Words, Words, Words

20130612-092141.jpgThere is a line in my life, an ever-widening chasm, like a line in the sand that has become the Grand Canyon in a year’s time. This gulf bisects my life into before the rape and after the rape.

After my deeply trusted lover turned from an affectionate, loving man to a sociopathic rapist, overnight, and raped me, humiliated me, raped me again, then discarded me, I found that I had to rebuild reality. The subsequent months of struggle also included my rapist making legal and social threats, convincing an entire community I was lying, trying to confront me at a sexual assault awareness seminar, and stalking me at Burning Man. Not a nice guy, in the end.

Now, over a year after the assaults and continuing extensive rape recovery/PTSD therapy, I’ve rebuilt my reality, but it looks considerably different than it did before. I’ve found a few words have changed their meaning for me. Certain words that meant one thing for the first 42 years of my life now mean something completely different.

SEX & ROMANCE
Before: Sex was wondrous and fun and euphoric. Sex was a way to express love and desire. It was spiritual for me, connecting with my lover body, mind, and soul. There was little more sacred than the love and sexuality shared between two souls.

After: sex now means exploitation and violation. The thought of sex makes me nauseous. I can’t read about sex, especially loving sex. Not even romantic affection. I’m an author of erotic romance, but now I can’t write about sex, unless it is violent and cruel, because that’s what it is for me now. That’s what it represents. I can’t make love to my husband. I can’t masturbate without crying. I can’t be naked in front of myself, let alone my husband or anyone else. All safety is gone. All desire is gone. My sexuality, which was a big part of my identity, has been shattered.

I don’t know who I am anymore.

POLYAMORY
Before: An alternative lifestyle chosen by me and my husband because we had the belief that love is not finite, nor is desire. That love breeds more love; desire, more desire. Perhaps even an orientation more than a choice, we approached interpersonal, romantic, and sexual relationships with integrity, honesty, and genuine, open love. We believed that most everyone else who was “poly” felt the same way, more or less. That sex was a part of a fuller, more rounded and fulfilling relationship. That if casual sex was the goal, that was communicated and expressed with honesty and respect. If things evolved into something more serious, or that was the intention to begin with, then that, too, was communicated with honesty, integrity, and compassionate respect.

After: A euphemism for lots of sex without responsibility or integrity while pretending that the “poly” people are self-aware, honest, and genuine. A place where people can practices lots of sex and short term relationships, riding on oxytocin highs and “New Relationship Energy” (NRE) under the pretense of establishing something deeper, until they get bored and move on to the next lover, often callously. A way to exploit the sexuality and emotions of another person for one’s own selfish ends, under the pretense of honesty and openness, while never truly investing in the relationship or having any responsibility to the relationship.

For men especially, it is a new age euphemism for establishing a harem.

SPIRITUALITY & MEDITATION
Before: I would run or walk listening to the soft voice of Eckhart Tolle, teaching me about how to let go and live in the moment, how to deny ego. I felt a connection between all living things and I knew although I didn’t understand the intricacies, I was a part of that larger network of life energy. I believed that everyone was basically good at their core, although they sometimes made horrible decisions. The “evil” people, like rapists and murderers and such, were distant. People who would be easily recognizable so that I could steer clear. I meditated every morning across from my lover, focusing on the words of Thich Naht Hahn then opening our eyes to see one another in a bubble of euphoric love.

After: To be “spiritual” is to use a sacred term to hide one’s own debauchery and callousness. My rapist was “spiritual.” I had rape recovery and PTSD counselors who were “spiritual” and told me that I needed to have compassion for my rapist. That the reason I was so upset was they way I thought about the rape, all while giving me anecdotes of remote tribes who systematically gang rape every female at the age of 11, and no one is traumatized by it because it’s part of their culture. So, you see, if I just get out of my ego and embrace my rapist with compassion, everything would be all right.

Men, especially, use the pretense of “spirituality” to con and entrap women for sex. Again, without responsibility or accountability.

In short, “spirituality” is a con.

SOCIOPATH
Before: Dexter.

After: Possibly anyone I come into contact with. One in every 25 people are sociopathic, that is, without a conscience and incapable of empathy.

FRIENDS & COMMUNITY
Before: A group of good people with similar interests. Some closer than others. Spiritual and honest and unashamed of their sexuality, it was an open and free, loving community.

After: People I can’t trust. Rape apologists. People who would rather ignore rape and sexual assault because the rapist is a funny guy, charming and witty, skilled and personable. People who believe partying is more important that sexual safety. People who will shun the victim for having the audacity to speak about her assault. People who will rally around the rapist, protecting him, crying “slander” – “witch hunt” – “cry rape” – “revenge tactic” – “love gone kaplooey” – “trolling” – “false accusations,” etc. Not just my former community, either. I’ve seen this time and time again over the last year.

