Two courageous women have recently shared their stories of rape and recovery with me. Their stories are stories ALL women should hear. They are about abusive men and about women experiencing suffering and trauma; but they are also testimonies to healing and strength. These two stories are about a subject which our society rarely discusses. The huge, untold story of women being used and abused by men who are behaving in ways absolutely unacceptable to our society's values and beliefs, yet these men are often protected by the veil of secrecy.
Under our current laws "Justice" requires invasive "medical proof" and "evidence" of "rape". We force a woman to stand in Court to protest she did not "submit"; while the perpetrators are "innocent until proven guilty".... little wonder that so many deeply traumatised women stay silent in the face of this crime against them. Yet their healing requires their story being told. Their healing requires society to say "these men are NOT behaving in acceptable ways". Their healing requires them to reclaim their ability to choose; to reclaim control in their lives; and to reclaim self-approval/love.
Evelyn and Chloe tell two very different stories. By making their stories available on this website, we are making it possible for their voices to be heard, their truths told. We also trust that it will help other women. Other rape survivors may be encouraged on their journey of recovery and healing. Just one other woman may learn how to be safer in our world! And we trust that ALL of us will campaign for changing current legislation.
Please read these stories, cry with Evelyn and Chloe, grow with them, and grow in your own experience of womanhood and your own commitment to the safety of all people in our society.
ALL names of the real people and places in these two stories have been altered to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
I have given a brief outline of Evelyn and Chloe's stories below.
With love to these two brave, strong women,
These pages will tell the on-going story of a woman's survival and recovery from rape. In June 2004 Evelyn was drugged, physically and verbally abused then threatened with a knife before being sexually assaulted.The knife was used to stop her even considering attempting to leave, to make her so frightened that she couldn't act, leave or do anything to protect herself other than submit to the violence and rape,
Her story will unfold on this web site as it is written in serial form. [Bookmark this page so you can come back and read the next instalment!]
Evelyn has chosen to tell her story for four important reasons:
1. As part of her own healing;
2. Her hope that just one word in it might help at least one other survivor to take another step on her own healing journey;
3. Her trust that it will help other women to avoid suffering the same experience; and
4. To empower allies (friends/family/work mates) to better support a traumatised woman.
During her journey of healing she is finding that the really important on-going issues for any survivor of rape trauma include:
Truth is such a difficult issue, especially when the rape never gets to Court. How can the victim tell her story? How can she do it safely without being further victimised in her community? How can her experience help even one other woman to AVOID going through the same trauma?
What is justice? Is there any way of preventing this man from hurting other women?? The survivor's recovery from this trauma is one way of reclaiming her own power/justice!
When trust has been so violated by one individual, the ripple effect can flow out into all other relationships - friends, work mates, clients, family, present or future partners . . . . . . .
In the process of telling her story, some of the issues Evelyn explores during this on-going journey include:
Plus the BIG issues for all of us:
The first "chapter" talks about the need for support from friends and family. It explains what was helpful and what was not! The writer draws on her own experiences, her research after the event, her diaries and art work as she struggles to understand and come to terms with what happened to her.
In chapter 2 she tells the harrowing story of her rape; and explores the minds of rapists through her research done to help her to understand how this had happened to her. She includes the harsh reality of rape, but also gives many ideas of how women can protect themselves and keep safe.
In chapter 3 she quotes freely from her diary to graphically illustrate the depths of despair felt by a survivor of rape in the first six months after the event. The chapter concludes with some quotes from some research which validates these deep feelings after trauma. A "must read" chapter for any woman searching for meaning after rape, or for any person searching for ways to support a survivor.
In chapter 4 Evelyn recognises and researches the natural animal instinct of the body to freeze in the face of overwhelming situations. Most of us already know about stress and our reactions of 'fight or flight'. But few of us know as much about our third option, 'freeze'. It is nature's way of protecting us in extreme situations - allowing us to endure the unendurable with surges of hormones that protect one from physical pain, allow disassociation and blunt painful memories. She also describes how releasing our body from this state is an important part of the recovery phase after any severe trauma.
Chapter 5 goes into details of some of the Counselling sessions that Evelyn has been able to access, and the miriad ways in which it has helped her healing at diffferent levels.
In chapter 6 she discusses the bodywork that has been crucial in supplementing and supporting the emotional counselling.
In chapter 7 'Simple Things' Evelyn tells us about all the other helpful things in her life ... music, dancing, friends, nature, etc and how they have assisted her journey.
Evelyn thinks she might have written her final chapter! Chapter 8 'Making Sense of Secondary Wounding' is about her journey to understanding how friends, associates and workmates were able to add to her trauma by their responses to her experiences and distress. In the process she has reclaimed her own sense of a strong self, a self with control over her choices as she moves forward on her own chosen path, with the support of true friends.
To see an outline of the stages in Evelyn's journey to date
Chapter 1 of her journey 'Love, not Time, Heals all Wounds'
Chapter 2 'Be careful of the men you choose'
Chapter 3 'The Loss of the Age of Innocence'
Chapter 4 'Frozen with Fear'
Chapter 5 'Counselling'
Chapter 6 'Bodywork'
Chapter 7 'Simple Things'
Chapter 8 'Making Sense of Secondary Wounding'
Appendix 1 - Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Appendix 2 How survivors of sexual assault can have a positive Pap Smear Experience
© 2005-2008 Evelyn Shakespeare
Chloe's story is about abuse and rape within a relationship. For six and a half years she stayed, enduring ongoing abuse because she believed it was "her fault", that if she could alter her behaviour the man she loved would be "good" to her.
Her story is graphic; it details some of the physical and emotional abuse. Her parents could see that she suffered, her friends were unable to help her... but eventually she found the strength and courage to leave and begin her long journey of healing.
Like Evelyn she has found that it is hard to find a voice to tell her Truth; and that not all your "friends" even want to know about it. But she has also found helpful supporters and healers and is finding her own ways to express who she is and has learnt to value herself again. She is now engaged to a man who is supportive and loving - we send them our loving good wishes for a happy future together!
To read Chloe's story
© 2005 Chloe