© 2005 Evelyn Shakespeare.
COUNSELLING, POLICE REPORT AND ART THERAPY
I decided to seek professional counselling after Paula had made me promise that I would make an appointment with Sexual Assault Services (SASS). The professional counselling was so valuable to me in the first 12 months following the rape. I found it felt like a friendship with my counsellor with whom I could discuss my true feelings and fears while being accepted, believed, valued, encouraged and supported in a positive manner. However, other forms of counsel came from friends and family, these people loved, respected, trusted my ability to deal with this and had provided me with wonderful support, guidance and suggestions. Supportive people, both personal and professional, were positive, non judgemental, respectful and they believed my experience They never minimised my experience, they encouraged me to find my own ways of dealing with this and they fully encouraged, supported and expected that I had the strength and courage to heal and recover from this even in those times when I seriously doubted that I could because it was so unbearably painful
I discovered it was easier in the long run to let go off those people who were unable or unwilling to provide loving support, guidance and suggestions. These people who were unhelpful to my recovery were easily identifiable, in hindsight, because they tend to be negative, judgemental, disrespectful, they tend to minimise my experience, expected me to deal with it their way or not to deal with it at all. I wasted a lot of time and energy and I experienced a lot of pain trying to save relationships that could not be saved and unfortunately were affected adversely these relationships as a direct result of the rape. So be brave and let go off people who are needy of you and who are not willing to support you in your time of need. Later I decide to expect nothing from those people that I was having difficulties with and that way I could not be hurt disappointed or saddened by what they did or didn't say or do. It's incredibly sad that I have to feel this way
Realistically, in the first couple of weeks, I really don't fully understand what has happened to me and I am unable to even put a name to it. Once Paula had received my initial email about the details of my experience, she phoned me back the next day to say that the details of my email about what happened to me is rape. Paula said that my email was full of self-blame, when he is the predator who lied. Paula wants me to go to the police, but realistically, it's know been a couple of weeks since the rape and I have no evidence apart from the fading bruises on my breasts.
Paula said that normally on a first date men are on their best behaviour and this man certainly was not on his best behaviour! In my opinion he is an opportunistic, blood sucking, horrible, uncaring, insensitive, awful, bizarre, self-centred and egoistical bastard of a man! So Paula suggested that I make an appointment with SASS because she has seen people who have been screwed up from not dealing with the assault. Plus I need to deal with this so that I can move on and hopefully have a healthy relationship later on.
The initial response to the rape that I felt was a feeling of waking up having survived the nightmare of the actual rape to find myself living in a bad dream or some kind of nightmare. I wondered how did I find myself in this situation. I guess it was blind stupidity, too much faith and trust in people! I guess in life that you learn very painful and valuable lessons the hard way. I learnt that some people cannot be trusted, they are deceitful, very methodical and they know how to get what they want and it doesn't matter that the other person gets hurt along the way! They know if I do this or that or whatever it takes that they will get what they want. I was left wondering what kind of person treats another human being like this - someone I never want to see again or have contact with ever again!
I had imagined that if this ever happened that I would do XYZ, but in reality, I didn't even realise that this was what he had planned to do to me and disappointingly, I didn't react the way I had expected that I would. But I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs and I was unable to react, as I would have if I were sober and drug free. I can't regret the fact that I was trying to deal with this bizarre and abnormal situation without being harmed. Bottom line is that I was trying to walk out relatively unharmed since he had a weapon. I realise that his bullying tactics, violence, using a weapon, drugging my drink and his bad behaviour, my own altered state from being drugged and the freezing protective mechanism determined how I responded in this situation. At least I walked out alive, without any serious physical injuries, without any sexually transmitted diseases or being pregnant. Although I was yet to understand the unbearably painful and potentially detrimental impact of surviving having been harmed and abused verbally, physically, emotionally and sexually.
It is tempting to react back and lash out at this man who thinks and behaves in an abnormal and bizarre manner, but I realise that I could really get hurt if I do lash out at him. I pray for karma - what you give is what you get back. I realise that he may have pain to deal with, but so do I have pain to deal with as a result of what he did to me. Just because he has pain to deal with doesn't give him permission to hurt innocent women to help him deal with his pain!
I try to operate from the heart always giving out and doing the best that I can to help others, so I can't help but feel bitter about what has happened. But I know that I deserve better than this. But, unfortunately, it has happened, I am going to have to look at what lessons there are for me to learn and find some meaning and purpose to this happening to me. I know that I haven't ever felt this way with any other experience with any other man and that in it self says that it was not right, and that something was very wrong. I feel like I could have just been a blow up doll, not a human being with a heart, soul, personality, thoughts and feelings. God how I wish I'd reacted differently. I feel so vulnerable, not wanting to be look at, smile at or touched, after all, what is there to smile about - I have been raped!
