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How to be the perfect rape survivor

Lucy Neely Morgan
Lucy Neely Morgan  /  5 Comments

Trigger Warning: Rape; Graphic Descriptions of physical harm and sexual violence

  1. Let your rapist(s) remain anonymous

Do not name your rapist. Instead, allow them to exist in a vacuum with all the other scary monsters. All the other scary monsters that deep down, we know do not really exist. Your rapist must exist in other peoples’ minds as a villainous, masked figure worthy of a Crimewatch reconstruction. That way people won’t  have to come to terms with the fact that real men do actually rape.

A favourite of Anti Rape campaigners has been to place a sign saying ‘Real men don’t rape’ into the hands of a macho looking sports player and then take a picture. This photo sends a message out to the world that rapists don’t exist: if real men don’t rape, then the men doing all the raping must be a figment of my imagination. Rapists must remain anonymous, if we start admitting that rapists are actually real people then what are we gonna do when our friend is accused of rape? Our favourite footballer?

This campaign undermines the reality that

This campaign reinforces the idea that rapists don’t exist in our everyday lives

  1. Become a stronger person because of it

Become a ‘Pride of Britain’ award-worthy victim. Let people wonder how you managed to achieve so much from the remnants of such trauma. There’s nothing the masses love more than someone who’s overcome adversity; someone who they can project all their childish notions of heroism onto. By making you the hero, they isolate you. One of the defining qualities of a hero is that they are a rarity. By making a rape survivor’s story look like a rare incident they are denying that rape is an epidemical issue. If we only pay attention to the outspoken survivors, we can forget about the silent majority.

  1. Omit the gory details

When telling people about your story, make sure you edit it thoroughly  so as not to discomfort anyone. No one wants to know that you couldn’t shit for days afterwards, about the chronic cystitis or the yellow bruising staining your thighs. That way  people can continue to think of rape as a sexual act rather than one of violence. Your rape becomes stomachable, less of a burden for your friends to carry.

  1. Get over it

It happened years ago, so don’t you dare suffer from post traumatic stress in front of me! When you come out as a survivor of rape it is almost as if people expect  you to be over it. Some of us are, some not. Just because  we’re talking about it, doesn’t mean the wounds have healed over.

  1. Ignore all of the above

Despite my bitterness (which I make no apologies for feeling) I know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Be fucking frank about what happened to you, make people uncomfortable and name the scum who hurt you. Surround yourself with positive people you can trust who will come with you to STI clinics, police stations and courtrooms.

Reject any bullshit that reinforces the idea that rape is cisgender women getting raped by cisgender men. The reality is that all genders are capable of being raped by another person of any gender. Rape does not require a penis and a vagina.

What’s more, it doesn’t always involve  roofies and strangers on street corners. Rape is inherently violent regardless of whether or not it left you with bruises. Your friend slowly fucking you while you sleep is violence. A one-night stand continuing after you’ve passed out is violence. Being informed by friends that you had sex last night is fucking violence if you cannot remember it! It is okay to be in pain.

We need to create a culture where rape is unacceptable. ‘Unacceptable’ may seem like a weak ask but as I write this, the seven different men who forced themselves on me remain anonymous and free. While I get all pent up and piss people off by constantly nagging on about rape culture, my rapists are living normal lives: full time jobs, football on weekends, girlfriends, sunday dinners cooked by their mothers.

Ched Evans, a convicted rapist, was defended by a loyal band of rape apologists in early 2015 on the basis that it could have been a false accusation. Even though he was convicted. Even though conviction rates are despicably low. Even though the false accusation rate for rape is the same as it is for other crimes.

If you are raped, do not let the world bully you into silence or being ‘the perfect survivor’. Report it – if that will give you peace. If not, open up to someone you can trust. Accept the support you deserve. Please, please don’t keep it to yourself. Surviving trauma manifests itself into our lives in one way or another. It is never a battle you have to  fight on your own.

  • This

    is perfect. Thank you.

    • Lucy Neely Morgan

      Thank you so much for reading. X

  • Cheska Alice Rycraft

    Look, you make some really good points, but the implied message I took from this was that there is a “correct” way to deal with rape, and staying silent is not one of them. Not everybody has the inclination to speak up, and that’s ok. Just look at the studies of 9/11 survivors - plenty of evidence emerged that not talking about it, as opposed to constantly raking it up, is more effective for some people. Everybody deals with trauma in a different way.

    Second paragraph: I don’t think “real men” = actual living men. It means being a gentleman, I think - not abusing your masculinity.

    Point 2: picturing people as being heroes does not necessarily equate with picturing their scenarios as being rare. Look at how we admire cancer survivors.

    Point 5: all genders are NOT capable of being raped by someone of any other gender, and it DOES require a penis (though not a vagina). According to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a penis is required for rape. Rape is a term of art; a legal construct. You mean sexual abuse.

    I am sorry that you have had the misfortune of having so many bad experiences, but those experiences do not give you a perfect understanding of how other people should respond to theirs.

    • Lucy Neely Morgan

      Hi Cheska

      1) You are absolutely right in that I do advocate speaking up as a way of dealing with rape - I advocate it, I do not force it on anyone.

      2) The comparison between rape survivors and cancer survivors is really rather weak - society has no ulterior motive in its admiration of cancer survivors whereas speaking out about rape threatens the status quo that rape doesn’t actually happen and therefore is not something we need to make a fuss about or deal with.

      3) I absolutely do not mean sexual abuse. I literally do not care at all about rape in its legal definition. Rape CAN and DOES happen to people of all genders. To argue that my male friend (raped by a woman) was sexually abused is not correct and perhaps the legal definition needs reconstructing rather than reinforcing.

      4) I never said I do have a perfect understanding of how other people should respond to their experiences: the title is satirical and I make it very clear that this article is shaped by my own bitterness of my own experiences for which I do not need your sympathy. X

    • binky

      It must be lovely having your black and white by the book mechanical view. But for some of us that luxury was forcibly taken from us and we need to express it any way possible. Whats the view like from your ivory tower?