“The body remembers what the mind struggles to forget.”
My Dear Readers,
In last week’s blog “Just World Trauma & The Loss of Individual Responsibility,” I wrote about the gang rape of an unconscious woman on a beach in Panama City, Florida.
Rape is an action that not only assaults the humanity and integrity of the victim, but impacts the consciousness of us all. The answer is simple—it doesn’t make sense to us. Rape, in and of itself, is a despicable, unexplainable and unjustifiable act.
We know what rape is– the sexual assault of another person—but what is the basis of the action of rape? I have concluded that rape is an expression of male privilege. Its foundation is rooted in the attributes of power, domination, and control.
Although we may be outraged about the act of rape, society has shown its lack of comfort in openly speaking about its impact. For me, writing about Bobbi is the fulfillment of a commitment to those who have been victimized, those who are healing, and those who continue to suffer in silence.
We, in our own silence, may feel shame and/or hope that the victim goes away, recovers and moves on with her life. This is often not the case. Life just does not simply move on for a rape victim.
The word “saga” typically refers to a narrative, telling the adventure of a hero or heroic achievement. This is one of the reasons we call this series The Journey of Self Discovery: Bobbi’s Saga.
The term “saga” clearly expresses and gives meaning to Bobbi’s life, which is consumed with responding to challenges beginning at the age of four years old. In this writing of Bobbi’s journal, she shares with us the impact the violent sexual assaults she endured.
Bobbi ‘s saga continues:
One of the things that I have never journaled about is a gift to myself I was robbed of by abuse. Because of the rapes at 4 and 9-12, I never had the choice of choosing when to lose my virginity. I see stories of romantic situations on television, and the first sexual experience, if by choice, is usually joyful and provides a sweet start to the sexual experiences and expectations for that person.
I have had other females talk about their first experience. For most people, it is a positive memory. For me, the choice was taken away. When I was finally ready for my first consensual sexual experience I was still anxious, frightened and reminded of my abuse.
It was the abuse that prevented me from enjoying it. It was like I was seeing if I could withstand the encounter. There was no joy, sexual arousal, or orgasm. It was only the relief that I had made it through.
It was many years later that I was finally able to enjoy making love, and yet, flashbacks of the abuse would often interrupt and interfere with lovemaking. It took a long time before I was able to understand why anyone would want to have sex. Why would anyone want to do anything so stressful and painful?
Today was a tough session with Dr. Kane. We discussed the theft of my virginity. It was difficult for me to discuss and it was the first time we had discussed this.
I felt sad leaving the session. I have that uncomfortable feeling of numbness now. The feeling is similar to pain but not the same. Dr. Kane encouraged me to think about this over the next couple of days.
I feel and think I will let this go. It is something that I will never feel good about. The theft of virginity is a greater theft than any bank robbery. Money can be returned. The gift of virginity, once stolen, can never be replaced.
The abuse has changed my sexual life forever. The flashbacks have mostly gone away with lovemaking, but I still have difficulty enjoying it, and I just find that it’s not important to my life.
Stealing one’s virginity amounts to stealing sexual pleasure and excitement for the rest of a person’s life. For the person who is robbed of her virginity, it is like you are robbed over and over again. I hope the feelings of sadness fade away as this becomes more distant in my mind.
I have come to realize that there is a difference between sadness and depression. Depression is an inability to construct a future. Today, talking about the theft of my virginity, I felt very sad but not as depressed as I used to be.
Depression includes hopelessness, guilt, shame, pain and intense sadness that only vary slightly. It never goes away. There is an indescribable feeling inside like the sadness goes to my core.
Depression kept me from functioning, thinking and feeling anything except pain and sadness.
In my depression, I saw the world in shades of gray. The clouds were always above me. I was unable to see a future. I didn’t care if I lived or died, and I thought about death often.
Sadness is a deep feeling of pain, but at least you know there will eventually be an end to the pain. You can be sad and still laugh in the same day. In sadness, you know there is a possibility of feeling better the next day. The sadness can be linked to a certain event or incident.
Today has been an okay day. I thought of my lack of childhood and the consequences of it. Consequences that continue to influence my life.
Others have told me that depression goes away. I have come to disagree with that belief. In my work with Dr. Kane, I have come to believe that due to the trauma I have been through, depression may continue to be a concern. Still, I believe it is getting lighter.
As I understand more about my past, the pain becomes more distant and the depression becomes lighter. I believe I will always have a level of depression. I will learn to live with it. It will be my norm. The norm for me is different than for other people. My past makes it that way. I have come to understand about the abuse. I now understand that it wasn’t my fault or responsibility.
I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. I couldn’t do anything to prevent it from happening. The sick bastards that did this to me deserve all the responsibility, guilt and shame. I wish they had horns growing out of their heads so others would be warned of their presence. I know that something will eventually happen to them. No one can do bad things without it coming back around.
Now, however, I want to get on with my life. I want to become lighter and joyful. I want my mental state to continue to improve. I want to live! This is so different from not caring if I lived and not wanting to live.
Concluding Remarks from Dr. Kane
We were in our first session when Bobbi sat quietly for a moment and then suddenly announced the following:
“When I was four years old, I was raped by the landlord. For a period of three years from ages nine to twelve, my stepfather repeatedly raped me.”
Following those statements, Bobbi suddenly got up and left the room. I recall sitting there hoping that she would return.
She called and returned to session two weeks later. It was then that I learned that it was her belief that all she had to do was tell someone her story and the agony would be over. The reality, as I explained to her, was that her “Journey of Self Discovery” had just begun.
Bobbi’s Journey of Self Discovery has now lasted five years. Bobbi has learned to distinguish depression from sadness. Where in the past, she believed that she might have enticed her abusers, she now recognizes that the responsibility for these horrific acts lies with her abusers.
It’s not unusual for people to assume that given time, a victim will “forget” a horrific assault and that their lives will eventually go on unimpeded. Many people assume that time heals wounds.
Neither assumption is true. The person who was victimized never forgets and it is the therapeutic work, not time by itself, which heals the emotional wound.
Bobbi understands that the gravity of her abuse can mean that depression may be an ongoing issue. However, she has learned that instead of living in fear of depression, today she has learned to live with the fear and in doing so, learn how to bring balance and optimism into her life.
The term “saga” truly reflects the physical and psychological wounding of Bobbi as well as her Journey of Self Discovery as she reclaims the life that was once taken.
Is she a hero? She is to me. I invite the readership to stay tune for her next entry.
Until the next time…Bobbi’s saga continues.