Rape Rarely Referenced

I keep seeing this one around, and even though I’ve dealt with it generally before, I’m going to break it down for those who can’t see. There is this assertion that Sookie’s rape – the trunk scene with Bill – is not dealt with in the text, and that CH glosses over it. Usually it’s said by people who haven’t been victims, or occasionally one lone rape victim/survivor.

One of the things that bothers me about the complaints about this in the CH books, is that last season of True Blood lots of people were “bored” by how long the whole Tara being raped and terrorised by Franklin Mott thing and her resulting trauma. I thought that the what ¿week? Tara was upset about it was reasonable, but apparently that’s “boring” and “too long”. I heard lots of complaints about it – and no praise – she “whined” about it too long apparently. Conversely, Sookie catches it in the neck for not mentioning it enough. It seems to me that whatever a woman does is wrong – which must surely be a comfort to rape victims everywhere. Nothing they ever do is right. Good to know. So I don’t harbour any hope that this post will mean people will complain less about Sookie (or Tara). But at least I’ve put it out there.

Rarely do I see rape victims (and I use victim in my work, so I don’t switch to survivor, which is much debated anyway) have one cohesive experience. In my personal life, I’ve known, off the top of my head eight female victims, and three male victims – all of whom have spoken to me personally about their experience – of their own volition (because it’s bad to force victims to do it your way – and hence why I’ve probably heard more about it that your average person because other people try to force victims to comply to “rules” and judge them).  Possibly, I know more, but it doesn’t come up in conversation as a rule. I also have the benefit of much research into a great pool of victims – including case studies.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that CH herself is a rape victim.

“I’m a long-term rape survivor and really proud of my adaptability.” Source

So, no particular victim can overrule the idea based on their personal experience – as if it’s a competition that trumps someone. In the above source, CH talks about the fact that the Lily Bard series is based in general on her own experience as a rape victim – which is a harrowing experience. To all the victims who think to overrule CH as being “more right” – having been a victim of rape does not make you an authority on all women and how they deal with it. It makes you an authority on you and how you dealt with it. There are plenty of divergent stories – there are women who develop agoraphobia over it, some have mental breakdowns, some just ignore it and suppress the feelings, some go into depression, some power through. Just because one person deals with it in a certain manner doesn’t mean that that is the rule for all people who will deal with it.

But, as with real life rape victims, Sookie suffers from readers hating on her for not doing it right – whatever the fuck “right” actually is. Let me just tell you that the official statistics are that 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 17 men have been victims of rape. The rape victims you think you can identify by virtue of the fact that they dealt with it your way are the tip of the fucking iceberg. Rape is the most under-reported crime, because victims fear the judgement of people like…well, a lot of readers of SVM. As an aside, all of the victims I mentioned above – only one ever reported to police. If you’ve ever said shit about Sookie and the way she dealt with rape, then consider yourself part of the reason it’s under-reported. Brav-fucking-o.

It is absolute horseshit that it isn’t dealt with in the text, and I’m going to quote to you how it’s done. So forgive the quote heavy post. But, le sigh, so many don’t read what is there already and then complain that it doesn’t exist.

Firstly, let me point out that at the point at which the rape occurred, Sookie had killed someone – Lorena – and had sustained a serious injury the night before. She was under immense stress. She didn’t have one thing to deal with – she had heaps of things. Lorena is the first vampire she’d ever killed, and the first being she wanted to kill. The action in Club Dead takes part over three days. It is no longer than that, and in that time, she’s staked in the side, attacked by Jerry Falcon, disposed of two bodies, kills one person, shares blood with Eric, is drained of lots of blood, breaks up with Bill and is beaten very badly. She has quite enough on her plate without trying to place the rape at the top of her hierarchy of shit that needs to be dealt with.

But, let’s get to what actually happens.

Leading up to the rape, Sookie has time to mentally prepare herself for badness. She is pushed into the trunk at about 3pm. She has many hours until sun sets to think about her fate, and possibly anticipate it. Many victims don’t have that benefit – they do not get forewarning. Sookie does, and she thinks:

“I’ll tell you, time spent in the nearly pitch-black dark, in a confined
space, waiting for something to happen – that’s pretty awful time.”

