It’s Not Your Fault
Regaining your confidence and sexuality after rape or assault
One thing all survivors have to overcome is becoming the person they were before their trauma occurred. The Pandora Project tries to work with these individuals in order to help ease the process. One such way they work is through helpful articles, such as this one.
I will go ahead and warn the general audience, this post will discuss some sensitive topics such as rape, sexual assault, and sex in general. I won’t be offended if you choose not to continue reading.
Here’s a cute zebra shark to break the text so you don’t see anything you don’t want to see.
For those of you who stuck around, please remember that this is a sensitive topic and to take everything with a grain of salt.
The article’s introduction ends with this phrase: “We may lose our personal power that allows us to lead healthy and balanced lives.” This is a huge issue for assault survivors. The way our culture is designed is one of victim blaming. Now, this isn’t ancient Greece where rape victims were supposedly turned into hideous monsters with snakes for hair, but societally, it is usually the victim who received more hatred than the attacker. When a woman says that she has been raped, immediately people question her character, as if trying to find ways to justify the abuse. “What was the wearing?” “How drunk was she?” “Did she lead him on?” These questions get asked so many times, often the victim finds herself asking the same things. Was I dressed too provocatively? (Not an excuse). Was I too drunk? (Alcohol does not excuse his actions and condemn yours). Did I lead him on? (If you said no, resisted, were unfit to consent, or gave physical cues you wanted to stop, no, you did not.)
I know I myself felt this way for a long time. When I was sexually assaulted, it was by a close friend who I thought I could trust, no matter what. We were at a party, both drinking, and I was wearing a short, low-cut dress. For some reason, he was excused because he was too drunk to control himself, and friends even suggested that I “owed” him for being my ride to the party we were at. It took me years to get out of the mindset that it was all my fault. And I know so many people feel the same way.
This horrible, altered way of thinking is draining on both yourself, and any relationships you may have. With friends, the jokes they make or their comments on other people may make you feel even worse, especially if they are aware of what happened. I personally have had friends make jokes about rape victims around me, even knowing I myself am a survivor, and were offended I didn’t find them funny. And it can be even worse with romantic relationships. To quote the article, “…Your romantic partner may begin to feel rejected and unloved when you turn away from him when he initiates sex – not realizing that the reason you do so is not because of him but because of your past.” Communication is key in any healthy relationship, but after feeling so silenced by the general populous, it can be hard to trust another person so intimately again, let alone find yourself sensual enough to be romantic with another person, even if you were already in a happy relationship before the event occurred.
The article offers four questions to think about in situations where you doubt yourself.
1.What is this situation about?
2.Who is involved?
3.What emotions do I feel?
4.Why do I doubt myself in this situation?
I think these are very important things to consider, and I wish I had them written out for me while I was in the process of regaining my confidence. Knowing what exactly the situation is and why it makes you uncomfortable makes it easier to overcome the issue and to help keep it from happening again, or make it easier to handle the second time.
The article sort of glances over this, but I strongly recommend finding people you can just rant to. Whether that be a therapist, friends, romantic partners, family, strangers on the internet, your cat, or your diary. Simply bottling things up is not a healthy way to cope, and in the long run will not help you overcome your mental blocks.
I’ll conclude the same way the article does. With this important message:
Rebuilding our self-esteem can be a difficult and long journey. As difficult as reclaiming ourselves may be, we must remember that we are worth it. We deserve to feel secure about what we need and want out of life and others. We deserve to stand up for ourselves. No matter what others do or say, we deserve to have a voice and feel empowered.