TRUST
Before: Something I gave fairly freely to good people. I trusted people to be decent. I trusted people to be kind. Forgiving. Loving. Rational. Responsible for themselves and their action. To have integrity. With few exceptions, I trusted them to be honest, for there was no reason to lie to me. Bottom line, I trusted most until given a reason not to. I would never “make someone pay for another’s mistakes.” Everyone started with a clean slate.

After: The word has absolutely no meaning anymore.

The Number 12
Before: My birthday in November.

After: The first time he raped me in February. The 16th was the second time.

RAPIST & RAPE
Before: A horrific act perpetrated by severely abusive people and men in dark alleys. Something that I had fortunately escaped, now being out of the target zone of 18-35. I didn’t accept drinks from strangers. I didn’t walk alone at night. I didn’t drink at parties and pass out in a short skirt. I did everything that rape culture teaches a woman to do to avoid rape.

I was with my lover.

After: Every person is a potential rapist. One in every 16 men has or will commit rape or attempt to commit rape. 30% of men claim they would commit rape if they knew they could get away with it. A woman is raped every. single. minute. in the USA. 1800 a day. The average rapist will rape six different women. One in every three-to-five women will be sexually assaulted or raped in her lifetime. Since coming out as a survivor, every. single. woman. I’ve met or spoken with since is a survivor of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Not one in five. Not one in three. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Rapists look like everyone else, up until the raping starts.
The only sure way to avoid rape is not to be in the same room with a rapist.
So, I spend a lot of time alone.

LOVER
Before: A deeply trusted confidant with whom it was safe to share my innermost thoughts and fears, with whom I could be open and honest, with whom I could share my body and soul, with whom I could safely be vulnerable and exposed.

After: Rapist.

FLASHBACK
Before: 1990 film with Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Hopper

After: Something I experience every single day for over a year now. Reliving the rapes. Reliving the humiliation. Reliving the subsequent trauma from not being believed, from being ostracized, from being accused as a liar. Reliving the police interrogations and how they translated the oral portion of my violent rape as “she remembers at one point giving oral sex to the susp.”

AKA Intrusive Memories and Re-experiencing. Benchmark of PTSD and Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS).

FEAR
Before: Something that occurred under extreme circumstances, or when a cockroach was present.

After: My new state of being. Every second. Every day.

—-

Then, there are a whole set of new words I’ve learned and come to know intimately because of the abuse, the assaults, and the long-lasting effects of PTSD and RTS.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
The psychological phenomenon of holding two conflicting ideas in one’s mind and trying to make them fit together, like LOVER and RAPIST. How he could have raped me, then right afterward told me he loved and adored me. They don’t fit. If he raped me, he couldn’t love me. If he loved me, he wouldn’t have raped me. Which is it? Which is real? How could he have been so tender and affectionate and blissfully in love with me one day, and the very next day punish me with rape?

It took me five months, a dozen sexual assault support professionals, and extensive therapy for me to accept it was rape. One of the most insidious things about “date rape,” which about 85% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, is coming to terms with who you thought the man was, friend, lover, father, brother, cousin, etc…and RAPIST.

DISSOCIATIVE STATES
These are so much fun. Dissociation is the mind’s way of protecting itself from trauma. Often during rape, the victim goes into one of these states. They don’t fight or scream; they freeze. They’re suddenly somewhere else. Nothing seems real. They’re confused. And it continues after the trauma. I remember about a week after being raped twice and discarded, I was in a daze of sorts. I ridiculously thought it was a glimpse at enlightenment, for everything seemed surreal. I was completely in each passing moment, and I had found a sense of peace. I now understand it for what it really was: a severe dissociative state. Those states come and go throughout the PTSD, although never has one been as intense as that one or the one during the rapes. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not real, as if the world is a movie going on around me and that I’m somehow not in it.

It’s quite unsettling.

This phenomenon is called depersonalization.

See all the fun words I’ve learned? Another one: Hyper-Vigilance. Hyperarousal. Numbing.

BETRAYAL or TRAUMA BOND
The months and months of cognitive dissonance and crazy-making reality rebuilding, trying to see your abuser as an abuser and not a lover. The vacillating (mostly covert) abuse and (mostly overt displays of) love creates and extremely strong bond, as shown in Skinner’s experiments with pigeons: intermittent reinforcement. This is believing, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that it was all a misunderstanding. He’s just confused. He’s just scared. He really loves me. It will be okay. He just needs some time and patience and more and more and more and more love. If he would just show the slightest bit of humanity, I can hold on to something that says he’s not this monstrous rapist.