Club Dead, p. 222

Hours to think about it. That’s how long – to prepare for things and get herself in a state of readiness for the attack she knows is coming. Sookie does quite well under pressure, but I don’t know that this endless waiting wouldn’t have been worse – after all – does anyone think that she wasn’t expecting to be assaulted and killed? I would think that Sookie is feeling pretty hopeless and scared at that point. But of course by the time it actually happened, Sookie wasn’t doing too well:

“I never fell asleep, but I drifted into an odd state of suspension.
This was mostly due to the cold, I expect.”

Club Dead, p. 222

At the height of Winter, in an underground garage, in the back of a metal car with a dead body would probably be pretty cold. So Sookie isn’t too with it – and she wouldn’t experience it like a victim who was fully conscious. Of course, by the time the actual rape happens, she’s also been drained of a great deal of blood.

I have to say – one of those victims I mentioned above, was drugged with sleeping pills and raped by one of her husband’s friends, and while it scared the living shit out of her, and they alienated the man in question (the victim didn’t want the trauma of a rape trial – which is horrific, and being that he was an actual good husband, he went with what the victim wanted instead of his own ego and their marriage survived) she said that the fact that it was so hazy made it easier to just suppress the whole thing and get over it. She didn’t want to think about what happened, but instead wanted to keep it as hazy as possible by suppressing the memory, rather than trying to make sure it had crystal clarity. It’s not as if she denied it ever happened – she just didn’t want to make that a clear idea to recall, like it was a good memory. So just because you think Sookie doesn’t think about it enough doesn’t mean you’re doing it right, from your lofty position of “This didn’t happen to me.”

Not only that, but during that time in the trunk, Sookie knew that there was nowhere to go. There was no way she could have avoided that incident at all. I know lots of readers seem to think she’s psychic – but if she could have foreseen the shit that tangling with vampires would bring down on her head, do you think she would have dated one? And before you say that she should have known looking in the trunk at Bill during the daytime would automatically mean she would be raped – how could she? It’s not a leap of logic to say “looking at vampires in their daytime sleep = rape” unless you’d like her to follow that rule for Eric and constantly fear rape, and not live with him as a consequence.

On top of that, Bill really wasn’t himself. We haven’t ever seen another vampire who’s been tortured for a week, but that doesn’t seem like it would be nothing. Oh, I know some people are sure Eric would be able to control himself, but that’s just wishful thinking. Bill didn’t just have no blood – he was tortured, hurt and starved for that week. It’s not as if he did it after one of their dates. He was under immense stress – and once he feels better, he’s not exactly cavalier about what he’s done:

“Did you, ah, volunteer?”
I turned my head from side to side, then let it loll on his arm again.
“Oh no,” he whispered. “Oh no.”

Club Dead, p. 224

I don’t believe I’ve read many accounts of rapists who are contrite – let alone many accounts of rapists who are immediately contrite before orgasm. Mostly, like those lovely readers out there that blame Sookie for getting raped, well, that’s how rapists think as well – good company they keep, uh? Most rapists see the victim as leading them on, as being at fault, of somehow provoking them – and most don’t see it as rape at all. Bill is cognisant of what he has done, and how awful it is.

Don’t mistake this as an apology for Bill though. Even though I don’t think Bill intended to rape Sookie, ultimately it doesn’t matter. Bill is officially the man who raped Sookie. Lest some Bill fangirl stumble onto this and thinks I ship Bill and Sookie – well, Sookie might get over her rape (as many rape victims do) but that’s a whole heap different from getting naked with your rapist again. Nor do I believe that CH, former rape victim, would have had Bill being the rapist if she had hopes of ever getting them back together. It’s one thing to explore forgiving your rapist, but it’s another to say that you’re in love with your rapist and want to spend the rest of your life with him.

One of the things that Sookie does that is actually really helpful is the fact that she gets angry as soon as she recovers. It’s actually not a good sign that someone is upset and crying. One of the things that helps victims get over their attack is being angry – because that means that they understand that they were violated when they shouldn’t have been. This is shown when she attacks Bill and walks away, but it’s contrasted with her rather hopeless state of mind before she goes to Mississippi:

“My hands could not circle his neck, but I dug in as hard as I
could and I felt a red rage carry me away. I wanted to kill him.”

