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Clarke, Jo Aine.
A constant struggle :
b renegotiating identity in the aftermath of rape
h [electronic resource] /
by Jo Aine Clarke.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 71 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: The academic study of rape has historically ignored the recovery experience of the person being raped. Beyond medical and physical effects, and the possibility of legal prosecution, little attention has been paid. Existing research loses sight of the survivor's experience, ignoring the fact that a rape affects every aspect of life. The trauma is not only physical, but also impinges on the emotional, intellectual and interpersonal spheres. Rape can be, and often is, a life-threatening experience: one that needs to be faced and dealt with before there can be any sort of productive future. While it has been demonstrated that rape strips away a sense of safety and well-being, very little work has addressed how this can be regained, especially from feminist perspectives. A rape renders every aspect of identity subject to destruction and must be renegotiated and rebuilt if one is to survive. Survivor is the right term-there is no other word to describe it.The feminist canon has struggled for decades to open a discourse into the division between the sexes, critiquing the notion that masculinity equals aggression and proclaiming the falsity of the notion that men are genetically programmed to dominate. Despite this, stereotypes remain. In part because of this, feminist researchers and theorists who address the topic of rape have been preoccupied with increasing public education and awareness. Women's perspectives of rape have been neglected. The act of identity renegotiation involves three steps: understanding the event, accepting the trauma, and recovering one's identity by adapting what was to define what is. As feminist thought recognizes that there is no one definitive characteristic meant by "woman", this project by no means claims to include every survivor's path, but instead offers an overview of what might be involved.What I hope to accomplish through this project is illustrating how the process of renegotiation crosses into every sphere of identity: that is emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual and psycho-social.
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Advisor: Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.
x Women's Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
A Constant Struggle: Re negotiating Identity in the Aftermath of Rape by Jo Aine Clarke A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Womens Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Ma rilyn Myerson, Ph.D. Sara Crawley, Ph.D. Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 17, 2008 Keywords: freedom, healing, ptsd, spirituality, survivor Copyright 2008, Jo Aine Clarke
Acknowledgements This thesis could not have been comp leted without the a ssistance of many: Thank you to Marilyn for everything you have been, and done, for me through my time as a graduate student: for always listening, for believing I had something to say even before I did, for all the hugs and encouragement. Thank you to my wonderful committee members, Gurleen and Sara, for traveling with me as I want to write about me slowly became this final product. It is because of your example, faith and guidance that I was able to share so much of myself in this work. Thank you to all the other survivors I have met a nd talked to in pursuit of this work: this is for all of us. Thank you to Brian for helping me find the strength to tell the truth, and for the ultimate knowledge that every voice deserves to be heard. Thank you to my family for always encourag ing me to do what is right for me, even when you dont always agree or understand. Last, I want to thank John Paul for knowing and accepting this is a part of me. Thank you for holding my hand, loving me, reminding me countless times that I could do this and helping me to understand why I needed to. I love you.
i Table of Contents Abstract ....................................................................................................................ii i Chapter One ......................................................................................................................1 The Beginning..........................................................................................................1 Echoes ......................................................................................................................3 Truth ......................................................................................................................4 Research Question.......................................................................................7 Method.........................................................................................................8 Personal Narrative and Feminist Perspective..............................................9 Chapter Two ....................................................................................................................12 Telling ....................................................................................................................12 Anger ....................................................................................................................14 Ideas and Identifications............................................................................15 Chapter Three ................................................................................................................. ...19 A Long Road..........................................................................................................19 Notes on Rape: A Content Analysis..........................................................19 Details ....................................................................................................................26 Stories and Lies..........................................................................................30 Aftermath...............................................................................................................31 Road to Recovery.......................................................................................34 Growth and Spirituality..............................................................................36 Chapter Four ....................................................................................................................40 Awakening.............................................................................................................40 Freedom.................................................................................................................42 Self and Society.........................................................................................44 Individual Truths........................................................................................46 Power ....................................................................................................................49 Cause and Affect........................................................................................49 Regret ....................................................................................................................50 Hindsight................................................................................................................51 Reflections.............................................................................................................52 Healing Work.........................................................................................................56 References .................................................................................................................... 61
ii Appendix A ....................................................................................................................65 Rape: A Survivors Guide......................................................................................66
iii A Constant Struggle: Re negotiating Identity in the Aftermath of Rape Jo Aine Clarke ABSTRACT The academic study of rape has historica lly ignored the recovery experience of the person being raped. Beyond me dical and physical e ffects, and the possi bility of legal prosecution, little attention has been paid. Existing research loses sight of the survivors experience, ignoring the f act that a rape affects every aspe ct of life. The trauma is not only physical, but also impinges on the emotional, intellectual and inte rpersonal spheres. Rape can be, and often is, a life-threatening experience: one that needs to be faced and dealt with before there can be any sort of productive future. While it has been demonstrated that rape strips away a sense of safety and we ll-being, very little work has addressed how this can be regained, especially from feminist perspectives. A rape renders every aspect of identity subject to destruction and must be renegotiated and rebuilt if one is to survive. Survivor is the right termthere is no ot her word to describe it. The feminist canon has struggled for decades to open a discourse into the division between the sexes, critiqui ng the notion that masculinity equals aggression and proclaiming the falsity of the notion that me n are genetically programmed to dominate. Despite this, stereotypes remain. In part because of this, feminist researchers and
iv theorists who address the topi c of rape have been preoccu pied with increasing public education and awareness. Wo mens perspectives of rape have been neglected. The act of identity rene gotiation involves three step s: understanding the event, accepting the trauma, and recovering ones identity by adapting what was to define what is. As feminist thought recognizes that there is no one definitive characteristic meant by woman, this project by no means claims to include every survivor s path, but instead offers an overview of what might be invol ved. What I hope to accomplish through this project is illustrating how th e process of renegotiation cro sses into every sphere of identity: that is emotional, intellectua l, physical, spiritual and psycho-social.
1 Chapter One The Beginning That morning, as was usual, my father had gone to his office and my mother and sister had gone to church. I had asked if I could stay home, and after the usual argument, my mother finally agreed. Having only the three ba sic television channels meant there really wasnt anything worth watching and as it was summer I thought it might be nice to go the parkI honestly dont remember walking home, although I do have vivid memories of standing in the shower and scrubbing the bl ood and broken skin of f and letting the hot water run until all the cuts had stopped bleeding. By the time my family got home, I was in my usual place, reading in my bedroom. With the exception of feminist writings, the academic study of rape1 has historically ignored the recovery experience of the person being raped.2 Beyond the medical and physical effects, and the possibili ty of legal prosecution, little attention has been paid to what happens to the survivor in the aftermath of the experience. This was certainly the case in the early 1990s when I was raped: beyond some basic medical tests and a few perfunctory questions about the timeline of events (presumably to establish the events as rape), neither the police nor the health examiners displayed an interest in my thoughts or feelings about the experience. More than a decade has passed since I was raped, and although I make no claims to speak for anyone else, I am well aware that the
2 path of my own healing did not end, but instead began, after that cursory health examination. With the advent, growth and ever -increasing accessibility of the internet, it is proving easier to find the resources to provide information and assistance to rape victims, although a search-engine (such as Google) query for r ape will still result primarily in issues such as false accusations dismissed suits, and medical complications. Beyond some basic data as to the prevalence of rape and speculation on the percentage of unreported incidents, there is little to be found in terms of the aftermath of a rape experience.3 Only with persistence will the search eventually yield research and writings that take into account the surv ivors feelings and responses to having been raped. Of these, few look at the survivors stories in their own words, instead encasing the experience in medical or academic terminology th at strips both the immediacy and reality of the crime while at the same time destro ying the therapeutic efficacy of finding ones voice. Rarely does the idea appear that a rape is not your fault, that others have been similarly violated and have had comparable thoughts, issues and reactions; that it is indeed possible to regain a semblan ce of normalcy and trust in your life.4 While there is some writing to be found on the subject of rape and its aftermath, if one knows which scholarly terms to use and which professional journals to look in, none of it is easily accessible or even designed for the very people who need it mostthose who have survived the experience and are looking for affirmation, understanding and assistance. This pattern of neglect, I believe, loses sight of the survivors experience by almost entirely dismissing it as irrelevant and ignores the indisputable fact that a rape affects every aspect of a persons life. To illustrate this point I ha ve included pieces of my own story, which merely began with the rape itself an event that somehow persists in shaping
3 the ways in which I reach out, react and respond to people, things and events in my life. The focus needs to be placed not on the problem of rape, but on the problems caused by rapethat is, on the womans perspective5 detailing the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder, emotional difficulties, various sexual dysfunctions and other consequences that may result from a rape experience. Echoes It was a nice day. I can still see in my memory the way the sunlight glinted off the leaves, still hear my panicked and too-fast breathing, st ill feel the scrape of the gravel as it dug into my back and neck and legs. What I repeated to myself nonstop on the way home was, its ok, its ok, its ok. Fifteen years have passed and I still have occasional panic attacks brought on by infini tesimal triggers if Im not prepared or expecting their presence. At those times I find myself unabl e to do anything but lock myself away from the world and wait until my ears stop ri nging, my back and neck muscles relax, my breathing slows to normal and I can c onvince myself this is just an echo. The trauma of rape does not end with the physical act but instead impinges on the emotional, intellectual and interpersonal sphe res, interfering with everything from peace of mind to the ability to interact with others.6 Rape can be, and often is, a lifethreatening experience7 and one that needs to be faced and dealt with before it is possible to move on to any sort of productive future. While it has been demonstrated that a rape strips away a sense of safety and well-being8, very little work has addressed how this very necessary feeling of securi ty can be regained, and in particular very little feminist
4 n d, work addresses this issue. In an extensive (and lengthy) search on the internet, in library, legal and health journal databa ses, and feminist literature, I found it difficult to find any work to date that has specifically treate d the long and arduous pro cess of reframing a identity in the aftermath of such a trauma.9 A rape renders ever y aspect of personhoo of identity, subject to destruc tion and thus ones whole self must be both renegotiated and rebuilt in order to survive in more than body. Seeing the victim of a rape as remaining in a perpetual state of victimhood results from the continuing focus of rape as a primarily legal concern, and reveals the prejudice and bi as through which rape victims are viewed. These attitudes must be changed, through impr oving the quality and quantity of social services offered and increasing awareness as to the crime itself and its aftermath. Calling someone who has lived through a rape a victim takes away their agency. Survivor is a much more appropriate term. My Truth Im relatively open about it now Although I dont necessarily advertise it, I see no reason to hide. Why should I be ashamed? Afte r all, Im lucky. I survived. More than that though, Ive become a st rong, independent, motivated person who fights for both what I want and what I believe. It doesnt bother me if people disagree with my opinions because Im firm in my convictions and confiden t in my abilities. It wasnt always this way thoughfor many years I hid, and lied, and st ayed quiet. The journey to what I think of as freedom has not been easy and there are st ill times I become mired in fear. But then I remember: I am a survivor.