Finally, once I broke free of this extremely strong bone, understanding that I was the lucky one to get away early. The unlucky ones are bound to the abuser for years, if not decades, if not for life.

ISOLATION
The only place I feel safe is in my remote home overlooking a lake with my husband, my dog, and my cat. No people. Little contact, and then only with the barrier of texts and internet communication. Any time I let someone in just a little bit, I learn all over again that any amount of trust is too much.

If someone is nice to me or funny or smart, it doesn’t mean they are a good person. It doesn’t mean I am safe with them, alone or otherwise.

I’m not safe with anyone.

—–

My life and perception is so drastically different than it was before the rape, I feel as if I’m no longer the same person. The Rapist shattered my identity. The Rapist raped my sexuality out of me. The Rapist stole my ability to trust and function in society.

I see authors who weren’t even published three years ago far surpassing me in readership and success now, and I’m angry that The Rapist, The Musician, and The Writer (the two “lesser” assaults before The Rapist that contributed to the Complex PTSD and caused increasing vulnerability) robbed me of my career, sending me into a tailspin. In 2010, I was on the cutting edge of the Steampunk movement, now…I’m just the woman who’s “always fragile” and can’t talk about anything other than rape. Authors I used to promote I see promoting each other, leaving me and my work forgotten. Understandably, since I’ve barely been able to function over these years, let alone write anything other than a short story up until a few months ago. I’m writing again now, though. Fuck yes, I am. They may have forgotten me, but I haven’t forgotten me.

There is an ever-widening chasm between my life before the rape and after the rape, and I can see now there is no going back to who I was. The Rapist, along with his accomplices, The Musician and The Writers, murdered that person with rape and betrayal. Now, I imagine people saying what a shame it is that I “let” my rapist have so much control over me, that I “let” him change me. They’ll muse about what a nice girl I was before and now I’m just a cynical bitch, a man-hating feminist, a drama queen, etc.

I’d rather be regarded as those things than be a victim of rape again.

Bottom line. I don’t care what they say about me. They don’t know what it’s like to be betrayed, raped, and discarded by a trusted lover.

If they did, they would be kinder.
If they did, they’d have a new reality, too.
If they did, they’d be looking back over that ever-widening chasm of life before rape and after rape, wondering if there would ever again be a day they weren’t afraid.

~ by omgrey on June 12, 2013.

19 Responses to “Words, Words, Words”

  1. I have no words. I’m so deeply sorry. And that cannot be enough.

  2. Very powerful post. It reminds all of us that evil is out there, around us. I worked in prison for a number of years and experienced evil, granted not in the same personal way. I had to remind myself that the stain these people leave in their wake, it’s theirs…not ours.

  3. I have no words because I have gone through exactly the same thing as you, more than once. Thank you for your excellent and all-encompassing post. You and your words mean the world to me and to many others, too. Together we will get through this, one way or the other.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
    Dear God please show us The Way.

    And please show JUSTICE for us and incarcerations for the violators, so they can’t violate anyone else ever again. The devils and demons of this world cannot touch us if we remain pure of heart, no matter what. Please cleanse my heart and SHOW ME THE WAY. For Before and After.

  4. The funniest part (not really) is how people say, whenever I talk or write about what happened to me, is that I am “only hurting myself.” As if I did this to myself! They can all go jump in the lake or off a cliff as far as I am concerned. I just tell them to “wait until it happens to you and then you can give me advice.” That shuts them up!

    • Although I’d never wish rape on anyone, even as a punishment for rape, I’m right with you with being very weary of all the platitudes and cult of positivity bullshit.

      If they knew what it was like, they’d be kinder. Few people other than fellow survivors understand.

  5. You wrote: “Justice is a good word to add. It’s a word that’s lost all meaning to me.” Right. That’s why I added it! I was raped and molested by my father starting when I was 3 years old (that’s when I remember it happening first; could have happened a lot earlier, even. That was in 1953). Back then, 60 years ago, the law ignored all reports. This was thanks to Freud and his “children who report incest are having sexual fantasies about their fathers.” May he burn in hell forever!

    Then when I was raped by the dishwasher where I worked in 1968, when I was 18 years old, it was my fault because “my skirt was too short; I must have wanted it; I went into his room” when he said he had to pick up a book on the way to work. :”What was I doing in his room?” or I was an “unpaid prostitute” according to the police. I also didn’t have the REQUIRED THREE WITNESSES! That was New York law back in the sixties and seventies. Finally the law changed, as I always said “There can’t be any witnesses, because if there were, they would have been participants!” But that too was the law.

