Published by Women Writers, Women’s Books – Memoir: You Gotta Feel To Heal

Not long ago, I wrote a piece for Women Writers, Woman’s Books, an online literary magazine. This request coincided with the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the emerging #metoo movement. It was perfect timing because I had recently finished writing the rape chapter in my memoir (still in progress). I have included an excerpt and a link to read the full essay.

EXCERPT:

Healing Begins
Once I began writing, I couldn’t stop. It was as if my wounded teenage self—who yearned for healing—guided my fingers like a magical puppeteer. I began writing the hardest material first: the rape I experienced as a 15-year-old virgin. Then I tackled the knifepoint abduction that occurred a month after the sexual assault.

Examined Every Detail
Completing the rape chapter took a whole winter and multiple revisions. I examined every buried detail from that night: my rapist’s smell and threats, the way the room looked, the physical pain, his shaming comments when he felt he’d been cheated because I didn’t bleed.  It also took a long time for me to realize that I had been raped—my definition of “rape” had always involved being jumped and beaten by a stranger in a dark alley, but I had known my 19-year-old abuser.

It Wasn’t my Fault
My shift in perception—realizing that I’d been raped and it wasn’t my fault—didn’t begin until my 92-year-old mother helped me relive the experience. It was as if she was leading a blind person through a minefield. Once the details were on the page, I realized I wouldn’t hesitate to call it rape if the scenario involved my own daughter. In fact, I would have delighted in stringing the perpetrator up by his balls and beating the crap out of him. For over forty years, I had recalled the abuse with my naïve 15-year-old memories of guilt and shame. It took my mother’s guidance, much reflection, and many revisions to stop blaming myself.

I Blamed the Victim
After reading about the recent scandal involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, I was amazed (almost vindicated) that one of his accusers internalized her experience in the same way that I had.  Lucia Evans told The New Yorker, “I just put it in a part of my brain and closed the door. It was always my fault for not stopping him. I had an eating problem for years. I was disgusted with myself.  It’s funny, all these unrelated things I did to hurt myself because of this one thing.” Like Evans, I blamed myself, the victim, instead of blaming the perpetrator—probably like millions of women all over the world who have been assaulted. Evans opened her door by coming forward. I opened mine by writing.

As do many sexual abuse victims, I silently blamed myself for my rape. I now realize that the subconscious guilt and shame I felt colored many of my life choices and decisions. I wonder what the years may have looked like had my rape not occurred. Would I have picked different partners? Would I be in a long-term loving relationship today?  I’ll never know.

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Published by Women Writers, Women’s Books – Memoir: You Gotta Feel To Heal”

  1. Debbie

    Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry that you carried it for so many years. What a blessing that your mother helped you realize it wasn’t your fault, and to promote an avenue for you to heal. I’m looking forward to reading more

  2. Jeannie Bewley

    I feel relief for you in some way. Reading your story brings so many memories back, different occurrences in my life that I closed off. No matter what we each experience it takes courage & bravery, love of self to do what you’ve done by sharing. How painful to carry such a burden. You’ve always been a beautiful person, you’re radiating more now. God Bless you & your heart. Thank you for sharing.

  3. John Quimby

    Yeah I was molested, or raped by 3 different men when I was 7, 9 and 14… when I got sober they were on my amends list because I mistakenly searched deep for my part and when my therapist found out during one session he became “unglued”! Even my sponsor at the time didn’t realize I was but only a victim… thank God I was walked through the pain and able to heal, but I also know the scar never goes away. Those encounters affect my life to this day. I am 63 and was truly just a victim!

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