What are the subsequent feelings of living life as a rape victim?
I had been victimized when I was in my early teens and I went on to live with a victim mentality throughout my adolescence and into my adult life. I felt like I died the day of my rape. Sometimes I actually wished my attacker had killed me so I would not have to go on living this very tortured life. I became pathologically depressed. I hated the adolescent part of me because it represented a weak and vulnerable person who couldn’t avoid being victimized. The thought of ever again feeling helpless petrified me.
As an adult I sabotaged every meaningful relationship I could have had because I was unable to trust a man enough to bond and develop a normal healthy relationship. I remained emotionally numb and became an expert at putting up barriers. In short, I was living in my own personal prison – a prison I had created for myself.
What are popular healing methods?
I am not an authority on current methods of dealing with mental health issues. The good news is that there is help available to victims of these types of criminal behaviour. I lived a tortured life for more than 30 years before I finally sought professional counselling. I thought of myself as worthless and unfixable and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would consider me valuable enough to actually want to “save” me. I now realize how wrong I was to keep my rape a secret all those years. That was my biggest mistake, but it has given me a purpose for writing my book. If I could only say one sentence to a rape victim this is it, “Read my book and you will understand what a painfully tortured life I experienced because I tried to deal with the repercussions of rape on my own, don’t repeat that costly mistake – get professional counselling as soon as possible”.
Why must a victim forgive?
The natural instincts I felt after my attack were anger, hate, humiliation and fear. Forgiveness was the furtherest thing from my mind. However, living in a world of hate rots the soul and destroys you. The happy person I once had been was decaying because of hate. My psychiatrist guided me to the realization that if I could master the act of forgiveness I would be able to escape from the grips of hate. Then life would become brighter and once again be filled with hope. He also helped me to understand that by forgiving my attacker I would at last escape the control he had over my life. But forgiveness in my case did not end there. I also had to forgive my adult self for all the self-abusive behaviour I did because I was “so messed up”. Finally, I had to learn to forgive the adolescent girl hidden deep inside me who had been victimized in a very cruel act. What sounds like a simple act took a long time and it came with a lot of emotional agony.
Why is this important to accepting an attack?
I thought of forgiveness as a loving act of kindness one offers toward someone you sincerely care for. So why on earth would I offer that loving act to someone I hated? My psychiatrist helped me to understand that learning to forgive was a kind and loving act I needed to extend toward my adolescent self. For so many years I had hated that young girl inside of me who had been vulnerable and the victim of an attack I could never forget. My whole life had been dominated by the effects of that one event. Once I accepted the truth that I was totally unable to prevent the attack, and that it was not my fault, I began to feel liberated. Instead of loathing that innocent girl I could embrace her. A sense of peace began to replace all that resentment and rage. My rape was a tragic event that I had experienced. It really was a part of my reality so I needed to decide what I was going to do about it. If I did not want to live my life stuck in a victim mentality I had to forgive my adolescent self. However, because I was able to take that big step I now am released from the bondage that held me captive for most of my life. Finally I am able to live freely and really learn to love again.