5 The feminist canon has struggled for decad es to reveal the innumerable ways in which societies have historically defined wome n through sexist practices in order to open a discourse into the consequences of this di visive sexism and how these oppressions can be rectified and equality can be arrived at. Feminists cr itique the notion that masculinity equals aggression and have repeatedly demonstr ated the falsity of the notion that men are genetically programmed to dominate women. Despite this, centur ies-old stereotypes about women, sex and rape remain largely unchanged.10 The confusion thus created has historically placed the legal bur den on the survivor to prove a rape truly happened rather than, as in most other legal matters, upon the defendant to prove that it did not. In the matter of rape, innocent until proven guilty means false until proven true. In part because of this, most feminist researchers a nd theorists who have addressed the topic of rape have been preoccupied with increasing public education and aw areness of its crime status. Womens perspectives of rape have routinely been neglected in order to address the medical or legal aspects resulting from the act itself.11 Through the inclusion of a survivor-centered approach to this subject, I hope to arrive at a more thorough understanding of th e personal experience of the rape survivor, and to be able to elucidate the principal st eps taken in the often time-consuming process of identity renegotiation. The act of identity renegotiation involves three steps: understanding the event, accepting the trauma, and recovering ones identity by integrating what was in or der to define what is.12 Although rape happens across lines of age, race, ethnicity and gender, in the interest of adequately addressing the subject I have confined my project to adult women. My emphasis is on the womans role in recovering her concept of self and renegot iating her identity in the afte rmath of a rape, adapting as a
6 survivor and incorporating the knowledge of be ing raped into ones life in such a way that enables the woman to move on and con tinue with her life. I am offering a new exploration of the issue of rape, from a feminist perspectivethat is, with a goal towards achieving a level of equal treatment for rape survivors with victims and survivors of other types of crimes (burglary or kidnapping, for example), which as a rule do not carry the implications of blame, contempt and social ostracizing that typically accompany rape. This approach recognizes that the proce ss of renegotiation may look different in each individual who undertakes it. As feminist thought recognizes that there is no one definitive and no universal characteristic meant by woman13, this project by no means claims to include every rape survivors pa th towards renegotiati on. I acknowledge that each woman is different in terms of comfort with, and definition of, body and appearance, roles and lifestyles, gender a nd sexual orientation, social and cultural heritage, and a sense of security of self in light of feedback from others which entails self-acceptance, self-esteem, personal stability and integration. For years, studies have been repeated ly demonstrating the complex association between a healthy self-concept and the ability to establish successful intimacies with others.14 That is, it is necessary to have a cer tain measure of self-esteem, in terms of ones self, in order to form successful bonds with others. Maintaining a good selfconcept and making interpersonal connections is a continual task through ones life. What I am doing through this project is illustrating how the pr ocess of renegotiation crosses into every sphere of identity: that is emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual and psycho-social.
7 Research Question In many ways, feminism teaches that discovering ones identity is a continual process carried out through an examination of self, others, and the structure of the world, and that this questioning is an integral part of life and personhood.15 Sensitive to the connections between experiences, social placem ent and relations, feminism at its core seeks to establish the validity of its ways of looking at the world, and as such, the catalog of feminist work is ever expanding to incorporate new and alternate ideas and perspectives. While the subj ect of rape has been repe atedly addressed by psychology, sociology, and certainly feminism, the goal of my project is to present a different view of the subject itself by incorporat ing the survivors experience. Through this project, I want to bring a feminist perspectiv e to the effects of rape by exploring the ways in which the process of identity renegotiation is played out from the perspective of the individual who has experienced it and the ways in which th ese changing identities are affected by the trauma of rape. My specific concern with the issue of identity renegotiation following a rape is rooted in the experiences women have as they attempt to create and construct meaning in order to establish their own views as to the expe rience and their lives in the aftermath. How is the concept of self affected by the trauma of rape? The study of self-concept leads one to the idea of spirituality, which I identify as the path towards achieving an understanding of the significance of life and choices as one part of a much larger entity: an awareness of connection with the self, others, nature and the realm of the spirit not n ecessarily tied up in the tenets of organized religion. The definition I am presenting was arrived at through the process of reading Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World by Joanna Macy and Molly Young
8 Brown as well as the Message from the Dala i Lama that precedes the text of that book. The book focuses on realizing the interc onnectedness of the universe, and how understanding and accepting the intricacy of that relationship is crucia l to attaining peace in ones life. What role does spirituality play in the process of identity renegotiation? In many ways, it is the spirit that helps to ma ke us individuals, sh apes our distinctive identities and how we approach life. When I use the term spirit, I am referring to that essential piece of ourselves that enables us to create and maintain emotional connections. How are these identities and relationships di srupted by a rape, and in what manner can those links be reestablished? Method I begin my project with a literature review of materials on rape; a content analysis of current pamphlets on rape; and an overview of some feminist work on identity: what is meant by the term, factors that affect it and the ways in which it can be established. This provides the framework from which to center a critical review of the current feminist literature on the topic of rape and what it has omitted. I deconstruct accepted feminist ideas of what is entailed in the recovery process and the ways in which the medical profession has defined and limited it by their focusing mainly on the physical aspects. Specifically, I explore the topic of spiritual ity, the many different forms in which it may appear, how it adapts itself and affects life in this age of technologi cal advancements and the role it plays in the process of identity rene gotiation. Spirituality is not merely religion or faith: it is instead the core of how a person lives.16
9 By interrogating contemporary dialogues a nd attitudes toward rape and those who survive it, through an examin ation of contemporary literature, I consider the steps necessary to reshaping public pe rceptions in terms of societal approaches to the topic. How do spirituality, psychological health and well-being, and percep tions of self and community all converge to influence the proce ss of recovery and identity renegotiation? In what manner does the trauma of rape affect ones self-concept and relationships to others? Through these research questions, I hope to generate a different method of treating and discussing rape, its victims and survivors. Personal Narrative and Feminist Perspective In order to better provide a firm grou nd for the theory presented, and following the idea that an explicit goal of feminist research is to build theories from lived experiences,17 I have chosen to include pieces of my own rape story. While there is most certainly an element of personal empowerment in this act, the true motive for the presence of my narrative is to provide a space in which others might be able to find their own voices, to tell their own stories, in order that the overwhelming cultural prevalence of holding survivors responsible for their rape experiences mi ght be brought to light and eradicated. There are societal pressures from every corner to stay quiet, to hide the trauma and the rape itself, and this only encour ages the survivor to identify with the label of victim. Winnie Tomm (1995) points out that the widespread abuse of women is linked to a lack of social privilege, which in turn reinforces existing prej udices about women and guides expectations of what constitutes acceptable behavior. The resulting global
10 discrimination18 perpetuates the existence of violen ce along the lines of sex and gendered power relations. In time these forms of abuse become so common as to be rendered invisible in the happenings of everyday social interactions. As can be readily seen with politics, but is just as true in terms of sexua l hierarchies, the consensus most often reflects the interest of the powerful rather than re presenting the majority in terms of numbers.19 This apparent need for public agreement is perhaps one explanation for why religion holds such sway while spirituality remains so widely discredited; spirituality is more often understood to be a belief specific to each individua l. Those in power have frequently relied on religious arguments to bo th explain and strengthen political choices and bolster support for campaigns. This line of reasoning requires those who share in the religion of the candidate to offer public s upport or open themselves to questions of whether they are indeed true members of th e religion in question. If there is, as Tomm claims, a connection between autonomy and freedom, then perhaps the feminist drive towards a collective awakening to the plethora of injustices is required in order to achieve freedom on a global scale, for all of us. Be fore one can rectify any of the many social inequities at work in our present culture it is perhaps first necessary to achieve a degree of objectivity. Objectivity is an elusive concept, however, for where the idea of self requires one to possess the ability to distinguish between oneself and others, this more often than not becomes a situation of us against them.20 Notions of self are always embedded in knowledge and experience; withou t this grounding, there would be little chance of being able to differentiate between the self and others. It is precisely this difference in perspectives that leads to recognizing injustice, and provides an impetus to effect change. Perhaps this paper may encour age others to alter their own perspectives,
11 as mine have continued to change as I have co me to see that reality is not a given, but is instead constructed through ones experiences, reflecting the B uddhist idea that each of us is responsible for our own knowledge.
12 Chapter Two Telling That morning I was thirteen years old, sma ll, skinny, quiet. By the afternoon I was ancient, bruised, broken, and so tired. Given the continued persis tence of instances of rape in the United States21, it becomes increasingly important to look at al l the factors involve d. In this way, we include the victims perspective, which becomes pivotal in the endeavor to understand that the rape itself is often only the beginni ng of a process of hea ling and growth. The experience of rape is a complicated and incr edibly difficult journey; while there may be similarities, it is in the end a singular event. Though the inst ance of the assault sets these events in motion, the journey then progresse s through psychological and social responses, and may eventually result in an individua l understanding of the trauma and recovery. Before presenting an accurate picture of the ra pe victims experience, it is crucial that a clear understanding of previous work be estab lished. My thesis seeks to achieve that understanding through a review of the literature that has to da te explored the issues of rape, the social and psychological responses, and the process of r ecovery. Although the term victim is used throughout academic and social circles when speaking of rape survivors, there is a conscious attempt to avoid the victim ideology because of the way in which it downgrades womens se xual identity and autonomy (Burr, 2001). Therefore, for
13 the purposes of this work, I will be utilizing the terms victim-survivor and survivor, rather than victim, as the purpose of this wo rk is to bring autono my to the forefront, through an examination of the journey towards healing.22 Also, while I acknowledge that men, women and children can be raped, as the act of rape is genera lly an expression of power and control23, the social context of rape lends its elf to the reference of the victimsurvivor as female. By their very nature, traumatic events su ch as rape involve a violation of personal integrity, both physically and psychologically, shaking self-esteem and removing confidence in ones ability to control her surroundings (Smith and Kelly, 2001). Responses to rape, as a traumatic event, ar e by their very nature traumatic and it is therefore important to unders tand the nature of trauma in general and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Rape Trauma S yndrome (RTS) in particular. A myriad of factors influence the extent to which one is affected by individual and institutional responses to the rape. These include the nature of the assault, the level of violence, prior victimization, past mental illn ess or psychological treatments, social support and whether or not the victim-survivor is believed to be te lling the truth about the assault or is blamed for causing it, as well as any number of othe r stressors that may be experienced during the same life period (Smith and Kelly, 2001). The victim-survivor does not just respond to the physical trauma, but also the psychol ogical trauma, caused by the rape. Reactions such as anger, aggression, guilt, fear, anxiety, shame, doubt, depression, as well as any number of psychopathological conditions are common (Res ick, 1993). Rape can also have an effect on social functioning, sometimes causing in turn varying levels of social and sexual dysfunction (OSullivan, 2003).
