On Being Raped More Than Once   51 comments

Last week I was leaving a comment at Corrente, referencing my own rapes and PTSD in response to a rape-minimizing, victim-discrediting post. As soon as I typed the word “rapes,” I was seriously tempted to hit the backspace key and erase the “s.” Because while virtually all victims who speak out about their rape have, at times, been greeted with that special combo platter of disbelief, blame, othering, and trivialization, an additional stigma frequently attaches to those who’ve been raped on more than one occasion.

It’s been my experience that even individuals who respond sympathetically to discovering that a woman was raped once, often have the following reactions upon hearing someone was raped on two or more separate occasions:

Response #1: “She is probably one of ‘those’ feminists; you know, the type that thinks of nearly all heterosexual intercourse as rape. I bet if I heard the details of those supposed rapes, they wouldn’t sound like rapes at all.”

Response #2: “I wonder what she’s doing to bring on these attacks; after all, most women are never raped, so someone raped multiple times is probably being extremely reckless/stupid/provocative/victim-blaming-adjective-of-choice” (note that response #1 frequently turns into response #2 once the individual is satisfied that the victim’s experiences don’t sound like consensual sex after all).

In the US, one in four women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape at least once in her lifetime. That’s an estimate based on victimization surveys, and it means that 75% of all US women will go through their entire life without anyone trying to rape them. So how is it that some women are raped not just once, but multiple times?

First, there’s the possibility that the one-in-four figure actually underestimates the prevalence of rape. Based on the women I’ve known, the numbers are closer to one in two, but I was prepared to attribute that to the fact that women in higher risk groups (more on that in a minute) are disproportionately represented among my friends and acquaintances. However, a woman I know who has a more “mainstream” circle of friends that includes many middle class college graduates cites a similar 40% figure (and of course that’s just the rapes she knows about).

Another reason I’m thinking these victimization surveys may be underestimating the prevalence of rape is that the same surveys put the reporting rate for rape between 25% and 37%, while our admittedly informal surveys found, at best, a 5-10% reporting rate. Some women said the reporting rate among their friends and acquaintances who had been raped was zero. I’m thinking there is a good chance that populations with a higher-than-average risk of being raped and a lower-than-average likelihood of reporting rape (due to distrust of the authorities, prior bad experiences, etc.) may be severely underrepresented in the victimization surveys used to arrive at our national rape statistics.

This brings me to the next point: Not all women are equally likely to be raped. Poor women, women of color, sex workers, drug addicts, and homeless women are just some of the groups with higher-than-average victimization rates. Partly because poverty (or homelessness or being a prostitute or drug addict) increases vulnerability (dangerous neighborhood, forced to rely on public transportation, can’t afford to fix windows or doors that aren’t secure, and so on) and partly because rapists know they are more likely to get away with their crimes if they attack women who are already marginalized due to their poverty, race, homelessness, drug addiction, immigration status, etc. Women who belong to more than one marginalized group face particularly lousy odds and often experience multiple rapes in their lifetime.

And then there’s the fact that having been raped once–or sexually molested as a child–actually increases the likelihood it will happen again. That, unfortunately, was my experience. I made it through the first 19 years of my life without being raped. When I was raped, it wasn’t just the rape itself that was deeply traumatic (made worse by my boyfriend’s involvement in facilitating the attack), but the reactions of my so-called friends. My friends were also my boyfriend’s friends, and they had been his friends much longer. I was still relatively new in town, having arrived in NYC less than a year before, while my boyfriend had grown up with most of these people. Plus, he came from money, many of them came from money, and I didn’t come from money. It was circle-the-wagons time. I didn’t want to destroy my boyfriend’s bright future by reporting to the authorities what had surely just been a misunderstanding, did I? Besides, we had both been doing coke and you know how that goes: Drug or alcohol use on the rapist’s part absolves him of responsibility; drug or alcohol use on the victim’s part destroys her credibility.

There is research indicating that the way people (friends, family, medical personnel, law enforcement, mental health professionals, etc.) respond to a rape has a profound effect on the victim’s ability to recover. A victim who receives neither justice nor support is a prime candidate for turning her anger inward. While there is no such thing as a typical response to being raped, many victims do experience a tremendous longing for normalcy. I remember throwing myself into the party and club scene, eager to prove to myself and everyone else that I was still the same person, that nothing had really changed. I went home with a couple of guys I probably wouldn’t have under different circumstances, just to prove that the rape hadn’t left me sexually dysfunctional or afraid of men. And while I was doing all this, my previously purely recreational drug use escalated into addiction territory. Instead of doing drugs for fun, I was using them to escape. That presented a real problem because I wasn’t making anywhere near the kind of money I needed to support my emerging drug habit.

I solved my problem by getting involved with a sociopathic drug dealer who took advantage of my despair and vulnerability to turn me into his personal property. I lived with him for over a year, and terms like “abusive relationship” or “domestic violence” don’t really begin to cover what he did to me. To be blunt, dude was a straight up sadist who got off on torturing me. We had an arrangement of sorts: I got to do all the drugs I wanted and live in luxury in return for which he expected me to look hot and do what he wanted. There were certain “ground rules”–stuff he agreed not to do to me. That lasted about six weeks, just long enough for me to get totally strung out on heroin and hence totally dependent on him. Of course I knew that allowing myself to become dependent on him would likely have very, very bad consequences for me. And yet I was unable to stop it from happening. Then again, if I hadn’t been completely messed up, I wouldn’t have been with him in the first place. There is no way in hell I would have agreed to anything even remotely like this “relationship” before the rape. And I know many people can’t understand how I could have agreed to it even after being raped.

The truth is that it wasn’t just about the drugs. He was offering me a way out. A way out of the apartment I shared with a roommate who thought the night I came home after having just been raped was the perfect time to lecture me about my drug use and “lifestyle” as she informed me that “something like this” was bound to happen the way I was going. A way out of the job I used to love before it became a painful reminder of the rape by bringing me into regular contact with my now ex and some of the “friends” who abandoned me when I needed them most. A way out of having to think and feel and process events I was not equipped to process. My involvement with this individual was a way to make all that go away. Sort of like suicide, only less permanent.

Despair, rage turned inward, self-blame leading to self-destruction, isolation from friends and family who consciously or unconsciously avoid the victim because they don’t know how to act around someone who was raped, turning to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, hooking up with random dudes in an effort to recreate a feeling of normalcy–all of this can increase the likelihood of being victimized again. And there’s something else.

It’s a well-known fact that combat veterans who’ve seen extreme violence often feel profoundly uncomfortable and incapable of functioning when plunged back into regular civilian life. They can’t wait to get back to the front lines. If the war is over, they may join mercenary groups. And if that’s not an option, they may seek out an environment that reminds them of a war zone as much as possible. Not because they “love” violence or danger, but because that’s what they know; it’s what feels “normal.”

Something very similar happens to some rape, torture, and domestic violence survivors. It’s as if a wall goes up between you and all the people whose lives have not been touched by severe violence. They have no idea. They can’t even imagine. They go through life thinking they’re reasonably safe. You know better. No one is safe. Feeling deeply alienated from people who can’t even begin to conceive of the life-changing violence and trauma you’ve experienced, you seek out environments and people who are no strangers to violence and danger. Some of those individuals may be violent people themselves, but at least you speak the same language, share a common frame of reference.

And so it goes. The first rape–and the reactions to it–often sets the stage for subsequent assaults. When someone you know is raped, you obviously can’t undo the attack. But you can refrain from making it worse. Denying victims justice, minimizing the crime committed, blaming victims for their own victimization, looking for ways to disbelieve or discredit victims, making excuses for rapists, othering and excluding survivors–not only are you exacerbating the damage by doing these things, but you’re actually increasing the chances that the victim will be raped again.

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51 responses to “On Being Raped More Than Once

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  1. Me too. Thank you so much for saying this.

