Not sure if what happened was abuse

Questions and discussion about sexual or other abuse or assault, and support and help for survivors.
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This area of the boards is expressly for support and help for those who are currently in or have survived abuse or assault. It is also for those seeking information or discussion about abuse or assault. Please make every effort in this space to be supportive and sensitive. Posts in this area may or do describe abuse or assault explicitly.

This area of the boards is also not an area where those who are themselves abusing anyone or who have abused or assaulted someone may post about doing that or seek support. We are not qualified to provide that kind of help, and that also would make a space like this feel profoundly unsafe for those who are being or who have been abused. If you have both been abused and are abusing, we can only discuss harm done to you: we cannot discuss you yourself doing harm to others. If you are someone engaging in abuse who would like help, you can start by seeking out a mental healthcare provider.
Jellyfish777
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Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:32 pm

I just recently got out of a relationship with my ex-boyfriend. It's the same guy I've talked about on previous posts. Hes no longer a good person in my eyes and many of my friends' eyes as well; he smokes weed and drinks constantly and is just a very angry person. But, I've been having a lot of doubt over what all happened. First, when we just started dating, I got a glimpse of his anger when he punched a hole through his wall and broke a ton of stuff. He didn't hurt me, nor was I present, but that freaked me out. He told me he had stopped smoking and drinking when we started dating because I have a lot of issues with both things. My family has a serious history of addiction and I can't stand to see what drugs and too much alcohol can do to relationships and ones self. However, as I have recently found out, he still smoked during the last half of our relationship and lied to me/hid from me a lot of things involving that. Now, getting more into my question, there were many times where I was almost scared of his before mentioned temper. he'd blow up, get extremely sad, or push the blame back to me in some way or another whenever I brought up things about our relationship I wanted to talk about or sometimes just negative things in general. There were times he'd tell me how wrong I was with different things and he treated arguments or anything like a battle he needed to win. Granted, I do struggle with anxiety and the like so I can see how hearing about that a lot would wear on someone, but I'm stuck on thinking if his response to many things like that was justified or if he was just being manipulative. If I was upset and just keeping to myself, he'd force answers out of me but would also get upset when I tried to tell him why I was upset. It really confused me. Another thing, I didn't want to have sex in the first place until I had graduated high school. It was my own boundary and he had agreed with waiting a little while if we were still together. However, after about seven months, he started asking me why I wasn't ready. It started off with small things, like saying that he was ready and he didn't understand why I wasn't, and it escalated to putting my opinions down over and over and finding every reason why I was being "stupid" or "ridiculous" with not being ready. He blew up when I asked him to wear condoms while I was on the pill, he told me he could get sex from other girls or that he was thinking about having sex with other girls because he wasn't getting anything from me, and just made me feel like I was being stupid and a prude for wanting to wait. There were maybe one or two times when he put my appearance down during sex (after I finally caved) but I'm not sure if he meant it as an insult, saying things like he wished I'd get a bigger butt or something like that. I'm just really confused on what all happened, I have a ton of friends that have been extremely supportive since I told them everything that happened, I just feel lost and like I did something to mess everything up. Does anyone have any advice???

Jellyfish777
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:36 pm

Something I forgot to add, after a few weeks, it felt like all he cared about was sex. I'd tell him I was exhausted from work or school, but he'd still try to get me to say yes by kissing me or trying to take my clothes off. This happened maybe once or twice, and I did say yes, but I didn't feel good about it. He said if I really was that tired we didn't have to, but right after he said that he went back to trying to get me to have sex with him.

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:53 pm

Jellyfish777 wrote:Something I forgot to add, after a few weeks, it felt like all he cared about was sex. I'd tell him I was exhausted from work or school, but he'd still try to get me to say yes by kissing me or trying to take my clothes off. This happened maybe once or twice, and I did say yes, but I didn't feel good about it. He said if I really was that tired we didn't have to, but right after he said that he went back to trying to get me to have sex with him. Also, one night before we even had sex, he started dry humping me while we were kissing. It really threw me off and he said he just was "so horny because he wouldn't get anything that he had to do that" I didn't really say much about if I liked it or not besides mumbling that it was fine, but it just took me off guard so much it Shocked me.

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Iwanthelp » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:20 pm

Repeatedly trying to pressure you into sex, wearing you down into 'agreeing' to it and everything else qualifies as it in my eyes yeah. (The thing about wall-punching is the whole point of it is its' essentially a threat display to show how violent a person can get, even if he didn't do it in front of you I'm suspect of why he left a mark in the wall then brought it up to you)

The insulting-after-sex sounds a lot like negging, ugh. Sorry this shit happened to you.

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Kat J » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:32 am

Hi Jellyfish,

I'm sorry that you had to go through this. How are you now doing now? Do you feel safely away from him?

As Iwanthelp says, people trying to pressure us into sex is not okay. If saying No isn't a real option for us then we can't freely give a Yes; that's coercion not consent and in my eyes that counts as abusive. It doesn't matter how much he wanted to have sex with you, it's your body and you get to decide what you do and do not want to do with it. It sounds like this person did not respect the boundaries that you were setting. It's normal to feel taken off guard, or shocked and freeze when this happens, the blame still lies entirely with him.

