[Trigger Warning: rape]
People say that there is no right way to break, there is no right way suffer, no right way to get over things as traumatic as this. Yet growing up I got the distinct feeling that there were certain expectations. That there was a certain degree to which “Yes, this is normal”. But if you crossed that unspoken line, then you were either in denial or maybe it just wasn’t such a huge deal after all. If you reacted in the wrong way, people might think that maybe you yourself were ill.
Women aren’t supposed to feel the rage that men do: that would be wrong [insert sarcastic tone here]. That was the subliminal message I got as a child and a young woman. Hence, if I didn’t break down the way I was “supposed to”, I would force it. I was always scared that people wouldn’t take my pain seriously if I didn’t. I knew they wouldn’t because they hadn’t in the past. The irony of this, of course, is that in following the unspoken script put out for us girls I never really dealt with anything. Things don’t go away if you have to force yourself to cry, they don’t get resolved if you have a faux nervous breakdown. If you don’t embrace your own unique way of letting things go they will stay with you endlessly.
While for life’s smaller injuries and incidents the rules have become more relaxed, society still hasn’t fully accepted that there are more reactions women can have when it comes to things like rape than denial or teary breakdown. There is a standard narrative put out for us rape victims. Even today we are often times expected to behave a certain way, and feel certain things. Thing is, not all of us fit this narrative. In fact many of us don’t.
After I was raped, I expected the reaction to happen like they said it should. I’ve spent the last 4 years feeling like damaged goods because it never did. I was supposed to cry, I was supposed to have the perfect breakdown like all the women I’ve seen on TV. I was supposed to go through steps A, B and C. I couldn’t fake a reaction to this, though; funerals sure, breakups no problem.
Not this. Read more