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friendship interview


when did your violation occur, and how did it affect your personality?
butterfly: my first violation occured when i was between the ages of four and six. the whole situation was very confusing. i knew that there was something wrong with what was going on, but i didn't know what to do. i crept inside myself, through a tiny seashell door, and locked myself in. there were chances to come out, and i passed them by. i could see through my little peephole that the world i lived in was getting safer. i grew stronger, and i became too large to fit the little place in which i had locked myself. i stepped out, blinking at the brightness of admittance. i have not fully come to terms with everything that has happened; there are still repressed memories, flashbacks, and shame.

maralyn: I was in my late teens, it had been building with tickling, that sort of thing for several years prior to the abuse, and was followed later with a rape attempt. Because I was 14 and then the last time 17 I was sure it was somehow MY fault. It made me feel full of rage, so terribly betrayed because it was my father and he was a Mormon bishop and there was no one for me to tell. I tried several times to tell my stepmother, but it was always the same, talk about sex or death was in her word "sordid". Menstruation was as far as she would discuss anything. Much later after I threatened to tell, she must have had some indication something was wrong, and she did tell me about lesbians of all things. Crazy to say the least.

dragon: In all honesty, my "violation" made me stronger. My entire life I have been surrounded by bad sexual experiences. My best friends were all losing their virginity at the ages of 9 to 11, I was always uncomfortable around men, I don't think I ever saw sex in a positive way. When I was 14 I was introduced to a young man (and I call him that because he WAS a young man) who thought that I was a very special person. Unfortunately, for someone his age, that meant we should be sexually interactive. That was not the thought that had been running through my head. With his forcefull attempts and persuasions I was constantly confused and frightened. It made me afraid of intamacy untill even now. However, I was able to stand up, brush myself off, and forgive myself for "getting into" this kind of situation. So, overall, the experience strengthened my character.

christine: when i was 5 and 14-16.

what was your experience when first talked about sexual violation with your friends?
butterfly: i told my best friend when i was twelve. i was so nervous, i kept laughing and hiccuping the whole time. i was curled up in my chair with my diary on my lap, just laughing like a maniac. i guess she didn't know what to say, really. she said, "you must feel so dirty." i will always remember that. you must feel so dirty.

maralyn: Horror, disbelief, I never told anyone during my growing up years, I did not tell anyone until I went to a poor therapist who was NOT trained or knowledgeable when I was 25 and have severe migraine headaches that an MD suggested it was NOT phyiscally caused.

dragon: I have never shared any of the information with my friends.

christine: they didn't believe me, and they thought i was making it up. they were no longer friends with me.

how often do you discuss violation with your friends?
butterfly: i end up discussing violation quite frequently, in a dispassionate way. it's very easy for me to discuss the subject, to talk about being a part of the anti-rape campaign and so forth, even dropping hints at my own experiences. sometimes i'll have moments where the words just come, but most of the time it is very hard for me to talk about my own violation.

maralyn: Not for many years, then as adult I was very careful because people often rejected what had happened, and until I began working with abusive families offering support and urging them to tell did I reveal what happened to me.

christine: when ever it was bothering me, but they didn't really listen. it was a joke to them. they thought i was crazy an they didn't understand me so they ignored me.

how does the violation make your friendships difficult? in which ways does it affect your relationship most noticeably?
butterfly: i guess it is always a matter of the telling of abuse that makes it difficult for me. i want to be honest with my friends, but at the same time there is a lot of shame and pain involved with talking about it. i'm also always hesitant to get too personal too quick, but by the time i'm ready to talk about it most of the time i shy away from the subject.

maralyn: I always had the "secret" bottled up, and I am a talker, so I was always on guard, always pretending to "be happy". I felt "less than ok" compared to others. Like I was damaged somehow, I did not even know the words, I had nothing to read, no talk shows, no books even in the library in those days of the l940's.

