Sunday, May 19, 2013

This Is Normal???

I was talking to some of the women at work about what had happened (which I covered in my previous post I Know I Said I Wouldn't Do This), and as I talked I found a very uncomfortable trend.

Almost every single woman I spoke to had had at least ONE experience with rape. Most had two or more.

I'm sorry, but am I the only person to find it disturbing to think that RAPE is NORMAL?!?! It happens so often in society (though rarely spoken of in reference to one's self) that most every woman I talked to today could describe a scenario in which she was raped or almost raped within her lifetime.

And they don't talk about it to other people! Which, on the one hand, I can understand. If I weren't such a blunt person, I wouldn't talk about it. Even with my blunt personality, I had to fight the urge to bury it all beneath a fake smile and camouflage the fact that everything had suddenly changed. For someone like me, that's amazing. I say almost everything. I love to communicate and I rarely miss an opportunity to exercise that ability.

So the urge to bury the shame of rape is pretty strong, if it could actually still my tongue for even a day.

This made me think even more. All these women are walking through life brushing up against other women, the vast majority of which have suffered this terrible hell called rape at one time or another. And instead of reaching out to one another and sharing that burden, talking about their experiences and their means of overcoming the emotional repercussions, they allow shame and fear to crush them into silence.

I can't help but wonder if that is part of the reason rape has become "normal".

On top of everything, by talking to all these women who had been through much the same as I had, I found myself feeling stronger and stronger. Because I looked at them and thought to myself: "They don't act terrified all the time. They've moved on with their lives and shaped relationships with other people despite what they went through. They aren't jumping at shadows or crying at the drop of a hat. And if they can manage to do something that amazing, so can I."

So by remaining silent about rape, we are actually denying other women and ourselves the opportunity to heal and find strength. We are crippling these victims from finding the support they need to grow back into confident young women.

Of course, it isn't acceptable to just talk about rape in society. At least, not if it isn't about the most recent news article or serial paperback featuring the subject. Isn't it sad that we have to distance ourselves from the subject to discuss it at all?

And why? From a fear of gossip? Of being blamed? Of being ridiculed?

After all, aren't our own minds doing a good enough job at ridiculing at blaming ourselves as it is?

I may be gossiped about and badmouthed behind my back for admitting to date rape at work. I may be blamed and ridiculed and speculated about. But I don't think I will be. Because I talked to real women today, one on one, about real things that had effected us both as human beings. Rare are the souls who will open themselves up to you in a private setting and then blab your secrets to all who come along. After all, they gave you some of your own ammo from which to fire back.

But even if I am gossiped about for discussing it, I'm glad I did it. I couldn't have collected more useful data from going through years of therapy (been there, done that), internet searches (lots of upbeat articles about how "This Isn't Your Fault"), or books (recommend therapy and not blaming yourself).

These were real women leading real lives every day. They got choked up when they thought about what happened, they nodded their heads when I described my thoughts and emotions, and they completely understood and commiserated with my actions and choices. And they had moved on. They weren't stuck in the past indefinitely. They weren't still wallowing in depression and fear. They had picked up the pieces their lives had become and put them back together to make something beautiful.

So I'd like to dedicate this post to all the women out there who have been through this before. You took a life that had been cracked beyond all seeming repair and somehow glued the pieces together into something amazing. 

I only hope I can be as strong as you.


  1. Of course you can be that strong. There are plenty of resources available to the victims of rape. I don't think rape is becoming exactly normal in our society but if it is then it's also a trend that is changing. The only problem with this is while people are decrying the rape culture in other countries (such as India) they are forgetting about their own homes. We'll get there eventually though.

    1. Thank you for the vote of confidence, Mark. I agree. I am strong enough for this. I was severely depressed after, though, and I didn't quite believe it. Now I'm angry enough to deal with anything.

      Hopefully I'll get past the anger equally quickly and be able to move on with my life.

      But I truly hope rape becomes a less acceptable thing in this world. I think the big problem is that many men who commit the act don't think of it as rape. If the woman doesn't actively fight, if she allows herself to be alone with him, if she says no but doesn't run away, if he didn't corner her in a secluded place and rip her clothes off, then it isn't rape in his mind. But if the woman says no, if she is too petrified to do more than say no, you're supposed to STOP.

      If more men were educated in what rape is and isn't, if they were forced to confront what rape does to women's minds, maybe it would be less prevalent in this world. But it's kind of like pregnancy: that'll never happen to me. I'll never be a victim. Or I'll never be a rapist.

