Archive | Victim-ness RSS feed for this section

The Perfect Rape Victim

24 Apr

Brute physical force – a “real rape victim” goes through it (courtesy of

A real rape victim deserves justice. Every other wannabe victim is just crying rape.

A real rape victim is female. She is pretty, pure, most likely heterosexual (maybe also middle class, white, and a born-again Christian) and she has never had any kind of sexual contact with anyone, ever, before she is raped.

A real rape victim’s rapist is a total stranger. The rapist is depraved, looks like Gollum, probably does drugs, probably is an ex-con, lives in the bushes and under bridges, and targets pretty girls who happen to be outside alone after dark. He never gets sex unless he forces women into it.

A real rape victim screams and fights back when she is attacked. She is not paralyzed with fear, or muted by a strong hand over her mouth, a knife to her neck, or alcohol/drugs in her system. Even if those conditions threaten her survival, a real rape victim perseveres and screams and fights as hard as she can, because she knows that this is how one determines the difference between consensual sex and rape.

A real rape victim is beaten viciously by her depraved stranger rapist. Her rape is traumatic because it’s physically painful.

A real rape victim knows to report her assault immediately after she survives being raped. She is not hesitant to tell her family and friends, because she knows she doesn’t have to fear judgment – she was a real rape victim, and she is entitled to support. She is not hesitant to tell the police any detail about her rape, because she knows she doesn’t have to be ashamed – she was a real rape victim, and her rapist is the only one responsible for her attack.

A real rape victim’s rapist goes to jail for his crime. He serves a long and hefty sentence, which is more proof that the rape was real, not just sex falsely reported as rape. A real rape victim is applauded for her bravery.

A real rape victim is supported all throughout her recovery. She is offered counseling and the best treatment for the nightmare she suffered. Her story is media-worthy. Her story may inspire books and movies based on a true story. All of society is on her side.

A real rape victim lives happily ever after … in a perfect world.

A “real rape victim” is insanely rare in the real world.

In the real world, rape victims are male, female, young, old, all skin colors, all ethnic backgrounds, all religious backgrounds, all economic backgrounds, married, single, divorced, LGBTQ … and so are their rapists. The rapes that these victims suffer are just as varied and nuanced. Maybe that’s why they’re overlooked, disqualified, and dismissed – they’re just too hard to classify.

Sigh. If only I had been a real rape victim.



Dating after Rape (Part 1 of My Ongoing Diary)

30 Jan

Guys and girls can be just friends… (courtesy of

The dilemma starts two nights ago, when I was formally, politely asked to be kissed by a man that I’ve known since university. Now let me backtrack, because it’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog that I’ll lose us both in the story if I’m not careful.

How far back into the past should I go? You may have read about the first and second time that I was raped already. I’ve also written about trying to move on from my experiences, but that was more than a year ago – talk about procrastination! I guess it’s best to tell you first about when I met this guy. There’s already a “J”, so I’ll call the new one ‘Jay’. Just keep in mind that, so far, he’s the good version. And really, he’s the first version – I met ‘Jay’ about a year or two before J.

The Story

Jay and I were introduced through a mutual female friend, and my one and only “hippie summer” followed after that. As I remember it, Jay along with three other friends of ours and myself ended up spending every single day together, going to outdoor concerts and festivals, hitting the clubs at night, and being wild, carefree and crazy in general. (I think most people have one of those epic summers during their high school years, but I told you I was a late bloomer!) It was strictly platonic between us all. Though I found Jay attractive, I knew he had a girlfriend spending her summer outside of the country, and I enjoyed Jay’s company so I rarely thought of him beyond that level. I taught him to dance; he taught me to play pool.

After the summer ended, it was back to business as usual. Jay and I said hi when we ran into each other outside of classes, but being in separate programs of study, that didn’t happen often. He kept up with me on Myspace first (remember Myspace?!) and then Facebook, he sent me an e-mail or text message now and again – and  he gradually fell into the background of my life. I lost my stepfather to cancer, got kicked out by my mother, got involved with J, ran away to a different city, got involved with N, and have been picking up the pieces of what N did since then. My college days weren’t exactly at the forefront of my memory.