dragon: I do not do well with male friends, which is unfortunate because most of my friends are male. I have always been boy-crazy, and fitting in a fear of commitment and a fear of physical contact doesn't make things easy. I lead a confusing, hypocritical life.

is distrust an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: it used to be so much more than it is now. i spent so much time building up my ability to trust, now i am usually completely shocked when someone breaks it. sometimes i can sense that someone is being dishonorable, but i think it must be me overreacting.

maralyn: I still distrust until people show me they are worthy of my trust. I am VERY quick to pick up insincerity, and few people get by my first impressions of whether they can be trusted or not. As I have matured, I listen to my heart message very carefully, and the few times I went ahead and allowed someone in my circle of trust I did so with misgivings, and proved to be right, and they were not my friend after all. Now I listen VERY carefully before I trust anyone.

dragon:I distrust most people.

christine: yes it it, but i always try to ignore it and trust anyway. it's like i know i'm not going to trust anyone so i force myself to trust.

are flashbacks an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: usually only in regards to sexuality. in terms of friendship, flashbacks affect me most in the sense that i find it very embarrassing to talk to most of my friends about flashing back.

maralyn: I had many flashbacks and they were helpful because they were done in my adult life connected with crystal regression healing sessions with a very good friend who does massage and other alternative healing work. I did not have anything other than dreams, walked in my sleep, talked, etc. That was the worst of my flashbacks. The one time my father forced me, I was able to fight back and got control over him, so that helped me with the "force" issue. Although I cannot bear anyone holding me down, any kind of emotional "control" even now because of the abuse, I feel quite strong and have gained my strength over the years. It was not easy, and I used laughter to cover up my insecurity, and "constant talking" to get around times when I felt threatened. Fortunately I was never date raped. That may have changed my degree of strength at great deal. Also the fact that I was older, I as eye to this man, even though he continually pressured me to have sex with him even after I was married and had small children I felt "in control" at those times. I challenged him, sometimes cried, "why can't you see my as your daughter". His response was always the same, "you are a woman to me and you always have been."

dragon: Flashbacks are sometimes a problem. Usually when I am sad and lonely. Then I will lie in bed and memories will come till my skin crawls and I either jump out of bed or cry till I can't feel anything anymore.

christine: yes, they come whenever they choose to, but i am learning how to tell them to wait until a better time, or i try to deal with them silently to where no one would know what i was thinking about.

is anger an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: not really. i have surprised myself in the sense that i don't anger easily. with some of the stuff i have experienced, i would expect that there would be more fury. sometimes, ironically, i get frustrated because i can't get angry enough.

maralyn: Yes, things will set me off very easily, my adored second husband cannot understand at all why I "get so angry", so "rage filled", and I still do when I feel someone has or is getting too much control of my life, experiences, taking advantage physically, emotionally, financially, etc. It is hard to remember I don't have to "fight" now. I still deal with working on controlling my rage at certain things having nothing at all to do with sex.

dragon: Anger is a huge issue. Anger problems run in my family. And I have never been "permitted" to speak my mind. So I am always angry, never showing it.

christine: yes, but i have learned how to surpress it. and i know that i am not supposed to, but if i let it go i would hurt to many people. and i don't want to do that. so keeping it inside it the best alternative right now.

is fear an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: yes. i am constantly afraid of walking alone. whenever i pass anyone, night or day, i am always holding my breath, wary, afraid that they might attack me.

maralyn: My fear really left when my father died, and I am sorry to say I was relieved, he died of cancer when he was 53, and I do not miss him. I regret that is my truth, and have stopped trying to feel any remorse.

dragon: Not fear so much as disgust and hatred.

christine: yes, but once again i try to ignore it. i am afraid of being alone, people who try tomake me do something, and numerous other things. but i try to forget these things, and move on.

how intimate would you say your friendship is?
butterfly: just in the past year i have been able to become much more intimate with my friendships, more trusting and open. i am so thankful to be surrounded with beautiful, amazing people who i can go deep with and be unafraid of my own tears, laughter, and truth.

