I am sitting with this woman that I have known my whole life, she is so put together and I look up to her. We tell each other stories of experiences we have had in our lives and decisions we made, should not have made ( you know the sort of things girls with history do when they meet) In our talk she comments on an article that was in the paper about a woman being gang raped. We discuss the dangers a girl child or woman faces and how the issue is handled at the police station and by relatives, she is emotional through out our discussion. We talk about how the victim is put in a position were they have to prove they are raped, in the process traumatising the victim and in most cases the perpetrator going scot-free.
It is during this talk that she confides in me that she has been raped twice. She confides in me that because of the shame and stigma that is attached to rape victims, she choose not to report the matter. In her case the first time it happened she was at a party with friends, she asked for a room to rest as she was drinking and didn't want to drive in her state. She said as she was sleeping she work up to someone touching her, the guy had been following her around but he did not ask her out and there was no reason for him to be in the same room with her. She could not fight him off so the guy raped her, and next morning she pretended like nothing had happened. I asked her if she was okay and if there was anything I could do, she asked me to be her friend as always and not to treat her differently.
We spoke about a lot other things, we realised that yes my friend thought it was good to sweep the matter under the carpet but the lamps can make walking painful. As put together as she was, she was broken inside, she confessed that she needed closure. She had guilt (though she knows that it was not her fault), she was angry and never got to address the anger and the biggest thing that affected her was shame. She still had the shame, even if she did not tell anyone of her ordeal.
There are may cases of Rape and abuse not reported because of shame, this stops one from getting the help they need in order to get the healing they need. I always get the image of a person walking around with this big wound on their leg, it makes walking difficult and it is a fact that any person with such a wound will go to the doctor so they be treated. Once the wound is healed they are happy that the can walk nicely again. When a person is raped, it is not just the body that is violated but the spirit as well. The body can heal but it is often the mind and the spirit that we neglect to treat. We also need to forgive ourselves, even if intellectually we know that it is not our fault, we often blame ourselves and think we deserve what happened to us. It is a human right to
This brings to life the importance of support groups, and creating easy access to information. I provide information for schools, public places and posters that everyone can read as they are walking. We are still fighting with stigma, culture and power dynamics.