Processing Emotions Relating To Rape

by Sophia Gubb on December 20, 2014

in Feminism,Personal Growth

A trigger warning could be superfluous here as people who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of rape will probably already know to avoid this article just from the title. But just in case: if you are such a person this article will very likely trigger you. For anyone else, especially women, it’s still likely to be… heavy reading to say the least. Proceed with caution.

 


A few events recently have made me think about the topic of rape. I think they are connected; I think they constitute some kind of process I’ve been going through.

I dreamt about rape a few times recently. In a few dreams, I escaped from attempted rape. In one, I actually was raped. This last dream made me feel traumatised and basically unable to do anything for an entire day. Mercifully, the trauma didn’t seem to last more than a day, I am sure because of the fleeting nature of dreams; but for that day it was entirely real.

In case you’re a new reader and don’t know, I’m a trans woman, and lived most of my life understanding myself as male. Well, what’s interesting is that before I lived as female, I never had dreams about rape. Now they are relatively common.

I think my interpretation of this is reasonable: we often dream about things as a way of processing fears; and nowadays I fear being raped, whereas before I transitioned it never entered my mind for a single moment.

Since my first experience being heavily sexually harassed by a man, public space has had a different meaning for me. I understand that I am a target now. I am constantly a little bit alert when I’m out, scanning for possible threats. This has become so habitual that I hardly notice it anymore, but if I compare to my previous life it becomes obvious.

In case you are new to this topic, about 1 in 5 women in Western countries are raped in their lifetimes. Men are not excluded from being raped, but it’s more like 1 in 70 (and this rape is usually done by other men). I know, because I lived as a man, that when you are a man it’s easy to ignore the existence or consequences of rape. On the other hand, as a woman, the threat of rape provides a backdrop which subtly taints your entire life.

This is what I learned as I transitioned. And as rape came to have meaning for me, and I began to fear it, it entered my dreams.

“I Was Raped”

Some time after my traumatic dream experience, I had a strange epiphany. I said to myself, and felt the words: “I was raped.

The exact event I was thinking about might not be called rape by most. It does depend on the definition of rape you use. But for me, it made so much sense to understand it this way. Coming to this conclusion let me feel like I’d peeled a layer off the proverbial onion; that I had come more to terms with my past, and understood my feelings better.

The event I was referring to was when I was beaten as a kid. The exact term for the type of beating I received would be called “spanking”, though the word makes me absolutely shudder, so I won’t use it outside of inverted commas here.

In anti-“spanking” websites I had already read that beating a kid on that area of their body causes unwanted sexual stimulation. And if I thought back about it, it was true. But until recently I hadn’t really connected that with  my actual feelings.

By saying to myself, “I was raped,” it allowed me to accept the gravity of what had been done to me. Unwanted sexual stimulation is a twisted, horrible thing, and warps how you experience sexuality and pleasure in the years and decades afterwards. It’s worse than “just” being beaten, even though that is incredibly traumatic in itself.

I’m not exactly calling the perpetrator a rapist. That is an (understandably) loaded word. Actually, I don’t intend to put the focus on other people at all. All I know is that for myself, using the word “rape” helped me understand and connect on an emotional level to my trauma.


Past Life Rape

I mostly left that there, but I think unconsciously my mind was still doing its processing. A week or three later, I came to another interesting conclusion:

I was probably raped in a past life.

And by this I mean, raped in the… classical sense.

It was another quiet epiphany, that seemed to suddenly flower into my mind without the need for a lot of thought beforehand. It just came, and it just made so much intuitive sense.

Insofar as I had a thought process leading to this, it was that I was thinking about my particular phobia of men and how it seems so disproportionate. Sure, I’ve been sexually harassed in my life, but there are other women out there who have experienced the same — and worse — who can, for instance, still contemplate having a cis man as a roommate (I can’t).

When I put it that way in my head, the intuition came. It just seemed to fit, in ways that go beyond what I can completely explain.

EFT

Later, I had the opportunity to go deeper into this.

I have a friend who is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy) practitioner. At some point we were hanging out, and decided to do a therapy exchange.