Jay kept writing, however, and when I told him that I had moved back to my hometown (after reaching my limit with N and the church’s torment), he started to call. When he found out about the second rape (he had deactivated his Facebook account, but one of our mutual friends told him about everything I posted online), Jay was supportive and wanted me to pursue justice – like my good friend B. But sometimes I would get inexplicably irritated by Jay being optimistic when I just wanted to be left alone and miserable. I fought with him a few times over stupid things – I know they were stupid because I can’t remember what they were now – and then we had a big blowout where I called him everything but sincere and cut Jay out of my life. I ignored his text messages some times, and other times I would be civil but distant. I felt like no man could be trusted, and going forward I thought I didn’t want any “friends” at all – male or female – just the family members that I could trust. That was around the time of this post.

Okay, So … Explain the Kiss?

In September (2012), Jay called me out of the blue asking if I wanted to see a movie. I figured that was harmless enough and went. Jay paid for the movie, we had some upbeat conversation on the way home, and the fight never came up. I didn’t think about him again until a few months ago, when Jay called again to see how I was doing. Long story made short, we went out for coffee (well, lattes in my case – I don’t like coffee). We hung out a few more times, and slowly began to talk about how dumb we both felt we acted in the past – me for fighting his friendship, and Jay for assuming that I could heal myself in a day. Two nights ago, before Jay took a trip overseas that he’d been planning for a year, he invited me over to watch movies, he made us dinner, and that was when Jay asked if it would be okay with me if he kissed me. Normally, asking permission would be strange to me, but in context of what’s happened in the past, I thought it was the greatest courtesy he could give me. So I said yes. And it was … nice.

Now What?

In a way, though, I’m relieved that Jay’s going to be out of town until March.

  1. I realize that I had big, BIG issues with trust. Though I met Jay before life started going haywire, I’m having a hard time not wanting to dock him several points just because he’s male. I know Jay, but I don’t know know Jay – does that make any sense? I don’t know what’s truly in his heart, and how to know that he’ll be different from my experiences.
  2. I think that because Jay is single, has been single for about a year, and has been acting sort of ‘date-y’, that his intention is move us out of a platonic relationship into a dating one. I’m not sure how I feel about that, if that’s what’s going on. Jay is still attractive, we still get along terrifically, I used to think it could be nice to date him, but … yeah, I’m not sure that I’m excited to try it now. I’ve gotten very comfortable with being alone, although I know that nobody can hide from civilization forever. Somebody somewhere out there is going to try to get to know you, somehow.
  3. The kiss was nice, but I was excited and uncomfortable (by Jay’s closeness) at the same time. Maybe I’m not ready to be kissed even after all this time – or maybe it’s a normal reaction to physical intimacy after going through rape?
  4. Is Jay going to look forward to kissing every time we see each other now? I can’t figure out if that’s good or bad.
  5. What if sex comes up? I think I’d run and never look back. The idea of having sex again turns my stomach.
  6. I’m comfortable with Jay and hanging out at his place, but I don’t want to let him into my place for some reason. And I don’t want to be hanging out at his place all the time – just in case.
  7. I kind of miss Jay’s company, already.

I’m trying to get back into counseling, I know I’ll need the support – but for now I only have this blog. What has been your experience with dating after being assaulted? Does anyone have any advice to share?

I’ll post updates to my story as they come. Thanks for reading, and happy belated new year! I wish you all a recovered and revitalized life in 2013!

A Letter to My Rapist

20 Aug

Dear N,

I’ve been missing in action for so long that I know you thought I was gone for good. You never hesitate to tell the world when you think you’ve won. I’m sorry to disappoint you this time.

It took me quite a while – almost 2 years to be exact – but I’m back. And just like I promised, I’m armed with the truth and ready for war.

