Rape, Trauma, and the Rewiring of the Brain

You’re welcome to comment on this post but note that I cannot help you because I am not trained in how to do that. However, here is how to get help if you’ve been raped and are struggling with the aftermath: Please find someone to talk to! You are not alone! One option is to call RAINN at 1800-656-4673 or use the link to find help closer to where you are. People who staff these phonelines are trained to help us survivors.


I was raped twenty years ago. It was date rape. I didn’t even consider it rape until someone pointed it out to me: The doctor who saw me for the STD I contracted. It made sense. I hadn’t wanted sex. Somehow it happened. To this day I am not exactly sure how. I had pretty much forgotten about the rape until just recently. I got the assignment to read an article about rape on campus (here’s a rebuttle to that article). Slowly, everything came back. I was starting to have flashbacks again. It’s like a movie that plays in my head without my control. It just plays whenever it wants to. I used to call myself a survivor. That helped with healing to a point but I didn’t want to define myself that way, so eventually I moved on. Other things happened in my life and the rape faded into the background. Obviously, it never went away. The hurt, the pain, the doubts are trickling back in. I don’t think I suppressed the memory – it’s just not something you can dwell on, plus it’s just damn painful to talk about in detail. Healing from the experience of rape requires us to move on, to not solely define ourselves as rape victims. As survivors. Yet that is who we are. It will always be a part of our history. The movie is encoded in our brains and plays when triggered.

Now that I am beginning to read more about the evolutionary process – more in terms of memes than genes because I find that more fascinating – I am wondering what a traumatic experience like this does to us. There’s more than movie encoded in my brain. The movie is just the obvious part. There is also a very, very deep hurt that never quite goes away. And there is always a part that doesn’t quite feel okay anymore. What pathways are forged in the brains of a person who experienced such trauma and how can we heal those pathways because they are obviously much deeper than I, at least, realized? I can only suspect how this experience affected the rest of my life. I don’t even know if it did. I do know that I have had my share of unhealthy and abusive relationships. Did I end up in those because of some wiring left behind by the rape experience? Or is that giving the rape too much power? Maybe it wasn’t such a formative and destructive event.

There is evidence, though, that does suggest that traumatic events that trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including rape, change the brain, thus are quite formative. The amygdala, a part of our brain, is involved in the processing of our fear response (among other emotions). During trauma, this fear response sensitizes the amygdala, which then apparently reacts more quickly and strongly to fear-inducing stimuli. The hippocampus, the part of our brain involved in memory, is also affected. Studies have found changes in the hippocampus of patients with PTSD. Our body releases natural opiates when we’re faced with danger. These opiate levels remain high in people with PTSD, possibly leading to the blunting of emotions we experience. Neurotransmitters that activate the hippocampus – our memory – are at higher levels than normal, which might explain why the movie of the trauma is so well preserved.

All this is comforting to me, as well as fascinating. There is a reason why this experience keeps popping up, despite all the work I’ve done around it, and why each rerun of the movie leaves me scatter brained and close to tears. It’s wired in my brain. The reaction is completely normal. And that is what every rape survivor wants to know: we are normal, we are okay. It happened to us and we survived. However, knowing about the effects of the experience on our brains can help us accept the after-effects of our trauma. That, too, is normal and there is a biological explanation for it. Though, to me, the question that remains now seems to stay largely unanswered: How do I undo that rewiring? I am not sure if there is a way to do that. After all the nature of trauma is that it is traumatic, i.e., different than our normal experience (though for some, such as survivors of childhood abuse, unfortunately, the trauma became the “normal”). There are, of course, treatments that help us cope but I don’t think those treatments re-wire our brain again. They help us learn to live with our “new” brain; they help us cope and move on, yet our brain remains rewired. My flashbacks are a vivid reminder of that.

There is also an interesting comment, which almost seems like an aside, in the Psychology Today article on PTSD: “Thus, the fear induced by re-exposure to traumatic material indicates a failure of inhibition on the part of the hippocampus, and is evidence that the traumatic episode is not integrated as a narrative, spatio-temporal event in autobiographical memory.” As Timothy Wilson would put it – based on Strangers to Ourselves: We haven’t found a good self-story yet. Maybe knowing that our brain got re-wired can help us integrate the trauma into our self-story.

What about the effect of the rape on the rest of my life? Of course, this is speculation at this point but it sounds like the scientific evidence points to a heightened fear response. We become afraid faster and more strongly. Maybe that is why I was attracted to men who seemed strong and able to protect me. Unfortunately, they were neither.

I am hesitant to post this to my blog. It’s a much more personal note than anything that I’ve posted so far. But this is part of who I am, part of my history. And I found the neuropsychological findings on PTSD very helpful for making sense of that past, writing a little more of my self-story. Learning this, contributed another piece to my healing from the rape. I want to share that with other survivors of trauma in the hopes that it might be helpful to them. Still, it feels like a big step to hit “publish.”






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Rape, Trauma, and the Rewiring of the Brain — 113 Comments

  1. July 12th 2016 I was raped buy someone that I trusted and I thought he loved me. Boy was I wrong. I yelled and screamed, crying that he stop. I kept asking him what was he doing and “WHY”? He had this void look on his face and his strength was unimaginable. He wouldn’t stop. That was only the beginning of my “hell”. Before this happened I was in an on again off again abusive relationship for 9 years. The brain is a very complex labyrinth that I have know idea how to master. After my rape I found out that that 9 years of my life that I will never get back. I call it “Pandora’s Box”. The flashbacks and the triggers, I’m finding out that my mind put all the torment, torchorous (sp), physical, and unrelented sexual abuse. I have a counselor at the rape crisis center and I have a therapist that has been helping me being my hidden painful memories to the forefront by what is call EMDR ( eye movement desensitizing reprocessing’. He used me as a standing Target when he told me ” That my kids would be better off without me”. He pointed his pistol at me and fired, I moved slightly to the right and the bullet went right over my left shoulder and came to rest in his solid wood dresser. I could go on and on for days about what he did to me. And there is so much I haven’t remembered yet. These past 3 days have been excruciating, my mind is stuck in a constant loop. I’ve been reliving my rape prolly over 200 times. I haven’t been able to get out if bed until today. The fear that he’s gonna pop up, the terror that he’s stuck in my mind forever and the pain I live with everyday is relentless. Is it because the anniversary is creeping up closer and closer everyday? Does this get easier? Will I ever get my mind back?

    • Angie: Thank you for your comment here! I am very sorry for what you’ve been through! I am glad you’re working with others to heal.

      I am guessing that it has a lot to do with the anniversary coming up soon. And, yes, it does get easier – both time and therapy help (it took me some time and several therapists, though, to find the tools that work best for me). I also found a support group tremendously helpful. Hearing other women talk about getting there life back encouraged me to keep working on getting mine back.

      • I tried group therapy and I guess I was trying to rush it cuz you’re the world.en in there have all learned how to cope and deal, I was a noobie. I ended up putting myself right in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. It was awful. I guess when I’m ready I’ll know about it. But thank you for getting back to me…

  2. My first time ever telling my story to a stranger. Never thought I would do that. I was raped when I was 7 until I was 14 by my cousin. Now I’m 21. And I feel as if my world is ending. I’m haunted constantly with flashbacks. And I thought I had found comfort in forgive and forget. And I could move on and have a civilized relationship with my cousin. But after talking to him. I felt this sadness. This hurt. Just to realize the pain is still there. It’s hurts to know that this pain is all I’ll ever know. I just want to die. I don’t want to feel this aching breaking heart of mines. The burning non stopping tears as they run down my face. It hurts. And I just want the pain to end! I can’t live like this. My life will never be the same. I will never have a normal life. My family doesn’t know. So I have no one to talk to.I’m alone and by myself. Me against the world. I just can’t anymore. I’m tired of trying.

    • No, you are not alone! One option is to call RAINN at 1800-656-4673. People who staff these phonelines are trained to help us survivors.

      There are also lots of us out there who get your pain, who have felt similar pain, who have similar fears of never being able to have a normal life. I’ve had that, heck, I still sometimes wonder. It is hard to see through the pain when you’re feeling it but there is hope! You can live a life that still has joy in it, that still has love in it. The key, at least for me, is to get help, to find others who have been through similar things and talk to them. Let’s fight the world that allows rape and other violence against women to happen together!

  3. I was molested as a child on and off for about 5 years, between the day care providers son and my mother’s friends brother. I’m now 43. I entered my 3rd marriage last June. Around 3am the day of my wedding , my fiance came home completely wasted after being out with his friends for his bachelor party. A huge fight ensued between us and I threw his friends out. I went to bed, he came to bed and wanted to have sex, I said no, crying, pleading please don’t do this to me. He did it anyway. I got up in the morning, got my hair and makeup done then debated driving the car off a cliff or into a wall. I didn’t do those things, I married him. Now almost a year later,I still question myself, my sanity, my goodness, all of it. He never knew about what happened to me as a kid.I told him right after we said I do.
    He was upset I didn’t tell him before, but why should I have told him, my mom didn’t believe me or care I guess. Even if I did tell him, would it have mattered? Is it like oh if you knew I was molested as a kid you wouldn’t have raped me? I’m tired, I’m sick of feeling worthless, I’m sick of people making excuses for doing shitty things. I question my stupidity for marrying him and staying. It just feels good to get this out.I don’t have anyone to talk to about this.

  4. Hi Rachel,
    Thank you so much for sharing and providing this safe place to discuss rape. I am 49 years old now and just recently started remembering and dealing with the fact that I was raped when I was 14 and I was a virgin.

    I had met a girl who was very physically beautiful and I was very proud that she wanted to be my friend (I was a white person living in Hawaii which was hard, I felt like did not fit in and had no friends.)
    The two of us met two guys (they were in their early to mid 20s) as we all passed out flyers on the street together. (Easy job to get in Waikiki)
    We were drinking bourbon and cokes at their apt. I thought I was so grown up and tried to look like that was not my first time to drink and drank a lot very fast thinking it made me look grown up.
    Well I blacked out and a vaguely remember the taller one saying I threw up on my clothes he was helping me take them off so they could be washed. I remember although I was passed out drunk feeling such pain down there that I screamed IT HURTS! but then passed right back out. The next morning I woke up due to my friend knocking on the door- I in bed naked by myself- the two guys were sleeping in the living room. I was groggy (Hungover/still drunk/In shock realizing what happened. The guys were sleeping in the living room I remember getting dressed realizing what must have happened, I remember thinking- I am only 14 years old this is statutory rape! I thought about grabbing the mattress sheet to take with me for evidence to take to the police and when I looked back at the mattress I saw blood on it by the edge of the bed which made me picture in my head how they must have positioned me to rape my passed out body and I just shut down. My friend took me to her house i remember never speaking of it. I did not ask her why she left me there alone passed out, did not tell her they raped me, I just acted like nothing was wrong and we were two normal girls hanging out for the weekend. After that I completely blocked it – I did not think about it as if it never happened. My life definitely went on a horrible down- hill spiral after that. She proved herself to be a very angry, confused, broken person- she threatened me with physical harm for no apparent reason that I could figure out but then she sort of vanished I dont know if she went to juvenile prison, or if her family moved away swiftly and without forewarning.

