“How Long Did It Take You To Get Over It?”

Antheia at Mad Melancholic Feminista writes about her experiences surviving rape, what it means to “get over it.” Read the whole thing — her story is written with incredible clarity and honesty, and does a great service to survivors everywhere:

We teach our daughters to fear the possibility of rape occurring at the hands of strangers which oftentimes leads to their reluctance to report rape at the hands of their fathers, male family members, teachers, and boyfriends. We teach our daughters that rape is about sexual oppression when it should be viewed as GENDER oppression. We preach the “potentially lethal lie that if you don’t do anything wrong, if you’re just careful enough, you’ll be safe.”

Antheia walks the same thin line that so many survivors do: She puts her experience in a greater context, she understands it as part of a systematic problem, she positions herself as a survivor and not a victim — but she still has to deal with the day-to-day task of surviving.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my rape, there’s not a time that I don’t hold my pepper spray when I walk home alone at night, there isn’t a moment where I can walk towards a man on the sidewalk and not feel my body tense up until he passes. Asking me when I’ll be “over it” is like asking a victim of the hurricane when they’ll be over the anguish that they’re experiencing right now, like asking a mother when she will be over the loss of a child. You can try to forget; you can build a new house after the storm, have another baby to fill the cradle, and start engaging in sexual relationships with other partners, but is this “moving on”? And is attempting to cope with the tragedy considered “getting over it”? It’s amazing how short a period of time 10 minutes is in the scheme of things, and yet how easily the mind can continuously remind you of that time, in the brilliant words of John Irving “your memory is a monster. You forget, it doesn’t. It just files things away; it keeps things from you, and brings them to your recall at a will of its own. You think you have a memory, but it has you.”

I simply can’t do her post justice here. Please, read the whole thing.

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12 comments for ““How Long Did It Take You To Get Over It?”

  1. September 19, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    Frankly, it has been ten years and I’m still working on it.

    September 20, 2005 at 12:13 am

    Agh, I didn’t know. I’m sorry.

    I’m the sort that gets a really burning desire to cause great physical harm to people who would rape a woman. Hearing that really flares up those sorts of emotions in me… Gah, I gotta go unwind before I get in a bad mood now.

    Again, I’m sorry.

  3. September 20, 2005 at 1:53 am

    It’s so very hard for someone who has not gone through trauma such as rape or child abuse to understand that “just get over it” doesn’t do it. No one can ever see your pain.

  4. September 20, 2005 at 9:19 am

    I can’t believe people have the gall to ask “So, when will you/did you get over it?”

  5. September 20, 2005 at 9:29 am

    I get the question pretty much whenever I manage to talk about it openly. Honestly, most of the time I lie, or say something close to what this author says, ‘There have been a few points over the last 8 years, when I’ve uttered the words “yeah it was horrible, but I’m OK now.'”

    “Okay” is subjective, but whatever. It’s easier than Cryfest 2005.

  6. magikmama
    September 20, 2005 at 9:40 am

    It’s been 9 years.
    It took me the first 4 to realize that it wasrape.
    It took me another 4 to stop blaming myself for it.
    I’m just getting to the point of being really, really angry at my attacker.

    Will I “get over it?” Probably not.

    Maybe in time the anger will subside, and I will be able to heal. But it will always be with me. I will always have been attacked. I will always know what it is like to have been raped. When my dad unthinkingly watches Law & Order, I’ll still have to deal with the trauma. Whenever I’m having sex and I get pinned down, I’ll still have the flashbacks. And whenever some jackass gets on the news and says that rape isn’t real, I’m still going to suddenly have the desire to go gun shopping.

  7. September 20, 2005 at 9:48 am

    Whenever I’m having sex and I get pinned down, I’ll still have the flashbacks. And whenever some jackass gets on the news and says that rape isn’t real, I’m still going to suddenly have the desire to go gun shopping.

    These two ring particularly true for me. The Kobe Bryant trial genuinely fucked me up as I watched this young woman have her name and reputation smeared before any evidence was even brought before a court. In a way, it almost made me glad that no legal action ever came from my rape. It was reported, but at least two years after the fact. I was thirteen and didn’t have the language for it. Oh, fuck it. I’ve already written about it.

  8. Rob
    September 20, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    While, as a man, I can’t fully appreciate the full scope of rape’s terror, having small children makes me fully understand the terror of child abuse. It scares me to death as a dad. The total vulnerability gives me nightmares. …And that’s not even MY vulnerability. That said, I can see where the man-hating comes in for many victims. I certainly would. It leaves no doubt in my mind that real evil is out there.

  9. September 20, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    It’s hard to explain to someone who loves you, how you can just freeze up and start crying or go limp or get vacant or get uncharacertistically violent when you’re triggered.

    It’s been fifteen years, and those triggers still exist, and just when I think they’re gone and I lose sight of them, they devastate me and suddenly I’m 19 all over again.

    This is why rape is a tool of war and it’s about power and not sex.

  10. September 20, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    It’s funny, because I still think I should be over it, all the time. It’s been years, after all. But I am not over it in any real way (and I admit, there is comfort in knowing that this is not such an absurd sentiment); I have not even begun to forgive myself.

  11. September 20, 2005 at 6:27 pm

    Anne: People are stupid just sounds like a vapid answer to your question, doesn’t it? Why won’t they learn? Beats me.

    Lauren: The one thing that I can say from personal experience is that the pain does tend to fade over time which is a goddessend even if it never completely goes away. Don’t give up and certainly don’t let the prophets of instant relief tell you how to heal. You are not the one who has to apologize for your pain.

  12. OHNOES
    September 22, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    People ask about when you get over it because they’ve never felt it before. Their experience with traumas probably is nowhere near on the level of getting raped. You can get over the passing away of your grandmother, so theoretically you can get over other things. Please don’t be TOO angry towards them. They just haven’t been taken where you have.

    Even from my male point of view, I find rape apalling. I don’t see how any person can do that to a woman and still be called a human being. And a terrible lifelong trauma to the woman only for your own brief moments of power and sick pleasure… it goes beyond words. I mean, it is simple for me. I want to kill anyone who has raped or would rape a woman if only to spare the entire gender from that sort of evil.

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