The Land of My Rapist

Living abroad has one big advantage: I live far away from the person who raped me. The North Sea, the barbed wires in Calais and Dover and the austere-looking border control officers between him and me make me feel a little bit safer. But today I’m traveling back to the Netherlands. And as much as I’m trying to think about all the good things my country has in store for me (my wonderful friends and loving family, for example, and a supposedly very interesting workshop), I can’t stop thinking that I’m traveling to the country of my rapist.

On my mental map of the world, my rapist is a bright red dot in the middle of an alarmingly pulsing sphere. From the UK, I see him moving around within the tiny invisible confines of his day-to-day life. It’s like watching a lion in the zoo, feeling quite safe behind a strong iron fence. Now, however, on my way home, the red pulsing ‘danger zone’ around my rapist has become huge. In an hour or so, I will get off my plane and step right onto his territory. I’m scared out of my mind, to be honest.

What if he’s there waiting for me? What if I run into him by accident? What if I see his family? What if he comes looking for me?

My fears are both irrational and debilitating. My rapist lives 83 miles from Schiphol Airport, which to Dutch standards is really very far. Certainly not as far as the 278 miles between him and me right now, but far all the same. I’ve also lived happily in cities that are much closer to the one he lives in. Yet now, I feel like I’m traveling to the eye of a hurricane. And while those hurricane-hunter people seem to enjoy the thrill, I certainly don’t.

I don’t want to be scared to visit my lovely sister (55 miles) or brother (9 miles) or parents (8 miles). My rapist has done enough damage already; I won’t allow him to keep me away from the ones I love most. His country is my country, too. While my mantra “you’re being stupid, he’s far away and he’s not interested in you anyway” keeps me sane, it doesn’t help in reducing my anxiety.

So, I’m trying a new technique today: using visualisation, I will shrink that dangerously pulsing red sphere around the dot that’s my rapist to the size of a green pea. Visualisation seems to work really well for me, in general. Like Roald Dahl’s Mathilda, I will stare at the red dot and wish só much for it to shrink that it will. If only I manage to turn my sister’s apartment into a safe place today, I can work on my brother’s house tomorrow. This is my mental map, in my mind, in my body, and I’m traveling to see my family in my country. Wish me luck.

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image source: Ladybird Books

12 thoughts on “The Land of My Rapist

  1. Hi Anna,

    That must be horrible. I hope visualisation will help you to feel better about your stay in The Netherlands.

    You know more about trauma treatment than I do. That’s for sure! But I heard recently that EMDR is also used for ‘flash forwards’. Not exposure to what happened, but to what might happen. Facing the worst case scenario. Someone said it worked with the flash forward of meeting her rapist.

    I wish you all the good things I can think of! It makes me very sad that these things happen!

    You’re brave!

    Chantal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Chantal, thank you for your kind words and for reminding me of the flash forwards EMDR option. I vaguely remember hearing about it some time ago, but I probably wasn’t jumping up and down in enthusiasm because I hadn’t thought about it in this context. But it’s a good idea, something I will absolutely consider. Thanks again, it means a lot! All my best, have a lovely weekend, Ana

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      1. EMDR has saved my life. It didn’t get rid of the memories but diminished it’s impact on me. I can watch TV and movies without having my finger floating on the mute and fast forward position due to multiple (sexual oriented) triggers. I can reflect back and not feel like a knife is stabbing me in my heart. When his name comes to the surface I don’t feel like finding him and killing him, or the overwhelming guilt that he may have hurt others, or my overwhelming shame that I didn’t do more to save myself.

        I was told that PTSD divides the two sides of our brain, separates it so to speak. It makes sense because when I feel what has happened, I’m overwhelmed with emotion, but then when I talk about it I’m stuck in non-emotional analytics. What I can’t do is think about what I’m feeling or feel what I’m thinking. Somehow EMDR connects the brain so I can process through it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my god, this really caught my attention and I almost came close to tears, I am so sorry to hear this happened to you Ana. I hope you’re coping well. Have you spoken to someone about it? Myself and everyone else are always going to be here for you to support you.

    You have got my full respect, Ana. To speak up about a horrific experience like this that has troubled you is so brave. That rapist will never win and shall suffer defeat in the long run, but you are a fighter and a winner as you have spoken out against that one person who tried to steal your voice.

    Your voice hasn’t been stolen from you, but has made you stronger and as for that rapist, they’ll get what comes to them so don’t you worry.

    If you ever want to drop by my website, you’re more than welcome to visit anytime. I just recently launched a page on my website titled: “Mental Health Organisations” as I’ve been working closely with the famous actor and close friend of mine, Oli Regan, on raising awareness to end the stigma against Mental Health, and even though I’m not a Mental Health sufferer, I want to help anyone suffering from Mental Health to not only get their voice back, but to give them back all of the confidence they once lost in themselves and in the world.

    Again, you’re more than welcome to visit my website Ana and if you need to seek advice and support surrounding Mental Health, please feel free to have a look at the Mental Health Organisations page I have set up on my website, and if there are any organisations that work to help those suffering from Mental Health that I may not have on the page, please feel free to let me know and I’ll add any information to the Mental Health Organisations page.

    Sending you my well wishes, kind regards and full support your way Ana,

    Alex Smithson

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Alex, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. Thanks also for your efforts to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness, you’re work is really important and I hope you’ll find the strength to keep doing it for a long time. I’ll have a look at your website, thanks for sharing. Take care Alex, all my best, Ana

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the least I could do. Besides, I want to help anyone suffering from Mental Health to get their voices back, especially those like yourself who have been the victim of rape and any other forms of sexual assault. You have my full respect Ana and your kind words and respect will be the driving energy that helps me to continue the good fight to end the stigma against Mental Health.

        Thank you Ana and keep doing what you love the most, you’re awesome and thanks for sharing your story, it will give all those around the world the chance to speak up and be confident.

        Alex Smithson

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  3. I totally relate to this. My rapist lives in the same town as me and has connections to people in my neighborhood. I had to switch schools because he would find me everyday and touch me at my locker even though I told him no and to stop. Hang in there.

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