Ask Marwa: I am a rape survivor (Identity Magazine)

Date posted: November 7, 2011


Dear Marwa,

I’m a rape survivor! I don’t want to go into the whole story, because I will break down and cry, but it was an awful experience that ruined my life for good. I think about it all the time, and I still feel disgusting. I wanted to tear all my skin off my body at the time. It’s terrifying. I felt like I was screaming at the top of my lungs, but in reality, I couldn’t move; couldn't say a word. It was kind of an out of body experience. I remember going home running to the bath room and taking a hot bath and just sat there in the tub scrubbing, trying to erase his touch. I just couldn’t get rid of it. I was so ashamed and violated. I thought a lot about suicide those days that followed. I just wanted to die; I wanted it over. I got so much isolated afterwards, I didn’t leave my house for months, couldn’t face the world. I rejected engaging in any relationship. Currently, I’m trying gradually to go back to the old me, I want to forget all about the past and start over. I know that living in a religious strict society like Egypt, I couldn’t face the world as a raped victim; I know it’s not my fault but still in our society it’s hard to be accepted. Who on earth is going to marry a raped woman? Will he believe me if I told him that I'm not a virgin because I got raped? I doubt it. I’m thinking of having an artificial hymen so that I forget about my past and start over. Will I be deceiving the man I’ll marry, or it's just not my fault so I have the right to live normally. Please advice

Dear Rape Victim

My advice for you is to focus on healing yourself as opposed to focusing on your future relationship or social prejudices. By healing yourself, I mean regaining your self-confidence, restoring your body image, and letting go of the pain. When you achieve those three things, you will be a happy healthy person and happy healthy people attract happy healthy people into their lives no matter what society they live in. let me elaborate on those three tips:

1)      Regaining your self-confidence

By this step, I mean gaining confidence in your choices and in your decision-making abilities; yes, you took a wrong decision once but that does not mean that all your choices are flawed and that all your decisions are doomed.

I want you to forgive yourself for being in the wrong place with the wrong person at a wrong timing.

I want you to think of the lessons you have learned instead of the mistakes you made.

I want you to believe that this horrible experience made you a better person and act upon it.

2)      Restoring your body image

Do not hate your body because he touched it! Do not despise your body because it was violated. Think of your skin as if it is a wounded animal … what would you do if a wounded little helpless animal came to your doorstep asking for shelter and help? Would you push it away? Would you beat it with a stick? Would you throw stones at it?

I guess not! I guess you would caress the little thing into comfort, you would soothe it into a state of peace, and you would be loving and gentle towards the disgusting looking wounds until they have healed. Your body is a wounded animal that needs to be touched with love, care, and sympathy!

3)      Letting go of the pain

Hurting yourself over and over will not take you back in time! Pain will not set you free of guilt or misery! Pain and reminding yourself of pain will only intensify the pain, the anger, and the fear! Stop rewinding the events and playing them over and over in your head! Stop thinking of the society and its code of ethics! Stop thinking of men and how they would judge you!

I also want you to remember that no one has the right to judge you and that you do not owe anyone any explanations; you will only talk about the rape when you want to and only because you want to.

One last thing: If you find it hard to move on, it is ok to seek the help of a professional therapist




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