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Wounds That do not Heal- The Plight of a Rape Victim

The Plight of a Rape VictimMeet Cynthia. She is a 24 year old medical school student from one our neighbouring Caribbean islands. She is intelligent, witty, and some consider her a very friendly person.

She hopes to graduate med school in two years' time; and from all appearances she has a bright future ahead of her.

But what the average pair of eyes can not see is the hurt she hides behind her pretty smile. Yes she was raped, initially at age 10 and several times since.

Her story is all too familiar in our islands. Her mother had five children, no steady male support and a poor paying job. Cynthia being the eldest was the one who had to go to "Uncle" for whatever assistance he would give the family. And Uncle, like too many Caribbean men, did not refuse to "benefit" from the situation.

In spite of her unfortunate history, her natural intelligence and strong will to survive has enabled her to finish near the top of her high school class and has earned her a university scholarship. But here is where the good side of the story takes a break.

Her room mate for the past three years, Andrea, paints a contrasting picture of her. It is not because she wants to hurt her or be mean to her; but she knows her secret and above all has been trying to help her. And it is a picture that Cynthia, though reluctantly, agrees with.

Cynthia is very moody. One moment she is on top of the world, the next moment she is all depressed and crying; and at times she is down right paranoid. At least twice she has overdosed on sleeping pills. She claims she never wanted to kill herself, but her then boyfriend had threatened to leave her.


Eventually he did. Andrea says the poor boy was sweet, but he was often tormented by Cynthia's unpredictable behavior. All the others have been tormented. Then Andrea adds  "The real tormented soul is Cynthia, I have often heard her crying in the dark."

Cynthia admits that she is often depressed and she dreads being alone. She always finds someone to cling unto even if he might be bad for her. Eventually they are scared away. Then she adds "At  times I feel empty inside, unloved and misunderstood, at times I don't even know myself."

She then talks of her promiscuous behaviour, giving it up easy. "I would do anything so I don't feel my own lonely heart beating." It does not stop the pain, but even for a short time she can dream of an ideal existence. Other times she can not  stand to be touched or  kissed. She talks of boyfriends she thinks had been good to her, and others who had been mean. Then she says "It all might have been my fault."

Luckily for her ( if you can ever consider a rape victim lucky ) she has met a therapist at her med school who is helping her. According to him she is showing signs of Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition not uncommon in rape victims. She says with his help she has been coping with life a little better and is doing very well in her studies. To that Andrea interjects( with a laugh)  ''Cynthia is just bright."

At times she had to take medication but thinks the greatest help has come from learning about her condition, being honest with herself, and a renewed faith in God. She also thinks that having a friend like Andrea who is kind yet firm has been a great asset. To that end she is still hoping to be a good physician and Andrea agrees that she will be.

Although the story seems that it will have a happy ending, Cynthia says there are still days when she feels real awful, and the memory of her repeated rapes still haunts her. ''Even though the pain is less now, at times I feel that these emotional wounds don't ever fully heal."

Having listened to Cynthia's story, I can not help but think of all the women, young and otherwise, who have been raped in this country over the past several years. The sheer numbers have been disturbing, especially when one considers the gross under reporting of crimes of this nature. But more disturbing are the wounds and scars that each rape victim is going to live with for rest of her life.


Let us look at the girl who is raped before her body has reached the necessary development for sexual intercourse or the one who is violently, repeatedly or ganged rape. The physical pain and damage may render her incapable of enjoying sex or render her infertile. She may also be exposed to and contract diseases such as Herpes, HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis B. And then they could be massive haemorrhaging that may put her life in acute danger or cause serious long term irreparable damage.

To talk about the emotional damage is even more depressing. There is the woman who can not enjoy the pleasures of sex because she can never get the memory of that horrid event from her head. There is the woman who is forever wondering if she has HIV, to scared to take the test. There is the woman who becomes clinically depressed and lives the rest of her life as under a cloud. Then there is the woman who can not take it anymore and takes her life.

