Penumbra

When our response to those most damaged without fault is you don't matter

There are many practices wiped out of our collective duties, one of them, perhaps the most crucial ones is treatment of trauma, while in reality a natural instinct, what we call today "civilization" have derailed us from flourishing our natural talents ...
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Preface

Upon being presented a video on rape victims in conflict zones, especially those by United Nation's soldiers, I felt the urge to speak up my mind, especially as that day there was this coincidence of having the book "Waking the Tiger" in my bag, but for some considerations, which I'll come back to at the end, I didn't.

I guess most people usually believe, if a book means a world to you, if it is the solution to your problem, you would have already read it multiple times over ... but this is not the case, not always the case at least. I'm on page 207, and I really wished to finish it ... it's a risky business to read it outside of the home, cause what if I break in tears, what if I have this urge to go and shut myself a dark corner, crawl and cry till there is nothing more left in my head than the wish to end my life with my own hands immediately ...

So, here are some little thoughts on how we as society react to "rape victims" and by that, my main focus is those who will suffer extreme psychological damages, whether because they're more sensitive, the experience itself or the rapist was a special person, or their age and lack of previous sexual experience, and many other reasons which could contribute to impacts of sexual abuse and rape growing so big in one's life that some may mistake it as being the defining aspect of that individuals' identity1.

The community and the lost collective healing practices

Since pre-civilization, shamanistic healers from many cultures have been able to successfully orchestrate the conditions that encourage the "lost soul" to return to its rightful place in the body. Through colorful rituals, these so-called "primitive" healers catalyze powerful innate healing forces in their patients. An atmosphere of community support enhanced by drumming, chanting, dancing, and trancing creates the environment in which this healing takes place. Often the proceedings continue for days and may involve the use of plant substances and other pharmacological catalysts. Significantly, while the ceremonies themselves vary, the beneficiary of the healing almost always shakes and trembles as the event nears its conclusion. This is the same phenomenon that occurs in all animals when they release bound-up energy. [...]

We live in societies that rape victims can't even dream of such treatments (Levine, 1997), not even in their wildest dreams.

If someone is physically injured and you walk past them without offering help or getting some form of help to them, you share the guilt. Of course, other than, when you'll be supporting the US Republican style policies regarding health care and labor payments so that the society ends up with a class that even if full time employed, won't be able to afford proper healthcare granted to the middle class. While many mental health issues and psychological damages are invisible to ordinary individuals, rape victims are at some points in their lives outed, as well, if you could have some knowledge in the field, you may as well be able to spot them from their behavior, manner, beliefs, and feelings, especially when it comes to erotically loaded daily conditions and their own love and sex-life. But even about those we know about having being raped, no, no, no, no. I'm talking about the ones who claim to have been raped, the one we came to the conclusion to accept their claims, whether due to evidence, or because we trust that individual or whatever reason, even then, we don't see them as someone in need of external input for healing and recovery, we believe they can do it on their own. Of course, not every single one of us need to become a psychologist and know the impacts, short- and long-term effects and side-effects of rape and the resulting trauma, but I believe we are hard-wired to care about such individuals and offer them specific collectively provided safe-environments and feelings of belonging as the shamanistic ritual is an example of, but perhaps it's the bullshits of "individualism" that has stripe us from this inborn ability in us, not those of exceptional individuals in our society who could have become the shaman or healer yet sometimes we even hospitalize them for schizophrenia, but also what are are collectively responsible and capable of as a group, community and society.

Just to elaborate a bit on the notion of shamans: firstly, we often put many hardship or even make it impossible for anyone to practice any alternative form of treatment unless they have a certification from the government, for that usually they must receive admissions to universities who make their judgement based on the applicants academic achievements and not based on some inborn invisible qualities that make him or her be able to connect to the spiritual world better than other applicants ... oh, sorry, we don't believe in "spiritual world" either, since the enlightenment? To be honest with you, such interpretation of "enlightenment" is just another wide-spread bullshit in our cultures.

