How you can tell when someone is a real rape survivor

How should a woman behave to convince us that she was raped?

When she breaks down, is hysterical, is rabid, is broken, is ripped apart, is together, is calm, is cold, is hyper sexual, never wants to have sex again, is manic, is depressed, is this right?

Should she report and save others, report and wait for years, report and hope for the best in a criminal-justice system that has a roughly 6% chance of convicting her rapist, report and be laughed at by police, report and have hurried rushed meetings with her prosecutor, report and wish that she didn’t have to wait in court all day thirsty and starving because she’s poor and can’t bring her own food in or afford food from government vending machines, report and possibly have no access to a working toilet while she waits hands clenched to see her rapist in a court room, report and have to see him say he did nothing, report and see him get off, report and have him lay a civil charge of slander against her, report and get supported by NGO representatives holding her hand and reminding her that she was right to do this — that she is strong, report and get justice, report and hear that his sentence has been reduced in a higher court, report and hear that he gets life, report and live in fear of retaliation? Which of these are right?

Should she not report and stay home fearful that it could happen again because he’s still out there or in her home, not report stay home and have others ask her why she didn’t, have others question whether this means she wasn’t sure or that he didn’t do it, not report and wonder whether she should have, not report and go to work every day as if nothing happened until she feels on the precipice of death, not report and get better and go for counselling and heal, not report and spend time reading websites about others who did or didn’t report and feeling sympathy or empathy or nothing for them, not report and keep quiet about it, not report and scream from the rooftops, not report and become an activist, not report and never say anything about it again? Which of these are right?

Should she defend others decisions, encourage them to report, discourage them from reporting, bombard herself with stats that she has become a part of, join hands with others, form groups, be in solidarity, be in silence? Which of these are right?

Should she seek support from her colleagues and family members or keep quiet because rape is a personal matter and shouldn’t be brought up at work or at Christmas? Which of these are right?

When she tells them should she feel shameful, or brave, or afraid, or disgusted, or dirty, or liberated, or free, or light, or tainted? Which of these are right?

What should she do? What do we expect of her? What ideas do we draw on? What myths do we support? What would we do? Do we know?

Are we right in having any expectations at all?

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