To be Scarr'd or not to be scarred?

A rape recovery story in serial form

by Evelyn Shakespeare

© 2005 Evelyn Shakespeare.

As you read this story, you will find that:
The red bits emphasize the important helpful things I have experienced on my healing journey.
The green bits are quotes from my diary.
The purple bits are quotes from helpful books and other sources.
The art work and the photographs are my own. They will be loaded onto the site soon....

Chapter 4

Frozen with Fear

"Universal and primitive defensive behaviours are called the "fight or flight" strategies. If the situation calls for aggression, a threatened creature will fight. If the threatened animal is likely to lose the fight, it will run if it can. These choices aren't thought out; they are instinctually orchestrated by the reptilian and limbic brains. When neither fight or flight will ensure the animal's safety, there is another line of defense: immobility (freezing), which is just as universal and basic to survival. For inexplicable reasons, this defense strategy is rarely given equal billing in texts on biology and psychology. Yet, it is an equally viable survival strategy in threatening situations. In many situations, it is the best choice"
(Levine, 1997:95).

I found the fact that my body was frozen with fear and I was of rendered immobile, unable to escape and frozen during the rape the most difficult thing to grasp in the aftermath of the rape. I felt like a total failure. How could my body fail me by freezing with fear? More importantly why would my body freeze with fear? In this chapter I intend to look closely at the concept of being frozen with fear to help survivors of rape and other traumas to understand how and why the body responds this way. I want to share this information with you all because I know I felt huge relief when I understood what my body had been doing to protect me during the traumatic event. Instead of feeling guilty, embarrassed, ashamed and feeling like a total failure, I was pleased and proud to understand how my body protected me from the overwhelming fear, threat and actual exposure to the violence and sexual assault.

Most people know of how the human body protects them during traumatic events with fight or flight mechanisms. However, there is little recognition of the body's protective mechanism of freezing during a traumatic event. In fact, the freeze mechanism is often considered to be a failure and flaw in the individual rather than the truly protective mechanism it really is. It is time to reveal the truth about being frozen with fear because it is just as valuable a protective mechanism as fight or flight. I plan to also discuss the concepts of the role of being held captive, disassociating and the role of stress induced analgesia or natures own pain relievers designed to also help us survive during times of overwhelming fear, helplessness, pain and threat.

I remember many things about the rape, but initially, they were all so confusing and I just couldn't seem to make any sense of anything to do with it. So I will look at some moments that led me to becoming frozen with fear. As I have already stated perhaps the first thing that I recognised that something was wrong on the night of the actual rape was to arrive at his place to find him lighting the fire, which was strange because even though it was winter time, we were supposedly going out to dinner. It is like being in that burning and smoke filled room where you can't see what's really going on.

TIP NUMBER 1 - My first tip here is be alert to what is actually happening, take notice of what does not appear to be appropriate, trust your intuition, do not disregard or ignore your intuition and more importantly act on your intuition. I suggest acting on these early warning signs, no matter how subtle they may seem, just get out of there as quickly as possible, make some excuse, like "I've left a bottle of wine in the car" or "I've got to go to the toilet" and get out of there as quickly as possible.

The second warning sign I had was feeling drunk very quickly after half a glass of wine when I had only eaten an hour or so earlier, I felt unable to drive and I felt slightly uninhibited. Unfortunately, once again I was slow to recognise the impending danger. However, this most certainly was a clear sign of the rapidly unfolding danger I faced.

TIP NUMBER 1 AGAIN - Be alert to what is actually happening, take notice of what does not appear to be appropriate, trust your intuition and do not ignore your intuition.

TIP NUMBER 2 -However, I would suggest that you know your body and how it responds to alcohol, if you feel like you are uninhibited or there are any other inappropriate signs, you have more than likely been drugged, so get out as quickly as possible.

Trust me when I say this unfolds so quickly, but he really doesn't want you to recognise what he is doing until it's too late for you to attempt to escape. So I suggest that you take notice of those ever so subtle signs that something is not right and get out of there as quickly as possible. I knew that it was strange for me to feel drunk after eating and only drinking half a glass of wine, yet I was still too slow to recognise the danger I was being exposed to.

