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

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#16 Guest__*

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Posted 29 August 2001 - 06:09 AM

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.  

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Posted 29 August 2001 - 10:13 PM

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


Rachel xx

#18 Elle

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Posted 30 August 2001 - 11:20 AM

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.


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Posted 30 August 2001 - 01:44 PM

My Dearest sisters,


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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Posted 01 September 2001 - 01:02 PM

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

Dear everyone,


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,


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Posted 01 September 2001 - 01:35 PM

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".


Rachel  xxxxxxxxx

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Posted 02 September 2001 - 03:47 PM

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

#23 Guest_kat tahut_*

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 01:27 PM


first and foremost, i am really proud of you :) you go grrl!!

secondly, i totally understand what you mean about the difference between vaginal & anal rape... i don't know if this will make sense, or if it's even applicable to you or anyone else here, but having experienced both i have a kind-of theory:
rape in general is about power - our power to consent is removed, and he gains power over us to make us do whatever he wants. but, if the rape is vaginal then you can convince yourself it was about sex, and (for me at least) that idea is a lot less painful. with anal rape, it is a lot harder to think of it in terms of sex... the function of sexual intercourse is reproduction, and you can't reproduce via anal sex therefore the nastier explanation, about power, is the only one available.

if that makes no sense whatsoever then i am sorry, and if it's complete and utter bollocks then i am sorry also. it's just the way it seems to me.

love & hugs,

#24 Guest__*

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 09:30 PM

hope its ok taht i bring this up again. i think its so bad how lots of people can jujst throw the R word around joking about crap. I mean i use to even probably just say it sometimes i dono if i was just being stupid. Its so hard to say it. I think its because there is the word "shame" is connceted to the R word. And it shouldnt be. Because we live in a society where lots of people say we ask for R--E then people feel ashamed that they let it happen. I dont even know if im making sense here sorry
btw i hope u dont mind if i added u to my msn list

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Posted 07 September 2001 - 04:54 PM

(((((((((Rachel))))))))).  I've watched this post since you started it hon.  Didn't know how to respond when I first saw it.  Lord! still don't.  I'll start with.....  You truly are an amazing woman.  I've read many of your posts.  I admire your voice, your beauty and your courage.  

"Arr-ay-pee-ee".  I never have said "That Word".  I'm trying to analyze, for me, exactly why it seems so hard to say out loud.  No answers yet.  lol.  Recently though, I have found I can actually type it.....  rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape.  And I'll resist the urge to backspace.  

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Posted 27 October 2001 - 07:55 AM

******could be triggering********

Rachel I just saw this post for the first time this morning...I don't even know what to say.

I so admire your strength in saying what you said. I couldn't even bring it up when charges were pressed, and we went to trial. I never told the detectives, never really admitted it to anyone except for my counselor this year.

I was willing to admit I was orally and vaginally raped...but I couldn't allow anyone to know what else was done. I only allow that truth to come up in the darkest of night. At the time of the trials I would wake up in the morning and read our names on the front page (in north carolina the media printed our names once charges were pressed, even though we were minors!), and realize the whole world now knew (almost) every disgusting detail. This was just to much for me. How could I let the world know something about me that I couldn't even face. I think it's because of this that I haven't even been able to post the story of my rapes on this board. I have recently obtained some of the court papers, and yet I am unable to read them. It's like the words just float around in front of my eyes.

I don't know what I'm saying anymore...

Thank you for having the strength to say what happened to you...for refusing to accept the shame thrown at us all. I guess it's my dream to someday reach that point too.

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Posted 27 October 2001 - 08:00 PM

I should start another topic...but as far as the media thing, a lot of people had a fit when they printed our names. The Editor in Chief at the News and Observer (his name was Claude Sitton) made a statement to the people who complained, "My policy is to print the names of the rapists as a way to discourage men from raping, and I print the names of the victims as a way to discourage women from making false accusations" That was years ago, and though he is no longer the editor, I have no idea if that is still their policy. But you have to understand, my friends and I were juniors in high school when it happened, and this made the news for months. (We were four girls hiking on the Appalachian Trail when 6 local men gang raped us). I remember praying that a war would break out so that the news of it would knock us off the front page. The reporters would show up a school, call at dinner, ask to interview the school officials, etc. Our school did basically nothing to support us at the time, but I will give them credit for refusing to give interviews on the school campus. The worst reporter (Bruce Sisciloff)was ruthless, reported everything...including the fact that one of my friends got pregnant from the rape, and had an abortion...quite a thing to have written about you when your trying to deal with normal high school life.

Gosh...I don't know where all this anger is coming from...At the time I just accepted the reporting, there was nothing else we could do. I remember sitting in court and watching the reporters scribbling away, knowing with shame that every gross detail I had just been forced to give, would be on the front page by morning. All the acts, the humiliation, all for 35 cents.

There would be tons of tv and newspaper people there, but it was only the news and observer that used our names...something I will never forgive or forget. I'm amazed after all these years I can still remember the reporter and editor's names.

Court itself was another joke. Truthfully my frineds and I never wanted to press charges, but were first lied to and then basically bullied and threatened into it...(it was election year, the District Attorney General wanted to handle our case as a way to get tons of free press and score votes)...and it worked he won the election...(of course we then lost...He had promised us huge sentences (double life, etc, and then in the end, he plea bargined our case away). In the states, if its a felony crime being prosecuted, it's the state vs. the criminal. The victim is merely a witness to the crime. Mid-way through the case we girls would have quit, but we were informed that we were subpoenaed, so if we didn't show up in court we could be arrested. Then during the trial, if we refused to cooperate we could be charged with contempt of court. It was a no win situation. 4 teenage girls, no one speaking out for them (I can't even touch on the this...even our parents decided denial that it happened was the best route. One of our parents went on vacation during one of the preliminary trials...truthfully we all basically went through the court scene without our parents)...

Blah Blah Blah...we got screwed by the rapists, the media, and the courts...

and I wonder why it took me years to be willing to face this...

enough...I'm lost now...mad, which is good I guess since I never felt much about it back then.

Sorry for taking this post off on such a long tagent.

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Posted 28 October 2001 - 06:22 AM

How terrible, honey, as if what happened wasn't bad enough.
Take care,

#29 widefront

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 02:39 PM

i can't use that word either. i was sexually assaulted by my best friend's father when i was in 3rd grade. i blamed myself. i've learned to deal with it now and move on. but i still can't use that word. it's too much for me to handle. assault is easier.

#30 Kala

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Posted 25 April 2003 - 01:58 AM

boosting in response to the debate on this word, there are some very good points in this thread and this thread really helped me feel ok that I have such a strong emotional reaction to the word.
Hugs, Kala

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