    • When I was about 10 a van of mexicans pulled next to me and my sister and got out of the car and walked towards us I ran in and grabbed my dad and he ran them off. Then when I was 13 I lost my virginity to someone much older then me because oh the situation I was so afraid to say no that he would rape and kill me so I didnt say anything and I just let it happen. And then once I was at a friends house a some weird guy came and layed next to me I ran away and locked the door. Then there was a indian at a gas station who I talked to everytime I went in the store around where I lived I would see him almost every day for like 2 years so when he asked me out I was 19 and recluctant but I said yes. He pinned me down over a basket ball on his floor and pulled his pants off he came very close to raping me but I got away from him later he said one day you will love me – he was nuts but thankfully took me home. Maybe all that happened to prepare me for what happened last year. I was 20 went to college to visit a friend a boy in the dorm randomly attacked me one night. Not even rape more like torture. He put his hand down my throat and choked me from the inside out. He smothered me and crushed me bit my face and did horrible things. I ended up with a sprained neck contusions on my wrists neck ribs busted lips alot of my hair fell out from him pulling it the whole time, I have severe p.t.s.d now. i took him to court but he didnt go to jail he got attempted crime of nature act sexual offender and sexual asault on a femal 2 years probation had to pay my medical bills. Im 21 now and last night I was raped. It was different this time I never gave anyone of those guys any slightest hint that I was intrested sexually this guy I sat close to I let him rub my leg but told him not to go any further he kept trying and eventually I had my hand over myself and he was trying to force him self in me. I pulled him away. He penetrated me 3 times. I feel so weird about this because I did like him but I didnt want to sleep with him and I did say no over and over and over again. He hooked up with my best friend this morning. I also feel weird about that. She also layed on the couch beside us and heard me say no over and over again.. Just recently my p.t.s.d has got so much worse and now this has happened, Why do I have this history with men? I dont feel like I am getting the medical attention I need either. I am on buspar and klonopin been on it for almost a year now and I am not doing well and now I am especially not doing well. Its so difficult to talk to anyone. How can I explain all these encounters? i feel guilty and ashamed like it is my fault but aside from last night I never did sit close or flirt with anyone else that tried or did attack me. I am very confused and just broken right now and I feel so utterly alone in my illness. It cant be seen its in the inside and no one understands. I have panic attacks and I get embarrassed if I have them infront of my mother I had two infront of a large group of people the other day. I feel like my life is becoming unmanagable and my p.t.s.d has taken over my life. But how can it not with all these things and there is so much more,.I need therapy but I dont want to g. I havent had a job in over a year and I am just not doing good. Is there any way I can take control of my life again? I have also thought about having brain scans or like that thing where they rewire your brain done. I dont have insurance. Are there studies I will be a guniea pig I just want this to go away.

      • Hi Rachel,
        I know its a long time since you posted your message, but I want to tell you that I was moved by your post and also got very angry how things developed in your life. I cannot compare my experiences to yours, but I believe I can somehow understand you. Many times I was taken advantage of and used for advantage of other people by taking control of my life, my decisions, my freedom and my happiness by other people close to me. I know I can’t even think of comparing this, but it also made me feel like raped. I couldn’t stop or change it. Now I am trying to get more assertive through reading and attending training. I want to tell you that I can be therre for you if you need someone to talk to. I live in europe, won’t see you on the street 😉 if you are affraid of that. If you need a someone to talk about problems or some usual stuff, I can be there for you. I wish there was someone I could talk to during hard times in my life…
        Best,
        Tom

      • I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. First step to getting your life back is getting help. I know its hard to speak to counsellors or social workers. I went through 2 social workers and counsellors. But you are not alone in the multiple rapes. Men sense vulnerability and low self esteem but maybe take some self defense course and self help classes to help build up your confidence and self esteem

    • Thank you. I have also been raped multiple times. I stopped counting the number of rapists after 60. I have never met anyone who can accept multiple rapes – the circumstances are too horrific for people to accept/cope with, so they deny the possibility to themselves and they’re denial makes me invisible.

  2. Thank you for your very direct and well thought/felt explanation. I have recently began coming to terms with a very emotionally abusive past relationship and the situations I got myself into. I met a woman around my age, who had experienced something similar to what I had, years ago, and was actually drugged and raped by a stranger not long ago. I had heard that once victimized, you are an easy target. I came looking for validation and honestly hope and/or ways to prevent that saying from being implied to my life. I have a very difficult time relating intimately with my husband, who is the first healthy person I have ever had a relationship with. I sleep with a metal baseball bat by my bed, just in case, and I am unable to sleep most nights. I am seeking group therapy from a Psychologist dealing with my past experience, in addition to a one on one Therapist. I am trying not to be that weak person I once was, and I do not want to come across as a victim anymore. I have changed my demeanor and my hair color. I am tired of the guilt, shame, fear, anger, self worthlessness, and constant thoughts of suicide. I won’t hurt myself only because my Faith and own guilt of how it would affect others, and fear of failing, prevents me from following through. But that doesn’t change the fact that I take risks, and pray for release from this Hell bound world daily. I do not blame him, or even have anger toward him. Only myself. I want to heal, but at the same time I hate dealing with the repercussions of doing so. I truly understand that it could happen to anyone and that no one is safe. I understood that before. I watched my drink at parties, I never drank alcohol or tried drugs, I parked in lit areas, I made sure I wasn’t alone at clubs, or in high risk situations, I never got into the vehicle with anyone on the first date, I stated my boundaries, I made sure to really get to know someone and stay in safe areas until I could trust that person. I trusted the wrong person. I let down my guard. I expected that person would respect my boundaries and me. I thought rape only happened to unsafe girls. By strangers, or on first dates. I WAS WRONG! I paid for that mistake. I’m still paying for it. I am not trusting anymore. I am always on guard now. Even with the man I love and know would never take advantage of me, or hurt me. I fear strangers coming into my house when I am at home alone, or at night while my husband and I sleep. I cannot shower if I am by myself at home. I have to check the door at least three times before I feel it is secure. I feel like a shell of my former self. I hate who I was and I hate who I have become even more.I hate that I allowed myself to be weak and that although I did verbalize my unwillingness, I did not fight back. I hate that I allowed it to occur multiple times. That I gave him that much power over me. I feel so empty inside. So used and betrayed. I miss the girl I once was. Full of life and love. I feel like that person is gone. He killed her, and I helped. I am happy you were able to break the cycle of abuse and that you are on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. I pray you never experience anything like you have again! I hope you do not feel as broken as I do. Maybe, one day I will be able to emerge from this atrocity as well. I cannot revive the person I was before, but maybe I can help strengthen and shape the person I am to become.

  3. I hope you find the the healing you so desperately need and deserve. Too live life with such terror and insecurity is but one of the many, and most tragic, side effects of being raped.

    But I did want to say one thing to you, and I hope it can help you.

    You made NO mistake. The only thinga person can do to protect themself from rape, is be fortunate enough not to be in the same space as a rapist. Di you trust the wrong person? Perhaps, but that still doesn’t make it a mistake..

    With all the other trauma you are suffering, you definiely don’t need to find fault with yourself as well. .

  4. Yes, what Aeryl said. You made no mistake, Christy. You are not to blame. You didn’t “help” your rapist destroy anything.

    You know, I’ve done many things in my life that people would describe as “risky.” I’ve hitchhiked. I’ve done drugs and gotten into bed with multiple guys I had no intention of having sex with. In Mexico, I climbed into a van with several dudes I’d just met who didn’t speak much English (and I speak virtually no Spanish). I’ve gone home with guys I met in nightclubs or walked home alone wearing micro minis, fishnets, thigh-high boots, and other “provocative” attire. And yet I wasn’t raped on any of those occasions. You know why? I wasn’t in the presence of rapists. If I had been raped, it wouldn’t have been because of anything I did or didn’t do; it would have been solely because I had the bad luck of being in the company of a rapist.

    As far as not fighting back is concerned, no one knows in advance how they’ll react when attacked. I have friends who always thought that if they were sexually assaulted, they would fight like hell. Then they were attacked, and the shock and disbelief they experienced prevented them from fighting at all. Shock and disbelief are especially common responses when the attacker is someone the victim knows and trusts. You can’t believe this is really happening, that someone you trusted would this to you. Other times, fear of being killed or suffering severe physical injuries may be keeping victims from fighting back. It’s not irrational to believe that someone depraved enough to rape you would also kill or maim you, particularly if they’ve already threatened to do so.