As women we must remember that we know our bodies and our intuition is our most powerful tool, but we forget how well we know our bodies and sometimes ignore or disregard our intuition. We fail to remember that this man is a stranger who we really do not know and in whom we should not place our trust until he has proven that he is in fact worthy of our trust. We tend to forget or not even realise that while there are many wonderful men in this world, there are also dangerous men who we need to be able to recognise very quickly and very quickly remove ourselves from the danger they potentially and actually pose to us all. Unfortunately, society expects women to be nice even when men are threatening harm and actually harming women everyday. Yet society does not provide women with information about how to identity the risk, protect themselves and safely escape. Interestingly enough our society

"Virtually ensures that women will be poorly prepared for danger, surprised by attack, and ill equipped to protect themselves"
(Lewis Herman, 2001:69).

Then, the ultimate insult occurs when society fails to support the survivors of rape and considers women who freeze with fear to be flawed individuals, when in reality, it is society and these dangerous men are flawed.

The third sign he provided to me that I was clearly in danger was when he came at my nipples with the scissors of the Swiss army knife. I remember thinking "Fuck! He means to hurt me!". I remember clearly not being able to breathe, feeling that I just wanted to become invisible, my eyes widened with fear, my body leaned away from him and I was frozen with fear. My mind was racing at a million miles an hour, I wanted to escape, but I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what to risk doing, after all, he had a knife. I was too frightened to risk him using the knife on me. Oh god, the thought of being cut, stabbed or killed. I just couldn't risk it. I wanted to act to escape, but I didn't know which was the safest means of escape where I wouldn't be harmed, yet he had shown me a weapon and I knew if I resisted or put up a fight or tried to escape he could harm me if he so chose to do so.

However, despite my mind racing at a million miles an hour my body was frozen with fear, I was immobilised and I was rendered unable to escape. The overwhelming fear had resulted in my body being frozen with fear. In the end I felt that he had stated loud and clear "do as I want and I won't use this knife to harm you" and I unfortunately couldn't act to do anything else other than what he wanted me to do. Of course, I now felt it was too late to do anything to escape. I was frozen with fear.



I found that it took me a long time (months later) to unravel and understand the relevance of the knife being used as a weapon against me. I later came to realise how the knife actually triggered my body to freeze and become immobilised. The first time I remember being triggered about my memories surrounding the knife was when I went away with some work colleagues and at breakfast one morning one of the women pulled out a small pink Swiss army knife and she used the scissors to open the cereal. I freeze, slowly I moved to the kitchen, one of my colleagues who knew about what happened noticed something is wrong and she asks me "what's wrong?" However, all I can say is 'the knife" and she says "Oh God" and she goes and ensures that the knife is put away out of my sight. I go to the bedroom as I feel the tears flowing, my eyes are red rimmed all the while I'm trying to appear normal and not be noticed! I've learnt that the triggers are not the things you expect to worry about, but it's the little unexpected surprises and triggers that come out of nowhere and catch you off guard. Finally I get myself together and we are driven home. Once I get home I manage to sink to the floor in the kitchen where I find myself uncontrollably sobbing and crying from somewhere deep inside!

My friend Mary loans me a Swiss army knife as my memories about the knife resurfaced to help me hopefully understand the purpose of him using the knife, but it did give me so much more insight. I write

"I can't even keep it in my pocket. I feel so nauseated, unable to swallow or breathe. So I place it in between Mary and I while we are at lunch. When I get home I t take it out, it's red, but not as big as his knife was. I go for a walk along the beach. I see a man come towards me and I think "he can't hurt me while I've got the knife, no-one can hurt me". Oh what power the knife gives you. Then I realise what a gutless wonder he really is hiding behind a knife. I sit down on the bench, look at the knife and open it up. I realise I can get people to do what I want with it and they will take notice of me! I see sticks on the beach and I have the urge to toss them into the water, it's like I'm tossing the knife away. I also have the urge to write his name in the sand telling the world that he is a rapist. I open the knife again to find a pair of scissors; it takes me straight back to that night, when he was coming at me with some pinching device in the knife. I can feel my breath being taken away; my breathing changes and I can feel pain in my chest. This really confirms for me the reality of what happened to me, that it was so wrong. Later that night while cooking tea I find myself doubled over, crying out, literally feeling my breathing stopping and I'm shaking. I realise that there is a connection - I feel like I couldn't breath the moment he started coming at me with the Swiss army knife"
(Diary entry, 20/9/04).

