Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Rape Myth #10: S/he doesn’t act like a rape victim.

And just how does a rape victim act, m’dears?

I know, we’re all picturing the hysterical sobbing, sitting curled into a ball in the corner of her room, clothing torn and disheveled, make up run, hair mussed, holding tightly to herself as if she will fly apart if she doesn’t… Even those of us who have been raped and didn’t act anything like that.

Not all rape victims do that. In fact, I’d wager that most don’t.

I got up, took a shower, got dressed and went to school like nothing happened.

I’ve talked to rape victims who got dressed and then went directly to the police.

Still others went home and took hours of showers or baths.

Some do curl up in that corner and cry and sob. Some don’t. Some get angry right away, with some the anger comes later (but it almost always comes). Some get manically angry. Some keep themselves busy constantly. Some can do nothing but sit and stare at the wall. Some assault the person who assaulted them. Some attempt or commit suicide.

There is no right way to respond to rape.* Just as there’s no right way to respond to death or any other bad thing. Everyone processes it differently.

Some rape victims who make the decision to not even try to press charges, burn what they were wearing. Some journal about it obsessively. Some never mention it to anyone. Some will, but only after years. Some make voodoo dolls of their attackers.

There’s a lot of self-blame. But you frequently don’t see that.

Whatever you see on the outside, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. S/he may seem calm and collected outside, but you have no idea what’s going on internally. Neither do I, really, not for anyone but me. I can guess, having gone through my own experiences and having talked to a lot of other rape survivors, but I don’t know.

As for later on, some rape survivors never get over the trauma, and fear or hate sex. Some become very actively sexual in order to try to reclaim their sexuality, or as a form of self-punishment. Some are frigid, some are nymphos. Some develop hang ups over specific acts. Some have absolutely no sexual dysfunction or issues at all.

There is no one correct way for rape survivors to behave.

The sooner we can get over this, “S/he doesn’t act like a rape victim” bullshit, the better, because it’s a definite obstacle to sexual assault charges being taken seriously.

And just because someone chooses not to press charges, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Women know what they’re in for when they report rape or sexual assault that doesn’t fit the narrow mold of “attacked by a stranger who broke into their own home, or dragged them away from their car when they were modestly dressed and completely sober.” In cases of aquaintance rape or incest, they will frequently be pressured not to “do this to X.” In many cases, they will be accused of leading their rapist on, of experiencing “morning after regret” or “buyer’s remorse,” because we ALL know women (in particular) should be ashamed of their sexuality and ALWAYS regret sex. (/sarcasm)

BUT… I’ve already talked about that.

I repeat, there is no right way to respond to sexual assault. Everyone is different and will process differently. The same act that made me shut down completely and wall everything away, may well make someone else break into hysterical sobbing and slash their wrists, and may well make someone else into a walking ball of anger looking or a place to land.

*I’m going to just say that I am of the belief that suicide is not a correct response to anything (we’ll talk right to die stuff later).

2 comments on “Rape Myth #10: S/he doesn’t act like a rape victim.

  1. rae_beta
    October 23, 2008

    I’d heard this a million times, but I don’t think it ever made me angrier than when an attorney brought it up in a trial I was sitting in on. And I will always love the doctor who was on the stand for snapping back, “People react to trauma in a tremendously wide range of ways, and none of those reactions is any less ‘real’ than another.”
    I hope she’s still working in an ER somewhere. The world needs more authority figures like her.


  2. Anonymous
    May 26, 2009

    It is very early in the morning. I am very tired. Tomorrow, at work, will be hell, because i have to be awake in a few short hours.
    But a friend linked to these words you’ve put together. And i could not stop reading these posts. And i can’t put off a comment, either.
    You have a clarity and courage that is lacking in this world. Please continue to be a beacon. You share truth. Truth many need to hear, and understand. Myself included. This will make this world a better place.
    Thank you


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This entry was posted on October 23, 2008 by in Uncategorized.

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