Sunday, 1 May 2011

My path to recovery from sexual assault

Uhm, when a guy is inserting his penis into your vagina without your consent, he is taking away your worth as a person. 
Why do you think most victims of rape or molestation feel so fucking terrible about themselves after it happens? That is the most common reaction of a victim: not "I'm still totally awesome even though I was just used as a cum bucket!" That type of reaction can take months, years, therapy, or may never come...

This is the response of a self-identified feminist to my assertion in a recent online discussion that: "It's a vagina, it's not who you are, ffs. If you get raped, it will always be something bad that happened to you, but shit, it isn't who you are. It has nothing to do with your worth as a person. No one can take that unless you let them."

Later in the discussion, she dragged out that most useful and well-worn of feminist silencing devices:

Wait, have you been raped before?
Whether you have or you haven't, you should probably be quiet.
You can't tell anyone else how they should feel about being violated and that is the bottom line.

Let's set aside for now the glaring fact that she had only just finished telling me how women (including myself, I suppose) should feel about being violated--like a "cum-bucket"--but she had also just told me that a woman's worth (and MY worth, presumably) as a person is, in fact, taken away when a man rapes her. You can imagine how relieved I was that the attempted rape I experienced as a 14 year-old virgin didn't culminate in that whole "inserting his penis into [my] vagina without [my] consent" thing, since this is all it takes, according to some feminists, to erase every positive character trait a woman has.

My assault happened in a playground at about 10:30 on a Sunday night. I had just taken up smoking a few months before, and was craving a cigarette, but the corner store was closed. On the drive home from a visit with my grandparents, I'd spotted two boys, whom I knew smoked as well, hanging out near my neighborhood's Catholic school, and I decided to take my dog for a walk and see if I might be able to bum a cig off one of them.

I didn't know these boys other than by name. I knew their names, because they had a bad rep around school, but I hadn't seen any of the bad behavior (fights, stealing, etc) they were rumored to have engaged in, and like any young teenager, I had the typical overblown sense of my own immortality and invincibility--bad things happen to other people, not to me.

I found them in the playground sitting on the swings. It was very dark, and I didn't realize right away that they were passing a mickey of vodka back and forth between them, but they had cigarettes and gave me one. I stayed and chatted--only polite, right?--and tied my dog to one of the posts of the swingset. They offered me a sip of vodka, and I accepted--again, it seemed the courteous thing to do, and I was neither a teetotaler nor a teen drunk.

I'm not even sure at what point I began to feel uncomfortable. It was dark enough that I couldn't see their faces--any leers they might have worn went unseen by me. But the conversation became incrementally more stilted, and the space between us grew heavy with a sense of febrile expectation. I made my excuses, "It's a school night, and my folks are probably wondering where the hell I am," and started to leave.

Next thing I knew, I was on my back in the sand under the swings, my shirt over my face and my arms pinned over my head by boy 1, while boy 2 tried, unsuccessfully, to get my pants down. It amuses me to this day that in my case, a rape was prevented by an example of 80s fashion so absurd it paled in comparison to such staples as shoulder pads, or the mullet--that of the waist-to-hem, double side-zippered jean.

I was lying there, my face covered, while boy 2 pawed ineffectually at the top of my jeans, looking for a front-fly that wasn't there, pondering the farcical nature of the situation with a detached calm, even as I struggled and repeated the phrases my mom and the media had taught me to use: "No. I don't want this. I mean it, no." I wondered what kind of person would do what they were doing to someone so young she hardly even had breasts. Hell, I hadn't even started menstruating at that point, and though I wasn't scared of sex, I sure as hell wasn't ready for it.

I've always had a fair ability to remain calm in a crisis, and it has served me well over the years when dealing with my children's illnesses and injuries, or friends in trouble. The time to be upset and break down is when, for good or ill, the immediate crisis is over, right? But while it was all happening, all I could think was how ignoble it was that my virginity was about to be forcibly taken by two Neanderthal buffoons who were not only ugly but stupid, and I was going to get a butt-crack full of sand into the bargain. That their justification for what they were about to do was that they'd given me a cigarette and a sip of vodka, and I therefore "owed them" something. And that what would save me, if anything, were those ridiculous jeans.

What saved me, in fact, was not the jeans, the intricacies of which boy 2 finally managed to unravel. It was a passerby, walking along the other side of the park, whose attention was drawn by our voices and my barking dog just as boy 2 was working my panties down my legs.

Boy 1 let go of my arms and muttered, "Oh shit." I sat up, pulled my shirt down, and we all peered across the playground at the silhouette of a man now halted near a copse of trees, who was, in turn, peering back toward us. I seized on the boys' sudden unease and told them, "It's really late, I bet my dad's out driving around looking for me by now."