14 There is some indication that certain factors may influence the extent to which these reactions may impact life.24 These factors include social support received25, participation in the justice system26, self-appraisals27 and psychological problems and issues experienced prior to the assault. The final part of the journey is recovery, alternately described as the psychological work required. Here also is a dependence on a variety of factors which may both assist and hinder in the recovery process28, including demographic variables, prior victimization, na ture of the assault, relationship to the rapist(s), social support, and the meaning pers onally assigned to the rape experience. My thesis argues that spiritual work and healing is just as pivotal to this idea of recovery, albeit the spiritual aspect remains a some what neglected area in terms of existing literature. Anger After I said it out loud, that I had been raped and hurt and had an abortion to end a pregnancy I felt wrong continuing, both unde r the circumstances and at my age, the priest said, I absolve you of y our sins. It was then that I realized I was angry. Instead of saying thank you and leaving feeling cle an, as my teachers always said was the purpose of confession, I said, what sins? He told me that by confessing, I was acknowledging that I had committed a sin. I le ft the church then, and have not returned since, at least not spiritually. An adult forg ets what it is like to be a child, to have a whole-hearted belief in the c onviction that you are safe, that others will take care of you and give you the answers you need. I have not forgotten; I lost it29 that day in church. I
15 gained something else though when I realized I would have to help myself, and that I could. Each rape survivor will have a specif ic, individual way of dealing with and recovering from the trauma (Smith and Kelly, 2001) in order to come to terms with the reality of the rape experience. While ther e are known and accepted patterns of responses, any subsequent path to recovery will be specifi c to the individual, and in light of this, it is first necessary to view each victim-survivor as a singular entity and thus begin a specific journey towards healing. This requires the acknowledgement that each rape is a vastly individual experience, regardless of any patterns in expected be haviors or responses. It is the victim-survivors perception of the event that will determine the manner in which she reacts in the aftermath and a number of factors have been reported to influence the response, including relationship to the rapist(s), degree of violence involved, and social and cultural influences (Neville, et al., 2004). Ideas and Identifications How a rape survivor defines the experien ce is crucial to determining her response behaviors. Does she recognize the event as a ra pe, as a crime to be reported; will she tell anyone or ask for help? Many statistical survey s of rape will show th at it remains one of the least reported crimes30, for a variety of reasons incl uding fear of retaliation or retribution, lack of faith in the legal syst em, fears about the medical exam accompanying the reporting, as well as lack of access to pol ice and health resources, fear of not being believed and being pegged as either a liar or so mehow responsible for the event itself. It
16 has been remarked upon not a few times by lawyers involved in rape trials, for example, that the idea of the rape is itself a lie (Angelucci and Sacks, 2004), while the highly publicized trials of William Kennedy Smith in 1992, Kobe Bryant in 2004, and the members of the Duke Lacrosse team in 2007 all at one time or another made reference to the lack of physical evidence as proof that what happened may have been sex, but was not rape. In the words of Kennedy Smiths lead defense attorney, Roy E. Black, as reported in an article in the Washington Post if the accuser had really been raped she would have run over hot coals to get away. Her decision was yes. This is right out of a romance novel. (Jordan, December 12, 1991) The academic observation of rape and its aftermath began in earnest with the 1975 publication of Susan Brownmillers Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape in which the author repeatedly a sserts that rape is not about sex but is instead about power; rape provides another way of subjugating wo men through the exercise of superiority in terms of male physical power and strength. D ata are furnished not only to illuminate the desolation of the victim in terms of the fear and self-loathing enge ndered by the acts of rape but also the rejection of raped women by their husbands and families.31 Also playing a pivotal role in bri nging attention to a crime that had heretofore been dismissed despite being present from the earliest record ings of history is Bu rgess and Holmstroms groundbreaking research studying both the immediate and long-term effects of rape from the standpoint of the victim-survivor, which led to the identification of RTS in 1974. Described as a variant form of PTSD, RTS oc curs as a result of forcible, or attempted forcible, rape and occurs through two phases that can disrupt the sexual, social and physical aspects of ones life (Petrak and Hedge, 2002).
17 Identifying RTS led to research which demonstrates the manner in which the victim-survivors attitude and behavior before the rape can affect the way in which she responds; if the victim-survivor is seen as in any way respons ible for the rape experience, this has a profound impact on the way in which others respond which in turn affect how the victim-survivor reacts to the incident. No other type of crime blames the victimsurvivor for her participati on, save those that are gendere d (Mardorossian, 2002); always the question becomes about the victims behavior rather than the perp etrators. Is it so difficult to see the mark this leaves on the victim-survivor and the difficulty it presents when attempting to make the journey from victim to survivor? Viewing oneself as a victim, rather than a survivor of rape may frustrate atte mpts at recovery (Hengehold, 2000). Once admitted publicly, rape most of ten becomes a question of the womans credibility, and if the matter proceeds to the court system it is difficult to untangle the trauma of the rape itself from the trauma of participating in a legal system (see Preventing the Second Rape citation 5) th at oversimplifies matters by stripping all individuality and personhood away in the sear ch for right and wrong. The very structure of a trial does this as it forces the rape survivor to tell her experience as a simple event with no feeling or emotion allowed, and it ha s been repeatedly found that this has a marked effect on the amount of r ecovery time (Hengehold, 2000). Although there have been studies conduc ted which show a correlation between the idea of wanting to prosecute and the reporting of greater self -esteem in how those women viewed themselves in relation to thei r rape experience compared to those who did not, the experience of reporting a rape can ce rtainly prove to be quite traumatic and a source of secondary victimization, as the pers on in question not only must face her rapist
18 but publicly discuss the events of the rape it self. Likewise, people with supportive social relationships and families have been found to experience lower levels of trauma; conversely poor spousal or family support ha s been associated w ith an increase in symptoms. The attempt to make sense of the rape experience is done in part to ascribe positive meaning, a coping strategy designed to assist in regaining ones feeling of control and meaning in a life th at has been entirely disrupte d, both by the rape experience itself and the aftermath. It is only by re membering and narrating the pastthat one forms a background from which a freely imaginedand desiredfuture can emerge.32
19 Chapter Three A Long Road I believe that it is a fact of life that the mo re you want something, the harder it may be to get it. Having found myself living my life in a haze of fear, pain and numbness, I decided the first step to becoming whole again was goi ng to be admitting the whole truth of what had happened, and hopefully be able to use that as an impetus to move forward. So I sat down to write my story. In point of fact, many victim-survivo rs are discouraged from prosecuting and often report feeling re-victimized by the legal personnel (Campbell and Raja, 2005). Devoid of emotion and subject to the suspicion of the defe nse lawyers, judge and jury, and community, it is little wonder that gui lt and self-blame are such common responses to a rape (Koss, 2000). This phenomenon, wh ich Brison labels a cultural complicity33, most certainly would have an effect on how one responds, how she is perceived and how she does, or does not, recove r from the experience. Notes on Rape: A Content Analysis In an attempt to provide an overvie w of available pamphlets and handouts for dealing with rape, I chose seve n examples as indicative of na tional, state and local efforts towards educating the public about the subject. All the resources used were obtained through the Victims Advocacy Program at the Un iversity of South Fl orida or the Crisis
20 Center of Tampa Bay, and were readily available. Only one national leaflet was selected, not because information is not available on a countrywide scale, but because these brochures most typically direct read ers towards utilizing local resources.34 The areas I reviewed were: intended audience, language, what information was included, and how the information was presented. Even though I specifically focused on female survivors, for purposes of content analysis, I will be addressing how each of these samples define rape victim-survivors. The national example, a publication enti tled Sexual Assault Victimization, is offered by the National Center for Victims of Crime and supported by the Office for Victims of Crime and the U.S. Department of Justice. An unassuming, plain peach sheet of paper is folded in thirds like a brochur e and resembling, more than anything else, a generic product guide, is illustrated with a few open hands, presumably meant to convey a sense of openness and willingness to offer assi stance. Written in part directly to the survivor, making use of a generic you, th is flyer uses the term victim, although survivor is mentioned one time, with the idea of spiritual healing a lluded to in passing. Broken up into question-headed paragraphs, this pamphlet goes out of its way to address the idea of males being raped and sexually assaulted then highlights services offered, what to do if you are raped, facts about sexual assault and further resources for information and assistance. Of the four models I reviewed which are offered by the state of Florida, two were published by Floridas Department of Hea lth and two by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. The first of the Department of Health publications is a booklet called after sexual assault: a guide fo r help. The cover, done in contrasting colors of purple
21 and lime green, immediately attracts the eye, although the inside pages are simple and unadorned. The intended audience here is surv ivors, or people who know survivors, of sexual assault. Although the wo rd victim is used once, th e writers clearly address the supposedly genderless reader, with an aw kward mention that boys and men can be assaulted and raped. After this brief introduction, the idea of Emotional Rec overy is laid out in four steps, with an emphasis on the need to deal with the events and one s feelings about the assault, and that assistance from a trained couns elor, ones friends and family is crucial in order that you can begin to regain your inner strength and confidence. The next section walks the reader through the legal system, discussing the me dical exam, police interview, court procedures and costs and crisis counseling. The last part is a list of Florida resources divided into basic and state university hotlines, advocacy groups, counselors and community education with the addre ss, phone number, and county served. The other booklet offered by Floridas Department of Health, and sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventi on (CDC), is labeled a sexual violence survival guide, giving options available to victims of sexual assault crimes, and declaring There is help. Take action. Th e front cover is done in bright pastels and features a sketch of a pensive, ethnic-appearing woman gazing at a vase of flowers. Both gently attractive and attention-grabbing, this design sets the stage for a primarily female readership by subliminally sending the idea that it is women who are raped, although it does succeed in the sense of capturing a sens e of sadness while at the same time implying agency.
