A guy I barely knew raped me at a party. What should I do, and how do I heal from this emotionally?
I am so sorry to hear what you have been through. I have several friends who have been through the same thing, and I have learned from them that there are a number of things you can do.
First of all, find an adult you can talk to about what happened. Ideally, you want to be able to talk to your parents. As difficult as this may seem, you need their comfort and consolation during this difficult time. When a woman suffers any form of sexual abuse, part of her healing process involves showing her wounded heart and receiving validation. Without this she may come to blame herself or simply grieve in silence.
If you feel that it is impossible to tell your parents, at least work on improving your relationship with them, so that you will be able to open up to them one day. In the meantime find some adult with whom you can speak about this, such as a teacher, priest, counselor, or youth minister. You are not alone in this, and they are there to give you the help that I cannot. Among the things you need to talk about are the possibilities of getting counseling and pressing charges; after all, the guy may do the same thing to someone else. By standing up to him, you have the opportunity to protect others from him.
Speaking of date rape, Wendy Shalit said, “A man who did not respect female modesty wasn’t more manly—he was less of a man. . . . [He] wasn’t displaying his masculinity, only his immaturity. He was announcing, in effect, that he didn’t understand what it meant to be a man.” So if you can press charges against this guy, you’ll not only be bringing him to justice; you’ll also give him a much-needed lesson on how not to treat a lady.
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In order to find peace in your suffering, you will need to learn to let go of any hatred, so that bitterness will not take root in your heart. When painful memories come back to you, learn to transform that pain into prayer. Since Jesus said to pray even for our enemies, pray for the man who hurt you. It is natural to feel anger and disgust toward him because of what he did to you. But do not allow his sins to lead you down the path of hatred.
The more wrath you feel toward him, the more you will need to conquer that hatred—for your sake as well as his. Pray that he may encounter Christ and that he may realize what it means to be a man. By praying for him as Jesus prayed for those who put him to death, you will be practicing the essence of forgiveness: namely, continuing to will the other person’s good. Forgiveness does not mean that you ignore what he did to you or that you do not press charges. It means that you allow Christ’s love rather than your own pain and anger to determine your attitude toward this man.
Increase your prayer time as well, since God is a healer of wounds seen and unseen. As the healing process begins, do not think that no guy will ever love you. This man took from you, but you still have yourself to give. Remember, you did not give yourself to him.
Also, know that being raped is not a sin. Where there is no consent, there is no sin. Finally, take a look at your social group and see if this is the best bunch for you. Check out church youth groups in your area, because solid friends are priceless. In the words of Sirach, “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure” (6:14).
. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 150.