A Little Bit Raped

I was on a walk with a friend a few years ago and we were talking about our respective experiences with sexual assault. This is not an uncommon thing for women to do, I have learned, as we grow and try to process the way we feel about men, ourselves, sexuality, and raising children. The topic turned to recovery from sexual assault, and we began joking a bit to lighten the mood....

"I mean, you can't live in a wounded place," she said. 
"Yes." I agreed...we would all be so depressed all the time. 
I shrugged and said, "Besides, who hasn't been a little bit raped?" 

As crass as it may seem, the current "ME TOO" movement on social media clearly demonstrates that, in fact, most women have been "a little bit raped" and then some. After seeing everyone posting on Facebook, I was reluctant to post it because shame dies hard. I thought about all the people who might be surprised, or who might judge me. What if someone looks at me differently? 

But over the weekend, I attended Margaret Cho's "Fresh off the Bloat" tour, where she has a few jokes about rape and sexual assault. She kind of stops within the show and says that people say you can't joke about rape, but she disagrees. Because if it helps someone else who is out there, who maybe hasn't come to the place where they can tell anyone what has happened to them, then it's worth it to make that joke. I agree with her, and so I posted my "me too." 

Afterward, I cried a little. Because even after all the years that have passed and the healing I have done, admitting that even a strong, mostly self assured person like me has been the victim of sexual assault is hard. And I've had A LOT of therapy. But the stronger voice in me rang out because the bottom line is IT'S NOT MY FAULT. 

There is also something I wanted to say in the context of motherhood and childbirth that I wish that ANYONE would have told me before I had a child. If you've been the victim of any sort of sexual abuse, rape, or assault, then your likelihood of being re-traumatized by the birth experience is higher than other women. Women who suffer birth trauma (or feel traumatized by the experience of birth from this perspective) have higher instances of postpartum depression and anxiety. I wish very much that this was more talked about within the birth community because clearly, the statistics warrant the discussions. 

If you fall into this category, please seriously consider having a discussion with your doctor/midwife/ hospital/support staff so that they can give you the care, respect, and the communication that you need while you are giving birth. I didn't know that I needed to do that and I feel that as a result, I ended up with a wicked case of postpartum anxiety that I couldn't understand. And this is the bit where I think society misses the boat...

When something happens to a woman and her body without her consent, it doesn't just happen that one time. It creates a situation where she is more likely to be abused again, re-traumatized through circumstances, and her psychological health may suffer throughout her lifetime. I know that there are many women out there who haven't reported what happened to them, who haven't talked about it, and who function in a scared place. I want you to know it's okay to come out, and to come to a place where you realize that whatever has happened to you was NOT your fault.