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Sharing not comparing

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#1 Stephanie

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 06:30 AM

(((lou))) good post!

I think it can be hard to get out of the comparing thing - often  when I read other people's stories and see everything that they have been through I just feel so ashamed that I even think I should be here.

And like Cathy said it only take the one time for it to make you permanantly paranoid.  I realised when I read that how I had let one expereince of someone here who said I was right to feel uncomfertble using the word rape affect my view of other ppl here - and make me overly suspicious of ppl assuming that they think the same.  

So it is coming from two angles - me feeling ashamed and then me assuming that ppl think I should be ashamed!  Hard to stop that.    I've never really thought about it this much so this is really helpful! :)


#2 Louise

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 03:17 PM

Hey people

There's been quite a lot of discussion lately about people fearing that what happened to them isn't "serious enough" to be heard because others have been through "so much worse".

I do think that considering somebody else's lot and saying "that was more severe than I experienced" can give our pain perspective, but NOT if it's something that silences us and makes us afraid or ashamed of expressing our own pain.

I think that socialization plays a powerful part - at least for me, I've had to overcome deeply internalized cliches such as "there-is-always-someone-worse-off-than-you-so-just-be-grateful". To say nothing of course, about the myriad social messages about rape being "no big deal", "get over it", "lucky it wasn't "violent", "but he didn't actually penetrate you, aren't you lucky" etc.

Because my rapist was my partner, I was consistently told it wasn't real - "just think of that poor girl dragged into a car, Louise - THAT'S a REAL rape". This is secondary wounding - something many of us have faced, and that can really stick with us for a long time, making us think that everybody will similarly reduce our pain.

As well, many of us have known people who practice one-upmanship bullshit, you know - "you call that a wound? Wait till you see the size of MINE!"

I like to think I've overthrown many of these messages but I'll admit there are still times I've felt some embarrassment at posting about feeling traumatized by events that happened nearly 2 decades ago when we have members who were raped last week and are obviously in more immediate crisis. I feel guilt for taking focus away from them, whom I percieve to be more deserving.

To all you people who feel that your pain isn't "enough"; this board is for YOUR healing.  If what happened to you hurts you, that matters.  You're not here to be silenced again - this is YOUR space to speak about YOUR pain.

Some people are struggling with wondering if what happened to them was rape, or have unclear memories they're not certain of, and they wonder if they have a place here. You have; please let us be a part of walking through your confusion with you.

I'd love your thoughts. What can other members suggest about overthrowing this troublesome comparison factor? How can we counter it? What secondary wounding experiences have you had that imply or directly state that your experience isn't worth hearing about?

To those lovely members who compare their pain unfavourably to others, please have a look at this thread started by wonderful Jes awhile back:


Love to all

Lou xxxxx

#3 Bratavia

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:19 PM

Thank you...I needed to hear that...((((((hugs))))))

#4 smile4203

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:50 PM

Hmmmm....where to begin....

I've read and re-read the "Who Deserves To Be Here" thread a million times along with several other similar posts.  They're wonderful and I absolutely believe them for everyone...except me.  

I'm one of the people who really struggles with the confusion of whether I deserve to be here.  I have ever since comi
ng here.  I've had the priveledge of getting to know several members and everyone here has always been more than kind.

It's me that doubts my own story.  I have no answer to whether the things that I remember are considered r*pe, or even assault.  Sometimes I wonder if it was all just a misunderstanding or an over-reaction on my part.  That's why I feel so guilty about being here.  What if it was nothing?  I just feel like I wish I had some way of getting definite answers.  I wish I could say here's what I remember...here's how it affected me...what is it called and is it ridiculous for me to feel this way?  I know that no one wants to label anyone else's expereince.  I know that to some people lables are not important.  But in some ways I just wish I knew or had a way to get the answers that I can't find because I feel like my "story" seems so different from others'.  

I tried finding the answers not long after.  The college counselor asked me if I was sure I did not dream the whole thing.  He said it was a shame when things like this happen to "people like me".  After I told the details he said he would not be seeing any more patients and referred me to a women's shelter and told me I thought I was "too good" to go there when I said I probably would not call.

I tried to find answers from friends.  Some have been supportive.  Some have told me I'd "know" if something "really" happened.  Some have said it was "God's way of punnishing me".  Some have said nothing, leaving me to wonder what they were thinking about me.  

I've been told I might not have reacted as badly to it if I didn't have the "blame yourself" attitude from my mother.  That's a whole other issue.  Maybe that was not that bad either?  

