Rape Survivor Stories and Learning How to Heal
Currently, I’m writing a book anthology that is part memoir and part self-help. Each chapter will tell a rape survivor’s story followed by assessments of things to work on based on the particulars of that story, followed by workbook exercises. Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) therapists will offer their expertise in order to help improve self-esteem . When I finally told someone about the gang rape, I was able to receive help. Before that, I was filled with shame, embarrassment, rage, depression, and a zillion more overwhelming feelings.
The chilling fact is that at least 1 in 5 females in America will be sexually assaulted (source: RAINN.org). But, because so many women are afraid to tell, that figure may be closer to 1 in 3. This educational book will get the topic of rape out in the open in order to improve understanding and initiate conversations between parents, spouses, siblings, friends, teachers, and children of survivors.
Rape survivors are frequently too scared to tell anyone. They think, ‘Nobody will believe me,’or ‘It must’ve been my fault.’
The biggest problem with keeping rape a secret is that it will create severe psychological damage.
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A few years ago, The New York Times published my personal essay: Defriending My Rapist. I wrote it after Facebook had suggested I friend one of my classmates who had gang-raped me when I was 13. At that age, I’d been too terrified to tell anyone and keeping secrets led me down a very dark path. The great news is that I finally told when I landed in a drug rehab at age 26. It was a long road from there to where I am now and I have done the most healing in the past few years. Going public was terrifying but surprisingly positive for me.
This project is to connect with those who have lived through similar nightmarish circumstances and it’s for the people that love them — parents, children, siblings, friends. My aim is to help survivors avoid the hell I went through, which could’ve been avoided if I had told and sought help. Now I speak openly about everything that happened.
I am interviewing rape victims who are willing to talk to me about their story. I am especially interested in hearing if rape survivors told anyone at the time. I care about their trauma and the tough days they’ve had to get through during the aftermath. And I want to hear each survivor’s story about where they are now.
Please contact me via Facebook, Twitter or Email if you would like your story included in the book. Pseudonyms are fine and no identifying details will be revealed.
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As a traumatized teen, I used magical thinking: “If I erase the rape from my mind, then it never really happened.” When that “solution” failed, it led me through years of Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS). (Something I knew nothing about until recently.)
RTS SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
Extreme Mood Swings
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Suicidal Ideation and Attempts
Frequent Moves to Escape Memories
Acute Sensitivity to Other People’s Opinions
Inability to Form Intimate Romantic Relationships
Since my essay was published in The New York Times, thousands of people have reached out to me. It is shocking—and terribly disturbing—how many people in America have been sexually assaulted.
STAMP OUT STIGMA
We live in a misogynist culture that shames and blames victims. Rapists only get a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all. We feel screwed all over again by the legal system. So many of us never report what we’ve been through. The more we share our stories, the stronger we will be together. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
FIND YOUR VOICE
I have become a frequent speaker about rape, PTSD and addiction and have been a guest on television and radio shows, including Dr. Drew. My essay became required reading in a Victimology course at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I speak there every semester, and at writers conferences, schools, and various events through RAINN.org. The more I talk about it, the more I heal. Finding your voice is the key to recovering.
￼ I have written hundreds of articles for a wide assortment of publications, including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day , The Establishment , ROAR, The Fix, Forward, Yahoo and Tablet, and my short stories appear in 7 book anthologies including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
WHY NOW and WHY ME
Thousands of strangers have contacted me, begging me to write a book on this topic—they include rape victims, parents and children of victims, social workers, mental health professionals, substance abusers, suicide attempt survivors and many more.
So why this campaign? Because as a self-employed freelance writer who volunteers to help others, I do not have enough funds to take time away from working 12–15 hours a day (scrambling to pitch editors, land assignments, and write articles). After years of trying , I have found that I cannot get my bills paid AND give this book the time and attention it needs. Thank you to anyone who can donate and/or spread the word by sharing this link .