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View Of Healing-Part 3 Bargaining

Updated on June 3, 2011


It is my strict opinion that once a person reaches the bargaining stage of their healing process, they are the most vulnerable. Simply put, this is when one starts to strike a deal, as it were, with the world. They have acknowledged what has happened and have stopped being angry all the time. At this point they have all but given up.

This is when friends and family need to be there the most. They have not yet slipped into depression but will. How they get through this period is vital to determining how long or how deep their depression becomes. In their mind, they are trying to figure out what they can do to make it all go away. They may pray about changing this behavior or doing that thing they have put off if only the pain will dissipate. They may beg for mercy in the form of a quick trial in exchange for eternal celibacy, or even poor health. In some cases, the bargaining chips hold higher stakes.

It would be dishonest of me to say that I had not ever wished that I could just die instead of having to suffer through one more inquisition. Of course that was foolish and I never attempted to follow through, but some victims have. That is not to say that every victim will think about death or suicide, no matter how briefly, but it is not unheard of and considered quite common.

In my case, I bargained a lot. I was willing to sacrifice just about anything to get the legal process over with. I also bargained for peace. Being a rape victim means being subjected to a lot of scrutiny. It is harsh, it is painful, and it can feel intolerable. The good news is that time goes on and brings healing with it. It is cliche but it does get easier. My bargaining was answered in the form of a guilty plea with a dishonorable discharge with no reentry code in exchange for no court martial trial with inevitable brig time. While many argue he should have spent more time in jail, I was so tired from fighting that I rationalized my decision. Without even consulting with my legal department I agreed. I figured that he stole my innocence, ruined my reputation, and now he has been found guilty and will lose his career and be forever marked for his wrongdoing. (It was years before I learned that I had been lied to about that but that is another story.) Afterwards I felt numb, I cried, I packed my bags and went to visit family in order to pretend that the previous three months never happened. Naturally that did not work but the end result was that I allowed my pain to guide my decision to accept a plea bargain for a lesser sentence in order to avoid the humiliation of a public court martial where I would have to relive the event yet again, looking at him, and feeling the stares of the jury and judge.

Bargaining can be healthy, too. It can make a victim make decisions that will help them become stronger individuals. They could pray for a conviction for deserved closure on the condition that they will teach self defense to other women. There are a good number of women in the self defense field that got there as a result of a personal attack or via the attack of someone they cared deeply for. These bargaining chips are the kinds that friends and family should help to encourage. As long as the victim sees light at the end of that tunnel, if they feel that some good may be able to come out of their dreadful situation, they may make it through unscathed.


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