maralyn: Fortunately I do NOT have to deal with him any longer, and other friends I must say are held at a distance, even very close friends, it is as if they MIGHT change and judge me for what happened if they know or knew of the incest. The same with extended family, most people are NOT educated and if they have not experienced abuse have NO idea of the complications that follow. They tend to feel "it happened", so "get over it." That does NOT work. At least for me.

can you provide some positive examples of ways your friends reacted to being told?
butterfly: i remember telling one of my childhood friends, late at night, over the phone. we hadn't talked for a long time, and for some reason i decided to tell her. i was laughing nervously, and i just said, "yeah, when i was little, i was sexually abused." she and i have always spent more time joking with each other than being serious, but this time she paused, the silence between her words like a soft rainbow. then she said, "i'm sorry."

maralyn: They expressed their "sorrow", waited for me to tell as much as I wanted and then gave me opportunities in the future to talk about it without judgements.

christine: they didn't make it a big deal. they still treated me the same.

negative examples?
butterfly: i told a male friend of mine, and he laughed and said, "dude, that guy's a sicko."

maralyn: NO questions, just let me offer what I felt secure telling, and I found this worked well with my clients and their children as well. It takes time to unravel the damage, and each person's experience is "unique" to them.

christine: they ignored me, they disregarded what i was feeling. they told me to get over it.

how easy is it to talk with them about the issue of sexual violation?
butterfly: as a societal issue it's easy, and i find myself becoming quite passionate. when it comes to my own story, i just end up confused, like it is all a blur.

maralyn: I can do it easily in groups now, I taught on Native American Indian reservations and there was some abuse there, we discussed it openly in parenting classes I taught.

how do you feel about the way sexual violation has impacted your life?
butterfly: i don't know who i would be if i hadn't dealt with this. i guess i feel thankful for my own strength, and extremely grateful that i have made it this far with my healing, but i want to do everything i can to make sexual violence a thing of the past.

maralyn: It changed my life forever. I used to believe it was all negative, but I see now I can be a support for others, and it has taught me to be understanding, and willing to listen to others and their experiences. I has made me realize first of all that I was NOT alone, not the ONLY ONE. That would have meant more to me than any counseling when it happened. The first book available was the Kinsey report, 1 in 100,000, it made me feel even more alone and MUCH MORE responsible, I was glad to know the information and appreciate what they did because it was the first. Thank God there is information and support now.

christine: in one way i hate it, but in another way i can accept it. i hate it because i have had to deal with all this sh*t that i wouldn't have otherwise. i have spent time and energy on fixing something that i had no control over in the first place, and i become jealous of people who have never had to put forth this kind of energy. i can accept what happened to me because it has made me a stronger , more compassionate, and a forgiving person. without my experiences with sexual violence i might not be the caring, strong-willed person i am today.

friends of survivors

what was your experience when you first talked about sexual violation with your friend?
butterfly: the very first time i ever discovered that a friend had been sexually abused, there were three of us sitting around one friend's dining room table. we were about thirteen or fourteen, and we had all had a slumber party the night before. sleepy-eyed we ate cereal together, chattering and bickering playfully. one of us mentioned rape, and i gathered my courage and brought up my own violation. i had told one of the girls there. the other girl looked up at me, her red hair falling into her face, and said, very quietly, "that happened to you too? i thought i was all alone." after that we never talked about it much, but i understood so much more about this quiet girl who wore sweaters all the time to conceal the scars on her arms.

