Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blog Share 2.0

Hey kids. Guess what today is? You might not have realized that it's Blog Share day, because for some reason, I neglected to mention I would be participating. You know what they say about Blog Share, though: The first rule of Blog Share is you do not talk about Blog Share. Oh. Right. That's Fight Club. Never mind.

Anyway, in case you forgot how this works, the post below was not written by me. It's from another blogger who shall remain anonymous so that she can speak her mind freely. In turn, I've got an anonypost floating around somewhere on the Internet today as well. We did this once before; remember? My guest poster confessed her love for Leonard Nimoy, and I told the Internet all about... well, never mind what I told the Internet all about. It was anonymous for a reason, right?

Today's anonymous poster has some pretty intense and serious things to share, so I'll quit my rattling now and give her the floor. Let's give her a warm welcome. Take it away, guest poster.


People often fondly discuss how and when they lost their virginity. I listen, laugh or sympathise but, for once, I don't have a witty anecdote of my own to share.

I didn't lose my virginity. Mine was stolen when I was 16 years old, in a brutal and terrifying attack that lasted the best part of 24 hours. The three men who attacked and raped me were never found and whilst I hope they never tortured anyone else in the same way that they did me, I was glad in a way that they were never brought to justice as I don't think I would have coped with reliving what happened in public at a trial.

I didn't really cope anyway. No-one did. I think sometimes it was harder for my parents than it was for me. I wish they had not had to see the state I was in when I was found, or listened as I tried to describe to the police in detail exactly what had happened. It would have been easier for them and in the long run, probably easier for me too, if they had not been there. Because I don't think the attack was the worst of it really, it was later I needed them most.

The attack was terrifying, mostly because I thought they would kill me. A sort of self-preservation instinct set in and I did none of those things you might expect, I didn't scream, struggle or fight back. I just let them do whatever they wanted in the hope that they would let me go. I've read lots of accounts of rape since and I think that this shut-down response is quite common, a way of preserving not only your life but also your sense of self in a situation where you would think you could not.

The real pain came later. After the initial furor was over, there was a sense of relief that I was not pregnant and that physically I was largely all right. My parents could not understand why I did not have the sort of reaction you might expect, I never broke down in tears or clung to anyone. They tried many times to speak to me about it but getting no response retreated back to normal life and familiar routines. My friends didn't know what to say so they avoided me and I couldn't smile and be jolly and pretend nothing had changed so I just shut myself in my room and got on with my schoolwork. There were no counselling sessions, no-one to tell me it was OK to feel the things I did. I felt guilt that I hadn't done more to escape my attackers, I felt revulsion at what they had done to me, I felt grief for the life I had suddenly lost and I was confused, frightened and intensely lonely. I threw myself into my schoolwork, I didn't go out with friends, I just worked and worked and worked. It was a form of therapy really and it did help. I got the highest marks anyone had ever scored in the public examinations I took in my final year at school. I had my picture in the local paper and easily secured a place at a University in the big city. For once I was famous for something positive, I wasn't just the rape victim.

Escaping from my home town was a good move and it was easier for me in the big city where I felt anonymous. I made a friend and together we cooked up the sort of mischief I had enjoyed as a schoolgirl and still do to this day. Emotionally I was fragile but I regained some of my confidence and it is this friend I have to thank for that. She was my saviour. She helped me to accept that whilst what had happened to me could never be changed, it didn't have to determine the course of the rest of my life. She listened to me talk about it, held me in her arms night after night, without any expectation of anything more. She arranged for me to see a counsellor who helped me to develop strategies for dealing with the memories of what had happened. With her unconditional, undemanding love and support my wounds slowly healed and I learnt to live and love again.

I know you will feel revulsion at what happened and feel sorry for the 16 year-old me. But that is not me any more. I no longer need sympathy and understanding. More than 25 years have passed since I was raped. Whilst I know I will always have nightmares, will always bear the physical scars of the assault, it is just one very small fragment of my life, just one part of what makes me what I am today. The only reason I keep this a secret, the reason I am not writing about it on my own blog (although I have considered doing so and may still do so yet) is not because I feel ashamed of or embarrassed about what happened to me, but simply that when I have told people in the past I think it has changed their opinion of me as I am now. And I do not want that to happen to me in blogworld.


Want to read more anonymous posts? Here's the list of participating blogs (a list that's over twice as long as last time... detectives, you've got your work cut out for you if you're trying to match post with blogger this time).