I've been told that the answers I want have to come from me.  I feel like I've been trying to find them for too long and have been getting no where except more confused.      

That's my 2 cents:)

#5 bloogirl

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 06:38 PM

thank you so much for posting this subject.
i so struggle with this very thing.  
because my story is "mild".  i had a hard time calling it rape, though i know that can be hard even in a violent case.  
even with the perpetrator trying to be a good guy afterwards, admitting it, getting therapy, taking responsibility for his actions, even offering to pay for my therapy (i dont want a cent from him).
to be honest, it makes it *more* confusing for me.  it is hard to put responsibility where it belongs when i cant be angry at the perpetrator because he is begging me not to be.  
when you get totally mixed messages, it is very very confusing.  
his apology does not erase the rape.  the fact that he was a dear friend for 6 years and then snapped one day does not make for an easy situation.  i considered him safe, the safest guy i knew.  how could he then rape me?  
oh look, here i go again.  arguing my point that it does hurt me, that it is not easier, that really, this confusion is all a part of the rape.
im afraid others might just go, 'oh that's not so bad.'
another reaction i deal with is from my rl friends who expect me to react one way and one way only.  they look at me like i am utterly nuts that i had any contact with him after the rape.  trying to explain to them doesnt work.  i hold onto what the crisis counselors tell me because it's my only lifeline to understanding what i do in response to the rape.  
and i keep my mouth damn shut because i am afraid of what people will say to me.
in one sense, i dont want to say i was raped because that conjures images of violence and dark alleys, in another sense, i dont want to say 'but it was mild' as if to discount it.  nor do i want to give details because that hurts me.
maybe a part of me fears yet wishes someone would tell me it wasnt really rape.  still.

#6 WingedVictory.

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 06:57 PM


Thank you so much for this post, i can relate to what you are saying. My first assault also happened over 2 decades ago and then my now exhusband also assaulted me many times over the course of our marriage - it was actually Pandy's and your website that allowed me to see that for what it was because of course much of the world does not recognize the fact that if you are married you can be forced to do things you do not want to do. All of this is still quite difficult for me, I just think that when you are new to the process of trying to heal for myself it is a protective thing to try to minimize my experience so that it doesn't overwhelm me to look at it head on - I think that this type of thread actually is the best way to reinforce that everyones voice is important and that all feelings are important, including feeling joy.  Some of the things that have come up in threads that i have read recently is that people feel guilty about sharing that they are happy or in a good place and even though i am struggling right now, I rejoice in hearing about other peoples joys and progress in their healing. One of the things that got me through this past week was Chloe's joyous annoucement that she is going to be a mom and we had such a wonderful chat in the chat room about being mothers and that has given me  a lot of strength this week. My current husband tells me often that i should be past this by now and that i should just not think about, cause it's in the past. Sometimes though it is not in the past - it is right here with me and it makes me feel invalidated that he doesn't understand how much i hurt. That is why coming to Pandy's is so important to me it is the only place where i can be myself. So i would like to say i believe reaching out and sharing our experiences and voices is such a powerful healing instrument and i appreciate so much every member of this board because i think it is so courageous how we support each other, and how amazing it is all the hard work that goes into maintaining this place.  This board is really something to be proud of. Lou thank you again so much for this thread - sorry if i rambled too much.

#7 kiwi

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:13 PM

Well said lou.....but i will admit that i do sometimes slip up and compare myself.

But usually im pretty good. Im here to share, share my pain, my support, my love, my wisdom (what little of it  :upside: ) and at times my inner most thoughts. I thank all of you, for sharing yours too :)

#8 Cathy

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:14 PM


Thank you for this post.  I too often have doubts about what happened to me...especially with the last time in January.  I've spent many times thinking "well, I'm sure he doesn't consider it rape, so how could I."  And beyond the doubts, none of them were really violent.  Yes, I know rape as a definition is violence, but beyond the forced sex, I was never really physically hurt.  And for that I should be thankful.  Should and are are two different things...ok,now I know I'm making no sense.

Anyway, I think only one time have I ever heard on here "how can they be complaining about that when I have this going on and it is much worse."  It stunned me to no end to hear it, because this community really isn't this way.  Of course it was the one seed of doubt I needed to start sensoring myself.  And I know better...none of us are perfect, but I know we all do care.

I've completely lost my point.  But I've been on the "it happened so long ago, these people are in crisis and need support so much more" and the "it wasn't that bad" bandwagons.  But in the end, my pain is valid and real and it's ok to have it to work through.  Now, if I can only keep remembering that.

