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Writing about rape in essay

londontolalondontola Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
Hi, so I've done digging both on and off college confidential. From what I can see, most CC forums really recommend steering away from writing about potentially taboo topics, even if they could make a compelling essay. Based on the idea that it's simply not worth the risk.

I'm answering a UC essay prompt about my biggest challenge in life. I fully intend to talk about being a rape survivor. I have written very little about what happened to me, and chosen to focus the essay on the aftermath, how I learned to use art to begin to heal myself. (I am an art major). The trait I'm trying to showcase in this essay is my resilience. I would love to hear opinions on if people still think this is a terrible idea. I'd be very happy to send my first draft to some people to judge it for themselves. Please let me know.
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Replies to: Writing about rape in essay

  • zer0gravity1zer0gravity1 Registered User Posts: 21 Junior Member
    Why would something that has molded you be bad (not the act which is heinous). You must understand that college counsels look for a moving story that makes you unique and makes you...you. In my opinion I think you should talk about being a survivor and how its pushed you! don't be ashamed tell your story! @londontola
  • swimmermom2swimmermom2 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I have to admit that your essay topic raised my eyebrows. As a parent, not admissions counselor, I think your essay could be very powerful if your voice is authentic and you focus on the resilience and positive outcomes of this experience. Don’t portray yourself as a victim and focus on how it made you a stronger person. Good luck!
  • CCtoAlaskaCCtoAlaska Registered User Posts: 282 Junior Member
    I think it directly relates to who you are in terms of being an artist so definitely talk about this huge part of who you are and how you've survived.
  • Materof2Materof2 Registered User Posts: 181 Junior Member
    You may want to check out this thread of consolidated essay readers. There are some extremely seasoned folks there who can give you some advice. Please know, you can’t send a PM (as in your essay for proofreading) until you have at least 15 posts here.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/552302-consolidated-list-of-essay-readers-on-cc.html
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,317 Senior Member
    To be honest, I think that it is a better topic than it might have been a couple of years ago. I think based on your description, you can make it work. I think you do need to steer away from anything that sounds like you are so damaged that it possibly impacts your ability to complete college (you have to remember that part of their responsibility is to accept students who are likely to finish their program).
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 11,972 Forum Champion

    Google "Hacking the College Essay 2017" and read it.



    Write the Essay No One Else Could Write

    "It boils down to this: the essay that gets you in is the essay that no other applicant could write.
    Is this a trick? The rest of this guide gives you the best strategies to accomplish this single
    most important thing: write the essay no one else could write.
    If someone reading your essay gets the feeling some other applicant could have written it,
    then you’re in trouble.
    Why is this so important? Because most essays sound like they could have been written by
    anyone. Remember that most essays fail to do what they should: replace numbers (SAT/GPA) with the real you.
    Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer. She’s got limited time and a stack of
    applications. Each application is mostly numbers and other stuff that looks the same. Then she picks
    up your essay. Sixty seconds later, what is her impression of you? Will she know something specifically
    about you? Or will you still be indistinguishable from the hundreds of other applicants she has been
    reading about?"
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 29,992 Senior Member
    edited November 26
    They don't simply look for "a moving story that makes you unique and makes you." I think OP gets that.

    The rape can be mentioned, as one bullet that led to a transition. But we're talking a sentence or two. When UC looks at a kid's back story, it's generally educational challenges that were overcome.

    "Taboo" is often used on CC. It's less about a taboo topic and more often that a kid writes all about the incident or problem and misses what any writing is meant to convey- determination, resilience (yes!,) solid thinking, openness to change, persistence, a positive outlook, and more.

    Try it. Remember some, "Show, not just tell." Eg, how your new strengths manifest, including in other ways besides art. Do you now reach out more, impact others, etc? Some activity that speaks for itself and shows the attributes a college likes.
  • PoliticalNerdPoliticalNerd Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Hello there,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. That takes a lot of courage. I’m a male survivor myself. If you’d like, I don’t mind taking a look at it to help with edits.

    Best of luck in your applications!
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 806 Member
    I'd say No. What if the reader is also a survivor and does not want to relive this episode?
  • janjmomjanjmom Registered User Posts: 332 Member
    Sent you a PM.
  • KKmamaKKmama Registered User Posts: 2,950 Senior Member
    As a survivor, I just referenced rape in part of my application for a residency program. The autobiographical essay was supposed to highlight formative events and as you have unfortunately discovered, rape is a life-changing event - but fortunately this can be in positive ways as well as negative ones. I showed my essay to a therapist (that I work with because I think all pastors should) and here is what she said: "keep the reference to the attack PG-rated and very brief, because the emphasis should be on the positive outcomes".

    As to Happytimes' post: survivors are not fragile; we can read of someone else's attack without reliving our own. And if we are, most are used to dealing with triggers and know how to reground ourselves. You are demonstrating that you can use your own wounds to help others and not let a horrible act destroy you.

    Focus on your strength and it won't look like a "pity me and accept me" approach.
  • preppedparentpreppedparent Registered User Posts: 3,284 Senior Member
    AOs are just people too, and I think anything that human nature shys away from will only hurt your acceptance possibility. The best essay is one that makes you appear curious, insatiable for knowlege, fun to be with, likable and a good citizen.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 29,992 Senior Member
    @KKmama Like, like, like.
    The point is to write it right. And this is for a college applucation, not a bio.

    What's next, a survivor can't be a doctor, because some patient might remind her of something? Someone who was mugged can;t read an essay about a big city or vol work in a dicey area?

    The point is more about who an applicant is now.
  • swimmermom2swimmermom2 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    It would be nice if the OP weighed in and responded to the suggestions offered so far. It is diffiicult (for me) to offer advice or suggestions without knowing the person in real life.
  • londontolalondontola Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    GUYS! I'm SO sorry this has taken me so long to check! I honestly didn't think I would get so many responses thank you so much for all of your opinions. I'm getting a lot more support for this idea than I thought which is amazing.

    So my first paragraph is very pg, effectively just saying that I was in this sexually abusive relationship and that I eventually got out of it. It's about 3 lines. The rest of the essay is about me returning home, and learning to face a new challenge/skill (oil painting), and in parallel how facing this lead to me facing my trauma and processing it. How I used the painting to heal and in doing this I became well enough to return to college. How I am not ashamed of being a survivor as it has lead me to become stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. And that, while it does not define me, it does inform my artwork, and so it is a part of me that I will continue to talk about.

    I'm definitely trying to make the essay about me and why these lessons make me a good fit for the UC's. I'm hoping this is enough to counteract any potential risks
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