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Author Topic: Raped
mylilbit6
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I was gang raped and sodimized when I was 15 years old by guys I didn't know. I buried it in the back of my mind for years determined not to think about it. But now it has come to the front and is affecting my marriage and my family. I really don't know what to do. I don't know if counsling is right since it has been so long. But I have been having flash backs of the rape when ever my husband touches me at all. I have trouble when I am in crowds. I don't even like it when my boys hug me. It takes me back to when I was fifteen. I am struggling with my self. I feel dirty all the time now, I feel used and abused, and I still feel like it was some how my fault. Like I did something to make them want to do that to me. I was walking home from swim practice in the afternoon when it happened. A group of guys, one with a gun and another with a knife. Came up to me and made me follow them to a abandoned house were they raped me and sodimized me repeatedly. I don't sleep at night any more. I cry most of the day, and I have lost my zest for life. I am not even sure what triggered these memories. I thought after i had buried them they would stay buried. I guess I was wrong. Help I really don't know what to do or were to turn.
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wobblyheadedjane
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Have you had any counseling about this? While it may seem scary to talk it over with someone, especially a stranger, it can really help you to pinpoint and sort through your fears and feelings.

A good book to look into is The Survivor's Guide to Sex by Staci Haines. It's a guidebook on what can trigger flashbacks, how to get through them and has a lot of good exercises you can do on your own, and with your husband to help you heal. A book can't take the place of a good therapist of course, but if you're not sure you're ready to cope with counseling, or are looking for one that fits your needs and personality, the book can be a great help.


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Heather
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A really good place to start with something like this (and I'm a survivor of a similar assault myself, so I feel for you), is, if you have not already, to tell even just one person whom you love, you trust, and who you're fairly certain will be a comfort to you who can think of you first when it comes to this.

From the sounds of things, seems likely you've been keeping this to yourself as well as trying not to deal with it -- and that's normal, however ineffective -- and if that's the case, try and think of that one person. Breaking silence all by itself is often a very powerful first step that can provide a lot of relief which can help you feel motivated to start doing all you need to to really start dealing and healing.

------------------
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ST homepage • ST blog • about Heather & Scarleteen


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by wobblyheadedjane:
Have you had any counseling about this? While it may seem scary to talk it over with someone, especially a stranger, it can really help you to pinpoint and sort through your fears and feelings.

A good book to look into is The Survivor's Guide to Sex by Staci Haines. It's a guidebook on what can trigger flashbacks, how to get through them and has a lot of good exercises you can do on your own, and with your husband to help you heal. A book can't take the place of a good therapist of course, but if you're not sure you're ready to cope with counseling, or are looking for one that fits your needs and personality, the book can be a great help.


No I have never had counseling for this. Actually I really have never spoken about it at all.Except to say that I have been raped. I thought that if I just didn't talk about it and think about it and deal with it, it would go away. I finally told my husband it happened but that was it. He wants to know what happened and how it made me feel. I am not sure I want to tell him that. I am afraid it will change his opinion of me. He says he wants to know so that he doesn't do anything to trigger flash backs. But it scares me just think about it terrifies me. I have since resorted to cutting as a way to deal with the pain I am. I feel like I am a pretty messed up person and I wouldn't even know where to start looking for a counseler or what type of counseling I need.


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Heather
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I really can't encourage you enough to seek out some counseling: you're in crisis, you're harming yourself, you need it.

You've also got kids: that means they need for you to seek it out, too. They need you to be healthy and out of harm's way.

This sexual assault survivor's advocacy group is in your county: Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, Crisis Line: (706) 724-5200. Give them a ring. Tell them you're a survivor of a previous rape who is in crisis and in need of support services. They'll be able to find them for you, and help you figure out what you need.

Per giving your husband all the details, that's something that will usually take tme, and it's NOT something he needs per help with triggering: you know, likely, what triggers things right now, and you can tell him that, and let him know that you appreciate his care, but just don't feel ready to share that much yet. Often, a partner isn't the best person for us to tell first: a platonic friend or extended family member can be a better choice just because we don't also have a sexual relationship with them, which makes things tricky.

In any event, make that call.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
I really can't encourage you enough to seek out some counseling: you're in crisis, you're harming yourself, you need it.

You've also got kids: that means they need for you to seek it out, too. They need you to be healthy and out of harm's way.

This sexual assault survivor's advocacy group is in your county: Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, Crisis Line: (706) 724-5200. Give them a ring. Tell them you're a survivor of a previous rape who is in crisis and in need of support services. They'll be able to find them for you, and help you figure out what you need.

