Effects of Rape

Being sexually assaulted can have a very significant impact on one’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. What outsiders of the assault tend to focus on is the physical aspect of the assault and usually neglect the emotional and social aspects, which go hand in hand. After being assaulted it’s very common for survivors to engage in self-blame, much like what Myriam Gurba did in the book Mean. And it is also very common for that blame to bleed into every aspect of the survivor’s life. Gurba presents evidence of both of these things in great detail throughout the book.

As seen in Mean, Myriam Gurba shows multiple examples of how her experience caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Before telling her traumatic story that she tries to hoard, she tell us that PTSD is the only mental illness you can be given through someone else’s violent actions. Some actions that were committed consisted of, the man who gave her gay cousins aids, and her grandfather who gave her grandmother aids are a different “mean” she explains. She states, “I’m mean, but I am not so mean that I’ve ever raped anyone. I’ve never grabbed a strange woman, pulled down her underpants, shoved my face into her pussy, and inhaled. That’s a special kind of mean” ( Mean, 109). Mentally, Gurban loses all the trust in majority of men she meets after her experience with the rapist. One of the examples that shows this, is when she is at the grocery store with her mother. “He was approaching me. Besides the whole grain loaves, he paused. His hand reached for the hot dog buns. It squeezed. I came back to my body almost as immediately as I’d left it when I realized the shopper was not him”  (125). Her mind quickly changed the face of the man into the man who raped her. Post-traumatic stress disorder to her was composed of an “advanced set of art skills”, that made all men be seen as the same (125). Each one of the aisles that she walked past while shopping gave her fear of seeing the man yet again. Post-traumatic omnipresence, caused for features and apparel such as a curve bald head, a sharp grin, a bright white T-shirt, tightly laced Nikes and a five o’clock shave to trigger her to think about the rapist.

Not only did the effects of rape cause for Gurba’s mental state to manipulate her in seeing the man who raped her in every man she sees, but it conducts her brain to develop guilt and shame about what had been done to her. In the matter of guilt, she reminisces on what happens after she was raped. After seeing the news and recalling dates around Thanksgiving, the fall, and December; she comes to the idea that she could’ve stopped him. She states, “If I’d chased him into the alley, caught up to gim, taken off my shoe, and beaten him with it like Mom taught me you’re suppose to do with cockroaches” (139). She believes that even in doing this and dying is better than living with the guilt that she has. Though invisible, it still bears down on her that if she had done something to him maybe he wouldn’t have followed, harassed, and beaten women. When it comes to being shameful about her experience of being raped, she reflects it on her future. She feels this feeling of shame comes when she thinking about the rapist getting caught and she will have to testify against in him in court. She conveys this shame and self-blame on her desires of becoming a lawyer for her small town. She states, “Let’s say they remembered me as the girl who took the witness stand and cried when she described getting grabbed and having things put where they don’t belong” (140). She is ashamed that in the future that the level of respect from her co-workers in the courtroom wouldn’t ever be given. She believes she would always be known as the girl who was raped and they girl who never fought back.

In the midst of all of this, Gurba is still experiencing the worst of her PTSD symptoms. It doesn’t seem like she is going to get out of it anytime soon, maybe even get worse. She keeps hallucinating about the rapist being around her, each time she is by herself. The affects of rape can damage any person who has experienced it. With Gurba’s style of writing and dark humor we can not only witness her experience very clear, but what she suffered with as well.

Discussion Questions:

After addressing the nurse about the situation that has happen and given the response the nurse gave, what should Gurba actually do about with what she has experience?

On the page 109, in your own words, what does Gurba mean about a person having a special kind of “mean” ?

8 thoughts on “Effects of Rape”

  1. Hey Christopher, I really liked your blog post. I think you talked about PTSD and how detrimental rape can be on someone’s mental health really well. On page 111 Gurba says, “everything takes on a new hue, the color of rape. You look at the world through rape-tinted glasses. You understand that you live in a world where getting classically raped is possible and that classical rapists lurk everywhere, even in impossible places.” Gurba goes on to compare life after rape to a horror movie, always on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next bad thing to happen. This shows how truly harsh rape can be on someone’s mental health. It consumes their thoughts and like Gurba points out, changes the way they see the world.

  2. Hey Christopher, your blog post is really well thought out and makes really strong points. I actually had a friend with PTSD, and a lot of the points you make, from my friend’s experience, correspond correctly. Gurba makes multiple points throughout these pages, the one catching my attention most is the phrase “rape tinted glasses” she used on page 111. The phrase rose tinted glasses is used to refer to looking at the best of a situation or a positive outlook, and when I read “rape tinted glasses”, I wondered how she made such a positive phrase work so well in a negative way. It just emphasizes how much sexual harassment or any other type of trauma and can completely alter someone.

