January 31, 2014
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“You like that don’t you?” Christofer, 19, muttered under his breath as he stole a little girl’s innocence. Ari, nine, fell to the floor when struck with his greedy palm. She lay still, taking notice of her surroundings: a broken TV, a lamp, and a beaten up sofa. Taking advantage of her, he climbed on top of her back. The stench of weed on his breath revolted her, but not as much as what took place. “Why is he doing this?” Ari thought, hot salty tears streaming down her face as she became a victim of sexual assault. Little did she know how much one man could change her life.

Not only does sexual assault change you physically but the psychological pain following the event traumatizes, destroying your self image in the process. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the victim starts to blame themselves and can develop mental disorders that include depression, PTSD, paranoia, suicidal tendencies, etc.

While 88% of victims range in age from 12 to 28, Ari’s experience at nine forced her to grow up quickly. She moved from playing with dolls to fending off an attack and reliving the hellish reality over and over again. Rape isn’t a flimsy matter that affects its victims a few minutes or days. It affects you for years on end, possibly the rest of your life. “Even ten years later I would have nightmares about it ? even 20 years,” Jill, another victim of rape, 48, stated.

Paranoia set in for Cindy, a victim at the ages of eight to 14, when memories surfaced of a time when men, whom she now loathes, forced her to touch them. She awoke with a shock, she ran to her bedroom door and shoved a chair against it. Although no harm appeared nearby, she didn’t see it that way. To this day, all three victims have nightmares.

“You have to grow from it. Life goes on with or without you,” Cindy said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed,” Jill added. As they told me this, they never made eye contact, preferring to look toward the floorboard or at the lifeless wall. Bringing up such a sensitive subject made them tense. Crying even occurred, especially with Jill. She took a tissue and started blotting her tears. “My self worth was really low,” she said, her voice a murmer. “I just wanted to stay at home.”

Because vulnerability weakens self-esteem, victims act out in different ways. Some self-harm, some develop paranoia or even depression, and some hide away. Jill tried to run from the truth. She went through denial and became more anti-social. This stage is known as the outward adjustment stage, according to Wikipedia’s article titled, “Rape Trauma Syndrome.” Victims appear normal to the human eye but behind closed doors, they live a broken and scared reality. They use anything to get a grasp on reality, and sadly, that can lead to self-destruction.

When asked if they went through any traumas afterwards, all three fell silent. Some said they dealt with the pain through drugs and alcohol and others lashed out at those they love. Ari even stated she felt suicidal, which wasn’t an easy thing to hear. Listening to the stories of what they had to endure would break any normal heart. Seeing such beautiful woman being treated in a manner that no one deserves is heart wrenching.

A counter argument would state, “Well it’s their fault.” Though a disgusting comment, this viewpoint that rape victims provoked an attack perhaps because of what they wore or did, damages them, confirmed by several victims. Just hearing that may bring them to shove their emotions or even the truth of the event down further leading them to never tell anyone.

“It doesn’t matter what you are doing or what you are wearing, no one deserves the pain that this selfish deed will cause,” Ari said.

It isn’t the victim’s fault, but the question suggests otherwise. Ari, nine, wore sweatpants. Cindy, eight, wore pajamas. Jill, 19, wore jeans and a t-shirt. Two of the victims experienced an attack in the comfort of their own home. Research indicates the majority of rapes are, in fact, planned, confirmed by the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

RAINN stated that only three percent of rapists serve time in prison. That means 97% of rapists still roam the streets.

“If I didn’t tell anybody, he would have hurt many other girls,” Ari confirmed. Because of her courage, the man who hurt her currently spends time in prison. For Cindy and Jill, it’s a different story. Jill hasn’t told a single person her rapist’s name- even after decades.

“Don’t be like me,” Cindy said. “Tell someone; people are willing to listen. Those guys who hurt me are out there hurting other people.” Sadly she’s correct. If they aren’t acquitted for the crime they have committed, they will keep hurting others until caught.

“If my story could be helpful to just one person, it’s worth it,” Jill remarked.

“Get help! It’s not your fault. They are greedy and you don’t deserve to be treated that way because you are beautiful,” Ari added.

Overcoming such a terrible journey, but wanting to help others, truly shows strength. If you have been a victim of rape, call: National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE.

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