Per giving your husband all the details, that's something that will usually take tme, and it's NOT something he needs per help with triggering: you know, likely, what triggers things right now, and you can tell him that, and let him know that you appreciate his care, but just don't feel ready to share that much yet. Often, a partner isn't the best person for us to tell first: a platonic friend or extended family member can be a better choice just because we don't also have a sexual relationship with them, which makes things tricky.

In any event, make that call.


I will make the call and see where it goes from there. Thank you for your help and for listening. I told my husband what triggers it and left it at that. He is understanding and is not pushing for any more information about it. I realize you are right and i do need to be healthier if not for myself than for my kids


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Heather
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Anytime.

We can't offer the sort of in-person help and resroucs an organization like that can, but if you want secondary support here, or a place to talk more things out as you go, you've got it.

And to offer a light at the end of the tunnel? One CAN get past even brutal attacks, even when processing for them comes late in the game. It takes work -- which can feel very unfair, given you weren't a perpetrator, and which sometimes can be really challenging -- but in pretty short order much of the time, it's work that provides a lot of relief and comfort. Ten bucks says that group can hook you up, for instance, with survivor suppor groups: sometimes, just sitting in a room full of other wmen who have survived assault is incredibly healing: sexual assault can create feelings of pretty intense isolation, but it doesn't need to be that way.

Just give a holler if you need anything else: this is what we're here for.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Anytime.

We can't offer the sort of in-person help and resroucs an organization like that can, but if you want secondary support here, or a place to talk more things out as you go, you've got it.

And to offer a light at the end of the tunnel? One CAN get past even brutal attacks, even when processing for them comes late in the game. It takes work -- which can feel very unfair, given you weren't a perpetrator, and which sometimes can be really challenging -- but in pretty short order much of the time, it's work that provides a lot of relief and comfort. Ten bucks says that group can hook you up, for instance, with survivor suppor groups: sometimes, just sitting in a room full of other wmen who have survived assault is incredibly healing: sexual assault can create feelings of pretty intense isolation, but it doesn't need to be that way.

Just give a holler if you need anything else: this is what we're here for.


I have to believe you when you say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel at this point i am not sure of that. I called the number you gave me to call and they are going to help me find a counsellor that is right for me. I am just so scared of what this is going to take. I want my life back and I want to be happy again. But i am terrified of dealing with the rape and the feelings that go along with it. Before I wrote here I felt so alone. I mean i have my husband but right now that's not the same. i have issues with him simply because he is a man. I am going to try and be strong to get through this but i am not sure i can. But thanks again for all your help and for just being there to talk to. It helps having someone else to talk to about this who can give ideas on what i can do and who just listens


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Heather
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Most survivors find that once they really start to process their assault(s), dealing with it is a WHOLE lot less scary than NOT doing so. Really.

Things like shame, fear or people, etc. are all by-products of NOT dealing, of repressed trauma, of trying to pretend (understandably) that something didn't happen to you which did.

In short, right now, you're still in a victim-space: working through this stuff is how you become a survivor.

And be sure to credit yourself even with small steps: telling even one person, making these phne calls, starting counseling are all actually big steps that can be hard to take.

Per dealing with gender issues from assault, sometimes it's helpful to, as you're working through this, recognize that anyone is part of a group. In other words, your attackers were male, but they likely were also of given races, from given locations, and were also simply people. And while, certainly it is mostly men who rape, some women do as well. Mind you, it's normal and okay during a crisis like this for you to be uncomfortable for a bit with men, and it's also 100% okay if you don't feel up to sex for a while: do see if you can't discuss that with your husband to help yourself out now. Being able to feel in no doubt of your boundaries being respected is likely to help a lot.

But you CAN do this. Plenty of us have, and I've no doubt you can, too.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Most survivors find that once they really start to process their assault(s), dealing with it is a WHOLE lot less scary than NOT doing so. Really.

Things like shame, fear or people, etc. are all by-products of NOT dealing, of repressed trauma, of trying to pretend (understandably) that something didn't happen to you which did.

In short, right now, you're still in a victim-space: working through this stuff is how you become a survivor.

And be sure to credit yourself even with small steps: telling even one person, making these phne calls, starting counseling are all actually big steps that can be hard to take.

