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PARTNER RAPE
IS

REAL RAPE


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Experience of Survivors of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence with Counselling and Other Services


Here, you can read about the positive and negative experiences survivors of partner rape/IPSA have had with counselling and other services from whom they sought help. It is my hope that this will be helpful - to the survivor who shares, to other survivors and to service providers wishing to know what is helpful or unhelpful to survivors of IPSA.

Note to survivors reading and/or sharing about bad experiences: If you have had negative experiences, you may have been very hurt, and are possibly afraid to seek help again. Nevertheless, although service response to partner rape or IPSV has been quite poor in a lot of corners, other survivors have had terrific experiences, and there are services striving to make a difference with this issue (you can see just a few of these here). I think it's important for our healing to recognise that even if we or others have had bad experiences, these don't define all helpers and services, and we should look further afield and carefully check service attitudes to IPSV out. Hopefully, the positive experiences shared can be encouraging! Please don't forget to see Finding a Therapist, and the IPSV Survivor-Friendly Counsellors and Services Databases

If you wish to share your experience, please click here - first reading and following ground rules.
Name: faeriedust
Type of Experience : Positive
Type of Service: Domestic Violence Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: My experience was, well, just about zero!! the Victim's Advocate for the Aurora P.D. called me AFTER my case had already been returned as exceptionally cleared by the Arapahoe county D.A. Also AFTER I had gone in to the Aurora Police Dept. and filed a formal complaint. What a joke. The sad thing is, she knew it was pathetic too!
Effect experience had on survivor: NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE!!! It made me feel as if I was basically a non-entity. Completely irrelevant. It was awful!
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Just get in touch with them right away for Heaven's sake!!!!

Friday, May 3rd 2013 - 02:08:08 PM


Name: Anon
Type of Experience : Positive
Type of Service: Mental Health Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: My psychologist has been very helpful in advising me on personal safety and keeping it a priority, while respecting my confidentiality and understanding the specific complications of ISPA. She gives suggestions that help me take back my power, while working on the healing aspect as much as she can. She has been helpful in steering me towards resources.
Effect experience had on survivor: Helpful. I am not out of the water yet but on my way.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: We need more like her.

Tuesday, December 27th 2011 - 05:21:36 PM


Name: pam
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Faith-Based Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: I was basically told that because my husband was "my cover" that they could not help me or my son. I wsa told that the Bible stated that I should stay in order to try and win him to the Lord. No one told me that I could leave in cases of violence and sexual abuse including rape.
Effect experience had on survivor: I became angry at myself for being a coward and not leaving, I baecame angry at God for not helping us, I withdrew from family and friends. I numbed all of my encounters with my husband in order to survive them.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Have people available that know the will of God in situations like these and help women know they can leave as well as assist them to leave.

Sunday, July 24th 2011 - 07:10:40 AM


Name: bethany
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Sexual Assault Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: No
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: bad
Effect experience had on survivor: not good
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: everything possible

Sunday, June 12th 2011 - 07:16:44 AM


Name: Luisa
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Other Service: Campus counseling service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: While this counselor was a good soul, I always came away from sessions feeling worse. She seemed to push the notion of "accepting what happened and carrying on.." I understand the root of it, but I found her approach rather simplistic. Since my perpetrator had Asperger's syndrome, she seemed to consistently try to use that as an excuse-asking me what I knew about it, etc. and mentioning that that could distort his word choice, etc. or that his knife "joke" was a consequence of that. She also tended to push that to react in the long-term was to give him power, and seemed to berate me for having reactions or to be thinking about it 3 years later. The counseling was simplistic and focused on MY thought patterns, as opposed to working through the deeper issues.
Effect experience had on survivor: I consistently felt worse after sessions, like I was running in circles. The self-help book felt rather redundant, and I'd be rushing through the exercises before, "Uh... this is pointless..." I had no chance to explore the long-term impacts-future dating seemed like a pickle, and I didn't feel comfortable dealing with that.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Probably further training on long-term implications of sexual assault would be best.

Friday, January 28th 2011 - 10:54:44 AM


Name: Jane
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Other Service: School counselling
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: No
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: The counsellor approached me as if she had been told by other people how much of a liar I was (and though I think she had, I really think it's her job not to judge before she knows for sure). I tried to tell about the violence, but she ignored me, telling me that she didn't want to talk about what was and wasn't true. She wanted to talk about how it made another person (who lied and told her I was trying to kill her) feel. She didn't stop once to listen to what I had to say and I honestly think she never considered that I actually might not be lying.
Effect experience had on survivor: I felt silenced and retreated more and more into my own head. I kept quiet about everything that was happening/had happened to me for so long because I was afraid nobody would believe me and being disbelieved again was more than I could handle.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Schools, in particular, need a better understanding of what good counselling is and seek counsellors that are well trained and have good interpersonal and conflict resolution skills as well as relevant psychological qualifications.

