Archive for the ‘rape’ Category



The Silent Scream

Understanding The Distressing Path and Aftermath
of Sexual Coercion and Betrayal

Rape is an ugly word.
What thoughts, feelings, or images come to mind as you hear or actually say the word rape? In all probability, the word conjures up graphic images in our mind of a stranger lurking in the shadows, an intruder in the darkness, a predator who violently and with overpowering physical force assaults, overcomes and forcefully penetrates the victim sexually. More disturbing than the images are the sickening feelings that come with them. That is one form of rape, an overpowering physical assault by a stranger with the intent of forcing sexual intercourse or penetration. As awful, as prevalent, and as devastating as this type of rape is, it is not the most common type of rape. Rape actually takes a number of forms, such as:
o Date rape is a brutal betrayal that can occur on the first date or any there after. It is what the name implies, a prearranged social outing where the perpetrator sexually assaults his date by coercion, force or by taking advantage of the dates condition such as intoxication;
o Acquaintance rape, similar to date rape, often occurs at a party setting or in a situation or set up by an acquaintance or “friend.” The acquaintance is not a date, but someone who commits sexual assault as previously described;
o Partner or Spousal rape is was it implies;
o Child Rape occurs in many degrees and perverted varieties.
o Senior Rape and sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes, etc.

But the most prevalent form of rape in our society and in the church, in the teen and young adult years, is something much more subtle than what we normally think of as rape. This form often goes unrecognized and is wrongly and regularly dismissed as something far less. The most common form of rape does not feel like rape, especially to the victim and her family. Frequently, the victim, her friends, her family, or her community or church do not recognize this subtle variety real rape. The most prevalent form of rape is Boyfriend Rape. Many victims of Boyfriend Rape know and feel that they were forced, coerced, pressured or intimidated into performing or participating some form of sexual act, but deny that they were raped. Why? Answer: It doesn’t fit the image of rape in their minds. Also, since they had chosen to be with the perpetrator or were in a relationship with him they feel partially at fault. Victims of Boyfriend Rape often mistake their own desire for intimacy or temptations as somehow contributing to or minimizing what was done. The lack of validation by parents and others adds to the internal turmoil and confusion. The result of this conflicted experience is the victim’s silent scream of intense shame, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, abandonment and emotional pain. Often the silent scream goes unheard or unheeded by parents and others in spite of definite changes in the silent screamer who is crying out for validation and understanding. The vast majority of the rapes among teens and young adults in the United States and in the church are Boyfriend, date, or acquaintance rapes.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, 2001 showed that 73% of women who had been legally raped didn’t believe they had been raped. Over one-third did not discuss the incident with anyone; only 5% reported it to the police. That same study found that
44% of male college students reported some likelihood of “forcing a female to do something sexual she didn’t want to,” if they wouldn’t be punished or found out. At least
1 in 4 female college students will be a victim of rape or attempted rape. And these statistics are old and very low as compared to today.

But Was It Rape?
Rape (or sexual assault) is any sexual activity that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force or by coercion, duress or intimidation against another person’s will or consent. This includes forced or coerced oral or manual sex as the unwilling recipient or stimulator; and other non-consented to sexual touching. Rape and sexual assault is not limited to vaginal penetration by force. The person does not consent if she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, mental condition (including that induced by drugs or alcohol), level of understanding, or dependency/relationship to the offender.

Victims of Boyfriend Rape experience extreme guilt, shame and denial because they feel they somehow contributed to the rape or assault because they trusted the boy friend, were aware of his intense sexual desires, yet chose to continue the relationship. It didn’t feel like rape as normally pictured in the mind. She is lacking objectivity.

It will help the victim to reframe the event picturing someone other than herself in the situation. Once she can relive it in her mind, but with another girl such as a niece or sister or daughter at the same age most victims will readily see that a rape has occurred. She will answer the question, “What is he doing to her?” with the words, “He is raping her.” “What did he do you?” Answer: He raped me.” Saying those words aloud for the first time is a powerful step toward freedom from the unwarranted guilt and shame that has resulted in the silent scream.

It will also help the victim answer the question, “What were you thinking, believing, and feeling about yourself during and after the event?” A flurry of untrue self-beliefs normally emerges. These false beliefs are what prevented the person from seeking the help she needs and also further enabled the control and intimidation of the boyfriend, thus enabling further sexual mistreatment.

How Does This Happen?

