Tuesday, September 3, 2013

7 Ways to Legally Fight Back After Rape

If you've reached a point where you want fight back after your rape, here are seven ways to legally do so....

7. Report It to the Police

Being raped is a horrible thing. Most rapists rape over and over and over again. You have the power to stop one rapist. You have the power to prevent other people from living the pain you may be in now.
Fight Back Against Rape
Photo by rogamuffin (Creative Commons)

Now I'm not saying it's all rainbows and unicorns. Getting through the system it takes to convict or get a plea deal with your rapist is no picnic. It can be long, brutal, emotional, and hard to move on during a long drawn out process. And the jury might find your attacker not guilty after all of that. Or there may not even be enough evidence to make it to the Distrist Attorney's office. But for some survivors this can be a great way to fight back and ensure that the rapist is in prison for a while, far from where he or she can rape ordinary citizens. The sooner you report it, the better chances you have at a conviction. I'll be posting more tips for reporting it to the police later. For now, you can check out RAINN's police reporting information.

6. Tell Your Story

When you open up and tell your full story to supportive people, you begin taking any shame off yourself and putting it on your rapist where it belongs. Rape is about control and when you get to control the story, you're fighting back. I don't recommend telling complete strangers before you get to know them (in most cases) or people who you don't think can handle the situation. Tell trusted friends, family, a survivor's group, a therapist or counselor, an online support
group for survivors with proper moderation, or even a journal. If you get to a point where you can handle it, you can also tell your story as a form activism to help other survivors feel less alone and share what you would have liked to have known in the aftermath of your rape (or sexual assault).

5. Sue Someone

It's sounds funny, doesn't it? I'm dead serious.

OK, lawsuits aren't for everyone or every situation, but look at all of the college students suing their schools for the horrible ways they dealt with their rapes. It's gained massive attention and now the colleges are being forced to listen to the survivors. Thank you, brave students, for standing up and making positive change. You could also sue a hospital or a police department for a thoroghly distgusting thing they did to you that really hurt you. You also have a right to sue your attacker. Sometimes money talks. Sometimes they need to see that they will lose money if they continue in the error of their ways.

Note that suing is also generally a long, hard emotional process too, so it's not for everybody. Sometimes it makes more sense to get the word out in another way or to talk to the people who hurt you first. Sometimes the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get an institution (like a college, hospital, or police department) to make some changes to their policies and actions. Before you sue, make sure the institution or attacker has money. Otherwise, it's a fruitless effort that just gives you headaches rather than makes any change.

4. Take A Self-Defense Class

Learning to defend yourself verbally and physically can be an empowering way to fight back. It can be very empowering to stand up to a mock attacker and win the fight this time. Not on my body!

3. Activism

There are many approaches to activism to fight back after rape. You can attend or organize anti-rape demonstrations, protests, or other events. You can do beat poetry and perform it on the topic. You could organize a survivor''s group or write encouraging messages to other survivors on an online support group. Or you may want to volunteer at a rape crisis center, taking phone calls to support survivors, serving as an advocate, or raising money to keep them going. Maybe writing a book or making a documentary is more your style. (Make sure you're ready to do whatever you're doing. Sometimes you have to push yourself just a tad to make progress, but if you're doing that, a small step out may help you move forward quicker than leaps forwards and then falling backwards.) When we fight back together in this way, we can make some real change.

2. Find Your Empowerment

When you find your empowerment after a rape, you have fought back. Since rape is a crime of control, where your power has been lost, when you find your place of power within you again, you have fought back and won. How do you find it? That's the million dollar question. It's as diverse as the rape survivors out there. Look in yourself. Try things you think will help. Listen to your inner self. If you've lost trust in yourself, learn to trust yourself again in increments that work for you. Make adjustments and keep steering your course and one day you may find yourself in a place of empowerment. It might not be black and white. You probably won't cross an empowerment line and suddenly you're completely empowered all the time. That's not human. But getting to the point of feeling empowered some of the time is something to celebrate. And with time, you can increase the amount of time you feel empowered.

1.  Live A Great Life

OK, this might sound like a cop-out item, but if you think about it, is there any better way to fight back from a rape, where your power and control were lost and you may have suffered severe trauma? There are no drawbacks to living a great life. And you automatically win.

OK, but this easier said than done. Yes, that's true, but you don't have to do it all at once. You have to work through any pain or trauma. You have to go through the stages of healing. Most survivors cannot just ignore what happened and it just goes away. You have to find that healing and move forward over time. You have to find your empowerment again. You have to find your way and place to make your life great.

It's not an easy task, yes, but it's always worth fighting for.

How have you fought back after rape (or sexual assault)? We'd love to hear your obvious and inventive ways, as well as your stories. Please leave comments.


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