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Healing News June 1998

Article
Poem
Simple Survey Results
Featured Sites
Quotes
Did you Know?
Notes and Such
Disclaimer

Article

"Part of the excitement in life, I suppose, is the challenge" -anonymous
 

It was a lovely drive north, considering it was Easter weekend and traffic was minimal. The sun was bright and glistened over the rolling hills and tree tops. For the first time in thirteen years, I fully appreciated the majestic beauty of nature. During my drive I saw another unusual sight, a little white duck waddled up the expressway. I found myself laughing, a real genuine laughter. Prior to this, secrets and silence had clouded my perceptions of light and joy. My internal happiness was masked in the cloudy haze of a traumatic event. I spent thirteen years hiding my secret from those around me, mostly from myself. I couldn't let anyone know that one summer's evening in 1983, my life was drastically changed: I was raped at the age of thirteen by someone I had trusted.

Being violated as a child robbed me of the ability to respond maturely to this heinous crime. It shattered my ability to trust. I didn't feel I could tell anyone; I could scarcely believe it myself. I feared I would be blamed for what happened. In a very short period, I had convinced myself of what I feared others would believe -- that it had been my fault. By taking the blame, I was forced into a silence of shame.

Convinced that I could never tell anyone, I strove to forget.

For thirteen years, I carried that cross. My fears shaped my relationships; I felt people would look at me differently if they knew, as if my forehead read "damaged goods" somewhere on it. I was deeply rooted in a state of shame. Shame is one of the most powerful words in my vocabulary, because it was shame that kept me in hiding so long. Shame made it nearly impossible to ask for help, to let my friends be my friends. I was too embarrassed of being a rape victim to confide in anyone.

One of the most damaging affects of the rape, and one which I still mourn, was my loss of innocence. I had trusted this man as a friend not to hurt or take advantage of me. This damage manifested itself in many ways. From that point on, I found it difficult to have relationships with people. I could never trust anyone fully, I always remained on guard. The kinds of friends I chose were those that were in constant need of "something", leaving a very one-sided friendship and never allowing me to be the needy party.

I only dated men who basically used me, as I used them, since I never wanted to be in the vulnerable position of placing my trust in someone. Being in these kinds of relationships damaged my self-esteem. I internalize all of my pain, fearful of revealing the depths of my feelings to anyone.

These one-sided relationships never allowed for a full loving exchange. Lacking self-respect, I become promiscuous, and it wasn't long before I was pregnant at the age of seventeen.

As a single parent of a child who had many health problems, I spent the next seven years so wrapped up in his life that I forgot I had one. I neglected everything that directly pertained to me, from my own health to my schooling. I rarely gave my classes the benefit of my full ability. I could not confront my own pain; couldn't even think about it. I placed the needs of my child and friends before my own. Now, I realize I could have gotten a lot further sooner if I had only spent some of that time and energy on myself.

People's problems and chaotic lifestyles were my great escape from painful memories. Helping others was rewarding and gave me some joy knowing that others were happier through my ministrations. Being the care giver also gave me a sense of control, something I had lost the night I was raped. These evasion tactics could have gone on indefinitely, had I not had a medical procedure force the issue by dredging up the source of my behavior and pain. After 13 years of silently repressing my darkest secret, it erupted and demanded to be acknowledged.

My first memories of being raped surfaced during a medical procedure and the flashbacks were fragmented. This was very disturbing and, not wanting to deal with the issues that surrounded the rape, I buried myself in other activities while desperately trying to forget. I soon found this tactic ceased to be effective. After much agonizing, I broke my silence and told a few people close to me. However, I could not give it any real value. It seemed more like a movie playing a reel of someone else's life rather than my own.

Several months later I was in another surgery procedure, which again, triggered my memory. This time I remembered everything, every detail. The only difference was it had clearly happened to me and I couldn't put off the feelings any longer. For the first time I allowed myself to feel the pain of what had happened; I relieved the entire scenario. The flashbacks and nightmares continued for many weeks. My normal everyday life was put on hold as I grappled with the pain and confusion. I was hurting, but still believed no one would understand. I felt very alone in my struggle.

The truth of my repressed trauma came to light my senior year at the University of Michigan. I have been in college since 1989 and am still working towards my Bachelors. I was so upset with the feelings I was having, that I lost interest in completing my degree. Realizing that my successful pursuit of an education was dependent on dealing with these issues, I decided to postpone my studies. This may have been the most difficult decision of all. I was risking everything to confront this emotionally charged issue head-on.

By withdrawing from school I faced an enormous obstacle. I would be in direct violation of my lease and could be asked to move out of University Housing. As devastating as it was, I'm glad it came down to this because it forced me to reach out and ask someone for help. By confiding in another, I began chipping away at that wall of shame I had hid behind for so long. I sought the assistance of a co-worker and friend, who had earned my respect and trust long before.

This man gave my fears a gentle nudge in the right direction. He was the first to tell me I had nothing to be embarrassed about and that being raped was not my fault. Though a part of me knew this, it was a tremendous relief to hear from someone I respected so highly. His support helped me open up to others. He also channeled me into resources that were able to guide me further. Buoyed by the encouragement I received from these very special people I was able to begin the long road to healing.

I lost a lot when I was raped, but I suffered even more by keeping secrets. Breaking down the walls I had built around myself was tough, but learning to trust my friends and tell what happened were the first stepping stones to recovering. I was amazed at how much people cared, though I confess that the next few months were the most difficult fights I have ever fought. Once I learned to trust again, I essentially had to unlearn all of the things I forced myself to believe in order to survive in silence for so long. Developing new coping skills was a difficult task, but with the help of some remarkable people I began to heal.