Remember when you were driving me home, after you held me in place and got your sexual jollies out of me on that cold cut of wooden table, and I screamed that you should have killed me? I meant it, but back then it was for a different reason. Because of what you did to me, I wanted to die. I used to pray every night that I would go to sleep and stay that way. I kept breathing, every day feeling angrier than the day before because my prayer went unanswered.

Today, I’m so glad I told you those words, because I’m alive with blood boiling in my veins, and you are finally, finally going to be made to regret the terrible things you did to me. You’re going to remember my name one more time. When everything is said and done and your life and reputation lie in ruins around you – just like you did to me – you will sorely wish that on the day you raped me, you used some of your perverted strength to put me in the ground. That instead of handing me my skirt and driving me home, you beat me to death or drove me off a cliff. Because you left me alive, God has avenged me.

I would do anything to be around on the day that you get the sheet of paper that tells you I’m back – but you can imagine me sitting at home with a bowl of popcorn and a smile instead.

Thank you for giving me the most satisfying moment of my life.

Until we meet again,


Moving On from Rape is Easier Said than Done

6 Dec

Remember this girl from season 5 of American Idol? It was the one where Taylor Hicks, the one who bore a slight resemblance to Jay Leno, won. About a month ago, you couldn’t tell me her single below wasn’t my theme song:

and not because of the music, but the lyrics:

I’m over your hands,
and I’m over your mouth.
Trying to drag me down,
and fill me with self-doubt.

Moving on, it’s my time,
you never were a friend of mine.
Hurt at first, a little bit,
but now I’m so over.
I’m so over it..

Don’t call,
don’t come by,
ain’t no use,
don’t ask me why,
you’ll never change,
there’ll be no more crying in the rain.

I took a break from my new blog back in September for an emergency trip I had to make, got lazy, and weeks after I returned I missed blogging. To be honest, though, I wasn’t in a hurry to come back. :-s

Hear (Read?) Me Out

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with time management, which is true. A lot has changed for me between September and now. I got involved with an attorney. I did some more “spring cleaning” down my list of friends and got rid of a few so-calleds who claimed to support me, but really were just loving the E.A. is Falling Apart Show. In October I found a new job that I actually like, where I get along with my co-workers and the pay is great. I’ve even started creatively writing again, something that I used to love and lost interest in after the incidents of last year. Thoughts of being raped didn’t take up so much of my day. Compare this all to, say, July 2011: nursing wounds from my church community, running with not much more than a suitcase and the contents in my wallet to my mother for support and getting none, dumped by the criminal justice system, nowhere to go, no hope for the future, lots of rage.

Finally, I’m through with this shit! I had myself convinced. I’d come back to the blog from time to time to approve comments, but I put off replying to a few. I thought, “well…I’m kind of in a different head space these days. Things are looking up for me. It wouldn’t be genuine of me to keep posting when I’m pretty sure I’m over being raped.” But I noticed while I was away that my number of blog hits really grew. People were typing terms like “i was raped” and “fran drescher rape” into search engines and reaching this tiny unfinished blog. They reminded me of when I used to wake up every morning already in tears. I felt guilty that I had nothing to say.

Rape: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Then, yesterday happened. My half-sister C, one of the relatives who lives in the city where I met N, called to say hi. We had always been close, and C stuck by my side when she found out what happened. At one point in our conversation, C mentioned my uncle and his wife at my former church, living as though they never heard of me. I was okay until C told me that she was disgusted that, even after I posted pictures of proof on Facebook, no one in the church cared, everyone still supported N and his family, and N’s career was really taking off. I’d always suspected that was the case (after all, to this day only 1 member of that church reached out to apologize for the way she treated me), but hearing it confirmed from an eyewitness hurt me more than I thought it would. I actually spent the rest of the night crying.

