Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

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.
Jess99
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Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:53 pm

When I was 16, my dad sexually abused me (without contact). Seven months ago my ex broke up with me because I was not sexually passionate and future reasons. However, I realized my ex sexually assaulted me as he would touch me or make me touch him without my consent. I froze and was silent during these times. What caused me to freeze? Why did I remain silent?

Till this day, my ex blames me for eveything and telling me that I wanted everything. It is still hard to process these events, but I want to move forward. How come my ex did not respect my nos? Is there any ways I can form firm and healthy boundaries.

Thank you

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Re: Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Mo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:53 pm

Hi there Jess, and welcome to Scarleteen.

I'm sorry that you've experienced abuse from multiple people in your life. Freezing up and staying silent are common responses people have to sexual assault, and while I don't have hard data on this I'd bet that they're especially common when it happens within an established relationship. It can be really tough to speak up or react when someone we care about is choosing to harm us; it might be confusing, hard to believe, or feel like it's happening to someone else entirely. Sometimes people blame themselves for not taking more action during an assault, but please remember that this is something your ex chose to do; you aren't at fault for being silent and freezing up when you hadn't given consent in the first place.

It's really common for people to want to know why someone chose to abuse them, but sadly that's a question that rarely has a satisfactory answer. It's not something that an abuser will answer honestly or willingly, and while other people can make guesses about why someone acts a certain way, we really can't know. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that people who choose to be abusive and sexually assault others do it because it's a choice they make - you aren't at fault, here. Are you able to avoid contact with your ex? It sounds terrible to have him continue to tell you that it was your fault that he assaulted you; if you're able to block communication from him, avoid him socially, etc. I think that's the best call.

In terms of forming firm boundaries in the future, you absolutely can practice communicating your needs and boundaries to other people, in all sorts of contexts, and getting used to doing that in all areas of your life can make it easier to communicate your boundaries to future romantic or sexual partners. However, what you can't do is convince or force someone to respect those boundaries and limits when you make them known; like abuse, pushing past or respecting boundaries is a choice someone makes for themself.
What you can do is be really aware if people are trying to test or ignore boundaries; if they continue doing that after you call them on it, deny they're doing it, or blame you for their behavior, that's a really clear sign that they aren't going to be a healthy relationship partner. If you notice people doing this, then they're probably people it's best to steer clear of. Again, I really want to emphasize that if people are choosing to ignore your boundaries, that is something they're doing and not something you're inviting or causing to happen.

Jess99
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Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:28 pm
My Awesomeness Quotient: Passionate
My primary language: English
My pronouns: She/her
My sexual identity and orientation: Asexual/straight
Location: Clearwater, FL

Re: Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:28 pm

My ex would say hurtful things when I contacted him to let him know I am not scared of him. When he broke up with me, I did not handle it healthy since it was a sexually violating and abusive relationship. He not only did not respect my boundaries, but he did not respect my faith. Throughout the five months of school, I felt gaslighted by him as he would make me believe my faith was not real. He did not win but I struggled throughout the year though. I am still healing through sexual trauma as I am having a hard time processing through this.

Thank you

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Re: Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Heather » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:15 am

I'm so sorry to hear all of this, Jess.

Can I ask you first what, if any, kind of help and support you're getting with any of the abuse you've experienced? For instance, are you now seeing or have you ever seen a counselor expressly serving victims of abuse and assault? Have you used a support group? Have you read any books or other self-help guides on surviving and healing from this kind of trauma? Do you have anyone you are close to who knows about all of this and is a strong support for you?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Jess99
not a newbie
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:28 pm
My Awesomeness Quotient: Passionate
My primary language: English
My pronouns: She/her
My sexual identity and orientation: Asexual/straight
Location: Clearwater, FL

Re: Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:13 am

I have been receiving counseling for the past two months, and she gave me a assignment to read a book about sexual assault healing. I am reading, "Rid of my Disgrace". As I read a chapter, I will discuss it with her as I move forward. Most of my friends are getting tired about this, and my mom is there but does not want me to keep analyzing it. My counselor gave me a goal yesterday, which is I will talk about my sexual trauma to her, not anyone else since I have been talking about this after a month my ex broke up with me.

Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 6744
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
My Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
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Location: Chicago, IL and Vashon Island, WA

Re: Boundaries after sexual abuse/assault

Unread postby Heather » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:15 am

I'm so glad that you have a counselor. Can I check first, to be sure, that the limit they asked you to put on who you talked to doesn't include something like our service?

I'm not sure I understand why she'd set that kind of limit with you, but I also know that what counselors or therapists recommend often has very specific context, and unless you have reason to feel like she isn't serving you well, I'm going to assume good faith in her ask with that. I just want to make sure that any discussion we have isn't sabotaging the work you and your therapist are doing together, since that obviously wouldn't help you out.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead


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