They helped me up and dressed, all apology now that the prospect of discovery was made real to them. Boy 1 told me they didn't want me to get in trouble with my dad. I almost laughed at the projection inherent in that statement. They didn't want me to get into trouble? They helped me straighten my clothes and pressed a few more cigarettes into my hand as if that made up for everything, before skulking off into the dark, in the opposite direction from where the passing man stood.

I stayed for a moment to collect myself and dusted as much of the sand out of my hair as I could, and waited for the man to continue on his way. As I untied my dog and started walking, reaction set in. My legs shook so hard they almost couldn't carry me. And the entire time, I kept asking myself "What the hell do I do now?"

My recovery was surprisingly short. It took about fifteen minutes, actually. Fifteen minutes where I played out the entirety of what my parents would have told me, were I to tell them what had happened.

First would come the hugs and reassurances that everything would be okay, that it wasn't the end of the world even if it might feel that way, that they'd do whatever they could to help me get past what had happened. That despite what had happened, I was still the same bright, beautiful, wonderful girl I was a few hours ago, because no one has the power to change something like that other than myself. That no one has any right to do what those boys had done to me, and that they wouldn't rest until those sons of bitches were put in juvie where they belonged--at which point my dad would have muttered under his breath, "if they live that long..." And then?

Well, then they'd make me own my part of it. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

"Oh, honey! How could you do something so stupid? And over cigarettes? What were you thinking? You knew those boys were bad news, yet you hung out with them alone in an unlit playground? Even after you realized they were drinking? Haven't you listened to anything we've told you? In a perfect world, you should be able to walk down the darkest alley, pissed-drunk and buck-naked, and be safe from rape, but we do not live in a perfect world. If we did, we wouldn't have to lock our doors at night, or have bouncers at bars or drunk driving laws. We do all those things because we can't dictate the behavior and decisions of other people. We can only dictate our own."

As feminists are so fond of saying, we don't exist in a vacuum. We are never the sole arbiters of our fate. Other people will sometimes have their way with us if they can, and we need to make our decisions with the understanding that not everyone lives by a code of ethics, not everyone will respect our right to decide what we wish to do with our property or our bodies. But I have by far a greater effect on the direction my life will take. I have the biggest say.

That night, my parents told me three things without even having to speak:

That I can't make decisions for other people, only for myself.

That my decisions can't completely dictate the course of my life, but I am an effectual human being.

That there is a difference between taking blame for something bad that happens to you, and taking responsibility for yourself and your decisions.

I was raised to believe that my self-worth is exactly that--mine. And though we all measure ourselves against others in order to determine just how worthy we are as people, the opinions of bullies, assholes, and fucktards don't count. As that feminist I quoted above had told me, rape is often about dehumanizing a victim, that someone who disregards your right to autonomy and ownership of your own body is indeed indeed telling you your personhood is worth nothing to him--but guess what? No one's personhood is worth anything to someone like that, and the opinion of a piece of shit, waste of skin rapist as to what I'm worth as a woman and a person doesn't count. He doesn't get to tell me how I will see myself.

And on my walk home, with my parents' voices echoing in my head, I internalized the other lessons they had taught me all my life. I owned my part in what had happened. I owned the fact that had I made any number of different decisions that night, I could have avoided the assault. I could have stayed home and gone without a cigarette rather than seek out two older boys I knew had a bad rep. I could have left as soon as they handed me a smoke. I could have not taken that sip of vodka and lingered to talk. I could have not tied my dog to the swings, but continued walking toward the street while chatting, so as not to seem rude while at the same time maneuvering us all into a more safe, public place.

I had a part in the sequence of decisions that had led to my assault. I was not to blame--those boys were to blame. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. But I had to own some of it, too. And the more I thought about this, the stronger my legs got as they carried me home.

I can't control what other people do, but I can control what I do. I was not a passive victim of my assault, I was a participant in it. There were decisions I made and actions I took that affected the outcome of that night, and if I was smart enough, I could learn from the errors in judgment I had made and make it less likely that something like that would ever happen to me again. Owning my part in what had happened didn't make me feel like it was my fault. It made me feel strong. It made me feel effectual. It made me feel like a whole person, an active participant in what happens to me, good or bad. When you don't own your life--all of it, even the parts that suck--you walk around feeling powerless, as if everything that happens is simply happening to you, as if you have no say whatsoever. And though there have been times in my life that sucked ass and I felt a very human urge to blame anyone and everyone else for my troubles, the times I've succumbed to that urge have been the lowest of my life, and things never improved until I accepted appropriate responsibility for my circumstances.