22 Here again there is no specific gender cite d, but the rapist is treated as male and the survivor as female by virtue of the de tails listed in the section on evidence. The audience is meant to be you or a friend, fa mily, or loved one of the person who has been assaulted. Breaking the information down into steps of what to do, choices available, the evidence exam and possible re fusal, available hel p, prosecuting and civil charges, and financial assistance, the bookl et ends with a recognition of emotional responses and a list of victims rights. The next example, How to Help a Victim: Rape is published by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, and pres ents a picture of a crowd of people encompassing different ages, genders and ethnicities with an illustration somewhat resembling a rising sun coming up to meet the photo. Gender is at no time mentioned at all, as the pamphlet is writt en for the friend of someone who has been through a rape, incest, statutory assault, harassment, assa ult, or any situation in which there was nonconsent. Although survivor is mentione d once, it is victim which consistently appears in the presentation of information. Definitions and examples of the different forms of sexual assault are given, the im portance of understanding the variety of individual reactions, your own re sponse to the situation, what is needed for a victim to become a survivor, how you can help, and fi nally what victims might be feeling. The other offering by the Council is a b it different in its approach, seemingly designed toward a younger audience by its bright colors, graphi cs, and use of pictures of college-aged women (and one man). The cove r addresses the use of drugs in certain instances of rape, asking i s there something in your dr ink you dont know about? and urging the reader to be aware of predator club drugs. Men are mentioned, but the
23 you and victim used here is explicitly directed towards women. Three drugs found to be used are named and their uses and eff ects explained before tips are given on how to protect yourself, what to do if you think youve been drugged and raped, how to find help, and how drugs may ai d in a rape situation. Of the two pamphlets obtained through th e University of South Florida (USF), the first is a somewhat outdated (1996, revised 2000) publication on Sexual Violence that, as seen before, mentions men as potential victims despite being obviously intended for, and directed at, women. This intention seems relatively apparent as the colors used are pink and lavender and the picture on the fr ont is a young woman hiding her face in her hands, gives the impression of shame and perhaps fear. The victim audience is given definitions of what constitutes sexual violence and harassment, facts about rape, what to watch for and why to talk about sex and limits, how to avoid stranger rape, what to do in order to protect yourself and then what to do should you be harassed, attacked or raped, before concluding with some facts about drugs and rape. USFs Advocacy Program published a small brochure in the school colors with an image on the cover that appears to be a ma n and female holding each other and creating the shape of a heart. Designed for providing help to survivors and victims of violence and abuse, it mentions both gender pronouns an d goes out of its way to mention that both boyfriends and girlfriends can be th e ones committing these crimes. Although the words recovery and survivor are mentioned, the repeated use of victim overshadows both. The information is broken do wn into a number of subheadings which include a victims bill of rights, natural re sponses along the lines of emotion, behavior,
24 physical and thoughts, with an emphasis on th e resources offered through the school and in the local community. While all of these examples are clearly intended to help those who have been raped, they display the same societal shortcomi ngs that this paper attempts to delineate: that is, the use of the word victim rather than survivor, the limited availability of information which reinforces the lack of introducing a nd actively promoting a public discourse about the topic of rape, and the ba seless and culturally embedded belief that to be raped is to have done something wrong. Th is can easily be seen in the language used in these examples through the emphasis that is placed on responding to the public discourse by telling the reader that they have not done anyt hing wrong; that they are the victims. Someone who has been raped and has the courage to look for help is not likely to be in a state of mind adequate to infe rring intended meanings, but instead is more likely to take them at face value and come away with the idea that it is her job to seek out help if she wants it. The findings arrived at through my use of content analysis illu strate the goal of utilizing this method of res earch: to isolate themes found within any given productthemes that manifest and reproduce the belief s and discourses of the society in which it was produced.35 More than this, a content analys is strives to identify the intended message(s) of the authors in crea ting the material being studied.36 Additionally, it is perhaps possible to identify the ways in which the product might be amended and improved upon to better, or more accurately, m eet the needs it set out to fulfill. A better offering might include personal stat ements to illustrate that others have lived through similar experien ces and survived, a list of common emotional and physical
25 reactions and how to deal with such, and a phone number or address to utilize if you want to talk about what happened without any sense of pressure or obliga tion to report the rape itself to authorities without your consent. The attempt to bring public awareness to the ongoing issue of rape has gradually moved towards recognizing the severity of the trauma inflicted at the same time that survivors are telling their stories to illus trate that, while healing and recovery are possible, the crime of rape spills over into a ll of society, affecting the ways in which we conduct ourselves and communicate with each other. RAINN, an organization dedicated to providing information and fighting the cont inued existence of rape and sexual assault, is rarely heard from in the mainstream media despite having a national spokesperson, public service announcements and billboards, and multiple campaigns to raise community awareness across the country. The National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, celebrated in April, typically passes w ithout any knowledge37 despite events and functions dedicated to raising the issue into the collective consciousness, as do the myriad of other, smaller campaigns carried out on the national, state and local levels. Taken as a group, the sample brochures re viewed above appear to want to avoid characterizing rape victims as women only, choosing instead to address an audience devoid of any identity. As rape is a trauma tic event that most often has the effect of destroying ones sense of self through th e loss of control ove r body and choice, the language used serves to reinforce the idea of that loss, and although it is unintentionally done, serves as an act of added and unnece ssary cruelty. While each sample attempts, whether through direct or indirect means, to es tablish that rape affect s the survivors life, none go further than the immediate. Not of them offers any words of encouragement or
26 testimony that simply because you were ra ped, your life does not have to stop. A welcome addition might be quotes from actual survivors which demonstrate the idea of recovery, healing, and the possibility of a return to some degree of normalcy. Not only would this provide a much needed unification for the various elemen ts included in each, but would also lend a powerful voice to a gr oup of people who, by virtue of the prevalent social discourse, have none. Details My memories of before and after the rape are somewhat hazy, like watching a really old movie where the tape is fraying and the edges are becoming fuzzy as the colors bleed into each other. I remember wanting to ask my dad to take a bike ride when he got homeit was a nice day and there was a pretty good bi ke trail that wound ar ound the outskirts of the woods. I was thinking how nice and quiet it was, and watching the light shine through the trees. Suddenly I was yanked backwards, spun around and shoved so that I fell. There were a lot of them, or it seemed like it, and one had a baseball bat. He hit me with it, hard, in the stomach, and told me to be quiet. They were wearing what looked like old dark pantyhose over their faces so that their features were blurred, and they were all out of breath as if they had been running. One tore my shorts off and then shoved the bat up me. When I screamed, he pulled it out and hit me on the head and shoulders with it and told me to shut up or hed hit me again. They took turns then, and what I remember is the way the gravel was digging into my back and listening to the rhythmic noises it made as they penetrated me over and over. I dont know how long it went on, but when it was over I was pulled to my feet and pushed up against a tree. I got hit again
27 with the bat, in the shoulder this time, and one put his hand around my neck. As he choked me, he leaned in really close to me and whispered in my ear, I know who you are. Keep your mouth shut or well get y our sister and then you. Then he said my name, as though to prove they knew me, let go, and they disappeared. During the rape experience, the victim-s urvivors focus may well be on physical survival and include some element of self-p rotection, which may take the shape of shock, confusion, numbness, withdrawal or terror (Kaysen et al., 2005). While some may physically resist and fight agai nst the rapist, others may dissociate and play dead. Other tactics include attempted escape, verbal resi stance, faking illness and lying, fainting or focusing on some element or thought to make it through the experience. There is some indication that victim-s urvivors who developed PTSD were more likely to have perceived the threat of serious injury during the rape experience than those who showed no signs of developing the disorder, as serious injuries more closely fit the parameters of a lifethreatening event that is said to trigge r the disorder (Ullman and Filipas, 2001). Green (cited in Carlson, 1997) describes se ven dimensions to trauma that define the experience as such: th reats to life and limb; severe phys ical harm or in jury; receipt of intentional injury or harm; exposure to the grotesque; violent or sudden loss of a loved one; learning of exposure to a noxious agen t; and causing death or severe harm to another. These dimensions are considered to encompass most experiences considered potentially traumatic, although a rape may not fit into this list as read verbatim. Carlson proposes three elements that have the potenti al to render any experi ence traumatic. These include perceiving the event as negative, sudd en, and including a lack of controllability.
28 While there are many accounts of postrape behaviors, including physical, emotional and mental responses, there are al so more culture-bound interpretations that speak to the traditional values that we hear so much about during election years. An example of this view can be found in the work of Thornhill and Palmer (2000). Displaying a markedly sexist approach in their ideas about rape, sexuality, and reproduction, the authors go further by identi fying the psychological trauma of sexual assault as an adaptation that assists in guarding against circumstances that might reproduce sexually reproductive success. Thornhill and Palmer argue that during the trauma one is motivated to undergo behavioral changes intended to prevent further pain or trauma and therefore ensuring less threat to sexual productivity. This claim is supported with data showing that young wome n suffered greater postrape distress than did children or women past ch ild-bearing age. This ideath at rape is done in order to reproduceignores the fact that prepubescent girls, me n, boys and women past childbearing age are also raped. Thornhill and Palmer have also been criticized (Ward and Siegert, 2002; Vega, 2001) for their evolut ionist assertions, in cluding the idea that reproductive loss is at the root of the higher level of traumatic response. While the idea that rape has threat ened womens reproductive success throughout evolution by interferi ng with the ability to choose the offsprings father and thereby thwarting womens interest (Thornhill and Palmer, 2002) disregards more than three decades of research into the effects of rape, the root idea that the degree of trauma is elevated by lack of choice is very significan t. We can conceptualize this as one possible explanation as to why PTSD is so much more prevalent in the aftermath of rape than other types of crime (PTSD Alliance, 2001), precisely because of our cultures continued
29 insistence on blaming the victim just as much as, if not more tha n, the perpetrator. Thornhill and Palmer also say very little about environment, societal constructs, or the many and varied behavioral t actics taken by women in order to avoid rape and prevent conception. I would argue any human interact ion, sexual or otherwise, owes more to social structures, behaviors, culture, hu man development and learning than it does to biological phenomena. In a culture that has somehow come to equate sex with identity38, a matter of clear interpersonal violence is thus once again relega ted to socialized definitions of sexuality and gender. Three decades of research a nd discussion of rape and there remains a marked lack of publicly available femini st writing on the subject, despite groundbreaking works such as Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women39 and the previously mentioned Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape While feminist works such as these have repeatedly shown how popular culture insists on falsely depicting women, much of the most easily accessible writing on the subject of rape has been done by such media friendly conservatives as Katie Roiphe. She can be seen as interpreting women only through conventional gender scriptsand fr om this perspective is merely repeating existing gender stereotypes and perpetuating ra pe myths, which Hamlin (2001) identifies as widely held, inaccurate beliefs often reinforced when surrounding circumstances, situations and characte ristics of individuals involved in the rape are applied without due concern. These myths include the idea that ra pe is just spontaneous impulsive sex; that only women, or women who dress or act in a certain manner, can be raped; women often exaggerate or make up stories of having been ra ped; and that rape is an interracial crime.
30 rn Stories and Lies A visit to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics40 systematically refutes each and every one of these, and other, myths about rape. For instance, crime statistics show less than 2% of reported rapes are found to be false accusations. The idea that rape is merely unwanted sex has been refuted time and time again; most rapists are shown to have access to a sexual partner, and the motivation is power and control. The related myth of rape being an impulsive act has likewise been shown to be false, as most rapes are carefu lly planned and if not caught, the rapist will attack again, typically in the same area and in the same manner. Hamlin cites a variety of historical reasons for the existence of such myths including learned and accepted societal beha viors, gender role expectations and the fundamental power structure of a patriarchal so ciety. The core of patriarchy is the idea that the power belongs to the father, and th en the husband; at no poi nt is a woman in a position to speak for herself. A mans family was, for much of history, legally seen as property. The dictates for gender41 which at the root requir e that women be seen and not heard are still to be found in the structure of society. It is a simple fact that Weste society has traditionally agreed with Aristotl es assertion of women as inferior (Frize, 2005) and it is the male qualities of logic a nd reason that are valued while emotions are categorized as female and thus perceived as both weak and passive, terms which hold negative connotations according to the patriarchal ideal. Following the persistence of this schema, it is perhaps less difficult to understa nd the continued presence of rape myths in our contemporary society. These myths, ingrai ned as they have become in the thinking of even the most enlightened among us, often have a marked effect on how the survivor
