Books to read in the aftermath of rape
September 27, 2017 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I was raped over the weekend. I've got a really good support system full of great people, but I'm the kind of person who finds books really helpful, too. I specifically DON'T want memoirs; I just had to live through my own rape and I don't want to read about someone else's. What books can help me process this trauma?

If relevant: I'm a woman. The person who did it to me was a man. He was (until this) a really, really good friend. He was drunk and doesn't remember it, and is extremely ashamed.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry this happened to you. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk might give you some concrete ideas about the different ways you could process the trauma. It's not a self-help book per se, more an exploration of how trauma affects people and how we can work through it - not just through trauma-specific therapies but also through other means like martial arts, meditation, theatre, social connection and various kinds of self care. It's also pretty positive in that it offers hope that trauma doesn't have to be a permanent source of misery, but can become less painful over time and ultimately be transformed into post--traumatic growth. There's an audiobook on Audible too, in case focusing on printed pages is difficult right now.
posted by embrangled at 6:57 AM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm so sorry this happened to you. A book that has been extraordinarily helpful to me in hard times is The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:58 AM on September 27, 2017

I am very sorry this happened to you. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a classic that I think can help with processing traumas of all kinds (with no mention of rape that I can recall).
posted by telegraph at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed got me through some serious shit. I'm so, so sorry this happened to you.
posted by sockermom at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Since you were raped by someone you know, at some point, you may find I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape helpful. It does provide accounts of other people's rapes though and may not be quite what you're looking for right now.
I'm sorry this happened to you.
posted by FencingGal at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I really like When Things Fall Apart, by Pena Chodron, and The Trauma of Everyday Life, by Mark Epstein.
posted by mothershock at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

I've read parts of The Courage To Heal, and a friend who worked on a university campus supporting assault victims just recommended it again for your request.

The framing is as a resource for survivors of child sexual abuse, and there are probably stories of abuse, but the parts about steps, healing, etc are great.

Good luck
posted by Gorgik at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're open to a book that is Christian, Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb is great.

I'm so sorry this happened. I hope you find healing and peace.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Come As You Are has a brief section about physiological & emotional responses during and after rape. I found it helpful. Mostly I preferred to read science articles – how common sexual assault is, what the experience is like across demographics, how PTSD plays out, how bodily arousal is both protective and normal, how poorly consent is understood and practiced. It made me feel not-alone, but also detached enough to function while I processed the experience. You might take a browse through SciHub or PubMed. Thordis Elva's TED Talk was also grounding – not to broach reconciliation or forgiveness, which weren't appropriate for me, but to place my own harm in a broader context.

Please feel free to message me if you ever want to talk. I was also raped by a (once best) friend. The betrayal of trust, loss of agency and doubt in humanity can feel overwhelming. It's a very different experience than being assaulted by a stranger or mere acquaintance. Deep grief, seething rage, public or private estrangement, even the court of law are all reasonable responses. You were wronged, and I'm sorry.
posted by fritillary at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Perhaps slightly off on a tangent but the Gilead series by Marilynne Robinson (particularly Lila) touches on a woman (and Lila is mainly about her) who has been through extremely difficult situations - though not rape - and is now in a better place. I mention it mainly because the writing is so beautiful while still touching on some tough situations. Immersive fiction may not be what you seek. The first chapter or two of the kindle samples would probably let you know.

I can't imagine what you're going through but I know how well books can find a moment or two of peace and respite in even the most difficult circumstances.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 5:39 AM on September 28, 2017

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