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The Single Most Important Thing

Survivors of emotional rape face many mental and emotional challenges as they begin the process of recovery, and facing these challenges can result in positive personal growth, as discussed in the previous chapter.

First, however, they must acknowledge what really happened to them. There is no hope of recovery for someone who is suffering from cancer but being treated for influenza. We have to make a correct diagnosis before recovery can begin. The same holds true here.

If you are emotionally raped, the single most important thing to do is to accept that you are a rape victim and treat yourself accordingly.

This isn't always easy because our society finds it hard to accept that anyone is a totally innocent victim. It is popularly presumed that we all somehow contribute not only to our own problems, but to the problems of others as well, and there's some truth in this. But it isn't an argument that bears taking too far, as the following example demonstrates.

One spiritual advisor leading a church-sponsored workshop on relationships and forgiveness lectured his audience on how there could be no such person as an "innocent victim." He maintained that the term is an oxymoron, a figure of speech combining apparently contradictory expressions. To be a victim is to be not innocent.

Many of those who attended the workshop had been shocked to hear, that morning at the Sunday service, about an eleven-year-old girl who was abducted from outside her home, and raped and murdered. However, when a member of the audience asked the workshop adviser if that girl was an innocent victim, he said she was not. Moreover, many in that audience obviously agreed with him that somehow she had been responsible for her fate. His argument was widely accepted.

The absurdity - indeed, the abhorrence - of that advisor's argument should surely be apparent. Sadly, there are people who take advantage of others, therefore there are victims.

The dangerous myth that we are all responsible for everything that happens to us has to be discredited conclusively, so victims of emotional rape, for example - can learn to love and trust again, unencumbered by feelings of guilt and shame.

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