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This pathfinder created by M.E.M.
INLS 111 UNC Chapel Hill INLS Graduate Student
Created March 2003
About the Rape Crisis Pathfinder
This pathfinder is for rape victims and their loved ones who are trying to heal and seeking resources to do so. Most rape victims suffer from ptsd, ocd and eating disorders. This pathfinder was created by the researcher as a graduate student in the MLS program (Library Science) at UNC Chapel Hill. The catagories of resources are based on an analysis of the information needs of the online rape survivor community for a collection development research project. A third project on how to communicate the mind set of rape trauma syndrome (PTSD, OCD and panic attacks) via images and text was completed as well. The bulk of the information is found under online resources based in part on the need for privacy for assault survivors. The most up to date and useful sources also tend to be online. The biographies are also a good source of healing and catharsis. What happens to a person in the aftermath of rape can make all the difference in the amount of post traumatic stress disorder one suffers in years to follow. Resources change quickly in a world of date rape drugs and general ignorance by the mainstream. You are not alone. The more you understand about what you are going through the more quickly the sharpness will become softer. Many other people have experienced this trauma and what they have learned can help guide you in your healing path.
Created by MEM
Last updated 04/20/05 About
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This story was not written by the author of this website. It is a universal story describing how many survivors cope with sexual assault. It was written by Lisa Mapes.
Throughout the past few years of trying my damnedest to survive; I’ve had a secret that I’ve been hiding. Holding onto it closely as if inside of it is locked the secret of whom I once was. For some reason, I cling to it, trailing behind the guilt of what happened one day of my life. I’ve felt the urge to name it, and keep it hiding under my pillow, a huge secret, bigger then an elephant, that god forbid, someone should see, if I forget to make my bed.
At first I called it the assault. It was a fairly ambiguous name. It didn’t allow one to suspect more then maybe I had been in a fight with someone outside of a nighclub or that I’d maybe been the victim of a purse snatcher. Then as time progressed, It seemed as if it had grown an attachment to me, and at the same time it was changing form. It was becoming me, or was I becoming it? Maybe it was changing me into something I did not want to be.
I was stressed, anxiety began to fill my days and nights. I was afraid to be alone, watching every shadow, terrified of what might be lurking around the corner. Everlasting fear grew that I’d have another elephant thrust upon me, and I would die from its enormous weight crushing my now frail soul.
With utter contempt for it was doing to me; I held on tight. It was mine; this huge horror I had been hiding. Despite it being forced upon me, in the middle of the night, maybe in some dark alley way, or perhaps in my own bedroom; I had somehow allowed it to become my possession.
I did not want this elephant anymore. It had become my burden. I no longer existed, and I had suddenly become what happened to me that one moment in time. I had let the elephant overcome me. I was no longer able to look forward.
One day I realized the elephant had grown so large, I couldn’t hide it under my pillow anymore. Suddenly it was appearing everywhere in my life. Why was it following me? Why did I not leave the burden lie for with whom it belonged; the perpetrator? Why did it have it follow me to work, out with friends or even to the grocery store?
I couldn’t hold my head high, I was filled with shame. I wanted to hide at home in order to keep my secrets to myself. Surreptitiously, I’d hoped that I could hide in my closet away from my secrets grasping for seconds of freedom from my shame; or that maybe I could lock them away in a cupboard to revisit another time.
Something needed to change. Years of carrying this elephant had begun to take its toll on my life. I had realized that the only way I was to be autonomous, was to let go of this elephant. I had to accept it wasn’t my burden to carry. This burden was my perpetrators, and even if he wasn’t willing to acknowledge his responsibility. I had recognized this was not my affliction.
I decided one day, to leave the elephant at pound. It was not mine to carry around. I was able to walk without guilt, because I’d forgiven myself for the pain I had allowed myself to suffer when I thought that I was to blame for this affliction. I would allow myself to mourn.
I realize that my life will never be the same having carried an elephant so long. I will never be the same person, nor do I think I’d want to be. I’ve discovered how strong I really am; because it takes a lot of strength to carry around a blue elephant.