While each Boyfriend Rape scenario has its own characteristics unique to the needs of the victim and the dominating traits of the abuser, there is an observable pattern that each case generally adheres to. In most cases Boyfriend rape is not spontaneous, but the result of a well thought out strategy for conquest and control. This is usually difficult for the victim to accept because it means that she was devalued and connected with to be used from the very start. All the pretense of caring and deceptive compliments was part of an act to dupe and use her. That is very difficult to accept and undermines the ability to ever trust or love again. Boyfriend rape often follows a predictable sequence of phases always ending with the discarding of the victim as a used and item of no worth or value.
1ST: The Connect and Care Phase Somehow and somewhere the young man deliberately connects with the young woman. There is a steady, engaging, and heart-warming pursuit of the girl or young woman. There is a relational connection. They both can feel it or so it seems. Her heart comes alive with the potential fulfillment of her dreams and desires. Her need to be loved and valued promises to be met as never before. She feels relationally alive and cherished as never before. Phase one brings hope to the unsuspecting young woman and creates the desire within her for more and deeper intimacy. There is a part of her that has been awakened that yearns for stimulation and closeness. Her heart and her head begin to conflict as her long held values bump ever so gently against her growing desire to be closer, to be kissed and to be held. The hook has been set and now he will play her as a skilled angler plays a trophy fish slowly wearing her down always with the intent of reeling her in to use her to feed his own appetite.

2ND: The Caress and Compromise Phase Who among us does not want to feel the warmth of a caring touch and the softness of the kiss given and received in love? Touching begins to occur in this phase, but it is normally safe and appropriate touching (holding hands, an arm around her shoulder, a simple kiss goodnight, etc.). It feels like part of the dream coming true. She feels fully alive. This is a feeling, a relationship, and a sense of fulfillment that she does not want to lose. The Boyfriend is counting on this. A bonding is beginning to take place in this phase, both emotionally and physically. As one writer puts it: “Touch enhances the pleasure of relational bonding, and relational intimacy gives meaning and vibrancy to physical contact.” These feel like the initial stages of genuine love. The love for her is real, but the love by the Boyfriend is part of the act and the power of the snare.

After she has been conditioned to the pleasure of his touch, he begins to cross an uncrossed and inappropriate boundary ever so slightly. It might appear accidental. It both stimulates and frightens her at the same time. Values and desires are conflicted.
Even if she put off the inappropriate touch she did so fearing that she would lose something she now had, the feeling of being loved and giving love, and the relationship that seems so real to her. Already she is conflicted by the mixture of guilt and pleasure, love and pressure, and feeling responsible when in fact she is not. A small simple compromise or series of them begin to raise doubts in her soul about the boundaries she has held so dear in her mind. Her heart beckons her to not let him go. After all, she has been saving herself just for him. A small deposit surely would not be too big a price. What seems so innocent is the beginning of a deliberate betrayal and the tightening of the snare.
3RD: The Coerce and Conquer Phase To paraphrase a very wise counselor: Sexual abuse occurs in the context of emptiness, confusion, loneliness; a context that sets up the victim for a baffling interplay of betrayal, ambivalence, and powerlessness as the Boyfriend moves the girl or young woman from one phase to the next. Initially he nourished her soul, and then combined the stimulation of touch with the thrill of feeling alive and the awakening of her sensuality. Even the compromises seemed but small slip-ups and surely it would stop because he cares. He would stop, if he genuinely cared, which is not the case. What is so easily seen by an outsider is so mysteriously disguised to the girl whose emotions and body are being betrayed by the one person who brought her the feeling of being alive and loved. Betrayal is without mercy.

The hook was set with the birth of relational hope. The bait was swallowed when emotions were affirmed by the pleasure of touch and the promise, implied or spoken of a lasting love. The girl or young woman was worn down by being played with the illusion of freedom in what appeared to be an occasional compromise. And now the Boyfriend is going to reel her in by bringing the line taught and pulling her in the direction he wants her to go through manipulation, coercion, pressure and in some cases physical force.

When he senses the time is right, he may place her hand where she would never put it. If she recoils or retracts she will be met with whatever ploy will work to manipulate her, guilt her and pressure her. He might even physically force her. The irony is that she is made to feel guilty if she does not comply and is accused of being selfish or uncaring or a freak by the one who actually is all of these.

