Rape victim can love again

Matthew Gruchow

Matthew Gruchow

Dear Matthew,

I was a rape victim. Now, after being with my boyfriend for about two years, I realize that I am unable to open up to him sexually. I feel like when we make love I float to someplace else. I love him; it’s not a problem with him, it’s me. Any help?

-Afloat

Dear Afloat,

When I began this column the mission was to entertain and inform. Some columns, like this one, had to tackle the ugliness that sex sometimes represents. What happened to you was ugly. A man, and I use that term loosely, linked something that was supposed to be beautiful and intimate and turned it violent and ugly. That depraved act is rippling through your life today. It has stalled your emotional growth. Every time you have sex with your boyfriend, your body and mind react as they did during your attack. They close you of; they guard you from trauma. The floating away you describe is perfectly normal.

The key here is, through time and counseling, to separate the violence of the rape from lovemaking. Your boyfriend will need to be supportive and patient during this time, and you must be frank and honest with him about your feelings and needs at every step. First and foremost, know that the rape wasn’t your fault. Nothing you said, did or wore brought it on. Rape is about power and not sex. Sex is simply the tool that savage beast used. Secondly, know that you are not alone. Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 90 seconds, according to the Department of Justice statistics for 2000, the most recent breakdown of statistics I could find. There are plenty of women who have been through your ordeal, survived, prospered and have perfectly normal sex lives now. You cannot and should not face this transition by yourself. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to take advantage of the rape counseling services on campus and in the community. If you fail to tackle the rape and the myriad emotions that come with it, it will sit like a cancer in your body, eating away at the very fiber of your soul and sabotaging any hopes for a normal, intimate relationship ever again. Rape is not a one-time trauma. It sticks with you. If you don’t break free from its grip, the rapist continues to have the power he sought in the first place. Something tells me that you are stronger than that rapist, that you’re braver than you give yourself credit for. Otherwise you would not have written here. Matt and Kara can help! Try [email protected]