    Now, 35 years later I am finally dealing with these repressed memories. I really wish I had gone to the police but when it came to my mind that day when I was leaving their apt. I also realized I had lied to my mom saying I was spending the night at my new friends house I was embarrassed that the lawyers and judge might say it was my fault for even being there in their apt. drinking and passing out.

    The next 2 years were horrible- I was very self destructive and soooo self degrading. I have always wondered why I did all the things I did back then but I now am realizing that a lot of it must have been my reaction to dealing with this rape (or not dealing with it).

    The worst part is that morning playing over and over again in my head.(35 years later!!) I wonder if I had gone to the police that maybe I would not have been so self destructive and self degrading over the next 2 years.

    I was definitely disassociated from my body after that. It was as if my intelligence plummeted I did not care about myself, about school, I was in very abusive relationships, I could not find joy, i hung out with criminals and street people, I was so dissociated from myself that it was more of like I was watching what was happening to me as if it was happening to someone else. I still struggle with enjoying sex to this day. I have struggled with addiction my entire adulthood. My adulthood has been filled with anger towards myself about the destructive things I did when I was 15 and 16 but now I finally realize that I was so messed up mentally that I did not have the capacity to make self loving decisions.

    It is so strange to me that 35 years later I am still haunted by this night.I think I just stared thinking a lot about the rape because I had finally gotten to a point in my life in which I felt somewhat strong and safe. Dealing with this before would have been to devastating given the state of mind i was in and the state of affairs my life was in.

    I realize now that It was not my fault that it happened– they were wrong for violating me just because I was passed out.

    Looking back over going through those experiences makes me realize today that the quality of life and the people you bring into your life with are directly related to your inner dialog of how you feel about yourself. This has been quite liberating for me and now I see my past as the lessons I learned to have the understanding of myself and how I perceive my world today.

  5. I was raped when I was 8 years old by my cousin.. now I’m 18 I told my family last year cuz I couldn’t keep it anymore I still remember everything.. they way I cried yell scream I was so helpless I keep on blaming myself for this I can’t have a good relationship since it’s so hard for me to trust people I want to forget this moment sometime I feel like to kill myself I cried every night to sleep sometime I be dreaming about it or wake up in the middle of the night thinking and crying ? I feel like everybody hate me sometime the voice in my head I can still feel the way I felt it’s so hard for me to move on..

  6. Hello, I was raped when I was 16 years old by my uncle, it took years for me to finally tell anyone and by that time I was almost forty. I told my mother but of course she didn’t believe that it happened to me and she didn’t want to get involved because the man that she has been with all these years is the brother of the man that raped me. Know that I am fifty I am suffering more and more everyday and even though I work for a company that provides me a counselor, it’s not helping as much as I though it would. I want justice for taking my innocence away from me, that has stopped me from loving the way that I know I can. I have a daughter that is 26 and today is the day that I finally open up to her about what happened to me. I can’t sleep I can go day without eating and my depression is at an all time high. I have thought about committing suicide on more than one occasion. I am lost beyond lost I use sex as a way of coping with things which by the way I am not happy about that.

  7. Reading most of the comments I can relate to some of the processes we go through to make our lives normal. In my case a very close friend offered to take me to his brothers house to have a few drinks with a couple of his friends. I remember sitting at the table and then feeling light headed, then nothing. I woke up in my bed the next morning. For days the confusion clouded my mind and I really never thought it could happen to me. Definitely could not have happened with a friend I had known for years. Fast forward twenty years after and yes flash backs occur. You can’t control them, and they force you to deal with it mentally over and over again. The images sometimes feel unreal as if they are part of your imagination. Now the guy and brother are prominent attorney (old friend) and physician (brother). Needles to say it, put the old friend never talked to me again.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I googled my situation and came upon your story. I question why after 34 years I now think about obsessively confronting the guy that violently raped me taking my virginity. I ask myself why I can’t forget after 34 years. I looked him up on Facebook and when his picture came up I was overwhelmed with emotions. Thru the years I wondered did he rape after me -was in jail or was he living happily as if it never happened. It eats at me still. When I saw his picture and I saw that he had a teenage son to die sudden a few years ago-I woundered was it karma. I dwell on it. It changed my life forever. I was so very ashamed afterward. Things were different back when I was raped. My dad said It was a girls responsiblity not to get herself in a situation like this. My parents were embarrassed. His mother came to know and came to my parents and apologized and my day said I hold her just as responsible for putting herself in situation. I see parts of the rape and I sit and try for as long as I can remember to piece it all together trying to get the complete visual in my mind. But as soon as I picture in my mind the blood and begging in pain to him to stop. Flashes of so much blood. This is how his mom pieced it together. He took me after he raped me to his house with his parents in bed and got wet rags and brought to car washing me and washing blood but was so much it was everywhere. I couldn’t drive home. The police found me passed out in my car on side of road and carried me home. Nothing was done. I was in shock I believe. I couldn’t respond for few days.
      How do we move on? How can we get it out of our minds?

  8. It is so sad to read all your comments and stories. I was molested by the father of my friend when I was 7 years old. It was not an isolated incident but went on for a few weeks. I eventually told my mother who acted shocked, but did nothing to comfort me, didn’t even ask me what he had done to me.
    At 15 I was in an abusive relationship and only ended it when I realized that the repeated rapes and beatings would never stop and that it would only end when he killed me. He was 22. I have scars on my body to this day, caused by his violence. I never told my parents, I thought they wouldn’t believe me or they would blame me, as they had told me not to date him.
    I met a kind and gentle young man who is the only person I had ever told about my past, we and got married, had two children, moved away. All was good for 20 years until he died.
    A couple of years later I met another and re-married in my 40s but he doesn’t understand the trauma and does one thing that is causing our problems – he is affectionate and wakes me up two or three mornings a week, by fondling me, either sliding his hand between my legs, or touching my breasts and I startle, my heart pounds, I sweat, I feel fearful.
    I have told him many, many times not to do this when I’m asleep and his answer is always the same … “I thought you were awake”.
    This has been going on for over 20 years and this morning I woke up again afraid, sweating and angry with a pounding heart, feeling someone touching me.
    I don’t know what to do. In every other way he is good, he cooks, he cleans, he adores me, but he won’t stop doing this one thing which causes me such anxiety and fear.
    I often get out of bed before he wakes.
    I have now reached a point where I can’t stand him touching me. Having sex fills me with anxiety.
    I am angry.
    I am 62 years old.

  9. I am struggling to forgive.. I was raped when i was 7yr by my cousin he raped me repeatedly and promised to kill me but then told my mom she didn’t believe me and then was raped again when I was 12yr by my brother and didn’t tell anyone cause my mom didn’t believe me now I am 29 but i am broken and I sometimes shout everyone for no reason and it’s affecting me day by day and I have a daughter she is 5yrs old now and I am afraid sometimes she will ask me why I am angry, and most of my relationships suffer cause of me I am lost and don’t have self esteem. It hurts so bad.

    • I’m so sorry that that happened to you.. I also was raped and threatened with death.. I also never told anyone until 17 years later.. I had repressed that memory for quite some time.. my advice is to seek counselling, once you start that process and stop blaming yourself for what happened things will get better.. I’m now suffering from am eating disorder which relates to what happened to me.. I know it’s not easy and s ok me days are really hard, but you’ve made it this far, this proves you are stronger than you think and capable of so much.. get some counselling it will help..

    • Hi everyone
      Justice is my name
      It’s almost 20years .It happened while I was 9years old and I never told anyone and i told myself that I’m forgiving that person a friend of my neighbor ‘s late uncle even today the memories are still clear i found myself self crying after hearing about the sesethu video and it all came back I appreciate this blog cause today i said it I was raped and i survived cause the person wanted to kill me Love you all as painful and hard as it is I still believe that God is busy healing us.

  10. Dear Readers

    No matter how old you are now and at what age it happens, for me 46 years ago, the eposides never goes away, it repeats in your head and I was diagionised also with bipolar about 10 years ago because I go so emotional and now also post trautamic disorder, this is due to the rape and moods changing etc. I am not like the day to day bipolar but the doctor says type 2 because of my mind wanders from place to place because of the rape and I try not to stay in the current frame of mind. I am normal but have to take tons of medication to cope with something that happended 46 years ago. My uncle died when he was 21 years old and who do you forgive but can you forget and forget. Every day soemthing is somebody is around me and my mind does not forget. I have not been able to have a proper relationship and have not dated or had sex for maybe 5 years plus and anyway even before this sex was when I was drinking. We all just have to support each other and I love and respect every one of you and it is with humility that I say thank you for sharing your story.

    • I feel very silly posting this as I feel you guys have truly been traumatically raped but something is happening to be and it’s scary. When I was 14 I hug around at a flat and was a bit Naughty smoking and drinking, there was a man there who was 26 and I had a crush on him but he had a girlfriend, one night he kissed me and I was really happy and it happened a few times and he would give me a lift in his car. After a few weeks he took me in his car and proceeded to go further I said no as I was a virgin and scared but he just kept carrying on saying come on it’s fine you want to and I didn’t, anyway I didn’t enjoy it and to be honest it really hurt and I stupidly thought this must mean he loves me. We went back to the flat wher we hung out and I heard him tell his friends (other men) that’s 7 virgins I’ve had now and I absolutely felt like shit. I was confused I didn’t know what was going on is this man now my boyfriend am I in a relationship I was just confused. A few weeks later he asked if I wanted to go to the beach with my friends and whilst they were in the sea he jumped on me in the front seat and did it to me again I didn’t say no I just went stiff and I didn’t know what to do. After that we went back and I saw him with his girlfriend and thought I just don’t want this. I then stayed away from him and he saw me walking one day and as I turned the other way he came after me in his car and made me stop. I said I didn’t want to talk to him and he asked me not to tell any one and I never did. I didn’t see him after that. I’m now nearly 40 and for the last few years off and on this has really been playing on my mind. I’ve gone through my life thinking I was a stupid young girl who put herself in a stupid situation and just feel sad that this is the way my virginity was taken. But these past few weeks I’m not sleeping and having nightmares reliving this in my head thinking what I did to make him think it was ok after all I was 14 and he was a man. I don’t know what to think I’m so confused. Was it my fault? And if so why now after all this time is this messing with my mind?
      Please someone can u tell me what’s wrong with me

      • I’ve felt exactly the same way. I was 13, it doesn’t matter, children cannot consent. These adult men should have known better. We didn’t deserve to be objectified and used. I was drinking and smoking too. Didn’t tell anyone for that very reason. However, when I was 38 or so, I was going through a difficult time with my own daughter who was 13 and I screamed it to my sister that I was raped at a party she took me to at that age. Then I never spoke of it again. I don’t know how to talk about it without having it consume me. I prefer this type of group because I don’t like the feel of communicating and wallowing in it with counselors. I know I have been affected by it, but I also know that I am strong. I feel like the one thing I can do on this earth is be a strong, proud, accomplished woman and by doing so, I’ve won. That man and so many others like him, are losers, who don’t even know the value of love. I do. So do you. Let’s find strength in that.