The common forms of coercion often involve not what is done to her, but what he makes her do to him. His aim is to gain control and to gain control he must move her past any safe boundary until she is far from shore and drowning in a sea of shame and guilt and imprisoned by the fear of exposure. Secrecy is essential. A common ploy is for the Boyfriend to make her masturbate him either manually or orally, the latter being the ultimate form of shame as he ejaculates into her mouth and face. The act may be followed with his gentleness and compassion only adding to her confusion and shame. To whom could she turn if not to him? She draws close to the very person who abused her. Drowning in a sea of shame, guilt and feelings of worthlessness she ironically clings to her betrayer as her only means of staying afloat.

4TH: The Control and Compliance PhaseThe Boyfriend will now use whatever means necessary to ensure secrecy and further compliance. He needs to instill both fear and absolute loyalty in the young woman. The shame insures her silence. If her virginity has not been taken from her by now it soon will be, but not as she once imagined. The dream of intimacy and romance she once imagined in her dreams will now become of nightmare of numbness, nausea, fear and pain.

A counselor summarized what he had heard from one young woman such an occasion and the taken of her virginity:

“…He gained an emotional hold over you — controlling you (not through brute force, but emotional coercion and secrecy). You were raped in many ways: physically, emotionally and spiritually. … When you told me what it was like when he planned and carried out your loss of virginity and what that awful event was like, my heart broke for you. You described the raw emotions, reactions and behaviors of other rape victims I have counseled — extreme terror or fear, frozen in passivity or paralysis, nausea, blacking out, excruciating pain… and much more. Your worst hurt, however, came when he later “discarded” you and you pleadingly asked of him, “Who will want me?” and he walked out of your life forever.”He has her silence and that silence is rarely broken. Her only hope is to comply with his darkest desires for as long as necessary always counting on the day he will marry her.
But, marriage, if she is fortunate, will never come, at least not with her abuser, her Boyfriend Rapist.

5TH: The Cast Off Phase“Your worst hurt, however, came when he later “discarded” you and you pleadingly asked of him, “Who will want me?” and he walked out of your life forever.”

The Boyfriend Rapist is filled with and consumed by self-gratification. His narcissism demands that he exploit and experience the control and muse of other young woman or girls. Unfortunate is the young woman who actual marries the one who has abused her. His character will not change. Just as he pushed, exploited and used her before marriage, he will do in other areas after marriage for self-gratification.

“Who will want me?” This is where the young woman will either experience life as a victim or find the path to being a survivor of sexual abuse and Boyfriend rape. There is no hurt or scar so deep that the power and love of God cannot bring healing to the wounded soul. The answer to the wounded hearts question is that first, God does and secondly, He has someone much better for you who will love and cherish you as He designed your for. But first you must heal from the silent scream. You are never more vulnerable to further exploitation and choosing unwise coping mechanisms than you are right now.

The Sounds Of The Silent Scream
The result of this conflicted experience is the victim’s silent scream of intense shame, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, abandonment and emotional pain. Often the silent scream goes unheard or unheeded by parents and others in spite of definite changes in the silent screamer who is crying out for validation and understanding.
How can we hear it? What should we look for?

Many Boyfriend or date/acquaintance rape victims suffer from Rape Trauma Syndrome. Symptoms include loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, suicidal ideation, nightmares, cutting and other forms of self harm, extreme phobias, preoccupation with the rape, anxiety about leaving the home and being with other people, inability to concentrate on studies or work, and sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Georgia Witkin-Lanoil notes that Rape Trauma Syndrome has three stages:

1. The Acute Phase. In the victim’s silence, her emotions may be expressed as physical symptoms: headaches, sleeplessness, nausea lightheadedness, blackouts, and/or muscle spasms. There might be aversions to certain foods or places associated with the scenarios that unfolded. In addition, she may experiences confusion, depression, anxiety, nightmares, and jumpiness.

2. Chronic Phase. After several days, a victim seems to slide into preoccupation with her role within the relationship by constantly replaying memories to figure out how the rape that didn’t feel like rape might have been prevented. The alternative is just as prominent: a temporary “adjustment” period that is based on mental and emotional denial of the incident. Numbing is the way most young woman cope with the ongoing abuse they are secretly experiencing at the hands of her Boyfriend. Along with the numbing comes the desire to feel normal again. The victims do want to feel, are desperate to feel, but the one feeling they crave is what they have been robbed of: normalcy. This may lead to use and abuse of alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, and self-abusive behaviors such as cutting or burning, etc. These are all part of the silent scream.

3. Long-Term Reorganization Phase. Often six or more months will pass before the victim digests and incorporates the reality of the experience.