Rape victims ought to contribute to the society

Yes, you're read the heading correctly.

The first response that rape victims would receive, if they would ever receive a first response at all is accompanied by social justice system's presence.

"If they ever receive a first response at all" because specially as some of those individuals just live on with that event as if nothing has happened, until one day, sometimes years or even decades later, their trauma begins to initiate its healing procedure, the first stage of which is becoming consciously aware that one has been raped, or sexually abused in the past.

Whether you find it offensive or not, I tend to refer to the social/criminal justice system as a scandal, but the treatment of the rape victims is one of the high points of the scandal.

Rape victims are ought to prove someone else's guilt and help the society bring him or her, which is often him, to justice. What do they get in return? Ah, they have to remember the experience over and over, talk about it in front of strangers, face their rapists and all these while at the same time they have to pretend that everything is fine with them. For example, they won't have a loved one holding them in their arms when they talk about their experience, some of them may not even have a loved one. Specially children and those raped in the war are really too alone, or too unable to connect to those in their environment, because their environment has failed them in first place, because such individuals were ought to be protected by their parents, or their government and military but they didn't, and as a result those individuals will really end up having no one to build such connection with, so be able to feel safe in his or her embrace when talking about their experiences in courts or to the police and so on ...

Our criminal justice system doesn't even care about this. Rape victims are like individuals who survived a horrible car crash or something, they'll need urgent treatment, and you shouldn't expect them to act like an ordinary human being, especially not regarding the things that pains. Someone with a broken arm from an accident may be able to walk him or herself to a hospital but that person won't be able to make a call with the broken hand, just as someone raped shouldn't be expected to talk about their experience without receiving treatment.

Don't you see what we are doing? We are sending the message that we don't care about you. What we care about is punishing the rapist, which the main motivation is not to prevent future rapes. That is horrible. This is extremely alienating, and that's while rape victims often feel alienated by what had happened to them at first place.

There is a lot to be said in this regard, and there are some tiny progress, for example nowadays at least in the US, at least at some hospitals, nurses receive education for being first-respondent to a rape victim, but to be honest with you these tiny signs of progress are often pure bullshit, because they are often in contrast to what trauma is and what is its healing procedure. But talking about that requires writing books in some good details, and the purpose of this text is not to educate the professionals and provide a manual but to raise awareness a tiny little bit awareness that we as the society actually f--- rape victims emotionally, mentally and psychologically, after they have been f---ed physically against their own will.

A more ordinary reference example

Look, if you have not been raped and that rape not resulted in trauma, it is really hard to understand or even imagine what those individuals go through, so I don't expect you to do that, nor I think we as a society should be capable of really understanding those experiences in all their depth, but there are things we can do for such individuals, and we don't, while in other contexts when someone suffers something millions and millions times less harmful, we do offer them such treatments (Paris, 2016):

A month after my husband and I decided to split up, I took a mini-vacation to Cozumel, off the coast of Mexico. It was my first trip away from home as an almost-single woman, and I was excited to be travelling by myself.

I was also a little nervous. Back home, we'd told a few friends about our split but not our broader social circle. How would others respond to me, an almost-divorced woman with a child? How would I feel, seeing the news reflected in their eyes? How would men react?

I was glad for the chance to test-drive being a divorcee on vacation, away from my regular routine. Vacation brought a lightness, a break from divorce-related logistics.

...

I smiled. He was sorry. Also I was pretty sure he wanted to sleep with me, which I found flattering even though I wasn't looking for a one-night stand. What I wanted was reassurance that I'd be OK, that my new status wouldn't send others running.

...

We parted ways in Cozumel. The next morning, the positive feedback about my divorce continued. At a jewellery shop near the hotel, the owner asked whether I was married.

...

At a cosmetics store, I told the saleswoman that I needed a new lipstick for my new, unmarried life. She grasped my hand. "I wish you good luck. I feel that good things will happen for you. I really believe this."

