Yesterday, we had a very successful fundraiser at Wendy’s in Forest Park. We met a lot of people, saw some older friends, and had a great time and were able to raise the money needed for some events we have approaching. We had promoted the event heavily online, and were humbled to have so many people promoting the event along with us. One particular supporter posted a very innocent status, with a slight mistake in it that caught me off guard. This supporter made a post online that said something to the effect of “I am going out to Wendy’s to support A Voice For The Innocent, an organization that supports victims of rape. The founder is a victim of rape himself, and is trying to help others.”
Now, I was a victim of sexual abuse – not rape. While I was able to correct this person on their status without much incident, I found myself taken aback and slightly put off. This person did literally nothing wrong. It was an honest mistake, yet I found myself offended. But why? I started this organization with the premise that the shame that comes with rape is unnecessary, and here I am feeling shamed due to an innocent misnomer. After some quick sorting out mentally, I realized that there is no shame being a rape victim. I had reacted in the instincts that have been indoctrinated into our culture, that there is something wrong with being a victim of rape.
I started this organization with the single most important intent being to help others who have had similar experiences to mine. I did not expect to learn as much as I have in the few short months that we have been going. Not only do I strive to help those in need, I desperately want to change the mindset of the people in our society, and apparently that includes my own.
I am glad that person posted their status incorrectly. I was able to learn how quickly I put my guard up about my experiences. If they had incorrectly assumed I was the victim of an armed robbery, or the victim of a breaking and entering, would I have taken such offense? I think I would not have. And that is being a victim of rape culture – to assume that one crime should shame a victim while others should not.
Let’s all try and change our hearts and minds when it comes to the victims of rape and abuse. More times than not, they already feel defensive, ashamed, and guilty. Our outside perceptions of their experiences should help to heal – certainly not hinder their recovery.