Things not to say to a person who has finally spoken about sexual assault SoCS guess

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 12/17

This is part of SoCS # guess. And as you may GUESS I am full of fury. This has trigger warnings. But it is an educational blog that should be read by those who will not be affected by the trigger.

It took me 43 years to fully be able to talk about what happened to me when I was 11. I tried to talk about it when I was 15 or so but I was shut down time and time again. It takes all the courage one can muster to utter a tiny word of the events that happened in sexual assault. As I have discussed in previous blogs I have been assaulted  a number of times. It started when I was 11 years old. I was sexually assaulted 12 years ago by my best friend’s husband.

It took me 3 days to tell my husband. I came home. I fell asleep. I took a shower. I stumbled through the next day in SHOCK. I was in SHOCK. I stayed in shock from the moment he attacked me until the moment I told my husband. Even then and for months after I remained with residue, fear, and levels of shock still going through my nervous system.

We brought his wife over to our house, my best friend, to tell her what happened. The first things she asked, ” Why didn’t you scream. Why didn’t you fight?” I am aware of the classes that teach women to fight off their attackers. I took Karate. I lifted weights. I had the ability to fight. I did not. I was paralyzed wtih fear. I could not move. I could not run. I could not fight. My mind went into many different scenarios in slow motion. Was he going to kill me. Would I survive. No one would hear me. We were locked in a garage and no one else was around. The fear set in the moment that he locked me in the room. I dissociated. Something a person does as a coping mechanism for trauma. Trauma was about to occur. I could have never outpowered im and gotten away.

The shame that women feel for not fighting and not screaming is put onto them by others who ask “why.” Then women ask themselves “why me.” Why did I  do that? Why didn’t I know that this could happen. Why did I get in that car, go in that car, trust my best friend’s husband. Because we do not naturally assume men will be rapists!!! 

A woman throws in alittle alcohol, a party, being alone with a man she did not know and BOOM she put all the blame on herself.

I will say it again as I have for the 2 years of writing this blog and I will say it forever.

The blame lies on the sex offender, the rapist, the molester. The shame and the blame do not lie on the victim. 

Asking me why I did not fight by the sex offenders wife was like getting punched in the stomach and kicked in the face. What she is saying is,” Couldn’t you have stopped it?” No. I could not have.

There are many classes held in our town called RAD where women are taught to fight off their atacker. Attacker. The scenario does not involve multiple men in a hidden area. The scenario does not involve a gun, which was involved in my case. It also does not involve a woman/man who is unable to defend themselves due to intoxication or illness.

So what should you say to a woman or a man who has confessed, opened up, shared their story with you.

1. Your bravery in speaking about what has happened to you is very courageous.

2. I am here if you want to talk any more about it.

3.  I am so so sorry that happened to you.

4. Can I help in any way? Do you need me to be withyou to share what happened with a friend, family, police, etc? Would you like me to be with you becasue I will.

5. Be a prescience. Be a friend. Be a listener. We do not always need words. We need to feel heard. We need to feel validated in the trauma. We need to feel loved through it all and the times that will come after.

What not to say to a woman or a man who has confessed, opened up, shared their story with you. 

1. You do not get to question the circumstance. That is not your role.

2. You do not get to ask why. Why was she dressed that way, why was she in that location. Why was she drinking. Why was she alone with someone she did not know. Why did she trust this person.  It is not your role to ask why or question this victim.

3. How drunk were you? Could you have said no? Could you have fought back? Why didn’t you scream or kick or fight.

And here comes the educational part of my post. This comes from years of therapy. Years of trauma counseling. Years of advocacy. Years of being married to a man who works with sexual abuse victims.  You may not think what you are doing is blaming. You may try to get your head wrapped around the why and understand who this horrendous thing could have happened. There is only one why. A man chose to rape a woman. Period.  Her behavior is not relevant. I was in a swimsuit. Is that relevant. I said not one word while a man was lying on top of me. Is that relevant. I went BACK to the abusers house when he got me and did not say a word as a little girl while he molested me time and time and time and time again. Is that relevant?  Someone who knows nothing about sexual assault may think it is because they are thinking, ” why didn’t you try to save yourself.” In MANY scenarios there IS NO saving yourself.  Why? If you even ask the question why you are blaming the victim whether you think you are are not. Why did she not save herself.

Had I fought the man who attacked me he would have killed me. He said so. He had a gun. I could not fight. I could not speak. I was paralyazed in fear. The other scenario when I was date raped at the age of 1l7. If you were to ask me if or why I did not scream. I would tell you that I was unable. I was trapped. There was no one to scream to. The man intent on raping me was not planning on stopping. Screaming would have angered him and more violence would have proceeded.