I realise that it was in that moment in time when he came at my nipples with the Swiss army knife that I froze. In that moment I was so unbearably frightened, so scared and so overwhelmed. I felt so helpless, so vulnerable, so exposed and so incapable of protecting myself. I have never experienced anything like this before and I felt totally ill equipped to handle the situation.



The turning point that helped me to understand the body's freezing mechanism during a traumatic event was when I stumbled across and bought a book called "Waking the Tiger" by Peter Levine. The sense of relief I felt when I finally understood what really happened and why was immense. It was like an amazing and welcome aid, a revelation and it provided me with a positive understanding of how my body protected me. Levine states that

"Shock trauma occurs when we experience potentially life-threatening events that overwhelm our capacities to respond effectively"

Levine states that "trauma is a fact of life" (1997:2), but with advice and support trauma can be healed and transformed. Levine (1997:3) describes how most therapies for trauma survivors revolve around focusing on the mind through talking or drug therapy, and of couurse, both can be useful. However, trauma can never be completely healed until it is understood how the body is affected by the trauma and how the body also needs be a point of focus in the healing and recovery otherwise healing from the trauma will be incomplete (Levine, 1997:3).

In Levine's first chapter "Shadows from a forgotten past" he describes a herd of impala grazing, as the wind blows, the impala sense danger, they become tense and alert, sniffing, looking and listening carefully, when danger doesn't appear, the impala begin to graze again, but they remain alert (1997:15). A cheetah takes advantage of the moment, leaps from the bushes, the impala herd together, but one young impala trips and recovers and the cheetah lunges toward the young impala (Levine, 1997:15). Just prior to or at the moment of contact with the cheetah, the young impala falls to the ground, it is uninjured, yet it is stone still and it is surrendering to it's imminent death (Levine, 1997:15). The impala, like all mammals, has instinctively entered into the freezing or immobility response that enables the mammal to enter an altered state of consciousness that occurs when death is about to happen (Levine, 1997:15).

Levine (1997:16) describes the purposes of the immobility response described in this scenario is that by the young impala appearing to be dead, the cheetah may drag the supposedly dead prey to a safe place to eat later. If the young impala were to awake from this immobilised state it could quickly escape and later when it is safe, shake off the remaining effects of the immobility response and return to the impala's full functioning (Levine, 1997:16). The second purpose of the immobility response is that by entering into an altered state of consciousness, pain is suppressed, so that the impala does not experience the pain and suffering of death (Levine, 1997:16).

Picture from: Levine, P. (1997). Waking the Tiger, pg 13.


It is important to understand that both human beings and animals are capable of using the immobility or freezing response when faced with unavoidable or overwhelming fear and threat (Levine, 1997:17). I. Ching quote describes how

"The moment is so violent that it arouses terror. It is symbolized by thunder, which bursts forth and by its shock causes fear and trembling"
(Mines, 2003:25)

The immobility response is a primitive response that is located in our unconscious brain and nervous system, it is not under our conscious control, it is an involuntary response (Levine, 1997:17). Unfortunately modern societies tend to negatively judge the freezing or immobility response in times of overwhelming fear and threat as flaw and weakness in the individual (Levine.1997: 16). Levine believes

"That the key to healing traumatic symptoms in humans lies in our being able to mirror the fluid adaptation of wild animals as they shake out and pass through the immobility response and become fully mobile and functional again"

Levine (1997:18) describes how when humans become confronted with an overwhelming threat our rational thinking brain can become confused and may even dominate our instinctive protective immobility responses especially in the aftermath of the threat. Freezing in fear can result in long term traumatic symptoms caused by the

"Frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged, this residue remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits. The long term, alarming, debilitating, and often bizarre symptoms of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] develop when we cannot complete the process of moving in, through and out of the "immobility" or "freezing" state"
(Levine, 1997:19),

Remember the young impala that collapses as the cheetah lunges at it. While the young impala appears to be dead, however, the impala's nervous system is super stimulated that produces inside the body a powerful turmoil of energy similar to a tornado (Levine, 1997:20). Symptoms of PTSD, for example, emotional and behavioural problems, depression and anxiety are a result of this tornado of energy within the body (Levine, 1997:20). Wild animals will instinctively shake off and discharge the compacted energy within their body from the immobility response and they rarely develop any adverse symptoms (Levine, 1997:20). Human beings are not so skilled in releasing these compacted and powerful forces following an immobility response and consequently we may become fearful and anxious when we are unable to successfully discharge these compacted and powerful energies (Levine, 1997:21).

Levine (1997:28) describes the predominant theme that exists for people who remain traumatised from an traumatic event that includes an inability to defeat their anxiety, being overwhelmed, beaten, scared, held captive by their fear and consequently they are unable to engage in their life. Levine's experience with trauma sufferers has lead him to believe that re-living the memories and the emotional pain from the trauma can result in re-traumatising the people who have experienced terrible emotional pain (1997:31). Levine clearly states that

"Until we understand that traumatic symptoms are physiological as well as psychological, we will be woefully inadequate in our attempts to heal them. The heart of the matter lies in being able to recognise that trauma represents animal instincts gone awry"
(1997:32). And that

"My observations of scores of traumatized people has led me to conclude that post-traumatic symptoms are, fundamentally, incomplete physiological responses suspended in fear"

Levine (1997:35) reports that the impala, abused children, war veterans and rape survivors have all been faced with overwhelming circumstances. If during the overwhelming situation the person is unable to orient themselves or unable to mobilise into fight or flight, they will freeze or become immobile (Levine, 1997:35). Those people who will be able to restore themselves to normal function will have been able to discharge the energy from the immobility response (Levine, 1997:35). As already stated humans usually do not move easily out of the freezing response like animals successfully do, rather humans often develop an incapacitating collection of symptoms (Levine, 1997:35).

What Levine (1997:35) suggests is that trauma suffers need to move through the immobility response is safety, protection, quietness, warmth, support from family and friends and connection with nature.

Another interesting idea that Levine (1997:37) introduces the reader to is to allow our bodies to experience body sensations such as shaking and trembling that have arisen from the traumatic symptoms just like animals shake off their overwhelming threats to enable them to return to normal functioning. Shaking is the "body's own balancing response to stress" (Levine, 1997:38). Levine (1997:38) describes how a 1982 National Geographic video titled "Polar Bear Alert" clearly demonstrates a polar bear, being chased, stressed as a result of the chase and shot with a tranquilliser and when it awakens, before returning to normal function, the bear experiences an extended period of shaking and trembling.

I clearly remember experiencing the phenomenon of shaking and trembling following being raped. I was fortunate to find a friend who performs massage who had just completed a course in shock and trauma therapy that enabled me to release all of the pent up energy from being immobilised by spending extended periods of time shaking it out and releasing it from my body. If you talk to any survivor of shock and trauma they will more than likely talk about their bodily experiences of shaking. Yet, even, in our society and in the time of the wonders of modern medicine these facts are rarely know and understood. In fact, modern medicine would be tempted to suppress the shaking and trembling rather than consider it beneficial and recognising the body working to release these powerful pent up energy left over from the overwhelming threat.

Disturbingly, Levine (1997:44) states that in a study of 1000 people, 40% had experienced a traumatic event in the last 3 years, like being an eyewitness to someone being injured or killed, being raped, being in a car accident or being physically assaulted. Even though we understand that overwhelming fear, threat and violence can severely affect people's lives, our society still lacks tolerance, provides little time for the traumatised person to recover and often forces and pressures the traumatised person to return to normal life far too quickly in the aftermath of the trauma (Levine, 1997:48).

