And those who love them.
I had a very moving experience years ago. I was helping try a really bad home invading serial rapist, and I was in a room with ten of his victims waiting for the trial to start. Some of them had been attacked 2 years earlier, this slug had a long run. All were strangers to each other.
Anyway, as we waited, one of them said, "Maybe after this is over I won't have these dreams any more".
Another one's eyes got wide. "You are having them too?"
Another one, "I dream about it all the time, I thought I was crazy".
Another, "I keep thinking he is in my house when I come home".
I just sat back and listened to them. Each one of them was having normal post traumatic reactions, yet each one thought she was the only one and was losing her mind. Now I tell that story to every rape victim, tell her she isn't crazy and how to get help if she thinks she needs it. Amazing the number who say "How did you know?"
So, if it's happened to you, here are four things to remember:
1. You aren't crazy. Dreams, sleeplessness, fears you know aren't justified, are all perfectly normal. You'd have similar reactions if you were hit by a car.
2. You will blame yourself. DON'T. Sure, you might have done something that made you more of a target, but HE DID IT. It's ABOUT HIM, you aren't any more to blame than the slightly slower gazelle is for being eaten by the lion. If it wasn't you, it would have been someone else. Learn what there is to learn, if you made mistakes don't repeat them, but HE DID IT.
3. If you feel like your reactions are a problem, talk to an expert. Not because you ARE crazy, but because talking to an expert who tells you that you aren't crazy will be a relief. The expert can also provide you with tools and strategies to help you cope. It will not cost you a dime, if you need help finding somebody, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you started. Doesn't matter where you live or whether you have health insurance.
4. REPORT IT. That is something you can do, and there are two big reasons to. First, rape is all about degrading you, taking away your freedom. When you report it, you stand up and refuse to accept that. Rapists hug themselves at night thinking about all the victims who never said anything, how they have the added guilt of having just taken it. Those memories are like precious jewels to the perverts- take them away.
In the words of a victim whose case I tried, whose rapist was acquitted, "I don't care. I told everybody in that room what he did, and he had to take it, just like I did that night. He stuck his dick in my ass, but he didn't get my pride."
And you know that he will do it again and again. Don't put yourself in the position of rebuking yourself for having let him get away with it. Without exception, every rape victim I've ever dealt with- no matter what the result in court- has said the same thing- if he does it again it's not my fault.
Think about it. If he had stolen your car you would report it, right? Isn't this more important than a car?