Is this rape? What should I do?

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khviolet
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Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby khviolet » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:40 pm

When I was 13 (last year), my cousin's family came to visit us for the fourth of July. We went to my aunt's house after the 4th, and we slept in the basement with my brother and his three siblings. He was 17. The first night there, I was already asleep when he crawled over to my mattress and hugged me. I wasn't exactly sure who it was, but I figured it was fine, because my cousins and I hug all the time. But eventually, he started putting his hand over my privates, and he stuck his hand in my pants and began playing with me. At this point, I still wasn't really awake, and for a while I thought it was just an odd dream (I lucid dream too). I realized it wasn't when he put his finger inside me and it hurt. I said "stop" but I don't know if he heard me. He kept going, and I didn't know what to do. It felt like I was petrified, I couldn't move or shout or resist anything. He went on and on, and then he pulled his thing out of his pants and forced me to hold it with my hand. He wanted me to put my mouth on it, but I still couldn't move and that was the one thing that kept me from doing as he asked. Eventually he went back to touching me. It hurt, and I was scared, I felt, and I still do feel, hurt and guilty. He's my cousin, I looked up to him and I loved him. Then he hurt me that one night and it shocked me. It's caused me to not be as trusting of my friends at school, and the dirty jokes made at school make me uncomfortable now. I feel like I should've tried to do something to resist him and make him stop, but I couldn't process what was happening to me. It was a horrifying experience, and I'm glad that he didn't continue on the following nights. He's in college now, but I know that I will see him eventually, and I'm scared for that day. Is this rape? What should I do about it? ( It's been almost a year).

Sam W
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:09 am

Hi khviolet,

I'm so sorry that your cousin did this to you. Being sexual with someone when they're asleep, and when they're clearly frozen with fear, is sexual assault. What happened was not your fault; he made the choice to hurt you. If it helps you at all, the freezing you describe is a very common response people have during assault and the fact that it's how your body responded to a dangerous situation still doesn't make any part of this is your fault.

We can get into a longer discussion in a moment, but before we I do I just want to pause and ask: How is reading what I wrote making you feel? And have you told anyone else about what happened?

khviolet
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby khviolet » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:41 pm

Hi Sam,
Reading your response made me feel a lot better. I initially thought that my actions were just something that I wasn't brave enough to change. I have told three people; two of which I trust with my life, the other of which I trusted, but conflict broke our friendship. I don't know if this was the right move, but I wasn't able to cope with hiding it completely. My three friends insisted that I tell my parents, or at least talk to the counselors at school. We were planning to, and even researched what could possibly happen if I reported it. However, I decided not to. Or, more like I couldn't bring myself to. Despite what he did, he's still my cousin, and I hate to think that I'd live with bad terms with him. I didn't want his family to suffer either; his mother was preparing for a divorce, leaving her with four (three after he would leave for college) kids to care for. I also didn't want to put strain on my family's relationship with his family either. I know that certain groups in my extended family are the type to blame and shame my aunt for her son's actions, and I want to spare her from that.

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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby Heather » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:50 pm

Hey there, khvioet:

I'm not Sam (obviously), and I don't know if you'd rather continue your larger conversation with her, or if you're okay talking to me or others as well. Let us know, and we'll do this in whatever way you prefer.

But I did at least want to say that in reading your response here, I understand. I think it's very complex, and there's a lot to consider with all that, including some of what you've said here, particularly when it comes to what you will need as the actual victim and survivor here. But that certainly doesn't have to be anything you do any faster than actually feels like it is right for you.

But I do want to make sure that if, for now (or ever, but certainly now), you're not going to tell anyone in your family, that you can make that choice AND still get to be safe.