Club Dead,
p. 237

Now of course, Sookie is angry about more than just the rape – but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t factored it in at all. She’s been through a whole heap of trauma over this three day period and all of it is better dealt with by being angry. When you’re angry, you’re not depressed. Depression is the real killer. So rather than stick with it, Sookie gets angry and then gets angry enough to walk away even if she’s still too much in shock to actually do it:

“I would have to stand up for my psyche, because my
body was ready to betray me, big time. It seemed to be
blacking out Bill’s mindless attack.”

Club Dead,
p. 235

I know, I know, it’s apparently “bad” that Sookie walks away, but I don’t think so, no matter what the vampire’s name. Lots of readers would have Sookie enter the cycle of abuse willingly, and be happy with her lot….as long as the abuser uses the name Eric. He’s earned the right to beat his wimmens apparently. Now, some seem to think Sookie waited way too long – what with them being old hands at driving and walking away with heavy blood loss, and with shock. I’m going to allow her half an hour – generous person that I am unlike so many readers – to process the big deal that’s happened to her.

Before Mississippi, Sookie was sad that Bill left her and she turned to blaming herself. After the trunk, this doesn’t happen any more. Sookie has finally decided not to go that route again, and actually be indignant about the treatment that she received even if only internally.  That’s actually good for victims, because that means that they don’t fall into the trap of blaming themselves:

“I felt the sudden danger of weeping, and I pushed it away.
I wasn’t going to fall back into a trough of self-pity.”

Club Dead,
p. 273

Apart from the fact that Sookie walks away, this is the perfect way to get over the trauma much faster. Holding onto her anger and indignation is good for Sookie. It means that she’s not likely to see herself as a victim of rape, one who has no control over her life. In truth, this is something that takes a lot out of people who’ve been raped – the feeling that they couldn’t control their destiny.

Think about it – as a woman – there are supposed “rules” one should follow to stay safe. If you watch your drinks, wear the right type of clothing, never get drunk and stay to well lit areas, you should be right. Most women follow those rules. But the truth is that all they do is minimise risk. They don’t make risk non-existent. That’s because the real risk is rapists, and we haven’t figured out a way to identify them yet before they do it and make an alarm sound above their heads, or turn purple when water hits them. But in the idea that women can minimise risk, that means that if you were raped, it’s because you don’t really have control over rapists. Watching your drink makes you feel in control – like if the drink is okay, then you’ll be okay. It’s not true, but that’s one of the things that Sookie has to come to terms with – that lack of control. Unlike some victims, she already feared it:

“That was my real fear, one I hadn’t admitted to
myself until this moment: that some cog would slip,
some safeguard fail, and I would be a victim. When I’d
been a child, something had happened to me,
something that I could neither prevent nor control,
something incredibly vile. I would almost rather die
than be subjected to abuse like that again.”

Living Dead in Dallas,
p. 250

That statement is just prior to going to the orgy with Eric. Possibly why Sookie bypassed Sam and Jason, who might not be so willing to slaughter the room of townfolk at will, but Eric – huh – he’d do it with no remorse whatsoever. Sookie really fears losing that control. Unfortunately she did lose that control. Her worst fear was realised. I mean, last time she was ready to put a thousand year old vampire that she didn’t much trust in between herself and the townspeople. This time, there was no control, and there you have it – she was a victim again.

So being angry is just about the best way to deal with it. I know, I know, she should have gotten therapy. Yeah, I’d like to know where exactly a telepath would get non-judgemental help, when dealing with the rape by a vampire, who was her boyfriend, and victim of a kidnapping. Think about how you’d explain that one: “Well Doctor, if I didn’t go and get him it would start an inter-state vampire war, and when I killed his captors and got him out, I was shoved into the trunk with him.” That, my friends, is when Sookie’s therapist starts doubting her sanity – just the sort of trauma and “help” a rape victim needs.