max: Anastasia had been in and out of a small eight-student community school I was attending. Each time she came back she seemed to look a little worse. I was very worried when she didn't show up for class two weeks in a row. The third week began with a message to the class that she was in a safe place where she could work out some problems. When she finally came back, she was smiling; she gave me a hug and asked me how I was doing. "Fine", I replied; "how about you?" "Better..." She said. At the end of class, the teacher asked if she had anything to say. "yes", she answered; "I know you all have been wondering what's been going on with me, so.....I'm going to tell you. And I understand if you don't forgive me or don't want to stay friends with me, because I know I've hurt a lot of you, so.....I understand". She then proceeded to confess that as well as becoming addicted to many harmful drugs and boyfriends, she had been raped. I remember how overloaded I was. The girl I was in love with had just extolled a half an hour's worth of stories about so much abuse of so many different kinds, I couldn't process it all. I also remember that when she confessed, she hadn't said she had been raped. She had used the word "molested". When she'd said that, I wasn't quite sure what she meant. Had someone groped her? Did someone verbally assault her? Does she mean rape? I was more shocked by the other things she had talked about, and it was the only thing she hadn't really explained in detail, so I assumed it was something "minor" like being groped. (I was fourteen at the time and did not have the comprehension of sexual violation I would later have) I wrote a letter to Anastasia in response to her confession. In this letter, I wrote: "my mind felt as if it were filled with nothing because it was filled with something I didn't understand". I think that best describes my experience.
I was fifteen when I found out about Tasha. I had only known her a few months I think, but I had suspected that something had happened to her. She had something in common with Anastasia: two personalities. (As with Anastasia, I would later come to recognize one of these personalities as a mask, and the other as the real Tasha) Tasha switched her personalities with such frequency and ease that I actually came to the conclusion that she had some kind of psychosis. Schizophrenia, maybe. One of her personalities was whimsical, naive, and childish. (The mask) The other was self-deprecating, perceptive, and blunt. (Tasha when she opened up to me) She also seemed to have moments when she would get extremely frightened or panicked, which she would quickly recover from and apologize for over and over again. This led me to suspect that something had traumatized her. The very first thing that crossed my mind was rape, or something like it. That only crossed my mind once; it wasn't an opinion that I held. I had a telephone conversation with her one evening, (she was the blunt, perceptive Tasha) and I let it slip somehow that I thought she might be schizophrenic. "Oh no", she said more disappointed than hurt; "you think I'm crazy". I then tested the other half of my theory. "Something happened a long time ago, didn't it?" There was a pause. "Yes", she said in almost a whisper. I asked her if she wanted to tell me what it was, and she said she didn't just yet. "Soon", she said. In a later conversation with the blunt, perceptive Tasha, I asked again if she wanted to tell me what happened. "I think you already know", she said. "No, I don't", I replied. (I didn't) She said she had been sexually abused. I remember I winced when I heard her say that, and let out a shaky sigh. "I want to see you", I said. "Okay", she replied. the next day I went to meet her in a park, all the while rehearsing the things I was going to say about always being there for her, and to call anytime she wanted. But when I met with her she talked of other things, and seemed to be more of the whimsical Tasha. (The mask) I didn't want to bring up the subject, as I assumed she didn't want to talk about it, but I was disappointed that I hadn't gotten the chance to be real with her again in person.

oceania: For me it wasn't a big deal, like any other conversation. I expressed my feelings about what a terrible thing it was and she hinted at having had something happen to her, but it wasn't until later she actually told me.

danrik: I don't know what you mean by experience. Mostly I was just nervous and afraid I might say something wrong.

christine: i was terrified and angry. i wanted to murder the person who did it. i wanted to let out all the anger that had towards my abusers on my friend's abuser.

how does the violation make your friendship difficult? in which ways does it affect your relationship most noticeably?
butterfly: one of the women i know who has an abuse history tells people that she is completely over it, and i find that it is very difficult to talk to her sometimes about anything regarding sexual violation because she closes down and acts as if it doesn't matter to her, even though i know it still affects her very deeply.