I have written this after reading a blog post where a man “innocently” asked the question, after this woman tells her story of rape, why did she ont scream. Why did she not do anything. I felt fury at this comment all night long. Why didn’t you do anything. The damage that that does to a woman’s healing path and journey is irreparable. Now this person could have apologized for saying something hurtuful. He did not. He made excuses.

I’ve heard the excuses all of my life. There are no excuses. My blog is for victims of abuse and I will always advocate for the victim. Forever more. If that means education, I will do it. If that means sharing my story, I will do it. If that means anger at an insensitive comment, I will call it out.

You don’t get to be curious about why a woman/man who has been raped nor do you get to ask why she did nothing. 

NO ONE has that right. EVER.

If a woman/man ( I add man because I know men who have been raped and they get the same validation) has been raped, they cannot afford to be revictimizes by ignorant questions. And if you have asked them. Admit to their ignorance. Apologize. Go back to this person and tell them, ” I am just so very sorry that anyone took something from you, violated you, tricked you.”

The language is not out there. The details are not out there. The voices of men and women invovled as victims in rape are just being spoken. “Rape” may just seem like a word to someone. To a person who has been raped it means life long recovery. Suppression of emotions. Post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety. Trust issues. And not to mention what has occurred with in the body. The tearing of the vagina, the tearing of the anus. The ripping apart of the body with objects wtih fingers with penisis. The victimization is horrendous. There will be years of therapy. There will be denial in various forms. There will be acceptance and growth and recovery.

But there should NEVER be a person who asks “why” EVER.

A person is raped because there are rapists. If you have ont already guessed, Rape is a crime of violence. Not sexuality. It is an act of violence. Never ever again ask why. 

Can you guess again at my anger?

It is 2017. Educate. Learn. Advocate. And stop revitimizing the victim. I think being raped was quite enough for us!!!!!!!!!!!

35 thoughts on “Things not to say to a person who has finally spoken about sexual assault SoCS guess

  1. You are my hero. I’m serious. I was LUCKY to not have this happen to me–and that’s all I was: randomly lucky; but my passion for the rights of those who were victims, who are now survivors, is profound. I feel pure rage whenever anyone starts questioning the victim. I am 100% with you…100%, always! Thank you for your courage. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
      Just what I needed to hear to make my post feel validate.
      I am so sorry that it happened to you but just so glad you did not have to go through any rude and ridiculous questioning and blame. My passsion is also profound. Guess you can probably tell 🙂

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  2. Can you guide me as to block this person Nathan? I just wrote a blog about just ONE of his comments. I need to remove him. I don’t know how. Can you guide me. I wrote this blog about his comment and what it stirred in me. Then he just had to comment so I had a follow up called Nathan. I need your help please.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this article may be helpful – even those with martial arts training can freeze: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-01/wa-university-sexual-assault-victim-speaks-out/8762788

    I read the post you’re discussing and agree with what you’re saying. The only thing that makes me a little uncomfortable, and I have no idea whether it is even appropriate to bring it up with the original blogger as I realise that we’re all at different stages of awareness and recovery and it seems unfair to add anything in the way of criticism at this early stage of her speaking out, is this: in her very first paragraph, before she’s even recounted her own experience, she makes a remark that comes across as critical and judgemental of another woman’s sexual behaviour (“When Mary Johnson* was getting pregnant and having multiple abortions, I milked cows”). I really don’t feel ok with that.

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    • There’s an implication that the rape was more unfair for her because she led a more virtuous life, which is still buying into the idea that there is some sort of scale of deserving vs non-deserving victims i.e. it’s still victim blaming. BUT I can also absolutely understand that right now validation of her experience as rape and acknowledgement of her pain is the most important thing and it’s a bit much to expect her to take a broader view so maybe I should just shut up.

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      • It is a really really touchy subject but one we need to open up about and talk about. I value your opinion.
        I had similar feelings about someone bragging about how they waited until marriage and that is how it is supposed to be, having sex after marrriage. As if they were the “good” ones and I was not. I HAD NO CHOICE. And what if I did have a “choice” that word is up for discussion as well I think because after abuse choice is really not always choice. It is incredibly frustrating when one person judges another for their sexual choices.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely. It’s all on the perpetrator, and people outside are in no position to judge the circumstances which put the victim into that particular place.

