I’ve been taking a break from blogging for the past week. I read an article that really challenged how I viewed the healing process.
The advocates and counselors have great intentions, but there is one lie that I believe keeps us from the true healing we seek.
The timeline of a victim goes something like this:
Thousands of internal questions all centered around how it was your fault.
Maybe telling someone about the supposed attack you endured that was most likely 100% your fault.
Reading and researching- basically an insatiable thirst for a definition of what happened to you.
FInally getting in contact with someone who has “experience” and can give you some answers.
The answers you so desperately searched for can all be summed up in:
“It’s not at all your fault.”
And that’s what the mantra seems to be. The end-all answer. We get these analogies like, “If I walk down the street naked, and someone says I was asking for it, then if you walk down the street without a helmet, I can hit you with a hammer. You asked for it.”
And we are constantly reassured that we had absolutely zero blame in the situation. No matter if we were drunk, high, blacked out, married, gave consent before, sexting all the time, leading the guy on, flirting, wearing a mini-skirt, came on to him, whatever. It was absolutely 100% not our fault.
And, honestly, that’s true.
But, it’s also caused victims a huge obstacle. Well-meaning advocates create this apparent fantasy world for victims to live in. One where they are totally perfect, and just victim to a horrible monster. One where they can drink, do drugs, walk around half-naked, and be told it’s perfectly acceptable behavior. There’s a clear good guy and bad guy.
But, here’s the problem. Victims aren’t stupid.
We live in the real world. We analyze it and over-analyze it every day. We read people. We know better than anyone that people have a light side and a dark side. That nobody is 100% angel or demon.
Then the guilt seeps in. We get this message of, “You’re not to blame” shoved down our throats so often, that we believe in order to be a “real” victim, you actually have to not be at fault. For anything.
Which creates a vicious cycle. If you believe a true victim is spotless, and you were not spotless, then the only logical conclusion is that you are not a true victim. That it was, in fact, your fault. That you did deserve it.
So we hide. We hide from the world and our family and friends. We hide the truth, and never speak about it. We develop this fear of being found out. This fear that we already told the world about our “incident” and garnered sympathy, but it’s all just a lie.
We get depressed feeling like we’re alone in this. LIke we’re a pretend victim doing a disservice to the real ones. The advocacy groups are declaring that victims bear zero responsibility. The guys who are experts in this. The ones with the answers.
But you know you made bad decisions. Drank too much vodka. Smoked too much weed. Stuck around after the 18th apology. The list goes on.
So, ironically, in trying to bring about healing, we’ve only erected a giant wall. A wall we have to start tearing down. And the only way to do that is to admit, and take responsibility for, the bad decisions.
It’s scary. But it’s so, so freeing.
So freeing, in fact, that I’m sharing mine with you. I don’t want you to be alone in this anymore. We have to stop being afraid to admit our flaws, and to admit that they are, indeed, flaws.
1. I kept going back. Yep. After every apology.
2. I knew he had issues. Drugs. Other women. Alcohol.
3. I got in the car. Even though I knew what would happen.
4. I just laid there. He said he would rape me if I resisted. So I stopped resisting.
5. I didn’t know it was rape. I didn’t. I thought it was just uncomfortable. I didn’t know it was even wrong until someone else brought it up.
So, there it is. My list. I know other people might have drinking, drugs, and prostitution on theirs. Maybe they were a sleep-around Jane. Or maybe they watched porn. Or came on to him. Or kissed him.
But, there’s one thing I can guarantee won’t be on anyone’s list.
“I attacked myself.”
Nope. That won’t be there. It can’t be. You didn’t do it.
You made some bad decisions. Maybe even awful decisions. You could have broken the law or committed a deadly sin.
But one thing is for sure.
You. Did. Not. Rape. Yourself.
And that’s freeing. Truly freeing. Knowing you can admit every single flaw and mistake from that night, or year, or decade, and know in all of it, you did not attack yourself. That was him. (or her).
If he wrote his list, the attack would be on it. Among all those other flaws and mistakes. Among the lies and deceit and control. The attack is on his list.
We need to start letting victims take some responsibility. Let them admit what they did wrong, and the bad decisions they made. Let them talk about how not getting blackout drunk may have prevented their attack.
Let them because it’s the truth. And the truth is the only thing that can set us free.
It doesn’t make it your fault. If you hadn’t gotten wasted, he would have found someone else who had. He would have raped them. That’s what rapists do. You may have prevented yourself from being a victim, but you wouldn’t have prevented him from victimizing someone.
That’s on him.