    The (small) comfort I have been able to take is that I learned to NEVER go ANYWHERE near any man if I wasn’t willing to have sex. Not in a car, not in a room, not within arm’s length plus 18 inches (in case he lunged at me). I learned to keep my distance, and still do. But now that I’m old, I am no longer afraid. Not one bit. With men knowing they will go to jail, I figure if someone tries, “It’s payback time!” So I am safe, because I am not afraid. And I’m old now so am mostly “invisible” to men. Hahahahah! Only took 50+ years!

    And more importantly, now that there are plenty of female lawyers and law makers, the LAWS HAVE CHANGED. We DO have legal protections now. Not all the time, not enough, but seeing how things have changed in my own lifetime, I can take a (large) comfort in that.

    In North Carolina, where I’ve been living for 25+ years, there is still a law on the books that says a female who is passed out and raped isn’t really raped because she is unconscious and unaware of what happened to her therefore not traumatized by it, and she “didn’t say no.” Can you believe it?

    Same sort of treatment and judgment that young girl got in Steubenville.

    Our country makes me sick the way we treat our most vulnerable populations. We really aren’t much different than the racist African nation that Mandela fought against, or any of the so-called “terrorist” countries we pretend to be opposed to. But times are changing! They can’t keep us down, and I see positive changes in the younger generation – both men and women – all the time.

    The current focus on “rape culture” is only to the good. Changes are coming! And you will get over what happened, and we will have justice in our lifetime. Feels good, doesn’t it?

    Our mothers and grandmothers had no protection what so ever, so we are the lucky ones. To heck with that awful liar that convinced everyone that YOU were the one “lying.” The truth will come out, and people will eventually see it and perhaps even apologize to you. Wouldn’t that be grand? And if not, the devil always digs his own grave and goes to far and exposes himself. And this one will too. Mark my words.

    God bless you for this website and blog. You are helping me and everyone else. Sharing our experiences with a mis-understanding world is the only way to change “public opinion” and that means putting up with the nonsense they have been raised to believe. Those people who spout “forgiveness” nonsense don’t know what they are talking about.

    One day we may decide or be able to forgive. But that’s God’s job. Until then, we have every right and every need to TELL OUR TALE AS WE SEE FIT, and not have a lot of b.s. judgments passed on us. Tell them to save their judgment for the Perps!

    • Amen!

      Times have changed, but not nearly enough. There are laws, but there still is the same bullshit “her skirt was too short,” etc. Only 3% of rapists ever even see a single day in jail. It has to change socially first, become so utterly on acceptable and people shouting about it as often as it’s happening, which is one woman every single minute.

      I’m writing a book about how to respond to rape accusation. In short, believe the victim, question the accused. I’m thinking of calling it “Why Didn’t You Stop?”

      Until rapists are held accountable in society, in communities, in families, upholding the laws in place will remain impossible without overwhelming physical & video evidence. Even with those things, most rapists go free.

      I am so sorry your father did those awful things to you. I hope he’s rotting in hell. And the same with that guy in the restaurant. Hell is too good a place for rapists like that. Especially a father raping his daughter. There is no torment horrible enough for such an utter betrayal and unspeakable crime.

      But you’re not silent about it, and neither am I. Speaking the unspeakable. That is the beginning.

      I’m so very pleased you find my blog helpful for you and others. It means so much to me to know that other survivors and compassionate people are given a feeling of solidarity and clarity through my writing.

      Peace to you.

      • “I wrote a lot about polyamory before things got so bad. You can read some in the archives.”

        I didn’t even know there was a term for this! My husband and I have probably always had this agreement, but neither of us acted on it. But it sure makes life easier! And I have come to believe that most males are NOT naturally monogamous. If people accepted plyamory more often, there would be a lot less lying, tension, separation and strife. Think about how much easier life would be for the children, too!

        You are definitely right about women having to keep it up and be loud about it! I had to laugh when I was in France… in Paris one year there was something like THREE RAPES THAT YEAR, and people took to the streets! Huge demonstrations! I said that there were probably three (or more) per day in NYC, or three per minute or some huge amount in the United States and all people did was blame the victim! So we have to keep it up.

        Rape isn’t the worse thing that can happen, though. I actually did feel sorry for the dishwasher who tied me up and raped me. It was clear that he was a horribly abused child himself, but that gave him no right to do what he did. But I don’t know that I ever “forgave” either of them and I don’t expect myself to. Why should I? They have to live with what they did, just like I do. IT’S ON THEM. They will stand in God’s judgment and “have a lot of explaining to do.”