I pulled up this blog, re-read the posts, re-read the comments, and realized that on the outside, my circumstances are improving, but internally not much has changed. Some things like this post (Chris’ e-mail) still make my blood boil, and questions like this (where’s God?) are still on my mind. I wanted to “get to the finish line” in the beginning, and tried to rush through the recovery process. But if outward success is an accurate way of measuring inner healing, then why are accomplished celebrities like Tyler Perry still finding it necessary to get on “Oprah” and pour out their bitterness? Because 1, 5, 10, 20 years down the line, the effects of rape still pack a pretty mean punch.

You Have to Pass “Go”, But You Don’t Need All Properties to Win

A reader’s comment I read yesterday really helped bring the truth back home to me. It can take days, and it can take years. There really isn’t any way to run from the healing process, speed it up, or take any short cuts, and thinking you’ll be the exception is one way of denying yourself some sorely needed and deserved TLC. Because of the heavy sense of shame that came with my experiences, I put pressure on myself to get free. But in one of my earlier posts I compared being a rape victim to going through the death of someone you loved, and there’s nothing shameful about losing someone you’re close to. When people find out you’re grieving a death in the family, most will instantly give you the benefit of time and sympathy to recover. Should it be any different for a rape victim: someone who suffered a debilitating violation of their body and spirit through no fault (or invitation) of their own? Even if no one else is sympathetic to your needs because of rape stigma, you should be sympathetic to yourself. It’s incredibly hard to heal, but when you make yourself identify the rape as the obstacle, and not the wounded self that you want to escape, your efforts will be concentrated in the right direction. This is a distinction I want to start making for myself.

The other thing about the healing process I’m learning is that there are no rules in terms of what you need and need not to do to help yourself recover. By that I mean, what works for one victim may not work for another, and vice versa. Based on experience and studying several cases, counselors and survivors may suggest things that have a known record of being helpful, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take those suggestions in order to heal, especially if you feel you’re not ready or that the suggestion would make you uncomfortable – such as praying if you’re not religious. I tried a few unconventional things that helped me, which I’ll definitely share in the near future. I’ll also share my experience with suggestions that I tried and found unhelpful, even though they’ve been great for other rape victims.

Back to WTS

The long and the short of it is that I still have a lot of (admittedly scary) work to do to get to the point where I see being a rape victim as just another part of my past. I’m just really glad that this blog is still here for me to do it in.

The Reason (In My Opinion) Why Date Rape Gets No Sympathy From the General Public

7 Sep

Date rape - or, "sex gone wrong" (courtesy of

Stranger rape - or, "f***ed up crime" (courtesy of

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to make light of rape committed by a stranger at all. I’m not writing this to offend any rape victim, advocate, or anyone who feels for rape victims. I hope my post won’t come across as condescending or insulting or cruel, but if my opinion offends any reader in that way, please accept my apology.

Monday’s post (I delayed, so sorry!) featured a male reader who questioned the truth about my story after reading about the first time and the second time I was raped, and my response to him. I really hesitated to share the argument, but what he wrote serves as a great example, I think, of the (common) snide reaction most people have when they hear about acquaintance rape happening.

Who am I to make that judgment? No expert, really, but as I’ve written before (and have no intention of taking back or changing), I’ve been date raped twice. In my experience, nobody respects acquaintance rape as a true crime, and I know I’m not the only victim of this type of rape to say they’ve been through the same. I didn’t report my first attacker and I regret it, but I reported my second attacker to my church pastor, the local police, friends, family, the regional board of church representatives and council – basically whoever I thought would listen. I was called a liar, a drug addict, an undiagnosed bipolar on medication, and also laughed at, made fun of, insulted, hated, isolated, ignored, and dismissed. I tried to press criminal charges and had them recently dropped without warning, even though I can prove the second attack. (Thankfully, a lawyer has taken me up on filing a civil lawsuit.)

The Difference Between Acquaintance Rape and Rape by a Stranger

The simplest definition of acquaintance rape, given by, is: “rape committed by someone known to the victim.” That’s easy enough to understand. I keep switching between the terms date rape and acquaintance rape because a lot of sources define them the same way, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Date rape is a type of acquaintance rape, like ‘babysitter rape’ or ‘mentor rape’.

