[Potential Trigger for Rape Survivors]
It’s not surprising that the GOP has given us one more hurtful and disrespectful comment about rape. ‘Tis the season, and it’s been a banner year for Republican verbal assaults against women and women’s health right. It was a bizarre way to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to be sure, when Richard Mourdock, Republican candidate for an Indiana U.S. Senate seat, told a debate audience that pregnancy resulting from rape is a gift from God:
I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
Policy issues of separation of church and state aside, I’d like to know more from Mourdock about these gifts. Because as far as I know the “gifts” of sexual assault are plentiful, and are not restricted to a potential unwanted pregnancy alone. Rape unlocks a veritable advent calendar of days after days of horrifying gifts.
I spent many years answering a pager to respond to rape crisis. As an advocate I would rush to the Emergency Room where a victim would be interviewed and examined. I would work in concert (and as an advocate for the victim) with a team of police and medical professionals to make things go as smoothly as possible and to provide aftercare services. I would wait with her, answering questions or making calls to family on her behalf. I would wait and talk with them, and sometimes talk them off the ledge of retribution. I would, if requested, hold the survivor’s hand in the exam room as the Rape Kit exam was performed. It’s called a Rape Kit because the forensic part of the examination is guided by a special sealed series of envelopes, scissors, tweezers, swabs and slides contained in a packet that will seal evidence for investigation.
I wonder if Mourdorch knows that before a rape victim can be examined to see if she is physically injured internally she must carefully undress in front of the examiner while standing on a piece of paper to collect hair and fiber? Even with the great progress we’ve made in securing trained, compassionate care from nurse examiners and investigators, her body is a crime scene and is treated as such.
Perhaps Mourdorch knows that. I wonder he feels that invasion and many other outcomes of rape are also “gifts from God.” These are some of the things rape crisis survivors have told me are their greatest concerns in the aftermath of rape, a box of horrors that are not seen by victims as gifts from God at all:
- other sexually transmitted diseases (herpes, gonorhea, Hepatitis….make a list)
- disease in general
- vaginal or anal tears
- broken/dislocated jaw or bones
- internal and external cuts and bruises
- primal violation of their body and being, with untold physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual outcomes
- lost virginity
- lost sense of exclusivity with their husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend or partner
- PTSD (a closet full of horrors all its own)
- failed tests/projects/semesters at school due to healing, counseling or legal processes
- lost hours from work for same
- lost hours from family/caregiving for same
- injury of a current pregnancy/miscarriage/interupted breastfeeding
- pregnancy from rape
- injuries that could affect future fertility
- loss of relationships/strain in relationships
- loss of dignity/privacy
- ongoing fear for their safety and trust in others
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