In response to Paula's encouragement to get help from professional counselling I decide to start looking for other sources of help and information from the Internet and books to help me understand and make some sense of all of this. I need to know more about sexual assault, how to keep safe, how to deal with threatening situations, find out who is likely to be targeted and chosen to become a potential victim and what type of man is likely to be a date rapist. I need to get inside his head to know how and why he could do this to me. I find some wonderful and helpful pieces of information on the internet:
I begin to feel stronger as I discover more information. I decide that he is not going to take anything else from me. I will not allow it! But it is hard telling people as their reactions are not always easy to deal with. Someone I call 'social acquaintance' said to me "so who hasn't been raped!" when I told her .At the time I decide not to react because I don't want to lose the friendship and I don't know if she has been raped or has women around her who have been raped. It makes me realise that, as women, there are a large number who have rape in common with each other.
For women who haven't been raped there is this shocked look that they give you. It is a look of disbelief, shock and horror. But what is far worse is the reaction of those women and men who minimise the impact of rape; they are disbelieving, disrespectful and judgemental. These people tend to be unsupportive, uncaring, unkind, cruel and hurtful. These people expect you to pretend that the rapist never hurt you, pretend he never took from you what he had no right to demand, coerce, bully or forcibly take from you. In my experience, once someone begins to behave in this manner toward you and they continue to treat you this way, recognise what they are doing and let go of them as soon as you see the pattern emerging as they will not be helpful to your healing and recovery.
Once again I am awake at night, unable to sleep and I am wondering will I ever be the same again?
"Somehow I doubt it. How can I be the same again after being coerced, bullied, physically pushed around, drugged and forced into submission with a weapon to get what he wanted? I thought that I could send him a blow up doll with a note on it saying 'here use this instead of hurting innocent women". Then I wished that I'd pepper spray or that I put chilli inside his condom - that would fix the bastard! I remember reading one of the rapist comments about how he pushed on sexually assaulting the woman even though her legs were locked and she was grinding her teeth. He made her stay overnight while she continued to grind her teeth all night. Christ almighty, how could he not face the reality of what he was doing???????? How could he choose to ignore the signs that she was not a willing participant? How!!!! How does this happen!
I keep thinking about what happened, how I didn't see the danger, how I didn't get out, how I felt angry at how he was treating me and how I tried to exert some control, but then I just 'gave into' what he wanted. I realise that I really didn't know how to get out of there safely. I really didn't know how to deal with this man. I'm only just learning now. I realise that society fails women by not telling them about date rape, the types of date rapists, how to recognise the danger and how to get out safely before the rape can occur.
How could he exploit my vulnerability to suit his own needs? Everything seems so surreal, like living in limbo, on the outer edge. It feels like I'm the living numb. I don't want to interact with the world today. I need time away from the world, but I know I have to be careful not to get caught in the trap of becoming a hermit. I wanted to go to the beach today, but I can't face having to interact politely with people when this man hurt me like this and I just want to scream" (Diary entry, 11/7/04).
It is a month following the rape that I get my first appointment with a SASS counsellor. My counsellor, Lee, gently informs me that I will never be the same person I was before this happened, she agrees that he probably has a mental illness or had taken drugs himself. Lee strongly suggests that I report the rape to the police and she says that I am doing well considering how soon it has been. Lee reinforces the fact that I need support from people who accept that it has happened, but it is hard when most people don't know how to help you with the ongoing unbearable hurt and pain and how to help with the healing and recovery process. In reality helpful and supportive people are able to help you in the ways they know how, they can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and one thing they suggest can make a huge difference. But no one person can be expected to help provide you with everything that you need and it is unfair to expect them to do so. In reality, I found that I needed what support, suggestions, ideas, love, caring and help from everyone who was able to offer it to me. To this day I am extremely grateful to them because I would not be where I am today without their love, support and guidance to enable me to take the long and hard road to healing and recovery.
I rely on my diary to be an understanding and non-judgemental friend in times when I am alone. I know my healing and recovery depends primarily on the choices that I make, but at times, there is a sense of longing for companionship when I am feeling alone and I am unable to reach out to others. I know that I can write anything in my diary, but sometimes I just long for someone to be here with me, to talk, to listen, to hold me and let me cry, but instead I am alone. I discover this great quote
"Be open to your happiness and sadness as they arise" John and Lyn St Clair Thomas
This quote gives me permission to feel sad as a result of what happened to me. This is a huge relief. After seeing my SASS counsellor Lee, I finally get some solid unbroken sleep following her suggestion of trying valerian. But I must admit it did take me 2 valerian, Panadol, warm milk and honey to do it, but I did it. It might seem ridiculous to be getting huge relief by getting some solid sleep, but I had been having sleep difficulties for the last month since it happened. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep affects our ability to cope with shock, trauma and stress like this.