I loved this enthusiastic support from strangers. It reminded me of another time in my life - getting engaged! As a bride-to-be, I felt like the perpetual belle of the ball. Strangers acted as if my mere existence were a cause for celebration. Waiters sent over free appetizers or bottles of wine when my fiance and I mentioned our pending nuptials.

...

Like me, many people are anxious about breaking the news of their divorce. We may find ourselves rattled by negative feedback, or susceptible to strangers' destructive advice. This vulnerability makes sense. We've just done the equivalent of ripping up the tiles of our home. We're standing on the plywood subfloor, looking out past the two-by-fours, genuinely unsure what comes next. We're entering a new state, one that isn't "happily married" yet not "still single".

The club of divorcees may not be a group we ever wanted to join. But as I discovered, talking about divorce reinforces an important truth: that you are not alone. There are about 1 million divorces in the United States each year, and the numbers are growing worldwide.

...

Just to make it clear, if you think a divorcee and a rape victim has nothing to do with each other and I'm asking you to draw conclusions based on similarities that can't be found, here is a little help. It's a sentence from a text message on my phone:

[...]

- Nobody wants adult raped when a kid as husband

[...]

Of course. Child rape victims often avoid relationships because of their own internal hardships with accepting romantic love, dealing with sexual activities, dealing with the gender that raped them, and lots of other missing pieces in their development process compared to that of healthy children who went through a more or less healthy adolescent, but that's not about child victims only, women who get pregnant, if they have an abortion or decide to raise it, I mean these events can have really long-term effects on the idea of ever entering any relationship at all.

I hope now you see the resemblance to the divorce case. Of course, the divorce case is totally incomparable. The woman in the article just worried about whether men would want to sleep with her but for rape victims it is not only the question of whether someone would sleep with them if they knew their secret, or if they don't whether that relationship could ever be considered love, the problem would also be inside them as well, they'll have trouble with the memories of the experience when sleeping with someone they actually want to sleep with, often these people would want to sleep with someone they feel affectionate about, but they won't want to have sex, just sleeping near each other, especially if they haven't overcome the trauma. That's just one single tiny aspect of it.

There are lots of things we can talk find resemblance between the divorced woman's writings and that of a rape victim, for example, while divorced people would talk about their experience to one another and won't mind belonging to the club of "single parents", rape victims not only won't want to talk about their experience, if there one day be any club of rape victims, it can only be about those who have overcome their trauma, otherwise it is daunting to talk about rape or listen to some talking about being raped.

Again the purpose is to raise awareness, so we don't go into detail, nor do I wish to describe and explain things more here, so let's move on.

Professionally successful rape victims

Yes, you heard it right. Firstly, not everyone is similarly affected by the experience, nor do everyone handles the trauma the same way, neither everyone would be stuck at the same stage of trauma. Especially those who are at the denial stage of trauma would easily be able to perform what they would have normally performed, even the second stage of the healing process is not that impactful on the professional quality of someone life, but sure on their private life.

The example I handpicked is Halsey, regardless of how familiar you are with her work as an artist, I guess Forbes cover is enough social proof for her professional success:

Forbest 30 under 30, Ahsley Frangipane (Halsey), third from right on the cover

and before starting with my remarks on this video, I like to remind you, Ashley Frangipane is one of those individuals whom I won't hesitate to say "I love you" whenever necessary, so the purpose of what follows is not an attack on her person, nor a critique on her behavior, then even if there is no romantic motives behind my love expression, I goddamn mean it:

Even though an act like these is extremely profound and remarkable, there are many things wrong with it, there are many things wrong with how, where and when it takes place and I'm just going to talk about very few of them, because these issues are highly complex and you can't do just talking about them, without few books underlying the basis of the framework with which you are analyzing and evaluating the event.

