Friday, February 1, 2008

I lied about being raped

I have to get this out. This blog has become therapeutic for me, I told myself I was starting it to give others a place to talk about their experience and to educate people, but its becoming clear that its for me.

Ok, here is what happened tonight: I lied to a woman in my class. Well, I didn't lie, but I didn't tell the whole truth so it feels like a lie. I told her I had been raped. The truth is, I have been raped twice. But even now....34 frigging years after the first rape and 31 years after the second, I am still ashamed and embarrassed and feel a certain amount of self blame.

I was afraid it I told her that it had happened twice (because lightening doesn't strike twice in the same place, right?) that she would think I was exaggerating, or that I was never really raped, or that I must have been asking for it.

I am 48 frigging years old and am still feeling this way about something that happened to me when I was 14 and 17! That's insane, sad and wrong. could have been avoided IF someone I would have talked about it then to the right person. But I didn't. And the people I talked to said asinine things to me that made it worse. I have been carrying around anger and resentment for them for years and just saw that tonight for the first time (and here I am, thinking I knew all there was to know about myself...ha, I guess I didn't!)

Here is what I wish would have happened, perhaps this would have promoted healing instead of leading me down a path of promiscuity and more tragedy.

Me: I was raped
Other Person (OP): Oh my gosh, how horrifying, that is awful, what happened?
Me: (shares the details, cries, shares more)
OP: Listens while nodding head and holding my hand
Me: Crying, talking, reliving the horror of it and FEELING HEARD AND CARED FOR
OP: I am so sorry this happened to you, its awful, its tragic, you must have been so scared, I am so very sorry....(holds me and lets me cry)

The incident still would have had a negative effect on me, but if this would have been the scenario I guarantee I WOULD HAVE HAD A MUCH HEALTHIER LIFE, I WOULD HAVE NOT SPENT YEARS AGONIZING IN GUILT AND SHAME. And most of all, I would understand that rape is a crime about violence and control - not sex.

that's all for now...


Anonymous said...

It is one of the cruel and unfair things about rape and sexual abuse that there is no easy way to talk about it or respond to it. I hear what you are saying here and how much you wanted to be heard and validated. The truth is, however, that unless someone knows from bitter experience what you have gone through it is hard for them to really imagine how deeply wounded you are and it is also hard for them to imagine the evil of rape or SA being perpetrated by a regular person, especially if that person is someone they know.

It is easier to believe that the victim is exaggerating, lying or delusional than to accept that someone who seems like a regular person could do something as terrible as rape a child. We have a difficult time wrapping our head around that evil. We don't want to think about it. It doesn't compute. But girls making a play for sympathy or attention, or girls making up a story to avoid taking responsibility for something they're embarrassed about or might get in trouble for - now that's something we can understand and perhaps even relate to.

The conversation that you wish you had seldom happens and not just because the listener is insensitive. It is partly because we can only relate to things that our own experience touches on. But it also because the victim, in her trauma is often unable to tell the story in a way that the listener can make sense of. The listener may want to reach out but she doesn't know where or how to reach. The victim inteprets that shock, bewilderment, confusion as a lack of empathy. Unfortunately the listener will seldom go back and say, "When you told me about what happened to you I was so shocked I just couldn't get my head around it. I'm sorry if I said the wrong things. Can we start again and I'll try and be less confused."

For example, if the listener says, "what did you do before this?" or "why didn't you tell someone?" or "I can't believe so and so did that" or "Are you sure this really happened," what they are really doing is blurting out their own internal confusion and attempt to make sense of something that doesn't make sense.

I remember reading a list on a sexual survivor's site about things NOT TO SAY when someone discloses a rape or sexual assault to you and I remember thinking "Oh great! Except we never get to see the list until we've already said half those things and scarred the victim for life."