What is important to realize is that the sexual abuse survivor will begin to act out of the belief system she has acquired during this abusive relationship. How does one act who believes she is good for only one thing, namely, to be used by men? How does one act if she believes that no one could ever love her because she is in her mind dirty, worthless, and unlovable? Couple that with the use of alcohol or drugs and you have a formula for further abuse and rape at the hands of other men. As bizarre as it may seem young women also may come to equate love with sexual activity giving rise to a need and aversion that is quickly destructive when coupled with the party scene she may now be drawn to.

Fear that God might punish them for the wrongs they perceive they are responsible for is not uncommon. The silent belief that they also deserve to be punished is also common. May we all begin to hear the sounds of the silent scream…

Whether the young woman becomes a boisterous party girl, a loner tough girl or one who lives in pretense behind a facade of normalcy while crying or hurting herself alone in silence, she is screaming for help and needs acceptance, validation of her rape and hope that she and the future are more than they appear to be. Let us be aware of one more thing. The Boyfriend needs help to.

What Can I Do To Help?
Listen and Believe
Above all else the victim/survivor of Boyfriend rape needs to be listened to and believed.
The greatest fear in all of this for most women, young or old is that they won’t be believed. Too often their fear is justified. At 50 years old my own wife experienced this fear when she chose to share what had happened to her with her parents. Fortunately they believed her and embraced her. It meant all the difference in the world.

Often parents, siblings or peers simply attribute to the sexual involvement to the boy and girl being mutually responsible. Why? First, promiscuity of any degree would be easier to handle than facing that your loved one or friend has been raped. Injustice is a cruel dagger. Second, they do not understand the phases and control that occur unless they have been through it themselves, and use logic instead of understanding. Why does an abused wife stay with a wife beater? There is nothing logical about it, but rather relational control. They do not understand the desperation that the young woman goes through trying to hold on to the desperate hope of marriage. Third, some refuse to deal with reality and retreat in to judgment and accusation rather than reaching out to help the victimized. And lastly, some men do not dare admit that what has happened is rape or sexual assault because they know if it is, then they would be guilty of it as well and are afraid to face the truth.

Protect and Provide
Above all else the young woman needs a safe place with safe people. Deal with the issue forthrightly and in a way that protects your loved one from having to have unwanted contact with her abuser. Do not try to fix her. She needs to see her parents or spouse react appropriately with hurt, anger, sadness, and yet without sinning. My own wife has thanked me for entering into her suffering by listening, holding her and praying with her. These survivors of sexual abuse are validated as we show a desire to know the truth and the harsh realities, not out of curiosity, but to share in their suffering.

Do not handle this alone, but find safe people and competent counselors. The more she is able to tell her story or what she is ready to tell to safe people who validate her feelings, the better and faster she will heal. Become informed. Read good solid treatments of this subject.

Encourage and Embrace
It would be normal for the young woman to experience PTSD and flashbacks or awful memories assault her mind. Encourage her and tell her this will pass in time as she moves forward in the process. She may doubt her memories, but you must not. They are probably all true and real. She may need to be held and prayed over. Take the initiative.


Forgive and Confront

In time you will need to forgive the person and ask God’s blessing upon him. Jesus did not die so you or I could hate someone. HE died so we could be free from the hate by forgiving very specifically what has been done.
How has he wounded you, your loved one?
What judgments are you making of this abuser? Identify them and give God the seat of judgment as Joseph did when he refused to sit in the seat of God.
What debt does he owe you? What would make it right? Identify these specifically and when you can, cancel each of the debts based on the blood of Jesus. Give up the right to punish.

Do not expect the victim to forgive until she is ready. In time this will occur, but not yet. Its not your job to get her to do this. It is God’s.

If you do confront, and I believe you should, do it in a way that protects your loved one. Do not condemn or berate the abuser, but do bring this into the light. The best thing that could happen to him is to get caught and be exposed. Do not mistake forgiveness with acting as if nothing happened. Boundaries are necessary. Trust is not warranted.

Pray and Pursue
Pray and pursue God and all that is good. Pray and pursue time with safe encouraging friends. As you move forward and your loved one moves forward you will find that God is enough for whatever lies ahead.

What Is Next?
Jesus died so you and I could live…really live. Whatever else lies ahead for you, please trust Him and His promises. Time alone does not heal, but we still need time for healing to occur and occur it will. Do not stop living, but keep moving forward, loving God as you go.

Jeremiah 31:3-4 (NIV)
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O __________________ (your name).
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
“Forget (don’t obsess on) the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Lastly I would say, do not waste the pain and suffering. Dozens of women (and some men) have been helped simply because my wife and others like her dared to share their story with others and through them doing so, many have found the path to freedom and healing.

