Created: Saturday July 04, 1998 18:56:54 GMT

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."
Vincent van Gogh

Some of you may have seen this quote already, as it was previously on my welcome page. It is especially relevant to this part of my life, and maybe yours too.

This section of my page was added on 12 January 1999, and should be visited by all people concerned about the rape culture in which we live.

nowhere to go -
nowhere to run -
in a moving prison
just me, and

"i just want to see"
his voice
almost playful

how dare he play with me!
I am a woman!
I am strong!
and yet, here I am
strong woman

at last
safe at home
but will I ever be safe again?
"an unsuccessful rape attempt"
it sounds so harmless
my body untouched

but the rape was real

my pride was raped
my strength was raped
the moment he heard me plead

Really bad poetry, I know, lol. But it was a part of a healing process that has not completely ended. I found this poem a couple of days ago, when sorting out all my things in the process of planning a move, and having found the Rape Recovery Help and Information Page page last month, I suddenly felt a need to develop this part of my page. This is not the first time that I have considered doing this, but it was more difficult to start than I had thought, and even now I am having doubts of whether I should link it or not.

I am doing this for a reason. This IS the information highway after all, and I hope that I can reach even one person who can gain strength from the most important lesson I learned from my own experiences.

In the time when I was too afraid to leave the house alone, too afraid to stay at home alone, too afraid to sleep at night because of the terrible nightmares, afraid of every man - even, at times, the people who cared about me most, my lover, father and brothers - a LifeLine counsellor told me that I would start to regain what I had lost after six months. I thought it was just something he said. I didn't think anyone could put a time limit on what i was feeling. But once I got to a stage where I was starting (only starting) to feel that I had won my life back again, I realised that almost exactly six months had passed.

Maybe it was a co-incidence, maybe it wasn't.

If this has happened to you, and if you choose to tell people about it, a lot of people are going to say things like "time heals all wounds" and "everything will be ok". They are wrong. If my experiences and the experiences of many others are any guideline, everything will not be ok. Your life will never be the same again. I won't lie to you about that, and I don't think that untruths (even well-intentioned untruths, even from people who don't understand that they are telling untruths) are helpful. Your life will never be the same again, but you WILL regain control over your life. You may feel a little as if the person who did this to you stole your own life from you (I did)....but nobody has the power to do that. You WILL get it back. It does get better! In my case, I was able to start looking to the future, able to sometimes live a whole day without thinking about it, after six months. The next 18 months were a time of healing, and after two years my life was my own again. It has been almost exactly five and a half years now, and I hardly ever have the nightmares, those terrible nightmares where I wake up in the night and have to force my body to relax enough so that I can breathe. I still have them, but if I have one tonight, it will not change my day tomorrow. I know how to accept it, and let it go. My life is not the same as it was before the rape attempt, but it is MY life and I am happy and independent.

Be strong.


athena survivor's anthology is africamuse's link of the month for November 1998


Additional Comments: Tuesday September 22, 1998 19:56:58 GMT

Originally, when I placed this page on my site, I was very nervous. More than nervous, in fact ... afraid. Afraid of identifying myself as a "victim", afraid of laying myself open to more abuse. Afraid of that indefinable something which many survivors of abuse would recognise. Instead, I found a wealth of support.

Yes, I found support on the net, in the links above. But I was amazed at how much encouragement and positive feedback I received from friends on the net, especially the "triviads". People who I thought would most probably not even read the page. And, very importantly, from "in real life" people...friends and even family who knew that this had happened to me but with whom I had never discussed how I felt. I have received so many guestbook entries and emails and other messages from people who have showed me real friendship. You know who you are. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me

And then there are the messages from the people who have had similar experiences. It is both terrifying and comforting to know that I am not alone in this....terrifying because of the sheer amount of physical and sexual abuse out there, especially directed at children. To all the people who wrote to me, and particularly to the people who told me their stories...or who told me that there WERE stories but that they were unable to share them yet....thank you, and don't underestimate your strength. When you feel at your weakest, that is when you are actually strongest. That is something that I have realised today.

I have also had messages from people who care about survivors of abuse. I know that this is a very difficult position to be in. There are no clear guidelines as to how to deal with the multitude of emotions and fears created in situations like this. Your position is an unenviable one...but it is not unappreciated! You have my admiration.

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