    I hope you have a good therapist who understands sexual assault and rape trauma and doesn’t cause more damage. Unfortunately I’ve heard quite a few therapist horror stories from rape survivors (such as survivors being asked to “take responsibility” for THEIR behavior), and my own experiences in that department weren’t so great either.

    I don’t know how long it’s been for you, but for most survivors, it does get better with time. I still have bad days and I still get triggered, but it’s nothing like it used to be. I used to wake up every morning and start crying because I was still alive. Then the flashbacks and panic attacks would start. Numbing myself with drugs was the only way I could survive that time of my life. Unfortunately that led to further victimization, which is one of the reasons I’m so strongly in favor of drug legalization. But that’s a topic for another time.

  5. Well reading that made me feel very sad and ill, and rapists should basically be castrated then hung in my personal opinion. But I find something confusing in what you write..You say that the effects of rape can lead to behaviours and social interactions that make that increase the likelihood of abuse and further rapes, if this is the case then why the denial that certain kinds of behaviour and social interactions with certain kinds of people can increase the chances of being raped in the first place…Is it not the case that there ARE certain ways of living that can increase or decrease being the victim of all kinds of crime including rape, granted some circumstances – maybe the important ones even- we will have no control over. It is not possible however that some things we DO have control over can increase or decrease our chances of being victims of crime including rape? Should this question not even be asked because of the notion that it implies blaming the victim? (it doesn’t imo)

    • A person who has been raped, and/or molested as a child unfortunately and almost inevitably develop certain blind spots and injury to their mind and/or way of being, which disallows them to sense (or process accurately or at all, the information, cues or vibes that they are perceiving…or ignoring) the hints, signs and dangers of impending or potential rape(s). Many times, the mechanisms developed or resorted to by the mind (mostly involuntarily/subconsciously as well) in order to either deal with, compartmentalize or protect the victim from the full reality or the brutal impact of rape, will leave victims short of the wherewithal needed to process, sense or deal with certain things.
      I dread that this might sound really convoluted. So let me say it another way. I am actually speaking from experience, extensive counseling, research, life lessons/insight, feed-back, etc.
      I was severely sexually abused as a child from I suspect before the age of 5. I have specific recollection from age 5. This went on until I was 14 at which time I was taken out of the environment. Childhood sexual abuse is often if not always accompanied by many various other forms of abuse….emotional, psychological, physical abuse, etc. This combined with sexual abuse screws you up just as much if not more than the episodes of molestation itself. So there is already overwhelming baggage and mental/emotional/perceptual/internal dialogue shifting going on in the world of a survivor.
      Feeling so lucky, so happy and so blessed that I was finally removed from the nightmarish situation, I went on with life TRYING TO BE NORMAL (that is one of the 1st things that a survivor will automatically go to….sometimes forever). Life wasn’t a bed of roses…in fact far from it. But at least I wasn’t being hurt like I had been for 9 yrs + when I was a child.
      At 18 I got raped. Brutally raped and repeatedly raped for the most part of my 18th year. By someone I knew. He was our pastor’s son, my sister’s boyfriend and a friend of the family. I didn’t see it coming. In hindsight, there were signs. I couldn’t perceive or properly process them for what they were. There is honestly no way I could have fathomed or anticipated any such thing. There is such a strong subconscious/block of denial, fear and disbelief in a rape/molestation victim/survivor that sometimes they are also subconsciously convinced…on some strange level, that it can’t happen, it didn’t happen..cause it went away in their minds, or some other involuntary mode of survival resorted to.
      Often developed based on the response(s) endured from other people about the rape/molestation of the child. Anyway, instead of being driven home, I was taken to another place/his home far away. After being promised to be driven home by my sister’s boyfriend and another friend. He just suddenly and out of the blue started attacking me. Groping, fondling, hurting and physically offending and violating me. I was shocked, frightened, panicked, fighting, protesting, etc. I couldn’t get away for a long time. So I had endured a lot. Eventually I got out of his grasp and ran for the door. Couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door fast enough, and he caught me. threw me back into the apartment, assaulted and beat/hurt me some more. Broke my arm and threw me to the floor. kept assaulting me. Finished breaking my pants open, Tore my underwear off, kept straddling me/held me down, and started undoing his pants.
      All that time, up until that moment when he held me down half naked on the floor and started undoing his pants, it never occurred to me not once that he was going to rape me. Or that what he was doing was beating and breaking me down to rape me. At that point I was begging, pleading, calling his friend to help me. I was smacked down and threatened that if I made a noise or called his friend to help me, they would both rape me.
      He didn’t take me home that night. He raped me twice before morning. I was bewildered, confused, lost and devastated. I was told that nobody would believe me. Nobody cared about me, etc. That was actually true. At least in my mind…and from my previous reality. (already that’s feeding back into the childhood molestation).
      The very next thing that I involuntarily/subconsciously and consciously tried to do was to be ‘normal’. Whatever that was at that point. There was no ‘normal’ but I had to try to find a way to exist at all at that point. By the time I found my way home and got ready to go to school, I couldn’t tell you what happened. I couldn’t formalize, verbalize or reach what was wrong. I was so hurt, I could barely walk. Couldn’t sit. Couldn’t give account as to why I was bleeding. But I had to pretend to be normal and O.K. for some reason.
      The farthest thing from my mind was to tell anybody. I couldn’t stand the world completely falling apart (while I had no control) or the wrath, hatred and punishment that would have been levied on my head for something like this. (this kind of thinking coming from my already abused mind). The precedence was set. I was defenseless and I was raped multiple times on several occasions for the rest of that year.Each time when I was attacked, I was shocked, surprised and panicked. And seemingly only in that moment making specific connection to the times that he had raped me before. Amnesia, flashbacks, coping mechanisms. My mind had splintered, compartmentalized and had been tragically impacted. I got pregnant and argued with the doctor that I couldn’t be pregnant because i hadn’t had sex.
      I got raped at 20 & 21. Kept on trying to cope and overcome.
      Just when I thought I had overcome and was moving on with life, (had had therapy, teaching, information, etc.) a similar nightmare started all over again. I was raped several times over a 17 month period. The police kept saying “you should have told someone” “why didn’t you tell anyone”, When I was little and i told, my life was devastated, and the abuse continued. When I was raped at 21, I did tell the police that someone hurt me. (I wasn’t even able to process the pain or call it what it was. A police officer was the one to inform me that what had happened to me is called ‘rape’. That word and that concept were wiped out of my vocabulary and my conscious reality. I panicked when he said it. Feeling that I was going to get into so much trouble for that happening. They took me to the hospital. I overheard the doctor ranting and saying ‘why should I examine her? Because she didn’t get paid”. I endured the rape exam (from that same Dr. that said that about me). The man was found guilty, given a $500 fine and probation. That process took years off my life. I had resolved at that time NEVER to go through that process again. Not that my mind could even tell me, nor could i anticipate that I was going to be raped again. Until it happened several times around the time when I was 31. I am a very intelligent and brilliant person. But I am also very shattered, fragmented and decimated as well. I am a grown, functional and articulate person. But i am also a clueless, vulnerable, fragile 5 yr. old who sucks her finger and is helpless to flashbacks and certain situations. The triggers are brutal (and many).
      And people that rape/hurt people like myself/people who are victimized on multiple occasions, somehow sense who to target who is most vulnerable and what they are likely to get away with….Just like this article above says. The one thing that I know for sure also, is that the only thing that stopped the attacks/cycle of attacks, was to TELL about what was happening. Try to see if you realize what I am saying. To tell was the only thing that stopped it. (it didn’t spontaneously stop otherwise), and to tell is the most treacherous and poisonous thing in some people’s reality. This, and similar situations like this is how repeated rapes happen.
      What you are asking is very interesting, smart,complex, complicated, and is truly worth asking. And the answer(s) if there are any true or formulated answers, are very varied.