Per dealing with gender issues from assault, sometimes it's helpful to, as you're working through this, recognize that anyone is part of a group. In other words, your attackers were male, but they likely were also of given races, from given locations, and were also simply people. And while, certainly it is mostly men who rape, some women do as well. Mind you, it's normal and okay during a crisis like this for you to be uncomfortable for a bit with men, and it's also 100% okay if you don't feel up to sex for a while: do see if you can't discuss that with your husband to help yourself out now. Being able to feel in no doubt of your boundaries being respected is likely to help a lot.

But you CAN do this. Plenty of us have, and I've no doubt you can, too.


Well they gave me a counsler and I called and set up an appointment on Thursday of this week. I am afraid to go but I know its what I need. I know I can but it is just so scary thinking about it. I hope this goes well. I am not sure what to expect when I go in there either. That's another thing that worries me. Not knowing. I just have so many questions running through my mind right now. Like what's going to happen? How is going to go? I understand that it is going to be a lot of work and it won't be easy at first. But it did finally break the silence. I talked to my best friend. It was hard to do but you are right i felt a little bit better about it. The first step I took was writing about it here. That wasn't easy either. WEll the writing was clicking submit wasn't. Then she came over this weekend and we sat down and talked about it. I didn't go into detail or anything I just talked about the fact that it happened. I realize I can't act like it didn't anymore. That's slowly killing me. i hurt so much inside because i have held on to it for so long. its time to let go.


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Heather
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Well, you can ask to have a short phone call with the counselor before you see her to ask what you should expect: that'd be totally fine, and completely common.

But no good counselor is going to throw you into hardcore therapy on your first visit, so most of what that visit the first time will likely be is talking to you about what to expect, what the goals are, how your therapy will be handled, and what you're comfortable with.

I'm so glad you were able to talk to your friend. You've taken a lot of steps in just this short time, and that's seriously exceptional. Give yourself props.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Well, you can ask to have a short phone call with the counselor before you see her to ask what you should expect: that'd be totally fine, and completely common.

But no good counselor is going to throw you into hardcore therapy on your first visit, so most of what that visit the first time will likely be is talking to you about what to expect, what the goals are, how your therapy will be handled, and what you're comfortable with.

I'm so glad you were able to talk to your friend. You've taken a lot of steps in just this short time, and that's seriously exceptional. Give yourself props.


Hi again,
I just wanted to say you were right. I had my appointment yesterday and she just asked me questions about me and what I wanted to get out of going to counseling. She also warned that it is going to be hard work. But if I was ready and willing to do the work she would be there to help me. I am still scared, but I am ready. I have four kids who count on me to be there for them. I am just so unsure if I will be able to do it . She told me it gets worse before it gets better do to the fact its alot of stuff I have refused to deal with. She said I am going to have to deal with all the feelings that came with the rape and all the emotional hurt that came with it as well as what is going on now. But she did say there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She told me it would be better for me if I had some one else I could talk to during the week about how I am feeling that way I wouldn't end up feeling alone. I was hoping that maybe we could keep talking. You have helped me so much already. I will talk to you again later.


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Ecofem
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Hi,

You are already a strong person and while counseling would be very difficult at times, I do not think it would keep you from being there for your children. In fact, ultimately it will probably help you be there for them even more, because they want you to be happy. I don't know how old they are, but your husband and friend(s) are also there to support you in terms of watching them if you need a little time for yourself to deal with certain thoughts.

I laud you for taking the steps to talk to a counselor. I am not that far. Actually, I went to a counselor once and got discouraged by her (a bad match) that I didn't continue. But that's not really an excuse because I find that when I think everything is fine, my past trauma finds a way to pop up its nasty head to mess with me. ( I was raped by a boyfriend five years ago.)

Talking to friends about it has helped a lot (they helped me realize that the relationship was abusive in the first place; it was later and I had blocked a lot of aspects) but I know I should/need to deal with it professionally for the best, long-term resolution. Unfortunately, my current situation isn't very condusive to getting therapy right now.

Anyhow, although our experiences aren't the same, I really feel for you and read this thread regularly and would be glad to write back after future posts.

Also, have you considered keeping a journal or sketchbook? Even if you were to rip up the pages after you wrote them or put them out of your children's reach, it could help you get your feelings out when you don't have someone to talk to. What about a sketchbook if you don't feel like writing? Just drawing dots and scratches can really help me express my feelings when I'm feeling depressed.

And I wanted to mention that four kids must be nice. I like big families (not that small families aren't also good!), and I hope to have/adopt/foster a bunch of kids one day myself.