The most obvious thing that is wrong with acts of revelations like these in these sentences is that the message it sends to other victims is that "look at me, I'm the damn successful victim who believes the success will protect her from ever falling into such trap but it didn't ..." and the truth is she offers no alternative source of protection and that's horrifying. Imagine you have been raped and inside yourself you're terrified of anything and everything and then there someone who shares those events from your past with you because they have experienced the same and you think you can perceive them as a role-model and have the hope that it is possible to feel safe and overcome trauma and then all you hear is that "you will never feel safe, even if you're successful beyond measure, you won't be safe". Look, I'm not advocating to provide a rape victim with a false sense of safety what I'm trying to say is that Ashley's story is that of a victim who felt so alone and desperate and the only way-out she supposed for herself was excessive materialistic success, yet, this wasn't enough, and this is really what's wrong with our societies. If someone has an accident, we put them in a hospital where they are going to be excessively safe from all physical injuries till we have taken care of them and their body had recovered enough so they can go back to the world and face the hardships and maybe have an accident another time down the way and the same cycle ... but the rape victims, for them there is no safe place. We don't care about their injuries. We as a society simply leave them on their own, and we usually create this aura that if they speak up about their experience, everything bad is going to happen to them, so better they keep silence. That's why Ashley couldn't speak with her mother where she was. That's really terrible. That means those victims have no place to go. I mean, no place to emotionally depend, rest and recover from trauma. We don't provide them with that. It is not their fault that they are suffering from trauma, because trauma is the natural response of our psyche to excessively harmful experiences ... but we totally, fundamentally dismiss these individuals and their need for spending time in an emotionally safe environment till they recover from trauma. What Ashley is trying to say is that she sought refuge in materialistic success, do you know why? Because we don't offer rape victims any support in the way they need it. and of course materialistic success can't protect you from bad events happening to you, and of course, Ashley is a bright enough woman to know this but the reason she seems to be totally unaware of it, is because she has no one, no other place, no other mean to feel safe. That is horrible and when her voice is gratifying by the publicity she receives the message she is sending to other rape victims is that: "you will never feel safe again ..." and that is a horrifying message, because these people are internally desperate for spending some time in an excessively psychologically safe environment where they can overcome their trauma, or more accurate description is to fulfill the cycle of trauma. This is really really really horrible.

It is even more horrible that nobody sees it. Nobody says "dear Ashley, please don't speak like this because it will destroy the hope of all other victims for any chance for recovery ...". Nobody says that. This is beyond horrible. I have really no words to describe how horrible this is. and we let it happen without any comment. I'm not saying everyone should know what sexual abuse or rape in childhood feels like but that's not what you need in order to understand that these people need some special care and support, just as you don't need to have had a car accident to understand that the guy who is bleeding in his crashed car has to be sent to hospital as soon as possible and we collectively pay for his recovery bills with insurance policies. This is basic social animal instinct and we all have it. But about rape victims, we just don't want to see it. What pains, is the bullshit about sexual liberty and all the rest of it. To me, what that bullshit means is we allow ourselves to use sex to sell stupid stuff but when the situations become serious, it is a taboo thing that nobody wants to talk, listen, hear or know about it.

I guess by now, first thing you're thinking is why I didn't voice my concerns any sooner, if I really mean it, I will come back to this critique later on but for now just let me say: I can't go and help other people in something that I need help for it myself. I'm thankful from the God for everything that made it possible for me to voice my concerns, but many years I wouldn't even dare to imagine that it is possible to do anything with those experiences than feeling pain and excessive urge for death ...