Society encourages survivors of trauma, regardless of how severe their symptoms might be; to endure, to be heroic by carrying on, and to be superhuman which potentially creates great harm to the individual and our society (Levine, 1997:62). Levine enlightens trauma survivors that

"Real heroism comes from having the courage to openly acknowledge one's experiences, not from suppressing or denying them"

It is important to remember that we have forgotten nature and our basic survival mechanism. We are not damaged because our body involuntarily freezes or immobilises us (Levine, 1997:86). As Levine so rightly describes

"Universal and primitive defensive behaviours are called the "fight or flight" strategies. If the situation calls for aggression, a threatened creature will fight. If the threatened animal is likely to lose the fight, it will run if it can. These choices aren't thought out; they are instinctually orchestrated by the reptilian and limbic brains. When neither fight or flight will ensure the animal's safety, there is another line of defense: immobility (freezing), which is just as universal and basic to survival. For inexplicable reasons, this defense strategy is rarely given equal billing in texts on biology and psychology. Yet, it is an equally viable survival strategy in threatening situations. In many situations, it is the best choice"
(1997:95). And

"Another possible scenario is that constriction will continue until the rage, terror, and helplessness have built up to a level of activation that overwhelms the nervous system. At this point, immobility will take over and the individual with either freeze or collapse"
(Levine, 1997:100).

Levine (1997:97) reminds trauma survivors who know that their body froze during the overwhelming threat, not to view themselves as a failure. An animal that froze did not consider himself or herself as a failure and more importantly we should not either. Often as we emerge from the immobility response, we become overwhelmed by floods of overpowering emotions, which if not acted on, the energy forms into massive amounts of rage, terror, fear and fear of violence to the trauma survivor that often reactivates the immobility, sometimes indefinitely, into frozen terror (Levine, 1997:109).

Matsakis (1997:89) describes when a dangerous situation arises; the person's adrenal glands will release adrenaline that will enable the individual to either respond with fight or flight. However, rape survivors often find themselves frozen with fear, unable to move or act because of the release of noradrenaline (Matsakis, 1997:91). Matsakis (2003:01) describes one theory that freeze reactions are more likely to occur when the trauma is severe. Initially, the body responds to the initial signs of danger by releasing adrenaline to energise the individual, but once reaching a certain threshold, such as severe stress or prolonged stress, then the freeze reaction is likely to be triggered.



Animal studies have found that once the adrenaline surges cease that the animals begin to release opioids which are our bodies own stress absorber and pain relievers (Matsakis, 2003:92). Under the influence of opioids, known as Stress Induced Analgesia (SIA) response the animals would become numb, passive, show no interest in escape, eating, playing or sex (Matsakis, 2003:92). Interestingly, some animals become numb or frozen or passive earlier than others - is it possible that these animals were more vulnerable or were they able to predict that fight or flight was useless? (Matsakis, 2003:92). A theory I have, is that maybe some of these animals and humans are capable of entering into the immobility response easily because they already have had previous experience of entering into the immobility response in times of previous threats. These opioids decrease panic and prevent pain from being experienced in times of overwhelming fear, terror, helplessness, unbearable pain and stress (Matsakis, 2003:94).

I remember feeling very little pain during the rape, except I do remember experiencing back pain when he was forcing me backwards over the kitchen bench as he was being erratic and using violence to assist holding me captive. However, my first memory of pain following the rape occurred some months later when I had a fall and my whole body hurt. I realise that I don't remember much physical pain from the rape and I'm amazed at how my mind and body protected me. A couple of months later Mary and I are walking along a beach and I find it

"Interesting how noticeable it is to actually feel pain, once again it's quite a startling contrast between feeling no or little pain to feeling the full intensity of pain. I guess it's my body healing as my pain receptors are reawakening. At least I guess that is what is happening. It's so interesting - I've got this bloody big bruise and swelling on my left ankle where my ankle was run over by a wheelchair and surprisingly, it is not that painful. Yet today walking in amongst the sharp grasses and feeling them connect with my skin I could most definitely and acutely feel the pain"
(Diary entry, 6/1/05).

