- Mental Health
View of Healing-Part 2 Anger
Once a person is done denying the truth of their circumstance, the path has been cleared for anger. Depending on how long a victim denies their rape tends to coilate with how angry they are.
I stayed in the denial stage for a grand total of six days. My anger was great but tempered by my unique position of having been trained on what to do to help other women who have gone through this. That fact alone had a way of making my anger flare at times, though. If I was trained to help treat victims, how could I have been so stupid as to become one?
These are the things that kept me up at night. There was no gray area regarding whether or not I consented, I had made it crystal clear that I was not interested in losing my virginity to just anyone and certainly not anytime soon. Most of my peers, whether they agreed with me or not, respected my decision. There were a few who tried to push anyway but were inevitably put in their place either by me or those who knew me. Knowing that my position was clear gave me a false sense of security. The topic was broached earlier that evening where I once again affirmed that my first time would be special and with someone I trusted, cared deeply for, and clearly felt the same about me. Thus having reestablished my values, I let my guard down and did not feel that I was putting myself in a delicate situation when suddenly left alone in this guy's room to finish watching the movie a group of us had started.
The Wake Up
Knowing this guy had previously tried to push me, I was suprised when he volunteered that he respected my decsicion and, no matter that he wanted to, he was not going to do that to me. My guard fell further. He started kissing me, I hesitated. He reaffirmed that he knew when to stop. Moderately reassured, I consented to the kiss. Before I knew it, he had pulled my pants off and pinned me to the bed. Denial and shock were instant. After I had finally come to my senses and realized that no matter that I consented to the kiss and not the sex he was finished.
If I thought I knew what I was going to have to go through, I was mistaken. Training taught me the logistics of the process but experiencing it was an entirely different thing. Writing a detailed report as precicely as I could seemed to really bring it home to me. It was now in black and white, permanently written, not to be taken back. The police officers commended me on my well written report. Though I was pleased to know that I was aiding thier job, it really came as no consolation. Then came telling the story. Much harder to do than one would think. After the fifth time telling the story, feeling more ashamed by the minute, I felt humiliated beyond words which made me angrier.
Once a woman, or man, makes the decision to report their rape, there is a false sense of initial closure. There is this idea that once they tell the authorities, it will be over. In order to perform their job correctly, an investigator must ask the hard questions multiple times in order to affirm that their story does not waver. False accusations occur all too frequently and it is sometimes difficult to determine truth in rape cases. The problem is that true victims are forced to replay the horrible event so many times that it becomes tempting to drop the charges just to get some real closure to the trauma.
There comes a point where the victim is ready to attempt moving on and putting it all behind them. If that point comes while the investigation is on-going, which it often does, it adds a greater amount of stress to the victim. That causes fresh anger. In my case, my anger and frustration at not being able to let go and move on until after the investigation was over caused me to prematurely accept his plea bargain. He spent less time in jail but was dishonorably discharged not to be allowed to reenlist. At least that was what I was told was to happen. The truth, learned years later, was that he was given an other than honorable discharge and there is not one mention of his name on any sex offenders list as there is supposed to be. (For a prospective employer, other than honorable could mean so many things that he could easily lie about the condition of his discharge.)
I was frustrated and tired and feeling even dirtier now than before. Being made to describe every intimate detail in public multiple times over was worse then I ever imagined it to be. It served as fuel to my angry fire. Fiercely private, I was not raised to talk about such things openly. I felt humiliated and angry. Loud whispers and accusing glances followed me everywhere. No matter that I was found innocent of any false accusations and he was found unquestionably guilty and (supposedly) dealt with accordingly, the justice system evidently was wrong according to my peers. For as long as I stayed there, I was attached with a stigma. I was labeled as the girl who cried rape. They were convinced of my guilt and no person or event could change that.
Despite our modern times and progressive society, women rape victims are still viewed as damaged, deceptive, unclean, sinful, or outright liars. When a woman announces that she had been raped, spoken or not, there is an immediate thought of guilt. As a result of the women who do falsely accuse men in order to serve their purposes, every honest victim suffers the indignity of being metaphorically dragged through the burning coals. Until the victim moves or some other major event occurs allowing others to effectively let the victim be at peace, there is always going to be residual anger. Even after moving on, there will be something that triggers the memories all over again subjecting the survivor to the temptation of anger all over again. Learning how to let go of the anger is a very difficult and infinitely rewarding task. While it is true that residual anger will always linger, it does not need to be fed. Acknowledge that it is there, address it, and vow to attack it with aggressive optimism instead of submitting to the depression it feeds on.