max: I'd say the most difficult thing about my relationships with both Tasha and Anastasia is the mask. At first it made me feel distrusted or unimportant, but then I realized that when I was alone with either of them, the mask came off. It was only when they were in the company of people they didn't trust, or when they where nervous about something the had shared with me the day before that they wore a mask. When I realized that, I felt honored that they trusted me not to abuse the fact that they were vulnerable. Even so, it still makes me a little sad whenever I see the mask, and I find it more difficult to be around Tasha or Anastasia when they have it on. I still feel a little disappointed whenever they ignore something meaningful and honest we shared the day before.

oceania: It makes the friendship harder because I have difficulty understanding where she's coming from at times and can be pretty insensitive, I think. Most noticeably I feel like there's a barrier between us. She knows a pain I can't and don't want to understand, knows something about the world and human nature I don't. I'm afraid it may have contributed to separating us, though I'm not certain.

danrik: It doesn't really make things difficult. Mainly, I have to be careful with my phrasing to make sure I don't accidentally offend or injure them emotionally. Also, I still sometimes have to skirt around some issues until I'm sure how my friend will want to deal with them.

is distrust an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: sometimes i worry about my friends who are unstable regarding self-mutilation or drug abuse in response to their violation when they tell me that they are doing fine but i can see fresh bandages or tell they are hungover. there are many ways of coping with abuse memories and everyday pain that are very shameful, and people have a lot of difficulty talking about them, so sometimes i wonder if survivor friends are keeping things from me.

max: It always annoyed and hurt me whenever Tasha wouldn't reveal something she'd hinted at, or wouldn't answer one of my questions. I took it and sometimes still take it as a display of distrust in my ability to keep it a secret or to just plain handle it. It made me feel stupid when she would later reveal she hadn't told me the truth about something, because I hadn't picked up on it at the time. She once reminded me, however, that she doesn't tell ANYTHING to some of her friends, and to just be patient; I would get to know her eventually. And patient I was. But she was definitely not the only one who was distrustful. I was far more distrustful of her than she was of me. Even now, I occasionally catch myself speculating whether this or that thing she said was really true, or did she really mean that; and I feel ashamed that I do. I knew Anastasia before she was raped, so we had already established a sense of trust. Distrust was never really an issue for us.

oceania: Sometimes I have difficulty believing her when she tells me she's okay. And I don't know how well she's able to trust me, I know people have betrayed her, including me, and I wonder at times if she can be completely honest with me because of that.

danrik: Not for me. For them, I'm not sure. I don't think so. At least, not that they can control. Sometimes they will express vague distrust but I try to help exterminate it.

are flashbacks an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: one time while spending time with a male friend, it came out that he was a survivor of sexual violence. he started shaking, and i just held him until it was over, but i felt so guilty after. i have never been able to think back to that without a feeling of nausea.

max: I think the first flashback I dealt with (though I am still unsure of whether it was one or not) happened very early on in my relationship with Tasha. She was running ahead down my drive when she tripped on the gravel and fell. She then curled up in a ball and started muttering over and over and again: "he's gonna get me...he's gonna get me". I went over to her to make sure she was okay. She slowly got up, and with the same repetition apologized for ruining the evening.
Unfortunately, I induced the only flashback of Anastasia's I've ever witnessed. I had written a poem narrating the event of Tasha's abuse, (a foolish thing to do) and was sharing it with the eight-student school Anastasia was of course attending. (even more of a foolish thing to do) I started reading the poem, completely forgetting that Anastasia had been raped. After I got passed a few lines, she got up and left the room. Only after I had finished reading did I realize what I'd done. I excused myself and went downstairs where I found Anastasia in utter hysterics. She had a friend with her, who was trying to console her. I don't think I've ever seen anyone as upset as she was. She was crying and sobbing, on the verge of wailing, and shuddering almost violently every half a minute or so. I think that was the first time I ever had a realistic sense of what something as horrible as being violated that way can do to a person. When she had calmed down, I told her I felt incredibly sorry that I had put her in such a state. She said it wasn't my fault, and that this f***ing wasn't ever going to go away.