  6. As a sexual violence victim, I really appreciate this post. I was molested as a child and fell in to an extremelt abusive relationship later in life. Thank you for sharing your experiences and observations!

  7. “if this is the case then why the denial that certain kinds of behaviour and social interactions with certain kinds of people can increase the chances of being raped in the first place”

    You know, if we gave women advice on what kinds of men are likely to commit rape, and the behaviors that they engage in, then the implication that those men aren’t to be trusted would fall into place. Instead, we focus on the kinds of behavior that make one more likely to be victimized, without pointing out that the men they were with were dangerous. For example, we tell women who were raped at frat parties that they should have seen it coming, but who actually says the inverse, that the implications of this rule means that frat boys are more likely to commit rape? Who wants to say that, and preemptively “accuse” men of rape? Actually, they’re not being accused at all, they’re merely being suspected of being capable of rape, but most people think that that’s grossly unfair and tarnishing to the reputation of those boys without any evidence. (And even though the term “frat boys” has certain negative connotations, we don’t carry those connotations with us when we meet them in person.) Perhaps they’re right that there’s no evidence, but they have no problem being grossly unfair to the rape victim, by not sufficiently warning them of the dangers and then saying afterwards that they should have known better.

    And I think that that’s the goal of a lot of “rape prevention” advice: to take the focus off of men and place it onto women, to disingenuously give women advice without making them suspicious of men. Like some people complain about thinking of every man as a potential rapist, but if you were to generalize the rule to “you shouldn’t trust people you don’t know,” then they would agree with that. But when you specify one of the dangers of trusting people you don’t know, all of a sudden it’s unfair and man-hating. And if you happen to be wrong and he turns out to be a rapist, you will be blamed for not knowing better, and that’s not unfair at all.

  8. I’ve been searching for your words for a long time. Thank you for taking the time to write about your personal experience and researching the statistics. I have had very similar experiences and for the first time I feel validated. I always wonder what about me has made me a victim of multiple attacks. I feel ashamed even thinking about it, and recently confided in a (now ex) boyfriend who told me I either deserved it, or was lying about it. It was devastating. Thanks for giving me insight when I needed it most. I wish you peace and healing.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. As a young girl I was molested by my father. Then molested in 3rd grade by a boy in my class. Raped as a virgin in 7th grade by a boy I really crushed on. And raped again when I was 19 by a guy my boyfriend at the time was friends with. I agree that how you recover is based a great deal on how ppl respond to you. I still suffer a lot from the rapes. No one was supportive and being a virgin for the first one has left scars too deep to heal from. My mom gave me great support about both molestations and honestly I never think of them. Until I read this post I felt alone, like “who the hell gets raped multiple times?!?!?” I felt like I was somehow drawing these sick ppl to me. I also feel a lot of shame b/c the first rape happened after smoking pot and the second after drinking. I also didn’t fight back in either situation, something I thought I would do instinctively. Looking back I was just too scared. If this post helped me, I’m sure it has helped many others. Thank you for your courage. I hope we all find peace.

  10. It would be great to say your input has found me comfort; but as you pointed out, the very people–especially the ‘professional’ in their respective crucial fields–add to my despair by invalidating at best; blaming me at worst for the sexual abuse begotten me.
    There is a targeted group you didn’t consider that makes for a perfect rape victim: women ‘anointed’ officially mentally ill. And when it becomes no secret, the draw of dicks that find you is profound.

  11. I am also a victim of multiple rapes and I’ve gone through many often same situations. Over this past summer I was rape by someone I went to the movies with my common law husband and I were going through slot of problems (he was living in Florida) I was living in new Jersey. He knows about the other rapes and still till now I feel he blames me for this third one. I know I should’ve not gone out with this person who I barely knew but I did. I felt stupid enough for going out with this man but for the man I love to be so cold to me is like being raped.all over again. He says that my sexual activity with him has sky rocketed which is true but he doesn’t understand that its because he makes me feel safe and normal how can I make him understand?

    • On Being Raped More Than Once….Well articulated and certainly surreal for one who can empathize.
      Melissa,
      The harshness of the abuse is profound in every way that is of your life. I wish I could tell you words of comfort and resolve, but I’d be enabling denial and in my grand then LT way would also be furthering what on surface would be a ‘strength’ though below it utter masochism: a quiet suffering and healthy undoing. You can’t ‘get’ or ‘help’ someone to understand when they cannot even begin to empathize. And even in empathy, that understanding is superficial. Because while we have the misfortune of empathy in having been raped (and more than once; on more than one occasion), our experiences, their impact–all that it was/is–are inherently personal; unique to ourselves by the very virtue of our individualism…as like one’s fingerprint.
      To spend your time trying to solicit for understanding you are not just ‘spinning wheels’ but you are effectually achieving furthered alienation and exhibiting an affect of the abuse that just serves to trench you more into the post traumatic experience. By this I mean that at least as I have come to be effected by my ‘experiences,’ one aspect that has profoundly left its mark and consequently changed how I now think, feel, behave is a resultant finding I need explain myself at every turn; and am haunted and daunted by both internal and external forces that cause me to obsess in analyzation of its cause/effect…the Monday quarterbacking of it so-to-speak of MY failure….to foresee the future, to control my abuser, to have less than perfect thought in all that implies, etc. And when I find myself around or–which is more often the case of the recluse I’ve come to be–do place my ‘significant others’ (personal, social, communal, medical) around me; the lack of such understanding becomes an inappropriate ownership insofar as 1) that this lack of understanding is my fault or burden that I need waste precious emotional and recovery time in pursuit to enable or equip that ‘significant other’ with understanding and 2) inherently by this, I fail recoupe shattered esteem and am distracted by realizing that what makes this person a ‘significant other’ is their ability and capacity to be supportive in all that it implies/entails and/or existence of them to be proactive to garnering understanding or at very least demonstrating tolerance and affording benefit of the doubt to me. In absence of this I need challenge the integrity of their “significance.”. It’s only my onus insofar as if this person is someone who can by virtue of their position and leverage to effect access to resources of help and healing; to afford support.
      One thing I’ve come to learn or be aware: that I not put faith and promise into another but rather into myself and those loved ones I am sure by their consistent demonstration of support and loyalty. And if their is anything of me to impart is that trust is not a luxury for me to just give over but that it need be earned by another….especially a ‘significant other.’ And I am entitled to my boundaries and that they ‘need’ be revered and respected. If that person cannot understand this much, they aren’t of any healthy value to my state of mind, visceral integrity, or chanced healing.

  12. Me too. Thank you.

  13. After being raped the first time at 18 by a “friend” while doing coke together, I felt like I “let” myself be raped 3 more times by 3 different people all under the same circumstances. I felt as if I deserved it. I still struggle with how I let myself get in terrible (but not really) situations with people I knew. I blamed myself. I partied. I did the drugs. Wait, it wasn’t my fault? I didn’t tease our even give the false pretense. Yet I felt no one would believe me, or they would, in, fact blame me for the rapes.I was in a horribly depressed state, became promiscuous, and eventually healed without therapy. I don’t know how I did it. But I do know. I’m strong. I’m grown. I’m resilient. Fuck those powerless pussy rapists. They are less than the first under my feet.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. I honestly thought it was only me that this happened to. Rape[s] changed my life forever. I wish you all the best and send you warm thoughts for healing.