31 herself thinks of the event, whether she will tell anyone, the legal path of prosecuting the rapist, and even how rape research is conducted and approached. These myths also tend to lead people to think of rape in terms of sexuality rather than the act of violence it truly is. This ha s the unfortunate side effect of supplying the rapist with a ready made excuse for his actions, that it is in some ways a natural compulsion that must be obeyed, or an action which can be traced to a recognized mental disorder, and thus is given a way to escape a ny and all responsibility for the crime itself by stripping the act of criminal intent and instead making it sexua l in nature. This sort of thinking in turn leads to secondary victimization42 involving behaviors and attitudes that are blaming, insensitive and traumatic to the rape survivor, which hurts just as much (on a psychological level), if not more than the ra pe itself. The most common venue for these attitudes, as per the above example, is th rough interaction with th e justice system and medical reporting, both of which tend to take a rather stark view of the events regardless of the actual elements surrounding the specific rape in question. Aftermath My only clear thought was that I needed to ge t home before my par ents and clean myself up. Ive thought more than once since then how lucky I was that it happened when it did; my parents seemed to put my subsequent mood swings, instabilitie s and temper tantrums down to puberty. Although in hindsight th e PTSD symptoms I was exhibiting seem obvious, you would have to know what to look for in order to recognize the signs. The afternoon I had the abortion, I just told my mother that my stomach hurt and went to bed. I went through periods where I would hide in my bedroom reading and refuse to talk or
32 interact with anyone, and then suddenly I would chatter nonstop until my voice got hoarse and scratchy. Some days I would sc ream if anyone touched me and sometimes I was so overly affectionate that my mother talked with me about be ing inappropriate. I dont even think I recognized what happened to me as real, or a crime, until I got to college. Somehow I managed to make myself believe it hadnt truly happened, until one day there was something in the local paper about a girl being r aped and suddenly it hit me: thats what it was. Burgess and Holmstrom found that respons es to rape fell into two distinct categories: controlled or expressive. That is, outw ardly composed, subdued and apparently calm or crying, shaking, tense and avoidant, etc. Most women reported numbness and shock. Their 1974 Rape Trauma Syndrome was a study of 146 participants identifying the acute reacti on phase and the reorganization phase as characteristic responses to rape. The acute phase was marked by diso rganization, the first and shorter period of initial impact evoking shock and disbelief. Two to three weeks after the rape saw the advent of the reor ganization phase, marked by motor activity, nightmares and phobic behaviors. Other post-rape behaviors have been found to include intrusive thoughts, flashback and nightmare, disruption in relationships, fear, problems with social and work relationships, sexual functioning and satisfaction, anxiety, memory deficits, depression, family issues and PTSD. Traumatic events also have an impact on psychological and social functioning and have been known to produce profound and la sting changes in physiological arousal, emotion, cognition and memory. Reactions include fear, anxiety, anger, aggression,
33 guilt, shame and doubt, depression, psychopathol ogy, social withdrawal and disturbance in sexual functioning. Psychological reactions found to be prevalent in rape victims include fear, anger and depressi on as well as disruptions in self-image and confidence. The trauma of the rape may result in social withdrawal, disruption in ones ability to trust both self and others, avoiding any reminde rs of the rape on both a conscious and subconscious level, shame, guilt, and the sense of inferiority and helplessness that accompanies memories of the rape experience. Each victim-survivor reacts differently; while some women have mild or shortterm reactions, others can be in effect deva stated by a rape experience. Variables that may help identify those who might react more severely include: participation in the justice system, social support (such as family or partner), cognitive appraisals and prerape functioning (ex: psychological problems and similar preexisting conditions). Along with the disruption, however, comes the possibility that the shattered elements of the victim-survivors life may be reconstructed in new ways and patterns as she makes the transition to survival. Rape is an expe rience that can both ch allenge and destroy a womans identity, assumptions about the worl d and how one operates in it, destroying that sense of safety and invulnerability in which most people untouched by pain, crime, death, etc. operate. Recovery is based on the mutual empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.43 This recovery does not ta ke place in isolation, instead requiring a context of relationships a nd experiences in which to occur. This idea is found at the root of Brisons Aftermath. Using her own experience of surviving a rape and attempted murder to explore trauma and its effects, the author provides a philosophical analysis of the work required in order to reemerge as a fully
34 healthy and truly functional me mber of society. By placing the focus on the notion of the self and the ways in which a traumatic ev ent may destroy those beliefs necessary to everyday life, and in order to recover, one must admit and share the experience. Speaking of the rape allows the victim-survivor to change the meaning of the trauma, and by incorporating the event into ones narrativ e, some degree of control over the event might be regained as the process of reconstr ucting ones self-identity is begun. Road to Recovery There is a multidimensional definition to recovery, involving a specific set of steps in which to recover ones sense of self and autonomy (Harvey, 1996). Following this model, recovery is achieved when the rape victim becomes capable of again having a successful intimate relationship. Smith and Kelly (2001), working within a feminist standpoint, have criticized Harveys mode l because it lacks the survivors own perspective of the recovery expe rience. They believe that it should be the survivors role to define what constitutes her recovery and that this definition depends on where she is on the individual journey towards healing. There is no one un iversal account of suffering, trauma, or healing. Ones world is shaped by experience, and each persons reaction to those experiences will be different as cont ext of time, space and other variables play a role in determining response. Despite this valid criticism, which restores the victim-survivors agency by giving signifi cance her own account of the rape, much of the recovery process research inst ead complements Harveys model. Gilboa-Schectman and Foa (2001) report th at recovery after a rape is a slower process than recovery from non-sexual assaul ts. While their assertion that a rape
35 experience gives rise to more severe reactions than other t ypes of assault is backed by other research, they are at a loss to explain the slower recovery time. They do explain that emotional engagement with the trau ma is a necessary condition for successful processing of that trauma, but they never clear ly delineate what is required for emotional engagement or how it might be measured. Th e addition of a feminist lens here would enhance these findings by the accompanying incl usion of the recogniti on of the power of voice; that is the idea that one must accept th e event and be willing to incorporate that knowledge into both ones self-identity and everyday life. Herman (1996) describes recovery from trauma in three stages. The first stage being to establish safety; this is marked by the survivors naming the problem and restoring some measure of self-control. R econstructing the story of the trauma comes next through remembering and mourning by retelling the events, transforming ones memories of the experience and mourning the losses engendered by the rape. Restoration of connection between survivor and community is the final stage. This is accomplished by the development of a new sense of self, rega ining the ability to successfully relate to others and finding a new way of viewing the wo rld. This model notes that the trauma is never fully resolved, but instead somehow in tegrates itself into the memory of the survivor. Herman is on the way towards a fe minist space but neglects the idea that as sexuality is simply one facet of personhood, a rape does not have to define ones entire identity. Finding a new way of viewing the world does not have to mean ignoring the truth of what happened, but instead learning about ones self thr ough the experience and integrating that knowledge into everyday life.
36 Smith and Kelly (2001) also provide a th ree-staged process of recovery, although theirs is distinctly feminist in its appro ach as the authors reco gnize the importance of achieving a degree of personal acceptance through the road to understanding others. Before this can happen however, the survivor must first be willing to risk coming out and Smith and Kelly describe the journey as an inward, and con tinuously moving, spiral, acknowledging that the survivor has to revisit f eelings such as fear, anger, helplessness, etc. This begins with reaching out; the focus here is on external needs and desires. The next stage is reframing the rape. The third level consists of rede fining the self, through self-love, forgiveness of self and rapist and finding inner peace, and finally reaching some place of internal understanding of the event. Factors known to influence any of these models of recovery44 include prior life stress, the nature of the rape experience, th e relationship between vi ctim and rapist(s), responses to the rape by genera l public, police, health workers, friends and family, social network, subsequent victimization, and the m eaning ascribed to th e rape experience, among others. Also playing a role is the idea of social contexts and how these play out in terms of gender and power constructs. Social support has been found to be associated with better adjustments after the rape (Frazier and Burnett, 1994). Growth and Spirituality Finding positive meaning in the rape can be seen as a coping strategy, and Frazier and Burnett identify ways to do this, includi ng finding side benefits; comparing oneself to others in worse situations; imagining the situ ation could have been worse; forgetting the negative aspects of the situ ation; redefining ones goal following a trauma so that
37 important goals are no longer blocked. As Li nley and Joseph (2004) point out, positive changes following adversity have long been recognized in philosophy, literature and religionfollowing chronic illnes s, heart attacks, breast cance r, bone marrow transplants, HIV and AIDS, rape and sexual assault, military combat These positive changes are labeled as adversarial growth, resulting as th ey do from adversity and providing hope that the trauma in question can be overcome. Li nley and Joseph cite several studies which support this idea of posttraumatic growth acro ss the dimensions of relating to others, personal strength, spiritual ch ange and life appreciation. Frazier et al.s work Posttraumatic Growth: Finding Meaning Through Trauma explicates that the trauma must first be acknowledged a nd dealt with before these positive changes can be seen. This study found that control ov er the recovery process wa s strongly correlated with posttraumatic growth; common positive changes included increased empathy and assertiveness, changes in life philosophy and spirituality. This is an example of feminist work, respecting that each individual is di fferent and will approach and experience life according to those individualities. In this way, spirituality and feminism are naturally related as both rely on the i ndividual to chart out the mean ing of events rather than accepting a predetermined and rigidl y constructed social picture. While I expand on this later, an elementa ry definition of spirituality might be the path an individual takes towards understan ding ones self, ones surroundings, and the relationship between them. Religion is the form spirituality has most often taken, as the former allows for a structured form that ca n then be expanded to allow the inclusion of many people, rather than a specific and necessarily individual journey. The main problem with organized religions is that th ey are exclusionary and limiting (Maytorena
38 and Summer, 2002). Despite the inherent differences between the two, they have, along with posttraumatic growth, been connected th rough a number of empirical studies. Shaw, Joseph and Linleys review of these work s produced three main findings: religion and spirituality are usually beneficial in deali ng with the aftermath of trauma; traumatic experiences can lead to a deepening of re ligion or spirituality; positive questioning and participation in these veins are often associated with posttraumatic growth. This is in line with many religions views that suffering is often necessary to pe rsonal development. The authors speculate as to the distinction be tween the two being an important element of future research in this area, as the shatte ring of specific religious beliefs may be replaced with the acceptance of a broader and more flexible spirituality. A growing number of academic research has been focused on understanding the meaning, and parameters, of recovery from th e perception of the victim; both in the way recovery proceeds and in which factors contri bute to that recovery. Smith and Kelly (2001) identified three distinct, albeit inter-related, themes in the recovery process: reaching out, reframing the rape, and redefining the self. Exper ientially, it is difficult to determine where one theme ends and another begins (343) and as such Smith and Kelly describe the journey towards recovery as an inward moving spiral, noting that the healing process is progressive and impels one to l ook inward for answers rather than expecting them from some external source. This highl y individual process begi ns with the decision to reach out to others, en abling the rape victim to receive both support and the acknowledgement that the journey to recove ry does not have to be faced alone. Reframing the rape consisted of attempting to make sense of the events and finding some positive aspect, or purpose, to the rape. The third step, redefining self, involves not only
39 the regaining of what one has lost as a result of being raped, but th e ability for increased personal growth (346).
40 Chapter Four Awakening I dont remember the exact moment when I decided that Id had enough of lying to myself, pretending the events of my rape had not happened, and refusing to acknowledge the truth, even to myself. Since the rape, and probably before, I had always looked at the violation of my body as some kind of deat h, as though I no longer had value as a person. What I do remember is the feeling of rec ognition that went thr ough me like an electric shock when I came across the writings of A nais Nin. Her words seemed to leap off the page and speak right to me. I saw for the first time the further damage I was inflicting by hiding from myself, and began to understand that that which was gone forevermy innocence, virginity, sense of blind trustwas only a small part of my total identity. The two quotes that I have treasured most are th ese: And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful t hat the risk it took to blossom and The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself. I thought to myself, my day has come. The spiritual self is constantly changi ng as it develops and grows in accordance with ones learningof the self others, the world, and so on. This introspection is a form of survival: recognizing there is a meaning to existence that transcends ones immediate circumstances and using this knowledge as a means to renew, comfort, heal and inspire
41 both the self and others. It follows that sp irituality is something that is chosen, an individual entity born of a revelation, nur tured and fed by the person as it seeps into every aspect of that life. It is found deep within oneself, and can be recognized and attended to, or ignored and de nied. At the most basic leve l, ones spirituality is a particular way of living, relati ng to others and the world, and because this is so very personal, it cannot as a rule be found in any social grouping or identity, which all religions are to some extent. As yogi W illiam Irwin Thompson said, Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization...45 As such, spirituality may sometimes be considered synonymous with religion, and while there are certainly parallels and like elements, I posit that spirituality is something both greater and at the same time more indi vidualized than religion. Many of the worlds organized religions adhere to a system of core beliefs: detailed rules of behavior meant to be upheld by anyone claiming membership in said religion, and often the act of questioning or acting against those beliefs may be seen as an offens e of that religion. Spirituality, on the other hand, is greater in scope and yet inextricably more private, a personal idea that is to some extent impossible to define, as it means something different to each individual. As Winnie To mm asserts on page 7 of her book Bodied Mindfulness: Womens Spirits, Bodies, and Places There is not a universal form of spirituality, nor is there a common human nature th at is independent of the lo calized living conditions. While one person may equate their spiritual ity with a religion, the next may shun all organized dogma and the public face of all re ligious faiths. It is the very act of questioning what we are that encourages th e individual to find t hose answers through a personal search for a connection to the very energy of life.