At, stranger rape is defined as: “a rape in which the victim does not know the rapist.”

Now, just to be clear, I’ll give the definition for rape. Found at

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent.The term is most often defined in criminal law. A person who commits an act of rape is known as a rapist.

But why get so technical with the definitions?

Public Opinion

I think it’s helpful to give legal definitions because opinions may vary, but rape is ultimately a legal term. It describes a crime that’s not really up for public debate or approval.

Rape isn’t the only crime defined so strictly. Theft is one legal term that can’t be tweaked by members of society who “just don’t agree”. Another is murder. For example:

  • A woman was recently convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for feeding her 16-month-old son, who suffered from congenital syphillis, biscuits tainted with rat poison. The article at says that she did it out of mercy.
  • A teenager faces trial as an adult for the stabbing death of his 49-year-old female teacher. The article at says that he bragged about stabbing her at least 9 times around her neck, one first in her throat so that she wouldn’t be able to scream, and also that he had plans for the crime dating back over several months and had studied military tactics to be able to commit the crime effectively.

Would anyone argue that the crimes the woman and teenager (if found guilty) committed weren’t murder? Or, would anyone say about their crimes, maybe, “it wasn’t murder – the little boy needed to die” or “that teacher shouldn’t have been in that school at that time” ? Nobody (sane) would make such comments.

What was the end result of both crimes? An innocent baby boy and a teacher lost their lives. Poisoning or stabbing did not make either victim more or less dead than the other. One may have felt less physical pain than the other before dying (we can’t be sure), but that doesn’t change the final result of what both victims suffered. Punishment for the crimes might differ because of the level of severity only.

Now consider these examples:

  • The president of Uruguay has recently apologized to the president of Haiti for a gang rape committed by Uruguayan peacekeeping troops on a young Haitian man. The article at says that after earthquakes left many parts of Haiti in ruins, a video surfaced and circulated on the Internet that shows Uruguayan marines laughing as they hold a 28-year-old Haitian man down and assault him. The public outcry for justice was so loud that the president of Uruguay stepped in.
  • A man in New Hampshire was finally convicted and sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for forcibly raping a 15-year-old member of his church 14 years ago. The article (courtesy of The Associated Press) says that the girl wound up pregnant and was forced to stand in front of her Baptist church congregation and apologize for “behaving immorally”, even though the girl complained that she had been raped and never changed her story. (Sounds eerily familiar 😦 )

According to definition, both crimes were undeniably rape. The end result of both crimes? A 28-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl wound up assaulted. Being ravaged by foreign “peacekeeping” troops or being forced into sex by a trusted member of community did not make either victim more or less raped than the other. One may have felt less physical pain than the other throughout the ordeals they endured (again, we can’t be sure), but that doesn’t change the final result of what both victims suffered. And punishment for the crimes might differ according to the severity of injuries, just like the law dictates for murder and other crimes – but that wouldn’t mean that one guilty party could be charged for anything other than rape, like “unpleasant sex”.

So why was there public outcry for one rape, and public ridicule for the other?

There’s No Such Thing as The Boogeyman

In my article about Rihanna’s music video for “Man Down” and the outrage that followed, I said:

What would happen if young people actually DID follow Rihanna’s example, and suddenly anytime you heard of a rape in the news, the headline in the paper would read something like: “Teen Victim Fatally Shoots Attacker after Alleged Rape”? That would be a problem for a society that feels best about keeping rape and sexual abuse a “hush hush” topic, never to be talked about, and never to be acknowledged as something serious that damages lives almost the same way that murder does. Potential rapists wouldn’t get away with so many crimes, and be hidden by their communities, never facing criminal charges, or serving jail time that amounts to a slap on the wrist whenever they were actually charged and tried. They wouldn’t want to try raping anybody – a crazy young’un out there could just shoot them up for it. I’m not saying anyone should go out and pick up a gun. I’m saying that we need to be honest – rape is real violence, too, but a lot of us don’t care.