What about the relationship that would never be the same; the boyfriend or husband who can not look at his girlfriend or wife the same way anymore? What about the social phobia; the woman who can not go into the public anymore?

What about the woman who has to hear from other women that she deserved it?  And what about the woman who is raped by her brother, uncle or father, the very men that should be protecting her?

To compound the problem we live in a society that is ambivalent to  psychiatric care, even among the medical fraternity. Hence many women who are raped not only do not report it, but they do not seek psychiatric care.

As a society our responsibly is on many levels. It starts with us teaching our children to respect each other, especially teaching our boys to respect and protect our girls. It continues with us developing our culture, educating our citizens  and developing adequate legal and medical ( including psychiatric) systems. We can not stay at the level of playing politics or ragging the police, as important as a strong police force may be.

Now that there seem to be a lull in the serial rapes we had over the past few years, we can not afford to be comfortable. Spare a thought for all the unfortunate women that have been raped in this country, and elsewhere. Let us now put in place the mechanisms that will not see us repeating this dark episode of our history.


The same way we do postmortem of Carnival, let us get our best legal, medical, social, young and experienced minds together and analyze this sordid episode. If we can learn the painful lessons from this dark stain on our country's slate, it would eventually be better place for all of us. But if we do not learn from it, the contrary is true.

When each of us take our responsibly seriously, doing our best to make our society the best it can be, then we will prevent some of these wounds that do not heal.

Dr. Jerry Simon (NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre, 462 0631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

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12 Comments In This Article   

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Rape Victim

#12 JD » 2013-01-25 13:58

This is a very difficult article to read but it is important for us to know. My heart goes out to Cynthia and others in a similar situation. It is good to see people commenting here as in the past I've noticed that similar topics tend to be ignored, but it's time to face it and deal with it so we can somehow stop it and help to heal the hurt. Cynthia (and others like her) - you're an amazing person, none of this is your fault, keep strong, never give up, focus on positive and happy things, all good things lie ahead for you - I wish you all the best in your future.
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Finding comfort and Peace of mind

#11 Hurting but coping » 2013-01-25 11:51

I am 41 now, I was molested by my Uncle and family friends for years until about age 15, I know it didn't feel good but I was afraid, I thought I was the one to blame, although I was hurting so much I couldn't tell, I felt unloved, dirty and useless for years, I grew premuscuous and would sleep with anyone who show me any kind of caring, but I always believe in God and one day I tell myself I have to try some thing that I could come out of the slump am in, I cried for hours at a time, I could be in a room full of people and feel so incredably lonely, but I willed myself to do something, I put my whol trust in God, cause he said he will never leave us nor forsake us. It is not easy even now I still feel the pain and hurt, I resent those people that hurt me, I dont't talk about it, I feel it when people talk about what they've gone through cause I feel the same pain, everyone don't have the strength and will power, but I pray that God will hurt our Hurt someday. Thanks Mr. Simon for that topic. Looking forward for more enlightening topics.
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Hurting but coping

It's not just chilhood rape

#10 pierced » 2011-05-23 02:36

Many people focus on the Children who were raped, who may now be adults suffering emotionally.I was 26 when I suffered a sexual assault from a physician doing something under the guise of a "necessary procedure". Two decades later I am still terribly tormented by the abuse. The best of counselors I have spoken to don't know have the answer to the healing of my torment and how I would get back the joy I once had in the Lord. This happened in the U.S. Any place this kind of abuse happens to anyone, child or adult, causes terrible emotional and spiritual wounds.
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pierced

understanding Rape

#9 JR » 2010-08-24 13:38

unfortunately most Antiguans only respond to political issues and slander. A social issue as written by Dr. Simon is just like water of the back of most. Only when it happense to one of your loved one you stop and reliaze how sad and cruel this form of crime is. Police also have to handle these crimes very well and women are not readily forthcomming when they are raped. From a male perspective it is hard to understand unless it happens to your daughter. Then a man will kill theperpetrator. In all wisdom we need to educate our men starting with the young men in the schools and not leave them to grew with the sense that it is cool and displays power. We need to mold the young minds early to adopt new moral standards. So that our next generation will see this crime with much disgust. Once more Jerry thank you for addressing this topic and hope it will bring more awareness of the silent suffering of many women among us.
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JR