42 Freedom I started drinking, a lot, and experimented a lit tle with drugs. I li ked the way they made everything calm and unimportant, but I hated not being in control, so I stopped. One of the electives at my college was kickboxi ng and, always irrationally terrified of the darkness and being alone, when a friend sugge sted taking the class together it seemed like a good idea. I loved feeling empowered and able to take care of myself and started looking for other ways to reproduce that feeling. I found yoga and meditation and threw myself into both with a zeal previously rese rved for reading. Yoga was a gift that let me touch my body and get to know myself again, without the fear and self-loathing I had come to feel was permanent. Meditation wa s amazing; I could think and focus my mind on something besides the ever-present pain and fear. Except there was more pain and fear in my lifean abusive relati onship turned into a pattern. I seemed to be attracted to big men; tall, strong, aggressive and with tempers. The first time I got hit, I remember being shocked, confused, and upset. Like so m any other abuse victims though, at least in the beginning, I believed him when he apologized and swore it would never happen again. Two years later I finally realized something that has carried me through the struggle to finally heal and be free. Im the one who is in charge of me, and I deserve to be what I want, where I want, and most of all, who I want. Ones spiritual awakening can be said to take the form of a journey, most often unique to the person and as such follows no cer tain trajectory towards its objective. Describing this journey is much like the allegory of the cave that appears in Platos The Republic perhaps as good an explanation of the process of spiritual development as can
43 be found. A prisoner has been always chai ned and immobile, st aring at a wall and attempting to define the shapes that appear there, when suddenly he is freed and makes his way outside. Seeing the sun for the first tim e, he realizes the truth of the matter and returns to the cave enlightened, and attempts to tell the other prisoners that what they are seeing is shadows which are not real and only seem to exist because of the effects of the sun. This revelation is greeted with disbelief, as it negates everything they have known their entire lives, and so the original prisoner is treated wi th disdain and becomes entirely discredited. So it is with spirituality; one has to experience the revelation personally in order to truly be able to unders tand and believe. The truth is th ere to be seen, but in order to recognize it one must first learn to look. After all, how can you explain substance to someone who has only known shadows? The idea of the self as a whole46 is an idea which is seemingly impossible in Western consciousness47 that works so hard to keep the body separate from the spirit and considers science to be supreme, denying anything else.48 For example, Western medicine is only beginning to r ecognize that faith may be said to play an integral role in healing. Many U.S. medical schools are star ting to offer courses that look at how religion49 and medicine interact with each other, having taken research such as that done by Dr. Harold G. Koenig, the co-director at the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke Universitys Medical Center into account. One of Dr. Koenigs studies found subjects who attended church once a week during the previous year significantly less likely to be admitted to the hospital than non-church participants, and while Dr. Koenig stresses that religion is certainly not a cure, he points to the repeated finding that people who have faith as an integral piece of their lives often live l onger and enjoy better
44 health over-all. Although it to some extent broadens (or perhaps simply restates?) the studys findings, it is perhaps not so much of a leap to put forward the idea that improving ones spiritual health works to furthe r ones ability to cope with any manner of events that may occur throughout the course of life experiences, whether ordinary or traumatic in nature. Self and Society It is an inescapable fact that we live in a culture that prides itself on fast fixes and easy answers50. A casual search of the internet, ma gazine, or late-night infomercials produces injections claiming to make your skin look younger, supplements promising to change the look of your body, in stant online dating services that will help you find your perfect match51, and pills marketed to cure everything from obesity to erectile dysfunction. Living in the midst of an information age, where answers appear instantaneously to any question we may posit, has resulted in the idea of healing as a timeand effortintensive project beco ming somewhat foreign to our collective consciousness. In many respects it would seem that we have become reluctant to invest any amount of either time or effort than app ears absolutely necessary. In terms of postrape trauma however, there is little choice; personal effortmental, physical, emotional, etc.must be made if any sort of healing is to be effected. As we have already seen, RAINN asserts that there is a rape or se xual assault every two minutes, and the World Health Organization found that rape victims are 6 times as likely to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Taken together, th is indicates that each rape survivor must find their way to recovery, whether this mean s learning to live with either PTSD or RTS
45 or merely finding a way to cope with the knowledge of the rape itself. While each rape survivor must define for herself what recovery looks like, there are th ree distinct phases. These are: reaching out, reframing the rape, and redefining the self (taken from Journey of Recovery, Issues in Ment al Health Nursing, May 2001). While reaching out and reframing the ra pe are somewhat self-explanatory, the idea of redefining the self is more complex. Adhering to the scope of this paper, as the idea of ones self evolves, bonds are formed and knowledge is gained while personal strength becomes more of a focal point, in turn allowing for greater depth and possibilities to be realized. This prompts an awakening that one is responsible for personal conduct: just because evil is done to you, it does not necessarily follow that you have to sink into similar patterns of beha vior, rather you can rise above and become more than just the sum of those experiences. Reality, however, is rarely simple. Li fe is difficult, with complications and problems at every turn. This goes some wa y to explain the presence of religion, which scholars and theorists ranging from Plato to Marx to Weber have been attempting to define for as long as the idea itself has existed52. The word "religion" itself comes from the Latin "religare", meaning "to bind togeth er", and the American Heritage Dictionary defines religion as "a set of beliefs, values and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader". This idea, that many give n religions are the result of circumscribed schools of thought, supports my previous claim that religion is merely one component of spirituality, which helps to explain the pres ence of so many differing faiths, which so often seem to be at odds. Certainly there are an abundance of belief systems to be found, and each, to varying degrees, insi sts that it can provide you w ith the best, or perhaps the
46 only, answers which humanity so desperately seeks.53 The current popularity of Scientology is an excellent example of thisit promises to give answer s, truths about self and others, the world, and life54. Whether or not it truly provides these is somewhat immaterial; a void may exist in everyday life be tween what is and what we are able to provide logical and/or rati onal explanations for and anyone or anything offering a solution, whether through a religion, diet pill, da ting service, etc. is most likely going to find an audience. Is it rea lly possible to find answers and engineer change through buying into an advertising slogan?55 It has been observed more than once that our society56 is one that does not want to have to wo rk in order to produce results. Any effort to arrive at a clear-cut solution to several fundamental questions57 life presents is going to be faced with a troubling ideaif there were truly a definitive answ er, it seems to follow that it would be clearly recogni zable to anyone looking for it, or willing to see it at any rate. Individual Truths This is where spirituality comes into beingthere are no easy answers, and perhaps no universal truths. Spirituality instead recognizes that it is the individual search for these same answers that is of the utmost importance; that is, it is the asking which is the essential piece.58 As the Dalai Lama said, no one can achieve spirituality on your behalf. It has to be done by the individual. To me, spirituality is the idea that there is something greater than the self, and that is the knowledge of the self as a piece of a bigger puzzle. Each of us must find her, or his, own way to this greater truth, whether in a specific religion or simply in ones self, becau se in the end, it is a personal knowledge.
47 Spirituality can provide a sense of mean ing to our existen ce and experiences by helping give shape to a personal network of beliefs and ethics which determines how we relate to others, the world, and the events, both large and small, that occur throughout our lives. In terms of healing, th is spiritual growth is accompanied by the power to change negative self-associations into positive self image, confidence and expression. This is directed not towards the ab stract idea of the sacred59, but channeled into finding the sacred within the self. What is important here is that a spiritual jour ney offers the idea of change, of adapting, wherein ideas shift as one acquires a different visi on of life, of the self, and of what is truly important. These spiritual observations may most likely lead to a reformation of ones identity that reflect s gained insight and knowledge, of the world and the self, and adapting ones previous held ideas to incorporate the new information. The idea of the self as a whole, going back to George Herbert Meads claim of the unification of I and me60, is one which is seemingly impossible in the current Western consciousness that works so hard to keep spirit and body separate, a reflection of a much larger outdated and inept system. The fact remains that, despite the real and stated commitments to multiculturalism in democratic societies, at the grassroots level, the existence of a socio-cultural binary of "us" and "them" or "we" and "they" is very much a reality and can scarcely be denied. This is true not only in Western societies but also within multicultural countries such as India. But this socio-cultural binary is not a given; it is created historically during processe s of nation formation when majorities and minorities are manufactured.61 Although still very much socially present, this binary model is a poor representative of reality: gay versus stra ight, male versus female, democrat versus republicanit is rarely, if ever, that simple because by forcing people to fit themselves within these rigid either-
48 or categories, the system fails to recognize all the diversity that exis ts. If there were only two viable choices to be had, does it not follow that theori es would most probably give way to answers? Instead there are innumerabl e options of religions, spiritual schools of thought, philosophies and reasoning, and as more questions are asked, more answers are forwarded as possibilities. Insistence is pl aced on finding the answers rather than making an effort to understand the reason behind the questions themselves.62 Is this why human, or at least Western, culture remains so determin ed to be healed rather than accepting that healing is a process63, an on-going and ever evolving pro cess of becoming? Each of us has to discover what has shaped our own self in order to be able to recognize the context within which we live and operate. Spiritua l centeredness is recognizing and accepting the whole being64, at peace with itself and its surroundings. This idea of centeredness involves work a nd sacrifice, for it means letting go of the anger and hate that so of ten arises in the aftermath of sexual trauma. This means admitting what happened, saying out loud I was raped and then realizing you are indeed more than the sum of your parts. In her book, At the Root of this Longing Carol Lee Flinders addresses this c oncept of honest contemplation; that, in order to turn the focus inward, ones self-protective defenses must first be lowered. Gandhi claims that strength comes from within65, and the Dalai Lama has repeated ly noted that it is only by facing our problems that we can overcome them.66 In order to find ones authentic self, you must first find your voice, a nd to that purpose, tell your story, whether to someone else or simply yourself. It does not matter if it is read, only that the tr uth is out there.
49 Power In my own experience, this involved taking back my night, and by so doing, perhaps one day I will no longer be afraid of it. By re peatedly challenging myse lf to do this, I have continued to grow and evolve and found immeasurable strength in myself, as well as previously unknown connections to others. Cause and Affect Healing after rape is a difficult path wh erein each day becomes a journey that you have to re-travel over and over. Something as simple as locking a door turns into an endless repetition of compulsive behavior as you search for any means to regain a semblance of control. As noted above, studies have repeatedly shown the traumatic impact of rape, pointing out th at it can continue to affect a woman for years, perhaps the rest of her life. A growing number of artic les and theorists are beginning to forward the idea that the recovery process can in point of fact actually result in positive outcomes, including increased self-worth and meaning to ones life (Thompson). As such, any event has the potential to deepen your awaren ess of the self, but it takes courage to admit fear and weakness and vulnerability. In line with our cultural drive for easy, instantaneous answers, there has grown an addiction industry. Addiction has come to involve more than heroin and alcohol: the realm of recognized addictions now spans the gamut from porn to the internet. This identification, often of any ma nner of behavior seen as negative, is in some way a response to the previously mentioned cultu ral tendency towards a search for easy answers. Whatever name you give it, wh ether addiction, compulsion, or habit, it
50 becomes a part of you and trying to stop it a nd heal seems like volunteering to remove a part of yourself. Regret For myself, this has become the constant pr esence of if only, and it was the slow and gradual realization that I might well lose myself entirely that finally forced me to face and accept the changes that had been done, both by and to me, and try to find a way to cope with the guilt I felt and move on. Only with acceptance can you truly a ddress the issue. In a world where perception is quite often mistaken for reality67, self-discovery is difficult because it necessitates entering the unknown and giving up th e semblance of control. Despite the difficulty, the field of posttraumatic growth actually shows that reports of growth actually outnumber negative psychiatric disorders, al though it should be not ed that continuing distress and growth most often coexist (Cadel l et al., 2003). Pain, as well as joy, has always been recognized as part of life; the one constant presence, from the trauma of birth through the discomfort of illness, to the emotional upheaval of adolescence to the recognition of the aging process and the sl ow acceptance of deaths finality. This idea of growing pains is not new and connects back to the idea of redemptive suffering that is the hallmark of most of the worlds major religions. The paradox of finding strength through vulnerability is perhaps not so difficult to understand.
