Laura Parrott-Parry in In Others’ Words raised a very important subject on her post, Law of the Wild. She talked about the guilt-feeling of rape victims. It seems that a lot of victims are putting blame on themselves, at least partially. Yes, you got it right. The victim is blaming themselves and they mean it. “Down to the very core of who they are.”
This is, to say the very least, problematic. Or downright insane, to be absolutely blunt.
But what’s going on in the victims’ mind are way more complicated than what other people may comprehend. This is not to endorse the victims’ self-blaming. Nor to let rapists get away feeling less guilty.
What I want to add to the discussion is the tendency of victims to cling on to a sort of misplaced compassion. It might stem from the very beginning, since their earlier encounters with the rapist. Being victims or victim-t0-be, and STILL empathize the rapist. Trying to understand the rapist. Where did they come from. What were their tragedy. Why did they misbehave. And then everything else was justified but the inability of the victim to avoid what happened.
You may or may not be surprised to find out that a lot of rapist does not seem violent. Quite the contrary, they appear caring (or overly caring). They know how to carry themselves. They looked like a harmless, kind-loving type of person. They approach gently but with full measure. The truth is, they know how to mentally and emotionally manipulate the victim.
That, my friend, is part of the abusive act.
How come someone so caring and friendly commit rape? How come someone with whom the victim had already maintain emotional attachment commit rape? This is not how rape should look like, is it? The same person who the victim accept with full embrace for their nice attention, is also the person who made the victim helplessly scared to their marrow.
So scared it’s difficult to have full consciousness intact. So scared it felt choking to let go the nice parts and accept it as it is. So scared it took them years to call it rape because they feel reluctant to offend the rapist.
Troubled is an appropriate word to describe what was happening to the victims’ emotion and mind. Feeling guilty as a victim? Feeling compassion to the rapist? And you still expected them to defend themselves? To be capable of avoiding what happened in first place?
Get yourself together.
When the victim asked, “was it me?”, that’s when we should declare with no doubt, “of course not.” When the victim has to feel detached to their own trauma and analyze, “What is force? How does being forced look like?”, a question pondered in order to see themselves fit to the meticulous classification standard and harsh judgment posed by society in general, that is when we should not forgive ourselves as a collective who are supposed to do way better than this.
That is why we, as a collective, should not accept rape or any kind of abuse at all, for once and for all. To tolerate is not what we do to crime.
I could provide an example. When I was in Jakarta, I went to a mall to buy a new phone charger at night. I hired a taxi-motor to get back home. My place was supposed to be only 10 or 15 minutes max from the mall.
Apparently, the taxi-motor driver was evil. He brought me round and round the area not following my direction. He seemed to be unable to communicate and having some sort of mental deficiency. He couldn’t respond to me unleashing my furious desperation. Instead, he was mumbling, looking right and left. Finally, I said stop and immediately got a cab.
I was shocked of what had just happened. I couldn’t believe that i trust a fake taxi-motor service. I was terrified to imagine what could have happened.
The worst part was when I got an unbelievable realization revealed before me:
After knowing he brought me not straight to my home, I still tried to give him a chance, thought positively of him. “Maybe he’s just unaware of the route. His harmful intention might be something i just made up in my head.” This was why I didn’t get down the minute I felt threatened. I still thought of not wanting to be rude to him because I pitied him who looked like someone with mental deficiency.
At this point, don’t say it was my own fault or that I was supposed to know better. Don’t ask what was wrong with me nor expect me to ask myself the same question. Just don’t.
The courtesy of not wanting to be rude overpowered the instinct to defend oneself when threatened. And, pity? Who pity who? Who was the victim here? Who was to blame?
If that is not troubled, I don’t know what is.
He abused my trust. He potentially harmed me. He shouldn’t offer taxi-motor service in first place because he’s clearly incapable. Yet I still chose to be considerate of his feelings. I know that i can defend myself in that situation. But to have someone, to whom i was trying to be nice to and not offend, mistreated me, was a super alarming experience.
In The Perks of being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky indicated that whatever the whatever, the decision to commit rape or to control that evilness is in the hands of the rapist. In Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story, Only Goodness, the protagonist felt the blame of clearly another persons mistake and wrongdoing. She felt she had contributed to that mistake, which made her reluctant to set boundaries to define right from wrong, while clearly the other person is the one who is supposed to be able to control his act.
The self-blaming put risk to innocent people.
So, how did the victim get to that place, where they got all blurred and confused?
That, my friend, is why rapist a criminal.
My wild guess, perhaps the misplaced-compassion syndrome is more prevalent than what we would be prepared to admit.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Companionable.”