Now, I don’t think I was right in saying that people don’t care. Indifference isn’t really the best way to describe how I think society feels about the topic of rape. I think it would be better now to say that rape makes society uneasy.

We all know that rape is a heinous crime – really, we all do. It makes most people sick to their stomachs to imagine anyone they know ever experiencing rape. It’s a disgusting crime that I think is the only way of destroying someone without killing them – just leaving them physically alive to live with a core that starts rotting away from the minute of the incident until there’s an intervention of some kind. You really have to be a sick person to rape someone – right?

Well, if acquaintance rape is a legit crime according to the law – then maybe not.

By definition, acquaintance (and date) rape is committed by someone the victim is familiar with, and not a shadow in the bushes – the “boogeyman” that inspires rage when people think about rape in general. Consider these statements from The National Center for Victims of Crime:

  1. Seventy-seven (77)% of completed rapes are committed by non-strangers (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997).
  2. A woman is four times more likely to be raped by an acquaintance than by a stranger (Illinois Coaliltion Against Sexual Assault, 2002).

How many women (not even considering men, who can also be victims of rape) are estimated to experience a rape in America every year? About 1 in 6? The 2010 United States Census counted the American female population as about 156 million. That would mean that an estimated 26 million rapes of women alone would be perpetrated by psychotic strangers, if the statistics given above were based on a crime that’s not really rape. I tend to believe that stranger is very real and very damaging, but that it’s also very rare. (In searching for articles on rape to compare above, it took me more than 2 hours to find a report on a rape committed by strangers :-s) I also tend to believe that 26 million or so women in America aren’t crazy if they’re raped and recognize that they were raped – even if it was “just” a boyfriend or a mentor that did it.

Humans commit Rape – not Shadows

It’s horrible to think that rape, the kind of crime that everyone agrees is revolting beyond words, isn’t necessarily an act of the depraved. That not only is it common, but that it’s commonly committed by normal people. In other words, you don’t have to be a psycho to rape someone.

What does that mean for the general public? That Joe Blow has the means and equipment to rape his date if he (or she, if we’re talking Jenny Blow?) wants to. Joe Blow can be a doctor, a neighbor, college student, your best friend. Joe Blow can even be you.

The moral, good citizens in us want to think that we can contain rapists in a bin labeled “sick” and keep them away from normal society, but unfortunately it’s not possible. Otherwise we would have to anticipate cases like the woman who poisoned her child, the man who raped the 14-year-old in his church, and basically sequester all of society.

The problem comes, I think, when instead of being over-vigilant, we try to pretend that exceptions to the accepted rule don’t exist. And when they show us that they exist (in the form of incest committed by parents, rape committed by boyfriends and spouses, and sexual abuse committed by child mentors), turning a blind eye and ears because the exception makes us uneasy. It’s like we think that if we accept that there are cases of normal people doing bad things (committing rape), and that those cases are in the majority, that we’re blurring the line of distinction between “good people” and “bad people”.

Blaming the Victim for Your Feelings of Guilt

I want to stress that nobody is at fault for the existence of rapists in society. It disturbs us to our core and it’s human nature to want to assign blame for things going wrong, but please, put the blame where it belongs: on the guilty. You as a normal citizen of society aren’t responsible for the existence of the person next door who raped someone, even though maybe you feel like you could have – or should have – seen it coming and prevented it somehow.

On the other hand, the victim isn’t responsible for having been raped, and you might be surprised to find out that he or she may be feeling equally upset about falling into the “gray area” of rape. It’s embarrassing to realize that you’ve been victimized, but that it wasn’t by a psycho – which would be acceptable by the general public. It can make a victim feel “less than” if they think that their injuries and circumstances surrounding their ordeal means that the real unwanted sexual penetration they know they suffered – that the law recognizes they suffered – isn’t a cause for complaint. It can make a victim feel guilty when they thought they, too, would be protected.