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      • I had sex with a man for money. What does that make me? Am I to be judged? Who will judge me? Who has that right? I was poor. I was sick. I was hungry. My friend thought I was a virgin. He felt that was worth a good 400-600 dollars. The rules were I got to lay there and not move. I had to just lay there. With my clothes on. So I did. Why did I do that? Many reasons. To prove that I got to choose who had sex with me after so many had done it without my permission. Does that make me bad? Who is to judge me for that? No one gets to. I carried that shame for 20 years or more. He paid for sex from an underage girl who needed money and thought she was a virgin. So who is the bad guy here?
        My point in sharing this is that no one knows the circumstance by which a woman has made this decision. Sometimes it is not really her decision at all. In the end, after therapy. I have learned that when he asked I was incapable of saying no because i had never said no. I thought it was my duty. I also thought it would pay the bills. That choice came from a lifetime of rape, molestation, and abuse starting when i was under 11 years old. So was it really my choice? Can I really be judged?
        I say no. I say that we are in NO place to make judgment at all.
        We are here to help each other through what has happened in their life as a DIRECT result of abuse. And I will be damned if some prick of a man will come along and ask the question of why a woman did not scream. Not gonna happen ! Ever again!

        Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I did not notice that. I suppose she was relaying in her own words her naive-ness?
      I can completely see how you would not feel ok with that. That fact is we do not know what someone else is going through. That person who got pregnant and had an abortion could have been being assaulted herself or going through who knows what. We are not here to judge. We are here to be there for one another through the healing journey and it is a bitch of a journey. I was more focused on the questioning being done of her which was completely uncalled for. At the time that I was assaulted when 12 ago, I could have fought back. I was starting my muscle disease. It was pointed out even that the man had post polio and I could have fought back easily. Fighting is far from the point as your article is about. A woman who is a blackbelt can freeze and then what? She will be guilty for the rest of her life and be living with the shame of the inability to fight? That is a burden that the victim should never carry. At what point will women stop being questioned and blamed and will the rapists be called out for what they are! Even my own daughter weighed in on the subject earlier when I told her about this guy saying that women need to be more proactive and she said well maybe men should stop raping them in the first place! It is very black and white for me. Those in the gray area dont sit well with me obviously.
      Thanks for your thoughts and for the link

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  4. The woman who sold herself – this is a common result of sexual abuse. When a child has learned the lesson through repeated sessions of being made into nothing, it means nothing or less than nothing to make ‘them’ all pay for it, to give herself (or himself) some level of value, some level of choice.
    A long time ago, I assisted with a survey of the working girls (I don’t like the word Prostitute ‘cos it has more connotations than denotations), and guess what? Greater than 90% (and if you take into account that at least 10% of respondents lie to hide the fact, it would be much higher) had been abused, raped, assaulted as children.
    And that is where the problem lies – enabling abusers by not asking the right questions when someone comes to us to say what happened to them, and then failing again by not doing what is necessary to stop it happening again … and again … and again …

    Liked by 1 person

    • The woman who sold herself was me. And interestingly my therapist said exactly what you have said here. I had no idea how common that was until she told me and now you have shared this so thank you.
      I have been failed again and again and again.
      Thank you for your validation and taking time to write on my blog the results of your survey.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What I left out of that comment was the numbers: the city with a population of 4m; the working girls count: 250k. What do these numbers say? And why aren’t our leaders listening? Why aren’t they doing? Why did the survey get shelved when the numbers made the problem clear?
        Many more questions, very few answers.

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      • What has always really affected me is the number of people willing to pay for these women/men/children. When does THAT get addressed?!!!
        So you start with abuse… that abuser gets away with it because of a ton of reasons, fear imbedded in child, no one listens, no one looks or sees signs, the system fails the child when she finally speaks. All true in my case. Then I grow up. If there then weren’t MORE bad men who were willing to purchase or traffic these abused grown up children who are now men and women then they cycle would stop. Where and how does this cycle stop.
        Where are the harsher punishments for the offenders. Where are the advocates for the abused. Oh you will hear there are tons of advocates. There are not enough willing to save to counteract those willing to harm. I am proof.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. One thing I find lacking is counseling people of the dangers in the community.
    If we can reduce the number of victims of rape through better awareness, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
    It doesn’t mean blaming the victim, it means reducing the number of victims in the first place

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  6. Bravo Bethany! Thank you so much for this post. I get asked why I was unable to fight my attacker too and I have been shamed for not fighting but I was a child. Fighting was not an option. I read this just before going into therapy, it’ll make for an interesting session. 🙂

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  7. Blaming the victim is why so many women keep silent. I have read about how the police treat a victim. The horrible thing is that you never know who may be a rapist! Like your best friend’s husband! Look at Bill Cosby! Who would ever think it? That is why I feel so unsafe around any man.

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