  15. I applaud every one for having the guts to tell their story. While watching Law and Order: SVU, I stumbled upon an episode where the girl had been violated more than once. I immediately sought the internet for comfort. I, too, have been sexually assaulted/raped on more than one occasion. This is not my first time admitting that I was raped, but it is my first time that I shared that it was on more than one occasion. I was too afraid of what people would think of me. From the time I was 15 to 19, I was raped or assaulted all by boys and men I knew from my neighborhood. Two were acquaintances outside of my neighborhood. The first incidence was with my boyfriend. He forced me to have sex with no condom. Another was from a two day old relationship. He wanted to touch me in a public place and when I resisted he pulled me into the bushes. Later that day, I went to my friends house to tell her what happened. When she “left the room”, her uncle (a year older than me), pulled me into his mother’s room and raped me. A year or so later, I was walking home to beat curfew. I saw that same boy and two other friends standing in front of their home. They chased me down and then dragged me into an abandoned car, pulled off my shirt and each took their turn pushing fingers and objects into me. My mother’s mother died that year. She was my second mother. I never cried or grieved properly. I got into trouble with my parents. Disregarding rules. The second guy I mentioned that I was in a two day relationship with tried again. This time I didn’t care who knew or what they thought. I screamed rapist! Stop! and he never bothered me again. My senior year, I drank too much with my cousin and her date and his friend. We parked at the lake. I liked him and we kissed. Before long he was attempting to pull off my pants. I screamed and my cousin and her boyfriend came to my aid. This was the first time my parents knew of rape. I felt violated at the hospital. I didn’t want my parents to know I wasn’t a virgin. I decided to not press charges. By this time, to cover up their atrocities, the neighborhood guys had labled me as the neighborhood hoe. I figured no one would believe me and my parents would find out about all the other horrible sex I had with these guys and they wouldn’t love me anymore. I began to think I had a sign or label on my forehead. Questioning what I did to provoke it. My favorite aunt died from asthma-related complications due to severe heat in June of this year. I missed her so very much. I had planned to live with her as the relationship I had with my parents was deteriorating. I was having neighborhood fights and fall outs with friends. I went away to college. From this point on, I had become promiscuous and morally corrupt. I didn’t care how many, if I got with friends of friends, where it happened, or if the guy was in a relationship. This went on until I was 19. The last time I was raped, I had just started a summer job. I met a guy 8 years older than me. Very handsome! The first time we go out, he picks me up but takes me to his home that happened to be a block away from my dad’s mom’s home. We were kissing and before long, he wanted to have sex. I wanted to make a good impression. I had changed and I valued my morals. I told him no repeatedly while he said “We are grown. Grow up.” He held me down and I gave up fighting. I just laid there. When it was over, I declined a ride home but pretended everything was ok. I walked to my grandmother’s and had my dad pick me up. I didn’t answer his calls and he began to stalk me. Eventually, he gave up. I carried this shame with me for so long. I felt like I deserved my experiences. I eventually got over it all by pretending none of those violations ever happened. I ended up being in a long-term relationship of 7 years and I can’t help but wonder if what happened to me help destroy that relationship. He became a cheater, as I accused him often due to my own insecurities. I realized that I began to be subjected to mental and emotional abuse but I stayed. I had so low self-esteem that I didn’t believe anyone else would want me so I begged him to stay, became clingy and the like. I have not been in a serious relationship since that break up. I joined a church and became saved. The Lord helped me get through all of this repressed pain. I am now a teacher and advocate for youth rights. It feels very good to know I am not alone. We are not alone! Thanks for sharing your story!

  16. Thank you so much for this post i thought i just had a black cloud the said pic me pick me. its good to know there are some others out there i can’t talk about this with no one.when i do its just like easy to say but not easy to think about and you bury it so far down like it never existed even tho it was more than once you just start thinking its you and your the problem.its given me a new understandment and you are right about the marginilized face groops and being unlucky eventually just accept its happened b4 its happening again and there not a damn thing you can do about it accept go with it like it was your idea in the first place.anyone have this similar thought process or am i just off my rocker? one time is enough. more than once you just come to the realization it has to be you.

    Nicole Williams
  17. That’s an incredible story. I was raped more than once. three times to be exact. and twice in the same night. scariest thing ever, and i just don’t get close to people anymore. When i tell them it’s hard because of what i’ve been through they don’t believe me. They think i’m just heartless. They also believe that i ‘accuse’ everyone of rape. This really helped me thank you so much

  18. Hi, I’m a 31 year old woman talking from the UK here….I tallied it all up the other day and realised I had been sexually assaulted dozens of times including 4 rapes by 4 different people (2 boyfriends, 1 husband, 1 date) and of the remaining sexual assaults I would say approx 50% of those I consider serious (by my standards). Despite this history you would never know as I am a positive, outgoing and trusting person and my drink and drugs intake are on par or less than most other people of my age. What has really been bothering me these last months is how usual/unusual is my story compared to other women that grew up in the UK. This is obviously not a topic I can bring up with friends as although they know of some incidents I don’t want anyone to know the full picture. I am also looking for UK forums to discuss this with so I can have a better idea of other women’s experiences. Thanks, Laura

    • Hi Laura, I am also in the U.K. I would really be keen to be involved in a group to candidly discuss & learn from our experiences. I was sexually abused as a child & have been raped 5 times, by 5 men on 4 different occasions.

  19. i would like to say thank you for sharing. I felt like i was crazy or something. I was raped more than once. i am 32 and i was molested as a child before the rapes happened. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I am in a safe environment now with my second husband and children. PTSD is wrecking me. I have flashbacks and nightmares. i feel so many different emotions. I can’t bring myself to say the words out loud. To read or hear the word RAPE sends me into memory overload. this is the very first time i have written the words or really let it out into te world. I want so desperately want my life back. I haven’t worked in over a year. i get anxious, irratable, and depressed. I am so very angry and trying hard not to be hurtful to my family around me. I feelike could just scream and explode. I have held onto what has happened to me by myself for so long. The last assault happened last year at the end of summer. I feel broken. my trust in males no longer exsists. I have had to have surgeries because of injuries internal and external. I thank you for a place to finally ” say it out loud” and i hope i have not caused anyone more pain by being so detailed.

  20. I was raped by coworkers. I work in a predominantly men field of work, and they took advantage of the fact that I was new and really had no friends in or out of work. Everyone there still calls me a slut or tramp but never to my face to avoid harassment charges. I have had notes posted onto my car and people have told me I should quit because of my reputation. This has been going on for two years that they say these things, and sometimes their hurtful words make me internalize what they did to me.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    Like you all, I have been raped multiple times. My first experience destroyed my sense of self. I was numb and broken, I became promiscuious and didn’t care about myself. I needed to feel cared for and loved, but I no longer had an idea of what that meant.

    I was on a student exchange in Thailand when I was 16, where I lived for a year. About seven months of that time was spent as essentially a “sex slave” to a 39-year-old teacher from Texas. The first time it happened I can’t remember, he got me to drink half a fifth of vodka and I woke up the next morning covered in bruises and only a fuzzy recollection of how I got “home” (I was living with a neglectful host family who locked me in my room on weekends and starved me; half the reason I kept going back to the teacher was that he fed me). He convinced me that I seduced him since I couldn’t remember, and I felt so horrible about “seducing” a married man that I didn’t tell anyone. Then it happened again. And again. He constantly told me that my parents didn’t love me, that he was the only one that could care about me or understand me, that we had known each other in past lives and were meant to be together, and that he wanted to kidnap other men and make them watch him doing me before killing them.

    Obviously, he was nuts. But, he managed to brainwash me into believing him.

    I kept putting myself in dangerous situations once I went to college, using my sexuality to get guys to be my “friends” and then occasionally one of them would force me to follow through on my flirtations against my will. Each time it happened, it brought me lower and lower.

    I had met a wonderful young man my senior year of highschool, and we soon became best friends and talked nearly every night. I had a crush on him, but I thought he was too good for me (and the way I was psychologically, I wouldn’t have been a good partner for anyone). He witnessed my promiscuity but seemed to care for me anyway. We ended up having sex, but I didn’t know that it meant anything more to him than it did to anyone else.

    After I got raped in a parking garage by a guy that approached me as I was walking home from a party, I ended up accidentally giving my best friend chlymidia. I became suicidal, but it was enough of a wake-up call that I stopped putting myself in dangerous situations.

    I met another seemingly nice enough guy soon after, and we started dating. I moved in with him and got therapy after telling my parents what happened to me. During this time, I didn’t speak with my best friend much; he had a girlfriend too and I didn’t want to make either of our partners jealous. I healed a great deal despite my boyfriend becoming verbally abusive to me. I broke up with him a year and a half later, moved back home, and continued to heal.