Your cousin made clear he's dangerous and abusive, however you may feel about him, and that he will do you or others harm. So, at the very least, can we make sure, there's a way for you to never be alone with this cousin ever again? And that you have a plan for how to be sure you can get out of things like sleepovers where he is, or, ideally, even having to see him and interact with him? Chances are, we can help you figure out ways to do that and be able to not tell your family yet if that isn't what you want, if you don't think you can work that out on your own or with your friends (who I'm so glad you told: it feels so terrible not to tell anyone).
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

khviolet
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby khviolet » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:12 pm

Hi Heather,
I'm okay with continuing this conversation with either of you; both your words have been helping me. I know for certain that I will not see him for at least a few months. We usually visit his family and others during the summer, but there's a possibility that he won't return home anytime during the summer, as he isn't on the best of terms with his mom. If I do see him, I can be sure to have someone else (awake) with me whenever he is around. The best I can do about getting out of sleepovers is sleeping upstairs or downstairs depending on where he is. We both don't have much choice of where to sleep during family reunions. I know for a fact that I will not be able to tell any of my family members for a while. The two friends of mine that I still contact rarely bring up the topic, but when it happens, it diminishes quickly. They know that it's a sensitive topic and it kills my enjoyment whenever I have to think about it. I have thought about ways I could possibly tell an adult, but there are so many things going on right now; my family is in the process of getting ready to move, I'm preparing for the transition to high school, and I'm always busy with my siblings. I'm not sure I'm ready to add (again) yet another troubling topic to my life.

Sam W
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:43 am

Hi khviolet,

It sounds like you're already thinking through ways that you could avoid being alone with him, which is a sound step in taking care of yourself (even though, in a fair world, that work wouldn't fall to you). It may also be worth thinking about factors like if there are specific family members you'd want acting as that buffer, even if they don't know the reason why, or if there are ways to make sure there is a locking door between you and him if you're sleeping in the same building. If you'd like, we can help you brainstorm more ways to keep serious distance between you and him if he shows up. There are, understandably, a lot of tough feelings you're dealing with around him and this situation, but prioritizing your safety is something you have a right to do .

As Heather said, it's completely up to you to set the pace of when or if you tell adults in your life about what happened. If disclosing right now, in the middle of some big life stuff, feels like it wouldn't work, that's a choice you get to make. If you're thinking you might want to tell an adult after some of these transitions are over, have you identified an adult who you trust and would be okay talking to about this? Or are you not sure who you'd talk to?

khviolet
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby khviolet » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:35 pm

Hi Sam,
I do have a couple people in mind that would make a suitable buffer between my cousin and I. I haven't put serious thought into who I would tell, but as of now I think it would be my counselor from school. However, I don't know if I'll be ready to tell before the end of this school year. I'm moving over the summer, so maybe that's not the best time to put all this up. I don't know the counselors at my future high school, so I'm still trying to figure out who would be a good choice.

Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
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Location: Desert

Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:06 am

I'm glad to hear there are people who will be at those family events who you feel your could call in for support in that way.

A school counselor sounds like a great option. One possibility would be to keep that person in mind as you move through the rest of the school year in case you find yourself wanting to tell them sooner rather than later, while still telling yourself it's okay to not have that conversation yet if you don't feel ready for it. If you get towards the end of the school year and decide to wait until you move to find an adult to talk to about this, that's completely okay too.

I do also want to mention the option of talking through something like a hotline to an adult whose trained to support survivors. That would give you another source of support and space to process, but would also give you the option to maintain some level of privacy. Is that something you'd be open to trying? EDITED TO ADD: I'm talking specifically here about a local resource, one where you might have the option of talking to someone on the phone or in person. That's something we can help you find and connect to if you want to. And, of course, we're happy to continue supporting you here in whatever way we can.

khviolet
not a newbie
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:29 pm
My pronouns: She/her
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Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby khviolet » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:41 pm

So, it seems like I have a lot of good options, but I'll take time to decide what to do and when to do it. I do have another question: is it a good idea to simply put it behind me and try to forget about it as best as possible?

Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 5088
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
My Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
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Location: Desert

Re: Is this rape? What should I do?

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:04 am

Taking you time to consider what option(s) you want to pursue sounds like an excellent idea.

Simply forgetting about an assault and putting it behind you, while an appealing option to some survivors, is both easier said than done and can create more problems down the line. What we know is that addressing the assault and any trauma it left behind often produces better outcomes for people, even if it means engaging with what happened in ways that are difficult or painful. Through that healing process, you do end up putting the assault behind you in a way; one that means you got the care that you need to put it behind you in a healthy way rather than trying to push it from your mind without addressing any issues it caused.

Too, in your situation there's also the fact that you still may run into this person and have to find ways to avoid him and stay safe. So, not forgetting about what happened is, in a way, a protective action (there's also the chance that, even if you tried to forget, encountering him again would bring all those memories right back up to the surface). Does that all make sense?


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