#8 Dr. Jerry Simon » 2010-08-23 13:58

For those who read and wrote a message, just like to say thanks. But I do hope that positive action can start to be taken as soon as possible to protect our women and safe guard our country. And Dig It I do agree with you, rape in any form and by whomever has to be addressed.
Promise a follow up article.
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Dr. Jerry Simon

Tenman

#7 Dig It » 2010-08-22 13:53

Tenman, I am sorry that it didn't worked out with you and this person. I really hope that she gets the help needed. I just wish we do more to educate the m**, so more victims would come forward, and get the help needed!
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Dig It

Dig It,

#6 tenman » 2010-08-22 05:31

Dig It, well said. I for one, was ill prepared to deal with someone close who had this experience. I will say I suspect her past destroyed our possible future. All I can do for her now is continue to pray and also to keep insisting that she go and get some help.
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tenman

Enlightening and educational-part 2

#5 Dig It » 2010-08-22 02:47

I'm sure most of us have a void that we just wish could just go away with a wink of the eye. The aftermath of a rape victim has a void last a lifetime. We need to do more for rape awareness, not only in A & B, but the world. I am always seeing television advertisements on the dangers of smoking, drugs and AIDS-HIV. I am, yet, to see an advertisement, on rape or victims of rape. Dr. Simon, we are always talking about save sex during Carnival, and giving out condoms. We should also tell our men, and, yes, women (they do rape as well, if you know what I mean), that violating someone's body is a serious crime that leaves lasting emotional scars!
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Dig It

Enlightening and educational-part 1

#4 Dig It » 2010-08-22 02:46

A very enlightening and educational article!!! Dr. Simon, we, as a society, owes it to all the Cynthia's of the world, to make sure that they get the best psychiatric care, as rape victims! And, I say this with a profound and sincere stance! Victims like Cynthia have a very hard time adjusting in life, especially, with relationships. Dr. Simon, I am not sure if this is a unwise thing to say, but, I believe, we, as men, need to be educated, as to how to deal with a girlfriend or wife, who is a victim of rape! Yet, again, it all depends on our love and care for that person, or our willingness to be educated on the matter.
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Dig It

Healing hurts!

#3 Dr. Isaac Newton » 2010-08-22 01:51

Dr. Simon, this is a very timely article written with pathos, truth and compassion. Besides therapeutic interventions, I appreciate your call for social justice, communal action and openness. Perhaps, intentional education in churches, schools, and community organizations as well as in the family can alter this reality. Thanks for reminding us that healing hurts and that hurts can be healed.
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Dr. Isaac Newton

needed to be said

#2 tenman » 2010-08-21 23:30

Dr. Simon thanks for this article. I have met quite a few young ladies who have been the victim of rape when they were children. Reading this story brought back memories of someone close who had the same experience and showed the same symptoms. Unfortunately try as I might the person still refused to get help. The sad thing about this is, if not treated that persons may either hurt themselves or others. Abused children are more likely (not all) to repeat the cycle as adults (see http://helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm). I get the impression that issues like this are felt best left swept under the carpet.
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tenman

Kudos

#1 Higher Heights » 2010-08-21 22:46

Dr. Simon, this is a most profound article. It should be required reading for all!!
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Higher Heights

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Dr. Jerry Simon

Dr.Jerry Simon,a general physician, is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Villa Clara (Cuba) Medical School. He has previously worked in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Presently he is Medical Director of the NSA Medical Surgical Rehab Centre and is a certified member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

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