    I finally feel like myself again, I can look at pictures of me as a kid and feel a connection again. I can love myself.

    I recently started dating my best friend though, and some problems have arisen. He has on a couple of occasions been really cruel to me, and used the person I was when we met to tear me down when he got upset. He told me he thinks some of the rapes had to be my fault. He has never been anything but kind and gentle in the years before we dated, so this is extremely hurtful and shocking to me. I want him to understand how broken I was, and that the person I was then wasn’t “me”. I didn’t have any idea that he would ever want to be with me, and I never meant to hurt him. I’ve apologised a million times and I do mean it, it truly kills me that I caused him pain. Anyone have any advice for me, or do I need to just weather this storm and hope for the best?

    For the record, we both consider the other to be our “soulmate” and he tells me regularly that he wants to marry me and hopes I will be the mother of his children. There is nothing I want more, I feel more love for this dude more than I ever thought was possible for me to feel and he makes me so happy. It’s just a couple times he’s acted the way I described and he apologised both times and is seeking counseling.

  22. My daughter just told me she was raped, again, in August. She didn’t want to tell me because she was worried about how upset her father would get, again. Last time he went off the deep end and really wanted kill the guy (he didn’t). How do I comfort her and tell her she will be okay when I have no idea what she is going through? Lisa

  23. So how DO we react to a loved one? How do we help? I agree with Lisa above. I am at a loss. A lot of great posts about experiences, but how do you help someone come out of the darkness? Or is there no hope? Feeling very helpless and hopeless as a mother.

  24. Thank you all for sharing your stories of being re victimized. Re victimization happens to more women than statistics reveal. I too never understood how this can happen from childhood and into adulthood. When we are afraid to speak out and get help after the first occurrence, it only gets more difficult to speak up later on. We begin to judge each person and each situation differently even if the signs are there. Believing it won’t happen again and the other times were isolated cases. Each man who even befriends us gets a new start with our trust. It’s either I trust you until you give me a reason not to or I don’t trust you until you give me a reason to trust you. I used the former. Even with that thought, it didn’t help. After being raped by a new acquaintence at 20, I wasn’t sure if that was rape since I felt i put myself in that situation with someone I just met. I remember telling him after picking up his call, you raped me! Just to see if he would confirm it. And he said no he didn’t. That he thought I meant no not right now. So i believed him since I was unsure what exactly rape was. I remember being so upset that I went to his apartment door and i started screaming and banging and scratching the door, yelling “why did you do that to me” Since I felt that it was forced sex not realizing that also means rape and was a crime. He opened the door after a few mins since he was afraid of my temper. He had only a towel on since it looked as if he came out of the shower.

    Then he told me to calm down and gave me a hug, and walked me inside. I was so confused because the hug made me feel bad for yelling and then he told me to sit on the couch. Which I thought was because he was going to explain to me why he did that. but instead he took off his towel, got on top of me and quickly pulled my pants down and raped me. I was in a state of shock because it happened again and so fast that this time I couldn’t say anything but be afraid. I remember him shortly after walking me out of the apartment as if nothing happened. I felt worse about myself because I came to the apartment to get closure and that “unwanted sex” happened again. I would be paranoid that I would be pregnant after that so I did not want to completely ignore the person during that month I must wait to find out. I did not want a baby to be fatherless since I was afraid the abortion will be wrong and cause more damage to me and the potential baby. So Whether or not I married this guy or was a single mom, I initally thought the biological father being in the picture was the right thing to do. I was so naive. I didn’t want to meet up to have sex, I only wanted to be intouch incase if i really was pregnant and that he wouldn’t run away if he grew more familiar with me. I’ve heard of the fatherless epidemic in this country so I didn’t want a child to suffer. I was thinking keeping the line of communication was important if something were to happen. This rapist did not care at all about me or if I could be pregnant. He just saw me as another avenue for sex so he wouldn’t be upfront or clear about his true intentions. He would tell me it was for lunch or he wanted to see me for a few mins somehwere and that was it. But each time, he made it a sexual encounter so after submitting to him and feeling I caused this all to happen in the first place, I allowed him to control me. I felt so dead inside. I had nobody to talk to but him. This only lasted a few weeks, then I had the courage again, to say NO. YOu will not do this to me, I am not pregnant. I claim it! I ignored all contact and I told him I would call the police. He made several attempts to contact me, but I didn’t see him for three years.

    Little did I know that he would contact me at my job and at that time to apologize.But he wasn’t specific with the apology. He just said sorry for everything he had done to me. He said I didn’t deserve it and I was a good person. He mentioned how he’s been going to church on a weekly basis and is close to his pastor and talks to his pastor. He said that he’s a changed man or something along those lines. He sounded really different in the way he spoke. I thought he was sincere. I told him that I forgive him, but I don’t want to see him. He said that the only way he could have closure and peace of mind is if I met up with him for lunch or something. I told him I really don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t feel comfortable. but he kept insisting that he needed to free this burden from him and this is the only way it will happen. I began to feel so guilty that, I reluctantly agreed. I also thought to myself, maybe this si the closure I need as well since he will explain things in detail as this changed godly man.I really bought his new “identity”. I began to listen to his instructions since he was this changed person and felt that I should give him the peace of mind that we both need about this situation. I soon realized he was only telling me what he wanted me to hear to get me alone again. And I entered the cycle again and the rapes continued until it was no longer rape and me submitting out of fear again. I cut off contact much quicker this time even though I initally had a hard time wondering how I let this happen again three years later. It only went on a few times that week since i was in that cycle of fear again about pregnancy. I told him each time, I don’t want to do this and please don’t but I felt powerless to do anything alone with him. after that one week i cut all ties and i told him he would not do this to me again and i will do something about it if he continues to contact me or come by looking for me at home or work. Except this time I found out I was pregnant a few weeks later.. I eventually made the painful decision to allow the child to be adopted by the parents I chose. Initially I was just going to be a single mom but i realized that this was an unhealthy situation because this man would continue to contact me and I would feel victimized all over again and the child would suffer in his hands if he kept coming into our lives at some point. Now I know this all could have been prevented had I been taught or even had the courage to notify the authorities in the very beginning or even some time in. Fear prevents justice to be served. It was time for me to stop living in fear when the reality of pregnancy hit me. I couldn’t ignre it or pretend it would go away. I had to face everything and look back at how I got here and the fear that prevented me to not tell in the first place. I will teach these young girls and even boys to not only be victims of sexual assaults but also not to be the perpetrators of it either. Both ends need to be educated.

  25. I have been raped multiple times and not once did I tell the guy I even like them. They took advantage of me while I was drunk and passed out I believe in energetic patterns being formed in childhood and I used to wake up in the night to find my father next to me naked and drunk. So I ended up turning to alcohol due to my dysfunctional and negative home life being raised by two drug addicts and alcoholics who cared about nobody but themselves. I would binge drink and pass out waking up to a strange man taking advantage of me. It kills me to think how many times it’s happens you would think I would have stopped drinking but alcoholism ran in my family as well as addiction no one cares that I had a drinking problem it was my way to self medicate I came from a an extremely impoverished and neglectful background. I still hate myself for what these perverted assholes did to me because just because I was drunk didnt mean I asked to be raped while sleeping, I have been around a bunch of sleeping people and kids have I ever inappropriately raped or molested them? No because I have morals and a heart. I truly hope those men burn in hell for taking advantage of me while I was defenseless.