By the time I got home, I decided I didn't need to tell anyone about what had happened. I didn't need to have that conversation with my parents--I had already had it with myself. Did I want those boys to pay for what they'd done? Certainly. But they were young and stupid and drunk, and by the time they'd left the playground, they'd been as scared as I'd been. And maybe, just maybe, they were having a similar conversation with themselves on their way home--"What were you thinking? Shit, no one's going to give you a slap on the wrist over rape, because rape is some fucking serious shit. You almost got caught, and it wouldn't be community service if you did, the way it was when you were caught throwing rocks through junior high school windows. Man, if she tells her dad, you are in for a world of hurt."

I slept peacefully that night, and woke the next morning feeling fine. I didn't wall myself inside or start dressing in sweatsuits or stop wearing make-up or stop talking to boys. I continued to explore my sexuality, had make-out sessions at parties, hung with my mostly male friends, continued my habit of walking my dog at night. I didn't avoid the Catholic schoolground, even when it was dark. But I did become more aware of everything around me. Fear is unhelpful, but acknowledging risk certainly is. I've since lived a life of calculated risk, and nothing like that has ever happened to me again.

Over the next few months, those two boys avoided me like the plague. But I didn't avoid them. Whenever our paths crossed, I made sure to catch their gazes, look at them long and hard, and then smile that kind of evil, unpleasant smile that tells someone you know something that has the potential to destroy them. By the end of the school year, they looked like they were going to shit their pants whenever they saw me. And you know what? That helped me feel stronger, too.


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  2. If this isn't an example of owning your shit I don't know what is.

    I am a "survivor" of multiple instances of sexual abuse. Being male, it's something a bit more difficult to talk about, although I've noticed the few times I have, casual dismissal and even outright contempt have sometimes been the reaction.

    Still this isn't about that; the fact of the matter is you had the self-empowering reaction that many self-described feminists say women should take, but then get mad when they do. I would predict that many of them will be dismissive of your account; a penis didn't actually go into you and so therefore nothing happened to you that was all that serious right? They'd say that because they don't like the other parts of what you say here; another woman who was still expressing rage and fear and resentment of men decades later over all this would on the other hand get a whole lot of support. Or so would be my prediction.

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  3. I love this. I was having an online conversation with a woman and we were talking about abuse. It was very similar to the conversation you describe. The woman I was speaking to kept insisting that I was a victim of abuse, I said that I had been but no longer was. I am not a victim and if I were, I would refuse to stay one for very damn long.

    Thanks for writing this.


    Read about a modern day feminist here! I guess its a bit different from, but she's quite funny :)

  5. You are an unsung heroine!I am lost for words !
    I came here after being impressed by what you had to say in your videos @ you tube.The lucidity with which you put forth your arguments is remarkable,no wonder it scares the shit out of disingenuous feminists who are addicted to the role of playing perpetual victims to keep this ridiculous over-hyped 'gender war' going.Their ad hominems are predictable but hilarious.Keep up the good work.
    Hope young girls take a leaf out of your book and become enlightened.

  6. "Fear is unhelpful, but acknowledging risk certainly is." Truer words were never spoken! That's one reason I took up martial arts and cultivated a zero sum attitude in certain situations after I survived a rape and home invasion that I was certain would end in my own murder. If you're anything like me, I'll bet everything was crystal clear during the attack. Bravo on putting it in its proper place!

  7. This. is what every girl who lives in fear should read.
    I've heard so much feminist bullshit about how rape is as bad as murder, etc. it makes me want to puke, especially because of the additional damage that thinking has done to way too many victims already.

  8. Just another thumbs up. I love your writing.
    Don’t agree with everything, but it is always well put and thought through. Rare qualities in a blogger.

    This post puts me in mind of an old jewish anecdote I read twentyodd years ago:
    'A man asked his rabbi: "We both survived the KZ and you speak as if you don’t hate the germans...?" - "No, I don’t. Why? Do you?" - "Yes, of course I do!" - "Oh my, you are still their prisoner, after all those years."

  9. It's very refreshing to see someone accepting their agency in their own life, and accepting the responsibility of their decisions.

    Mid-way in the post at this point: "And maybe, just maybe, they were having a similar conversation with themselves on their way home--"What were you thinking? Shit, no one's going to give you a slap on the wrist over rape, because rape is some fucking serious shit."" - I was thinking if you had avoided those boys after the incident. I am glad to learn that you did not.

    Every decision we make in life is indeed a calculated risk. Very few people understand that.