51 Hindsight My own rape experience left me with the in escapable knowledge t hat I could in no way control life, something that has manifested itself in any number of obsessive-compulsive tendencies to control whatever I can, as I can never recover my childhood innocencewhatever that term truly means. However, I also gained the knowledge that I am a survivor and have a clear and very firm belief in my ability to deal with whatever might come my way. While coming to this realization was by no means easy, it did allow me to grasp a more fundamental awareness of myself and my place in the world. Having had to deal with this rape experience and th e accompanying trauma has given me a certain perspective on the relative importa nce of things. I am, for in stance, more able to identify and relate to people and their own concerns, so mething that I feel has enabled me to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships in my own life. I am also, strangely enough, more apt to consider myself a stabl e and adaptive person; having lived through and survived something no one can deny the trau ma of, I am less likely to fall apart in other traumatic situations. I fight for what I believe in, secure in the idea that if I work for what I want and deserve, then whether or not I attain thos e goals is somewhat irrelevant. I also have a clea rer picture of what is and is not truly important to me. These realizations, while my own, seem to be common results of posttraumatic growth and often accompany an increased spir itual awareness. Growing up is a long and arduous course that does not begin or end at any age; some changes are slow, while others seemingly occur overnight, but many of these changes are happening to everyone at the same time (if at a different pace) and there are emotional resources to be found in
52 friends, family and media to look to for understanding and guidance. As innocence fades, knowledge grows and the desire for i ndependence allows one to develop their own personality and discover who they are in th eir own time as they navigate childhood. A traumatic event interrupts this phased learning process; instead of a gradual development, a child is instead caught una wares as innocence and trus t are ripped away without warning. There is a certain benefit to be found even in this tragic loss however. While one might lose Eriksons basic trust68 in this sort of trauma, they may also be able to find previously untapped reserves of strength and be lief in themselves. That is not to deny the reality of the suffering caused by a rape, or a ny other trauma for that matter, but instead to place the focus on the abil ity to control the recovery process and perhaps gain something from the experience, even as one cannot recover what has been lost. Reflections So much has been written about rape and its af termath, and so much work has yet to be done. We live in a world that too often blam es women victims for the crimes. Someone who was beaten by a spouse should have left the relationship; someone who was raped should not have been dressed like that. Why? Is it easier than accepting that bad things happen? That maybe evil does exist? Or is it simply a way of explaining away the crime and creating an illusion of safetyif you do this, this, and this, and dont do that, then youll be ok. I refuse to li ve my life in fear, not anymore, and I do try not to take chances, but I really believe that turning a blind eye only exacerbates the problems we face. The twelve-step program that alcoholics and drug addicts turn to says that admitting the problem is the first step. In a culture that is sinking into apathy about so many things, I
53 believe this is true. Rape needs to be seen as a problem for all of us, not something you spend your life hoping you wont have to deal with personally. Despite my apparent openness about my own experiences, and the re lative ease with which I can now talk about it, I am aware of peoples responses. No matter how quickly stifled, the initial response of many is disbelief followed by judgement, not of th e crime but of me. That is why I am speaking out. For I am not a victim but a survivor, and I refuse to let anyone take that away from me. As I have illustrated, the trauma of rape only begins with the act itself and affects every aspect of ones life, across the spheres of emotion, intellect and communication. Repeatedly proven to take away ones sense of safety and trust, little work to date has been done to illustrate that this can be rebuilt, and how. Feminism has grounded itself in the assertion that women and men are equal a nd should therefore be treated as such and yet rape, a sexual crime that can be perpetra ted on anyone, male or female, continues to be perceived as something that happens only to women and remains one of the few crimes in which the victim is blamed as muc h, if not more than, the perpetrator(s). As such, many of the feminist writers who have addressed the subject of rape have focused solely on establishing the criminality of the act itself, rather than giving voice to the women who have themselves survived the crim e. The intention of this project was to illustrate that the events and reactions after the rape, including the reactions of the survivor, family and friends, and any involve ment by the legal system, are perhaps more crucial to the idea of healing than the physical rape itself. The trauma of rape does not end until and unless the survivor chooses to take control of herself and her life.
54 RAINNs website offers statistics that in the past fourteen year s, the occurrence of rape and sexual assault has fallen by more than 69% and yet it remains a fact that every two and a half minutes in Am erica someone is sexually assaulted. What does this say about our culture? I have attempted to show he re how much of a probl em rape still is, for everyone. Whether or not you yourself have been raped, yo ur life has certainly been affected by its societal presence. As Carole Sheffield pointed out in Sexual Terrorism (1994), sexual violence is so pervasive as to be virtually unrecognizable despite being present in everything from news progr ams to popular music to automobile advertisements. The power of fear is st aggeringit defines where you go, what you wear and say and do, who you interact with and who you avoid, the hours in which you feel safe outside your home. Once something becomes a routine, embedded in the social consciousness, it is very nearly impossibl e to eliminate. Certainly there are organizations, centers, advocates, and citizens wo rking to bring the subject of rape into a public discourse, so why does it remain a taboo subject in an age where anything and everything is said or done on television or th e internet and is immediately accessible for public consumption? Despite the fact that rape is an act of power and control, with research repeatedly illustrating how it aff ects every aspect of life, from choices to behaviors69, public thought continues to label rape as primarily sexual in nature. A rape can take away ones security, support system, ability to trust in others and the world, and even ones sense of self. The effort to re gain ones confidence, ones agency, is hard enough without having to deal with the perpetual label of victim that renders this process almost impossible.
55 One of the core foundations of feminist thought is that each person has merit and value as an individual. Desp ite nearly a century of work towards the goal of achieving equality, the collective public conscious ness continues to treat everyone who has survived the crime of rape in the same way, as though they themselves have somehow done something wrong and should be permanen tly labeled as damaged, defective, or destroyed.70 It has been the intention of this project to show how a survivor can demonstrate the ignorance and falsity of this assumption and take back the identity and agency that were perhaps lost through the rape experience. By framing my work in a survivor-cen tered lens, I have endeavored to add something new to the existing literature by pr oviding a personal picture of the aftermath of rape in terms of the surv ivor rather than the crime its elf. The idea of identity renegotiation is not new but ha s previously neglected in the picture of rape recovery in favor of bringing attention to th e severity of the crime. A highly individualized process, identity renegotiation involves accepting th e events, incorporati ng the knowledge of same, and finding a way to move on with ones life. There is no one identity for woman, and there is no one experience of rape. As such, there can be no specific path to recovery; it is a personal end eavor that looks di fferent in each survivor. I maintain, however, that in order to effect true healing in this manner, spirituality must be present and play a specific role. I have defined spir ituality as an awarene ss of the connection of all things. This is an awareness that functions as the core of each individual; whether this core is recognized is somewhat immaterial. As I make the claim that a rape affects every aspect of ones identity, ones core b ecomes a pivotal piece in the path towards wholeness.
56 Healing Work For so long I was afraid that my own co re had been broken, shattered, completely destroyed. Terrified of what happened, of people finding out, of what I did, of who I was, I lied. To my family, my friends, even myse lf. Gradually I came to see that by hiding from what had happened, I was letting the event of the rape control my life. What was the point of struggling to survive if every minu te was lived in fear? Having watched as the life of a person close to me was slow ly ruined by terror and regret, and seeing firsthand the pain caused by that persons choi ce to give up, I decided I wasnt going to do that to the people in my life. I wanted to live, and no matter the cost, the chance to become a whole person was an opportunity I co uldnt miss. This me ant facing the truth of the rape and everything that came afte r, being honest with myself and trusting others with my story. Choosing to live with the truth is a daily struggle and while I am not always successful, I cont inue to try to heal. Thinking of ones self as a victim can be seen as an addictiv e behavior pattern. As with any addiction it is first necessary to recognize the problem before control can be regained. While there are i nnumerable paths towards healing, I can only speak to my own situation. First I had to sa y, out loud, to myself, I was raped. Only after that was I able to find the strength to trust myself, a nd others, with this knowledge. Gradually I came to see how entirely I had allowed the ra pe, by refusing to acknowledge the truth of the experience, to take over my existence, coloring how I appro ached both people and situations and even determining the ways I thought, behaved and communicated. Even more difficult to reach was realizing I surviv ed. For a long while I was not sure that I
57 had, but as I slowly began to let myself experience life again, I found myself craving those interactions I had shut myself off to for so long. Letting people in, to know me and my experiences, gave me the strength to face myself and my own truth and allowed me to understand that although the rape itself may have taken away my agency at that moment, it ultimately gave me the gift of strength. Survival for me has meant working to find the strength to recognize and accept what I cannot control while striving to understand I can determine my own behavior.