As for the idea that she can get help from humans or vampires, yeah, I’m not so believing of this one – mainly because this post is necessary in the first place. The fact that I have had so many people in real life confide in me, when other people haven’t, tells me that that judgement is everywhere. It’s even reflected through the prism of vampire fiction. Multitudes of women who have absolutely no empathy for anyone not up to their standards of behaviour, and ones they can feel superior to – because after all, they did it the right way and avoided rape.

Before you argue that vampires give a shit, nope. Any vampires that might be around, don’t really care about this:

“How am I supposed to protect him? You know how this will end!
I’ll get beaten up. Or maybe even killed.”
Pam and Chow looked at me with twin blank expressions.
They might as well have said, “Your point being?”

Dead to the World, p. 48

Before you give Eric a free pass, he was in that room, heard those words and completely didn’t care either. He didn’t leap up to defend this callous disregard for bad things happening to Sookie. Mainly because even without his memory, Eric is selfish enough to care that bad things might happen to Eric if he doesn’t go along with the plan. Amnesia Eric is slightly nicer than regular Eric, but only because he doesn’t have immediate need for her to do anything in particular. He’s not fundamentally sweet – he just fails to have immediate demands.

Or maybe you think the weres will care? Oh yeah, here’s how much Alcide cares:

“Though I hadn’t known such an action was possible,
my first reaction was to feel a little bitter about his not
casting her out right after I’d told him a month ago
she’d tried to kill me.”
Dead to the World, p. 222

None of the weres or vampires care very much about bad stuff happening to Sookie. Not until it is some way to use it against her and talk about it on their schedule. Much like regular old humans, they don’t have much support to offer, even over the possibility of Sookie being killed. Even when she tells them freely that she’ll be killed. If they don’t have any sympathy over her potential murder, I fail to see why that screams “Confide in me about your rape!”

As in the fandom, there is little sympathy for Sookie’s plight, so too in the her world. It seems to me that people seem to think internet identities aren’t attached to real people. Those same callous people you see cheering on the beating of Sookie are the same callous people who are fine with women being beaten next door, as long as they don’t have to get involved. Those same sorts of people are reflected in the Sookie books as well – because none of them give much of a shit. So don’t even bother to think that Sookie would bother to talk about it, even with supes she knows – none of them care much if she gets killed.

Furthermore, it’s actually harmful to talk about it on someone else’s schedule. It shouldn’t be something that other people try to talk about in their own time.  One of the essential parts of regaining control for a rape victim is to talk about it when they decide, not when others think it should be done. If you’ve brought up someone else’s rape, you’re doing the wrong thing. You’re actually traumatising victims – not “helping” them. They had that control taken away from them by the rapist, and now you’re making them relive the experience over again when it’s convenient to you – and taking control away again.

We see someone do that to Sookie – and it’s certainly done to real rape victims – Alcide. I must say, he certainly does do quite the turnaround…when it suits his schedule:

I looked down at my feet, pushing away the
recollection of the desperation, the pain.
“She let you get raped,” Alcide said harshly.
Him saying it like that, flat out, shocked me.

Dead as a Doornail,
p. 67

Alcide might as well have just jumped into the trunk with Bill at this point. Considering he didn’t give much of a shit at the time that it happened, one can hardly argue that Alcide knew what he was doing, or that he really cared. In just his statement, he has made rules for her by the way – rules about the way she has to talk about it. Even if one could argue that he was trying to bring it to the surface (what the fuck for?! his benefit?) so that Sookie could deal with it, he’s also putting conditions on it.

It was at around this time, I found my rational hatred building for Alcide. He is a reflection of real life people though – the ones I see around the place imposing their conditions on real life rape victims, and Sookie (and Tara). Rape makes people feel uncomfortable, so they think they have to do something. When the truth is that actively letting the victim have their own time and space is actually doing something to help. It’s giving them control over things, making them feel like they have some say over their bodies – and some privacy.

