This post generically discusses rape and rape culture. It may be triggering for some, however, there are no graphic details. It is intended to be more of a journal entry to document my present feelings and questions so that I eventually have a full story of my own healing journey from traumatic, violent rape.
The headlines were hard to avoid. Four men accused of gang rape at Vanderbilt College.
The headlines themselves would have been enough of a trigger for me in the past to reduce me to a cowering anxiety riddled mess for days. But I have read the story and I have found myself with more and more questions about rape.
Years of therapy seem to have gotten me over the debilitating reaction. It still amazes me - knowing how devastating my reaction to this event would have been just a few years ago and how my emotions have changed. No, emotions is the wrong word. More like how much more control I have over staying in the present.
In some weird way, I like these “tests” that continue to give me confidence that I have conquered the demons that haunted me for so long.
And so I was able to read some of the details of what happened at Vanderbilt and I was horrified, as I’m sure everyone was.
Sometimes I think I understand rape, and then something like this happens and the I once again realize that is is beyond my comprehension.
How does anyone treat another living thing so horrifically? I have lived through it and still can’t get my head around it.
And to abuse another human and record it? What is the psychology of that?
I sort of understand the academic opinion that rape is about power but where is the power in dehumanizing an unconscious body? I always thought that rapists got off on the struggle. But where is the struggle here?
Sometimes I think rape is more about a feeling of ownership or entitlement - that these men felt that they owned this woman and could do whatever they wanted. Much like I think how slave owners felt they could treat their slaves. But I own animals and would never think to mistreat them. (although I know some people do) What is it that give some people license to do horrendous things to other souls? I’m not sure if my question is more about the what gives people license, or more about how/why people can do such horrendous things to other people.
Somewhere deep inside me I think I need an answer to this question before I can find a final peace. Or maybe there is no peace.
Are rapists always rapists like pedophiles are always pedophiles just waiting for an opportunity? Or can rape be a one time event triggered by some demon inside the rapist? Having just written that I realize that it is probably the same thing. But I look at these 4 very privileged, well-educated men, and I assume they were brought up in somewhat loving homes and wonder why? What makes them think this is okay behavior? Not only okay at the time, but to record to brag about later? Wouldn’t anyone seeing that video look at it and see these men as perverted monsters?
I can’t imagine what his woman must be going through. She states she doesn’t remember what happened that night but I know that somewhere, deep down, her body remembers. I know that my body still reacts reflectively to certain actions. My brain may now be able to understand and calm triggers, but my body will defend itself from them automatically. It took me a long time to even understand why these reflexes were happening. Now I understand them, but I can’t stop them. Nor do I want to. I appreciate that they are there to protect me.
I still can’t get past a general relief that camera phones were not around during our assault. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. That people recorded these perverted actions so that . . . so that why? Why would someone do that? That they could share it with others? My stomach still churns at the remembrance of men laughing and jeering at us. That these humiliations could then be seen by countless others to also jeer at? I don’t know how this woman will ever overcome it. I hope she gets help a lot sooner than I did.
And so I just realized as I wrote this that the next step in my journey is to better understand the other side of the equation. I have learned to accept and cope with what happened to me and Daphne. I have done a lot of important healing. Now I want to understand the *why* of rape happens at all.