Thursday, December 10th 2009 - 02:55:11 PM


Name: Starfish
Type of Experience : Positive
Type of Service: Medical Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: My GP advised me which nurse at my practice to see for my smear test. She'd said the nurse I was going to see was really gentle. I said, so, I'll tell her I have a trauma history then. Yes. The nurse was wonderful. She told me that my GP had given her a note. Ok. Understood. I have a tendency to not be able to speak sometimes when I'm scared so that was one hurdle out the way. What I really loved was that the nurse was really calm and soothing and so reassuring and nice not only before, talking to me through the whole procedure, and making sure I was in one place afterwards.
Effect experience had on survivor: She really put me at my ease and I am just so much in awe and gratitude for the way my GP and the nurse handled it. I love that I was given the option to bail out at any time.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: I know that there are a lot of good healthcare professionals out there but I think it would help if more could actually be more reassuring, patient and gentle - I don't just mean with the way they carry out the procedure but that they don't push for information whilst at the same time don't appear too detached and clinical. And I think by asking if you're ready to go through with this, giving the option to stop at any time, really does make everything so much more manageable.

Monday, November 30th 2009 - 11:57:14 AM


Name: Sadie
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: It was rubbish. The counsellor was supposed to be a specialist DV counsellor but visibly flinched and looked horrified when I described one attack. The service was the only DV counselling one in the whole city. The look I got when I said about being raped was horror which turned into fake pity. Not cool.
Effect experience had on survivor: I felt angry that this was the best my city had to offer DV survivors. Luckily I was late on in my healing so I was able to see the problem was them and not me
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Better training! It's unbelievable that a DV service had this kind of reaction to DV, totally not OK

Monday, November 30th 2009 - 09:47:16 AM


Name: Carleen
Type of Experience : Mixture of Positive and Negative
Type of Service: Other
Other Service: DV crisis hotline
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: I contacted the hotline one evening when I was having a particularly bad night. At the time I was still in my abusive marriage. The counsellor was good about validating most of my feelings and helping to calm down. However she also talked about discussing my issues with my abuser and seeking couples counselling, both of which were inappropriate and could be extremely dangerous.
Effect experience had on survivor: In general the results were positive but I was left a little confused about the issues of confronting my abuser and seeking couples counselling. Luckily I received other opinions advising against these measures due to the potential danger.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: All counsellors on this type of hotline need to be made aware of the power dynamics inherent in an abusive relationship and that confronting abusers and couples counselling is NOT advised in cases of DV.

Sunday, November 29th 2009 - 04:41:56 PM


Name: arielrose
Type of Experience : Positive
Type of Service: Other
Other Service: Treatment Center for Depression and eating Discorders
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: Here I learned something very important to my recovery and life, It is not the event that determines how bad it was to an individual - It is more how it impacted their life and the self beleif they now have and how it impacted the daily life. We are all different - and we all feel different - Pain is pain. And we reacted NORMAL to the events that occured in our lives.
It is the events that are NOT NORMAL.
Effect experience had on survivor: I truly beleive this center with the help of a higher source saved my life - 28 - 30 days that will never leave me. even when I take a step back it is the lessons I learned those few days that I continue to teach others.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: If this type of counseling was more available to people. and less costly. There is something deeply powerful about being able to remove your self from the cares of your life to dig deep into your heart and mind and face the monsters in your mind while you can cry and scream and heal and feel with out wondering what the neighbors will think, what your husband will do, will your pain scare your children.etc. 5 years of weekly therapy I have heard is , canbe accomplished in just those 30 days. How much healthier People could be is this was the first place you went not the last.

Sunday, November 29th 2009 - 04:27:07 AM


Name: arielrose
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: They held the belief that - You cannot be raped by your husband, since you are married. quite simply that.
Effect experience had on survivor: Confusion, Denial, staying in a dangerous relationship, Deep depression and eating disorders followed and that led to seeking another type of help.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: to take something from a women that she offers to you freely and out of love on most occasions, DESTROYS a women in a way that is often indescribable. when one is raped by someone outside of the home there life is not safe outside, when it occurs in your own BED. You cannot find peace anywhere. And it can kill a womens soul.