Women who I work with provide support and offer to help, but sometimes, I just don't know what they can do to help, let alone know what I can do to help myself. One co-worker had almost been raped, but when she said "no", he punched her in the face and broke her jaw. He realised what he had done and offered to drive her home, but she said that she would drive his car home and if he tried to do anything she would drive the car into the nearest tree. Fortunately, as a result of this assault, he ended up pleading guilty, he went to jail as a result and he later apologised. Another co-worker tells me how she avoided being raped. It is helpful to have someone who understands. It is helpful to know that I'm not alone, that other women were chosen and targeted by these criminals and today they are survivors in healthy relationships. I need to know of other women's experiences to help validate my feeling. I need to know that I am not the only woman who has gone through this and that my feelings are a normal reaction to it. Although I would prefer it if no human being, woman, child or man ever had to experience this horrific crime, but sadly I don't think this is possible in our society.
I most certainly feel loved and supported. I am ever so grateful to have these amazing people supporting me during this difficult time in my life. I sense shifts and changes probably as a direct result of a combination of things eg going to SASS, going for walks along the beach, all the love and support I have been getting and getting some sleep. One male friend helps me when I explain what happened, he checks that I'm not likely to see this man again, he informs me that he would not show a woman a knife on a date and as a man you would hope not to have a woman glare up at you with a look of pure hatred during sex and he would stop and check to see if she was ok. This validates my experience as being exactly what I believe it was.
One of my most wonderful supportive and helpful friends, Mary, was able to help me find ways to deal with people I was having problems with. One suggestion was to say to them was to tell them
"What I really need from you at the moment in time is not to lose you as a friend, but to have you listen to me, allow me to grieve and deal with this in my own way. Let me know if I step over the limits of what you can deal with and I'll lean more on others. But I don't want to loose you as a friend. What I need is my friends to listen, love and care about me while I deal with this" (Diary entry, 4/8/04).
However, the person I was having difficulties with at the time did walk away, but unfortunately, she did it in an extremely negative and painful manner which is not fair to any survivor. Mary is willing to talk with me about what happened and what I may see as a crisis, may not be to others and usually only a very small number of people are there to help. Sad isn't it. I realise that my feelings of lack of support from some people might be more to do with this and the fact that there has been a role reversal in our relationships in that I need to be heard first rather than them!
I find more sources of help and understanding from the winning strategies website <www.winningedgestrategies.com.au>. A couple of helpful quotes I find on this site include
"Let people know what you stand for and what you won't stand for"
"Things do not change, we change"
At an appointment with Lee we discuss the choices I have to report this, but right at that point in time I felt like it was in the too hard basket. I think that I will report the assault without signing the report so that
Lee is pleased that I am actively working through this, but worried that I'll get stuck. I really don't feel that this will happen, as I am strong enough to deal with this. I was able to talk about being immobilised, the knife and not being able to take the risk to escape.
I continue to go to SASS for counselling with Lee. Three months following the rape Lee says that she is pleased with my motivation, intuition and the fact that I am doing body work. I realise
"That I refuse to be immobilised, I have a quiet strength, courage and resilience to help me through this. I will wear my survivor's badge with pride. I like who I was before this, one day I will be happy again, but I will be more courageous and stronger" (Diary entry, 17/9/04).
The book "We are all in shock" was another wonderful resource to help guide me and in particular was this comment that whenever we do harm to each other, we perpetuate the cycle of shock and violence. When we find a way to not do harm, we end the lineage of shock and violence. I make a commitment NEVER to repeat shock and violence to others or myself. I really like this quote
"Healing from shock could become our way of life if we choose. When we see what shock does to our minds and bodies we want to intervene and prevent it - and we must. If we cannot prevent it, we can take care of each other and ourselves when it does happen. We begin by knowing what to look for, what to say and when, and how to touch. If we resolve shock in our lives, we become resources for others. No matter what happens, we remain available and present, centred in our own truth with arms extended to help" (Mines, 2003, pages 20-21).
I guess this quote really summarises my journey to find a sense of purpose and meaning in this traumatic experience. So far I have directly helped and supported 4 women and 2 children who have survived differing forms of sexual assault with suggestions from my own experience in the road to healing and recovery. I have also helped and supported other friends going through other traumatic life experiences. As much as it might be painful to watch them deal with their unbearable pain, especially when I know how painful unbearable pain can be, I am willing to be there to help them where I can and I will not walk away leaving them unloved, abandoned and unsupported.