I am grateful for my body's own natural pain relievers helping minimise the full force of the pain to help me endure the unbearable, overwhelming and dangerous situation I had to deal with.

Methods of captivity favoured by perpetrator's to gain control over another person include organised techniques of disconnection, disempowerment, instillation of terror and helplessness these are utilised "to destroy the victim's sense of self in relation to others" (Lewis Herman, 2001:77). The perpetrator only needs to threaten the risk of injury or death to the chosen victim or others (Lewis Herman, 2001:77). This is an effective tool that is used more frequently than the perpetrator actually having to resort to violence (Lewis Herman, 2001:77). Perpetrators may also use erratic and not consistent behaviour and eruption of violence to assist in keeping the chosen victim captive (Lewis Herman, 2001:77). All of these techniques serve the perpetrator to persuade the chosen victim that it is pointless to refuse and that the victim's life depends on her total obedience to the perpetrator's indulgences (Lewis Herman, 2001:77). People who have been held captive become skilful in entering altered states of consciousness such as dissociation, suppression of thoughts, minimisation and even denial (Lewis Herman, 2001:87).

Dissociation protects us in life threatening situations by protecting us from the impact of the increasing provocation and overwhelming fear or threat and it protects us from the pain of death (Levine, 1997:136). Dissociation can be described as a feeling of being spaced out or a feeling of being outside our body, it includes distortions of awareness and time, forgetfulness, memory loss or momentary absences, denial and multiple personality disorders have been known to develop following severe dissociation experiences (Levine, 1997:137). I tend to describe my own times of dissociating as "being away with the fairies". Levine (1997:141) describes a range of physical symptoms that can arise from dissociation from one part of the body to another part of the body. For example,

"A dissociation between the head and the rest of the body can produce headaches. PMS can be the result of dissociation between organs in the pelvic region and the rest of the body. Similarly, gastrointestinal symptoms (eg. irritable bowel syndrome), recurring back problems, and chronic pain can result from partial dissociation compounded by constriction {freezing}"
(Levine, 1997:141).

Another common experience of disconnection that trauma survivor's suffer is numbness or loss of sensation to the skin (Levine, 1997:63). Levine (1997:63) suggests using a pulsing showerhead to help recover the loss of skin sensation. I tend to use the shower, spa bath, massage, cuddles and touch helps with the numbness of the skin.

When faced with an overwhelming fear, threat or life threatening situation dissociation is more likely to occur (Levine, 1997:137). Levine describes, "dissociation is one of the most classic and subtle symptoms of trauma" (1197:138). It appears that when faced with an overwhelming situation, people are able to endure being raped, assaulted, hit by a car or injured by a weapon, by dissociating as a protective mechanism (Levine, 1997:138). Dissociation helps the person enduring the overwhelming situation to not feel the full impact of the situation (Levine, 1997:138).

I distinctly remember dissociating from my body during the rape by floating above myself, hiding in the cupboard and under the bed. I found that dissociating helped to minimise the impact of the trauma of the event, so that I could endure the rape without feeling what he was doing or acknowledging that I was even present. It was my body on the bed, but my heart and soul were not there. I could watch, but I'm pretty sure that I preferred not to watch and I choose to hide instead. I didn't have to feel the utter repulsion of what he was doing to me. I didn't have to feel him touching me, on me or inside of me. I didn't have to feel the pain of him bruising and biting my breasts. I am grateful for these things. Interestingly enough, the only pain I do remember feeling was back pain when he was pushing me backwards over the kitchen cupboard. I knew most definitely that he meant to cause me harm and I was frightened beyond belief. It is important to become aware of one's tendency to dissociate because it can be easy and even a habit to dissociate in our every day life following a traumatic event (Levine, 1997:138).



