Spiritual direction is also for the recovering traumatised victim of serious
physical assault. In this post I shall deal with one of the most
hushed up and degrading of assaults:
rape of women. What is taken away from the victim is her autonomy, her sense of self-worth which is subsumed by sense of guilt and personal worthlessness. Patriarchy imposes such demeaning thoughts in the victim as “did my dress ask for it?”; “maybe I was dressed like a vamp” or in fact,
it “was my destiny” to be raped. And in most situations the victim repeatedly has nightmares and simply cannot carry on with life as before. It is not unheard of that the victims have been asked by callous jokers (sometimes their own husbands) whether by chance they had enjoyed the sex. Often rape-victims cannot turn to anyone for help and this post in a systematic manner will try to help them wherever they are. You are not alone.
First and foremost you did not ask for it, neither did you deserve it. No way what has been done to you is right and has any rationale. The bastard who did this to you needs to be punished. If you cannot immediately turn to law-enforcement agencies then you need to live now to avenge another day. How will you do that?
- Seek out two people: a neuropsychiatrist and a psychotherapist. You need both. Because if you do not seek both medical help and the talking cures you will suffer now or later from varieties of Post Traumatic Syndromes and severe depression. The doctor will give you anti-depressants and most probable a short course of sedatives to get over the night mare that had become suddenly so real for you. The psychotherapist will help you with the space to face up to your own fear and boost your own self-image.
- Your body is your body and the bastard who tried to defile you, did not defile your body: he tried to break your will. Those perverts always try to play a game of power with their victims. One of the results of this will be your own resultant frigidity. Your marital life will suffer since naturally your libido will decrease. Thus it is all the more important that apart from first consulting a psychiatrist and a therapist you now turn to serotonin releasing Yoga and other physical exercises. They will enhance your libido and reduce your panic attacks. But without those pills and therapy, it will not help much.
- Now comes the tough part: get yourself checked for HIV infection, syphilis and other common venereal diseases and rare but not impossible unwanted pregnancy. I do not elaborate here on these for I take it for granted that none of these would have happened to you. In the unfortunate case that some or all of these occur to you, you need more intense and aggressive medical and talk-therapy. The earlier these can be initiated, the better.
If a rape victim were to ask me why God allowed such a curse to befall her, in spite of all my studies on the Problem of Evil, religion and spiritual counselling I’d just have to say I do not know. For the victim, rape is too real and not Maya, not an illusion to wish away. It is the worst form of male aggression to befall on women. Here the effort is to wish away the victim’s Self by the demonic male. It is unutterably unexplainable through metaphysics. Words fail. All discourses fail and abjection is the only word which can describe the situation. God, apparently, is not doing a good job.
So where does spiritual counselling come into the picture? Rape instantly denudes the victim of any faith either in humanity or the transcendent. Even if religion is the opium of the masses, it is a necessary opium. This author is baffled by the mystery of such violence/sadism. The logos is decentred in the rape victim. Her selfhood stands bereft of all meaning. The spiritual counsellor can come in after the drugs have kicked in and the secular talk-therapy is at work. Using behaviour therapies applicable to phobias, the spiritual director will go to work. Notwithstanding the enormity of the crime against the victim, the spiritual director having Faith in God/Brahman/the Divine, will co-opt God in the annihilated discourse of the rape-victim and help her reorient her life along natural justice.The Kauravas attempted to
Draupadi, the Lord Hari saved her. Mary Magdalene
was repeatedly raped. Christ saved her. These are the prototypes for rape counselling from a spiritual angle. The spiritual guide can start from where secular discourses are silenced by the transgression of the sanctity of the female body. The healing has to carry on now at the level of the heart and soul. The psychiatrist and the therapist can definitely heal the mind and the body. The spiritual director can try to heal the soul.