    And while it is true that you could have made some different decisions that would have avoided the incident, I wouldn't say that you made any poor decisions. Of course, it depends on what exactly you believed about those boys and the reputation they had. But there is no strong reason to make the connection that a bunch of "bad boys" would turn out to be potential rapists. Many young boys are just obnoxious and troublemakers just because they have the misguided notion that it makes them cool or something. Very little reason to believe that they would attempt rape you.

    It is a ridiculous notion that you should take every possible precaution to avoid harms way. To give an extreme example, it is ridiculous to not drive a car as a precaution to not die in a car accident. You just have to accept that getting in an accident is a risk you are willing to take, because being overly cautious has a high cost.

    I, personally, would see the situation in the same terms as the car accident. It is important to realize the risk, but it should not paralyze you into taking extra-ordinary precautions.

    And I am glad that you saw that, and it didn't stop you from going out in the night by trying to avoid a similar situation at all costs.

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  11. I don't know which is worse, your stance on assault recovery or the slew of people that agree with you and think that someone needs to "own their shit" after an assault. Assault does not include the victim making a mistake that they have to own afterwards. It is in no way the victims fault and until you get that straight you are still blaming yourself and will not be able to fully regain your power. Sexual assault is a crime committed without the consent of the victim. Gender equality does not mean taking FULL responsibility away from attacker/s in order to "own your own shit". You are in effect telling all survivors of sexual assault that they are in some way responsible for their assault...which they are NOT. You are grossly confusing rebuilding self worth with self blame and putting very bad advice out into the world under the guise of a new feminism and equality. True freedom and gender equality comes when it is systemically, wholly understood by all people that it is an inherently wrong act and no one has the right to violate another's body, regardless of the circumstances leading up to it, cultural or political opinion. The type of "ownership" you describe may apply to other life situations, but in the case of assault you are just wrong to mistake personal responsibility and self blame with the recovery of self worth or a twisted version of radical empowerment. You should be really careful how you frame this idea to the world, many people looking for help will be inadvertently steered down the wrong path by your confusion of the two. No one is ever responsible for their attackers actions. We are responsible for educating all people in the fact that people are not responsible to prevent their own attack and that the responsibility lies solely with the attacker. Your post is not radical thought. It is in fact insidiously promoting ideas people have been fighting for centuries to rid the world of. There are other, more healthy ways to regain your identity and self worth. Thinking you had any role in another person's complete disregard for the sanctity of another's body or somehow give permission to the attacker by your actions leading up to an assault is wrong and harmful to the self, to our culture and sets a seriously misinformed and misguided standard of self care. This is not a heroic stance but a really dangerous one. It is frightening how many people posting here are able to treat this issue as a political or philosophical issue and with such blatant misogyny and callous disregard for just how serious the consequences of assault are.

    1. I don't think she is taking responsibility away from the attackers. Obviously they were wrong. I don't think any sane person would argue against prosecuting those two boys or any rapist for that matter. She's just being honest (a thing lacking in this world). She went to a dark place with two boys that she barely knew and what she knew about them wasn't good. Something she didn't want to happen proceeded to happen. In what part of that scenario was she making good decisions? Gender equality is a good thing, but excusing people from any responsibility for their actions isn't gender equality.

    2. You have no power at all if you aren't responsible for anything you do. You are, in fact, no more powerful than a coddled, immature, ignorant little child. Treating people as victims disempowers them. Asking society to solve their problems for them disempowers them. Blaming their choices on other people disempowers them. You cannot be pro-empowerment and then in the same breath disempower people.

      Sure, gender equality does not mean taking away full responsibility from attackers to give the victims any moral agency. Gender equality also does not mean applying full responsibility to an attacker in order to prevent the victim from having any moral agency. Gender equality has nothing to do with either of these things, because neither of those sentences mention gender AT ALL, and therefore could not possibly be describing a situation in which both genders aren't treated equally, and therefore have nothing to do with "gender equality".

      "Violations of another's body" is not a crime exclusively perpetrated on women, but rather by both genders on both genders. "It is wholly understood by all people that [...] no one has the right to violate anothers body" has absolutely nothing to do with "gender equality" because it does not mention gender at all. Violations of the body (of either gender) have also been protected legally and abhorred culturally for centuries, whether those "violations" be murder, assault, or rape. You aren't changing anything or fighting for gender equality a) by harping on an issue that was solved hundreds of years ago, and b) that has nothing to do with gender.