------------------
I was raised to be strong and hard/but if you touch me wrong/I fall apart/I found a woman who's soft but she's also hard/as I slept she nailed down my heart~morphine~

[This message has been edited by Ecofem (edited 10-07-2005).]


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecofem:
Hi,

You are already a strong person and while counseling would be very difficult at times, I do not think it would keep you from being there for you children. In fact, ultimately it will probably help you be there for them even more, because they want you to be happy. I don't know how old they are, but your husband and friend(s) are also there to support you in terms of watching them if you need a little time for yourself to deal with certain thoughts.

I laud you for taking the steps to talk to a counselor. I am not that far. Actually, I went to a counselor once and got discouraged by her (a bad match) that I didn't continue. But that's not really an excuse because I find that when I think everything is fine, my past trauma finds a way to pop up its nasty head to mess with me. ( I was raped by a boyfriend five years ago.)

Talking to friends about it has helped a lot (they helped me realize that the relationship was abusive in the first place; it was later and I had blocked a lot of aspects) but I know I should/need to deal with it professionally for the best, long-term resolution. Unfortunately, my current situation isn't very condusive to getting therapy right now.

Anyhow, although our situations aren't the same, I really feel for you and read this thread regularly and would be glad to write back after future posts.

Also, have you considered keeping a journal or sketchbook? Even if you were to rip up the pages after you wrote them or put them out of your children's reach, it could help you get your feelings out when you don't have someone to talk to. What about a sketchbook if you don't feel like writing? Just drawing dots and scratches can really help me express my feelings when I'm feeling depressed.

And I wanted to mention that four kids must be nice. I like big families (not that small families aren't also good!), and I hope to have/adopt/foster a bunch of kids one day myself.



Thanks for writing it is good to hear from others who struggle in the same way I am and i am sorry that things in your situation keep you from counseling. I do hoppe that one day you do find the right counseler so that you can get the help you need. I really hope that the counseler they helped me find is right for me. So far she seems to be. But time will tell. My children and husband are the main reason i am getting counseling after talking here and hearing what mizscarlet had to say I realized she was right and I really do need to help myself especially since I had turned to self harming. Well I am sure we will talk again.


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Heather
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I'm so gald it went well!

And by all means -- and Ecofem, this goes for you, too -- we can all keep talking here as much as you'd like.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
I'm so gald it went well!

And by all means -- and Ecofem, this goes for you, too -- we can all keep talking here as much as you'd like.


Hi,

I just wanted to say I have had a really rough week. I had my second appointment yesterday and that didn't go to well. I had a lot of differnt things trigger flash backs this weekend and this past week and I was really frazzeled. My therapist had me committed yesterday afternoon because on friday I had written some things down that had really worried her. They let me come home this afternoon though. I know counseling is the right thing to do but this is completely scaring me. I don't know how to handle the flash backs or the nightmares. Before I lost it at my therapist office we had touched a little bit on the main reason I was there. I am still feeling really ancy right now and really scared. I don't know what to do. I just want it to stop but I know its not that easy. Help!!!!


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Heather
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Well, do you want to talk about what your triggers are, and try and dish out how you might best manage them?
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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Well, do you want to talk about what your triggers are, and try and dish out how you might best manage them?

At this point I am willing to try anything so yes i would like to talk about what my triggers are and see how to best manage them. I don't like feeling like i do right now.


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Heather
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Well, go for it, then.

maybe make a list here, and we can look and see if we can't help to find ways to keep those triggers from arising and for those which can't be avoided, how to manage them, come up with some creative ways to handle them.


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mylilbit6
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Well, go for it, then.

maybe make a list here, and we can look and see if we can't help to find ways to keep those triggers from arising and for those which can't be avoided, how to manage them, come up with some creative ways to handle them.



Well here goes my list

1.When someone walks up behind me (I don't notice them coming or here them)

2.When someone touches me (even my kids right now)(even hugging)especially if its a tight hug

3.Certain shows on t.v

4.Certian smells: rust, anything metal or metalliac, blood, body odor,

5.Going for walks(feel like someone is going to come up behind me)usually walk to pick up kids

6. this is a new one: Brooms (had to do with the rape)

7. being in dusty places that are not well lit. (certian stores here)

well those are the big ones that trigger most of my flash backs.


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Heather
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Okay, let's see what we can come up with.

1. At home that's pretty easy to manage. How about you just let your husband and kids klnow to say your name when they're coming into a room where you are?