Wednesday, January 9th 2002 - 09:41:35 PM


Name: Carleen
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: I was refered to the local Sexual Assault Service by the DV service I attend. When there was no response to the referal after three weeks my DV case worker followed it up, only to be told that because I was still in the relationship they would not see me under the sexual assult banner, only under the generalist counselling one.
Effect experience had on survivor: This response made me feel that until I did what other people wanted me to do (ie leave the marriage) I did not deserve the help I was seeking.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Acknowledge that women still in sexually violent relationships deserve counselling without being told, directly or indirectly, that they have to leave the relationship.

Friday, November 27th 2009 - 04:55:30 PM


Name: Carleen
Type of Experience : Mixture of Positive and Negative
Type of Service: Domestic Violence Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: The Dv service I have been in contact with have generally been very good. They have provided me with referals to other professional services more appropriate to IPSA issues. However, in their groups the issues of IPSA is barely touched upon. In my experience it was just put under the DV heading without acknowledgement of the particular issues facing survivors.
Effect experience had on survivor: While the individual referals have generally resulted in good experiences for me, initially the group setting left me feeling further isolated and didn't seem to validate that IPSA is a DV issue. In recent times though that appears to be changing with at least one worker being prepared to support the cause of including IPSA specific services in the services offered by the service.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: IPSA specific groups - both educational and supprt. More acknowledgement of IPSA as a part of women's DV experiences. More reference to and acknowledgement of IPSA in the general DV groups.

Friday, November 27th 2009 - 04:40:35 PM


Name: Louise
Type of Experience : Negative
Type of Service: Mental Health Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: I saw a psychiatrist briefly in my early 20's.I told him that I'd had a partner who had beaten and raped me, and he said, "So, you're a masochist." Then, he wanted to know if I'd enjoyed it! He was also incredibly condescending, treating me like a silly little feather-brained hysteric, and he believed that tears were an attempt to manipulate him. I think that he was an angry little man who didn't want to hear about the violence that some men do to women. Anyway, I stopped seeing him.
Effect experience had on survivor: Well, I did wonder at the time whether because he was a practicing psychiatrist of 30 years with a string of letters after his name, he mightn't have been right. But thankfully I had also done enough reading to know that some corners of psychiatry still cling to motifs about abused women being masochistic and manipulative. As well, I kenw I was not the first woman to have experienced psychiatric condescension. Indeed some practices toward abused women have been themselves downright abusive. So I basically knew he was full of crap regardless of the letters after his name, and although it hurt at the time,I don't think it ultimately affected me too badly.

I think it did fuel a mistrust I had of psychiatry in general, and of course this is not always warranted - other survivors have really good experiences with their shrinks.
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: Well, there were enough complaints from other women that this man was barred from working with female abuse survivors.The censure of psychiatrists who practice in this way is a good thing.

We need more psychiatrists the caliber of Judith Herman, whose book Trauma and Recovery formed a big part of healing from IPSA and domestic violence for me.

Lingering traces of misogyny and nonsense about women and rape need to be hunted out of psychiatry.

Psychiatrists who monitor meds might also listen to the experiences of abused women with more compassion.

Friday, November 27th 2009 - 03:59:35 PM


Name: Louise
Type of Experience : Positive
Type of Service: Counselling Service
Service was aware of survivor's experience of IPSV?: Yes
Survivor's experience with this service response to IPSV: Last year I had some life-events which triggered debilitating panic attack with agoraphobia. Desperate to function normally again,I contacted a psychologist. This lovely woman was able to educate me about the relationship between PTSD and panic, and help me maximise my functioning again. Although changing my trauma-based to fear responses was an important priority, neither did she discount my experiences of sexual assault and other violence - she was completely approachable about them. She was affirming of my strengths at a time when I felt incredibly weak, and very interested in my work with IPSA.
Effect experience had on survivor: I felt "normalized" - I had been terrified that there was something irretrievably wrong with me or that the work I had put into healing had "failed." I was disgusted and ashamed that issues which I though were long resolved were making themselves so acutely felt in my 40's. The panic - as this counsellor taught me is normal - seemed to open me to flashbacks much more powerful than I'd ever had - one day I was shaking and crying hysterically all day because I flashed back to my abusive ex-partner attacking me under the shower. This counsellor really helped me understand why I was responding as I did; assured me that I could get better; reassured me when I got frightened about setbacks and I DID get better. I can now view what happened, and myself - with more compassion and understanding.

She is definitely an IPSA survivor-friendly service!
Survivor's thoughts on improving service responses to IPSV?: There was nothing wrong with the experience I had. However speaking of counsellors in general, please get educated about IPSA; be open to helping this populace of traumatised and abused women. It is just so appreciated when we find it.

Friday, November 27th 2009 - 03:38:20 PM


Number of Experiences Shared: 15
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