Victim, Survivor, Thriver – My Letter From Susie McEntire
Last year I sent an e-mail to Susie McEntire (Yes, Reba’s sister) telling her my story, and she responded. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it as it’s very personal, but then I thought it could help others too. Her words are in bold.
Katie, thank you for sharing your blog. See comments below:
Dear Susie, I am writing to you because you inspire me and I read somewhere that you are a survivor too. I just wanted to share something I wrote recently. I hope this gets to you and if it does, thanks for reading it! “I go through periods of times where I don’t know if what happened to me was rape, assault, or my fault because the way the law is and because victims want to place blame on themselves.
**these things are confusing to start with. Trying to fit a very dynamic real life event into a “term” or category can be hard. However, it is not necessary to categorize it from your hearts perceptive. From the law perspective it is needed. But your heart asks for, or requires, a term that fits tightly into a category for its hurt to be legitimized.**
So to recap. I was 21 with a mind of about 17 or 18. Was at the worst of my mental illness. Not taking my meds, in and out of hospitals etc. I was so confused. I thought consensual fooling around was not, and apparently I thought non consensual was okay? Abuser came into my life. He wanted to protect me and help me. That’s what I needed. What I didn’t need was to be confused by sex. I grew up in a conservative Christian family, and I was very naive about this stuff. He would come over to “protect” me and it turned into sexual stuff. He basically said it would make me feel better. He could show me how it’s really done, etc. I didn’t know the first thing about sex, about consent, all I know was the rape was something a guy forced on you, like an attack and that wasn’t happening so I thought it was ok. I never said yes, I never said no, I just lay there. **Your raws honesty in the above paragraph is impressive. Sadly You are not alone in your journey on this.**
What bugs me is I don’t think it counts because it wasn’t forceful and I never said no. But, I also never told him that I wanted to. **Counts according to the Legal system probably not. Your age, the invitation into you where you lived, no physical force or physical resistance all lead to a conclusion that it was not a legal case of rape. although I am not an attorney or advising you legally, I think that is a dead end street. However, and this is the most important for your going forward: regardless of what the law calls it, you were violated. It is confusing here because at some level you were lonely and needy and wanted the contact. Possibly enjoyed at some level the contact. But at your deepest levels, you feel taken advantage of by someone who was not out for your best. Your hearts best.
I don’t know if I will ever be fully be able to say I was attacked.
***It does not sound like you were attacked. Certainly not by law. However, you were violated. You trusted him (foolishly in your youth and emotional state, but you still trusted him.) and he did not care for you. He took advantage of you and you did not resist physically. ***
That I was raped, That he stole my virginity and the last of my innocence. I believe I was raped. But, I’m afraid of what others would say.
All I know is what he did was wrong.
**I agree totally here***
I wish I could call him out on the dirtbag he really is. **Maybe. At least let him know you are aware of what he did and angry/sad about it. Maybe, like you, he has grown. Maybe he feels terrible about it. Maybe he is not a dirt bag…he got carried away….didn’t resist….went with the flow…hormones raged…got stupid….caused pain to himself and you. On the other hand, maybe he is still abusing and really has become more of a dirtbag. Either way, letting him know you are aware of the event, are working toward forgiveness and call him to a higher level of manhood would be good.
But, whatever I call it. I survived the abuse, I will survive the recovery. **coming out of a conservative Christian home these things can be way bigger than they need to be. The impact you feel is real. Victim is first. Survivor is second. Thriver is third. The first two stages are where he is in control still. He still runs you. the Thriver stage is where you have your life back. One does not call themselves a survivor and continue to be defined by the pain. One is living their own life and going to new and exciting areas. Carving their own way. Finding out who their unique role in the universe is. this is ahead for you***
Now I’m just trying to take back my life. Try to live by the words of Olivia Benson from Law and Order SVU and I am trying to forgive him. ***Process the pain. See it for what it is…nothing more and nothing less. (I would suggest you see it as a sad event that happened during a vulnerable time. No more, no less and move forward) Learn how you have built a system of relating to the world around that event and process that to find out what you need to dump and what is good that you can take forward. Don’t feel the need to label it anything so you can not get laughed at or so it is somehow legit. it is legit because it happened to you and impacted you.***
**I am sorry for you and that you are dealing with it. All the best in going forward. I’ll see you in the Thriver section of the arena!***
Right now I am in-between Survivor and Thriver. Some day I will be a full Thriver.
I hope this at least helps one person. I know it helped me.