unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

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Ramblinggirl86
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unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Ramblinggirl86 » Thu May 17, 2018 1:06 am

Everywhere I look online and most people I try to talk to define rape and sexual assault a specific type of way, in such a way that it leaves me confused on how to define things that have happened to me because I don't seem to fit that narrative but something still seems off, specifically in my last relationship. There was no violence or threats when it came to being sexual, but there seemed to be a lack of listening I guess. And I don't know if the issue is me not being vocal enough and just going along with things to much or them just not taking the time to pay attention? (which at the same time could be my fault as things weren't always clear cut for me). Most of the time it would be them asking and at first I'd say no or shrug because I wouldn't want to but then they'd ask again and then again, so I'd just nod or say okay. But I was never really into it and it got to a point where that should've easily been read I feel like. At times i would cry after which they knew, once I had a panic attack or I had messaged once or twice them asking to hold off on that stuff, as well as them knowing I wasn't really a fan of sex, but nothing ever really changed. There was also instances of me asking for them to wear protection and they didn't, so I just had to let it go. I know how I feel inside about all of it, but I don't know if I can trust that feeling, as well as I don't feel like I was ever vocal enough about how I felt so they didn't know what they were doing? I guess I just don't know how what happened to me would be defined or how to make myself assertive enough that It wont happen again in my future, if there's any advice you could give me that would be great because I don't know how to feel exactly.

Siân
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Siân » Thu May 17, 2018 4:11 am

Hi Ramblinggirl

I'm so sorry that you went through this. I hope you know that it is not your fault.

Violence and threats are not the only way that people might make us do something we don't want to do. Not listening, or asking again and again to get a different answer, or trying to persuade us are more subtle but amount to the same thing; this person was not seeking real consent, and we would call that rape or sexual assault.

"Consenting is willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind...Willingly and freely choosing means we and our partners feel able to make and voice any choice without being forced, manipulated, intentionally misled or pressured."

This comes from one of our articles on consent. I wanted to share this with you because the feelings you have about something being off...that feeling is real, and it is right. When they didn't accept you saying no, and proceeded to do things you were not happy with, that's on them. Not you. Their behaviour was wrong, not yours.

So where would you like to go from here? Do you want a space to talk about this, or help finding some in-person support? Your previous thread mentioned some pretty heavy things you are dealing with, have you ever had any professional support around that?

You mentioned assertiveness, and I want to say it again, this happened because of them, not you, no one can say for certain that being more vocal would have changed anything for the better. That said, many people find assertiveness a useful tool, and it can take a bit of practice to learn it. If you like, you could check out this article: Be Your Own Superhero: Learning How and When to Stand Up for Ourselves. Is there anything in there that resonates with you?

Ramblinggirl86
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Ramblinggirl86 » Thu May 17, 2018 6:36 am

Thanks for replying to me, means a lot. I think I will end up seeking in person help I'm just not sure when, because it's still hard for me to believe it could be something like rape or sexual assault because I feel like I didn't speak up enough and it eventually got to a point in the relationship where I just complied from the start and because the actions against me weren't big enough. While my reactions before and after never changed (ie silence/nod/shrug, being distant after and what I've said before) I guess I just don't know how they should've/could've known better, or what clues they should've taken that I didn't want to because I feel like they wouldn't have maybe if they'd just known about me not wanting to if I had been more vocal about that and then it wouldn't have happened. Especially because there'd be moments when I'd say I couldn't anymore or not like this and things would change, So i feel like maybe they just didn't know and that's why it's difficult for me to know if it's sexual assault or not. But at the same time it feels like how couldn't they have known based on past conversations, my lack of response or any kind of action, and my reactions afterwords, or just leave it the first time I said no or didn't seem interested? And I can't deny my feelings of feeling less then from all of it. It doesn't help that nobody really gets this to the point of it just seeming as though there's something wrong with me instead for not wanting to. Especially when i asked my ex on why he didn't listen the first time I said no and he would just wait and ask again or when I was clearly physically uncomfortable why would he still want/try/have sex with me and all he said was that fair enough he kept trying but it wasn't rape and he didn't know, that I was his gf and he was attracted to me and was showing affection. When I said then he didn't respect me in that aspect he was sorry about that part. It's hard to believe something when there doesn't seem to be conscious intent and they might not realize. In the superhero article what resonated with me was the part about acting as though I have no needs and wants or completely ignoring my own. I just want to learn to be a better communicator especially of my own wants/needs so I don't get myself in these situations that I feel like I can't get out of or speak up in. Thank you for all your help

Sam W
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Sam W » Fri May 18, 2018 7:56 am

Hi Ramblinggirl, I hope it's okay if I add a few thoughts here.

