Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Erasing Stigmas


Just this past week I have started my training to be a rape recovery center volunteer. It is really interesting when i tell people this; I get many mixed reactions. A lot of people become extremely uncomfortable about the subject and would rather I not elaborate on the things they are teaching me in my forty hour training. Now before i go any further, let me just add this is not an X rated post, it will be PG at best. I find reactions to rape amusing because one of the number one issues at the center is the number of unreported and untreated cases. These are mainly due to the fact that the VICTIM feels ashamed.....the VICTIM!!! Because of the way we tiptoe around the topic or ask questions like: Why weren't you with anyone? Why didn't you fight? Why did you go there? Victims almost always feel like this rape (a crime that NO ONE has the right to commit) was their fault. Society paints this picture like they could have avoided being raped if they really wanted to.

This led me to another thought: The way we blame victims, and how it keeps people from getting the help they really need. About two years ago I had a pretty bad break up. For a few days i would just sit on my couch and watch tv. This is a pretty normal reaction I think, but my few days turned into weeks...and then a month. I had long stopped thinking about the guy, yet I couldn't stop crying-the worst part was, I didn't even know why I was crying. I would wake up around seven, go for a run, lie on my couch and cry until work (which started at 4p.m.) Now those of you who know me, know just how weird this was for me. I am never sad! I always have a good outlook on life. I have so much to be thankful for...more than SO many other people. I tried and tried to get off that couch, and finally a good friend got me into a clinic. They quickly diagnosed me with depression.

It is funny how negative that word is. It immediately makes people think of unstableness, suicide, of how the person ought to "just get over it". Whats even more amazing is that people will often skirt around it too and suggest things like "maybe you should get a hobby" "pray more" "you have nothing to be sad about" instead of things like "do you need help?" "do you need to talk about how you feel?" "do you think you may have depression?".......the funny thing about it is, most patients know they have depression....most of them start crying the minute the doctor says it, chances are however, they never wanted to admit it out loud. I was one of those people, I was a diabetic who was going to be a doc and ran marathons and played lacrosse and I was strong enough to get past this.....but i was wrong, I wasn't strong enough, my body had created this chemical imbalance....no strength would change it.

Along with rape, depression is something we as a society blame on the victim. We think they are being irrational and that it is a pretend ailment....hell, I even thought it was a pretend ailment until i physically could not stop my sorrow. I hope that one day victims of things like rape and depression will no longer feel the shame of society, and society will erase the stigmas that keep people from getting help. I can safely say that I wont keep my mouth shut until this happens.

6 comments:

jamie lynette said...

Hey Robyn...way to go on helping at the Rape Recovery Center. What a great idea. And I had no idea about your depression, I'm so glad you had someone to help you. Even though I live on the opposite side of the country I hope you know that I'm here for you.

Robyn said...

thanks jamie, i appreciate that. likewise for you!

Alicia Manning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

You are amazing Robyn. I took a class in college that discussed issues like rape & depression being hushed, questioned, etc. Very interesting indeed. I'm glad you're working to change the stigma.

Happy birthday!!! What did you do to celebrate?

Heidi & Ryan said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

Lindsey said...

wow great post. Thanks for sharing! You are awesome.