A friend who also reads this blog wrote me recently because he was having trouble using the word rape. I responded by saying that I had struggled using the word assault. I chose assault because it's closer to the reality of what happened to me.
Both my friend and I were children, and we were raped or assaulted by someone bigger and older. We were too naïve to realize the implications or the meaning of what happened to us. We were lonely, love-starved kids, who yearned for attention. When they assaulted us, we believed we were being cared about and the affection was genuine. And it felt good.
Now that we're older, some of us have trouble using the right word to describe the secretive attack (and it was a deliberate, planned attack).
The trouble is facing words like rape because our understanding of that term carries many violent implications. TV has filled our minds with brutal and vicious actions. My rapists were gentle, spoke softly, and made me feel special. How could that be rape or assault? And yet it was.
When we can use such strong words, we face the reality of what was done to us. My use of assault has pushed me a little farther down the healing path.