Healing is something I originally thought could be accomplished overnight, but I was wrong. This is a growing process that takes a lifetime. I have worked through most of the more troubling manifestations of being raped so young. I know I have a long way to go.

The most important growth was learning to let my friends be my friends and help me. I learned that I am worth every bit of time that I would normally have set aside for others. I continue to strive for a better understanding of the affects of sexual abuse in my life. At times it is so emotionally draining that I want to give up, but moments like that drive home makes me realize that I'm worth the fight.

Some rape survivors dedicate their lives to writing books and help raise the nation's awareness of such crimes. I am dedicating my life to myself-- for I have thirteen years to catch up on.

Rebecca L. Phillips, published Prism III, 1996, U Of M publication


"Coming of Age"
Rebecca Lynn Phillips 
POEMS

"Innocence is something you have and don't know it, until you have lost it..."

Discord of Recovery

Helplessness
I don't know if you can hear me or even if you'll listen -
I often wonder if you'll even care to know .
Please help those lost and searching for some control.
Please God, help the child--show me the peace and serenity I can't seem to know.
I ask for serene thoughts --understanding--just not there.
I ask for nothing--- many less fortunate --life just isn't fair....
 

Remembrance

The feelings resurface- as they often do...
More than any other thought that can come though....
Difficult to express...
Wordless with out rest...
Bombardment, overwhelming and terrorizing thought--
Keep me scattered all about.
I keep searching for the connections to show--
I keep searching for the peace I desperately want to know.
 

DOLOR
I keep thinking of the pain and sorrow.
I keep thinking of the easy way out.
I keep praying for the pain to stop.
I keep praying for courage to go through.
I keep hoping for a new day.
I keep hoping for a new way.
I keep hoping there's always a tomorrow.
I keep thinking if I make it though-I can make in anywhere.

Rebecca Lynn Phillips 



Survey Results May 1998

 Question 1 Totals:
 Are you male or female?

                   Female was selected 106 times 
                   Male was selected 5 times 
                   Don't choose to answer was selected 0 times 

                   Question 2 Totals:

 Who do you feel has been the most effected by the rape, besides you?

                   Spouse was selected 23 times 
                   Mother/father was selected 23 times 
                   Sister/brother was selected 1 times 
                   Children was selected 9 times 
                   Friend/Significant Other was selected 54 times 


                   Question 3 Totals: 

 Who do you feel like has been the second most effected by the rape besides
 #2?

                   Spouse was selected 6 times 
                   Mother/Father was selected 24 times 
                   Sister/Brother was selected 16 times 
                   Children was selected 10 times 
                   Friend/Significant Other was selected 46 times 

                   Question 4 Totals:

 How has this impacted your relationship with the people most effected?

   Minimally. Things are pretty much the same. was selected 0 times 
   Mildly Some things are different was selected 29 times 
   Majorly but haven't needed professional help. was selected 32 times 
   Severely needed professional help was selected 44 times 
   Not at all was selected 6 times 

                   Question 5 Totals:

 What do you feel like the outcome of the relationship with this person
 will be?

                   Stronger eventually was selected 49 times 
                   Broken entirely was selected 14 times 
                   About the same was selected 5 times 
                   Unsure but hoping for the best was selected 33 times 
                   Completely uncertain was selected 9 times

FEATURED PAGES

 National Victims'Constitutional Amendment Network

 NVCAN is a 501(c)(3) organization supporting the adoption of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing the fundamental rights of crime victims to be treated with dignity, fairness and respect by the criminal justice system. Read more about NVCAN and the proposed constitutional amendment.

 For those of us interested in victims’ rights it may come as a suprise that there is legislation proposed to guarantee rights of victims. This is an excellent site full of vital information, including an address finder to help you know who to contact to support this legislation.


What is RiteAway?

 The RiteAway Team was founded to assist victims of crime or injustice who have special needs. RiteAway is dedicated to assuring prompt, equal, and quality assistance and treatment for all victims, especially those with disabilities.

 RiteAway does not believe in or tolerate discrimination of any kind, and will provide support to people of any race, gender, religion, or sexual preference.

 Anyone with a legitimate need will not be turned away from RiteAway. RiteAway also supports the work of Law Enforcement nationwide.

 This excerpt taken from their web site sums it up. It's an excellent site, loaded with information that everyone should be aware of. It's worth the time to check it out.


QUOTES

 Quotes are from Quotations Home Page

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. Chinese Proverb

 If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. Anonymous

 Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe


Did you know?

 Did you know according to Women & Violence that Homicide is the number one cause women's death at work?

 Or that according to NIOSH Table 13 more than 13,000 women a year are raped at work?

 OSHA is still not requiring security on the job sites for many types of jobs. A letter from OSHA found at refers to this problem. However, a follow up phone call this year confirmed that it is still not being suggested.


Notes And Such

 The Rape Recovery Help And Information Page now includes a message board and chat forum. Please feel free to visit and take part.

 Together we can heal! Thanks to all of you who sent in articles, suggested featured pages, and helped me find sources for quotes. YOU are what makes this newsletter possible. Keep the suggestions and input coming!

 Thanks,

 Gayle Crabtree


DISCLAIMER

 None of this is supposed to be a substitute for professional help. There are many lists of professional sources on the web and in your local areas. If you think you need professional help, get it. It may be the best present you ever gave yourself.


NOTES

 All Newsletters of Healing News are Copyrighted and not to be reproduced without permission of the author except for free usage by survivors.

Poems, articles and submissions are Copyrighted by their own individual authors. For reproduction you will need to get in touch with them. Email addresses are available.

 


 

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