You can find healing, hope and freedom.
You are a survivor, no longer a victim.
I Promise.

Note: I have not tried to footnote or reference some of my resources, but simply tried to consolidate what I normally share into one paper that hopefully will benefit many.
God is with you. God will not let you down. As you heal tell others of the path you have found and have followed and of the God who has walked with you through it all.
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APPENDIX

MYTHS ABOUT RAPE

From Focus on the Family

Rape is any sexual activity that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force or coercion against another person’s will. Men, as well as women, can be violated, and it is not a crime that necessarily strikes any one group of victims. The person does not consent if he or she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, being impaired in thinking by drugs or alcohol, level of understanding or dependency/relationship to the offender. Young and old, black and white — anyone can be raped.

Nobody has the right to demand physical or sexual favors from another person without their consent, regardless of their relationship to them. Rape exploits one person in order to meet another person’s sexual or emotional desires. Psychologically, it devastates its victims. Economically, it’s extremely costly in terms of physical and mental health care, as well as lost time from work or school. Victims of sexual assault often experience fear, anxiety, depression, difficulty in sexual relationships and many other psychological and physical symptoms.

Rape, and the issues of shame and silence surrounding it, are not new: The story of Tamar, who was violated by her half-brother Amnon, is described in 2 Samuel 13:11-12, 14 and 20. When her brother Absalom learned of this incident, he told her to keep silent and she remained a “desolate woman in his house.” Many misconceptions about rape exist, and the following are just a few of them:

(Note: Since research shows that the majority of violent sexual acts are committed primarily against women, and for the sake of brevity, we will use feminine pronouns when referring to the victims of rape. However, it should be remembered that either gender can be a perpetrator or victim.)

Myth #1: Rape is an expression of intense sexual desire. Rape is an expression of violence, not sexual desire. It is motivated by the need to dominate, control and degrade the victim. This act of aggression is often triggered by feelings of anger or violence. Some rapists punish their victims out of a need to release pent-up anger or frustration. Others have deep feelings of inadequacy that are relieved by their ability to control and dominate another person. This display of aggression is due to low self-concept, doubts about masculinity, feelings of social distance or general unhappiness. In reality, many rapists state that during the rape they felt no sense of sexual stimulation or arousal.

Myth #2: Rape always occurs spontaneously. The act of rape is almost always carefully premeditated and executed. In the majority of cases, the rapists acquaint themselves with their intended victims before they actually attack. Rapes committed by men who are known to the victim may account for as much as 74 percent of all rapes. Rapes are not committed by lonely men looking for affection and temporary closeness. And because they are planned, rape almost always includes the use of force or threat of harm and often the use of deadly weapons.

The victim of date or acquaintance rape commonly experiences extreme guilt, as she feels her behavior somehow contributed to the rape. Often victims feel partially responsible for the assault because they trusted the assailant or dressed seductively. She may hesitate to report the incident if there are a number of mutual friends because of embarrassment or shame over potential public exposure and the resulting stigma.

Myth #3: Some women secretly desire or invite rape. The act of rape is a horrifying and life-threatening experience. No woman wants to be used against her will. And when rape occurs, the victim’s sense of self, as well as her body, is penetrated and used without consent. In the same category as homicide, rape is the most profound violation of a person’s body. It deprives the victim of both physical and emotional privacy and autonomy.

Myth #4: Some women deserve to be raped. In actuality, physical appearance or actions have little to do with who gets raped. Infants, elderly women and females of all incomes and living arrangements can be raped. No one deserves to be raped. This thinking shifts the blame from the attacker to the victim, faulting her for her dress, behavior or whereabouts. Victims of non-sexual assault are not subjected to such attitudes, and neither should rape victims.

Myth #5: A woman is raped because “she asked for it” by being careless. A woman who goes out alone or after dark is not “asking” to be raped. Everyone should take precautions to avoid being victimized. However, some women are raped in their own home. Open areas in daylight or automobiles are also common places for rapes to occur. No woman is responsible for the behavior of a rapist merely because she happens to be in a particular place at a given time or with a certain person.

Myth #6: All rapists are big, mean and tough. There are no obvious features that would make a rapist stand out in a crowd. It could be your neighbor, a repairman or a door-to-door salesman. Rapists may be nicely dressed, masquerade in disguises (including a policeman’s uniform) or pose as a woman.
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