      I like how feminists can label anything they disagree with "blatant" misogyny and thus absolve themselves of any responsibility for actually demonstrating their case. In what way is anything she said "hateful, prejudiced, or discriminatory towards women"? In zero fucking ways, that's what. Women don't have a monopoly on the word "victim" and thus claiming that victims should, in short, "own their shit" does not place extra or undue burden or discriminate against the female gender in any way whatsoever. There is no misogyny in a gender-neutral statement, nor in fact is there any misogyny in a gendered statement by itself. The only time you can cry sexism is when different genders are treated differently. Which simply isn't the case here.

      You have the freedom to make any choice you want and take any actions you want, but you are responsible for every single one of the choices you make and the actions you take. And so is everyone else. To make exceptions to that is to make real equality impossible.

      You cannot control your attackers actions, you can only control your own. You are not responsible for what other people do, only what you do. Conversely, the attacker is not responsible for the actions that you take, under any circumstances. The attacker is only responsible for the actions they take and the choices they make, same as you. I'm fighting for real equality here, and equality accepts no arbitrary exceptions. Moral agency means responsibility. You don't get to make choices and then absolve yourself of any responsibility for them. I don't care that people have been "fighting for centuries" to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions, that lends no legitimacy to the claim.

      The body (yes, even the female body) is not sacrosanct. Unless you're living in, as Karen says, "1850s Victorian England", where the most valuable thing a women was viewed as having was her unspoiled body. Sexual liberation means letting go of antiquated gender stereotypes. You cannot call yourself feminist and still hold a victorian-era view of the value of women (or humans) as rooted in their body.

      The value of a human life is rooted in what you do, not who you are. To have no responsibility for your actions is to say that you are worthless.

    3. BbX2090 I came across this post looking for support for sexual assault recovery. Yours helped the most.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. TheDjinni, I'm finding it hard to understand why I shouldn't blame my rapist. Did I force him to pin me down, cover my mouth, and eventually choke me while raping me? No. Did I give any indication that I was enjoying it? No. Rape takes away power. Power of responsibility, dignity, trust, self worth, power of anything. They have taken everything from you. That is not my fault.
      Yes people have a choice. Rapists choose to rape innocent people and the rape survivors choose how they cope with the rape which should never be judged.
      Rape knows no gender. If a woman rapes a man she should not go unpunished. The survivor of that rape will also have the same feelings a woman has when raped. Feelings and gender are separate and no specific emotion is prohibited to a specific gender.

    6. So you think that you have lost all agency and responsibility for what was happening to you just because someone was forcing his or her will upon you? This thought in itself is a self-victimization. It makes the loss of agency permanent by ingraining it in one's psyche. It paints oneself as an irresponsible victim, submitted to the whim of anybody strong enough to take it.
      Karen paints a picture in which recognizing her own agency helped her deal with the memory of the assault. Did you try that? Because whether it's true or not, it works. And that's what matters.
      Yes you have agency. Yes you can avoid most dangerous situations in life by acting responsibly. Yes exercising your agency of thought helps you deal with past losses of agency. Painting yourself as a hapless victim doesn't help. The truth of this belief in powerlessness is less relevant than the effect it has right here right now in our psyches. "I am responsible for my life" is more empowering and healing than "I'm a sheep waiting for the slaughter and I must elevate rape to sacred crime status and build up a religion of male-hate to protect women".(not your words or thoughts, just the way it's done by society at large nowadays).
      Note that women rape in as great numbers as men do, but until now men haven't played the victim card nearly as much.
      Personally I don't believe in accidents at all but I wouldn't want to push this belief on others. It just works for me. If you want to believe you are submitted to random events that you cannot see coming but which yet can change your life drastically for the worse, knock yourself out. I don't. I believe my real agency is of my soul, and it drives my life in all its details to make me (the little me) grow.
      Karen isn't going that spiritual way, she's just saying you have a mind and you'd better use it before, during and after events you wouldn't want to happen to you in a constructive way that helps you grow and get stronger. "I am a victim" doesn't work. "I have been victimized but I can avoid this to happen in the future by acting like this or that" works.
      'Owning your shit' goes even further than that: "I have been victimized but I did plenty of mistakes that led to this being possible and NOW I can choose not to do them again" is empowering.
      Change what you can change, but don't beat yourself up about what you can't change. Note : educating others not to rape doesn't belong to the latter category. Start with women rapists as they are ignored. Men rapists are well publicized enough, in fact they are overpublicized.

  12. "waist-to-hem, double side-zippered jean"

    This sounds complicated, I can't wrap my mind around what these are. You mean like there is a zipper on the left and right instead of on the front? What does waist-to-hem mean?

