One of my friends was raped by her brother this morning. I feel pretty damn useless. I mean, right after it happened when she texted me, there was stuff I could do. Like call 911 and get them out there, contact her boyfriend, advise her not to shower or bathe till she'd had the rape kit. But there's really NOTHING I can say that will make this situation suck any less.

I remember why I wished prayer was true now. Because I wanted to have something to offer when someone was in pain I couldn't fix. On my other blog I give links to RAINN and other child sexual abuse charities so if anyone wants to help others like her, rather than praying for her which we all kind of know is pointless, you can do that here. I'm just so exhausted. I can't wait for my son to go to sleep so I can finally just bawl my eyes out over this.

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Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on June 5, 2009 at 3:25pm

Your letter is one of the most powerful and loving letters I have ever read. I am in awe of your compassion and sensitivity. Your friend is a very lucky woman to have you for a friend.
Comment by Angie Jackson on June 3, 2009 at 1:07pm
Wow, thank you so much for posting this letter Ruth. I'm going to make a template out of this to give her boyfriend. He's been really floundering on what to say/what not to say and how to best be there for her. Of course, what he *wants* to do is murder her brother. But he's trying to find the best thing to do to help her heal and that might not be it.
Comment by Kitty on June 3, 2009 at 6:27am
Rape is hideous. I'm glad your friend had you to call. She needs all the understanding and caring you and her boyfriend (and hopefully her birth mother) can give her right now.
I think Kristy is right on with her letter.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on June 3, 2009 at 3:42am
One of my closest friends, an indigenous Australian, was raped in her own home by a family friend a couple of years ago. I wrote her this letter which, she says, she re-reads frequently when she is feels overcome with the emotion of the experience.

Perhaps you could write something similar for your friend:

"Dear Vicky (not her real name)

D and I were shocked and saddened to hear that you had been raped. Raped. I even hate to type the word. It has so many awful connotations, doesn’t it? And yet, I can’t feel it’s right to skirt around it, by referring to your ‘news’, or your ‘sexual assault’ or any other word that might suggest it was less of a crime than it was. So, rape it has to be.

The reason I’m writing to you is that, when my dad died, I found the most comfort from the people who accepted what had happened to us and didn’t squirm with embarrassment or ‘beat around the bush’ or try to avoid us for fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’ – and there were plenty of them. I want to acknowledge what happened to you – not shy away from it – and this is the best way I could think of to do that.

I have been thinking about the many, many thoughts and emotions that must be swirling around in your head right now. No wonder you sounded overwhelmed and overburdened by the weight of this terrible ordeal when I spoke to you on the phone this morning! You said you were feeling ‘numb’ and ‘empty’ and I’m sure this is a normal emotion. Firstly, you are in shock, and, secondly, someone has profoundly and violently changed everything you thought about the world, your home, and yourself. Everything that you felt you had a grip on must now seem to be slipping away from you. No wonder you feel empty! You are going to have to find a new way to be you.

There is no comparison with what happened to you, but our house was burgled once, and I know that for months I felt that everything I had felt about being safe had been an illusion. I wasn’t just sick to my stomach, I was sick to my soul. If I felt violated by a simple home invasion, how much worse you must be feeling!

I can also understand you thinking, as you said to me, “What more could I have done to stop it?”
Could you have screamed louder, kicked harder, drunk less that night, said something to make him stop? The answer, of course, is there is nothing more you could have done to stop him and nothing that you ever did to deserve this! The rape had nothing whatever to do with who you are or what you did or didn’t do.

Imagine if you had stepped onto the road and been hit by a drunk driver. Would it be valid to think, “Perhaps it’s my fault. If only I’d left the house a little earlier. If only I’d taken a different route. If only I’d crossed at the lights.” Of course not! The fault – the entire fault - is with the idiot who drank too much and couldn’t control his vehicle. In your case, the fault, the entire fault, is with the idiot who drank too much and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) control his sexual impulses and his warped need to feel ‘powerful’.

I know you have decided to keep this on a ‘needs to know’ basis, and I respect that. I’m sure you don’t want to be rehashing the story over and over again. I am concerned, however, that there might be an element of ‘What will people think?’, ‘Will people treat me differently if they know?’ involved in your decision. If you had been hit by a car, do you think the people who love you would be whispering behind your back:
“Well, she probably asked for it.”
“I don’t know if I want to be her friend now she’s been hit by a car.”
“I’ll feel really uncomfortable being around someone who’s stupid enough to get herself run over!”
Of course not! And no-one, at least no-one worth knowing, is going to think any the less of you for being a victim of rape.

Believe me, Vicky, being a rape victim is not about who you are. This has not happened to you because of anything you are or anything you did. It has happened to you, but not because of you. You were a beautiful, loving, intelligent, talented, worthwhile person before this happened, and you are a beautiful loving, intelligent, talented, worthwhile person now – even if you may not be able to accept that for a while. This is not to say this awful event won’t change you – of course it will – but it will not take away the essence of who you are. Your job, now, is to fight against the disempowerment he has tried to taint you with, and refuse to be anybody but who you really are.

The old Vicky was not a victim. She was a strong, independent, feisty woman who found the strength to survive a childhood of abuse, leave an alcoholic and abusive husband, bring up two young children by herself, get herself an education, provide a good home and higher education for her kids, have a career in which she’s highly respected and be a leader and role-model for her people. That takes guts. You probably don’t think what you have done with your life is anything exceptional – but it is.

The new Vicky won’t be a victim either. Yes, she will feel sick and defeated and powerless for a while, she will need to curl up and cry, and yell and be angry, but she will reach a stage where she stands up and says, “This was not my fault and I will not let it ruin my life! I’m a survivor – I’ve proven I’m a survivor - and if I can survive this, maybe I can help and counsel others who’ve been through the same thing.”

Please take time to heal, but when those awful, negative thoughts enter your head, stand up and challenge them, darling! Say, “No! You overpowered me once, but I will not let you do it again! It was not my fault. It was your fault. You are to blame, you are the weak one, not me, and I am going to win this. You will not take my life away from me!”

It will take every bit of strength you have, but you know, and we know you have it in you.

With muchlove
Comment by Gecko, of Richie! on June 2, 2009 at 9:15pm
Im so sorry Angie. You cant take it away, all you can do help them learn to live with it...but I know you already know that.
Comment by Angie Jackson on June 2, 2009 at 8:48pm
No billyist. I actually just started talking with her a few weeks ago. Her boyfriend and I share a therapy group, and he had heard my story and thought it would help her to talk with me. Her adoptive parents were extremely abusive ministers, and she just moved in with her birth mother this week, where her brother raped her. So she's been through at least as much as I have, but from a more mainstream christian perspective.
Comment by Billy Deaton on June 2, 2009 at 8:36pm
Was your friend in the same cult you escaped from?



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