I admit that some of the thoughts going through my head when my daughter disclosed were:
"Could she be making this up for sympathy?"
"Could this be some sort of conflation of dreams or hallucinations and a relatively minor incident?"
"Why now?"
"How could she just "forget" something like that?"
"Why did she keep going back?"
"How is it possible that he could do something like that and then sit across the table from us"
"how is it that we never saw any indication that this was happening?"
"Why didn't she tell us?"
The last question was the most painful. What was there about us, me, that made her keep this secret.
Now I understand the answers to all those questions, but at the time I was shocked, bewildered and horrified. Either someone I trusted and respected had betrayed us in the worst possible way and had used an innocent child in a way that was unspeakably evil or my beloved daughter was telling a terrible, hateful lie just for sympathy or attention or my daughter was insane. I stood at a 3 way intersection with all arrows pointing to hell and my tongue unable to make any intelligible conversation, while my daughter waited probably like you did, for affirmation.

Since then I too have had the experience of feeling as if people didn't want to hear or didn't believe me. I have also at times lied about what was happening with my daughter because it was just too sad to talk about or because I couldn't face the skeptical or uneasy or dismissive looks on people's faces - or for those who love my daughter, the look of grief on their face.

Books that really helped me deal with this were "The Four Agreements" and "The Book of Knowledge" by Don Miguel Ruiz. IN particular the second and third agreements:

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

In his books Ruiz talks about the realities/dreams that we all live in. We are all writing our own stories and for the heedless, the unawake, and the emotionally retared, other people are merely props in their stories. We don't really listen to the stories of others because all the time we are weaving our own. We make assumptions about other people's actions and motives in relation to us, based on our own story, unaware that that person has their own story which motivates their actions and this story has little or nothing to do with us. This concept made so much make sense to me.

Rahime said...

The sad thing is you're right, most people, if they hear you've been raped twice will assume exactly what you said. Tragic, because that just makes the shame worse for the person who's trying to recover.

Honestly, I've often wondered what it is that makes some people seem to have an invisible sign on them that says "predators, please mistreat me" and others don't really. I DO NOT think it's that you're doing something wrong, or putting yourself in the wrong situations, or anything like that... particularly with rape if a woman says no or resists sexual advances the other person should stop. BUT, it does seem like some people are more prone to having people take advantage of them and having bad things happen to them (whether it's something at horrible as rape/molestation or something more-comparatively-mundane being overcharged by a mechanic, etc.) than others.

Maybe there is no answer to Why? I don't think there's a reason these things happen, so I guess why's not the right question.

Anyways, I don't think you should feel bad about not telling a complete stranger everything. Seems like self-protection...not a bad idea, given your previous experience with people's reactions, to build a little trust first.

Sherry said...

Amazing insight & honesty from Anonymous. I'm so glad she shared here. I'm convinced if we stopped long enough to listen to one anothers "story", our hearts would be broken. We never know the unseen burdens & scars others carry.

I echo Raime's caution to you. You need to protect yourself. Go slow & know you can trust.

Barbara, it didn't dawn on me until this morning while reading these posts, that the person you were to help in taking these classes - is YOU!!

Aphra said...

Anonymous makes a lot of sense. And also Rahime does as well. You told this person about one event in your life but you didn't tell her your whole life story, and that's ok. Relationships are built over time, you don't need to disclose all, just what you feel you are ready to share.

Bar L. said...

Thank you again for adding so much valuable insight and information to this site. I understand that most people mean well when they say all the wrong things - most of us do that! Its a natural response. We are taught how to be polite but we are never taught how to respond to trauma. I have heard of both the books you mentioned but never read them, but will add them to my list. Thank you sooooo much.

Rahime, You're right. I didn't really lie. But it felt like I was holding back. We were suppose to name a time in our life when we were a victim. BTW, this was not in my rape class - I quit that and am in a trauma class now.

Sherry, Thank you so much, I need to update you on what's up with this class. Thank you for ALL your encouragement lately.

Aphra - I love you!!

Anonymous said...