EFT works thuswise: it involves tapping various acupressure points on the body in a sequence (this can be done by a therapist or on your own), while repeating a phrase that reminds you of something in yourself that you’d like to work on. It could be, “I have a fear of cats”, “I feel angry because I was excluded by my friends”, or whatever. The idea is that by focusing on a feeling, it comes to the surface, where the tapping helps it discharge or resolve itself.

Sometimes, EFT causes you to have visions relating to the thing you are working on. For instance if you have a fear of cats, you might get a little flashback to when a cat bit you as a child. And so on.

So in this session with my friend, I decided to use the phrase: “I have a problem with men”. (It was in Spanish actually: “Tengo un rechazo hacia los hombres”. The translation is hard; I reject men or I feel disgust towards men… something like that).

Pretty much instantly, I had a flashback to a previous life where I was raped.

For EFT to be effective, you’re supposed to keep the feeling there so that it can be discharged, so I spent about forty minutes reliving my rape at about the maximum intensity I could stand. I saw myself in a dark place… I… felt what was happening to my vagina… I heard myself scream…

And outside of the vision I was gritting my teeth not to scream out loud and I kept having to hold myself back from physically vomiting.

We ended the therapy when I could bear no more, not when the feeling had been completely discharged. I felt traumatised. I was vividly conscious of the presence of my vagina, curiously in spite of the fact that physically, I don’t have one. For some hours I couldn’t deal with talk about sex or genitalia at all.

Subconscious Effects Of Rape

By the day after the traumatised feeling was mostly gone. Obviously having a vision is not the same as experiencing the real thing. What was left, then, was a new, clear self-understanding. Despite having the veil of reincarnation obscuring the experience, I felt like a rape survivor. I knew that this experience had influenced my entire life, and that I was still processing it.

The therapy itself did a lot to heal the issue, I think. I noticed that I’ve become more comfortable with men in many ways. My sexuality even seems to be leaning closer to 50/50 bisexual than it previously was.

Because of the therapy, I now feel more aware of how I have the habit of seeing all men as potential threats. It’s like I have a little more distance from the feeling, so I can observe it more objectively, and maybe notice where it’s irrational. Actually, most of all I’ve noticed how ubiquitous it is. I just look at a man and I feel a sense of danger and even hatred.

Asides from that, I’ve noticed how I previously (and perhaps still?) had the sense of a male penis being a… weapon. I had the sense of all P.I.V. sex being violent. As such, I was scared of it; I felt like if I were in a relationship with a man there would inevitably be this unwanted meaning behind the sexual act.

I noticed how, when living as a man, I even perceived my own sexuality as dangerous, my own penis as a weapon. Perhaps just as abused people often become abusers, I seemed to have learnt that (male) sexuality is expressed in a certain, negative way. Perhaps this is what led me to lose myself in the misogynistic teachings of the Seduction Community, for a time. I didn’t rape my partners, but I suppose I had a hard time fully empathising with them.

And I felt that the rape had a lot to do with an energy block I had been working on for some time, which caused me to always feel disconnected from my anus/genital area and for my spiritual energy not to easily flow past that area in meditation. I always assumed that it was caused by my childhood beatings, and I’m certain those contributed, but it seems to make a lot more sense to me if I add this extra cause to it. The EFT session did a lot to improve that energy block, too.

Finally, I think doing therapy on this trauma did a lot to help me end my pattern of self-destructiveness, which I had previously also thought was just because of my childhood trauma. I now feel a lot more able to care about myself and not choose behaviours that serve as subtle, subconscious ways of being myself up. I think this is probably why I managed to make so much progress recently on non-coercive self motivation and working out some of the subconscious reasons behind my excess weight. On the latter note, it’s also possible that subconsciously I made myself fat to avoid unwanted male attention; as I’ve heard, this is common among rape survivors.

I feel a little conscious of somehow appropriating the identity of rape survivors by using this label for myself. Some won’t believe my past life experience could be real, and others might think that because I have the veil of reincarnation to soften the blow, my hurt can’t be as bad.

And it’s true, for most of my life I’ve never consciously felt traumatised. But looking back, I think that doesn’t really mean anything; conscious or not, it was still affecting me hugely. I don’t think the Veil softened the blow so very much; it just changed the way this pain was expressed.


 

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