Working on this as I have been is my only way to have choice and control and hope of living a normal life again. But it has been so bloody hard. What scares me the most is what if I see him again, will he run when he sees me as Lee says some rapists do. Will I tell him what I think he is, will I stare him down, will I tell who is with him that he is a rapist or will I grab and twist his nuts and tell him if he ever tries to touch me again I will rip these off and shove them where the sun don't shine. After all, violence is all this man understands. I find violence, aggression, and sad events and people being nice to me painful, it is enough to trigger a tear welling up in my eyes and sometimes the cascade of tears flow. So I'm pretty sure that I probably won't get violent with him, it is pretty much fantasy of revenge. In reality what Lee had said to me gave me the courage to approach him, look at him eye giving him a look of utter outrage and dislike when I did see him at a market close to my first anniversary.
At another appointment with Lee I tell her I am so tired of trying to deal with this and survive trying to get to my holidays. I discuss how I lock the car, the issues I have surrounding the knife, wanting to get through this, never wanting to be in that position again and getting out unharmed. Oh if only I had been able to get out unharmed. Lee feels that I need to get in touch with my anger and that suggestion lead me to buying my punching bag man or the Marital Art Partner. Lee feels it took a lot of courage to stay the night, than to go, but I didn't feel I had been given permission to go and I didn't want to risk my life by trying to leave. Another suggestion I heard about recently is to write the rapist's name on the bottom of your shoes and then you stomp around with your shoes on. Stomp on his name just like how you would like to stomp on him!!!!!! I now realise that him using a weapon shows how weak he really is because he obviously didn't think that he could overpower me without it. Lee asks what do I need to get through this, I say
"I need time and a commitment to myself to get through this" (Diary entry, 14/10/04).
Lee suggests a method to help me unravel my feelings by walking through the night. But I am a bit beyond making any decisions right now and I guess I am scared to go back to that night. I tell Lee about my dream I had the night before my appointment with her. Lee suggests that I draw it and she interprets my dream for me. Basically, there is a fish tank (my home or even me), the fish in the tank are dead (like I have been feeling), but I add water (the essence of life), nurturing the fish and they come back to life which equals my own rebirth. So on the way home I go and buy myself a Sketchpad and crayons and I draw my rebirth dream.
Author Bernie Siegel in his book "Love, Medicine and Miracles", written for cancer survivors, discusses how when we communicate in visual images we tell the truth and that takes courage to draw and reveal the truth about aspects that you might be more comfortable concealing. Having a willingness to draw equals a desire to survive. I begin spontaneously drawing pictures of what happened, expressing my thoughts, feelings and dreams. I am amazed that something comes shining through these images, something that Bernie has called an "inner knowingness". To me this inner knowingness represents the truth of my experience. Bernie suggests that people pick the therapies that you believe can give you a positive attitude and hope. Bernie recommends having the desire to learn from the experience to help yourself and others, finding time for laughter, play, reading funny books, funny movies, jokes, music and relaxation methods eg yoga or mediation makes the unbearable bearable. I found that
"Reading Bernie's book has been so helpful, it has helped answer questions to some things I had been desperately trying to understand and make sense of, for example, how can I be so kind, yet someone could be so cruel to me? It makes sense to know that we are full of such paradoxes plus knowing he'd gotten the wrong messages and no love, so he choses to act in a cruel manner because he choses not to be kind. It helps me to understand that releasing my anger by diary writing, drawing, physically and verbally releasing is acceptable and healthy. Bernie's book provides reassurance to me that my diary writing and artwork are positive, helpful and wonderful expressions of revealing the truth and my own inner knowingness. I also discover that I need to be guided more by my intuition and to speak up for my needs" (Diary entry, 30/1/05).
The impact of my artwork sometimes took me by surprise. I remember when I was preparing the first chapter choosing the artwork I wanted to use. I remember seeing a piece of artwork called "walking wounded" and I was so surprised to see myself being so sad, so full of pain and overflowing with tears. I realised "God, I was in so much pain back then". It's still hard to believe. I guess it shows that I have come along way since then and that is positive.
At another appointment with Lee 5 months following the rape I've had a fairly busy day and I'm pretty exhausted. Lee asks how I am feeling. I tell her that
"I am feeling indifferent, a little lighter, but better than last time. I think I have almost pushed myself too far" (Diary entry, 5/11/04)
Lee asks what I am doing for the rest of my holidays and I inform her that I plan to spend time with my friends and go home to see my parents. But I want to wait until I am stronger before I go home to see my parents as I don't want to tell my parents so that I can protect them. Lee asks me "do you think your parents have noticed that something is wrong" and I guess my mum probably has. The tears flow just thinking of telling my mum because I probably want to, but she has been through some much in her life and her health has been suffering. Lee looks at my artwork providing me with positive feedback and encouragement to continue drawing. I tell Lee about the triggers that continue to happen all around me that continuously remind me of what happened that night and they often occur when I least expect them. I never seem to be able to escape what happened!!!!! Lee informs me that there is a form of therapy based on exposure to triggers. Oh well, for me they just occur spontaneously, one positive aspects is the fact that there is no expensive therapy for me, I get mine for free!
