If You’ve Been Victimized Once, You’re Statistically Likely to Be Raped Again. Why?

8 Aug

I came across this bit of information three months after I was raped for a second time:

In a 1999 longitudinal study of 3,000 women, researchers found women who had been victimized before were seven times more likely to be raped again. (Acierno, Resnick, Kilpatrick, Saunders and Best, Jnl. of Anxiety Disorders 13, 6.)

and my first reaction was to think, “WTF?! Do I have some kind of f***ing permanent target on my back or something?”

Target practice (courtesy of GiftsandDec.com)

Target practice (courtesy of GiftsandDec.com)

Maybe. And that makes me scared. I started this blog because I don’t want to be victimized again. I want to recover and be able to look back on myself someday and say, “I beat that S.O.B.!” The idea that I may not be able to avoid self-destruction is my worst nightmare (see why in my post about Fantasia Barrino’s lifestyle).

But I’ll put panic aside for a moment. I don’t know my future, so I really can’t be sure that there isn’t some ‘rape doom’ attached to the rest of my life. But why did it happen to me again last August – as if the first rape wasn’t trauma enough? Why do a lot of rape victims find themselves attracting more rape?  Honestly, I don’t know, but here are some speculations:

  • Rape makes you feel worthless. Believing in that feeling and writing it over your self-image will change the way you approach the world, and I think the world can spot the difference in you. If you feel like you’re worth nothing, you might be reeling negative experiences into your life that reinforce that.
  • Rapists typically look for easy victims. Low self-esteem or a low self-image makes a person the perfect ‘easy’ victim, aside from other factors like your gender, your size and physical appearance, socioeconomic status, and maybe even your race. Also, if the attacker is someone you know, he or she would be in a better position to gauge your personal support system – that being your friends, family, and whoever else – than a random attacker. In other words, they could easily figure out if anyone cares about you, if you have a lot of people around you or you’re isolated.
  • When your view of the world has been tainted by rape, it’s easy to develop a “who cares” attitude about everything. Taking more risks with your safety and switch to behaviors that form damaging habits, like drinking and drug abuse, is not uncommon – prevention is one of the reasons that victims are usually urged to seek counseling right after an assault. Being careless with yourself would make it easier for a rapist to take advantage of you.
  • A person can turn super-vigilant after rape, too, and try to screen every sign of trouble out of their lives by judging people and situations harshly. Having someone tell you that you’re trying to hard to control things could leave you doubting yourself, confused about how to strike a balance between having boundaries and being vulnerable enough to be a healthy social being. From then on, you could get bad vibes about somebody and convince yourself that you’re “overreacting” instead of trusting your gut, opening the door up to let just about anyone fly under your radar.
  • If you were raped in an abusive relationship (e.g. parent-child, spousal, romantic), maybe you were afraid to leave, or couldn’t imagine escaping. Maybe you felt you had no other place to go, or no other support in the world. So staying in that situation would definitely invite a repeat.
  • Growing up in an environment that was constantly abusive could also factor into the kind of treatment you expect out of life, even if it’s just subconsciously. If your parents or caretakers were verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive towards you, it could train you to look for more of the same as you get older because that’s what you’re most familiar with.
  • If you didn’t report the rape, tell anyone, seek counseling, let it out of your system somehow – basically if you absorbed it – then you unwittingly robbed yourself of your power to counteract. Maybe you didn’t believe that you were worth defending, or maybe you were terrified of future consequences. Nevertheless, the rapist performed a hit-and-run on you. Maybe that sends a signal out to other potential rapists that says, “here’s one who won’t be any trouble.”

It’s not my intention to offend or be insensitive to anyone reading my list. I truly apologize if my speculations are upsetting – I was also pretty upset while writing this. But can I admit that I see my 25-year-old self in all of the above?

16 Responses to “If You’ve Been Victimized Once, You’re Statistically Likely to Be Raped Again. Why?”

  1. Honae August 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    I too was raped twice. Wow, im just at a lost for words.

    • E. A. April 24, 2014 at 1:55 am #

      Hugs, Honae. It’s traumatic enough the first time, just one experience makes you want to kill yourself; I really feel for anyone who has to go through rape more times than that. Life isn’t fair 😦

  2. Raz October 4, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Thanks for creating this blog, this particular post is very much what I feel like too. I didnt have the strength to write it. thanks for having the strength for both of us. xo

    • E. A. April 24, 2014 at 1:52 am #

      Thanks, Raz 🙂 I know I’m terribly late in replying to you, but I’m glad that this post reached a part of you, too. I think it’s one of the posts that I go back to re-read the most, asking why.

  3. Candice May 9, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    The super vigilant description was definitely me. I think I tried so hard to be “normal” and not “overreact” that you’re right- i allowed certain passes with things and ignored those warning signs bc I didn’t want to seem crazy if it really was nothing. But reading this makes me feel better about trusting my instincts whether they are right or wrong. Better safe than sorry.

  4. jlaguerre90 November 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    You are in inspiration! I’m so honored to even comment on your post. Share this truth with the world. Change one person at a time.

    • E. A. November 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      Thank you, that is a HUGE compliment! I’m happy that this blog is helping even 1 other rape survivor out there.

  5. Ash June 16, 2015 at 4:41 am #

    I’m in pretty much the same situation and I just feel so stuck. i used to find comfort in my Ex and now I’m all alone

    • Stef August 13, 2015 at 10:52 am #

      Hang in there, Ash. None of us are ever really alone. Good thoughts to you.

  6. Dmarie November 7, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    I grew up being molested and physically abused by my brother. From the time I was 5 until around age 14, abuse was all I knew. I promised myself I’d never let another person violate me ever again. Well 2 abusive relationships and 4 rapes later, I’m still trying to keep that promise to myself. Truth is I’m not sure what I keep doing wrong, but I know I only know how to function in dysfunction. I cry myself to sleep wondering if any man will find me to mean more than sex, or that I’m worth more than being hurt. I realize some of my promiscuity isn’t because I’m a “slut” it’s because it’s easier to say yes than to say no and risk being hurt again. I want to find love and respect from a man and be in a healthy relationship. But until I find a healthy relationship with myself I know I’m putting myself at risk of being hurt again. I wish I knew how to start loving me with out a man loving me first. Its a journey, and hopefully I’ll achieve my on going quest of learning I’m not worthless.

  7. Laura March 26, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    Thank you.

  8. Tom Arrow June 8, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    From a spiritual standpoint, there is also the law of attraction. If you think a lot about something, you attract it into your life. And if you keep carrying the pain around with you without being able to forgive yet, the pain tries to feed itself by attracting similar pain into your life.

    • E. A. January 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

      You can’t be serious with such an insensitive comment, but I’ll allow it just to see what kind of responses you get 🙂

      • Tom Arrow January 23, 2017 at 2:21 am #

        Insensitive I don’t give a rat’s ass about. But is it true?

  9. thecatalystsforchange January 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Phoenix Rises.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tfios thoughts | shake the dust - June 13, 2014

    […] grenade).  And there is a chance I will be a  grenade again. The other night I was thinking about this statistic.   I think about the pain that other people were caused when I was at my worst, and I hate that […]

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