Not only that, but Sookie is in the tough position of being a victim of an acquaintance or boyfriend. They’re a pretty large group of rape victims – and they rarely like to pin it down as rape. Hell, write it as Eric doing it in fanfic, and it’s hot, even if it makes Sookie cry – and it’s rarely called rape – I can think of only one instance, and some reviewers resisted that Eric had in fact raped Sookie. Other victims have that same trouble – the mixed feelings that might come along with the whole incident:

My feelings about the incident were so confused that I couldn’t
even bear to try to pick through them. When I’d thought of rape
before, when other girls had told me what happened to them or
I’d read it in their brains, I hadn’t had the ambiguity I felt over my
own short, awful time in the trunk.
Dead as a Doornail, p. 67

Rapists are almost always envisioned as strangers, who do it for their own twisted reasons. If I say “I met a rapist today” you’ll think of some faceless stranger that decided to get off on the power of forcing women. Your mind won’t immediately spring to your current partner, or your best mate, or some kid you knew in college. Roughly 75% of rapes are committed by acquaintances or people the victim knows. Odds are that you actually do know a rapist, but he certainly doesn’t think he’s one. He thinks he was a bit forceful, or she really wanted it.

That makes it so much harder. It’s easier to see someone you don’t know as a one dimensional rapist, because those you do know are multi-faceted to you. It’s the same with victims – and with Sookie. Rapists are supposed to be cruel strangers. I know some people will crap on that they knew there was something shady about Bill from the first time they read about him and could see it would end up as it did, but then, I question why the hell they read about Sookie dating a rapist all that time.

The person Sookie was the closest to at the time was her rapist – so she finds it difficult to reconcile that the man she loves is also a rapist. Think about what you’d feel if you heard someone you loved was a rapist – wouldn’t be easy, right? Sookie has no emotional distance from Bill. Moreover, after the rape, it shouldn’t be something that victims pick over constantly. Some people want to talk about it, and take control back – but I’d have to say that that’s not what I’ve noticed in the majority of the case studies. Few of them want to throw around even the word rape. They don’t want to pick apart what they said and did. They don’t want to talk about that awful time, and make it clear, as I said above. They just want to emotionally distance themselves as fast as possible.

For example, one of the victims I know was gang raped by four high school boys. She never spoke about it to me in detail, and much like Sookie, she didn’t have many people to turn to. Incidentally, when she told her mother, and her mother went to the school, the victim was accused of being a slut and a troublemaker, and no one helped her. She never reported to police because she didn’t want to have to revisit the details and be judged again, and certainly she didn’t think that popular well liked boys should be the sorts of boys you shouldn’t be on school grounds after hours with. That victim had a lot of trouble reconciling their public personae and faces with their actions – because they just didn’t seem like rapists. That’s because her rapists aren’t blurry-faced bad guys – they were boys she thought were nice, and didn’t “need” to rape.

It is so much harder for Sookie in her situation because Bill has been tortured for a week, and as soon as he came to his senses, he stopped and expressed horror at his actions. It’s hard to say that he had mens rea (a legal term for the guilty mind) for his actions. It’s not as if Bill went out and deliberately got rolling drunk, or that he was anything other than an animal at the point in time he committed the rape. It’s easier for her to separate the Bill that was the animal that raped her from the man she loved. That doesn’t mean that she forgives and resolves it as if the rape didn’t exist.

If Sookie were really as forgiving as so many readers accuse her of being, she would pronounce Bill innocent. But she didn’t – she’s just confused about how she’s supposed to feel. And where is her support network? Fucking non-existent is where it is. Sam can be a little overbearing about vampire influence, Eric and Pam don’t ostensibly give a shit, Alcide doesn’t mention it till it’s in his favour, and Arlene hates vampires.

Not only did Sookie see Bill as more than a blurry-faced bad guy, but it’s not as if she’s supposed to take what Bill did as a deliberate act. This makes it harder for Sookie to resolve it as rape. That’s actually okay though – she doesn’t have to give it a label that suits everyone else. She just has to get over the fact that it happened. Sookie isn’t in denial that anything happened in the trunk – that would truly be harmful. She just hasn’t put a label on it like so many readers and Alcide want her to do. What I’d really like to see in my optimum world is writers stop bullying Sookie in fanfic with other characters over her rape. It is none of other character’s business. It wouldn’t make her fuck Eric any faster. Just leave it the hell alone.