        It was society’s response to what happened to me that did me in far more than any of the actual actions. People made my life hell afterwards holding ME responsible! Thank God that is beginning to change.

        When I came forward with what my father had done my family banned me and shut me out completely; calling me names and still do. My mother refused to see me on her deathbed! And she apparently made sure that my siblings would “carry the sword” long after she was gone. That hurts more than anything my father ever did when I was young and couldn’t get away.

        Now I am old and looking for peace, any way I can find it. Telling our tales helps, and that is what we will do. Peace!

      • Non-monogamy is arguably our natural state, but it’s a very difficult thing to do well. Most people can’t handle one relationship with integrity, openness, and honestly, let alone more than one.

        Agreed, abusers and rapists are almost always a product of abuse themselves. Still. They CHOOSE to continue to cycle. We chose not to.

        Big difference.

        I’m learning that it is possible to hold both compassion for ones’ abuser AND demand justice, accountability, and repentance.

      • Ues, the abusers CHOOSE to continue the cycle of abuse. And that is the big difference between them and me. Something I can be proud of. Me!
        I am nothing like them, regardless of what happened to me. I can “polish my crown” a little bit here and I deserve it! Hah!

        “I’m learning that it is possible to hold both compassion for ones’ abuser AND demand justice, accountability, and repentance.”

        You may never get repentance – most abusers really believe anything they do is RIGHT, but we can get justice. And I won’t quit until we do. God can forgive them later if S/He chooses. My only job is to learn to live with what Life deals out. Many people have had much worse happen to them, over and over – and we didn’t get pregnant and have to raise a child of rape, the way many soldiers do to further take over a country.

        I want Law and Order Special Victims Unit every night just to hear them say “It’s not your fault.” And “we’ll get him! He will never hurt you again!” When Mariska Hargity says that, I’m all ears!

      • I’ll have to start watching that. I used to not be able to watch because of the subject, but now it’s the only subject that matters.

        I know I won’t get those things, but I’ll work until my dying breath to get justice or, at the very least, social accountability.

      • Sometimes I think that the only thing valuable that comes out of tragedy like this is that people like us can and do give voice to our experiences, and we help bring the process of social and attitude change in our lifetime. Someone has to do it! And no one can, or will, until it happens to them. We are not “avenging angels,” but we are WITNESSES. For ourselves and for others. And that is what counts.

        No one can ultimately find fault with me because I speak the truth. And so do you! It was five years before I could let a man come near me, but finally I could. And now I can speak for everyone who has been in my shoes. It’s a blessing, really. We are avenging angels without the sword!

        “The pen is more powerful than the sword.” Amen.

  6. “Non-monogamy is arguably our natural state, but it’s a very difficult thing to do well. Most people can’t handle one relationship with integrity, openness, and honestly, let alone more than one.”

    LOL – you hit the nails on the head here! That’s why I’ve never tried it, but it’s good to know it’s available. Trust counts.

  7. ” It means so much to me to know that other survivors and compassionate people are given a feeling of solidarity and clarity through my writing.”

    You are an excellent writer. So glad you can voice to so many!

    Hugs, Catherine

  8. Everyone: There’s no reason we cant use the pen AND the sword. I do not know why we (all victims and those that care about this issue) dont consistently advocate raising a militia. I know the fears that all people have in these situations, of course, of injury, imprisonment, etc., but the fact that it’s not even seriously discussed? No, that is not ok., and it makes me think there is still some sort of misplaced guilt, or refusal to take this as the war against women, that it is.

    OM: As far as “polyamory,” it may be a natural state, but the way it is practiced is the way you described it in your new-found way of viewing it: as an excuse to further abuse women. I have not seen it, nor do i think i will ever see it in this culture, without there being a hierarchy, when it comes to a male’s partners: the wife/girlfriend, and then the other women. If there was not a hierarchy, there would be no one person referred to as a girlfriend, or a wife. (I’ve only met one woman who happily practices this with more than man, and i dont know her that well, but it seems to me that she has a hierarchy as well, with her husband being more important than her other partners.)

    OM: I like what you said about the “cult” of … was it “positive thinking”? Anyway, it is indeed part of the oppression, to say we should be “spiritual,” ” think positively,” etc — as you so perfectly expressed. It is more victim blaming, more rape apologia, more silencing. And it is indeed a cult. Even more the reason we need to have a militia.

    • Cult of Positivity or Cult of Happiness. My therapist gave me those phrases.

      Agreed about polyamory. Very difficult, and I think it works more often with the MFM vee than anything else. I agree, the way it’s practiced gives justification to a plethora of abuse.

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