me with a lot recently, he's kept on saying the word 'rape' to me so many times in our sessions that I'm actually able to not flinch anymore.  I definitely think that words are important and one of the first steps in my healing has certainly been to name my experience - until I did that I knew I wasn't really facing up to what happened.

love amy xxx

#40 AnnaElizabeth

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 09:31 AM

Safety is a big issue for me in real life. †I cling to my guards with a sword in hand. †I'm always dressed for battle these days. †I can call it rape to my bf, but not to someone who I think will scoff at me for saying it. †However, I usually have a problem talking about it at all. †I've been playing the avoidance game a lot lately. †I, like Rachel, also don't want people to think I want attention. †That's really the last thing I want. †I don't want to be vulnerable, either, dolf. †(I know most of you wrote this stuff quite a while ago, but I just discovered this thread and I'm finding I haven't been talking about things for awhile.) †

Louise, it really helps me to read your posts. †I think you're right, we need that empowerment. †It's so true. †It's hard for me to own this. †I blur the lines between owning it, giving the responsibility to a rapist, to someone else, and accepting responsibility for my own ability to heal. †I just don't always recognize it. †I'm afraid I can't heal. †I'm afraid someone will see me and continue hurting me because if I'm vulnerable, someone certainly will. †

Mostly, my ability or inability to sometimes use the word rape or child sexual abuse (which in my case was not rape, but molestation, unless finger penetration is considered rape ? ? ?) is affected by how it will affect those around me. †Will I be vulnerable, first of all, will I trigger or upset someone else if they aren't ready to talk about it, will I make others uncomfortable and not want to talk to me or look at me as a "sinner" or "tainted" or possibly diseased or something? †My family especially likes to make me feel very ashamed for so so many things. †I don't know how to throw off that shame and not claim it as my own. †So many complicated things behind it all. †It's difficult to make sense out of it. †

I have read in other posts that Emma is gone and I'm sad not to have known her, but I'm glad for these posts and this thread. I really needed to talk about it. †I've avoided talking about the last rape, about my grandfather molesting/raping me, about the constant sexual abuse I've put up with from just about every guy I ever knew, for awhile now.

#41 Aharddaysnight

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Posted 12 September 2004 - 03:14 PM

I always called "it" my "attack". "Yeah I was "attacked" when I was 12" blah blah blah. Then it moved up to "assulted" and now I can finally call it a rape. Cause that's what it was.
It' amazing the denial we have isn't it and what we do to ourselves to make it seem like it's not so bad.

#42 *natalie

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Posted 12 September 2004 - 04:37 PM

Mostly, my ability or inability to sometimes use the word rape or child sexual abuse (which in my case was not rape, but molestation, unless finger penetration is considered rape ? ? ?) is affected by how it will affect those around me. †

I think it depends on your laws. According to the straight Australian law r*pe is penetration with anything -I'm not sure of judges interpretations of the law though so don't quote me (I've  only just started law school :) )

I have struggled with what to call "it" and I usually say I was sexually abused. It doesn't seem to have the same conotations as 'molested'. Like Dolfee I don't want to feel like a helpless victim -even though I guess I was as a child and I was a helpless victim.

#43 azul_sunshine

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 10:25 PM

I did not read all of the replys, but here is my take;
Even now I have a hard time hearing and/or using the word rape or even assault, as both were involved. But, I would rather be called fat than fluffy because euphemisms are so overused that they take on the same meaning as the original word. I prefer the words rape and assault to attack or incedent because by using those words I am not recognizing the magnitude of what happened to me, thereby denying the truth and the pain behind it.

#44 Eye of the Tiger

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 10:26 PM

I hate the word rape so much... when I hear others talk about a case in the media or something, I am just baffled at how it rolls so easily off their tongues. I can't get past the term 'incident'... cowardly I know... I can't believe I'm still like this.

#45 chy2400

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 02:28 AM

I have trouble saying the word "rape" also, expecially in reference to me and what happened to me, partly because I am just starting to deal with it.

But I try to keep in mind what Dumbledore said in Harry Potter-

Dumbledore: "ÖFear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." (p. 298, Sorcerer's Stone)

While looking up that quote,
( http://www.maymeadow...ries/themes.htm ) I also found this one-

Harry: "VOLDEMORT!" Harry bellowed, and Hagrid was so shocked, he stopped crying. "Iíve met him and Iím calling him by his nameÖ" (p. 303, Sorcerer's Stone)

Maybe the next time I have trouble with saying "I was raped" or "R raped me" I will remember this. I have been raped, and I'm calling it by it's name...

Chy2400 (a Harry Potter fan)

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