Saying that living life as a rape victim is difficult would be a huge understatement (life after my rape is easily the hardest thing I have ever had to tackle). I can’t speak for everyone, but I have found that talking about my rape with those closest to me feels almost impossible. I just can’t seem to string together the sentences when they are most needed. But that doesn’t mean that the sentences aren’t there. If I had the opportunity to tell those closest to me how my life has changed since my attack this is what I would want them to know…
- It never leaves you – The panic attacks and the flashbacks can hit at any moment (usually the most random moments). These attacks are horrendously debilitating and are set off by the smallest and most insignificant things (for me its certain smells).
- Feelings of guilt – It doesn’t matter how many times we are told ‘it is not your fault’ the feeling of guilt always manages to creep its way back in.
- Denial – I find myself spending everyday trying to behave as though my attack never happened. All this leads to is depression and mood swings. Socialising is hard and tiring and I find myself getting upset and frustrated by things that should have no impact on my mood.
- Pulling away – Expect the victim to pull away. For me this is the hardest thing to explain to those closest to me. Its hard to make them understand the level of betrayal that has been experienced and carrying around that feeling makes it incredibly hard to trust anyone. Its an irrational feeling but almost impossible to budge none the less.
For me these are the 4 things I would love to have the courage to tell my closest friends and family, and who knows, maybe one day I will. But just as importantly, these are 4 things that all victims of rape and sexual assult need to know are normal. It is normal to feel and experience these thoughts and feelings. And just as it is normal to feel them it is also normal not to. There is no right way to deal with being raped. And there certainly isn’t a wrong way to deal with it either.