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Ravaged Continued

Today I will continue what I have written on Ravaged.

I was unable to make even the smallest decision, but was the quintessential homemaker.  Getting myself and the household back on schedule, I began cleaning, a pattern quite common for many survivors.  I could not think about eating, however, nor was I concerned about my children eating.  I remember looking at a waitress in a classy restaurant and thinking she must know I was raped.  I recall tilting my  head and looking at her oddly as if I were in a separate world.  Such surreal feelings are common.  I even called my aerobics instructor and suggested that here should be a dress code at the gym to make sure no one was dressed suggestively!  As if that mattered.  I was a real zombie.  

The terrorizing images of my rapist appearing at a window with a gun to kill me began to fade once he was incarcerated for another rape he had been out on $250,000 bail for.  Eventually I began to get some clues about what a hard time I was having trying to cope.  A family member told me I should feel grateful because it was my husband who was having a hard time and he had not left me.  What???

As my marriage unraveled, I was the bad one in my family’s eyes.  On the one-year anniversary date of the rape, my then-husband took me out to dinner, a wonderful gesture.  But, we still never talked about what had happened to me, to us until we landed in a therapist’s office about 5 years later where he had to be coached to ask about it with body language that showed he really cared–which he clearly didn’t.  I had tried for the longest time to turn my shock into permanent denial so we could all be okay, so my world would not change, attempting desperately to keep the status-quo.  But it had changed, not by my choice but by the rapist’s choice. 

John Fisher, known for his work in developing a transition curve of personal change describes denial as “defined for a lack of acceptance of any change and denies that there will be any impact on the individual.  People keep acting as if the changed has not happened, using old practices and processes and ignoring evidence of information contrary to their belief systems…It is important for an individual to understand the impact that the change will have on their own personal construct systems; and for them to be able to work through the implications for their self perception.  Any change, no matter how small, has the potential to impact on an individual and may generate conflict between existing values and beliefs and anticipated altered ones.” [“Process of personal Change,” 2008] 

I didn’t understand the tremendous impact the rape had on me and have found this experience over and over again among clients, friends, and acquaintances.  Can anyone recover from SV without a therapist or other really good help?  It is possible of course if the survivor has lots of appropriate support and can talk freely and safely, grieve, uncover the lies she believes about the the SV and receive truth to replace them.  I’ve found that staying in the status quo of what I call the Walking Wounded is much much more common though.

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