Shortly after this appointment with Lee I have bitten the bullet and managed to put my report for the police together. You know it is a relief. I cannot believe that I have done it. I need to show Lee, make changes and then go to the police. I decide to take one step at a time. It is doing the last step that is scary, I imagined the worse, some pushy officer, but I realise that it can't be anything like what I experienced that night!!! With Lee's help I found that I needed to add more detail to my police report. I continually remind myself one step at a time, but I do feel better having done this. I keep reminding myself that I can handle this. In December I have been back to Lee before making an appointment with Isabella, the SASS counsellor who supports women during the statement being made of the assault at the police station. I feel like the rape is going into the background, except those times when I stir it up. I have fleeting moments when I sing to the radio, I sing or hum or I break out dancing.
I continued to read and search for information on the Internet, but I was shifting my focus to self-defence, which I think is a pretty positive shift. I discovered that the knives used by the terrorists on the planes on 9/11 were small knives. Yet these small knives used by the terrorists were able to control the people on the plane and bring about absolute carnage, horror, pain and murder of so many innocent people. So I guess that I am not the only person to have responded by freezing to seeing a small weapon and have it come at me. I keep thinking that maybe I should get myself a knife as trigger therapy. I hope that by having a Swiss army knife, like the one he used will help to desensitise me.
In the meantime I buy myself a copy of 'The rape recovery handbook" by Aphrodite Matsakis, 2003. In the chapter "Your story and the stages of recovery" the author asks the reader to journal about how the assault affected the various parts of your life (Matsakis, 2003, pages 107 - 108). This is my journal of this exercise
How the assault has affected my faith in the world, myself, my relationships and my vocation
The costs include the costs of medical bills with visits to my GP, medications eg antibiotics, herbal remedies, massage therapy, art work equipment, diaries, transport costs to and from SASS appointment and time off on sick leave. In the future costs include reflexology and theta appointments, more medications and a course on reading your face and body and correcting body posture.
Medical and physical costs
Philosophical, spiritual and moral costs
So when you look at it this way, the effects on women's lives when they are sexually assaulted is phenomenal to say the very least, but of course, most of these effects are not widely known or accepted by society.
Nine months after the assault I see Isabella at SASS to talk about making a report to the police. The whole time I am crying, but sometimes, I am able to laugh. Isabella mentions doing whatever I am comfortable doing and I say I would be more comfortable if this never happened. Isabella asks me what would I do if the police say that they now have enough evidence from me to get him because he is well known to them. But in all probability the chances of this are low, and, unfortunately, in reality, the police do not know him!!!!! I must admit I had never thought of this as being a possibility. I responded by saying "why didn't they get to him before he got to me?" Isabella informs me that my diary writing and the first person I told could be used as evidence if necessary. Isabella discusses the concept of "risk minimisation" where we might do things that appear to be helping the criminal when, in fact, we are minimising the risk of further harm to yourself. I can't even imagine the horror of being pregnant to him, to him, to that bastard. I am so glad that I made him wear condoms by telling I work with people's body fluids and that I was protecting him. But, nonetheless, I am concerned about being judged by the police in regard to this. In reality, I would rather make him wear a condom rather than become pregnant as a result of the assault, than continue the pregnancy, knowing that the child could remind me of the rapist and the actual rape or chose the trauma of an abortion!
I find that
"It is so unbelievable that people who haven't been raped can't even begin to comprehend the concept of risk minimisation! But I guess as I painfully got to discover, you don't know what you will do to protect yourself when in reality there is very little you can do to protect yourself from harm. But I guess it is really about the degree of harm. I guess the reality is I was struggling and fighting to protect myself in the only way that I could. No matter how others judge me, they don't understand how you try to get away with the minimal amount of harm possible in the given, albeit, abnormal and violent situation where you have been drugged, plus he has a weapon and you are dealing with a situation that is very much against your will. I ask those who doubt this, would you hand over your wallet, valuables, money and jewellery to a criminal demanding them? What if the chosen target was a woman and the criminal was a physically stronger and bigger man who was being aggressive and violent? What if you were a woman in this society expects you to be subservient, passive, non aggressive and you don't know how to protect yourself from an attack? What if the criminal had a weapon? What if the criminal had a weapon and he is demanding sex instead of your valuables? What you think you would do and what you do in reality are distinctly two different things.