    1. It means the zippers went all the way from the top of the pants to the hem--you could literally unzip them into two pieces (front and back).

  13. I am glad you have found personal strength in your process of recovery. I am curious how you would apply this "owning your shit" philosophy to people who had no power over the circumstances in which they ended up being victimized. A baby or six year old child molested by her father or uncle, a woman out jogging or sleeping in her own bed who is raped, for example? A woman in a war-torn country who is brutalized as a violent act of war? As a woman, do you have to take responsibility for every "bad" thing that happens to you because anything could potentially be a "risky" situation if you have a vagina? You may not have been a "passive victim of your assault" but please remember that millions of women all over the world ARE, and might be highly insulted to be told they are embracing their victimization status because they weren't lucky enough to avoid a bad situation.

    1. "I am curious how you would apply this "owning your shit" philosophy to people who had no power over the circumstances in which they ended up being victimized."

      What makes you think that changes anything? If you had no power over anything at all, then what is there to "own"? She says to "own you shit", but if you have no shit to own then you have no shit to own.

      What more needs to be said?

      If your parents told you to clean up after yourself when you made a mess, would you ask them how they would apply this "clean up after yourself" philosophy when you didn't make a mess? No. What they said applies only when you do make a mess.

      " A baby or six year old child molested by her father or uncle, a woman out jogging or sleeping in her own bed who is raped, for example? A woman in a war-torn country who is brutalized as a violent act of war?"

      Why do you keep bringing up female victims as if this is a problem exclusive to having a vagina? Do you think boys don't get raped, or slapped by their moms, or targeted by predatory sociopaths, or mugged on the streets, or brutalized in war-torn countries, simply because they have dicks? Or do you think anyone here would change their mind when you replace females with males?

      You don't have to take responsibility for things you don't have any control over, whether you're a man or a woman. This is not a gendered issue. Males still have to take responsibility for their actions, just like females do.

      "As a woman, do you have to take responsibility for every "bad" thing that happens to you because anything could potentially be a "risky" situation if you have a vagina?"

      You're missing the point. The only thing you have to take responsibility for is your own actions. The situation or outcome is a product of many peoples actions. You don't "take responsibility for every bad thing that happens to you", you're missing the point of what responsibility entails. Responsibility does not apply to outcomes except to the extent that the actions you do have responsibility for contributed to those outcomes. The responsibility extends no further than your choices.

      But its a two-way street; the responsibility of others extends no further than their own choices. Acknowledging that the victim contributed to their own situation does not absolve the perpetrator of any responsibility for anything.

    2. BX2090 thank you for that bit of refreshment. Came to this seeking community and perhaps some strength and just got confusion and misinformation. This is awful.

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  18. Women and men who have been raped have so many issues that would be preventable if they were not raped. You cannot blame them for this event.
    Victims need to be called survivors. Victim entails that there is nothing they can do after the rape to help overcome it. That they are completely helpless after this has happened to them. Survivors endure a lot of battles within themselves. You try to continue your life and overlook the rape. Most times it is too much for a person to deal with. So they seek help. They do not allow this event to define them but use it as a way to heal and grow. This may not happen right away. It may take months or years but who are we to judge that? The sooner the better but that isn't the case for everyone. Rape survivors can overcome their horrific tragedy. They have the power to grow and turn this negative thing into something positive. This realization may not come right away since emotional suffering commences first

    1. >Victims need to be called survivors.
      A "survivor" is someone who escaped death. Rape isn't attempted murder. You're sacralizing victimhood by conflating the rape victim status.

      >Rape survivors can overcome their horrific tragedy
      I don't think I'd love to hear that I'm the victim of a "horrific tragedy" unless if it was real and true and even so I might object to the painting of me as a victim. A horrific tragedy is your children dying in front of your eyes. Or your parents doing so in a violent way. For rape to qualify as one it would have to be accompanied by a deep psychic attack.
      I understand that rape can fuck one up for life, though. Especially in childhood. I believe that it's the reason why rapists are so ill-treated by prison convicts: because the convicts community knows how much rape can fuck people up for life.
      Even so I'd advise to lay low with the hyperboles. What agenda are they really serving? I don't want to tone-police YOU, but this conflating of rape in our culture is used as a weapon against men and ultimately against everyone through Family. Remember women are violent too. Don't add to the "men are evil" religion.

