Hello my friends.
I'm starting this thread because I hope that it might be helpful to people in future.
It has been spurred in part because of what another member has had to deal with, and because of my own memories of what being accused of lying about the most painful events in my life felt like. As I have thought about what that was like, I have asked myself so, Lou, how would you deal with it now?
And I still don't really know. I mean, I coud deal with it given time and calm. But immediately, it feels like a bucket of shit dumped over your head, only that would be less degrading. It still seems to be such a painful area.
I am very strong around what happened to me. I know the truth of.
But a few months ago, a woman picked my story apart on her website and critiqued it piece by piece. I wondered if I would ever stop crying. Some of you mailed me to ask where the #### I was. I was trying to stitch my innards back into my guts. It was so hurtful that I came closer than I have come in years to SI'ing.
I told you guys, and I remember how restorative your support was..
Aphrodite Matsakis, author of "I Can't get over it: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors" calls disbelief and invalidation a "secondary wound". It is that in a very real sense and can delay healing dor some time.
Why is it so painful? Why is it so horribly hard to defend against? Can we talk about strategies for dealing with it?
I will share with you some of the things I heard after I was raped:
"If it had been true, you would have reported it".
"You whore. You really wanted it"
"It wasn't true because he was your partner"
"You must be lying because you went back to him".
"You're crying rape to pull the wool over people's eyes to cover up for your own immorality".
"You stupid slut. Haven't you heard the saying Confucious say no such thing as rape. Woman run faster with skirt up than man with trousers down".
"You're just saying you were raped so you can evade responsibility for pregnancy".
"Doubting that it was rape is a sure sign that it wasn't, despite your feelings".
"You say he raped you several times? Oh come on. Why didn't you do anything about it?".
"You want to spare a thought for these poor girls who were really raped and stop your whining".
"You want to watch your mouth. You go around saying things like that and some poor bloke will end up in trouble".
"Oh come on. How could somebody rape a child and nobody know?"
"Haven't you heard of that new false memory syndrome? Is it that, do you think?"
"That's an awful story to tell. Are you after attention?"
Some of the more ridiculous ones were:
"You go on about this rape shit because you just hate men".
"You are wishful thinking".
"Radical Feminist Dyke Bitch!"
Yadda Yadda Yadda...Or I didn't hear anything. Just an embarrassed silence, which implied to me that the person didn't believe me.
Or Worst of all, some person publicly dissects your story piece by piece with bullshit. Which it might be, but it still hurts.
If I had time to gather myself, I could easily repond to each of these things. I'm good at sticking up for myself, but only after I've calmed down, which can take awhile. At the time, they hurt so badly. They still can, though I tend to bounce back much faster.
I would like to think that I could be strong enough to say, "ok, you believe what you want to believe. I know the truth and I don't have to be bothered by your ignorance or deliberate cruelty".
I know that it used to make me have flashbacks to him on top of me, and I would feel the worst shame. I used to go bright red and just crawl away and find a corner to cry in.
I felt as if defending myself against such statements meant that I thought I was worth something. That if I made too much out of what he did to me, I was trying to be better than I was. Does anybody know what I mean? I didn't respond at all; it would have been to shameful to say, "but it did happen. I was raped".
I don't think I'm worthless now. But I still find accusations of lying very disarming. It hurts very badly.
My strategies now would be:
To get iummediate support when it happens.
Realize it's not about you, but somebody else's ignorance and/or cruelty.
Read material which validates you. How glad I was to find David Finklehor and Kersti Yllo's study on rape by partners. Not only did it plainly say that rape by a sexual intimate was "real" rape, it also explored the ways in which women vicimized in this way are especially damaged. I just kept thinking "yep, that's me".
Ask yourself if the person accusing you of lying is actually worth responding to or not? You do not deserve further humiliation, and defending yourself and what happened to you to some assholes can just result in more of that. There are some people who will not understand, and some who deliberately choose not to understand. It doesn't matter how you put it to them. You are better off telling them to fuck the #### off, and that you will not tolerate their insults on you.
My friends, it's something many of us have been burned by. Would you like to share what you've experienced and how you dealt with it, if you did? If you weren't able to, how do you think you would now?
I want to hear from you. And I hope others might be assisted by what we say. It's so deeply hurtful...and as I say that, I bear in mind that I could be generalizing. There may be some of you who can say "I don't give a shit if I'm believed or not. I know the truth". What makes you able to be like that? Can you advise sisters hurt in this way?
If you haven't experienced this secondary wound, how do you think you might deal with it if you `did?
If you want to share, I really want to know.
(Edited by Louise at 1:58 pm on Jan. 29, 2002)