Women know the potential consequences of unprotected sex are pregnancy and the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Women are the ones who usually have to bring up the subject of protection because most men don't, because they do not care because it doesn't affect them, they won't have to make any difficult and agonising decisions that could affect the whole of their lives. Some women, however, do have to live with the issues around a pregnancy resulting from rape. So if any men are reading this, I recommend that you take the time to ask the woman if this is what she wants, seek her consent, values her wishes and decisions, desires (and lack of), needs, and discuss and practice protective sex if the woman willingly consents without using any force, aggression, violence or coercion" (Diary entry, 13/3/05).
Another thing that I discuss with Isabella is how the name rape should be changed to sexual violence because that is what it is, sex plus violence. Sex is used as a weapon and it is not considered to be a friendly weapon as considered by some men. There is nothing friendly about sexual violence, the penis is used as a weapon to try to destroy, violate and control the woman as a means of the rapist feeling powerful by taking away the woman's control and power over her own body.
Well I finally did it. I went to the police station with Isabella from SASS to make a statement about the sexual assault. It wasn't anywhere as scary as I thought it would be. Somehow I was able to remain calm and I amazingly enough didn't cry. I think it really helped to have a massage the day before to keep me calm. I was so relieved that I put out there what he did to me and that his name will go on the sex offenders database as a complaint, not as a conviction. But I live in hope that if there are future women targeted by this man that one of them will come forward with evidence and my complaint will collaborate the other woman's experience with this man. You see on average a rapist rapes 52 women, so if this is true in his case, I hope and pray that one of these women is courageous enough to come forward to the police. I decide not to sign the statement because the police can bring him in for questioning, but he would more than likely deny it happened and that will be all that they can do.
Afterwards Isabella helps me to understand that he more than likely did drug my drink because of how I felt after drinking half a glass of alcohol. But because I had eaten 2 pieces of wholemeal toast with tomato prior to being drugged and particularly the diary product, cheese, then the drug might not have had the desired affect of rendering me unconscious. It says something positive about the value of liking food. I almost think that the drugs didn't work as he had expected, so he resorted to using a knife and verbal and physical violence. So maybe, I did have an angel watching over me, because, ironically, people think that it would be easier to be unconscious when this happened, but in fact, I would say it would be far worse, because you don't know what has been done to you and by whom or by how many men. Isabella informs me that women who take the longest to recover are those who have no memory of what happened. We talk about "freeze" response and how the general public are not aware of this. We talk about losing friends as a result of this, she says may be, it's time to move on to new friends. But it is hard to understand some people's reactions, I reckon I'd get more sympathy and understanding from some people if I'd been a target of a violent crime like if I was mugged, stabbed or bashed rather than being a chosen target by a violent criminal and having a violent crime like rape happen to me!!!!
I would strongly advise any woman to come forward to at least put a complaint forward to the police about the person who raped them. The experience can't possibly be as scary as the rape. I found that there was a woman police officer there to interview me, I had Isabella from SASS to support me (why else would I bother going to SASS if I hadn't been raped) and it wasn't as scary as the rape. I know nothing may come of this, but chances are something might just happen just because I put the report into the police. Remember these men are not going to stop. Only we have the power to try to stop them. Remember, on average men rape 52 women!!!!!!!!! They don't stop, unless we stop them.
Maybe I am being naïve, but I felt like I was doing the right thing, and it is the only thing that I could do given I didn't go straight to the police following the assault because I was in shock, so I don't have any physical evidence, and it is now 9 months from the assault when I finally had the courage to go to the police. I didn't see any value in getting the police to bring him in and interview him because the chances were high that he would deny it, just like most other criminals. Basically I want him well and truly caught unaware, cornered and trapped without any means of escape. Let him see how it feels to be on the other side!!!! The other side of having your power, choices and control taken away from you and you are helpless to resist.
I still believe that I have done the only thing that I can do to stop him, it is not enough to stop him right now, but I have to hope that one day if he ever does it again, that it will be enough. I continue to hope and pray that I have done all that I can and that another woman will get the courage to do the same, but hopefully, this woman will go straight to the police and have the necessary evidence for a conviction against him. If not maybe the universe or karmic messages will help to stop him hurting other women. Georgia suggests that I live my life as if it won't happen and if it doesn't that will be ok and if it does that will be a total bonus. I get so frustrated and impatient at times, but maybe, I have to trust if it does happen it will happen when the time is right.
Sometimes, it is just so hard to believe that people can be so cruel to other people, yet it takes a lot of courage NOT to react back in the way they treated you. Maybe I am the only woman he has done this too and maybe he feels so guilty that he would never do it again. Maybe, I am being naïve about that last comment. I have to trust in other women's ability to come forward if he has hurt them. I hate the fact that I haven't been able to stop him hurting them. I guess I couldn't even stop him hurting me so how could I expect that I could stop him hurting other women. But I do know that some women do have the courage to go straight to the police, get the evidence and get a conviction. I have to trust in the police force, court system, the universe and karma. I have to trust that I have done enough. But sometimes it is so frustrating knowing that there is recent evidence of rape survivors that has found that women can initially be too shocked to name what happened to them and it can take many months before they are capable of putting a police report forward about what happened. So isn't it time that some changes were made to our legal system? While I might not have any physical evidence, I have other evidence, for example, people I have told, going to SASS for support and other forms of therapy, my artwork, diary writing and my website which one day I hope will be published as a book. I ask you - why would I bother with all of this if I had not been raped????????????????