Back to the main points, it is beyond f---ed up that all we do for rape victims is allowing to tell their stories if it benefits anyone but themselves. It is pretty simple to understand that a young adult who is in a romantic relationship with the opposite gender and there is no religion, no convention, no social pressure, but that individual from him or herself won't want to have any sexual exchange with his girlfriend or her boyfriend. That's Halsey's story, and she is still in the trauma stage because she still doesn't grasp the point is not to go to win wars but that that boy should have known or should have been able to guess that Halsey is suffering from sexual trauma. But no, in our culture there is no voice for rape victims. Nobody tells her that. And you know why nobody even is surprised, why nobody is reacting to Ashley with this comments because we treat non-famous rape victims not any different either. All we do for them is to allow them to seek justice through the criminal justice system and that system only does one thing, if ever the victim succeeds to prove her or his case, the rapist(s) will end up in jail. This is really not a solution for anything. Because the rapist needs to learn proper behavior or at least given a chance for such and prison is not even remotely designed for such fundamental behavioral shifts in prisoners, and we dismiss the broader social, cultural, religious and moral context in which these events take place. Parents, family, friends, school system and all the rest of cultural products go totally unpunished. The real horror is that the victim who has suffered excessive hopelessness and damage on her or his physical and psychological privacy and ownership of one's body, is not allowed to feel any retaliation, putting someone in prison is not the equivalent of doing the exact same things that people who make love with each other do while there was no permission there. In case of individuals prior to their puberty, there is even not the mental nor the physical capacity there to handle what they have gone through, not even make sense of it. Is putting the rapist in prison really retaliation for this? We don't care. We totally dismiss the victims, and it is horrifying when Halsey's poem for women's march is actually a bold demonstration of this tendency in our societies. It is really beyond f---ed up. Just to understand how out of place our response is, imagine for example a child losing her parent and you instead of preparing her for what has happened and trying to make the best experience for her as a goodbye ceremony, instead you lie to the child every day that the parent will come back tomorrow and force her to a trip to Disneyland with an aunt she hates. That child is going to have endless problems growing up, but you don't care. You just got rid of your sense of responsibility to help that child with her grief while, in fact, you did nothing for her grief, rather you prevented it. We never give rape victims a taste of revenge on the body of the rapists, instead we hide the rapists from them, as if that solves all the issues.

If a rape victim is telling her or his story, it should be with the underlying motivation that:

When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.

and perhaps instead of the tale of how one was raped and its details, what the public ought to know is how she or he was healed through the help of the society. But there are no such stories out there, instead every rape victim is left on her or his own and in case their voices become public it is only it is to our benefit, and not because we have accepted our collective responsibility to contribute to the healing of someone suffering from trauma.

It is really horrifying. All the confusion, irritation, guilt, shame, self-hatred, lack of safety and comfort and trust, and lots of other issues that come with being raped, especially as a child, we offer these victims nothing, instead we demonstrate to these people that even if they grow up and become highly successful all we are going to do for them is to ask them to sing songs, and give interviews and write novels and ... The extreme minimum was that Halsey's boyfriend standing right alongside her and holding her in his arms the whole time or at least her hand the whole time, no, instead the message we want to amplify is: "you are alone, nobody is there to be with you on your sexual trauma experience, not even the men or women who are aught to love you". Believe it or not, those boyfriends, girlfriends or whatever f--- other forms of romantic partners ever would themselves benefit if the rape victim they are in a relationship with overcomes her or his trauma. But, no, even if we love them, we leave them on their own, while the truth is you can't overcome sexual trauma on your own, especially if has happened in childhood.

"Beyond f---ed up" is a joke, how could we call ourselves modern or civilized and not even remotely be able to perform something that animals who live socially would perform by nature. That's a hallmark of extreme uncivilization. We don't even raise concerns for lack of such behaviors in our societies. That's a hallmark of collective and individual benightedness and dead-heartedness. You have to be ashamed of calling yourself civilized if you are part of such societies, ashamed of the lie you're telling to yourself and each other.

Endnotes

If you're suffering from some psychological hardship yourself, probably you won't be able to benefit strangers with the same issues at the same time. I mean, that should be the duty and accountability of the collective society. But regarding the few individuals whom I know their story or guess so about, even if famous names like Halsey and Elon Musk, and I feel a sense of friendship or connection with them, as long as these individuals living an acceptable lives2, upon me to love them, even though without romantic interest involved, I mean even gestures like holding him or her in my embrace, saying "I love you and it is not your fault" ...

