Happily, My Friend has Gotten Used to This but…
still, it’s important to point out.
It’s altogether commendable to be solicitous for those who have suffered sexual abuse. And it’s understandable to suppose that in those (probably rare. I don’t have statistics and have never suffer much sexual abuse myself*) folks who say they have not taken appreciable harm from it, there might be some sort of “denial” involved. But there’s also the reality (in my friend’s case, whom I know extremely well and you folks out there in blogland do not) that sometimes there is no denial involved, no repression, no endless vain attempt to blot out the endless mental anguish she must surely be suffering. No. She’s really just fine. Indeed, she writes me to say:
It’s a little odd to see my experience show up anonymously as a point in a national debate (yes, I saw Greg Popcak’s comments as well). I don’t mind that you used it – I just wish I had time to respond at some length to some of the issue raised but I don’t.
PS you can tell Greg P that I’ve had 7 years of therapy about a whole childhood of verbal and physical abuse culminating with a 3 week Intensive based on Primal Scream therapy, have recovered memories and feelings at a primal level – including prenatal memories and feelings (he should have some idea what that means) and never once did the issue having been sexually abused come up even as a minor issue. Scars I’ve got in abundance but that isn’t one of them. And yes I have a normal sexual life and I tend to be more touchy feely than my husband. I can’t explain it and haven’t worried about it until now. This discussion just heightens my sense of gratitude to God for have protected me in this area.
What traumas she’s suffered in her life (and like everybody, she has her share) simply aren’t rooted in that event. Far more difficult for her than the actual rape she suffered has been precisely the attempt by well-meaning people to insist that she must, simply must, be in denial, repressing, etc. It’s like those annoying people who keep asking you “Why are you angry?” when you feel fine until you finally *get* angry because they won’t believe you.
One thing that helps in her case is simply getting to know her (something I have done and my readers cannot do). But please: no more speculative email on the tortured map of her True Inner Psyche. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. There’s been no lasting effect from the rape she suffered. Why that might be I have no idea. Nor do I extend her experience beyond her as some sort of argument that there are a lot of other victims like her who are just fine. I merely offer it as an example that our thinking must be guided by encounters with each person in their particular circumstance and not by trying to cram a one size fits all template on everybody.
*By “much sexual abuse” I mean that when I was six or seven (I’m not sure) there was a teenage neighbor kid who (at least once) locked me in a shed, stood outside, and told me I couldn’t come out till I took all my clothes off. At the time, I regarded it as one of those stupid things big kids do to little ones. Somebody apparently came along and rescued me (I forget who) and it never happened again, as far as I can remember. It wasn’t till much later that I began to look back on that and suspect there might have been more going on than an annoying bully. But, like my friend, it did not form a watershed moment in my psychological history. Far more painful to me is the memory of watching my big brothers run up a hill I could not when I was five. But that’s another story.