  11. I’m having an extremely difficult time sexually with my husband. I was told by my cousins on several occasions that I was molested at 6 months old. I’ve apparently suppressed those feelings all these years. I’m 43 and intimacy is pure torture. I try to tell him about it but he doesn’t understand at all. I don’t want to be in my head at all while it’s happening. We agreed to one night a week and i get major anxiety up to it, during and then I’m relieved afterwards that it’s over. My Husband is gentle and kind, it’s hard on him. I don’t know what to to do!-please help!

    • How to get help if you’ve been raped and are struggling with the aftermath: Please find someone to talk to! You are not alone! One option is to call RAINN at 1800-656-4673 or use the link to find help closer to where you are. People who staff these phonelines are trained to help us survivors.

      • Thank you for that info. I haven’t been raped. I suffer from child repressed molestation that happened to me at six months of age. I’m just now experiencing the trauma of it. I just wondered if anyone else has struggled with this issue and what helped them to educate their husbands to support them.

        • RAINN is there for people who were molested, too. Molestation is truly sexual assault. Children and babies are too young and innocent, and are so easily manipulated, they CANNOT give consent. So molestation and such is so insidious and awful and often is not remembered. Most people remember NOTHING from that age, but our experiences can still affect us, sometimes profoundly. I know it is hard to see those scary terms and think – rape/sexual assault??? ME???? No!!!

          But it is really important you get help either from RAINN or a good therapist who is familiar with sexual assault, the resulting sexual issues, and how to help. There is help, even though it is hard. Experienced therapists in these areas can sometimes help people have rapid improvement. Not always, it depends. But there is help, even if the results aren’t the kind that come fast.

    • I know this feeling. 20 years ago I was in an abusive relationship. When I told him it was over, he threw me down. raped me and told me he was going to kill me. He almost strangled me to death

      20 years later I’m struggling with intimacy. I feel ugly and ashamed. I don’t feel good when my partner touches me. I am a mess. I have such anxiety. I hate this. I don’t know what to do.

  12. I was raped at 18, by my older brother who is stronger and very intimidating. As a guy, I did not cry nor seek help, out of fear and not wanting to talk about it. I still haven’t cried about what was done to me, even 10 years later. My heart still feels locked away, my emotions are blunted greatly and I still have to live with the person who did this to me until I can leave for good. Thankfully it will be soon. I have talked a little to my close friends who have helped me just by being their and listening to my traumatic story for which I am eternally grateful.

    Thank you, for sharing your story, even though its personal and it hurts. Thank you, because it encourages me to know that I am not alone.

    • I was also raped by my older brother; repeatedly. It started as molestation around age 10/11 and then progressed to the rapes; i finally put an end to end at the age of 15 when i flipped shyt and put the fear back into him with a violent attack. It occurred during those years about every other week; i was constanly in fear for when itd happen again. I once told my mother and she unfortunately chose to believe it was a lie. At one point my younger brother witnessed an attack and the older brother tried to force him into doing the same so he wouldn’t tell. Luckily he was very young still and wasnt able to do any actual damage and i dont blame him for he was also affraid of the older one. My older brother even once invited a friend into my room when i was asleep, i was only in the forth grade and my older rapist brother was trying to pimp me to his friends! I woke up and kicked him in the face, went and slept in moms room, and was able to avoid that. I also have a younger sister; and unfortunately he may have molested her too, she was too young to remember weather it had happened or not. Luckily i don’t think he’d ever went as far as rape with her. I could go on and on about the events of my childhood pain but; mostly i just wanted to say i know exactly how you must feel..their family and you never fully get away from them, its always going to be in the back of your mind mocking you. I am now 33 years old and it still haunts my day to day life, eeather its just the memory or messing with the way i see current close relationships with people. There is nothing like being betrayed by someone who is supposed to look out for, protect and love you by turning out to be your attacker.

      P.s. he actually appologized about 5 years ago, said he knew what he was doing was wrong blah blah bla..i said at the time that’d id forgive him, but id never forget. He is currently serving an 18 year prison sentence on unrelated charges and has spent the majority of his life behind bars before this charge. Karma has a way of punishing those who need it. Best wishes for you.

  13. I too was raped 7years ago and my life has never been the same. The movies always plays at the back of my mind and I can’t even control it. I’ve been seeing a psychologist for 3years after the incident but it never helped, I can still hear the music playing in the background (One Step at a Time by
    Jordin Sparks), his smell, the colour of the room…everything. My relationships suffers, I always fight with my partners, for their lack of compassion, desire for me, attention, protection…& sometimes they do things that triggers everything unaware and it heightens my fear and it leaves me feeling the very same I did 7years ago. A part of me was taken from me that day, I’m very different from the way I remember myself as a 19year old. I cry myself to sleep most of the time, I cry when I see such on TV, social media, reading about it, talking about it…I’ve been crying for the past 7years and some days are better than some. No one should ever go through such.

  14. I found your “story” incredibly interesting. About 20 years ago I was raped by an acquaintance. He was charged and convicted and went to jail (well, he was already in jail for another crime when he was convicted,.. so really he just stayed longer in jail). Looking back now, I know it was one of the defining moments in my life. As scary, horrible, devastating and traumatizing as it was I believe that it makes me who I am today. And because it makes me who I am I have had to come to terms with it and “be okay” with it. I too have the “movie” that sometimes plays in my head. I have things that come up that bring back frightful memories, but I also have a happy life and a wonderful husband. Its weird to define yourself from something so uncontrollable, but it happened as did many other things in my life that all roll up into the person that I am. And I like me! I would not go around yelling “I was raped” from the rooftops, but I do know within myself that he did not ruin me. I won’t let him.

  15. I’m a victim of rape myself, and I’ve found therapy helpful for undoing the wiring. Also with my partner we would slowly expose me to the things that triggered me, lingerie for instance, or snow. CBT is great though.
    If you can, I do recommend a therapist, they can prove invaluable.

    • Thank you, Stray, for recommending therapy! Yes, that can help a lot, assuming you find a good therapist, which can be challenging. It’s wonderful that you’ve found a good therapist and have a partner who is willing to work with you!

      Apparently, an online version of CBT can also be helpful – although when dealing with trauma it might be best to use that as an add-on. I am working through MoodGym and am noticing some positive changes.

      • I was raped 40 years ago at 13 yrs of age. Today I was watching a show that included a story line of a girl similar age raped and in the hospital. Now I can’t stop crying. I didn’t realize how young I was when it happened. I feel angry often at all these child predators and molesters but never considered myself a victim. I don’t know why not, as it certainly seems obvious. What is wrong with these men, and how does a child appear sexually attractive? I seriously doubt I’ll ever have the loving relationship I desire. I’ve been divorced twice and recently left a sexless relationship after constant pressure to be sexual. Now I like the act of sex but the relationship part is terrifying. I can’t seem to reconcile the love/hate component. I see my partner as either good or bad, almost resentful of their desire and/or lack of. I feel like I am creating my own problems. I don’t know if it has to do with the rape. I’ve never considered it. But I do know that reading these posts makes me feel some sort of normal.

        • Thank you for having the courage to write this here. I identify with your story, I was 14 and he was my best friends uncle. Now, 35 years later I find myself fearful, shameful, and unable to respond to my husband because of the trigger of my memory about a month ago. I just realized this yesterday, now I don’t know what to do with it. All of my life I have been labeled stubborn, difficult, emotional, and too sensitive. The blame has always been on me.

          • Dear Missy, being raped at the age of 14 has shaped 16 years of my life! I know exactly what you are talking about, when you say that the blame has always been on you; I have also been labeled too emotional and sensitive. Until very recently I believed I had grew out of it on my own and that it did not affect my life. However, one day I learned about a 16 year-old girl who had been gang raped and people’s comments on social media blaming her for the rape “because of her clothes and sexual conduct” triggered my PTSD. I could not stop crying and stoped functioning all together. That was when I searched help from a CBT therapist and started to realize that during my last 16 years I had blamed myself for it, and would take the blame for every problem in my relationships. I finally learned I was not fine, I had been broken into pieces and needed to learn how to put myself back together. I never realized I had been a totally different person since it happend. Somehow I forgot the confident girl, full of dreams I once was. Learning all of that has changed my life and now aí feel I have started to LIVE again! Do not blame yourself, you had no control over it! Lots of love to you! Eve

        • I was raped when I was under the age of 9 and total blocked it out and parts of the rape memories triggered late in my twenties. I only know the specific time because we moved to another area. I was again raped by 2 boys my age, not sure how old I was but maybe 10, 11 or 12 nearly every day. Was I too blame, still not sure. Cannot remember about 90% of my life and will be 55 in December. We never had TV until I was in grade 6 and never read about it ect.
          What do I do when I still cannot remember and embarrased to tell anyone. Only a few people know. It was by fathers brother and he died when he was 21. Never married and have no children

          • You are not to blame, Radha! It is very easy, though, to take on that blame since we tend to learn to do that. You might find it helpful to talk to someone about your experiences. One option would be to call RAINN at 1800-656-4673 or use the link to find help closer to where you are. People who staff these phonelines are trained to help us survivors!

            And I am so sorry you’ve gone through this and that you’ve been carrying it for so long! Sending you a virtual hug!

          • your story is a little bit like mine..I was raped at the age of 8.I was living with my aunt at her husband’s home. her older son took my virginity and the younger one followed. I don’t know if they planned it but they were both sleeping with me at different times.I was 16 when the memory came back I don’t know what triggered it. the first boyfriend I has sex with is not talking to me till now .when we had sex my body was so tensed I didn’t even made a sound.this thing has affected me since then I’m 22years old now and I’m struggling,I have the lowest self-esteem.. I need help

          • As I mentioned to Radha, you might find it helpful to talk to someone about your experiences. One option would be to call RAINN at 1800-656-4673 or use the link to find help closer to where you are. People who staff these phonelines are trained to help us survivors!

            You’ve been through such a horrid experience! Your reaction during sex is, sadly, normal given the trauma you’ve experienced. You can work through this, though! It takes some professional help and it’s possible. Sending you also a virtual hug!

  16. What about spouses of rape victims? I went from feeling betrayed by the victim to anger towards the rapist, then I was charged for attacking the monster.Then my own relatives betrayed us a great deal.This happened nearly 2 years ago and I have anxiety, depression and intrusive thinking happens throughout a day, and like every day.I focused on the rapist and stopped blaming all together but, in my head I struggle with the way she handled it.The rapist showed that he is a serial rapist with his grooming and cunning as well as making a rape room, and drugging his own girlfriend.Some people have said it has affected me far more than she, but how can anyone know how we feel.They do not know and don’t care….