2. Ask for GENTLE touching, with warning. With your kids, tha's really tricky, and I'm not sure why that's triggering things. But. Since not touching them isn't a good option, can you, when you do, say, hug a kid, remind yourself of where you are and who you're with, very deliberately, even out loud, by just saying their name? Could help.

3. That's way easy. TV is mostly a time suck anyway. Stop watching for a while, and stay out of the room the TV is in. Might even be a fine week to do a family TV-turnoff for a week, which is good for everyone anyway.

4. Aromatherapy can be of use to you here. Buy yourself a small bottle of an essential oil you like (smething relaxing and mind-clearing like clary sage or lavendar would be a good choice), keep it in your pocket, and when another scent starts to trigger, open it up and take a whiff: reassociate.

5. Per the walks, have a friend who could walk with you?

6. That's a tricky one: if someone else has it, it's likely worse, so again, might be wise to do the sweeping yourself right now and just use what we talked abouout in #2: remind yourself, even verbally of WHAT a broom is for and what you're doing.

7. Avoid those for now: easy enough.

Some of that stuff may sound silly, but really, it's not. Basically, you've got a disability right now, so you create adaptations.


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mylilbit6
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Okay I am going to give this a try. As far as the one with being touched I am not sure why it is a trigger maybe because Before the actual rape started I was held pretty tightly the way you would be held if you are hugging someone only much tighter. That's the only thing I can think of. Plus I seem to have more trouble with hugging my sons simply because they catch me off guard and tend to squeeze. Right now I just seem to be in a really bad place. I am mentally exhausted and that's causing some of my trouble. I am just completely drained so it makes it harder for me to focus on where i am and that it is just my kids or my husband.
right now I am feeling pretty sick to my stomach as well as pretty dirty and used. Since I have started talking about this is has made it seem more real to me than it ever has before. All I want to do right now is crawl in a dark hole and never come out. of course i do realize i can't do that. I also need a shower. Even though i just took one.The hardest thing for me right now besides the flash backs are the feelings that have been coming with them. I feel worthless, used, abused like someones left over trash just left to be thrown out. That is what really bothers me. I don't feel like that all the time though just when I am thinking about or dealing with the rape. I should be getting ready for bed but i am actually afraid to go to bed right now. The more I think about it the worse the nightmares are and the more real they feel to me.

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Heather
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All of that is normal stuff, especially given the delay in you processing any of this.

Of course, that doesn't really make it any easier.

But you know, what I find helps me when I get in those spaces is to take the focus off of myself. For instance, I go do some feminist work or reading, because I remind myself -- actually, given the work I do, I rarely get a chance to forget -- that globally, there's at least about one out of every four women in the world who feels that way, and often.

Are one out of every four women worhtless? No effing way. Are we trash? Nope. We are SURVIVORS, and that's more than any of our abusers will EVER be.

Did your counselor hook you up with any group support yet?

What things, when you;re drained and upset in general, tend to provide you comfort? Do you have hobbies? Are you creative in any way? Channeling some of this energy into those things can be a help and a comfort, as well as a distraction, if need be.

Hang in there: you're going to make it, and I promise that when you come through the toughest part of this, you are going to feel more, not less, whole than you ever have. You'll feel stronger, not weaker.


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mylilbit6
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Normally when I am tired and drained I like to sit down with a book and read. Something that i can loose myself in. That takes me away from the pain of reality long enough to get some of my energy back. I also like scrapbooking. I was in the middle of making my kids album but have stopped because I didn't want to mess with the cutters. I didn't think it was a good idea since the blades in them are sharp. And i have spent some time dealing with self cutting. I don't do it now however i did do for a long time. In the last year i have only cut 4 times.

My counseler has not yet set me up with a group yet. But i am not sure about that; I will go since i remember you said that just listening to other woman can be a great help. I don't know how comfortable i would be with the sharing aspect in a group setting.

I just feel like a big joke like i don't belong here. I wish I hadn't pushed it down and blocked it out and buried it. It makes me feel like I must be a pretty weak person. and maybe that's why i am having so much trouble. I know that what I think is not always right. Just like I really do feel like it was completely my fault. I did something to deserve what those five guys did to me. they were right when they said "your a slut and this is what you deserve" not sure why i was a slut since i wasn't sexually active. (i was a virgin before it happened.) That's another big problem i have with it. I feel like something was stolen from me that i had wanted to give to the man i married. I had always told myself i would wait and they took that from me. and it was all my fault. its what i deserved.


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Heather
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First of all, they did NOT take that from you.