I know that can be hard in a relationship when we feel strongly for a person. Especially when we are being told things that make us doubt ourselves. Iwanthelp used the word 'negging', where someone says something unkind about us to make us feel bad about ourselves and try harder to get approval. From what I'm hearing from you it sounds like there was maybe something else too. You say he would tell you you were wrong or stupid or ridiculous when you tried to set your boundaries or talk about how you feel. That's a very manipulative way of making you doubt yourself, or your own reality which is sometimes called gaslighting and yes, is a form of emotional abuse. For example, if we are constantly told we are crazy we might start believing that and not our own feelings or our brains telling us when something is wrong. Does that sound familiar to you?

You did not mess up. This person did not treat you with the love and respect you deserve.

It's good to hear that he is now your ex, do you have any ideas of where you want to go from here?

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:50 am

Hi Jellyfish,

I don't want to add too much to what Iwanthelp and Kat have said, as their advice is quite good and I don't want to overwhelm you with a flood of responses to you'll have to process. But I will say that you didn't mess up, and a likely reason for why you're feeling the way you are right now is that this guy played some serious mind games with you that you're still feeling the effects of. But your perception of what happened was spot on, and I'm glad you're away from someone who was so manipulative.

Jellyfish777
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:09 am

Thank you all so much for your replys :D
It still weighs me down a lot and I still feel a lot of doubt towards if it was really him at fault but it feels like I'm free from some sort of personal hell. I'm a little scared right now to ever start dating someone or being that close to anyone again but I have many friend that have been very supportive through this. He's in one of my classes and I hate seeing him but I have friends in that class who are more than willing to keep my mind away from him or anything. does anyone have any advice on getting through this whole recovery thing?

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Mo » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:48 pm

I'm really glad that you have friends who are able to be supportive through this, especially since you're in a situation where you do have to be around him in class sometimes.

I wonder if it would be helpful for to read a few of our articles about abuse in relationships, and about what sexual consent should look like, to give you an idea of how what he was doing was falling under the umbrella of abusive behavior. I was thinking about these articles in particular: Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault
Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent

Also, you ask about how to date or be close to someone again, and I think that's something can take time. One thing you can do is spend some time thinking about how you'd like a future relationship to look, in terms of how you and your partner treat each other, handle conflict, show respect, etc. We have an article all about creating healthy relationships here: Hello, Sailor! How to Build, Board and Navigate a Healthy Relationship Taking a look at this can help you in choosing what sort of people you want to date in the future, and in identifying what might be healthy or unhealthy in future relationships.

If doing a bunch of reading feels overwhelming right now, that's ok; you can bookmark those for later. It's ok if you want to just take a break from thinking about dating for a bit, while you recover from this previous relationship and lean on your friends a bit for support. Sometimes it can be nice, after a bad relationship, to think about some personal hobby, project, or interest that maybe fell by the wayside during the relationship, and take the time and mental energy you've gotten back to pursue that a bit. It might be a creative hobby, or a sport, or reading some new books...something that's fun for you that maybe you haven't felt like you have time for lately. :)

Jellyfish777
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:57 pm

Thank you so much again! I will definitely read those articles! I have one final question, I'm really confused as to why I just feel so bad about everything that happened. I know I wasn't a perfect girlfriend by any means and that there were things in the relationship that I could've improved on, but should I be blaming myself for that? I feel like maybe I'm just focusing too much on human error or something and that I'm dragging myself down by thinking like that but I'm not sure what to do about it. Thank you so much for the replies though!!

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Mo » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:23 pm

To be honest, I think it makes a lot of sense, and doesn't seem confusing at all, that you'd feel bad about this situation - a partner, someone you trusted, treated you pretty poorly, and that's going to be a hurtful thing.
I think it's really common for people to worry about their own behavior in abusive relationships. Honestly, no one's going to be a perfect partner, and I think it's good to have goals of ways to improve your communication skills, patience, etc. for future relationships, but in abusive relationships, it often happens that the victim of abuse winds up blaming themself for "problems" that weren't their fault at all. Abuse rarely brings out our best selves, because it's hard to be perfectly patient and kind when someone's treating us poorly and blaming us for it. I definitely don't think it's going to be helpful for you to focus on ways you didn't feel like a perfect girlfriend in that relationship, or blaming yourself (and certainly it's not helpful to blame yourself for how he treated you!).

Jellyfish777
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:42 pm

That makes sense! The one other thing that I'm really struggling with contemplating is that I feel like I'm making too big of a deal about what happened or that what I felt was made up or something. However, I know my emotions were genuine and I did feel hurt. Still, i feel stuck with whether or not anything really bad actually happened. It probably sounds weird, but I'm just confused with what all is going on :?

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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Mo » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:50 pm

Again, that doesn't sound weird to me - that's something else that's really common for people who've been in abusive relationships. It's always possible to imagine a scenario in which the abuse was worse, and that can make people minimize what they've gone through. Plus, a lot of times abusers are good at arguing away your hurt feelings and minimizing what they've done, and it's easy to internalize that.

It might help to think about what you'd say to a friend who had been through what you've been through. You'd probably believe them and want to support them, right? And not say "you're making things up, it wasn't that bad" or something like that. If you start having those thoughts, try to be as kind to yourself as you'd be to a friend in the same situation.

Jellyfish777
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Jellyfish777 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:57 pm

That's something I've never thought about that way I guess. Thank you so much! That makes a lot of sense.

Mo
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Re: Not sure if what happened was abuse

Unread postby Mo » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:05 pm

You're quite welcome, I'm glad that was helpful. :)


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