    • I am sorry that you are in so much pain and turmoil, Robert! It sounds like a very lonely place. It almost sounds like you’re dealing with your own post-trauma impact.

      Given the prevalence of rape, I cannot imagine you’re the only one struggling with this, so I looked around a bit to see if I might come across an article that could help. Disappointingly, I didn’t find much that I thought would be helpful (it’s mostly along the “be supportive” lines – something that’s challenging to do when you, too, need support), so maybe it’s time for men like you to speak up more?

  17. Thank you Rachel for your brave post. If I could cry these days reading it would have brought tears to my eyes.
    I too had my innocence viciously ripped away during my rape when I was about15 by a guy I thought was a friend. I guess the assault was too traumatic for my young mind because I repressed most of the memories from that night for the last 25 years. Over the last month I have been having increasing flashbacks from the rape. It seems that each one is somehow more detailed than the last. I am starting to process this with my trusted therapist (for addiction & depression). My depression is worse, I feel somehow apart from everyone – even my wonderful husband and 4 children. Over the last week I have lost my feeling of safety. I just don’t feel totally safe anywhere, even at home. I am extremely hypersensitive to touch and am very uncomfortable with even my husband’s most casual touch.
    From what I have read I agree that trauma does affect our brains. I am reading a very insightful book on the effect of trauma on the body called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kock. I find the clinical or scientific details comforting when I feel like I am going crazy.
    I don’t know what to do with all this crap (sorry, information). I know in my head that this all happened 25 years ago. But all of this is so new and raw and difficult and in that sense, it is as if the attack happened only a few weeks ago. How do I go on from here? I feel like I’m swimming upstream and to drown.

    • Thank you for sharing, Jenny! It sounds like stuff is bubbling up for you. I hope you are getting the support you need to help you deal with that!

      I enjoyed reading Bessel van der Kolk’s book because, like you, I find it helpful to understand why I do things. I, too, long for being able to turn that information into a way of feeling better! At least consistently… It is challenging to have violations that happened decades ago still impact our lives now… Sometimes it helps me to remind myself that it is “just” a reflection of how my brain works now – at least that reminder takes away the additional layer I tend to add, a layer of shame about being “so broken.” The reality is, we are not broken. We have coped with trauma – sometimes the way we cope might not be very healthy. Yet, here we are.

  18. I was drugged and raped by a”friend” when I was 18. My friends at the time were very supportive, but we didn’t realize it was a crime. It’s now been 34 years, and I am just now in a place where I am dealing with it. I look back now and see how cautious it has made me. I see where I have difficulty standing up or speaking up for myself. I see where I have difficulty making decisions for myself. I can do all of these things for others. I forgave him a very long time ago. He was one of the saddest people I have ever known. I suppose my issue tonight is that I would like to understand how it made me feel, but I have completely blocked all emotions from the event. I did like the post that said this only happened to a part of you. I have lots of different parts that are extremely well balanced. It’s helpful to realize that it explains the confusion I feel at times. I was married happily for 27 years and now four years after my husband’s death I am finally understanding just how protected he made me feel. God is leading me to this for a reason, and I know He is faithful to heal! Blessings to everyone!

  19. My first raped happened when I was 18 by my sisters boyfriend, who was like my brother. He used to sell drugs, so had a very shady side to him. He drugged me by putting rohyphnol in my coffee, but not enough, because I was paralyzed and couldn’t open my eyes, but remember it. The memories didn’t come back to me until months later. I lived in fear of him. He bullied me for years after it until I moved out, and finally confided in a few friends and told my parents. He’s still around, as he has kids with my sister. She’s now an alcoholic, and confronted him, while drunk and he went around telling people that I was saying he’d raped me. Humiliating me.

    I was raped two other times, and have been diagnosed with ptsd. It’s such a struggle, but knowing this info helps clarify the feelings that go along with it.

    Cried while reading it, and some of your stories. Hope we can all heal as best we can.

  20. Thank you for being strong and expressing yourself to the world so beautifully.
    I cried as I read because like most of us here, I also suffered about 6 years of abuse from my cousin, and those movies, those movies…
    I am always incredibly hesitant to post on the web– maybe this fear?
    But I felt the need to have to thank you because I found comfort in your words.
    An idea I’ve always wondered.
    Again, thank you.
    I send so much love to you, and any one else who reads this.

  21. I was raped 11 years ago im now 25 married i still get depressed thinking off what happend to me i try hard to forget it but when i get sad it just pop up in my head i try and lead a normal life but soon as im sad everything comes back to me please help me

    • Malusha: I am sorry about the impact that your experience has on you still today. It sounds like you’re tired of your memories coming back whenever you’re sad. I hear you! Unfortunately, there isn’t much else I can do, especially through this medium. I wish there were an easy answer! Just know that you’re not alone. There are lots of us.

      You might want to check out RAINN – https://www.rainn.org/ – since they are trained to help survivors.

  22. I was raped a long time ago. I lived in a rural community. I was on a date with someone I had gone to high school with. I knew he had a troubled childhood as he would come to school beat up by his father. But he had a sweet side too. He parked his car and became very angry when I would not submit. He yelled at me and called me names and said he was tired of me acting like I was better than anyone else. His car had bucket seats, he pushed me down between them so my head was in the back seat and held me by my throat and raped me. Still yelling at me. We were about 21. Then he told me he wanted me to spend the night with him and if I wouldn’t say yes he would drive the car off the road and kill us both. I said yes, but when he parked his car and got out and went to his door, I ran away in the dark. It was near a rural highway and I hid in the ditch. I could hear him looking around but he left. I crawled for a ways in the ditch then flagged down some fishermen and they gave me a ride to a nearby college town where I attended school. I never reported it. I was afraid going through that. I thought for a while of ways to get back, leave notes in his mailbox unsigned saying he was going to die. I had nightmares of me stabbing someone and killing them. I also started cutting myself. But I went on and left it behind me. I NEVER went back to my little home town. I couldn’t even stand to drive through it. I’m 68 now. This happened 46 years ago. I went to my 50th high school reunion and this guy came in with his wife. It was the first time I had seen people I grew up with since the event. We avoided each other but as I was getting ready to leave someone said you should say hi to this person we stiffly shook hands and said a few words. But now I keep having visions of crawling in the ditch. I can feel the wet grass. I feel sick to my stomach. I’ve been married many years. I want these thoughts to go away. Its silly after all this time to obsess on something. I’ve had a very good career and family.

    • I had a similar experience when I was very young. My class reunion is coming up and on the Facebook invite list I see the son-of-a-bitch who did it to me, pictured smiling with wife and kid … I see many of my friends are friends with him … I immediately vomited my rage. Like it happened yesterday though it was 20 years ago. I know exactly what you mean. I am grateful for the life I live now but I started having very self destructive tendencies after the assault and to some extent still do. I know it’s been a while since you shared, but I needed to express this for me as well as others who go through the same. We aren’t alone. I think young women today have better resources than we did, however it is still just as scary to speak out and tell what happened.

  23. I found this comment thread helpful. I had an experience where I was violated by an older man when I was 15. I was drunk and out in the woods with some friends partying. I remember waking up to a man touching me and then putting his member in my mouth and then kissing me. I was lying in a bed with two other women. I did not deserve this. I was taken advantage of. There was no way for me to give consent when I was sleeping. What a jerk to mess with a child like that!!!! I remember walking home the next day in shame. Another girl lost her virginity that night but she gave consent. That was one night that started about 15 years of reckless sexual behavior. My therapist now calls that re-enactment. I know now why I drank so much. To numb the pain. I am 5 years sober now and in a committed relationship and in trauma therapy. I am no longer numb to my body or feelings. I am no longer running.

    If I could tell the 15 year old part of me anything it would be -I love you and he never had the right to touch you and you have a right to tell someone about it-

    The sad thing is I had no one to tell. I told my friends and they made fun of me. We laughed about it. At home my Dad was emotionally and possibly even sexually abusing my mom. So I had no one. So I drank.

    Lucky I am alive now. I made it through my childhood and all of the sexual and emotional abuse.

    Now it is time to work on my connection with my body. I can get really triggered during oral sex with my boyfriend. It makes me want to push him away and scream at him and run.

    I told him last night that we can work on it. And he told me that I am in control. I can always tell him no.

    And I will be working on it with my therapist too. But it is nice to finally be with a safe man after all of these years.

    And the story I shared was only sexual abuse experience I had. I was also raped by an abusive boyfriend when I was 28 and assaulted by a man who was in the military at 21 (I told him the next day he did not have consent but I don’t know if that did anything) and I know I did not deserve any of those experiences.

    I have also had loving parents too. But those have been harder to connect to. Because I feel I have been so far away from my body. Because it hurt too much.

    It is nice to know I am not alone. I feel like I am healing and that is an amazing feeling.

    And there are good men out there. I found one.

    • You need to be validated in your feelings,
      It was wrong for that person do that to you, not everybody is like that …
      There are a lot of people that would like to beat the shit out of that man for you,

      Life has a way of paying people back,

      Find people that are supportive to hang out with.,
      Refuse to let that man take away what God gave you as a pleasure,
      never do anything if it leaves you feeling used or abused.
      , find your own boundaries of tolerance
      be kind to yourself
      , every time you say that I forgive
      It puts the persons karma back on them when we say we forgive them even though you might not feel like it that’s OK..
      Saying it puts an energy out into the atmosphere, and releases us from there harm emotionally mentally it’s a process

    • Hi; your story has me in tears. I`m just remembering how I was raped by two men when I was 17, and drunk. I`ve kept this event hidden to myself for 40 years, never ever daring to call it rape. I recently tried to tell my husband why I was such a mess, having had episodes of depression throughout my life, and why I`m being treated for anxiety and stress… but couldn`t. I feel total shame about what happened even though I know I was not responsible for what they chose to do to me. My story is so complicated but it seems to stem from childhood unhappiness to reckless behaviour to drinking to rape and then periods of misery and depression ever since. Any way, thank you for posting these life happenings on the site, as it has helped me feel a little less alone.

  24. Hi, I am glad this site exists. I too was attacked over 20 years ago and it haunts me really. The flight stuff that I keep re enacting… I am going take part in an mdma study. Has anybody on here seen Rachel hope discussing her life and on molestation and how this treatment desired her brain? Anyways, there is hope, I keep reaching outside to therapists and being honest with what and who I was before it happened. Sometimes it is like I am a skeleton watching myself , like a part of me died or something. It was a stranger in college who was from a different country. God. I was and am such an amazing girl and the damages to my spirit are devastating but Oprah says that it has given her compassion… This awareness of pain in others. I wish rape would stop on the whole planet. Love to you all and I will write again. Mary Kate

  25. I was raped 40 years ago and now I live in a marriage with no sex. I was joining the army and they had put us up in a hotel for our tests and our medical stuff. There were about six girls in each room. Same with the boys. On the last night or so, we were all in the room I shared talking, drinking sodas, watching TV, discussing our life plans and someone spiked my cola and I woke up with a man on top of me with the room dark and empty except for us. I was eighteen. I tried to fight him, but instead of focusing on the fight, I could see my hands moving in slow motion in front of me. I am not 58 and it is still a big part of my life. I managed to roll over and saw him leave my room. I crawled to the bath and got in it and turned the cold water on to try to get more alert. I could tell I was drugged. I never did find out which boy did it. I accused all of them, but I never officially reported it.

