(I know that that doesn’t sound great, grammatically, but… It says what I want to say more than the grammatically correct version)
One of the most important things neglected in the quest to “survive” rape is the taking back of one’s power.
Many have (in my opinion) misguided opinions about pain. It is not the enemy. It’s not your friend either–stop it with that pseudo-deep, better-than nonsense. Pain has its utility. Don’t hate it or get comfortable cuddling it. Use it. Discard it when its expiry date has come.
Some things will be painful no matter how deep you are; how eloquently you can reason things into being (or not being) and no matter how much it “shouldn’t” actually hurt. You can’t dictate to your pain. Sorry. You can deny it. Publicly. But you can’t deny it to yourself. You can’t tell it what to do. You can only tell yourself how to grow. That’s all.
In order to “survive” rape, you have to take your power back–that power that the rapist took (or tried to take) from you. This involves indulging your pain. Feel what you feel; what you WANT to feel. Be angry and tearful and unstable when you need to. Just remember not to hold on to those feelings when you no longer need them. Don’t get comfortable with then. Use them. Then discard them, always.
When you’ve taken your right (or power) to feel and be and hurt and hate, that’s when you can take your power to care less and less everyday back. That’s when you can strip him of his power to hurt you and look him in the face and not squirm or be afraid.
Your tears are power.
All of your rage and all of your angst is your right; to let them be and exist without guilt is power. Self-censorship is power stolen–by him. I don’t mean you must talk publicly about your pain but you MUST talk about it. People have different methods of healing and taking their power back but silence is almost definitely not one of them.
Take your power back… with tears and anger… with blood and swearing. And, in no time, you’ll find him ranting about how he’s a victim and you won’t even care enough to raise your eyes, let alone your voice. It’ll be a moment you’ll want to dance through. And a while after that–you won’t even notice him.
I’ve always hated it when people suggest that a bad experience was just a necessary lesson. It’s not that I don’t recognize the lesson. It’s that I don’t seek to minimize the pain of PAIN by making it something good. I don’t enjoy finding or expressing some kind of approval toward those doing bad things to people–giving them some kind of holy status as some kind of tools for good. I don’t like that. That bugs me. Privately, I learn my lessons, but don’t ever suggest that that lesson couldn’t have been learned another way. Or that the perpetrator is some kind of hero.
That said, my trudging through this rape victim-trying-to-survive thing has brought me some valuable lessons. I appreciate and honour these lessons. They’ve made me stronger and more self-involved. These are important lessons.
In my younger life, before this last incident, I was very happy to accept societal missteps as my guidance. I was very happy to be mediocre–extraordinary is so exhausting. I had spent that time disapproving of so many things but never really embracing that part of myself. I felt that I didn’t want to stir. Keep silent, keep the peace. The feminist was gagged. Now she shouts when she must–which is most of the time. I found my voice. I found my rage. I found my I-will-change-the-world. All because I was raped. This makes me smile. At least. Now I have things to smile about. (Remember–this is not a “thanks to him”. Fuck him, really. It’s just what I’ve taken from it–even though it shouldn’t have happened and I could’ve learnt this another way).
Also, getting raped specifically, by my ex: a man I still loved at the time, has made me a beast at leaving. I have learned that even the best things can go sour. And it’s okay. When they do go sour–leave. Don’t wait on hope to bring you back. If you’re out there on that ledge alone more than once with no-one showing signs that they might meet you halfway, then leave. There are many good things out there. Including better lovers and being alone. BE ALONE. Enjoy it. And there are many things that can go wrong when you give your entire self away. This is not to imply that it is your job as a victim to prevent rape. This is simply insight into the lessons I’ve learned. And I’m not saying the consequences of staying involve violence like mine did. I’m saying experiencing one of the worst possibly scenarios, made me happy alone and always ready to go rather than stay where I’m unhappy. I have to be grateful for that. It’s something I’ve always known but have never been able to own.
The best part is that I’ve found a new interest; a brand new path to change the world for the better for women that will walk this path behind me who, perhaps, are less privileged and have less access than what I do. My plans are big. All because of this heinous thing that happened to me. So now, I will take it and squeeze the juice out of it and we will gorge ourselves on lemonade.
Rape is ugly. It never completely leaves you alone. But it gets better. A lot better.