As promised, I will explain why I didn't speak up my mind at that course, when I was asked for an opinion. Firstly, I would not have been able to have any opinion to voice, nor the courage for it, wasn't it that events had happened and somehow I found myself revealing to someone I love and we are still in the same environment that I share these stories with these individuals in my own life, too. I don't know what she thought about such revelation but I didn't receive any feedback from her, not even a change in her responses to me. Maybe she had felt overwhelmed, or for many other reasons didn't wish to ever think about it, perhaps in worse case scenario, she has had a similar experience(s). Typically individuals with childhood sexual abuse or rape experience(s) are highly capable of disassociation; sometimes they even overdo it unconsciously. Which means hearing something extremely upsetting or extremely hard to deal with and being absolutely unaffected by it, even for days, weeks, months or years. Not because they don't believe it or didn't understood or can't remember it if they want to, but because that's their defense mechanism. But even that aside, the reason I didn't want to make any remark about it was that I thought what can I say without saying that I believe as a society we totally dismiss their need for receiving reassurance and sense of affection, love, and belonging. The younger you have had such experiences, the harder it becomes for you to trust someone, or to accept emotional connection with someone, as long as trauma is not healed. And that brilliant young woman being the only person whom we are still living in the same city and I can imagine she knowing my story one way or the other by now, and the number of individuals whom I can imagine ever allowing them to influence me or to support me in this regard is less than half of fingers on one hand ... I really didn't want to talk in front of her about what I really need, partly because I don't know what to do with myself if she isn't going to help me ... 25 years and I know only less than 2.5 individuals whom I could allow them to help me, it is hard to lose one's hope if one of such individuals turn to have no love for you that would motivate her to be your healer ...

and I also feared other people's judgement, or better said, I never expected other's intervening in the most intimate exchanges between you and someone and trying to interpret and judge them for her, but apparently she is for the moment rather give up her freedom of will and intellect to others who don't have her interest, nor her unique mental qualities ... I didn't feel like to be accused of whatever unimaginable motivations they want to subscribe for me ...

If you want to doubt me cuz you are the smart pal who thinks I'm the assholes who is building up these lies to get that young woman in bed at best, or at worst receiving her pity ... you're f---ing wrong. If you have a grain of decency, regardless of what you understand from human psychology, keep these in mind maybe one day someone you love or wish to love have had such events, I mean, I have gone to hell four or more times to be able to write what you're reading here, so if have a grain of decency, even if you don't understand or can't believe things I'm saying, at least respect it cuz it is words won through bitter hardness, endless pain ... but if you don't have a grain of decency, let me tell you: you can't imagine what an asshole I am, raise your expectation pal. Her pity? Physical closeness? No man, you don't understand what an asshole I am, I want(ed) her to love me in both worlds with all the damages I'm bearing with myself. Those stupid kinds of stuff are of no use, neither interest, to me. Go, f--- yourself ...

May the Lord helps all rape victims finding the comfort of someone or a group to help them with their trauma ...

References

  • Levine, P.A., 1997. Waking the tiger: healing trauma. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, Calif.

  • Paris, W., 2016. How to say 'I'm getting divorced' and avoid a pity party [WWW Document]. The Washington Post. URL https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/03/14/how-to-tell-people-im-getting-divorced-and-avoid-a-pity-party/ (accessed 6.1.18).


  1. For an example of such interpretations you can look at one of the scholars mentioned in the article "I would fall short and feel disappointed in myself↩︎

  2. "acceptable lives" because I can't say "good lives" because rape experience in childhood results in many personality disorders which means a hell lot of wrong behaviors and mistakes, and it will be so unless the trauma is healed. ↩︎

Dates

  • Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018
  • Published:

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