    It has never left me. The only person who knows is my husband. I know it is ridiculous but I have always felt less than worthy of anything. I have had a hard life because of this one incident and not getting the help that I needed. I hope no one lives the life I had lived because of one incident. Your rapist may control only a very small portion of your life. Don’t be like me and carry it with you a lifetime.

  26. Thank you.
    Five years later, a vivid nightmare, that ‘movie’ so well preserved, derails me. I am happy damnit. I have a happy life, a loving partner, a successful career.
    And I’m left weak, open, completely..
    Well I feel guilty on a level that I can’t express this to my partner and that I can’t just pull it together because it’s been years.
    I’m always in pursuit of the scientific backup to say hey girl, this is how your brain is working, this is why it’s happening. It helps.
    You words help. Thank you for posting.

    • Thank you, Indu, for taking the time to share that it was helpful to read!

      I find it so helpful to know that what our brains do is normal… “This is my brain on trauma,” has helped me many times to get back out “the hole” of shame and depression… I’ll be working on a post about fallacies – and how understanding them better is helping me “talk back” to my mind, so stay tuned if that’s of interest to you.

  27. I am almost 22 now, I go through it everyday. I was 12, it happened the day before 13th birthday. He was extremely violent and I blacked out during it because it was too traumatic to comprehend anymore, I had to lie about who did it so he would not find out and hurt me. I was in therapy for it for like 7 years, it did not help I didn’t get the right help in time because my brain had already been rewired. I felt very strange around older guys all the time and that something was badly wrong… I blocked it out and I have remembered some but I end up stopping the flashback because it is too intense and I can’t get through even a minute of it. I have mild dissociation and feel like floating, I sometimes feel no emotion at all. I want to remember all of it but I always feel suicidal so I stop it and just turn on happy music. The images of it are severely traumatizing, but yeah I try to laugh it off cause that’s all I can do now.

    • I would like to know ladies,can this experience make you be obsessed with sex I mean sometimes I feel like I need to have sex so bad and sometimes I would look at some males and imagine myself with them even my family.. its hurt cause one..its Gabby again…plz ladies help..

  28. I was raped 13 years ago, and didn’t fully recall it until yesterday.. as I was trying to explain to someone I care about very deeply about how I had come to have such unhealthy “feel-good” habits. I suppressed it and coped in an unhealthy way for so long, I feel that I am forever broken. How could I ever rewire my brain now? It has forever changed my life course, and I realized it way too late.

    • Good for you to make the connection between the rape you experienced and your unhealthy habits! And while you might think that you realized this too late, remember that you are still alive: As long as you live this realization isn’t too late. You can still change your habits by accepting that this has happened to you and, yes, has changed you in fundamental ways.

      Maybe one thing to embark on next is to look at that sense of being broken: What was shattered by this experience? It is likely that it impacted your trust in others, maybe even yourself. While we cannot go back to before that traumatic experience, we can learn to not let it define us. You are not only a person who was raped, you are also a person who shared this experience here, which means you survived it and processed it enough to feel comfortable talking about it.

      I strongly belief that as long as we avoid believing that healing means going back to before, we can heal, even thrive. The first – and maybe hardest – step is acceptance, including accepting the impact on our lives, on our selves.

  29. the same thing sorta happened to me….when I was like 5 or 6 my mom had a close friend and her friend had a son about a year or two older than me my family thought he was a good kid. Because for about a month they lived at our house my mom put him in my room and he slept on an air mattress because of him and my brother were sleeping in the same room they would probably be up all night. Well every morning he would do sexual things to me even when I said no and I never told. The one day he might of raped me. My memorie is still a little fuzzy but from after he moved out to until I was 11 I completely managed to block it out of my memory. Then my old best friend turned out to be his cousin and he told her where she would always say something to me and get mad at me for it when he did everything which triggered a good amount of my memory. Because of it I always felt guilty. We got into an argument and she told people but she didn’t say he forced me. Which made me think about everything a lot and I only had one close friend I could talk to and she really listened too and one more but we weren’t that close. And a few weeks ago we had a carnival and he came back to the state and he was there I freaked and my memory kept coming back and I would start having nightmares about it. On that day u almost went on the starships when he was in there and then a when I completely broke down at the carnival. And the worst part was that my ex best friends mom (his aunt) started laughing and made a comment about it. I am now afraid of carnivals. And everything has been getting worse and one of my friends then practically took his side (the one I wasn’t so close too) and then I finally told my closest friend that i am almost 100% sure he raped me and now she doesn’t believe me on that and I feel like I’ve lost everyone to talk too ( and that just happened today) then she said my mind was probably making that stuff up and one of the reasons why she said that was because they were really good friends and they used to have sleepovers but nothing happened to her(but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to me) and I feel like I have nobody to talk to about it now because she says I would absolutely remember everything but that’s not true a lot of people that were sexually abused and raped somehow block their memory of it….and I am now 12 and it suck because the part where he possibly raped me keeps playing in my head and all the images keep flashing through my head as if it happened five minutes ago and the next thing I know someone was talking to me and I didn’t realize and so I was having flashback and I don’t know what to do because I finally told my mom but she doesn’t care because she said she was gonna do something about it like take me to counseling and she hasn’t and it as if she just put it in the back of her mind which really makes me feel worse and I’m literally at the point of breaking down and not talking to anyone

    • To the young girl who wrote this, I just read your post and im really hoping that 2 years on things happened for you and you received help? Did your mom take you to counselling? Either way did you find the courage to share your story with anyone else you can turn that would help and support you? There are lots of online groups and telephone helplines. .I realise you are only 12 but it’s so important to get help and come to terms with the abuse that happened to you by this boy…if you dnt deal with it then it could find itself worming its way into your future life without you realising it.
      I am 20 years on from my rape but it’s only last week that it finally hit me and im in bits..emotionally I am in turmoil and dnt k ow what to do…I now hate this bastard and I dnt want to think about all this again but it’s there now so I have to try heal it ……but I just cnt believe it took 20 years for it to u repress itself…Rachel post made soooo much sense about the heightened and dulled fear….
      Thank you for sharing and k owing im not alone as I have been the last 20 years x

      • 22years ago I was raped by our neighbour just about 3 days before Christmas.He was married to my best friend’s cousin at the time.Things happened so fast because one minute he was talking to me then the next he grabbed me,threw me on the bed and had me pinned down.He stole my virginity through the leg pipe of my shorts I was wearing that day.I remember screaming but no sound came out.My friend was outside the window and I could see her shadow standing there but she had no idea what was happening behind the closed door.I literally left my body and I was looking down at myself as he tore into my body,stealing my innocence.Today I am 36 years old and I have 3 beautiful kids but it still haunts me.My mom never believed me and now I have this idea that I’m only good for one thing only and that is to have men use me for sex because I don’t have the right to be loved as I’m only but “used goods”

        • I believe you, and have a similar story of people not believing me
          it’s because it didn’t happen to them,
          I pray for your peace and to know that you are so loved and worth everything to God
          It never goes unnoted what people have done to God’s children..
          And he does advenge us

  30. Hello there!
    I have to thank you personally. I was raped (so hard to say that) when I was 14-16. It lasted for nearly three years. It’s been two years since then and I still struggle with it. Some people find it hard to believe that I still struggle. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told just to move on… How many times the movie plays in my head and I’ve never been able to explain how it felt, I’ve never been able to explain the pain… The hurt… The dissociation. Lately I was diagnosed with RTS, which may be something others should look into. It described everything thoroughly, as did your post 🙂 Lately the hardest thing for me has been dissociation and anxiety. I’ve been questioning whether my family loves me… Does my boyfriend love me… Do my friends love me… Does everyone hate me… Do my coworkers hate me? It’s a constant battle with myself. I’ve been trying to overcome this but I don’t know how, and was hoping you or your other wonderful followers could help or relate please? I would greatly appreciate it. I also focus on the negatives, it’s like- I constantly need confirmation that I’m loved. If my boyfriend hugs me but doesn’t kiss me or hold my hand, I worry that he hates me. If my mom talks louder than normal, or my brother talks too much, I worry they’re angry with me. I can’t help it. It’s mainly needing to be reminded that I’m loved. And that is so hard for me. If people show me they love me… But don’t tell me they love me, I believe that they don’t. It’s awful 🙁 so if there is any advice anyone could possibly give me I would be so very very happy 🙂 Your post helped me so much, just to accept everything, to accept it into my life and I really can’t thank you enough.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
    Kristen

    • I know exactly what your going through. I was in a relationship for 4years where i was raped repeatedly and sometimes violently. It’s a hard thing to over come and move past. The best advice i can give you is to try to see the good things about yourself and be open to the love people show you. It can be hard on the people around you as well cause they are worried about doing something to upset you because of this. Just try doing things to build your own self confidence and if you need to try speaking with someone that works with people who have been through this. Just stay strong and keep moving forward. It can take time though its been a year for me and i still wake up with nightmares and have trouble let people physically close to me. But things will slowly start to get better.

  31. Hi Rachel, I’m a survivor nearly a thriver after 20 years with a psychopath. I’ve learnt about ‘them’ and I’m learning about me. He was able to blindside me with all his techniques, the pathalogical lies, gas lighting etc I told a health professional and she believed me and that was the beginning to get myself and children safe away from him, away nearly 3 years now, I only see him in court. I’m still remembering and dealing with the trauma. But what happened 23 years ago keeps coming back to me. I had been married 15 years to a lovely man and this abuser was an acquaintance that became more my friend. I ended up in bed with him, and had previously said no penetrative sex, while in his brother and his wife’s house, he did exactly what I said not to do. I tried to stop him, but was so conscious of where we were, I didn’t want to make a fuss. After he finished he said ‘did you not enjoy it’
    I couldn’t believe that had just happened and what I did after just caused so much hurt and destruction, what I did was tell myself he didn’t just rape me, I told myself he loved me, and this was the only way he could declare his love. I separated from husband and moved in with him where he used the family unit as a facade in which to perpetrate his abuse of us all. I was so ‘in love’ with him, I prioritised his every need, neglecting my children and myself. He was mean and cruel, I minimised and made excuses for him.
    I had no idea characters such as him existed. I’ve learned how they plot and plan, how they manipulate your very brain. I’m looking back and am horrified how he trapped me in his spiders web of lies and deceit. I googled, rape vs ego vs soul and came across ye. His rape of me, even tho I denied it so long, changed mine, my husband, our children’s, extended family and friends lives forever. I became his zombie, he switched off my soul, I saw everything from his perspective, it is so scary, looking back at how he affected me so much, and I thought at that time I was a sentinent human being making an informed choice. How far from the truth was I. It must have been the rape that was the game changer, these rapist psychopaths know exactly what they do. He ‘needed’ a family and so he ‘took’ mine, and if I returned to my hubby, he still ‘won’ cos he raped me. All rapists know exactly what they do and the psychopaths within the legal system fail the victims because they identify with the rapist. But the legal system is primarily about justice, we must demand it sometimes. I was fearless before I met him, after 20 years I had no idea the terror and the fear I had of him, I realised I was petrified of ‘him’ when I learned what he was and he ‘showed’ his true self more often. I was so scared, but I recognised what it was ( so unbelievable to me) and I got physically fit and I would walk the woods at 5 and 6 in the morning in the pitch black to prove I wasn’t. Now looking back, it is like a nightmare, so unbelievable, but it is the reality of my life. Sorry for essay, I hope it makes sense. My heart goes out to all the wonderful brave women that have posted here, despite all we are still standing xxx

    • I am a 38 year old woman. When I was 8 I was molested by a janitor, at age 16 raped by a cousin. The molestation was turned into a joke by my family, by the way it’s not funny! I was then raped by my cousin and was never allowed to speak of this or it would shame my family. I realize as an adult how wrong all of this is. It didn’t bother me for years and then just one day I found myself not wanting to be touched by my husband of almost 20 years. It makes me feel dirty and just bad about myself. I have gone to therapists which offer little to no help. I feel better for just a short period and the bam these feelings start again. Just wondering if I will ever be normal and able to lead a happy fulfilled life.

