The Rape Series - Part 3
For the last two parts of this series, we have examined the issue of rape at different stages: our response to the issue of rape, our response to victims of rape, our views of victims and perpetrators of rape. We also examined how our views of gender and sexuality play into our views and opinions on the issue of rape, the role of culture religion and other social ideals. In this last and final series, we will examine the effects of rape on its victims and why it is never okay for anyone to suffer rape no matter the circumstances.
For the month of July, I interviewed Ms. Betty Makoni – a brave and courageous woman who turned her pain into triumph and healing for others (and continues to do so). A rape victim at the young age of six, Betty survived both mentally, physically and emotionally by channeling her negative feelings resulting from her experience into positive energy meant to educate and inform. In doing this, she has transformed the lives of many. Betty’s story is like that of so many rape victims living in rural or urban African countries simply trying to survive. Like many young rape victims, Betty’s mother - tied by tradition, poverty and very limited choices of leaving and making it on her own - chose to cover up the rape. The scars were deeper because Betty was forced to live with her trauma in silence with no sense of justice having prevailed. In her interview, she describes how difficult her life was growing up. She describes her anger and resentment towards those around her. The abuse left her hurting on the inside so that she withdrew from others and flinched at a touch as common as a handshake.
What Betty, and many others like her, describes is only a portion of the internal turmoil rape inflicts on its victims. Even though the physical injuries heal with time, the psychological wounds are often times the hardest to deal with. It becomes the hardest part of the healing process.
According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, “recovery is a complicated and controversial concept.” Some handle it better than others, but the signs of psychological trauma are always there. Some of the psychological effects suffered are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly known as PTSD, suicide/suicidal thoughts, flashbacks, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and many more. All of these lead to an internal struggle that if not treated leads to added confusion and perpetual hurt for victims. Imagine trying to live your life as normally as possible after rape only to have it keep coming back years down the line.
Some women who have experienced rape find it hard to trust. Some marry but can’t enjoy sex with their husbands because of the psychological scares it leaves. Others are tormented by nightmares and fear, not to mention the shame they are made to feel, especially when victim-blaming is involved. Judging from the effects of rape, I believe it is safe to say that no one goes around asking to be raped so their lives can become a living nightmare. It is also safe to state that once a woman has said “no,” to think she will enjoy sex through the act of violence is ludicrous. Violence does not always entail cuts and even death. Forceful entry is violent enough to be counted as vicious.
It is important that as a people, we educate ourselves on the issue of rape so that we can become more sympathetic and understanding to the plight of rape victims. Many of us don’t care, some of us make careless remarks, and a majority of us (as was evident in the AG survey) blame the victims. And it is safe to say that we do this because we are ill-informed, and because we have locked ourselves into an imaginary shell of protectiveness, thinking we are immune from the ills that befall others. Rape can happen to anyone at any time or place. Don’t for one second think you can never be raped because you are accustomed to wearing skirts that go all the way down to your ankles or because your upper torso is covered in a pullover sweater. A rapist intent on making a victim out of you will not care what you are wearing. Women have been raped while sweaty and running the jogging trail. Women have been raped in their own homes by intruders. Women have been raped while wearing jeans and a loose T-Shirt. Women have been raped in the daytime as well as nighttime, while sober and while drunk. Most atrocious of all, women have been raped as a result of culture, religion, war and social acceptance.
And while we, women, can certainly do a few things to better inform and protect ourselves from rape, we are better off acknowledging the truth and placing responsibility and guilt where they need to be placed – on the perpetrators – for no woman should ever have to live in fear of possible rape. I hope this series has served as a wonderful educational and informational tool for all. Let’s end the cycle and let’s end it now. Speak up for yourself, speak up for another woman!
Read the Full Series at http://www.afrikangoddess.com/candidtalk.htm