“Do You Think What Happened to Me Was Rape?”

I hope someday we can get away from having to ask or hear questions like this from confused and frightened victims of sexual assault. Maybe even that someday a victim can be confident in seeking help and justice just like the families and friends of murder victims, because of the nature of the crime and regardless of the flavor.

In the meantime, I’ll settle for a little bit of your compassion.

“God Does Care”: A Letter of Encouragement from a Rape Survivor

2 Sep

This morning I got an e-mail from a new reader named “Chloe”. With her permission, I’d like to share what she wrote:

Hi E.A,

I just wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog. I found [Willing To Survive] from a search on Fran Drescher.

I am a single mother in my 30s. My 7-year-old son is the product of a date rape. I never spoke about it. I thought about abortion all through my pregnancy and I tried to kill myself so many times. When my son was born I hated him.

I think about the past now and I’m so thankful because I’m not that scared angry girl anymore. Finding a therapy group at a Bible church in my neighborhood helped me in ways I cant even describe. The people in my group taught me how to fall in love with my son, they became my friends, they helped me find confidence and a new job, and they showed me who God is.

I just wanted to answer your question from before and say that God does care about us. If God could show me that he cares, then he can show anyone. You already wrote about my favorite preacher Joyce Meyer, so here’s an inspirational article she wrote. Maybe it can help someone else too. [posted below]

Please keep writing for [Willing To Survive], because people need to know that there is hope and life after rape.

God bless you


The article Chloe mentioned can be found here: Abuse and the Miracle of Recovery.

Thank you, Chloe, for sharing your experience and thinking of reaching out to others. I remember how desperate I was for an answer when I wrote my first post about God; your letter of encouragement is so heart-warming. I hope you’ll consider writing here again in the future.

Isolated by Stockholm Syndrome?: More Thoughts on Sammi of “Jersey Shore”

1 Sep

Sammi on one side ... Deena, Jenni "J-Woww", and Nicole "Snooki" on the other (courtesy of

Yesterday’s post was my first about “Jersey Shore” Sammi Giancola’s abusive relationship with her co-star and boyfriend Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. I’ve decided to write a mini-series on Sammi for 2 reasons: 1) I’m addicted to “Jersey Shore”, and 2) I’m interested in talking about all types of abuse, though rape will remain the focus of this blog.

Please click away now if you can’t stand “Jersey Shore” … I won’t hold it against you!


Defending her man (courtesy of

Back to the Start

Sammi’s claim-to-fame for being on “Jersey Shore”, apart from being half of the most miserable reality TV couple in America, is her epic fight with Jenni “J-Woww” Farley. If you’ve been watching the show, you remember the beef. At the end of season 1, feeling punked by Sammi’s flirtation with other guys as revealed on the reunion show, Ronnie went on a vindictive trip. Season 2 in Miami began with Ronnie partying hard at nightclubs, hooking up with ladies at random, coming home to sleep with Sammi, and the rest of their housemates feeling suffocated by guilt for keeping Ronnie’s secret. Back then, Sammi was like the teased kid at school who doesn’t realize she’s been tagged with a “kick me” sign on her back. She suspected that Ronnie was cheating, but asking never got her any direct answers, and everyone was treating her awkwardly.

“Who Wrote tha Note?”

The guys in the house weren’t going to do it, so Jenni and Nicole took it upon themselves to tell Sammi about what Ronnie had been up to behind her back and put her out of her misery. They wrote an ‘anonymous’ letter detailing all of Ronnie’s dirt and left it out for Sammi to find, but Sammi hated them when she found out. In season 2, Sammi and Jenni faced off. In season 3, Sammi and Jenni faced off again. Sammi briefly left the Jersey Shore after being terrorized by Ronnie and nobody seemed to care that she was gone. Everyone in the house had such a low opinion of her that by the reunion show, the only person who was really still talking to Sammi was season 3’s new addition Deena.

