Published: 19th June 2021
Don't use the R-word: Why we should be careful while using a few words in front of a rape victim
People often use many words that could be unintentionally insensitive to a rape victim. The Coach tells us why we should be careful
I’ve heard many use this sentence in a very colloquial sense, ‘When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it’. I’ve burnt a lot of bridges and lost friends as I get all fired up when something like this is said. But, today, I’m shocked to hear something so horrific, allegedly said by a member of the Uttar Pradesh Women’s Commission, which is, ‘Girls should not be given mobile phones as it leads to rapes’. I just froze and It took me quite some time to snap out of it. The R word is not just a word. It’s the worst experience that can never be described in words. To show our empathy, we often say ‘I know how you feel’. But it’s my experience that when it comes to victims of this horrendous experience, you can’t even work up the nerve even as a therapist, to utter something like ‘I understand your situation’. Forget saying ‘I know how it feels’.
The reason I bring this up is simply because, in today’s dark times where most sexual assault cases against women either go unreported, using this word loosely is not only insensitive and irresponsible, it is simply inhumane. Hence, I urge you to understand the horror one faces, before using this word.
PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t just common to veterans of armed forces. It is the first mental health challenge that’s faced by rape victims too. It’s so severe that the other complications caused by this will make an individual suffer in all aspects of life that it makes them just exist rather than live.
Here are some symptoms:
Flashbacks that lead to sudden awakening with palpitations
Hypervigilance, constant fear of someone or something constantly lurking around leading to activation of the flight mechanism
Getting stressed and anxious even for the slightest sound or movement
Agitation and hostility to others
Guilt and self blame for the incident leading to self harm, self destruction of psychological health
Almost zero or very less sleep because of the nightmares
Inability to organise thoughts leading to inability of performing routine day to day tasks
Inability to focus on anything else
Just reading the above list is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine, but imagine I’m talking about the horror inside the nightmare. The nightmare itself isn’t any less.
Rape victims experience the deepest level of depression, because of or along with PTSD
Live in a constant fear of how the world will look at them
Inability to connect with a man ever in life and reliving the trauma in spite of finding a loving, caring and dedicated partner
Touched, hugged or any form of physical contact with anyone is practically impossible without getting tense again
Drug/substance abuse, alcoholism and other addictions to escape from reality or to numb the pain
If I have to give a benefit of the doubt, I’d understand if this official was trying to imply how girls and women need to be careful and cautious about whom to trust and not on social media and other chat platforms, maybe even hinting at sexual assault because of blackmail as it did in the Pollachi scandal. But trying to drive a point by using the R word, definitely isn’t fine by me. What do you think?
With Regards, Adarsh Benakappa Basavaraj ‘The Coach’