58 1 One condition omitted from DSM-IV is rape. Un less there is evidence of sadistic fantasies and behaviors as determinants of a rape, a case would no t qualify as a paraphilia in DSM-IV nomenclature. Abel and Rouleau (1990) criticized the exclusion of rape from DSM because th ey believe that rapists display recurrent, repetitive, and compulsive urges and fantasies to commit rapes (p.18). The authors of the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for paraphilias appare ntly avoided introducing paraphilic rape out of concern that it might be used in court as a defense against prosecution. The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook Eds. Louis Diamant, Rich ard D. McAnulty. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. 243. [Paraphilia is the term that re placed sexual deviation in the DSM.] 2 For example, it is most often the court system or the medical field, and not the woman who has been raped, that determines whether recovery and/or healing have occurred. Reference Smith, Issues in Mental Health Nursing May 2001. 3 The argument I am attempting to make is to note the lack of access to any materials without first conducting an in-depth search for said; an activity that would likely not appeal to someone who has just survived a rape experience and is looking for help or information. 4 This assertion refers to the search results for the term rape; I mention this partly because the idea of its not your fault has become, and rightly so, a companion to many rape survival pamphlets and help centersyet there is nothing to back up this assertion. 5 While I acknowledge that men and children may also be raped, this work labels the rape survivor as a woman, the reasons for which I will address later in the paper. 6 An excellent source for information on the range of post-rape effects is Ann Wolbert Burgess Rape and Sexual Assault II 7 Psychiatric illness, depression, acts of violence toward s self and others, alcohol and drug dependency, and drastic personality changes are just a few co mmon and potentially life-threatening effects. 8 Most often this is issue is raised and discussed in terms of community safety, rather than the survivors potentially destroyed sense of security in every environment. Maureen M. Underwood and Nancy Fiedler. The Crisis of Rape: A Community Response Community Mental Health Journal, September 1983. 9 Many works discuss the aftermath of rape and many other works speak to the subject of identity, but I found only one that treats both; Susan J. Brisons Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self 10 One of the more popular myths is that of the false accusation, most recently s een in the much publicized rape case brought against NBA star Kobe Bryant. Eugene J. Kanin. False Rape Allegations Archives of Sexual Behavior, February 1994. 11 The courts often hesitate, or openly refuse, to hear extended testimony from the survivor on the basis of the information being irrelevant in terms of the cas e. Patricia Smith. Rape and Equal Protection Hypatia, 2004. 12 See Susan J. Brisons Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self 13 Nicholson, Linda. Interpreting Gender. Journal of Women and Society 1994. 14 Pat OConnor. Young Peoples Construction of the Self : Late Modern Elements and Gender Differences. Sociology February 2006. 15 This theme can be seen in the works of Nancy Ch odorow, Anne Fausto-Sterling and Gloria Anzaldua, among others. 16 Justin B. Poll and Timothy B. Smith. The Spiritual Self: Toward a Conceptualization of Spiritual Identity Development. Journal of Psychology and Theology June 2003. 17 Tomm, Winnie. Bodied Mindfulness: Womens Spirits, Bodies, and Places Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995. 18 For a clearer picture of this phenomenon, one is referred to the history of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which celebrated its 25th anniversary in July, 2007. The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring womens equal access to political and public life as well as education, health and employmentStates parties agree to take all appropriat e measures so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.[and] against all forms of traffic inand exploitation of women. www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw
59 19 Only those who have a vested interest in the status quo, in the powerful remaining powerful, require certitude about their righteousness and their warrant to direct and administer everything. Tong, Rosemarie and Nancy Williams, Feminist Ethics, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2006 Edition) Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
60 45 The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light: Myt hology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture New York: St. Martins Press, 1981. 103. 46 Forwarded by prominent sociologist George Meade, who argued in 1934s Mind, Self and Society that there is a distinction to be made between what he termed the I and the me, with the self being the combination of these two. 47 Holmes, Edmond. The Creed of Buddha New York: J. Lane, 1919. 206. 48 Lorber, Judith. Seeing Is Believing: Biology as Ideology. Gender and Society Vol. 7, No. 4, December 1993. 49 Although I use the term religion here in accordance with the titles of these courses, I refer to it as a smaller piece of the greater entity known as spirituality. 50 Forwarded by sociologist Philip Slater in 1970s The Pursuit of Loneliness 51 PerfectMatch.com 52 These also include more recent religious scholars, philosophers, psychiatrists, sociologists and anthropologists such as James Frazer, Emile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud 53 A brief overview of the worlds more popular (in terms of numbers of practicing members) religions can be found at www.religioustolerance.org a website maintained by a group known as the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 54 The Fundamentals of Scientology, www.theta.com Church of Scientology International, 1999-2004 55 Chanda, Ipshita. Displaying the Modern Woman: Feminism in the Labyrinths of Media Culture. Social Scientist Vol. 28, No. March-April 2000. 56 Admittedly these observations are by and large speaki ng of Western society, but as such technologies spread, it follows that so will this tendency towards quick fixes and easy answers. 57 Some of the more common questions in this vein include: why are we here, where did we come from, why is there misery and suffering in the world, how can I escape death, etc. 58 Tanyi, Ruth A. Towards Clarifica tion of the Meaning of Spirituality. Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 39, No. 5, September 2002. 59 I refer here to the idea of sacred, not in religious terms, but rather as the idea of an untouchable and ultimate truth. 60 This idea is found in Mind, Self and Society where Mead claims one becomes conscious of the self only after learning about and experiencing different societal norms and roles. 61 Sonwalkar, Prasun. "Out of sight, out of mind?: the non-reporting of small wars and insurgencies." Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime Eds. Barbie Zelizer, Stuart Allan. London: Routledge, 2004. 208. 62 acquiring is always secondary, an d instrumental to the act of inquiring. It is seeking, a quest, for something that is not at handAll thinking is research and all research is native, original, with him who carries it on, even if everyone else in the world is su re of what he is still looking for. John Dewey. Democracy and Education New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2005. Chapter 11. 63 So that we might continue to follow Descartes notion of the separation between mind and body? 64 This oneness of body and mind is the single ultimate principle. Nichiren Daishonin, Gosho Zenshu, 708. 65 Gandhi, M. K. Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha) New York: Dover Publications, 2001. 293. 66 His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. A Human Approach To World Peace. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1984. 67 Television and literary characters become friends, celebrities (whether in truth or merely name) are followed relentlessly and their every action scrutinized with a familiarity that dispenses with any thought of privacy or respect. 68 Children who form secure attachments with loving and sensitive care givers are given a general sense that the world is both predictable and reliablethis is a rephrasing of Trust vs. Mistrust, which is the first of Eriksons eight stages of development. 69 Traumatic events produce profound and lasting ch anges in physiological arousal, emotion, cognition, and memory. Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery p34. New York: Basic Books, 1997. 70 Gamble, Nancy C. and Lee Madigan. The Second Rape: Societys Continued Betrayal of the Victim MacMillan, 1991.
61 References Angelucci, Marc E. and Glenn Sacks. R esearch Shows False Accusations of Rape Common. NewsWithViews. 18 Sep. 2004. 10 Oct. 2004.
62 Filipas, Henrietta H. and Sarah E. Ullman. Predictors of PTSD Symptom Severity and Social Reactions in Sexual Assault Victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, April 2001, 14(2): 369-389. Flinders, Carol Lee. At the Root of this Longing: R econciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst New York: Harper Collins, May 1999. Florida. Department of Health. Se xual Violence Survival Guide. 4 Sep. 2007. < http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Family/svpp/materials/guide_en.pdf > Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. How To Help A Victim. 10 Sep. 2007.
63 Kelly, Lillian M. and Marilyn E. Smith. The Journey of Recovery After a Rape Experience. Issues in Mental Health Nursing May 2001, 22(4): 337-352. Koenig, Harold G., Michael E. McCullough and David B. Larson. Handbook of Religion and Health Oxford University Press, 2001. Koss, Mary P. Restoring Rape Survivors: Justice, Advocacy, and a Call to Action. Violence and Exploitation Against Women and Girls Nov. 2006, 1087: 206-234. Linley, P. Alex and Stephen Joseph. Pos itive Change Following Trauma and Adversity: A Review. Journal of Traumatic Stress Feb. 2004, 17(1): 11-21. Macy, Joanna and Brown, Molly Young. Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World. Gabriola Island: Ne w Society Publishers, 1998. Mardorossian, Carine M. Toward a New Feminist Theory of Rape. Gender Studies 2004, 3: 243-275. Maytorena, Myriam and Zsuzsana Summer. Spirituality True Odysseys Booklocker.com, 2002. National Victim Center. National Center for Victims of Crime. Sexual Assault Victimization. 1998. 11 Sep. 2007.
64 PTSD Alliance. Patient Education Booklet. 2001. Resick, Patricia A. The Ps ychological Impact of Rape. Journal of Interpersonal Violence June 1993, 8(2): 223-255. Shaw, Annick, Stephen Joseph and P. Alex Linley. Religio n, Spirituality, and Posttraumatic Growth: A Systematic Review. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, March 2005, 8(1): 1-11. Sheffield, Carole. Sexual Terrorism. Women, A Feminist Perspective Jo Freeman, Ed. 5th Edition. Mountain View, Californ ia: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1994. Siegert, R. and T. Ward. Toward a Comp rehensive Theory of Child Sexual Abuse: A Theory Knitting Perspective. Psychology, Crime, & Law Dec. 2002, 8(4): 319351. Smith, Patricia. Rape and Equal Protection. Hypatia 2004, 19(2). Smith, M. E. and L. M. Kelly. The Journe y of Recovery After a Rape Experience. Issues in Mental Health Nursing June 2001, 22(4): 337-352. Thompson, William Irwin. The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1996. Thornhill and Palmer. A Natural History of Rape: Biolog ical Bases of Sexual Coercion MIT Press, 2000. Tomm, Winnie. Bodied Mindfulness: Womens Spirits, Bodies, and Places Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995. Tong, Rosemarie and Nancy Williams. Feminist Ethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Ed. Edward N. Zalta. Winter 2006 edition. http://plato.stanford.e du/archives/win2006/entries/feminism-ethics/ University of South Florida. Sexual Violence. 1996, updated 2000. University of South Florida Advocacy Program. Providing Help to Survivors and Victims of Violence and Abuse. Vega, Jason A. Wheeler. Naturalism and Fe minism: Conflicting E xplanations of Rape in a Wider Context. Sexualities, Evolution and Gender June 2001, 3(1): 47-85.
65 Appendix A
RAPE A SURVIVORS GUIDE YOU ARE NOT ALONE THERE IS HOPE 66
67 Speaking Out Silence will not protect you. --Audrey I never knew there were so many other people who understood. --Padma Maybe he didnt care and maybe he planned it. All I know is, hes the one who should feel ashamed. --Megan Others have unfortunately been there too. You need support. --Nayeli For so long, I shut down the need to rage and cry. I made a choice not to stay a victim. --Jileane Healing is a process. Pieces of my life are slowly coming together. I am different, but I accept that. --Hana
68I will carry the knowledge of rape with me forever. I dont need to carry silence and shame as well. --Sam I wanted to feel safe, not terrorized. And then I realized that my jailer had changed faces. I was the one keeping myself locked up. --Adilah Im different now. The world is different now. I have more fear, but I have more support too. --Laura Its hard for me to trust anyone else, but I do trust myself now. --Jamie I will carry this with me forever, but I refuse to let it break me. --Aine
69Facts about Rape Rape is never your fault. Rape is always a crime. Any attempt at forced sexual penetration, with a body part or an object, is rape. This includes vaginal, anal and oral penetration. Rape can happen to wome n, men and children. It does not matter if you are young or old, black, white or brown, gay, straight or bisexual. You are not alone. Every two and a half minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. More than half of these go unreported. Rapists are not always strangers. More than two-thirds of rapes are committed by acquaintances, friends, partners or family members. After a Rape Find a safe place. Ask someone you trust to stay with you, or call 1-800-656-HOPE, a free and confidential hotline. Remember that what happened is not your fault, and that you need to do what is best for you. Reporting the rape is your choice. If you do decide to call the police, it is your right to have a friend, family member or advocate with you. If you choose to report the rape, do not wash or brush your teeth. Try to remember everything you can about the rapist(s) and the attack itself. Ask for a rape kit at the hospital. All of these actions will help in order to preserve evidence. If you choose not to report the rape, it is still important to get medical attention to determine the risk of STIs/STDs and possible pregnancy. It is never too late to ask for help. The trauma of rape is not only physical, but affects every part of your life. Give
70yourself time to understand and accept what happened. Healing is a process, not a cure. Emotional Responses Immediate reactions include shame, anger, denial, fear, guilt, disbelief, sadness, self-blame, confusion and helplessness. These are all normal feelings. There is no one way to feel after a rape. Rape changes your life. As time goes on, long-term reactions may develop. These can include fear of being alone or the dark, depression and thoughts of suicide, trust issues, flashbacks, drug and alcohol abuse and abrupt, often drastic changes in behavior and personality. Remember that you are a survivo r, not a victim. It is ok to ask for help. You are no t alone. There is hope. Rape-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Many people who survive a rape experience develop this disorder, also called Rape Trau ma Syndrome. There are four major symptoms. 1. Re-living the trauma. This often involves recurring nightmares, intrusive memories, and flashbacks of the rape. 2. Social withdrawal, or psychic numbing, is basically shutting down emotionally to the point of not having any feelings at all. 3. Avoiding any situations, though ts or feelings that recall the events of the rape. 4. Increased physiological arousal including exaggerated startle response, sleep disorders, hyper-vigilance and difficulty concentrating.
71Reactions of Others Most people, upon hearing that you have been raped, will be unsure how to respond. While they may want to help, unless they have been through a simila r experience, they will likely not be able to understand your feelings or know how to act. People in your life may try to encourage you to forget what happened and move on, commenting that it could have been worse. They may ask where you were, what you were wearing, or what you did. When this happens, try to remember that it is human nature to try and find reasons for things and events for which there are no explanations. More Information Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. 2000 L Street NW Suite 406 Washington, DC 20036 Counseling and Information 1-800-656-HOPE www.rainn.org The National Center for Victims of Crime 2000 M Street NW Suite 480 Washington, DC 20036 Referral to Local Services 1-800-FYI-CALL www.ncvc.org National Sexual Violence Resource Center 123 North Enola Drive Enola, PA 17025 Referral to Local Services 1-877-739-3895 www.nsvrc.org