      • Based on my own experience, I am guessing that this is bubbling up because somewhere you feel safe enough to heal the trauma. Sometimes it seems odd to me what “comes up” even after years of counseling… Since reading about how the body stores our trauma, it makes total sense to me. Just talking about it doesn’t heal it!

        You might enjoy exploring some of the trauma-releasing resources I am currently exploring. They may be a very helpful addition to therapy (or try to find a counselor who uses somatic approaches… I’ve started working with one a few weeks ago and am amazed at the difference that is making even though (or maybe because!) we don’t talk much…)

        • Hi I love your blog, I was just chatting with my husband and I as well have been experiencing the same thing with him. I was raped at 13 by one uncle and again at 15 for a duration of about a year by another. To say the least I don’t trust man men around me especially family. I am now 26 and I have been with my husband for 7 years and this has been something we have both fighting for years. I just want it to be over so so so bad.. We have 2 children 3 and 5 both boys and my brain is wired to the point that being a good mother is difficult. I also was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a little over a year ago which has made this journey 100X harder. I don’t want my husband to feel like he is not wanted anymore. I love him very much but he has never been through any type of traumatic situations. I feel awful for him and he tries hard to understand. Is this ever gonna get easier? Or is this how I will live the rest of my life? Along with all the stress of if I will be paralyzed in a few years.. I did go to a therapist for many years and have been on anti depressants for years as well.. Please help I need something. Any suggestions would be amazing.. I just want to be a wonderful wife and mother

          • Tiffany: Thanks for reaching out! It sounds like you’re feeling quite overwhelmed by the after effects of your traumatic experience, your MS diagnosis, and your challenge of trusting men.

            I am not a counselor, so I cannot give you direct suggestions, however, I’ve started to compile some resources that you might want to check out. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way for the trauma to completely go away. In other words, it will always influence us. However, I suspect that we can learn to live with it better so that it disrupts our lives less. Maybe you and your husband can talk about this and figure out a way for both of you to hold this. It sounds like he is willing to help and maybe it isn’t as distressing to him as it is to you…

            I do think that it gets better. In my own experience, the more I was able to accept that these dark parts of my past are there and they don’t mean that I am a horrible person, the more I can hold them as “just” a part of my life-story.

        • Hi I am 26 years old and I lost my viginty to raped when I was 14 years old. My aunt had a grudge towards my grandmother who happens to be her fathers younger sister. We didn’t know this until she left my cousins and I in the care of a man she knew was a criminal and was a rapist,so it was clear that she was gona settle the score with my gran using me.After the rape I had sleepless nights because of nightmares. Months after the rape I became a very rebelious child,I slept around because I felt that I was already damaged goods and there was no point saving my self till marriage anymore.I then decided to stop, I then I got a boyfriend and I forgot about the rape. 3 years into the relationship I had a flashback during sex,it was horrible I pushed him away and ran to the corner and cried.Things didn’t work out with him. I’m now married to another guy and I recently had a flashback during sex,I just got sooooo angry and pushed him away. Will these flashbacks be a part of my life forever?

          • I am so sorry you’re going through this, Rebecca! I hope you can talk with your husband about your experience and enroll him in helping you heal, as Julia suggested in another comment.

            Also, I just wrote up a summary of a talk I attended last night on PTSD and depression – and how we can use cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness to help us heal.

            And, no, those flashbacks don’t have to be a part of your life forever. I know it feels like that sometimes! I have not had a flashback in a couple of years now, after an unexpected recurrence of them when I first concentrated on healing those wounds. It does get better!

  32. Thank you all for sharing, this is very helpful to me.
    I’ve been working on some anxiety issues through meditation,I recently allowed myself to remember what happened 18yrs ago.
    I was drugged repeatedly attacked by multiple men and held for 3-4 days. I never told a soul what happened I immediately blocked it out of shame and fear. I did go a little crazy after the attack drinking partying sex anything I could be in control of. I think it was PTSD
    Bits of memories would be triggered over the years but I would manage to push them away. Tell myself it was a bad dream, it never happened.
    Now that I’ve allowed myself to remember and feel what happened, it is this never ending movie. I’m in a lot of pain and the hardest part is that I’m going through this pretty much on my own. I’ve been talking to one long distance friend because distance is safe.
    Reading your stories brought me to tears because for the first time in my life I feel like someone knows exactly what this feels like. I’m not crazy what I’m seeing and feeling is real. I’m not alone… Thank you

    • You’re not alone, Cathy! Far from it! Letting yourself feel is one of the steps toward healing.

      Forgive me for giving you unsolicited advice – and feel free to ignore it! – I can hear (and relate to) your pain, so I want to share some of the things that have helped me.

      You might want to check out Bessel van der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score.” It’s changed how I am approaching my past trauma. It’s very important to use body-based approaches because that’s where it’s stored: In the body. I am currently exploring various approaches (trauma-sensitive yoga, Tension/Trauma Release Exercises in particular) and they seem to be making a difference… Once I’ve put together a list of resources, I’ll share a link here!

  33. Rachel,
    Thank you so much for your sincere post. I know how difficult it can be; I was raped by a “friend” who put something in my drink. For years I remained in limbo, not caring to live, entertaining dead-end relationships… It wasn’t until 7 years passed and I told a friend who helped me that things began to change. Ultimately, I wrote a book which will be out this month; it was cathartic. I pray that people receive healing and understanding from it as I know reading something similar back then would’ve helped me. God turned the bad into good. I wish I’d spoken about it sooner. Thanks again.

    • I had the same experience as you Julia – a so called friend. Its been 8 years now and since the birth of my daughter I cant get ‘it’ out of my mind, day or night. My daughter is 5 and a half months old now. I had her via c section and its taken so long to heal, I think the pain in that area has been a constant trigger- plus the tiredness and run of the mill stuff of having a new born. Ive never kept ‘it’ a secret, my husband knew of it from the start. But its so hard to talk to him about it again, I feel like a failure as he helped me through it before and he was so good, to ask for his help again seems so weak. Ive never written on a forum before – and I cant really say why Ive done this now. I just randomly felt like sharing, hope you dont mind.

      • Oh, Sarah, my heart goes out to you! Sounds like you are struggling with both the trauma of the rape and your shame around it. You are not alone in your experience, so I am glad you started sharing! This is a very tough place you’re in!

      • Hi Sarah,
        I know exactly how you feel; emptiness & apathy seem to rule. But, you did a great thing: you did not remain silent, like so many is have. It’s a blessing that your husband knows. I think you should sit down and speak to him; it’s not a weakness rather a strength. I am sure that he will do everything he can to help you & at the same time, it will help him. This hurts him also. Crime is never independent. Please feel free to email me at: juliatorresstillstanding@gmail.com
        It will be more private for us both. Julia

      • Sarah,
        Just reading this now.

        Don’t stop sharing. It begins to lose power over you the more it’s vocalized. Your husband won’t think you’re weak either, it’ll make your marriage stronger. Keep communication open.
        The more I speak about it, the more I see others reveal their experiences; its empowering and validates us.

        Above all else, pray. God has a great way of Turing bad into good.
        Julia

  34. I know this is an old post but I felt compelled to comment. I too am a victim of date rape – going on ten years. I also am so interested in social psychology, sociology, and psychology in general.

    I am at a much better place today than I was until about two years ago. Like you, learning that the feelings I experienced were “normal” or common among victims. I was diagnosed with PTSD but no one helped me understand what that meant. When I finally began my research I learned that so much of what I was feeling was a normal response to the trauma I experienced. Somehow knowing that this very well could be a biological response to trauma made me feel a little less crazy.

    So if I’m doing so much better why am I on the internet looking for ways to “rewire” my brain? Because I realized that my PTSD was never fully dealt with. Yes, I came to terms with what happened to me. I learned that though it is a significant part of my life, it certainly does NOT define me. What I didn’t thoroughly deal with is the symptoms of PTSD that I thought would vanish with acceptance.

    I am still hyper-vigilant; I have anxiety that seems to just creep up out of no where; When these things compile with all the other emotions I have I discover the true cause of it all. CONTROL. Sexual Assault causes a person to feel as though they have no control of what happens to them or their bodies. I began to see that any situation, even if it was not even remotely sexual, that made me feel like I did not have control caused me to feel extreme anger and anxiety.

    This is what lead me here. I had to comment to let you know that you are not alone. You are brave for speaking out so freely. I also write but am hesitant to post things about my own story for the public. I could tell strangers all day but anything that associates my name with my story makes me fear that someone who knew me during that time of my life will see it and for some reason that terrifies me.

    I commend you and hope you continue to find strength in knowledge of what is really happening within us.

    • Thanks so much, Katelyn, for sharing your story!

      I’ve recently started reading Bessel van der Kolk’s new book, “The Body Keeps the Score.” It’s been very eye opening! Unless we use healing modalities that help us recreate a sense of safety, we will remain hypervigilant – and those modalities need to be embodied. “Talk therapy” isn’t enough. No wonder I haven’t fully healed!

    • Hi Katelyn,
      I understand your hyper-vigilance and anxiety. I have felt that way at times also. In the past, I was hesitant to speak out. It seemed there was still much ignorance regarding rape. It wasn’t until I began writing that I started to feel a release. Please understand with certainty that YOU are not to be blamed for any action or inaction on your part. A crime is a crime! If you get a chance, please check out my website; I believe my book’s contents will help you as they helped me. Now, I am no longer silent and will share my story for the benefit of others. Julia

  35. As posted by Jill
    “Its hard to write because I always feel some kind of shame that I’m not better. I can’t talk because my mouth is empty, full of a big black bag of silence. Vowels slur; consonants tear like barbed wire”

    This is why the posting helps. I never realized that anyone else had the same exact issue. I still can’t even go into my experience. I found this using rape/trauma/brain.