The Adventures of Shelagh
Alice's Wonderland
And You Know What Else
Bright Yellow World
Daily Tannenbaum
Du Wax Loolu
Everything I Like Causes Cancer
Face Down
Fretting the Small Stuff
For the Long Run
Galoot's Hoot Page
Granted Null
Grumpy Frump
Just Below 63
Life After AC
Liz Land
Mamma Ren
Muse On Vacation
Muze News
Nancy Pearl Wannabe
Not What You Think It Should Be
One New Duck
Rankin Inlet: A Journey Northwards
Red Red Whine
Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills
The Reluctant Blogger
Sass Attack
Sauntering Soul
Sparkling Cipher
Stefanie Says
Three Carnations
Tracy Out Loud
Way Way Up


Jess said...

I'm glad you were able to share this in a way that won't change people's opinions of you, since we don't know who we are. It seems to me that there is no such thing as a right or correct reaction to such a horrific experience. But I'm glad that you don't feel the need for that sympathy anymore.

Anonymous said...

Great post. You seem to be in a really healthy place with it now. Yay for you!

Anonymous said...

This was an incredibly brave post. I am so sorry you went through this, and hope you felt empowered sharing it.

The fact that the people will never be caught is scary...I so hope they never hurt anyone else. But I'm glad you didn't go through the pain of the trial.

I'm glad you found the friend that eventually helped you through it and I hope that you are leading a fulfilling, happy life now.

Anonymous said...

This was an incredibly brave post. I am so sorry you went through this, and hope you felt empowered sharing it.

The fact that the people will never be caught is scary...I so hope they never hurt anyone else. But I'm glad you didn't go through the pain of the trial.

I'm glad you found the friend that eventually helped you through it and I hope that you are leading a fulfilling, happy life now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the others. This is an extremely brave post.

I understand your reluctance to share what has happened, although it might be very empowering -- around the "right" people. It's a crappy, but true statement that people do change their opinion when they know something like this.

Stay safe and live strong. It sounds like you are doing that.

-R- said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.

And if you read the other blog share stories, you will see that you are definitely not alone.

badger reader said...

Thank you for sharing. I too was a victim of assault and after crying about losing my virginity that way, a friend gave me a clipping (oh my, it might have been a Dear Abby advice column) that basically read that rape is just as much to do losing your virginity as getting hit over the head with a frying pan is to a first experience with cooking. After 25 years, that association might not help you, but at the time it certainly helped me.

Megan said...

This was a very brave post.

abbersnail said...

Thank you for sharing. You are so brave for writing this.

I had something more intelligent to say, but badger reader (above) kind of stole my breath a little bit, and now I need to go ponder that thought.

Anonymous said...

You are very brave.

I wish I knew who you are. I have a similar story in my past. I knew the rapist and yet my family and I decided not to go after him. Thinking about sitting on a witness stand telling a courtroom full of strangers what happened caused me to decide I should move on with my life. The situation was very difficult on my family as with yours. I'm glad you met a friend who held your hand through the dark moments as well as the happy ones.

Anonymous said...

This was a brave post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I'm really glad you could share this anonymously with us, it's huge to be able to get something off your chest, even if it's only momentarily. Thanks for telling your story.

Erikka said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

Elise said...

Thanks for writing this, and I am so thrilled beyond words to hear that you are in such a good place now. Not wanting to share something because you have overcome it and it isn't a determining factor in who you are anymore is kind of a wonderful thing.


Lara said...

Wow. I think you are amazing for getting through this, and for finding your own way to heal.

Noelle said...

Holy shit.

I can't really think of anything else. You sound like you're in a good place, and I hope this helped, and I think you're right. People do change their perceptions when they know something like that. We shouldn't, but we do.

just a girl said...

Thank you for sharing, you are very brave, both then and now. I'm glad that you found a friend who was able to help you.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a brave and honest post. I am so glad that you are healing, and I hope you know that the whole "blogworld" knows that it is not your fault--no judgment here.

lisa marie said...

I hurt for the girl you were, the girl who had so much joy and fun firsts coming up. First and fun you had to miss out on because of this. I'm so glad that you had someone to help you through even if you had to wait a few years for that person to come into your life and I hope that these last 25 years you have lived life to the fullest. Don't tlet 'em win, that's always been my mom's motto, I didn't get it for a long time.

metalia said...

You are so brave for posting this; thank you for sharing your story.

Allie said...

What a brave post, and what an amazing testament to how important and vital friendships can be.

I'm so glad that you've been able to move on from all of that and come to a place where you feel okay.