I had the title of one of those books wrong. It is the Voice of Knowledge. The ideas are profound but they are written in a very easy, approachable style.

Anonymous said...

i had a friend i thought i could trust.... i fell asleep and woke up tied to his bed. he said if i screamed then he would go all the way... he already had a condom out n started to finger me so hard that he caused me to bleed. i was NOT sexually active. his friend had put pure vodka in his drink knowing how he is with vodka and knew i was coming over. i always blamed myself for what had happened, and this is the first time i talked about it in months.

Bar L. said...


Thank you so much for sharing this here, I know how difficult it is. What was done to you is horrible and both those guys should be punished. But...sadly, that usually doesn't happen. I am so very very sorry. Do not EVER blame yourself. Imagine a friend sat down and told you the story you shared here about herself. Would you blame her? No way! You are an innocent victim in this. Sweetheart, if you were a virgin when this guy did this to you, you still are. Until you choose to GIVE yourself to the man of your choice you are a virgin. I hope this incident does not ruin the fact that sex can be, and should be, a positive experience. Promise me if you ever feel like blaming yourself again you will email me. Take care of yourself and stay away from this creep!

Anonymous said...

honestly i'm just using this to talk about my own experience because i can't tell anyone about what happened to me. my ex boyfriend, the one i loved, the only person i thought i could really trust, forced me to perform oral sex on him. he asked me to, and i said no. and he kept asking, and i kept saying no, and he shoved my head down, and i fought to keep it up, and he kept asking, and shoving, and asking, and shoving, and i kept saying no.but i was getting scared, i hadn't seen him act like this before. he wasn't being himself, and he was being really pushy, so i did it as fast as possible to get it over with and went home. he called me and apologized as soon as i got home, and i forgave him. we didn't talk about it again. i never told anyone. i stayed with him, i convinced myself it didn't happen, it was a bad dream. then, one of my friends told us about a similar thing that happened to her, and he got pissed about it. and i remembered. and i wondered why it was okay for him to do it to me,the girl he claimed to love, but not for someone else to do to a different girl. why was it okay for it to happen to me, but not her? i didn't talk about it, though. it just stayed in my brain until i could bury it and smother it in denial. he always made me feel like i wasn't good enough for him. now i have such a strong revulsion to (even consensual) oral sex i can't hear or read or talk about it without feeling scared and hurt and dirty for the whole day. i don't think he realizes the severity of his actions, and i don't know if he ever will. and that's scary.

Lizzie S. said...

I was raped at 14 as well I don't know anyone that's been in the same situation as me and I don't know how to deal with it. I'm only 15 now, my dad still doesn't know, I have to see my rapists face everyday at school, my closest "friends" don't even believe me and I'm just so lonely. Please tell me how you made it through the years. If I don't get help, I don't think I can make it much longer. I get so sensitive about the topic and I'm usually not sensitive about anything. Noone around me knows about it and they treat me like shit and it just adds on to the endless pain. Please help, I can't find the will to go on.

Bar L. said...

Lizzie, I'm so, so sorry to hear about this. Its like the person steals part of you soul when they do this. I wish I could tell you I coped with it in a healthy way, but I let it lead me down a dark path of using drugs and sleeping around and trying to pretend it didn't bother me. So you are already dealing with it better than I did because you know you need to talk about it. If you want to write me privately my email is in in my profile. My suggestion for you (actually its more like a plea - I beg you to please do this) is to talk to a professional counselor, maybe start with your school counselor and ask him/her to help you find other help. Also, why did you not tell your dad? I know I didn't tell mine either so I totally understand.

One thing I promise you, you CAN find the will to go on. The pain, the anger, the shame, humiliation, the sense of despair - all those things will lessen with time. Right now is the hardest time of all its still so new and painful. I don't think we ever heal completely from something like this, but you heal enough to still have a good life. Don't let this bastard win. Don't let his violent acts steal your life from you. Please talk to someone, please write me!