Take care,


#9 Julia

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 10:03 PM

As someone who has fallen into this trap in the past and has worked very hard to overcome these feelings, I feel that maybe, just maybe, I have something to add.  
When I first came here, I was victim of rapes that were years gone... years 'over', and I struggled with seeing the horrific things that people here had gone through and people struggling from what happened a few days, or weeks ago...I thought I didn't belong, because what I had been through wasn't as "horrible" or recent...
A couple of weeks ago there was another incident, and I was attacked and r*ped (don't ask me how I know, folks).  
And this 'new' pain got me thinking about how I felt when I first came here...
Did it hurt any less?  Does it hurt less for me to think about what happened three years ago than thinking about what happened three weeks ago?  The answer, of course, was no...
And I was confused.  Why not?  
I think my problem (and maybe some other people's problem in thinking these things) was that I kept looking at something that was physical, like me-- Something that is subject to the rules and influence of time and space.  I will get older, and my skin will fade, and I can't be in the US if I am in Australia.  
What I realised was that pain is not something that is subject to these 'rules' or boundaries.  Pain knows no boundaries.  It is something that remains just as real now as it was years ago, something that follows you around the world (something from which there is no escape) and it is something that will last forever.  
What I realised was that all of the things, be it an assault, or a r*pe, whether it happened yesterday or a decade ago, that have happened to me share the same quality...
Because it is not about the event, which is over in hours, and which doesn't follow you around.  It is about the pain...
Everything that has happened is no different to me now, outside the event, because it is all the same-- it is all pain...

This is how I came to realise that everybody's pain is real, no matter what it be about.  
So those of you lovely people who think your pain is not valid here- or that you don't belong here- don't think about the event, don't think about where it happened, how it happened, or how long ago it happened... Just ask yourself one question...: Is it painful for me?  Because this is the only thing that it's about, and the one thing that matters.  
We're here to heal and if you have healing to do, you belong...

I'll get off my soapbox now.  

Thanks for the thread, and I hope I made sense...

Jane Doe

As the birds sing mournful tunes
The lily flowers weep
Angels fall and shadow looms
As I lay me down to sleep

#10 Guest_choirgirl_*

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 11:18 PM

I hope that I can someday accept that as fact.

I usually do believe for a little while.  a few minutes, a day, maybe even a week.  but I always forget again.  I feel I don't belong, so I stop coming.

I wasn't raped.  I'll just say that, out loud.  I WAS NOT RAPED.  maybe it was attempted rape, maybe.  I mean, he almost went through with it, but he stopped.  therefore, it was not rape.

it was (nearly) 7 years ago.  7.  that's a long time.  I should be over it, right?  it wasn't even a big deal.  nothing happened.

I don't know.  I don't think I belong here.  I really don't.  but I need to be somewhere, and I haven't found anywhere else to turn.

thank you all for allowing me to be here, even if I don't belong.

#11 bloogirl

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 12:09 AM

thank you thank you thank you.
does it hurt?  hell yes.  it definitely hurts.  
gah, why does the voice inside me ask whether that pain is valid or whether that pain really exists because it 'was not so bad'.  
it is pain.  that is enough.  it was shock, pain, horror, fear.  i dont have to justify it or explain it.  it just hurts.  that is what i feel.  what i feel is valid.  
(i'll just keep telling myself that what i feel is valid until i chase away all those awful ghosts that tell me that i must first clear all emotions with others first).

attempted rape counts here.
remember, that hits your primal instincts/fears, to be in that situation, it would definitely have an impact on you.  let alone to be in the presence of someone who actually considers rape.   that is very scary.  no wonder you feel pain and more.
your pain is valid.

#12 Kitten

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 03:36 AM

Julia, what a wonderful post, it made perfect sense.  Especially this part, it really struck a cord with me;

What I realised was that pain is not something that is subject to these 'rules' or boundaries.  Pain knows no boundaries.  It is something that remains just as real now as it was years ago, something that follows you around the world (something from which there is no escape) and it is something that will last forever.  
What I was realised that all of the things, be it an assault, or a r*pe, whether it happened yesterday or a decade ago, that have happened to me share the same quality...
Because it is not about the event, which is over in hours, and which doesn't follow you around.  It is about the pain...
Everything that has happened is no different to me now, outside the event, because it is all the same-- it is all pain...

I don't really know what to say on the subject, except for thank you for starting a great post, and (((((hugs))))) to all those that reply.  
I do struggle with comparing myself, although I haven't in a long while.  I seem to have learnt to beat those negative feelings, and be able to reinforce my own self belief.  I believe I have Pandys to thank for that, I have learnt these skills here.