oceania: Yes. I've seen her experience them once, so far, and it had a profound affect on me. I saw a lot of pain, hurt, and sadness in her eyes, face and body that shook me. I wanted to hold her, comfort her, protect her, but it felt too late for that.

danrik: No. Not yet.

is anger an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: one of my most cherished friends was recently taken advantage of by a very cruel and manipulative man. he didn't listen to her when she told him to stop, and whenever i think about it, her lying there, cold and unappreciated for her beauty, i am so full of rage. she is a blossom, a wonderful creature, and i cannot understand how anyone could hurt her like this.

max: Anger is something that I see from Anastasia more than Tasha, though I don't doubt that Tasha's is simply better hidden. To my memory, their anger has never been re-directed at me, so I don't think it's been an issue for ME......Anastasia is pretty good at knowing what to do with her anger, and Tasha knows far more about hers than I do; so I feel it's completely unnecessary and out of place for me to take part in it.

oceania: I sometimes get mad at her attacker. I feel this need to stand up to him, hit him, yell at him, show him what he's done. I've never met him, and sometimes I wish I could just see his face. Know who the guy is that had it in him to do something like this to my friend. If I think about it enough, I can get almost violently angry. I'm very protective of my friends, more so than of myself. I don't mind if people hurt me, but if they hurt my friends, I get angry.

danrik: It's not an issue, although it's a prevalent emotion when I see/hear about difficulties my friend is having (mainly with society).

is fear an issue for you, if so, how?
butterfly: i am mostly afraid for some of my friends who have a tendency to abuse themselves when they are upset.

max: I think that the mask is dug up, molded, fired, and glazed by fear. The fear of not being accepted, the fear of being perceived as dirty or impure, the fear of further abuse, as well as many more that I am surely aware, and unaware of. Yes, fear is definitely an issue. I have to be aware and sensitive to these fears, and be careful not to trigger them or add to them in some way. Sometimes it can be a tap dance, but, like a tap dance, it gets easier with practice. If you fear someone, you can't very well trust them; and if you can't trust them, you can't allow them to know trustworthy things.

oceania: I'm afraid I'll hurt her, betray her. I'm afraid she won't be safe.

how intimate would you say your friendship is?
butterfly: my level of intimacy varies with the survivors i know. i have noticed, though, that when it is established that we have both suffered sexual violation, there is a kind of unspoken bond between us. always.

max: Oh, I'd say that the more time goes by, the more Tasha and I trust each other. *Sigh* We share very intimate things with each other, and there is such trust there that is so essential to the circumstances of our friendship. I'd say it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.
Anastasia and I are not as open about her violation as I am with Tasha about hers, But I think we share an honesty and respect for each other that definitely puts our friendship on an intimate level. However, this honesty only occurs when we are not downtown. When we're downtown, she puts on her mask; which is kind of a gansta street chick sort of thing, and it doesn't lend itself to deep interactions. All in all, she's my first love, and I think there's something magical about our chemistry.

oceania: It varies. Sometimes I'd say we're incredibly close and very intimate, other times I feel like I'm talking to a stranger. I always love her the same though, with all my heart and spirit.

danrik: Eh... I'm never very good at guaging these things. And I'm always afraid to bring it up anyway for fear of seeming presumptuous. I can't really answer that one.

can you give any advice on ways to be comforting and supportive toward survivors?
butterfly: ask them what they need from you. listen, don't interrupt and don't ask questions if your friend seems unstable.

max: Simply be there; listen, be patient, move at THEIR pace; be aware of insecurities and limitations, try your best to understand; trust them when they ask to be trusted, BE HONEST; if you love them, tell them so; if something seems to be troubling them, ask them what it is; if they insist there's nothing wrong, let it be; if you've been lied to, try not to take it personally or let it affect the trust you've built or may potentially build; step lightly, be respectful.

oceania: All I can say is make certain your friend knows you're there for them, stable, and someone they can talk to.

danrik: Don't try to change things unless you are asked to. Allow survivors to bring up things that are important to them themselves. Offer help, but don't force it.