But know I have made my choice, not to let his crime against me remain hidden and silent as if he didn't do anything wrong, as if it was OK and as if it's OK that he got away with it. Vital elements in my recovery are revealing the truth as I know it and attaining a sense of justice or knowing that I have done enough. It is still hard to believe that life goes on. I am still left wondering how do I survive this? How does life go on when I have seen the darkest side of a human being?
I see Lee at SASS, she says that I am doing well and she thinks that I know this, but it is still nice to hear from others. We talk about how the police report went and we discuss some things that Isabella and I talked about. Lee informs me that she always felt that I was drugged, but she feels that the food wouldn't be enough to ease the effects of the drugs. So I am a bit confused about that one. Maybe, it was part of his whole plan to drug me, show the knife and use verbal, physical and sexual violence against me! I don't know, just when I think it all makes sense, it doesn't! But then again, how do you make sense of these criminal minds????????? I tell Lee about my dreams of harming him and she tells me that it is a healthy response. We talk about my first anniversary plans, but so far, nothing is certain and Lee reckons that it is likely to bring up things to do with the rape for me, but that is good because the more we desensitise the better.
One of my biggest fears had been seeing him again. Which of course happened about a month prior to the first anniversary. All I can say is thank God that Lee had told me that these men tend to look or run away because that gave me the strength and courage to face him and test this theory. When I first feel his presence, I then turn around to see him, I walked past him, but I know that he is unlikely to have seen me, so I decided to turn around and walk straight in front of him, I am slow and deliberate as I stare directly into his eyes with laser beams of anger and palpable rage for what he has done to me. Once I have eye contact with him, he realises who I am, he cannot hold my direct gaze, he looks away, he puts his head down in shame, he cannot face me because he knows that he had done wrong and he IS GUILTY, I know it and now I know that he knows it too. His reaction totally demonstrated to me an admission of his guilt. I bet he wished that he could disappear right there and then. This gave me great strength and courage, although I am scared that he might decided to come after, but I know he doesn't know where I live now or my new phone number. The whole experience is still full of so many painful contradictions. I know that I did not harm him, but I am still frightened, he might want revenge because I don't know how this man's mind works.
As a result of my fear that he might try to come after me again, I decide to try to feel more secure. I have had my telephone number made silent and fortunately neither my address or phone number will go into the phone book and I have placed a security screen on my personal details at work .If anything suspicious happens to me I have also asked Georgia, Carol and Mary to go to the police and tell them what he did to me and they remind me that the police already know what he did to me. However I want them to go to the police and tell them that I believe that the only person who would harm me would be him. I want them to know that he is the first and only person I know to look at!!!! I also ask Mary to make sure the police get access to my diaries because I have written my truth and fears as I know and experience them, for example,
"The only person who had already hurt me that could possibly want to hurt me again is ------- ----- (his name is written here). God I hope not, but if he tries to rape me again, I will go and get the evidence I need to nail him, if he does anything else, like permanently shut me up, then I know that sharing my truth with you (my diary) will be enough evidence against him" (Diary entry, 14/5/05).
I hope and pray that he is the pathetic creature who has to lure a woman into his home, his domain and control rather than come after a woman on the streets or in the woman's home. I hope and pray that he was scared that I would reveal his secret and he was probably relieved that I didn't say anything to reveal the truth of what he did. I hope and pray that him seeing me has caused him to feel so guilty that he is consumed by guilt that he'd never hurt another woman again. Oh how I would love to shatter his double life to the world and those who know him. Oh I guess I am shattering his double life by writing about my experience. Trust me when I say I am only protecting myself. But I guess it is really beyond my control now, I just have to know that I have done what I can do to keep safe. Oh speaking of which, I booked myself into a self-defence course.
However, a week later I see him at the same market. I decide that I am not going to let that bastard stop me from living my life. Of course he sees me, but this time he walks away into the crowd and I decide to follow him. However, a client from works stops me to show off her newborn baby. I really want to make him feel uncomfortable, but he deserves more than to just feel uncomfortable. I decided that I wanted to know what he would do, would he act guilty - yes. Would he apologise - no. It confirmed once again that he is guilty, he can hardly go to the police and say "the woman I raped is stalking me" can he? More importantly I now know that I could absolutely positively identify him if I had to. I also realized that I took courage to be mobilised into action, I didn't freeze, I was able to show him my anger at his unacceptable behaviour and I guess I showed him that I am not frightened of him. I am proud of myself for reacting in a non-aggressive or violent manner. My massage therapist helped me to explore my reasons for following him during a shock and trauma massage session. I chose not to perpetuate the cycle of violence, shock and trauma. It's such a pity that he choses not do the same. Although my friends are worried that I might do something foolish especially since I started to try to stalk him.