Because you did not have sex with someone: you were raped. They are nothing near the same thing. Nobody can take your own CHOICES away. You didn't make one. You made the choice to have sex for the first time whenever it was you made it, but it wasn't during a rape. Rape isn't sex just because it involves the same orifces, in a similar way tha having a GYN exam isn't sex, and neither is childbirth.

And again, if YOU deserved to be raped, than ALL women who were raped "deserved" it. Do you think that's so? I'm betting not. (I sure hope not!) I know I sure didn't deserve it -- heck, I was 12 years old, totally minding my own business -- and neither did you. If someone just walking down the street has someone else walk by them and punch them in the face, they didn't deserve that. They were ATTACKED and assaulted, just like you. And if it was your fault? Then you would have had some control in the situation, luv. And lo, you didn't. You're not the great exception to all the rules here: the one lone woman who is at fault when all others are not. You're just like the rest of us. Rape is never, ever our fault.

Those sorts of feelings are normal, but that's victim-headspace. It's one of the efects of an assualt sometimes, again, something else that was done to you. If you can, see if you can't, even a litle, let yourself get ANGRY. Anger is a lot more sensible and sound, and it's energy that can heal a lot better than self-blame. A lot of women, for various reasons, have trouble really getting angry and expressing anger, but it's a smart thing to work on if you can.

Per the group stuff, you can just listen. You don't have to share your story until you're ready.

Get some sleep if you can: pick a safe book and relax. (In a bad emotional space, I know I enjoy reading my favorite childhood books, like Alice in Wonderand or The Little Prince, etc.)

Just FYI: after tomorrow afternoon, I'll be offline until Monday. But if you get in a big crisis and can't get your counselor, by all means, feel free to email me @ boards@scarleteen.com and I'll do my best to do what I can.


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mylilbit6
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Well thank you for listening and I am going to try and get some sleep. I am going to read a couple of my daughters books. I do realize that you are right, at least part of me knows it wasn't my fault but there is still that part thats hard to convince. I feel a little calmer now after talking to you. I was feeling very bad when I first started writing but not anymore. I am still tired and upset but not questioning myself or myself worth at the moment. thank you so much for listening and talking to me. I am not sure if you realize just how much help to me you really are. you are a life saver. I believe what you tell me because its always turned to be good advice. Your are helping me realize that no matter how scary this is i can get through this just not on my own. so your email address is boards@scarleteen.com just in case. I already know i won't be able to get a hold of my counseler for the next week as she is going out of town. but i am off to bed. I will see what ever you write back in the morning. thanks again for listening and knowing what to say it has helped alot.
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Heather
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What lovely things to say: thank you so much. You're very welcome.

You know, I got very lucky with my group assault: I was unconscious for nearly all of it, therefore, the worst of the details I couldn't possibly remember. Even then, getting through loads of issues with it was never anything close to easy. Group assaults (IMO, professionally and personally, I've been assaulted more than once in my life) are particularly tough to work thrugh because it's more difficult when there's not just one person to blame, and it's often really easy to blame one subset of that group, or feel general fear around them -- men, for instance. (Heck, we see what happens with people and things like racism, sexism, xenophobia in this regard all the time. Our own President right now is incredibly good at xenophobic attacks based on fear of a certain color or nationality.) All of us are also in groups of people all the time. The list goes on, but it's really hard, and I'd be a big liar if I said everyone made it through something like this. They don't: plenty of people really never get through something like this.

But those people usually are the ones who don't have anyone to talk to about it, they don't have the struggle they're going through acknowledged for the hard work it is, etc. I got lucky in that regard, to while I didn't have it addressed right away, didn't get the chance to talk about it for a few years, I was still pretty formative in my life when I finally could, and I got some counseling within just a few years.

The point is, you've got my respect. (I'm sitting here all teary at the moment: I have a very deep respect for all of us who fight to survive.) I hope you realize how worthy of anyone's respect you are in this regard. Not everyone gets even as far as you have right now. I've done this sort of work long enough that I have a pretty good bead on who's going to make it by the way they talk the steps they take, and honestly, I think you ARE going to make it, and I think you ARE going to get to a point where you really do feel strong and feel some of the healing that's seriously past due for you. And I'm very happy to help: that's personal for me -- again, group assaults are more rare and I know in many aspects, very directly, how hard dealing with them can be.

So yes: if you need to email this weekend, do, adnd I've no trouble making exception to my usual rules in that regard.