There is nothing more infuriating than seeing Eric help Sookie deal with it by his own decision. He is actually harming Sookie, not helping her. Let me point out that no matter how fucking sorry anyone feels for Eric, if he isn’t the victim, he shouldn’t be the focus. What he wants to ‘fix’ is immaterial. It didn’t happen to him. Watching someone recover from rape is hard, but it’s still a lot harder for the victim – and the non-victims around them shouldn’t whine about their problems with the situation to the victim. If it’s so tough to go through witnessing it, then maybe Eric should go to a counsellor of his own, instead of expecting Sookie to heal him – she has enough on her plate without Eric the manbaby wanting some comfort.

Eric actually helped Sookie to heal though – he just didn’t do it in the way that you would expect.

One of the effects of the rape – the tangible differences in Sookie is in everyone’s favourite book – Dead to the World. I know, some think it’s such a romantic book where Sookie finally admits her feelings for Eric. But apart from liking Eric generally, and enjoying his company, I don’t see where Sookie wistful in love with him before DTTW like I do in fanfic. In fact, Sookie states outright that there are:

“….moral aspects of mating with someone you didn’t love.”
Dead to the World,
p. 121

Sookie says clearly and succintly that she didn’t love Eric. Sookie in the books is smart enough to be leery of Eric – but some readers aren’t as smart as Sookie – they can’t discern what’s clearly written. They read what’s not there – and what’s not there is Sookie declaring her love for Eric.

The truth is that the relationship between Eric and Sookie developed relatively spontaneously for both of them over the time of the book. And that’s during the time Sookie is showing what I can see as marks of her experience. People want to ignore them though, because they’re not romantic. The first one, which I’ve mentioned before is hygiene rituals. This is the psychological compulsion by rape victims to “get clean” – it’s a part of taking back control of the body and providing themselves with some comfort. Remember? They’ve lost control of what went on with their body – and this is where they can re-exert their control.

Immediately after the rape itself, they don’t exist. That’s because rape victims need time to process the violation. That was Sookie’s worst fear, actually come true. One of the male victims I knew, he went home, went to sleep, got up and spent three hours in the shower. I was what was called his “outcry” witness – in that over 36 hours later, he called me to talk about what had happened to him. Some victims don’t tell anyone at all, and some wait long periods of time. On top of the rape, Sookie also has a whole heap of things to deal with – like her first murder. Since being raped is not an offence to God, and murder is, it’s natural that this would weigh heavily on Sookie – more than the rape. Sookie doesn’t want to talk about that either, no matter how much Pam wants to tell her it was right.

Moreover, as explained above, no one really reaches out to Sookie if she’s killed. Probably only Sam would be the person Sookie could turn to, but Bill made sure to isolate Sookie from Sam, and Sam is a man. I was an outcry witness for a gay man who had been raped – so there was no fear that it would affect our sexual dynamic – we were close friends, and he felt like he could trust me not to leer at the whole thing. An outcry witness is usually someone the victim feels sexually safe with. So Sam wouldn’t be a good outcry witness, because he wants to kiss Sookie. So she skips that stage completely, and just jumps to other things, like her hygiene rituals.

Sookie’s hygiene rituals increase in Dead to the World. They existed before that – as a legacy of Sookie’s time with Uncle Bartlett. For example, immediately after she’s fed from in Fangtasia, post Maenad, Sookie wants a shower. Then when she’s seriously injured and almost raped by Gabe, she is seriously beaten up, but again, wants her body clean. But after the incident in the trunk, Sookie responds to any sexual stimulus with doing her hair up tightly, having a shower. This is Sookie re-exerting control over herself again right after she’s seen Eric’s naked chest:

Oh boy. Maybe I should get back in the shower and
turn the water on cold?
I stomped into the bedroom
and got an elastic band and pulled my hair back in the
tightest ponytail I could manage, right up at the
crown of my head.

Dead to the World, p. 34-35

And just a couple of nights later, his naked arse:

“..I think I’ll take a shower.” I turned on my heel and
marched into my room. I went in the bathroom and
shucked my clothes, tossing them into the hamper.
I bit my lip until I could smile at my own streak of
wildness, and then I climbed into the spray of the hot shower.”