    Even though I can’t tell my story yet, thank you for posting yours, it helps to know I’m not alone.

    Tears are falling as I type this, I feel like I’m the only one at the funeral for my old self.

  36. Pingback: How History Shapes Us | Rachel's Musings

  37. Thank you for this article. For years, I’ve been trying to heal from rapes that happened nearly 20 years ago. Now I understand that no matter how much I progress and heal and love myself, I’ll still have that in my wiring to some degree…knowing this takes away the power of past, no matter what. Thank you!

  38. No types of abuse are good therefore one should not let what others have done control life. There are good people in the would just as there are bad ones. Ones that are respectful and gain a need through proper conduct and others who have trouble executing a need properly. The best way to move on from the situation is to lead by example through ones own actions. Not one life or soul is untarnished. Every individual goes through experiences. Both men and women go through struggles in which he or she may feel degraded by another person or not feel strong enough in a situation. The goal after the event is to realize that empowerment heals and progresses one forward passed an event or event(s). When refelecting the past it feels good in the brain to know “its not your fault.” One can take negative energy and turn ones life around. In the end a person has the power to be a better person and has room to grow intrinsically. The one that stands up and moves forward gains more in life in comparison to the person who has trouble executing their needs. “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Ghandi).

  39. I know that I’m supposed to look for the silver lining on every cloud, but I can’t seem to find a silver lining on this one. It just seems that a purely evil attack damaged me and it’s been so much work to keep my head above water ever since. One of the things that is difficult – the intrusive thoughts. Another thing is that the person who did this walks around free to do the same to someone else. I did go to the police, to the hospital, got a restraining order, but in the end it was ‘he said, she said.’ He had the gall to claim that it was consensual. WHAT A LIE. When he was attacking me, I told him, please stop, you are raping me, please don’t do this, please just stop now and let me go. I tried to reason with him. Well, he was much bigger and strong and he had a gun. He manhandled my dog and I was just terrified of him hurting my dog. It was awful. I have tried forgiving him, because it only makes sense that rape is not the act of a healthy, sane person. The lack of justice I recieved after following the rules, I feel, exascerbated my pain. I was terrifed to come forward, only went to the hospital for medical treatment, was encouraged to report this person, then the support disappeared. I beleive that has something to do with what his job was at the time and with the connections he had. They didn’t want to be embarrassed. My assault was too messy and swept under a rug. Well, I’m still living with that rug. If I knew how to get it out of my house, I would. Any advice greatly appreciated.

    • There is no silver lining to your experience. That is a lie perpetuated by those who benefit from keeping the system as it is. Sorry, reading your story just makes me mad: It sounds like he got away with raping you because he knew the right things to say and had the right standing in “the community.” Yuck! That is such an example of why rape is not an individual attack but rather how patriarchy is enforced. A silver lining would have been there had you received the support in getting this guy behind bars!

      Okay, I am not sure if this is helpful but your imagery with the rug gave me a few ideas that might turn this image into something that might help you heal. Play with the image (if it feels right, that is). Can you do other things with the rug? It’s there in your house but you could: take it out into the backyard and hang it over those bars and then hit it with something to get the dust out; if it feels right, you could use it to wrap yourself into it, redefining it as your protective coat; you could roll it up and stand it in the corner; you could sit on it and create a healing ceremony; you could have your dog poop on it; you could dance on it, taking your life back.

      • Rachel, thank you SO MUCH for writing – you are so clear, helpful. I have recovered so much, but still suffer from the daily abuse / torture. My brain needs re-wiring! I feel more at peace when I think “This is part of my story. It happened. I can’t make it NOT have happened. Now there are many good parts of my story; good things are happening in my life.”
        Thank you for renewing my hope. Geoff.

    • I too experienced trauma as a child and then at age 38 was assaulted sexually in jail by a complete stranger to this day i do not know who did this nor was there a report or quite frankly anything done to this person who has really screwed my life up. I know what happened and it took 10 years to go to the police and still no justice. It is beyond comprehension that violators get no justice while victims lose their identity and suffer immensely.

  40. I can totally relate to your sharing that it’s like a movie playing and you can’t stop it. It’s invasive. It’s scary. It’s living with fear every day and every night. I can tell myself that ‘this is a panic attack, it will pass, you are not in danger at this moment.’ I do that, I do try. Sometimes things just seem to get the better of me and maybe I’m just not as strong as I need to be. I’m feeling very tired now. Tired of trying. Tired of living with this. What did I learn from the experience? Never trust a man, ever. Always be careful. Keep to yourself. It killed my spirit. I used to love my life. I loved being a trusting person and a trusting person is what I wanted to be.

    • Gurl, I am not quite sure what to write back since you are in a lot of pain and I doubt that a blog is a good forum for support. The only thing I can think of is that it does get easier with time. Five years might seem like a long time but it really isn’t (think of how long it takes for a physical injury to heal!). No, there was no reason for this to happen to you. But, unfortunately, it did happen. It is horrible that it did! And unlike a cancer, you can’t cut it out, you can’t put these thoughts in a box and hide the box somewhere. The best you can do is accept – accept that these thoughts intrude on you and that sometimes, no matter what you do, they overwhelm you. That doesn’t mean that you are weak. That doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. You have been deeply, deeply wounded. But even if it doesn’t feel like this now, it will get better! You will heal, in part because you are willing to experience the emotions rather than stuff them away. And, also, remember: You are not alone!

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  42. Jill: The only hesitation I had about posting your comment was wondering if you really wanted that comment available to the whole world. It didn’t cross my mind that it might contain too much horror to post. This happened to you. I see no reason to hide that fact, as horrible as it is. I also thought that your comment contained a beautiful ending – a ray of hope that we can, at least to some degree, overcome the pain that has been inflicted on us. I also think that our speaking out can have a powerful healing effect on us, especially when we realize that we’re not alone.

    Yes, we really only have control over ourselves, our own thoughts, and our own behavior (and sometimes even that to a lesser degree than we think…). It’s so important to keep this in mind because we, as humans, have the tendency to take on responsibility for other people’s actions (or maybe that’s a woman thing…). Putting the responsibility back to where it belongs is an important step, as is taking responsibility for what we can control, as you suggest.

    I love the idea of SuperWoman! As a teen, I took a self-defense class for women taught by a woman who also wasn’t very tall. But she could take on any guy, especially since she had another tool at her disposal: surprise… Timothy Wilson suggests that our ego, who we are, is essentially created by ourselves, by the stories we tell ourselves. We can, he suggests, change who we are by imagining a new self and then practicing being that new self until it becomes us. So, your SuperWoman fantasies might be even more powerful than you realize, especially when you slowly adapt some of her behavior.

  43. Thank you Rachel for your wonderfully supportive and insightful comments. You know, I was afraid to come back here and check, thought I should just start writing a letter of apology for my – my – experience, my existence here in this life and infecting you and others with it. Then I got your wonderful comment via email. Thank you.

    Yes Rachel, I undoubtedly direct that rage at myself. I know that I do, you’re right. But I forgive myself and understand myself. In my experience of this whole thing that has been the only way that I can regain control. And control is essential to the healing of the self.

    They can do this; they can do that; they can do, might do the unexpected other. But I know what I can do. I can direct what I do, how I respond, with insight and mindfulness. The only thing I can have control over is myself.

    Sometimes its really hard, its so hard to take it on. But If I don’t then what is the alternative? Their agenda dictates my life. I will take responsibility because its all I have the power to control or change. I will embrace my rage. Mine to make art with or to help out little cutie boys in the rain on the street. My power; not theirs.

    Not to make lightly of your insight. I often hate and castigate myself for the consequences of their actions, which were emphatically not mine, or my responsibility. But only I have the power over myself to change, to transform, to emerge from this in my own image. I’m not giving them that power. Its mine.

    Thank you for not erasing me from your site, it was my biggest fear. That I was too ugly. Your response told me I might be a mess, but I’m okay. Thank you for that. Truthfully? I thought you’d erase the message and I’d be banned from speaking my truth somehow. Every day with terrible risk I try to assert myself and my truth back into the world. You have been a bright and shining gem in that process.

    Sometimes I have these really great fantasies about being a SuperWoman of some kind. Educated in classics and creative lit, I imagine myself a one-breasted, cross-bow bearing Amazonian woman (at five foot-two – shhhh!). I avenge not only myself but other women, so bloody very many who have been through so much more than have I. I adore these fantasies. They scare the crap outta any men to whom I reveal them… 🙂 They give me power when I’m scared to sleep. And I have a new tool: the Rachel Stone.

    Peace to you my sister,
    jill
    xo

  44. Hi, Jill,

    What a horrifying experience you had with the gang rape! Horrible! It’s beyond me how people can do stuff like that even on drugs… I hope those dog taunting boys don’t grow up to be these kinds of men… I applaud you for having the mindfulness to walk away from them. Even though their behavior triggered your deep rage, there was something in you that reached out and stopped you from acting out that rage (although I wonder if you ended up directing at yourself instead?).

    Thank you for sharing your story! I wish you more moments of grace and internal peace!

    Rachel

  45. Hi Rachel:

    Healing/wiring/rewiring and all of that brought me to your site tonight. I was raped at gunpoint by several men, one “ringleader”, about two years ago. I have been diagnosed with ptsd. I struggle to change the course of that rewiring, sometimes on a daily basis.

    I think it does change the way we process, our cognitive processes. In fact I feel very little doubt about that. No evidence; no peer review; no academic standard. Just my life. A life beginning to get better.

    But I’m fucked up again. What else is new?

    Its hard to write because I always feel some kind of shame that I’m not better. I can’t talk because my mouth is empty, full of a big black bag of silence. Vowels slur; consonants tear like barbed wire. There was an incident Monday, an unusual trigger to my experience of rape. I haven’t quite processed/recovered from it.

    When I had my dog Emma out in the backyard beside the garden and its high brick wall there were two little boys (about 12-14 y.o.) perched on top taunting, barking, throwing things at Emma to get her going. She has old people fears from an abusive puppyhood and did start to become highly aroused and agitated by it. Normally, I would be so underwhelmed by such an occurrence, that would have been the end of it but I felt rage inside and went right over to them asking if they were crazy or just assholes. Of course this upped the ante and resulted in an escalation of their behaviour, now tearing branches from trees and whipping them at Emma and I. ***My rage was barely contained; this wasn’t rage for only their actions, they were just the proverbial straw. Oh fuck I would have killed them if I could have reached high enough to grab a leg.*** The little bastards were lucky I’m so goddamn short because I have no doubt that they would have been torn apart. They were shocked by my response, guess they’d figured on fear from me. This prompted one to lean quickly over and spit in my face. I knew I had to walk away. And so I did.

