Obsessed with Rape

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 21 and I was raped almost two years ago and every since I have had this obsession with rape. I read books about people being raped and watch movies with really graphic rape scenes and look up stuff about it on the web and watch anything with rape in it. i don’t know why and I feel like I am crazy because though those disturb me and me feel like I am reliving it or really queasy or sad, I can’t help but watch or read about it. I pick up anything that has to do with rape even though I can’t even speak about my own experience without freezing up or not being able to go any further. I have never even been able to discuss the full details with anyone because it feels like I am reliving it, I have nightmares about being raped and am scared of the dark. I talk to a therapist but it doesn’t seem to help. I can’t get rape off my mind. It is constantly there like a creepy obsession I can not get rid of. I don’t know what’s wrong with me or what I should do.

A: I am very sorry and sad that you had such a horrible experience. I’m very glad you wrote. Most people don’t know that what you are doing is one of the possible very normal “abnormal” responses to a traumatic situation. What you describe is your attempt to deal with the rape.

When little kids go through a trauma, we often see them replay the scene over and over again in the sandbox. They are not enjoying this kind of play. They are reenacting it in the unconscious hope that they can feel more in control of what happened or maybe make it come out differently. Adults like yourself obviously aren’t playing in a sandbox but by watching movies, reading about rape and going over and over it in your head, you are also trying to work it through.

It was worth a try but clearly it’s not working for you as a strategy for resolving your feelings. You go over and over it but you can’t tolerate talking about what actually happened. The “obsession” is your way of telling yourself that you need help to bump yourself out of this never-ending loop of thoughts and feelings about the rape. Please listen to the good advice you are trying to give yourself. Find a counselor who specializes in sexual abuse. Your counselor will be able to give you the support and advice you need to move beyond this terrible experience.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Mar 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Obsessed with Rape. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/03/17/obsessed-with-rape/