I admit that Doctor Phil is a guilty pleasure. I admit that I look at some victims and I wonder what makes them so special – why do some victims get support, and get called heroes for sharing their stories when so many, myself included, get ignored?
But the words “how a rape victim is supposed to behave” should never be a sentence that leaves your mouth.
On today’s episode of Dr. Phil a woman name Kristi is trying to make her in-laws choose between her and her sister in law. I won’t go into the personal relationships because I don’t know these people and I don’t care.
What I care about is the fact that anyone on this show, anyone in the world had the balls to say “That is not how a rape victim behaves.”
The one thing that we rape victims have is our power over our bodies, when we
loose that, when it is stolen from us we lose a part of our identity. We now have to figure out who we are not as women, or college graduates or even high school dropouts, but as victims. Do you get that?!
Do you have any idea how it feels to have your entire world ripped apart by a total stranger? If someone you know has sexually assaulted you, they too become complete strangers, because they are obviously not the person you thought they were. They sure as fuck are not the person you loved and trusted, because how could someone you love and trusted violate you in such a life altering way?!
There are no guidelines for how a Rape victim is supposed to behave. There are no rules or laws or advice that can help us figure out how to heal. Even those who’ve been through what we have been through, who’ve suffered as we have, can’t really offer advice because rape is so fucking personal. The healing process isn’t like a band-aid, it’s not like the same solutions will work for everyone.
Rape is subjective. There are the criminal codes around the world but at the end of the day the violation is personal – it is up to the victim to decide if they want to call it rape, it is up to the victim to decide that they are willing to pursue a criminal case to get justice.
But here’s something that no rape victim has ever said before.
You going to jail after you’ve raped me isn’t justice. You go to jail for a few months or a few years, I live with the horrors of what I have been through for the rest of my life. How I teach my daughters about sex and sexuality, what I teach my sons about sex and sexuality will now be altered forever because of what I have been through.
For years after I was raped at sixteen I kept every inch of my body covered in oversized clothing and hoodies. I protected myself with shields made of clothing. To this day when I am going into a scenario that I am uncomfortable with – especially with people that I do not know I wear my heaviest leather jacket, it is my armor against those I do not know.
The jacket does not come off until I feel safe.
The ramifications of sexual assault last forever. Your prison time, should you get any, lasts a few years of your life. A few later than that, you can have your record expunged as if it never happened.
Sexual assault victims don’t have to do anything, they are not expected to do anything, except heal. whatever that word means to the victim in question.
The most disgusting thing anyone can say to a sexual assault victim is to tell them what they need or have to do. How they are supposed to act. You don’t get that right to tell us how to behave.
Our minds are surrounded by darkness now, clouded by memories that we had no choice in making. We now suffer the consequences of a crime we did not commit.
No one cares what you think we’re “supposed” to do or how we’re “Supposed” to act, the only thing that a rape victim wants to do is survive. To let go of the pain and move on, if you cannot be a part of that healing process, go the fuck away. We don’t need you.
What we need you to do is stand by us. Protect us from the hate we will inevitably get because no one wants to believe that someone they love could possibly be a rapist. Support us through the tears, hug us when we need to be hugged, and back off when we don’t want to be touched. Respect our boundaries, and love us. Above all, love us no matter what.
So next time someone tells you that they have been raped, unless you can prove without a shadow of a doubt that they are lying, do us all a favor and keep your fucking mouth shut.
Devon J Hall