  26. Funny how the mind works. Thankyou for writing this article and thankyou to all who shared their personal experiences. Peace for your healing journeys. I have dissociated from my rapes and sexual assaults for many, many years. I was sexually assaulted by my mother when I was small. I only retrieved that memory from a flashback in my late 20s while helping my young son, who I discovered was being sexually abused by his father’s brother whilst on access. I’m now a 51yr old female btw. My mother was sexually abused by her step father. Her mother was sexually abused by her father. My father regularly beat and raped my mother, which I would hear. He would also load up his .22 all the time and hold it to Mum’s head, threaten to kill us all and end up always with it in his mouth whereby Mum would have to talk him out of suicide. Dad’s an alcoholic, Mum popped pills. My sister has been raped multiple times and is Bipolar. I have been diagnosed 3 years ago with complex PTSD with significant dissociation. I was sexually assaulted by my Pop (where my mother sent us to be minded and who was her abuser) ,an uncle and a neighbour in childhood. I was repeatedly raped whilst sleeping and sexually assaulted with objects by my first 2 children’s fathers. I had been sexually assaulted on numerous occasions in my teens. I married my husband who had been a male prostitute who had been repeatedly raped by his doctor/client and another client as well as being a sexually abused child. We were together 18yrs and our sex life was really good for us. I knew he would never rape me and he knew I respected his boundaries. We really healed each other sexually. Then it all fell apart in 2008. My drinking got out of control again and his drug use amped right up again through outside circumstances at that time, not sexually related. His twin married brother became my confidante and then sexually attacked me. I had told my husband to never leave me alone with his brother because his brother had told me he wanted to have sex with me and I didn’t think he’d take no for an answer. I was right. He shoved his hand down my pants while I was standing near the kitchen window and tried to rip them off. He then dropped to his knees and shoved his mouth into my crotch. It happened practically in front of my husband who was inside at the window, back turned. I said no and tried to push him away. I was shaking and in shock. Straight away I slept with my husband. Like I wanted to reassure myself. Anyhow my drinking escalated, I kept the secret and I ended up sleeping with the brother a few months later. That was the only time I cheated on my husband in my marriage. Then the brother raped drunken ole me one time outside, early hours, in a laneway as well as sexually assaulting me numerous other times. Another time his married neighbour, who I was friends with, sexually molested me, again whilst I was drunk, and continually proposed an affair. Then sometime in early 2009 I was raped in my home by an unknown male. From what I can remember it was early hrs of the morning, I was sleeping and my husband had already left for work (he was an interstate truckie). I also was rushed to hospital around this time from passing out early one morning whilst walking to the bathroom. I remember just before I passed out that I thought someone was in the darkened house. The drs found nothing wrong but I was unable to get out of bed for days. I don’t have a clear recall of it all.This rape was only recalled through fragmented memory and a terrifying spontaneous flashback in March 2012. But not long after this rape occurred, my cousin came for a visit. We had not seen each other for over 20 yrs and had recently met up at our Nan’s funeral. I’ve worked out the time frame would only have been about 4-6 weeks between this rape and my cousin’s visit. I was completely out of control drinking and partying at this stage. Looking back I now see it was in response to the stranger rape. So hey I ended up sleeping with my cousin too. I do strongly remember having a flash of the stranger rape when my cousin left my bedroom. But I again I told myself it was a past dream not real. A few weeks later I up and leave my home and family and just take off around Australia for a few months in my old caravan. Again I only have limited memory of this time. My cousin comes with me. When I came back I divorced my husband, sold my home, left my youngest son (15) when the courts refused to let me take him away with me. During this time my cousin has been raping me too. He has even been gaoled for rape in the past. Not only was he raping me but he strangled me twice. He has also been in gaol for grievous assaults on males in the past. He is an alcoholic and schizophrenic. So I take off around Australia again, trapped in a caravan with this violent rapist. That is until I buy a large, isolated, property, way out in the country because I no longer trust anyone to not rape or kill me. I let my cousin live on the property in my old van. Yeah I know how screwed up was my brain? During those years 2009-2013 I have a lot of missing time and memory. At some time during late 2012 I shut down and finally refused the last person I associated with ie my cousin, sex. Like a switch in my brain went off. No more sex ever! I didn’t care if he killed me, saved me fighting my suicidal thoughts any more. Made me confront my own sexual behaviour. I sold that property and moved into a secure complex in June this year, where I feel safe in my home and only a few hrs from my older children. My cousin is now 2000kms away. I broke my celibacy with him a few months ago but all good because it was on my terms and it allowed me to regain my power back from him and, symbolically, from all my abusers. I had proved to myself and him (a convicted violent rapist…the ultimate test for myself) that my sexuality and body was nobody else’s to take and I’ll share it with whomever I choose and only when I want to. To me…full circle. I now live alone and hopefully can begin baby steps to trusting people again or find inner peace as recluse.

  27. When I was seven, my sister’s father raped me over the course of a year, more frequently when my mother went out of town on a business trip for a week in August. He played Father to my sister and her half-siblings, then when ever he pleased, he sent them to the corner store and raped me for the good twenty minutes it took to walk there, get food and walk back. A year later, I called the police and had him arrested. Two months later, my mother’s boyfriend who at the time lived with us in our apartment, started looking at me with a sudden lust. It was much worse when he was drunk. He took me out on walks to the store and would stare at me weirdly the ENTIRE walk. He convinced my mother that I was grown enough to start wearing short skirts around the house, keep in mind that I was 8. He waited until my mother and sister were asleep and woke me up in the middle of the night, every night. He would tell me to give him a hug, and I would. He’d say “You know that’s not right, give me a real hug.” then he’d force me to straddle him. He forced me to kiss him and call him Daddy while I did it. Once, he stripped and tried to penetrate me, after telling me to tell him when it started to hurt. I did, before he barely even touched me. He said fine and sent me to bed. a few months later, he disappeared and I never reported him. While this was happening, during the beginning, my mother’s uncle had tried to have sex with me and told me that I was his woman now. He made me stand there as he masturbated to my “magnificent curves”. He died in 2013 and I rejoiced, afterall, he only got 45 days in jail. I am now 14 years old, suffering from untreated PTSD. I will never be the same, I will never trust again, as all three men who violated me were supposed to be father figures to me. My sister’s father doesn’t know about the precedent he set, but I am planning on seeing him soon, before the year ends.

  28. how do i forgive myself?

  29. Thanks for writing this. I haven’t read any of the other comments in case they trigger.

    I’d like to add that there’s also a lack of understanding that you can be raped more than once by the same person. It frustrates me that rape is always described as if it is a one-off event: one rape, one rapist.

    I emailed the author of Resurrection After Rape and told him I couldn’t read the book as every time it talked about “the rape” and “since the rape” I felt worse and worse and wouldn’t it be better to use phrases like “since being raped” and “the aftermath of rape”. He didn’t reply.

  30. I really appreciated this article and the stories shared here. It was very painful to read, but I feel much less alone in my experiences. I have been raped twice. I feel like I have a giant neon sign over my head that invites men to treat me like shit. When I was 17, a guy I went on a couple of dates with in high school put out cigarettes on my breasts. I remember another guy telling me about how he fucked a girl so hard once that she bled all over his sheets before biting up my neck to the point I had scars for months afterward, but they faded over time. With my parents’ help, next week I’ll finally be able to afford a tattoo to cover up the scarring on my breasts.

    The first time I was raped, I was an 18-year-old college freshman and he was 32. He had sex with me without a condom after we had agreed to using them and finished inside of me. I have always been terrified of pregnancy. He texted me on and off for a few months after, saying stuff like he loved me and he looked forward to “seeing my progress”. I remember thinking a lot about how to commit suicide in the event that I was pregnant. I was in such a distraught, awful place without anyone I felt I could share this with. After all, I thought, who would believe me? I invited him into my bed so It must be my fault. I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t have any diseases, so I got on the pill and started dating people to feel like I could have healthy relationships. It didn’t work.

    It was easy enough to divorce sexuality from what happened, but I still couldn’t really handle it or particularly trust men. I was molested by a man I had been dancing with at a nightclub while a friend of mine was right next to me and dancing with him, too. Only a couple of my friends understand why I got so upset that I left by myself. I ended up locking myself in my dorm room for six months after the first rape, only going out late at night to avoid being seen by people, and flunking out of school before moving to another state to live with the guy who would eventually become my ex-husband. That relationship broke me down even more.