I know from my own personal experience since the rape that I can easily dissociate when driving the car, it is particularly noticeable when I am physically sick or emotionally unwell. On a couple of occasions I have come close to having accidents while driving the car and that is pretty scary. Although, there are some advantages in this, since I told Mary, she has been smart enough to drive us places rather than let me do so. During my shock and trauma therapy sessions I would feel this horrific pain in my back, it was always in the spot where I felt the pain in my back when he was pushing backwards over the kitchen cupboard. I have also experienced horrific PMS since the rape that is a direct link to my dissociating my pelvic organs from the rest of my body. I am slowly working on minimising the effects of this and it is getting better with exercise, dnacing, shock and trauma therapy, reflexology, my awareness, understanding, reminding my body that I don't need these painful reminders and a supplement called Femme Essentials. I would encourage you to be guided by your symptoms and what feels right for you to help you deal with your symptoms.

I have listed some ideas I found during my research that might help survivors from rape cope with their shock from the trauma while travelling on their own individual road to healing and recovery.

Ten steps to resolving shock

1. Identify the lesson in the overwhelming experience.

2. Sustain this awareness.

3. Establish a strong relationship with your body.

4. Develop an inner awareness.

5. Make a bond with nature.

6. Know that laughter is the best medicine.

7. Use language as a healing tool.

8. Use touch to heal.

9. Separate past from present.

10. Address shock immediately

(Mines, 2003:21).


How to incorporate joy, humor, and laughter into the voice of healing

Wit is the only wall between us and the dark (Mark Van Doren)

1. Say something surprising, with a twinkle in your eye.

2. Watch comedies, or listen to recordings of funny stories to learn the rhythms of humor.

3. See people you dislike or who hurt you wearing funny costumes.

4. Laugh at your own mistakes, such as spilling things or losing your keys.

5. Tell a funny story about something that happened to you or others and enjoy their laughter.

6. Do a puppet show or read a story to a child. Be as expressive as possible.

7. Make a list of whatever makes you smile or laugh. Do whatever is on the list as often as you can

(Mines, 2003:154).

I hope that I have been able to help other survivors of rape understand how freezing in fear is a valuable and important survival strategy that helps us to cope with the unbearable and overwhelming terror, fear and helplessness we face during the rape. I hope that this information helps other survivor's of rape feel relief from those burdensome feelings of guilt, shame and failure. Remember that the feelings of guilt, shame and failure belong to the rapist. The rapist is unable to form healthy relationships with others and he hopes to destroy your sense of self in relations to others, so that you are unable to form healthy relationships with others. Don't let him win. You deserved better than how he treated you and you deserve better than that throughout your life.

Instead I hope you adopt positive feelings of how your body was protecting you during the overwhelming situation and maybe, feel a sense of pride. I hope you feel a sense of survivor's pride. Pride that you survived an extremely traumatic, stressful, overwhelmingly frightening, scary and unbearably painful event. Give yourself credit, you endured, survived, lived to tell the story and hopefully you will be able to have a strong enough sense of yourself and can form healthy relationships with others in your life. I hope that the information in this chapter helps you to understand how your body helped you to not feel the full force of the pain, but instead to endure and survive.

I guess the only choice that remains is how are you going to chose to live your life? Are you going to be destroyed by the rapist? Or are you going to allow yourself to be happy, positive and strong knowing you endured, survived, fully understand what happened and know that he is responsible and guilty for his harmful actions, knowing that you are responsible for your own healing that will lead you to being healed and recovered?

Be brave and finds ways that suit you to release the frozen energy in your body as a result of the immobilty response. If any ideas appeal to you that I have provided in this chapter feel free to use them. Remember that you can do this. Maybe with fresh insight it will help give you guide you in another direction in your healing understanding that you need to address your body too. You can do this. You are worth all the effort and hard work needed to overcome the trauma of being raped. I know that it is a long, difficult and painful journey healing and recovering from rape, but please make the commitment to yourself to work through this because YOU ARE WORTH IT and it is worth it. Trust me when I say that it does get better and it does get easier with a commitment and determination to overcome this. I can now say, almost 2 years later, that I am feeling happier, more positive and stronger than I have for the first time since the rape. Remember you will need to put the time, effort and hard work into your healing and recovering to find that place where you can finally feel happy, positive, strong and be capable of forming healthy relationships with other people in your life. It is worth the effort. You can do it.

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 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


Helpful books

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