One more thing, by the way, you might want to consider looking into, is taking a women's self-defense class. (I confess a bias here: I teach them sometimes, and am a hobby boxer.) Knowing that you have tools to defend yourself, feeling that knowledge and strength in your body can make things like being in dark places or big groups a lot easier to deal with. I first tok a class between high school and college, and I know for myself that it was the first time I felt, very confidently, that I would never, ever be raped or attacked again, which was an amazing feeling. And I haven't been: I managed to fend off the start of one attack in my late twenties with some moves, and since then, my body language and the look in my eyes which tends to communicate that I WILL NOT be victimized seems to be enough to even keep anyone else from thinking about it.

Hang in there: I hope this weekend goes better than the last.

(By the by, for reading? Some great feminist fiction, if you don't have any, can be found by Marge Piercy or Margaret Atwood. I'd avoid The Handmaid's Tale right now, as it could be triggering, but anything else by either of them might be both a comfort and a good thing for your head right now.)

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Heather Corinna
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Ecofem
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Hi mylilbit6 and Miz Scarlet,

I am on a totally different time schedule than CST so I couldn't reply earlier. mylilbit6, you really have my respect and empathy for having made it through this so far as well as for continuing to work through it. I had been thinking of you throughout the week and especially yesterday morning, hoping you'd post how you were doing.

Thank you, Miz Scarlet, for your offer of this as an open forum for me as well. The whole Scarleteen site has really transformed the way I view sexuality and sexual health since I found it three years ago, and I really appreciate all you do to keep it alive and well.

Personally, for some reason today has been hard in the sense that unpleasant parts of my past seemed to resurface again. Because my rape was in the context of an abusive relationship, I have a lot of issues surrounding that. I have a fear of commitment in the sense that I haven't had a successful (as in I stayed happy versus grew more and more depressed) romantic relationship since then. I am an outgoing person and have some very good friends that I can be open with, but I tend to close myself off emotionally in relationships. I have encountered too many of the "wrong people", in the sense that they don't seem to understand the pain where I was coming from. My curent happiness has been such a huge battle for me for many years.

Also, the whole experience made me question my sexual orientation more/differently. It is something I had thought about previous to the relationship/incident, but somehow it made it more complicated. For example, do I like women because I am truly attracted to them, or because my bad experience turned me off to men in certain regards, whereas I see women as safer? (I realized that thinking too much versus just seeing where life takes you is the much better route for the brain. )

As I was reading, I was also thinking of suggesting a self-defense class. Even at 13 I remember being really riot grrl in my mindset, "don't-even-think-about-messing-with-me!" in my demeanor" but it all got shattered at 17. By becoming more physically active I have been gaining that back. I now do capoeira, which is so much fun, in addition to being a great workout for my body and mind. I like to think that I'm ready for and could be able to fend off an attack, but the main thing is just the confidence I walk with. And, of course, fitness helps keep me happy as it's an outlet for stress.

I love, love, love music, so found it was really helpful then and still. I swear that Hole's "Pretty on the Inside" album saved my life. I remember listening to it for hours on end, having it be an outlet for my tears, etc. More recently, I have found the At the Drive-In song, "Speechless" to bring out a lot of feelings.

Speaking of numbers in terms of sexual violence, I cannot believe how many women and girls I've run into who have had such horrible experiences. Then I think of so many countries where rape isn't even considered a crime, rather that women are seen as complete objects for men's disposal. Having met and gotten to know a man from one such country, the son of diplomat and at university (not in the US) on a full scholarship, who stated "99 percent of women who are raped are themselves guilty," among other things.

All of this makes me really angry and sad: Whenever I hear about someone's experiences with sexual violence, I have a huge shoot of anger and sadness and the urge to hug them very tightly and cry with them and just say, "I understand. It's ok. It's not your fault."

OK, that ended up being basically all about me and a bit off topic, but these issues tend to be intertwined, and I do really appreciate the forum. With that said, I really do need to look into seeking more help from a counselor...

Thanks


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Heather
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Just a few thoughts for you, Ecofem, before I pretty much scoot offline for the weekend.

The orientation issue is one I hear a lot about from both lesbian and bisexual survivors, as well as from people convinced that anyone who IS lesbian must only be so because of abuse or dislike of men.

Here's the thing: you have the attractions you have. Doesn't actually matter much why we have them, and really, all we can ever really do is guess. But generally, distrust or dislike of one group doesn't manifest into implicit like or trust for the other. That's just really simplistic. Plus, there are gaping holes in that, like for instance, people like myself who have survived various forms of abuse from men and women alike. And given HOW many women have been raped or abused by men, if it were so that it made all of us lesbian, at least a quarter of the women in the world would be lesbian, and it's pretty safe to say that isn't the case.