  19. I did what this post suggests people should do for about 6 years, I genuinely completely and utterly believe other people were making a fuss and it just wasn't a big deal. I'm now (14 years on) dealing with debilitating PTSD which I have had for the last 8 years because I have failed to process the rape and the trauma properly and integrate it so that I can recover. Therapists have said the reaction above is a common coping strategy to defer the trauma till a time it can be dealt with but it makes ultimate recovery harder and trauma is prolonged. I didn't have control over the trauma eventually, no matter how much I tried to 'own my shit', no matter how much I felt in control, my physical brain structure was changed by the trauma of the rapes I suffered and I could not will it away. It comes out, often in a very uncontrolled and frightening way. If the author of this piece really did process her attempted rape properly that's great but it is not what is normal and 'indulging' in the trauma is, in reality, often a necessary step in recovery. Some people never make it as far as integration and recovery and are stuck in the misery stage but that is generally not something people have complete control over, it's often down to how supportive the community around them is so from that perspective this post is one of the most ignorant self aggrandising and damaging things I've read in a long time, even though I felt this way for 6 years myself.

    1. I could not agree more with this comment. I also do not see anything wrong with referring to oneself or any other person who experiences a crime as a victim:
      a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
      "victims of domestic violence"
      synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty, injured person, wounded person; More
      a person who is tricked or duped.
      "the victim of a hoax"
      synonyms: dupe, easy target, easy prey, fair game, sitting target, everybody's fool, stooge, gull, fool, Aunt Sally; More
      a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment.
      "I saw myself as a victim"
      When I refer to myself as a victim it does not necessarily mean that I feel helpless or passive, as seen in the above definition. I am simply acknowledging that I have been harmed in some way. That acknowledgement can lead to the recovery process. The fact that the content of this post is on a self-described "anti-feminism" blog is also concerning...

  20. On another point.......
    What about sending a message to the society that rape is wrong? If those demons have been convicted, not only would it teach them there are consequences but also other prospective rapists. They should have been prosecuted. If there was no law and no cases rape would be much more prevalent and acceptable. It was a mistake not to take them to court. You also have to think of other potential victims.

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  25. I always feel like even the threat of rape to me was like the end of my world- the day it happened- If someone holds a gun to a person's back or if someone sticks a hand in someone's back and says it is a gun, what's the difference- meaning threatening to harass and to overpower a person is every bit as detrimental to that person's psyche.
    I was a mother of two small children here in America from London- My then husband asked me to go with him to his family home (his sister and brother-in-laws home in upstate NY) his parents had died when he was a child and he wanted to go back to meet his brother too and go to a class reunion.My mum was very ill in London and so I went with my husband but felt very much ill at ease due to her being so ill and I being so far away from her.
    Apparently this guy (the brother-in-law) owned a sports shop in a place called Ticonderoga - I didn't know the place at all- didn't know the local hotels or anything and so when we arrived the husband immediately seemed to target me- his name was Tony- a big uncouth sort of a lout- he was subtle at the beginning and then as they drank and partied he came closer and closer as I edged away- his wife was intoxicated and his jokes were very inappropriate- he suddenly whispered in my ear about having sex with me-I complained to his wife and she said "YOU need to learn how to deal with people" I was floored-My husband told me that's how they were and that I should lighten up- this man followed me to the bathroom- he was eyeballing me and then pushed a whoppee cushion (the part you blow into) into my mouth-I was in despair- he was trying to force himself against me and said later when my husband went to the reunion he would have his way with me-I was young and naive and didn't want to spoil the reunion and also in my heart, I wished I had met these people before I married my husband as I would never have done so.I had no reference to people like this- I think I was even sadder as I would have expected a woman to have been supportive of me- But nothing and as I said I didn't know the area-In hindsight I thought "why didn't I get a taxi and find a hotel"- there must have been hotels around there but honestly I don't know if I had money or if I was just in shock- and the man I was married to was not supportive at all- he was just like them- a drunk and uncaring individual
    They went to the reunion- the man and his wife were very wasted and sleeping on the couch-I managed to take my babies ages 3 and a few months old and lock myself into the bedroom-I lay there terrified- this was before cell phones and lay there until my husband came back-Next morning the husband and wife were cracking up about my being such a prude- I was shaking and terrified and at every stop on the way home, I saw these overweight men who looked like him-
    I came home and that day decided to end my marriage- I did call the attempted rapist harasser about a year later-after lots of therapy, he was on his death bed and I got to tell him how badly he made me feel- But it has remained with me in ways I never knew existed-I am cautious now of ever being in someone's home but conversely I make sure that anyone who is my guest, leaves happy and is well taken care of -from this one dreadful experience I would tell anyone to please meet the family of your boyfriend before he becomes your husband- Some mistakes are avoidable. Thank you for reading.

