When I saw Amber Amour’s distress staring back at me, I looked at my computer screen with a mix of awe and despair. For here we are in 2016, when one woman felt that she needed to live blog her experience of being raped.
The awe is to be expected. As a fellow survivor, woman, person, I am amazed at the instant courage that prompted this woman to take a horrific experience and push it out into the world instead of immediately shrinking inwards. It was an amazing cry, a scream; but most importantly, a challenge to the perpetual silencing of rape victims. Underneath the awe was deep, deep gratitude on behalf of the survivors that exist, and the ones who have yet to be.
It was the despair that took me by surprise.
Despair for the fact that it was entirely necessary. While I don’t believe in silencing, I do believe that every survivor of every trauma has the right to choose to hide, whether for a moment or a lifetime. To choose not to speak. It’s justifiable to want to shrink away from pain, to have a moment to process. Having the gaze of the world only intensifies the struggle to rebuild an entirely shattered sense of self, so the natural assumption would be that the experience is enough. Laying it bare for the world to observe is, arguably, unnecessary self-torture.
Yet here we are. Live blogging the aftermath of a rape is necessary.
Necessary as a stark reminder that it happens full stop. Rape is happening right now, everywhere. To people of all genders, ages, races, sexualities, everywhere.
Necessary to demonstrate its impact; neither as ‘regrettable’ or ‘unfortunate’, nor as too uncomfortable to talk about.
Worse still, necessary to provide basic education – this what having a rape kit looks like. Yes, you’ve heard of rape, but as Amour puts it, ‘the aftermath is even more traumatic’. Apparently, saying it is not enough. The world needs to see that even after the act itself, the survivor still has to choose whether or not to run the gauntlet of reporting it to the police, in all its victim-blaming glory, from rape kit to the fresh trauma of a criminal trial – if it even gets that far.
It shouldn’t be necessary for a traumatised young woman to photograph herself mid-rape kit.
It shouldn’t be necessary for the world to see said woman’s tears staring back at them on a computer screen.
It shouldn’t be necessary to have to find new and even more shocking ways to wake the world up.
It shouldn’t be necessary.
Yet here we are.