Alice Sebold's book "Lucky" is a true story about Alice's own experience of being raped and I find it very helpful to gain insight into how other women feel because it validates my own experience. Here are some quotes that I found helpful
"You do what you have to" (page 15)
'But I had begun to notice that I was now on the other side of something they could not understand. I didn't understand it myself" (page 35)
"You save yourself or you remain unsaved" (page 69)
'But I had made contact with a planet different from the one my parents or sisters lived on. It was a planet where the act of violence changed your life" (page 76).
Alice talks of a friends support "she had done instinctively what few people do in the face of a crisis. She signed on for the whole ride" (page 36). I would like to dedicate this quote to my friend Mary as a means of saying thank you for signing on the whole ride for me.
'My life was different from other people's. It was natural that I behaved differently" (page 237).
"I live in a world where two truths coexist, where both hell and hope lie in the palms of my hand" (page 251).
What I did find extremely helpful was the fact that Alice wrote a poem called "if you were caught", so I decided to write my own, here goes
"If they caught you I could rejoice in the fact that the truth is finally out there,
that your double life has been exposed
and I had burst the bubble on your lies and deception.
If they caught you the people who doubted
and did not believe me
will know what you did to me (and probably other innocent women).
If they caught you I could believe that justice would be served
and trust that karmic messages would haunt you forever.
If they caught you I could rejoice in the fact that I could hurt you if I chose to do so.
I could kick your pathetic crown jewels until they were bruised,
just like you left my breasts bruised for weeks.
I could leave bite marks on your body
just like you left bite marks on my breasts.
I could come at your pathetic crown jewels with the scissors of a Swiss army knife
just like you came at my breasts.
If they caught you I could act out my dreams.
I could render you impotent, cut if off, tie it in a knot and hope that it dropped off,
so that you could never use your penis as a weapon against innocent women again.
I could hope you go insane, go to hell or die.
I could tell you friends, family and the world exactly what you arr, a violent sexual predator.
Better still, I could write rapist
on your car and your house of horrors for the world to see what you really are.
I could let the other women you've hurt act out their dreams too.
If you were caught I could sit back and watch how uncomfortable,
scared and frightened you would feel being caught,
exposed, vulnerable and trapped.
It's a shame I couldn't spike your drink just to confuse, disorientate and frighten some more!
I could watch you like you were a laboratory rat
or experiment to see how you feel being a caged animal trapped without any means of escape.
I could watch you to see how you like your choices and control being taken away from you.
If you were caught I could watch you with your head hung down in shame,
a definite admission of your guilt.
If I looked closely enough maybe I'd see the fear and pain in your eyes.
So I ask the universal and human law to stop you from hurting other innocent women.
I must trust and believe in the universal law of cause and effect - so what happens will be perfect.
If they caught you - you would be made 100% responsible
for causing verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
If they caught you I could sleep at night.
I could walk the streets knowing I'd never have to see your face again.
And you would never be able to harm me or any other innocent woman again.
I could believe in truth and justice.
Maybe, I could believe that people are essentially kind, trustworthy and loving.
Maybe, I could feel safe enough to fall in love again with a safe, kind, trust worthy and loving man.
I see Lee following my anniversary and she feels that ceremonies and action can be more powerful than talking. I guess it is pretty apparent by now that I have used more than just counselling to help and the primary reason for this is that
"You were abused on many levels and healing must take place on many levels as well" From Ellen Bass, & Laura Davis's book the courage to head - a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse, page 207.
I would encourage survivors of sexual assault to
seek counselling because your counsellor can be understanding and supportive.
Your counsellor will not judge you, they will accept your truth as your
truth, they will encourage and guide you. However i would recommend using
other forms of therapy, particularly focusing on body release work to compliment
the counselling and promote your chance of healing and a full recovery.
My next chapter will address the types of body release work that I utilised
and found helpful to my own healing and recovery. Once again, I would recommend
complimenting body work with counselling and consider including a self defense
course to promote your confidence. I suggest that you choose what you find
appeals to you, what you feel will be helpful and what you believe will
assist in your own journey to heal and recover.
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 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
The journey of survival and healing - an outline
© 2005 Evelyn Shakespeare
To read Chloe's story
of her rape and abuse within a long term relationship.
© 2005 Chloe