R is for...Rape. Yes, today I am going to venture away from my usual focus on writing and editing, and talk about something else.
As someone who has been personally and deeply affected by rape, I would like to take a few short minutes to enlighten those who have been lucky enough to have had no contact with this horrible violation.
If someone tells you that they have been raped, while it is great to show sympathy, unless you have been raped before, don't try to show empathy. While there are many tragedies that may be equal to rape in the amount and level of pain, they still hit a different nerve and nothing can ever truly compare to being raped. If the event was recent, don't try to make light of it. It's rude and hurtful to try to laugh at something that has cracked the foundation of someone's life. After they have had time to come to terms with their situation, they may be able to handle having a laugh or two, but let them show you when the time is right.
The biggest thing is not to expect them to just get over it. For most people, they will be able to continue on with their lives, and they might not think of it for days or weeks or months, but it will never ever just go away. Years down the road, it can still hit them when the memory is triggered by something, and the pain and fear will be as fresh as when it actually happened. Don't think they are exaggerating or looking for attention; be a good friend and be there for them. Bring their focus back to the present and all the good things around them, all the happiness and strength that surrounds them, and help them remember that the rape occurred in the past. Give them a sense of stability and comfort them, letting them know that they are safe now and it's all over.
If you or someone you know has been affected by rape, and would like to talk to someone else who has been there, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me. I will help any way I can, even if it means just listening and offering my support.