Posts Tagged ‘animal rape’

Dark Skies (c) Lynda BernhardtThe most popular article on my blog is one entitled Recovering from Childhood Animal Rape. That article has already had over 300 views. I am not telling you this to toot my own horn. (Most articles have far fewer page views.) I am sharing this information to drive home that you are not alone.

When I faced my own memories of animal rape, I was horrified to say the least. This was the form of abuse that my sister most separated herself from, whereas for me, it was the vaginal rapes. Animal rape had not even entered my radar because I was soooo not ready to deal with it.

Then, my sister and I were talking on the phone, and she was saying that there was one abuse that she feared we had suffered but did not want to face. I said it was okay to ask if I had any memories of whatever it was. She said, “It involves a dog,” and then I was free falling. I had a flashback right then and there of being raped by a dog with a camera taking pictures. I confirmed her suspicions and then had to hang up.

Thank goodness for my friends over at Isurvive, and I am so grateful for the chat room. I self-injured, but that did not help with the shame. I was so sickened that I could not look another person in the eye.

I worked up the courage to tell an off-line friend, who knows my whole story. I could not look at her for the rest of the visit, even though she was very supportive. My biggest concern was whether this was the abuse that made me less than human. How could a person participate in bestiality and still be human?

My friends, both off-line and on-line, were quick to point out that bestiality does not equal animal rape. I did not choose the sexual contact, so this was rape, just like all of the other sexual abuse was rape. It took me a while to be able to accept this truth.

Healing from animal rape was hard, but I did it. I can now talk about it without feeling even a hint of shame. Why should I feel any shame about it? I did not choose it. The abuse was an indicator of how contemptible my abusers were but has no reflection on me. I was a precious diamond both before and after experiencing animal rape. NOTHING that another person does to you can change who you are.

I have found a lot of freedom in facing my history of animal rape. Now that I have found my way to loving myself, even after knowing that I was once a victim of animal rape, I feel confident in loving myself no matter what another person ever does to me. Through this realization, I have taken back my power.

If you suffered from animal rape as a child, you are not alone. Many other people know the same pain and shame. You do not deserve any of the shame that you are feeling. That shame belongs squarely on the shoulders of your abusers. You did nothing wrong.

You are a beautiful and precious person just the way you are. Even being raped by an animal could not change the beauty and value of who you are.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Fire (c) Lynda BernhardtAs I have shared before, WordPress has a feature that enables me to track how people find my blog. I was floored to discover that over 100 searches for the topic of animal rape led to my blog. I never fully appreciated how great a need there was to discuss this topic. If you suffered from animal rape, you are not alone.

Animal rape is a particularly degrading form of sexual abuse. When a person rapes a child, the rapist supposedly gets some form of physical pleasure out of the act. However, when a rapist stands by and watches an animal rape a child, he is clearly experiencing no physical pleasure. Watching the rape is all about degrading the child. The child’s reaction to this is often feeling very deep shame.

It is difficult for a child to put into words what he has experienced. While no child abuse makes sense, having an animal rape a child makes even less. When you cannot even label what you experience, the event seems to take on a life of its own. By calling the act “animal rape,” a person can begin to wrap her mind around what happened and heal.

Many people do not realize that flashbacks do not have to be visual. You can experience a flashback with any of your senses. Some people who have experienced animal rape struggle with having flashbacks in which they feel the rape happening to their bodies again. They can become frightened by the flashback and not know how to make it stop.

If you are struggling with this form of flashback, reassure yourself that this is a normal reaction to severe trauma. Our brains are not the only part of our bodies that hold memories of trauma: Our bodies hold the memories as well. When you experience a body flashback, your body is trying to heal by releasing the memory.

If you have this form of flashback, do not fight it. Instead, allow your body to release the memory. Keep telling yourself that you are now in an adult body and that your abusers can no longer hurt you. After you allow your body to release the flashback, you will stop feeling the need to relive that experience.

You might also find yourself getting triggered whenever you see an animal like the one that raped you, or you might react when you see a particular breed of the animal, such as the same breed of dog used in the animal rape. This is a normal aftereffect of animal rape. Use the tools that you use to manage your triggers when this happens.

You might feel as if you are the only person on the planet who has endured an animal rape, but you definitely are not alone. Truddi Chase discusses her animal rapes by a dog in the book, When Rabbit Howls. I have met people on-line who have found the courage to share that they have endured this, too. You are not alone.

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Man looking over ocean (c) Lynda Bernhardt

One of the great features about WordPress is that it provides me with a daily list of search terms that readers used to find my site. I read over those search terms each day so I can be sure to write about topics that are important to my readers. You might be surprised by the results.

I do not often hear people talking about mother-daughter sexual abuse on-line, although I have seen it more frequently over the last couple of years. That topic appears on my list of search terms frequently. Here is the breakdown since I started this blog in November:

  • mother daughter sexual abuse: 12
  • sexual abuse mother daughter: 7
  • mother daughter sexual: 5
  • mother sexual abuse: 3
  • mother daughter incest survivor: 2

The one that really surprises me is the term animal rape. That form of rape is one that most people do not talk about, even on very supportive message boards for abuse survivors. Even with the anonymity of the Internet, many people feel too much shame to share that they suffered from this form of abuse. By staying silent, they miss opportunities to learn how to heal.

Yesterday, six people found my blog by searching for “animal rape,” and one found it by searching for “raped by an animal.” Does that surprise you? To date, 43 people have found my blog by searching for the term “animal rape.”

The reason I am sharing this information is to reassure you that you are not alone. You are not the only person to have suffered a severe form of abuse. Other people know that pain, too, and you deserve to heal just as much as they do. You are not alone.

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Animal skull (c) Lynda Bernhardt

In my last couple of posts, Working Through Shame After Child Abuse and Recovering from Childhood Gang Rape, I have been discussing shame that arises out of experiencing particularly degrading forms of abuse. Perhaps one of the most degrading and shame-inducing forms of abuse is animal rape. Most people are too embarrassed to discuss this topic with another person, even with a trusted therapist or friend, because the level of shame and degradation is so great. Even people using anonymous messages boards for abuse survivors often hesitate to raise this topic. If you are a survivor of animal rape, you are not alone, and the shame that you are feeling is not yours to bear.

The wording of what you experienced is important. Some abuse survivors label the animal rape as “bestiality,” but bestiality implies consent. If you were a child whose abuser chose to orchestrate sexual contact between you and an animal, then what you experienced was not bestiality – it was animal rape. What the animal did to you was rape just as surely as if a man had done the same thing to you.

Some people who have suffered from animal rape fear that this is the abuse that is beyond healing. They fear that another person could never look them in the eye again if they knew about the abuse, and they feel as if the shame might swallow them up. Please hear this: Nothing that another person ever did to you – even raping you with an animal – can change the value of who you are. Yes, the animal rape was a huge load of manure dumped on the pile, but even a Mount Everest of manure piled upon a diamond cannot change the value of the diamond underneath. You are still precious and worthy of love. Being raped by an animal did not change this.

I know several people who experienced animal rape as part of their child abuse. These people have been able to talk about it and heal from it. You can, too. The shame is not yours to bear.

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