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Why We Need to Talk About Rape

By March 23, 2010

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As women, we don't talk about rape. We deny what happens to us, we blame ourselves, we shove it under the rug, we bury our feelings.

We don't talk about rape, and why would we? Why would we describe to anyone else the horrific sense of being violated, of having our trust in the world shredded, of seeing our lives turned upside down?

To talk about rape is to relive it to some extent. That may seem like the worst thing possible, but to revisit it is to understand we've come through it intact. Though we may have been victimized, we aren't rape victims. We are rape survivors.

We need to talk about rape to remove the shame of being a rape survivor. We are not to blame. But if we hide our stories, we can't help ourselves and we can't help others by saying, "Yes, I survived. It affected me, but it didn't change who I am at the core." Women need to hear from other women who've been raped to know that what they endure afterwards -- the feelings of self-hatred, doubt, overwhelming fear, and the struggles with addiction -- are not unique to them.

Renee DeVesty reminds me of why we need to talk about rape. A rape survivor, she's decided after nearly three decades of being silent that it's time to come forward and talk about what happened to her, why she made the decisions she did afterwards, and what it took to move from victim to survivor.

If we all speak up about rape and tell our stories, we will remove the stigma surrounding rape and help women to step out of the shadows, report the crime to the police, pursue legal recourse, and put rapists behind bars.

I am ready to acknowledge something I haven't publicly talked about until now.

I am a rape victim. What about you?

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Comments

March 24, 2010 at 2:08 am
(1) Doris says:

Linda, thank you for your courage and your honesty!

I was the victim of an attempted rape. I was a child, and I think I would have been much more psychologically traumatized if I had been older when it happened. I was too young to understand what was happening except that I knew I didn’t like it.

I was playing in the woods with a bunch of other kids, but I got separated from the group. Back then, we always went to the woods or each other’s back yards without telling our parents exactly where we were going. My attacker was a stranger, and I bit his arm after he threw me onto the ground and pulled up my dress. I still remember how part of my dress covered his arm and I can still taste that dress fabric in my mouth from when I bit him. And I can still feel and hear the dry leaves crunching under me as I thrashed around and struggled. Not much happened before the other kids came looking for me, and chased him away. He lost his baseball cap as he ran away, and one of the boys in the group kept the cap.

It didn’t occur to me, or any of us, to tell anyone what had happened. But when that boy’s mother asked where the baseball cap came from, he told her the whole story and she called my mother. I remember talking to the police, and months later, talking to a judge. My attacker was a teenager, who was sent to a mental institution instead of a prison.

I continued wearing that dress until I outgrew it, and even though I didn’t understand what had happened to me, I always felt uneasy wearing it.

March 24, 2010 at 6:03 am
(2) Jane McCormick says:

Hi
I was raped twice in my life. I was also molested for 5 years, as a child and throwen into prostitution,in Las Vegas I wrote my story called Breaking My Silence.net I hope you are doing good. I am a very strong women to day . What does not kill you makes you stronger. best Jane

March 24, 2010 at 8:42 am
(3) Saira says:

I just want to thank you so much for your courage and having trust in us.
I deeply touched by your ability to be such a strong woman.
I am only 15 years old but I follow your women’s issues regularly.
I want to see what it means to truly be a woman.
I have tried and tried for so long but I neer understood.
Today, I am beginning to understand. Being a woman is about having courage, perseverance,strength, trusting and most of all a good person.
I just hope you know how much you have inspired me.
I look up to you because you have the confidence to talk about what you want to say.
I hope to become a writer one day, but , many people have told me that I won’t make it because I have too strong views. I almost believed them. But now I realize how silly they have been. I just hope I am brave enough to be as good of a writer and as wonderful of a woman as you.
Stay inspiring
Saira

March 25, 2010 at 9:36 am
(4) Veronica says:

To Linda:

I had no idea you’d been raped; I’m so sorry. But you’re right–if we talk about it, we’ll remove the stigma and begin the healing process.

March 26, 2010 at 4:19 am
(5) Tanja Cilia says:

Thank you for this, Linda. I have linked to it in Liza’s site:
http://www.womenofarmenia.org/blog/2010/03/25/10-ra-police-officerprotector-or-perpetrator .

@Saira: It is precisely because we have strong views that we become writers.Who wants to ready wishy-washy pieces? I wish you well.

March 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm
(6) AMERICAN MOTHER says:

YES,
BUT I STILL DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW MEN CAN DO IT.
WHY DON’T THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR MOTHER, AUNT, SISTER, COUSIN’S SUFFERED THIS VIOLENT, SEX ACT BY A MAN JUST LIKE THEM!?
1 IN 4 WOMEN RAPED.

April 29, 2010 at 12:03 am
(7) Amy says:

sorry this is a bit off topic to your article, but i couldnt think of any other way to spread the message:

it’s getting far too easy to spread hate and abusive humor against women online. I ask for any who may read this message to visit the facebook fan site (posted below) which promotes a misogynistic message, and to click ‘report’ on it in order to get it off.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/That-awkward-feeling-you-get-when-a-woman-speaks-without-permission/108536682515296?ref=mf

thank you,

February 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm
(8) Kim says:

Im so glad to have found this thread. Ive never told anyone until now. I was raped 6 years ago by my then boyfriend. i was 19 years old, in my second year of uni and he was my first boyfriend. i dont remember much about it which is why i find it difficult to talk/think about. he beat me up and raped me, a lot of it is a blur and the not knowing about what he did when i was unconcious is probably the hardest bit.

since then, i had a very rocky relationship with someone for 3 years but could never bring myself to tell him. he could never quite understand why i could never really open up, why i sometimes couldnt face having sex, why i had nightmares etc. we broke up a couple of months ago because i wouldnt move to new zealand and i dont think ill ever forgive myself for not having the guts to tell him. for now i realsie i have to start coming to terms with what happened and maybe one day ill be able to trust again.

anyway, just wanted to say how glad i am to have somewhere to say this. it means a lot. take care all.

kim

April 16, 2011 at 3:50 am
(9) Suzanna Marcus says:
August 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm
(10) Michelle says:

I have never really discussed what happened to me a few months ago…i didn’t even report it. I buried it as if it never happened atleast that is what I thought…Here lately reality hit…The nightmares, flash backs, anger and sadness is becoming overwhelming. I am too embarrassed to talk to anyone or even to see a counselor. I was raped about 4 months ago……I just needed to say it somewhere tell someone and I figures it is easier for me to remain anonymous and atleast talk about how I feel.

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