Rapists Don’t Know Damage They Do
“Hannah” seemed off-kilter.
She was dating a friend of mine in high school. They fought constantly and it was always ups and downs, always on and off.
Her personality swang widely, too. She went from hyper to depressed and back again. And her clothing seemed to fit her depressive mood: sweatpants and t-shirts. Maybe they expressed her sad life. Maybe they made her feel safer, making her invisible. Sometimes she hid in her own bubble, cutting everyone off.
I think she was also a cutter.
She never talked about her family and I wondered why. But over time she opened up to me. She had never felt loved by her mom or dad. Especially her dad. That’s all she said at first.
Then one day she broke down crying as she held her trembling arms in a sad self-embrace.
Trigger warning. May be triggering for some survivors of rape.
When I asked what was wrong she told me that her father had raped her and her mother did not stop him.
My heart cried for Hannah. I felt I understood her more. Her shifting moods may have been due to a medical condition. Or, they may have been due to these assaults. I could see why she would have problems in relationships, like with my friend. And with all of us.
I worried about her but I didn’t know what to do. And I couldn’t tell anyone since she had revealed this to me in confidence.
After just one year of meeting Hannah, I never saw or heard from her again.
Her old boyfriend eventually told me he thought she might have been sexually abused. Once when they had sex she had gotten anxious and shaky and passed out. She didn’t remember anything when she came to, and he didn’t ask about it because he worried she’d get upset and depressed.
Later, he broke up with her because she was sleeping with other guys at school.
Because of that he didn’t think too highly of her. But I think differently. After learning about incest, I know that these victims often grew up in cold, unloving homes, and often confuse sex with love because it’s the only “closeness” (if you can call it that) that they have ever known.
I worry about her because I know that emotionally needy girls can easily attract predators and they are more likely to be sexually assaulted.
I also know that victims of rape and incest are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, shame, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction and to feel low self-esteem.
I don’t know if rapists realize how much damage they do to women and the men who love them. I know that many child molesters convince themselves that the child “wants it.”
I wish I’d known then what I know now so that I could help Hannah more.
But I hope that my story might help someone else.
This was written by one of my students, who gave permission to post it.
Posted on February 7, 2014, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged child sexual abuse, feminism, incest, psychology, rape, sexism, sexual assault, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.