    After being separated for almost two years, I finally got the divorce papers in the mail to sign and notarize, but who knows how long it will be before they’re finalized. His current girlfriend messaged me recently and has been through pretty much the exact same experiences that I have with him. It was surreal to hear the same things coming out of someone else’s mouth. I hope she leaves and can find someone who treats her much better. I feel so terrible that he apparently doesn’t realize what he does to people he’s in love with, or maybe he does and doesn’t care. He always used to say that introspection wasn’t his strong suit. When we first met I wasn’t sure what to make of it; now I know it was his excuse for not bettering himself.

    The second rape was about a month ago. I invited someone who seemed very infatuated with me to stay with me for a few days, and it was pretty fine up until we had sex on the last day. He slapped me a lot and pushed my face into a pillow and I couldn’t really talk or breathe well. I was crying a bit. It was all so uncomfortably similar to the first time, it took me a few days to realize what had happened. The bed was the same size, the room was similarly small and oddly-shaped on the third floor, he was uncircumcised, but had the good grace this time to wear a condom…I remember feeling so dazed afterwards and not sure why I was so disturbed by the whole thing. We took a shower together and he got in first. I just stood there for a second and I guess I must have had a weird look on my face because he poked his head out of the shower and asked, “Hey, what’s wrong? You gonna get in?” Something like that. He left and we haven’t really talked since. I don’t really want to, though. He has a phobia of tattoos, so I am especially looking forward to getting inked so he can never want to touch me again.

    I have been freaking out and having panic attacks and crying uncontrollably for the past few weeks. I had never thought something like this would happen to me once, let alone more than that. If the person I was at 16 saw the person I am today, I don’t know what she would do. I can’t focus on anything, can’t really sleep, can’t bring myself to want to do anything but escape everything. I don’t know what to do with myself. I keep telling myself I’m not what other people do to me. I can’t change the past but I can change the future. I just want to obliterate this part of me that feels incapable of having hopes and dreams or goals in life, but I know that unfortunately nothing is sacred and nothing is safe, no matter how much we want things to be.

    I told my best friend about the rapes yesterday. It was extremely hard. She said something about how maybe I shouldn’t have sex with people so easily and I was pretty furious, but explained that both times we had agreed to specific boundaries and both times they had decided to overstep them. I remember reading in a forensic science textbook I had that rape isn’t about sex, it’s about taking power from someone.

    Most of my dating experiences have been extremely brief and sad. I take off my shirt and people see my scars and say, “Oh my god, what happened to you?” and things like that. After we have sex I’ll be told, “You’re a really good person,” or something similar before being left entirely. Even now, I’ve just started seeing a guy who hasn’t really treated me like shit and I’m still not sure if I can trust him to not hurt and abandon me. I am so terrified, but so far, he’s probably the first guy I’ve been with in a long time who actually finds ways to spend time with and talk to me outside of a sexual context.

    I don’t know. I’m sorry this is so long. I’m just so relieved to not be alone.

  31. Thank you for telling your story. It helps clear up some confusion about what happened to me, and I don’t feel so alone. Your openness and bravery are so valued. Thank you.

  32. I understand the feeling I’ve gone through 4 rapes and my functionality in society is messed up. I’m in constant self blaming and the what if I’d only done this… Your story hit some heart strings and wanted to say I understand how it feels to be in dead end relationships in order to numb out the pain to try to feel like normal life is a possibility.

  33. So many rapes (most of them) go unreported that none of those statistics mean anything. Groups of friends where no one has been raped? Why would we assume that the survivor is going to tell her friends about it. I think the 1/5 number is bullshit. The majority of women in the world will be raped once – and way more than 1/5 are raped on multiple occasions. People are appalled by the 1 out of 5 statistic but it’s not even close to accurate. This article makes me so sad. I’ve been raped 5 different times – one statutory event, a date rape, a rape that also involved torture, a gang rape, and an abduction/rape combo that lasted 6 days. Sober as a judge for every single event.

  34. Today is the first year anniversary of the second time I was raped. I don’t know how I feel. I cried, felt better then angry and now I don’t know. I wish he had killed me. That’s the only thing I’m sure of. I wish he had killed me right then and there.

  35. Sorry that happened to you. An ex gf had a similar experience. Ad a child she was molested. That damaged her and she had trouble having relationships and instead had sex with random strangers which put her in danger. And it happened again. Then she had a drug dealer boyfriend who also raped her. It was hard hearing about it and I imagine she is still trying to completely heal.

  36. I have just found this website and it has helped me so much to understand that what happened to me wasn’t my fault. Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  37. This heavily hit home, this article. In response and speaking of complications – I’m a 7 times survivor – a young woman of color – highly educated and fiercely independent. It was only the 5th time I finally sought help. The sixth and seventh have finally torn apart my understanding of the world and now I constantly live in a state of fight or flight – it’s exhausting – I’ve sought counselling but it’s just not working anymore. It resonated heavily about the victim blaming – 7 times for most people seems unbelievable. I used to have incredible dreams for the future, worked really hard, used to think I could make a difference and have a beautiful life. Now I just see a bleak future – how can I have a beautiful life when all I feel is fear and anxiety. Nothing seems more important for me than survival so looking ugly and acting bitchy and unreliable, mean that no one bothers me. It’s hard to go through life lonely and increasingly unloved but it’s the only form of survival that’s currently working. I am getting to a crossroads where if I continue this route I may end up unemployable and homeless and so sometimes the only other way to be fully safe on my terms is the idea of suicide.

  38. This sounds like my life. Thanks for sharing and I hope your doing well.

  39. Thank you for posting this story. I have been raped a few times. I continue to blame myself, because I drank too heavily each time. I have a Catholic upbringing, so of course I think that this is all my fault…drinking to a vulnerable state (to black out), not going home when I should, not being stronger in my boundaries. I think after the first time, I accepted that I was a slut, and didn’t care what happened to my body. I would put myself in a position to be re-victimized, because no one is ever going to care about the real me. I also thought that since I am older, getting any kind of attention was good, and go along with the agenda of the person who was going to take advantage of me. Over the years, I drank alone, and to excess. Last week, it happened again. I don’t know how it happened (no flashbacks of memory). My first concern was not for me, but if I am to get a DUI. I ended up in a hotel parking lot after a party, and have no idea how I got there. I know that I am attracted to dangerous neighborhoods and sketchy looking people. Does anyone else feel this way? I had tried to die in the past by my own hand, as the depression is crushing, isolating and frightening. I am going to go to a rape crisis center to get some help. I have never gotten help before and I am hopeful.

    • This sounds like it could have been written by me. I am so sorry this happened to you too. I am happy for you that you are hopeful and seeking help, its never too late for that.

  40. Dear Sasha,

    This resonated with me, so much. Especially the desire to be normal, to blame myself. I was molested as a five year old, by my male babysitter. And then raped out of my virginity at 17. I’ve just been raped again. I feel numb. I can’t even understand how people avoid being abused. It feels like whatever I do to be normal, I somehow end up with my boundaries violated. Like accidentally dropping my keys, or forgetting about pasta on the stove and it boiling over, I end up having non consensual sex. I struggle to understand the majority of people don’t experience it. How do they avoid it?

    I’m currently quite shaken, so I’m sorry if this has triggered anyone or if it was too raw. I just want to get it out. Many of the people I speak to seem to think it’s normal. I love you, and wish you the best and hope that you have a wonderful, safe life.

  41. I am 57 yrs old, a grandmother of 7, and a mother of 2. I was first raped when I was 17 yrs old. I had went to Jackson to stay wuth a friend a few days. Before the rape I had taken a drug (downer) a friend gave me, which I wasn’t use to taking. I passed out at a friend of my friend’s house, and she left me there. Her friend raped me! I was in shock and so ashamed I never said a word about it to anyone! Being raped after that seemed to have become a normal in my life. And for the next 20 odd years I was raped by many different men. Also drugs and alcohol had become a huge part of my life. And I live with fear and shame because of my past even now. I never married and I here in the past 10 yrs or so, and since my mother’s and twin sister’s death, have been very angry at men in general. Which I believe the hurt and the abuse of my past has turned into. Oh and let’s not forget the beatings and mental abuse, along with the rejection of my family.

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