No means no

No means no

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Unexpected triggers

Some women get back on their feet after rape and/or sexual assault and grow from their experience.  Unfortunately, for many others, it isn't that easy.  As much as you want to call yourself a survivor, you still feel like a victim every time something triggers you.

That has happened far too often to me in the last year.  Despite counselling spanning quarter of my adult life, it seems to get harder instead of easier.  When I read about the horrific rape and abuse of Jyoti Singh Pandey in India last November, it triggered me worse than anything ever has.  Circumstances I could directly relate to - 5 men, an iron bar.  At Christmas I was on my own apart from my two dogs.  I sat on my bed with a packet of sleeping tablets and all I wanted to do was escape the pain.  The only thing that stopped me was the realisation that no-one would find my dogs for days, and I couldn't do that to them.  They saved me.

Yesterday I posted to an online group I belong to that I believe we are failing our women and girls by not giving them the resources and knowledge to risk assess the situations they may go into.  The sentiment is the same as my last blog post.  I truly believe that we are giving our girls a false sense of entitlement without giving them the knowledge to know when and how to use that entitlement, and thereby we are endangering them.  This is not victim blaming, and yet that is exactly how one commenter saw it.  I was told I was "part of the problem".

I fully understand that this person may not be aware of my history, although my website and blog have been posted to the group on a number of occasions.  Her comment was a trigger for me, and I have expended a lot of tears and anger and self doubt in the last few hours.  If I am victim blaming, then does that mean I am blaming myself for what happened to me?  I have spent so many years trying to get over that feeling, I don't need it thrown at me by someone who doesn't even know me.

The hardest thing with the internet is not being face to face with the people who drop these type of comments.  My goal, since last December, has been to try to make sure that no woman or girl ever has to endure the PTSD, emotional turmoil and related mental and physical health issues, lack of self esteem and feeling of aloneness I live with every day because of something that happened that shouldn't have.

I was not in a situation of war.  I was not a child abused by a family member or friend.  I was not an elderly woman attacked in my own home. I was not attacked by religious perverts.I was not trafficked or prostituted for sex.

Could I have avoided the situation I found myself in? Ultimately, with the ability to analyse the stupidity of the situation, yes I could have.

Did my attackers have the right to rape me?  Of course not! Rape is not okay, ever, under any circumstances.

So will I encourage other women and girls to be aware of their circumstances and to take appropriate steps to avoid putting themselves at risk?  You bloody bet I will.

If someone wants to call that "slut shaming" or "victim blaming", that's your call.  Just be very, very sure you know the background of the person you are saying it to, and their motivation for feeling the way they do.


Jacklyn Louise Miller said...

It disgusts me to hear that any so-called logical person could deny your call for common sense to prevail when it comes to personal safety. And it angers me that, once again, some over-opinionated idiot is not ony shooting the messenger, but putting others in a position of risk because of some bloody-minded, unachievable notion that rape can be prevented if we continue to condemn it - along with slut shaming - which of course we should, but not whilst ignoring the basic principles of self preservation. You sounded the clarion that this is not a perfect world and we should arrange our lives accordingly. It needed to be said, by someone with the guts to say it, even though it appears to have cost you dearly already. Does your critic have young daughters? I sincerely doubt it. She's probably fresh out of uni and still living in a bubble of idealism or is somewhat estranged from reality. Please feel free to use these comments elsewhere, or as you deem fit.

Luisa R said...

Thank you for your support Jacklyn, I get so frustrated when people can't see logic and simply try to argue with idealism. Yes, I would love a world without rape and sexual assault, but in 40 years I see very little change - in fact, if anything we are going backwards. What that tells me is that idealism does not work. Sexual violence and rape culture should be a compulsory subject in all schools. We need to start dealing with the REAL world.