      We distance ourselves from it and then talk about how sad it is. We don't put ourselves in that position. We don't think how easily it could be US in their place. Either as victim or perpetrator, it could be YOU.

      I think that haunts me the worst. Because I can so easily see what he was thinking. He didn't think of it as rape, even though he felt it was wrong and even said to me that there was "no stopping him". He didn't want to hurt me, but he couldn't stop himself, either. Because his wants were more important than mine.

      Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to say this to me. I know hearing me go on about this is painful, and I'm sorry. But thank you for putting up with it and comforting me so much. It's really been good for me.

  2. I agree whole heartedly Kyla, it truly is a sad world that we live in when rape is acceptable, something that's okay and that people get away with on a consistent basis. It lives with the woman, they never forget it, it never leaves their mind and it's just not right. Right now primary concern is you using your strength to push through to the other side and to keep on fighting, I have faith on that side of things, things aren't going to get better immediately either but they will get better, I promise, just keep on living your life and doing what you were doing before this terrible incident. Really hope that you're okay Kyla.

    1. I'm doing much better, thank you. And I will never stop fighting. There will always be days that I don't feel like I can keep going, mind you, but those days are fleeting and there always comes another sunrise. Another chance at a fresh start.

      I don't think I'm all better yet. I'm very, very angry now, instead of being afraid, in denial, or depressed. But I'm feeling stronger, which I appreciate.

      Thanks again for all your supportive comments and for being here for me. I don't know what I would have done without all of you.

  3. I don't think it's that rape is normal. I think it's that most guys don't know what rape actually is. If a girl comes back to his place, and she's drunk, or she's wearing a short skirt, or she's been kissing him, etc, that means he has free reign to have sex with her. To him, that doesn't mean he's raping her. He's just taking what's his. It's disgusting, and it's wrong, and I don't know why they think this way, but if you ask any of them I bet they'd say they didn't even see it as rape. And that's pretty horrifying.

    I hope you're hanging in there.

    1. I agree! And rape isn't addressed in a personal context nearly enough. People distance themselves from the subject. Like I said to Mark, they treat it like the stereotypical teenage girl thinks of pregnancy: that'll never happen to me.

      I am hanging in there. I was raped as a small child, which is both a problem for this occurrence and of use. On the one hand, this has brought memories I had previously dealt with and moved on from to the surface, making me relive an experience I thought I had lived through enough times. On the other, I have years of training in how to deal with a rape. I know how to see it, I know what the psychology is, both for victims and perpetrators, and I know how to cope with it all.

      But thank you for your support. Part of the reason I went ahead and posted this stuff about rape, despite my urge to bury it, was because I know that people who talk about it with people and get feedback back about it tend to handle it better than those who go it alone. So thanks for giving me a hand in the recouping process. I needed it.

  4. Rape is still considered to be a taboo subject, despite the frequency of which it occurs. I know that conviction rates for rape are incredibly low, and very few incidents even get reported.

    Talking about it will help bring it into the mainstream as a topic, so good for you for taking the initiative.

    1. Thanks. I wish I didn't have a personal stake in this particular taboo, but if I have one, I'm going to make a big deal about it. Rape should NOT be normal. It shouldn't be something people can get away with. But it is. And not always because people don't report it.

      It's also because it's so hard to prove. If it wasn't violent, how do you prove it wasn't consensual? It literally is a he said/she said sort of situation. And those who have lied about rape have only made the situation (already grim) all the more difficult. Add in the fact that it still is considered somehow a judgment on the victim's character, and you have an even more complicated situation.

      I don't know if I will ever see the day when rape is considered a mainstream topic. But I hope someday it is. I hope it finally gets the full address it deserves.

      Thanks so much for your supportive comments. I dearly appreciate it!

  5. That is a pretty sad commentary on our society that rape would ever be considered "normal." You are brave for talking about it. I don't know what is wrong with some people that they think they have the right to hurt another human being in such a horrible way.

    1. I agree. It angers me to think of all the women I haven't talked to who have experienced such a thing.

      I don't feel particularly brave. I feel kind of crazy. But I have to talk about it, a lot, or else I'll bury it inside and let it destroy my strength and determination. And that is one thing I can't allow anyone to steal from me.

      The worst part is that I *know* what is wrong with this particular person that makes him able to hurt another human being like this. It's because he doesn't let himself see it that way. It's all about perspective, and even a villain thinks he's a hero. He wanted me, and to him, that was enough. He didn't look at what it would do to me, only what it did for him.

      And you don't regret something you never let yourself see.

      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate all the kind things you guys have said. It's helped me keep my sanity and I can't thank anyone enough for giving me the ability to save that.