How to Comfort a Rape Victim

I have an amazing brother. I have three really and two are so much older than me, our lives do not touch very often. In my shame and fear after the rape, I did not and still have not told most of my family what happened. This brother somehow found my blog, and wrote me the most loving letter. In our exchange, he presented an excellent commentary for why so few people talk about sexual crimes with the victim, from the view of one who loves a victim. If you read on, I know you will be as blessed and hopefully helped as much as I have been. I read it in my support group and it helped several of those women have another point of view as well, especially one who felt others were avoiding her because they were judging her negatively and laughing behind her back. (some parts are edited due to length and it is shared with permission)

When you called me to talk about your healing and ask about (bob), I knew that you were growing out of some childhood pain, but I did not know about your more recent trauma. When I did not ask you for details, it was not for lack of compassion, but out of fear. I was afraid of saying or asking the wrong thing, and causing you more pain. I just don’t have the experience to know how to act. If you ever do need to talk to me, I am here, and I am sure that God will provide us the the necessary Grace when the time comes.

I know telling you that I did not know does not ease your pain. I want you to know you are loved, and that I have been praying for you, and will continue to do so.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement, not by his words because he is very caring, but by the fact that he knew. With tears, I responded.

I know it is uncomfortable and people don’t know what to say. Still I am surprised that the people who do know, and they are few, never say anything. Not having any family comment on the FB posts that I opened up more, is still shocking and tells how ingrained our family rules of “Don’t want to know” and “Don’t tell” really are; that they have lasted this long. I realize I myself have not known how to come right out and say it, mostly from the fear of the few young relatives that are our FB friends. I hate living in the secret and tears are pouring from my keyboard now in the relief of you knowing and the compassion and love with which you wrote to me.

We live in a society where we tiptoe around the hard stuff, sadly even..or especially, in churches. I HATE that rape is such a shaming crime, especially because it is not the victims’ fault. Everybody asks questions and wants to know when your house or your car is the crime scene, everybody shuts up and walks away when your body is the crime scene. And of course I am speaking in generalities.

There shouldn’t be shame or fear around telling those I love what happened, and sadly there still is. Thank you for breaking that barrier for me. If you come up with questions, please don’t be afraid to ask. It is the lack of question or response that has been more painful and harder to handle, even if my brain knows how difficult it can be for both parties.

Now for the best part, my brother’s very profound and insightful response. The Holy Spirit was with him while he wrote because God knew this would be a message so many would need to hear. I encourage you to share at least this part, with others who experience this same pain.

I promise you that my silence has been from ignorance, not from a fear of the light. I love the Light, and know that He, who made everything, will conquer the darkness. Nothing good comes from hiding in the dark (John 1:1-9 & 1 John 1:5-7).   In the end, it boils down to remembering that you are a beautiful child of God, and not the ugly image that anyone, a stranger or someone who should have known better, projected onto you.
Please keep reading as he responds to my quote:

“Everybody asks questions and wants to know when your house or your car is the crime scene, everybody shuts up and walks away when your body is the crime scene.”

That is an interesting observation, and one that I had never thought about before. So, today I thought about it, and can offer a couple of guesses that, at least, seem to fit the way I think.
First, it is too personal. It is difficult to dissociate from the crime scene, while also empathizing with the victim, because  they are one and the same. “I can feel your pain” takes on a different dimension. Even the description of the body as the “crime scene” is jarring. You are not separate from your body, it is part of you. Trying to see the victim, as person, separately from the victim’s body, as a crime scene, is not possible with a living person. God made us the union of body and soul, and they can only be separated in death. Thinking of the victim and her body as separate is entirely too close to thinking of her as dead. That may also explain why some victims look for death. It is the only way to separate from the body that they no longer want to claim as their own. (You can replace a house or a car, but not your self.)
Second, these crimes dehumanize the victim, treating her as an object and not a person. My first instinct is to affirm the victim as a person, loved by God and in need of healing, not to treat her as a broken toy, and asking questions feels like it repeats the dehumanizing action, by making the victim to think of herself as an object to answer the questions.
Incredible. Every time I read it, I receive healing. The Lord knew this is an area where I was struggling with anger, shame and self-consciousness. Through my brother He answers. My Father sees me.

One Response to "How to Comfort a Rape Victim"

  • what an awesome gift. precious. He is so correct.

    If you guys engage further, please do share as it will help friends/family know how to address and/or engage.

    You guys are awesome.

    {{HUGS}} as you continue to grow, heal and help others who are walking down this path – to walk with their heads up.

    @spreadingJOY (for the time being @jailedJOY )

    🙂

    1 Marie said this (June 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm) Reply


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