    Tonight I was walking along St. Clair wondering at the rage coursing like venom through my veins, eating away at my heart. What to do with it? I thought about incorporating it into the sculpture I’m working on, but I don’t really want it there. The rage of being used as a human toilet by several men, one pissing up my ass, into my body, while a camera rolled and the others sat idly by watching, snorting coke up their noses, sucking meth into their lungs, and diddling their dicks waiting for the next time the mood struck them *does not* belong in an unprecedented hurricane from hell on two silly little boys. My mind was spinning wondering what to do with it?

    So all I could do was buy my sweet potatoes. Then on the walk home something interesting happened. Somebody walking behind me, barely, partly within my peripheral vision. A little boy. A little black boy about their age, dressed just about like them. No fear, only rage and horror at my own poison. I heard something hit the sidewalk and turned to him. He had an umbrella, three big bags of chips, falling down pants and not enough hands… I asked him if he needed help and bent down to pick up the chips for him, then decided I needed to kneel and bent as low as I could go before him. I looked up and handed him his dropped bits in a gesture of utter subservience. Subservience to the innocent, to the truth. A big warm smile of thanks came over his face and in that one ephemeral moment rage was transformed into a state of grace.

    Off to find more moments.

    Thanks for allowing me the space to share with you.

    jill

    • Hi. I have never posted. I cant speak of the rapes. All of yhe counseling seemed to deal with the depression and domestic violence, but the rape, no I cant discuss. Your post made me think it may be helpful to post, and I hope my story is not so- well I am disgusting. Years ago, it staarted when I lost my virginity, angry with my parents divorce, never finding my place to fit in, biys trying to touch my bittom and private in science class while the teachers back was to me, and yet, I still thought when I was at my first complete drunkeness that he just wanted to kiss, I was foggily barely there as he had his way. And then, as I beat myself up for my stupidity, raging at the world around me, and my brother knew, and my whole school new. Of course, who cared anymore I thought, so when another friend asked me to hang out, sure I thought I can take care of myself this time and nothing would happen, but no sooner than we were snorting something and I thought I’d be strong and play dumb and get home soon, the reality of drugs I’ve never taken hit me like a brick wall and they had there way with me. Thinking maybe my class mate wouldn’t speak of it, I continued meeting up wuth him, only to feel more and more used up. But of course, as much as I hated myself now… I didn’t love myself enough to wait to find someone who would really love me and I was very promiscuous. Ending up pregnant and alone, I still chose wrong again. I thought he would be a good dad, but the next 5 years proved more torterous than anything else. 2 kids later, and his drunkeness out of control, the minir little power and control became overburdensome. I was his property. I needed to stay home for him, and had limited access to family and the outside world, and living in poverty helped him maintain that. As I pushed for myself, got a job, found friends, and childcare, the worse things became… My headprints in the walls, bb gun shots in the car, the scratch marks, the choking, the holding down and threats, the intimidation increased. Then it became as his property and we were supposed to be married, I should provide sex whenever he wanted it regardless of how I felt or if I wanted to. He began forcing me even if I didnt want to, and then to my horror, he wants anal sex and I clearly say no I dont want to but hes forcing me to and holding me down and stronger than me, I cant budge. I bleed, I bruise, and he didnt care. I felt I had no way out with family relationships bridges burned, so I stayed. Things always seem to get better for a while, but then I recall another time, he forced anal sex on me, and althoigh I tried to push him off, he pinned me down so that he forced down my throat, I truly thought I would suffocate. But, my sense of time is out, I don’t remember when, it was 5 years ago but feels like not too long ago. He continued forcing me off and on, using a spiritual approach that I wasnt doing my duties to cater to him. The viilence and rape all continued until I finally gathered willpower to get out and believe that I could make it and eventually find someone else… But even now, meeting my husband now was surreal and enjoyable at first, but now we dont have sex but maybe once every 3 months. He doesnt understand, I cant share with him, and worse, in dealing with testifying for this guy to go to prison, working out adoption of my kids to my husband, this guy getting out and in less than a year assaulting one of his next girlfriends, I feel like I journeyed back through the time with him all over again. I would have panic atta ks in publuc, severe anxiety, and got treated with medication, but never thought I would need a psychiatric evaluation. I thought the counseling helped, but I still felt worthless, like I hurt my kids wotse staying too long, that I put myself in thise situations. But the last couple years, I started having nightmares and daydreams (nightmares) of him raping me again and again. Then as I learned about 10 shades of gray- I couldnt read it, but knew enough that it seemed like he wanted to treat me like that and expected me to be okay with it, and if I had, woykd he have not been so abusive? I know my train of thought is still not healthy- I know he chose to be abusive. But its as though al the times he forced ne and I couldnt control my body although im screaming no, how could I keep having images of rape in my head? It’s not that I want to, its sick, its wrong, I go from rahing to crying to what he did when he wasnt hurting me felt good and I did feel that he wanted me. I dibt feel wanted here where I am now, 5 years later my abuser abbuses me in dreams and angry about it I take it out on my husband in short curt words but I cant even tell him because I feel so nasty- how do I get this out of my head, what will it take to have a good enjoyable sex life now, why would anyone think bdsm would help get over trauma from rape in being utterly vulnerable to someone and forced to see they wont hurt you, or will they- thats not the answer, but I wondered if going to the prison to see him and confront him would ve good and to forgive sonehow, but I feel my heartbeat, rapid breatjing, and anxiety spinning just as I read these posts. I feel ive list all control and my hisband dowsnt understand why I need control and that him trying to take it from me is just some thing I can not live with, I cant handle. But i want to be held and loved, but I cant after having thoughts of rape which is almost a couple times every other week or couple weeks… what is wrong with me?

  46. Thanks for your input, Angela! Yes, you are right: the rape was a formative and destructive event – that became clear to me after I wrote the rest of the post (so, I’ll edit it a bit to make that clear!).

    I also found, like you, that blog-posting is another little step to healing. There is also evidence for that: when we write self-stories, we work it through, sort things out, and make sense of our experience. If we write for an audience, we probably have to do even more of that since we want to ensure that our points come across clearly.

  47. Rachel,

    I’ve done a lot of reading about traumatic experiences and how they re-wire the brain also. When I read: “Maybe it wasn’t such a formative and destructive event.” I thought, how could it not be? I don’t know if there’s a way to fully heal from a trauma like that. I’ve heard about drugs they’re trying out that will erase the memories or something – which sounds kind of dangerous to me.

    I have found that posting painful experiences on my blog is a healing tool. I could journal forever and not get the same relief I’ve found for putting it out there for others to see, and hopefully learn from, or take comfort that they’re not the only ones. My blog has unwittingly become a place where I work things out in my own head and it really does help me move on in the moment. I hope this post will provide you the same sense of relief. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

  48. Thank you, Kate, for your kind words! I do think that what I’ve experienced is an important part of who I am. I certainly wouldn’t dig into a lot of the issues that I am digging in now had it not been for these experiences. Like, you, I’d preferred to learn all this without the abuse but it was part of my path, so I might as well accept it and grow from it.

  49. Thanks.
    For writing it; for surviving it; and for posting it in spite of your hesitation -that’s bravery, as far as I’m concerned.

    I found this article very helpful, too. I’m sure I won’t go tracking down your sources. It is enough for me to hear what you shared here.

    Here’s what I’ve learned over my 60 years: All the stuff of my history – the good and the bad – contributed to make this person who I am now. All of it. I’ve turned out pretty well, over all. Some lessons are harder than others. Would I have skipped the abuse if I could? You betcha!!
    Do I regret the path that brought me to this present consciousness? Not at all.

    So who have you become? I know only what I read here. So far, I see intelligence, reflection, courage, conviction…who knows what you’ll show me in the posts to come. Based just on this, I think you’re doing pretty well, too. I hope it feels that way to you. If it doesn’t, then remember that you’re the one who can make it so.

    Thanks, again.

    • Thank you for posting your research. Everything you shared rings true to me and it helps to feel that you are not alone in feeling such things after such an experience. Rape is a trauma we have no reference point for, we have no way of assimilating this assualt on our being. For me, it changed my life dramatically. I went from being a fairly successful and competent person to being less than what I was. I misspell words, I forget things, I can’t keep up with the normal tasks of paying bills on time or completing assignments. I lived in an intense state of fear for the first 4 years after, and am now beginning to move forward, but it’s moving forward, it’s not getting well. That person stole so much from me, so much he has no idea how much he stole from my life, myself, my family and friends, my career. I still have the hyper-response symptom and I’m working to reduce the anxiety medication that was prescribed, but it’s just not an easy thing to do and there is no way for others around you to understand how hard you are trying to function because they cannot ‘see’ the ‘injury.’ People just find you wierd at times…Thanks again for sharing.

    • After 5 years now, I’m still not anywhere near what I want to be, as a person. I don’t feel whole. I go through periods of time when I’m relatively highly-functioning, but something will come up and send me backwards and it makes me feel like not trying anymore. One step forward, two steps back. I don’t want to be someone who depresses or discourages others who are getting benefit from your website, I’m just being honest and I guess I’m just desperate to get well. I want to recover. I want to turn back time so that I could take different steps so that this bad thing would not have ever happened. I’ve stayed home from work today because my dreams all weekend were awful and my body is aching and I’m depressed and scared. There was a gunman in our neighborhood last week and during the time I was like, “oh, I’m fine, no worries, big deal.” The fear was buried deep, after much practice, but over the following days it continued to bubble up. I hate that. Now I’m in a full swing panic attack mode, scared to leave my house, and I know that’s irrational. I think it would be helpful to hear if others have felt this way also, and moved forward successfully. Thanks..

      • Gurl: I am so sorry this is happening to you! My heart goes out to you! It sounds like the knowledge of the guman in your neighborhood triggered flashbacks.

        For years after my rape, I would get flashbacks just from seeing the type of car my rapist drove! Fortunately, it seems to be off the market now… One of the things that I have started doing, inspired by the research summarized above and meditation training: When I have flashbacks, which I still do occasionally even after 20 years, I just take a deep breath and let them go. They are just thoughts and letting them go helps me heal because I stop the rewiring. Now, I have done a lot of work to get to this point – from therapy (mostly cognitive-behavioral) to things like imagining (something calls Phoenix Rising Yoga). Unfortunately, our experience will stay with us. It’s just like a scar from an injury: The injury heals but the scar is still visible.

        • OMG, thank you for sharing.. I have also had the problem of being sent into panic attack just by seeing the same car he drove. It helps to know that I’m not the only one.

          You are so right..the scar is there…but I don’t want it to be visible. I don’t want to a damaged person. I want to recover. I want to be stronger.

          • Yupp, been there, felt that, too. One of the most healing things for me was when I shared my story and others nodded knowingly. It is sad but it is also helpful to know how many others there are who have been through what we are going through.

            At some point, I switched from feeling like a victim to feeling strong again. I don’t know exactly how the switch happened but it was probably 10 years after my rape and after I left my husband who had emotionally and sexually abused me. It was so freeing! It is hard to find a balance between realizing that you have been deeply victimized and taking your power back by not feeling “like a victim.”

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