“Wanna know what’s worse than being a rapist? Hiding behind one. Fucking justifying a fucking rapist, that’s worse.You want to get the story straight? We all know the story. Everything Hannah said on the tapes is true.”
“I think it’s about time we stop think about what Hannah wants but what she needs and Jessica, and every girl who “practically beg Bryce to fuck her”.”
~ Clay Jensen, EP 13.
Years of working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse have taught me this: there are two sources of wounds contributing to the trauma: the sexual abuse itself and the responses from the people close to the survivors. When I was working on my doctoral dissertation, I went back and forth reading the literature debating which one caused the trauma or PTSD. There is no conclusion, and the only conclusion is both of them contributed to the trauma and post-trauma experiences.
It is understandable that the traumatic experiences like rape have significant impact on the victims. The traumatic experiences were so shocking that often left the victims “frozen at the moment” and some of them described the experiences as “nothing, felt nothing.”
I can go on and on to talk about the impact of the sexual trauma on the victims. In this section, to stick with the theme of this drama, I want to focus on the other wound that also often leaves a significant trauma on the victim: you, the innocent bystander, your response.
What we don’t often think about is the reaction from “the innocent bystander” also have a significant impact on the victims. These reactions include but not limited to: doubt, questions, and implications that the victims “ask for it” and no reaction.
Reaction 1: “He/She is the problem.”
“Hannah was a liar. She was jealous and needy and emotionally unstable. She thought everyone was out to get her. We tried to be her friends. We did. She blamed us when things went wrong. But she was the one with problems.”
~Courtney, EP 12
One day, I was in the kitchen area of my office suite, and an attorney who also rents the office in my suite was watching the news about Cosby case. He looked at me and shook his head, saying: “Why did she do that? You can’t help but wonder her motivation, especially to someone like Cosby.”
I looked at him and said: “she knows that there are million people in different corners who are thinking the same thing as you. So, why do you think that she wants to put herself in that position? People lie to get out of trouble, not getting into trouble. Think about it; you always lied about “getting the cookie before the dinner.” Why? You know your mommy was going to be mad and therefore, you did your best to lie to get out of the trouble. If she lies, she brings more trouble to her life. So, why does she want to lie?”
This kind of incidents happened so many times in my life with people I know, or I don’t know. I had to control my angry voice and shaking body to tell to their face: “your response like this is exactly why rape is still maintained in this society, and your behaviors are as bad as the perpetrator’s behaviors.”
Why do people lie? Most of the time, we lie because we know we are in trouble and the first instinct is to lie to get out of the trouble. So, knowing that this society holds the ideas that “the perpetrators are innocent until proven guilty” and “the victims are responsible for proving themselves a victim,” why would a victim want to lie him/herself into the trouble? The reality is only a tiny percentage of the people lied about rape and the reasons they lied because they wanted to get out of problems.
(To Be Continued)
A Friendly Reminder:
This exercise might elicit different feelings that “feels like” hard to tolerate. If it brings up a lot of emotions that are hard to tolerate, talk to a friend or seek professional help. You might be on the verge to reconcile a very difficult memory or traumatic event. Don’t bury it away. On the other side of the fear is your courageous inner strength that is waiting for you to dig out.
Here is the link to the original novel of “13 reasons why”
Here is the link to the Netflix drama of “13 reasons why”
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network hotline 800-656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Hotline hotline 1-800-273-8255
13 Reasons Why Series Articles
Extended Readings about Sexual Assault and Rape Myth