christine: remind them that things get better, that it's all right to cry or get mad, and no matter what you will be there for them. listen, listen, listen.

any advice about what not to do?
butterfly: no matter how uncomfortable you are, don't laugh or make light of the subject. even though survivors may do this, it is important for them to know that you take this seriously and understand the pain of the situation.

max: DO NOT BE DISHONEST. Don't pretend to understand if you don't; don't pretend to care if you don't; don't pretend to trust them if you don't; don't pretend to be trustworthy if you're not; don't pretend to desire friendship or any relationship if you don't; don't pretend to love them if you do not. Being honest and open is essential to building trust between you, and trust is essential for the survivor to be honest and open in return. Lying in an attempt to protect their feelings will only complicate things. Do not hide any ulterior motives.

oceania: Don't talk to other people about what's happened unless they give you express permission to do so, and don't feel like you have to fix their problems. It's okay to be upset about things in your own life, don't blame yourself or feel like your problems are insignificant.

danrik: Don't force issues. Ever.

christine: don't disregard any feelings they are having. don't tell them to just "get over it."

how easy is it to talk with your friend(s) about the issue of sexual violation?
butterfly: lately it has become easier and easier. with some friends there are still a lot of blocks, but if i am talking with another survivor who has come to terms with their violation, we can have long conversations about emotions and experiences.

max: It's not a comfortable subject for any of us. I'm not usually the one to bring it up, but I'll talk about it if either Anastasia or Tasha wants to. It's definitely a hard thing to discuss. I always squirm a little whenever the subject comes up. I sometimes wish I could just pretend it wasn't there. I think it's natural to want to forget about something as unsettling as sexual violence, but as Anastasia pointed out, forgetting about it is impossible for the survivor. I don't think I could forget about it either. And the way I see it, it's better to make the fact more bearable by talking about it than to pretend the fact isn't there.

oceania: The issue itself it's easy enough, but I start to feel weird talking about my own feelings regarding it. When we get into what I went through in regards to accepting her pain, I feel very uncomfortable and afraid of saying the wrong thing.

danrik: It's not particularly hard for me, but sometimes I think it is for them, and I adapt in response to how they seem to be feeling.

christine: pretty easy. we have come to terms with what has happened and we can talk about it freely. negatively or positively.

how do you feel about the way sexual violation has impacted your life?
butterfly: it has changed me. there is no way to ever go back, so i may as well go forward.

max: Oh, there were so many times when I thought I would crack from the sudden exposure to how torn Tasha was, or how different Anastasia was when she finally came back to class. There was something in Anastasia's eyes......I see it other people's eyes, too.......A look like she'd lost something she would never get back. It's the same look that I see in the eyes of my grandmother, or a family friend I once met who's sister had committed suicide. It was chilling and unpleasant to suddenly have the capacity to recognize this look as well as many other things that made me realize just how many people around me have lost something incredibly dear to them.
I have learned so much from my relationship with Tasha, I can't think of what kind of person I'd be like if I hadn't met her. There's so much about people and the balance of friendship that I don't think I could have possibly learned without such an experience. And after spending so much time with Tasha, I could see Anastasia again and find that I understood so much more about her, and could relate to her in a better way. And I haven't the slightest doubt that I can apply the same skills I developed through my friendships with them to anyone who's in grief over something lost. I am forever grateful to experience such friendships, and forever grateful to Anastasia and Tasha for letting me into their hearts.

oceania: I don't know. I went through a lot because of it, very real and intense, and I learned and grew a great deal from it. On the one hand, I'm angry and very saddened that violation is tolerated one iota in this society and world, but on the other hand, for me personally, I think it's helped me grow up a great deal. Thanks to violation, I discovered the suffering and pain of the world that I'd always been sheltered from. For that, I am grateful.

danrik: It's made me a lot more aware of the way it can change lives completely. I don't think many people are aware of that.