Yesterday I said that I think one of the biggest problems viewers have with Sammi is that she comes across as a complete idiot. Sammi has done some bone-headed things for sure, but is it all really because she’s an airhead, or could it be something more?

Out of control (courtesy of

Stockholm Syndrome

according to, is a psychology term used to describe “a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.” It was originally coined to describe kidnapping situations, but has been found in victims of situations like domestic abuse, prisoners of war, cult members, incest, and controlling relationships. A person experiencing Stockholm Syndrome tends to show the following symptoms (found at

  • Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
  • Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment

Does this sound anything like Sammi?

  • She displayed positive feelings toward Ronnie, even after he cheated on her in season 2 just to get back at her.
  • She displayed negative feelings toward Jenni and Nicole when she found out that they wrote the anonymous letter. She was in 2 fist fights with Jenni over the same issue, and didn’t attempt to make up with the girls until the near end of season 3. She’s also been hateful toward Mike, who once sat her down in season 2 and tried to tell her about Ronnie’s cheating face to face – she uses Mike constantly as an excuse for relationship turmoil with Ronnie, even in season 4.
  • While Sammi may never have come out and said, “I agree with the way Ronnie treats me”, she doesn’t confront him about his painful actions. She will scream and cry, but seems afraid of telling Ronnie things like, “You were dead wrong to trash my side of the room”, “I don’t deserve to be cheated on” (which he just admitted to continuing in this week’s episode), or “You don’t have any right to put your hands on me or scream in my face”. One of the more sickening displays was at the end of season 3 (see the photo below) where everyone in the house tried to shame Sammi for having an old male friend appear at a nightclub to see her so soon after breaking up with Ronnie. She never got upset with Ronnie for being attacked, but put her frustration on her friend and Mike, who exposed her business.
  • It’s clear that Ronnie has positive feelings towards Sammi. It’s not love, but he says in confessionals that he loves her. Sammi’s the only girl Ronnie has had eyes for on the show – unless you count all the girls he made out with at random.
  • Sammi has shown her support of Ronnie’s behavior by fighting with Jenni over his cheating, as well as ganging up on Deena in the first episode of season 3. They also seem to share hate for Mike, who is Ronnie’s worst enemy. And then there are all the screaming matches Sammi has entertained from Ronnie.
  • Sammi definitely seems unable to detach from Ronnie. She’s rarely seen out on her own or with other housemates (although she’s improved a lot in season 4), and doesn’t seem to have or want any interests apart from Ronnie. Even at nightclubs where everyone seems to be having a good time, Sammi is the one that can be found with a drink in hand, watching what Ronnie is doing even while she tries to make herself have fun without him.

Defending herself (courtesy of

Mind control

Not every victim of an abusive relationship has Stockholm Syndrome. From, there are 4 conditions that are usually present in a situation where Stockholm Syndrome is likely to develop:

  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation

and the list seems like it’s all there for Sammi and Ronnie. In season 1, Ronnie showed hints of his terrifying nature when he got into a bar fight over Sammi and knocked a guy out cold with one punch. He went to jail. Who wouldn’t be afraid of being on the receiving end of that rage someday? Sammi was attracted to Ronnie’s “juicehead” looks and won over by his normally sweet gestures and apparent adoration of her – so she probably already had a great image of him in her mind when Ronnie’s angry side came out, and would have found it difficult to exchange that for the real Ronnie. By isolating herself from making friendships in season 1 and sticking between Ronnie and Mike, Sammi lost perspective of anything other than Ronnie, and didn’t feel the negative effect of that until he dropped her before season 2. Now that Sammi’s a part of the “Jersey Shore” mill, she’s stuck in living quarters with Ronnie until the show is cancelled or runs its course. Where’s there for her to escape to? The housemates who were turned off by Sammi’s behavior in seasons 2 and 3? Home? Maybe after Italy.