  26. For certain circumstances, I feel like your advice is great.
    For others, I feel like it would be ill-put.

    Your situation, as it stands, is not default. What I mean is that, as I'm certain you know, every situation isn't the same as yours. There are some cases where, honestly, I cannot find any sort of fault in the survivor's actions, i.e. she said no at the bar, so when she left, he attacked, or he said no at dinner, so she drugged him and took advantage of him, or they said no when someone suggested sex to them, so while they were on their evening run, they were pulled into the trees off to the side... There are many, many stories. Many, many scenarios. Perhaps there are some things that could've been done differently--an avoided decision here, a pushed-aside option there.

    But in every case, it could've been prevented if the assailant had simply valued the survivor as a human and respected that they did not want to have sex.

    And yeah, to kind of disagree with something you said, sometimes the physically stronger assailant wins. Their mindset was weak and disgusting, by their body was strong enough to overcome someone else's. Regardless of will, physical strengh can be a deciding factor. But as you seem to say, it's good to not think of oneself as a helpless person pushed by the misplaced strength of others. Regardless of what happened, we can still control our reactions to the situation--cry and hide away, or face it head on.

    Given, there's nothing wrong with crying and hiding away for a while, as long as that's not the only thing they do. Cry, and then when you're ready, get up (it's what I did anyway).

    I understand why you say it's important to be reflective of one's decisions. Doing something ignorant can lead to trouble, as your situation has clearly stated. And your reflection has worked very well for you, as I feel it would for some others. In all cases, reflection is necessary, but I don't think fault should be placed where it is not due.

    After all, all rape/assault can be prevented if there is no assailant.

    I could say something about why I still use "survivor", but that's another can of beans.

    Regardless of my selective disagreement, in regards to the self-worth prospects, I completely and utterly agree. While those who assault obviously view their selected victim as less than a person (otherwise, why would they assault/rape them?), the survivor is actually no less of a person than the assailant before, during, or after the fact. It's up to the survivor to recognize that their self worth is no less than before--that's a mental stronghold for some that must be overcame. The idea that the particular feminist you were arguing with put out was shitty and dehumanizing at best. Men, women, nb, it doesn't matter. We are all human and, regardless of experiences, no one's life is worth more than anyone else's, and assault/rape doesn't change that.

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  28. This was insanely brave and inspiring! It's this kind of thing that inspires me to do what I do.
    I am running a short campaign for a university course on reducing the stigmatisation on sexual assault victims, and if anyone is interested in this, you might like to read about my campaign! Please feel free to check it out here: I have a petition I'd love as many of you that are interested to sign calling my state government for more funding for resources here: Thank you all!

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  34. thank you for this perspective. I got here by a google search "how do i get closure after an attempted sexual assault?" and I had a certain similarity in my situation. I knew the man I was walking with had a dubious reputation. I chose to go off alone with him. Ultimtately I was not surprised when I said no and he still tried to assault me. I unfortunately still see him many days on campus and I know I will never get an apology. I now know that when I am stuck seeing him in passing, to simply smile fiercely as if I am not the least bit afraid. But while there is no excuse for what he did and he sorely deserves to be punished (he never will be) the best revenge I can get is to be a woman who never needs to follow a man who promises a little bit of affection as a lure.

    1. Thanks for your comment, joanna.

      I've been aware for some time that your brain will try to make you learn a lesson when you experience trauma, and that the best thing you can do is allow that to happen. Not to take on the blame, but to learn how to better cope with the world. Some people are assholes. All the wishing in the world won't make them disappear. But what you can do is look at yourself and your decisions and ask, "did I knowingly put myself in the way of an asshole?" If you can do that and answer yourself honestly, then you've learned from the experience. You've taken something useful from it.

      Doesn't mean he's not an asshole, or a criminal. Doesn't mean you weren't wronged. But it will let you walk out into the world without constantly worrying about the next asshole, and the next...


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Commenting policy:

All comments are welcome here. I refuse to censor points of view that differ from my own.

I recognize that I may be challenging the deep-seated beliefs of some people, and perhaps stirring up emotions in others. However, I would ask:

- if you care to respond to anything that I have said, please do not simply link to or quote some statistic. Do not simply regurgitate things you have been told are true. Think about what I am saying. Respond with an argument. Offer something from your personal observations, and explain to me how you feel your statistic is connected to your experience.

- If you wish to be part of a discussion, try not to dismiss what I or a another commenter says out of hand. Yes, that means that some lines of thought or ideologies may not stand up to scrutiny (perhaps even my own).

- Remember, ad hominem attacks diminish everyone involved. If you want to criticize anything, do so passionately and directly - but debate is about attacking ideas, not people.

Have at you!