The conservative statistics from the FBI’s uniform crime reports that 1.5 million women in America are victims of rape or rape attempts during the 20-year period between 1972 and 1991. The Census Bureau’s larger number of 2.3 million rapes is in the 15-year period between 1938 and 1937. Rape is notoriously underreported. In the 1992 study conducted by the National Victim Center and the Crime Victims Research and Treatment Centers concludes that only about one out of six rapes were reported. Thus, the number of rapes between 1972 and 1991 may be closer to nine million. Nancy Venable Raine, who wrote After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back , was one of the victims of rape. Raine was raped in October one afternoon in 1985. The stranger crept through an open back door of her apartment while she was taking out the trash.
Raine’s history up until she was raped was being brought up with a Catholic religion and living in Germany as an adolescent. The rape itself happened in Boston, Massachusetts, while she was living alone in her apartment. She moved to Sausalito, California with her new husband. Prior to this marriage (and before the rape), she was married for four years. As expected, the rape affects her new marriage, as well as the people closest to her. It tears on their heartstrings as if the heartstrings are connected to Raine’s. They experience some impatience, guilt, and fear, just as Raine does as she tries to restore herself so that she can live a “normal life” again. As they try to help Raine, they try to help themselves, too.
The rape caused “death” within Raine; not a sexual experience. Being consoled by people who loved her felt like a body being consoled that was no longer hers. She did not feel grateful for surviving. It was a reminder that something seeming so unkind, even cruel, could not be forgotten. Raine remembers being raped even as she takes out the trash exactly seven years later, and fears it will happen again. She is seeing the world through the eyes of a woman who remembers rape. Although, even unforgiving, she learns to move on. She accepts that the rapist is nonetheless human; it was his actions that were inhuman.
After the rape, when Raine was admitted to the hospital, she felt as though her body had no longer belonged to her. It was now evidence. The scene of a crime. While in the hospital, a nurse had asked Raine about her underpants. Raine said that the rapist had stolen them, and she was left alone in unwanted solitude. “I felt that the scent of the rapist’s rage and hatred was on me somehow, and that the nurses sensed it,” (Raine, 29). The underpants were the evidance, as well as Raine’s femininity, that were now lost. She was stripped of her humanity. “The rapist had stolen something at the center of what I had known as myself. It was gone with the cash, credit cards, jewelry, underpants, and what ever else he took,” (Raine, 30). Raine also goes through therapy with a woman who specializes in rape and works with rape victims in their recovery, Dr. Rose.
As Raine expresses the “death” that she feels inside of her, she remembers hearing a bird outside of her window singing a song, representing such goodness, as well as the goodness in Raine. She wonders that if the rapist had heard the bird song, how could he be who he was and do what he was doing? Raine refers to herself as a “chicken” for having emotions by feeling like a coward. There is also the relevance of a bird since (vultures, scavenging birds) they appear when someone dies. A cardinal represents death, as well as afterlife. Raine is constantly battling with herself and her mind in order to heal from the violent sexual assault. She wants the “afterlife” in her life, simple existence, and the after silence. She constantly feels that it is she, not the rapist, who received a life sentence. “Smoke is water, all the birds are dead,” (Raine, 27). Raine recognizes that rape...
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