Dead to the World, p. 120

Sookie is, in an unconscious manner trying to process her sexual response to Eric. She’s not thinking “Need to be clean due to what happened with Bill” – she’s just thinking about controlling her immediate environment. That’s how real victims feel – they get weird urges to do stuff, rather than setting an appointment. It’s not wholly a conscious decision, and it’s not something they often notice until it’s pointed out. It helps Sookie get her head back in the game – because at this point, Bill is the only man Sookie has had sex with.

In fact, I don’t know that but for the fact that Eric has lost his memory, Sookie would have slept with Eric at that point. At the point in time of DTTW, he is in Sookie’s opinion, uncomplicated fun. What’s more, this is part of reclaiming ownership of her sexuality – he’s someone who desires her, and since his memory is gone, there is no judgement of what happened. As far as Sookie is concerned, she can lose herself in the moment without Eric judging her.

Sookie doesn’t think that Eric will want to continue a relationship – as I’ve mentioned before. Eric’s memory loss plays a crucial role for Sookie here – not one that she’s conscious of – but the fact that he’s helping her reconnect with her sexuality with no preconceived judgements. If he’d had his memory, Sookie may have felt that Eric was judging her sexually – and backed right off. Lots of victims throw themselves right back onto that horse after rape. That’s part of emotionally distancing themselves – they don’t want to think about the last time they were sexual – not if it’s rape.

So they use someone else to erase that feeling. Again, not consciously – it’s just part of reclaiming their sexuality and feeling like they’re in control. Eric was pretty perfect for both allowing Sookie control over whether she took the plunge, but also showing that he desired her. He wasn’t judging her – and she knew for a fact that he wasn’t thinking of what Bill had done to her that he knew about – he was thinking only of her.  Eric helped Sookie reclaim some of that feeling, and since she thought it would be temporary, she didn’t see a problem with the idea of casual sex with someone she didn’t love, to make her feel something other than the scene in the trunk.

Believe it or not, Sookie actually resolves her rape – the fear and powerlessness that she felt – she finally has an epiphany of distancing it and putting it in context. It’s the night Mickey comes to the duplex with Tara:

He tried to push his way into my head, too,
forcing the fear of him into my brain to cow me.
And my lungs inflated. The relief of breathing was
exquisite, even under the circumstances. With air
came rage, as if I’d inhaled it along with oxygen.
This was the trump card male bullies played, always.
I was sick of it – sick of being scared of the bogeyman’s dick.
“No!” I screamed up at him. “No!” And finally I could think again;
finally the fear let loose of me.

Dead as a Doornail,
p. 223

Sookie didn’t need Eric or Pam or anyone else (with their spectacular lack of giving a shit) to put their oar in. It doesn’t do a lot of good to tell rape victims stuff – they need to internalise their experience, and grow from it themselves. Sookie has finally let go of the paralysing fear that hit her when Mickey hit her – she’s dealt with all the fear of loss of power and control from Bartlett and Bill, and turned it around to be finally sick and tired of the threat.

One of the victims I mentioned above felt that way. It was only when she was faced with a second rapist that she really got tired of seeing herself as a potential victim – and it stopped effecting her quite so much as it did. That didn’t take away from the fact that she was raped, but she finally owned the line that she was not a rape victim, but a rape survivor. That these men (and she was raped by two men on two separate occasions) saw a vulnerability to bully. They saw a way to make her feel it was really all about her, when it was just that they chose their victim well – someone who would freeze in the moment. Once she acknowledged that the whole thing was designed to make her feel fearful, then she recognised it for the ploy it was.

So, as you can see, it’s dealt with in the text if you’re paying attention to what’s written, and have some modicum of empathy and understanding. That’s what I find is woefully absent – that or reading comprehension. All the anecdotes I’ve used here are from real life people I know, or have known. Ones who’ve spoken to me personally – so you can’t even say it was just lies in a book, or pooh-pooh it as merely research.  Research backs up what the victims have told me, but my knowledge of it is hands on, and varied.  As you’ll notice, they didn’t have a cohesive experience – they all reacted differently, and talked about it differently – and they were all different kinds of victims. All of them needed to tell someone who was uncritical, and didn’t try to force them to deal with it on someone else’s terms. Do the same for Sookie – it’ll be good practice for you to stop judging and bullying the real life rape victims you surely know.