  3. Hi Christopher, really good post! In some ways I feel like I can relate to the author. Although I’ve never been sexually assaulted, I’ve been physically assaulted by a stranger. I didn’t suffer severe injuries but from that day on, my life felt different. I struggled immensely with PTSD. I didn’t know why that happened to me and it made me afraid to be alone in public. I replayed it for days and days, picturing my helpless self fall victim to someone unnecessarily cruel. Although it was a few years ago, if I see a fight happening in front of me, I go into complete shock and tears; I am incapable of anything but anxiety. Random acts of “mean” hurt people for the rest of their lives and you truly don’t understand it until it happens to you. On page 116, Gurba continues to talk about her PTSD, “When you have PTSD, things repeat themselves over and over and over. Guilt is a ghost.” She is haunted by what occurred to her, understandably; so was I. When you carry this weight of PTSD, all you can do is worry for the rest of your life.

  4. Hi Christopher-

    I love how you talked a lot about the effects of rape and helped someone who hasn’t read the book understand why she is so mean. I also loved how you maintained her innocence after experiencing rape and being so mean. To answer your first question, most people are expected to move on from the rape and be happy that they are alive and well when in reality it is so much harder than that. Coming from someone who was sexually assaulted twice, it becomes harder and harder to bounce back from it. Rape becomes your life and all you know. You start to generalize everything with rape. I understood completely on page 110 when Gurba says,

    “God is like rape.
    Rape is everywhere too.
    Rape is in the air.
    Rape is in the sky.
    Rape is in the Bible.
    Rape happens at the neighbor’s.
    Rape happens at home.
    Rape happens in the dugout.
    Rape happens in the infield.
    Rape happens in history.
    Rape happens at bakeries.
    I’ve watched children rape donuts with their fingers.
    Rape gave birth to Western civilization and maybe your mom.”

    The sad reality is that when you are raped, it becomes everything you know and think of. It is a while before thinking like this stops.

  5. Hey chris, I enjoyed reading your blog post! I thought you really put in perspective what that section of reading was about and what Gurba went through, but also what every woman in today society goes through. Unfortunately we live in a “Rape Culture society” and too often do I hear so many true stories about what woman go through or had gone through. My best friend is High school, went off to college expecting to enjoy her first year of college but had had this heinous act happen to her. She lives with it everyday and has to live her rest of her life being afraid and having those memories come back to her everyday through other men. Gurba says “I don’t know her at all, really. Ive never seen her, never touched her, ut the man who touched her, touched me too”(112). In this section of the reading, she says some pretty dark things that she has gone through or has seen people go through and the sad part of it, is thousands and thousands of woman are experiencing it just like she had. PTSD is unfortunately the underlying cause of experiences like these, its very hard for people, including herself, to get over them.

  6. Hey Christopher,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and felt I could relate with many points you were making. The after effects of sexual assault can sometimes be even worse than the assault itself. On page 111 Gurba said everything in her world “took on a new hue, the color of rape.” When Gurba said a man who could rape was a special type of mean, I felt as if it was her reminding us that there is no type of justification for his mean. We understand why Gurba holds this raw and mean attitude throughout the novel because of what has happened to her, but for someone to do something so selfish that forces this attitude upon someone is different.

  7. Hey Christopher, I loved reading your blog post and I feel that it was very important and relevant. Your mention of rape and PTSD was spot on and how it can truly effect someone’s life in the worst way. Rape is a detrimental experience to have happened to someone and it is so unfortunate that these instances occur in our society. Gurba explains how rape is a special type of means this is completely accurate. Rape violates everything about a person and there are life lasting effects on the victim. This is a life long feeling that Gurba describes after these horrific moments occurred and she compares her story to a horror film and I believe this is accurate. Rape is very scary and a terrible thing. I enjoyed reading your blog post! Well done!

  8. Hey Christopher, really nice blog post. The quote on page 109 is an interesting one. Throughout the book, Gurba talks about a variety of “mean” things and situations, and then seemingly says that certain things take a “special type of mean”. This confused me as a lot of the things talked about in the book in my opinion, would take a “special type of mean”. But in Gurba’s personal views, I believe that she has a line which was crossed when she talked about an instance on page 109, classifying it as a “special type of mean”.

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