“Rape is considered a crime so unspeakable that its victims are rendered mute and cloaked in protective anonymity. As victims we carry our memories with us for the rest of our lives. We also carry the burden of silence and shame …”
In order to heal we need to come out of isolation and hiding and tell our story. It takes untold courage to open up. Telling someone what has happened can be frightening. The pain of the violence sometimes removes our ability to talk. Because rape is still considered such a distasteful subject we as survivors often suffer additional pain from the reactions of our friends and family. Friends may be distant, minimize our pain or may even avoid us. People don’t like discussing the subject of rape and may try to distance themselves from the event by blaming us. Perhaps they feel that if they can somehow place the blame on us, they will be invulnerable to rape themselves. We are not taught how to deal with people the experience of being victimized and most of us do not speak out about rape for many years.
Don’t Let Them Silence You!
Often unintentionally upsetting comments are made by friends or relatives. Those closest to us and whose opinion we value the most can be the cruelest. Some people may tell us that we should stop feeling sorry for ourselves, or that we are not being positive. Maybe they can’t see any reason why we should be depressed and think that we can just snap out of it. If you have had to deal with these kinds of reactions you know how hurtful it is, I have wished the ground would open up and swallow me. I urge you to, please take a long breath and remember that they are the ones with a problem, not you. Don’t let them silence you. They simply don’t understand because they’ve never had to deal with it.
Most of us as survivors have had to learn on our own how not to let what others say or do affect us in a negative way. In time, we may also come to realize that most people don’t intentionally mean to hurt us with their words. Some of them are just unprepared to deal with such sensitive and emotive issue and say things without considering the implications of their words or the deep impact that their comments have on us.
Sure, some people’s reaction is bound to hurt but this doesn’t mean that we should give up on the idea of finding support and understanding in others. There are people out there who do understand. Finding comfort and support in a friend can touch our soul in a way that words can barely express. These kinds of friends are priceless. Just be cautious about who you confide in and reveal sensitive details to. Tell someone who you feel will be there for you, understand, and support you. Breaking the silence is our first step to recovery. Every time we break the silence and trust someone, we are one step farther in our recovery journey.
Remember, you did nothing wrong. Don’t be silent. Speak, tell the world, and heal.