#13 Cira

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:29 AM

(((Lou))) ~ That post was most excellent.  Thanks for starting this. :)  I have let most of those old feelings of "my rape wasn't as bad as {insert other person's story here}" but sometimes, it still comes back to bite me in the ass.

(((Julia))) ~ That was, as Claire said a wonderful post.  You really said that so well, sweetheart.

I do want to tell you all a little story, something that happened to shift my perspective a lot.

I have always been a horrible one for comparing...for looking at others and seeing all of the reasons why they have it so much worse than I do -- and therefore, I shouldn't be complaining about anything.

Anyway ~ Awhile back, I got to know someone online, through another survivors' group.  She and I became friends...and we both shared our stories with each other.  Her rape was extremely violent.  And I was constantly comparing and minimizing my own thinking, "Now, *that* is "real" rape.  WTF am I even whining about?  Mine were not nearly that violent"...and so on and so forth.

I felt this way for a long time, and really wondered how she could stand to hear me whine about my shit, when hers seemed so much worse.

Finally, after months of talking, I realized that she was doing the same thing I was, in reverse.  She was listening to my story basically thinking, "Wow, how can I complain about one rape, when here's this woman who's been violated by eight different people ~ even as a child!  WTF am *I* bitching about?  I have it easy."

Naturally, we were both shocked to realize that we had both been minimizing ourselves based on the experiences of the other.  What came of that was one of the most healing conversations I've ever had.  Somehow, knowing that we'd both been doing this helped us both to validate our own pain.

We all seem to find our ways to minimize ourselves, and it's all bullshit.  We all hurt.  We all have the right to hurt.  We all deserve to acknowledge that hurt.  No one's pain is any less valid or any less real.

I know this is very likely jumbled and possibly incoherent - it is, after all, 3 am!  Sorry, guys, if I've rambled senselessly.



#14 Monika

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 08:35 AM

I have a couple of thoughts (and I admit to not reading all the replies, for which I apologize :P )...

On a scale of 1 to 10, everyone's pain is a 10 to them. It's important and it matters. It's very difficult to compare the severity of assaults because they are all severe.
Possible *T*
Where one person may hear another's story and feel like it's worse b/c the person was raped at knifepoint...the person raped at knifepoint may feel that the most painful and worst part of her assault was not having a knife near her throat, but rather the awful things her perpetrator said or made her say. --Something that the person who was not raped at knifepoint may also have experienced, but is minimizing it based on hearing about the fear and violence of a weapon being involved in another's assault.
End *T*

I also think that people sometimes tell themselves "Well, mine wasn't that bad, I don't deserve to be here" as an unconscious defense of sorts. If "it's really not that bad" then they don't have to feel the full brunt of the pain attached. It's psychologically protective in one way, while quite invalidating and damaging in another. But sometimes that is what the person can manage in the moment until s/he journeys towards accepting the horror and tragedy of what happened to him/her. When we see someone doing that we can validate them while remembering that everyone's process is unique and takes its own time through.

Excellent thread, m'dear.

Take gentle care,

#15 mithril

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 11:35 AM

When I first came here, I was really hesitant. For the longest time, I didn't have a clear idea of what had happened. I knew the sequence of events, I knew what I said, I knew what he said - I knew what happened. But I couldn't connect the dots. r-a-p-e. And so when I first came here, I felt really hesitant. I felt as though I was taking up space that someone else more deserving could fill. I felt like a fraud. I felt like I was cheating you all by somehow tricking you into getting on my side.

But a lovely lass here pointed something out to me. Sometimes our own feelings are our validation - it's just that sometimes recognising that we have a right to our own feelings can take a little time.

Pain is enough. Feeling how we feel should be validation enough. It doesn't have to have been "that bad"; it need not have been "like that" - no two experiences would be identical. Who's to say what is an accurate benchmark anyway?

Thoughts and emotions do not restrain themselves by logic. Sometimes, people tend to measure pain by levels - "my pain is not as extensive as so-and-so's". Pain transcends levels. It doesn't care about lines or borders or levels. It's just there.

Someone here asked me once that if I told my own story to myself as someone else, would I tell them it was nothing? Would I compare it? Of course not, was my answer. I'm not here to judge. And I'm learning not to judge myself so harshly; I'm trying not to compare things. I just end up going around in circles and circles and circles and circles...

Feeling how you feel is validation. And you have every right to feel the way you feel. What you feel is inside you and nobody can judge that, or take it away. Pain knows now limits.

Great thread, mellonamin :)


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