It sounds like seeing someone in person to talk about this could be really helpful for you, and we always encourage people to use multiple supports when these kinds of situations happen. If seeing someone face to face feels like too much right now, you could try calling a hotline for a local rape crisis resource (in case you're worried, when I worked at a resource like that we got many calls that described situations similar to yours, including people being unsure of whether what happened "counted" as assault) and talking to someone. That way you're getting support from a person trained specifically to work with survivors as well as getting a feel for how that resource is and how comfortable you'd be seeing someone there in person. Does that feel doable to you?

The part of you wondering "how could they not have known" is definitely onto something. For starters, you explicitly asked to stop or slow down the sexual activities, and he chose not to do that. He also chose to ignore your request to use a condom, which was not okay and is also a consent issue because you only consented to sex with protection, not without. But even if those elements hadn't been there, the fact that you never eagerly said yes, eagerly engaged, and that you were clearly distressed afterwards should have told him that you were not okay with what was going on. A respectful partner, or a partner who cares about your wellbeing as much as they care about their own pleasure, would have checked in with you and stopped if they noticed you seemed uncomfortable. And while he says he didn't know, I'm willing to bet that if he saw those signals in another part of his life (like with a friend or family member), he'd know what they meant. In other words, he ignored a lot of explicit signs and subtle signs, which is 100% on him and not on you.

When you say you can't deny your feelings of feeling less from all this, can you tell me a little more about what that looks like?

Ramblinggirl86
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Ramblinggirl86 » Fri May 18, 2018 10:47 am

I don't know if calling in is something I could do right now, but it's something I think I'd want to build myself up to doing in time. I just also don't want it to seem like an emergency or some big issue as I'm not with the person anymore and it's been a couple months since these situations happened.

I guess when I said I can't deny my feelings of less then, is that that's how I felt during or after any of these things happened. I felt like an object or sometimes I wasn't fully there because most of the time it was all about him none of it was ever about it me, to the point that I couldn't even pretend to participate or fake it. I'd always feel some type of way afterwords and would want/need my own space. At the start I thought maybe this is just how it is or how I am and that that's normal, that I don't/can't really get anything from it. Eventually it got too much and I would ask for breaks from being together like that and the next day nothing changed they'd still try. I guess a lot of the time even in other aspects of the relationship my wants weren't respected/acknowledged or his were put above mine just enough that I didn't feel like my own person, I felt less then a person because of that. Too many double standards for it to be right or for me to feel right

Sam W
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Sam W » Fri May 18, 2018 10:59 am

It's totally okay to want or need to work up to seeking more help! Something that may help to know is that, in most cases, the hotlines at rape crisis centers get calls from people in urgent or recent situations along with calls from people who are dealing with something that happened months (or years) earlier.

All of those feelings you're describing make total sense given the relationship you've described to us. Having your wants and needs treated as secondary all the time can definitely make a person feel somehow less-than, and it was so, so not okay for your partner to treat you that way. It sounds like part of you already knows this, but I'll say it again because sometimes hearing it from another person is helpful: you didn't deserve this treatment, and this was not okay. But, a positive thing is that this relationship doesn't dictate what will happen in the future should you choose to pursue other relationships, and odds are you'll get lots of chances to experience what the "normal" of a healthy, happy relationship is for you. Do you feel like those less-than feelings are still hanging around even though you're no longer with this person?

Ramblinggirl86
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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:02 pm
My Awesomeness Quotient: My nose
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Location: Illinois

Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Ramblinggirl86 » Fri May 18, 2018 12:04 pm

I don't think I feel it as much as I did and right now I'm just trying to learn how to be whole in a way that is good for me and doesn't hurt other people. I think the less than feelings left the more and more contact I was able to cut off from that person because it was easier for me to see and actually do more of what I needed without feeling extreme guilt because I wasn't in charge of their feelings anymore and I didn't have to put them first in everything. Now I'm just trying to learn how to do things I want or at least ask for them without feeling guilty, so eventually I can find a balance of my own wants and the wants of people around me, so I don't reach a point where I feel less than I guess.

Thanks for listening and all your replies to me, it was very helpful and it meant a lot to hear

Mo
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Mo » Fri May 18, 2018 4:48 pm

I think it's great to learn how to ask for what you want, and to balance your own wants & needs with those of others. :) I know that personally, it's been tough to learn to take those things into account, but identifying and asking for things I need, as well as establishing healthy boundaries in my relationships, has been great for me and for my relationships with other people.

Siân
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Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:10 am
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Re: unsure on what is fact and what is feeling

Unread postby Siân » Tue May 22, 2018 3:57 am

Hi again,

You know what? I think you're already making a great start on those things you're trying to figure out. It can be difficult to work out how to be our happy, whole selves after a damaging relationship, but it sounds like you've identified some problems and have some sound goals and that's great :)

I also get that finding extra support around this is something you want to build up to, let us know if you want help looking for something.


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