Plus, once more, rape really isn't any kind of sex: not for the victim, and not for the perp either. It's pretty tricky, in a culture which makes the genitals all about sex to really understand that and to feel that understanding. I mean heack: how many girls do we see in a day who avoid sexual healthcare because they presume it to be sexual or feel it somehow means they aren't virgins when they want to be? How many of us grew up being told our genitals were "private parts," which no one should see BECAUSE they were sexual? And yet, that too is fallacy: our biggest sexual organs are our BRAINS, and our whole body is a sexual organ. Sure, our genitals are extra-bonuses in that regard due to so many nerve endings, but we've got just about as many (save women's clitorises, which trump all) in our hands and mouths. For sex to really be sex, everyone involved needs to be consenting AND acting in the interest of the joy, comfort and shared sexual pleasure of everyone involved. Everyone involved needs to be pursuing sex and intending to have sex. Otherwise, it's rape, plain and simple (which, hard a pill as it is to swallow, means a whole lot more people are raped than we like to think about, and without overt violence, often never get the chance to have that acknowledged nor to process that at all).

Yay on the capoeira! I kep meaning to go observe some of that training some more: it's so powerful AND so beautiful to watch.

Before I vanish, I'm going to add another topic in this forum where we can all perhaps share the tools and such we use to survive and thrive. Might be helpful for all of us, as well as for survivors who are struggling, or can't even start to work through it yet.

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Heather Corinna
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Heather
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It just occurred to me that, while my time is limited and this is a HUGE discussion, one which could easily merit its own thread, I should perhaps bring something up which one or both of you may not have been esposed to or thought about.

Male aversion of any kind, or fear of men, after a rape by men can, in many ways not be triggered by someone who is simply biologically male, but by behaviours which are, essentially, violent, abusive or rapey.

For instance, sex with men is pretty likely to be triggering if the KIND of sex one is having with men is very like rape: if male genitals are simply being thrust at you without communication for, or care towards your pleasure. If nothing but intercourse or fellatio is going on, if sex is all about the penis, or is in any way coercive, then yeah: it's likely going to be triggering because again, that's more like rape than partnered sex.

Suffice it to say, there are, sadly, a lot of men in the world who DO have sex like that. But there are also both plenty who do NOT, and plenty who do, but only because they don't know how to go about it differently, or had social conditioning which inclines them to go at sex like rape.

So, you will find women who maybe don't feel that stongly attracted to women who are survivors who find sex with women isn't triggering while sex with men is, but I'd posit that that's less because a penis isn't invlved, and more because queer sex tends to be far more whole body. Bonus is, anyone can have queer sex, no matter their gender. And maybe someday, it'll be the norm, not queer at all.

This stuff goes for male beahviour in general too: general misogyny, or woman-hating attitudes (like the guy you descibed above, Ecofem), sexual harsassment, objectification, and so forth. But again, that's not all men, and for the most part, we both do get to choose who we surround ourselves with and what we'll tolerate.


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mylilbit6
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Miz Scarlet,

I just wanted to let you know that I did mangage to go to sleep last night and i actually slept. Which was nice. I am going to look in to classes on self defense as well as look into getting a book or two from the authors you mentioned. Today so far has been a little better than yesterday. I have turned off the t.v. I am going to try what you said and have a no t.v. week. So i guess that is step one on my list of things i need to change to help control the triggers. Thanks again for all your help last night. I woke up this morning feeling like I might just possiblely be able to get through this. With your help as well as my counseler. Also I wanted to let you know that respect your opinion and take your advice to heart. Before the group assualt I was molested and raped for 5 years by my brothers best friend. and then again when i was in the army someone broke into my barracks room and was assaulted again. So I am actually dealing with mutiple assaults right now. I have decided that if i have told you this much i had better tell you the rest. I buried it all and refused to deal with any of it for a long time. The only thing i did was cut for years. I turned to self harming from the time i was 11 until I turned 20 I stopped when I met my husband and got pregnant the first time. Oh wow did i just tell you all of that. I guess i realize it is time to get it all out. after i told you about the group rape it made it a little easier for me to tell someone else and then eventually take your advice and get a counseler. I now realize that the only way i can truely get better is to deal with all that is on my plate. including self harm. which had started again.
do you think that my counseler migh look at me funny if i come out with the rest of what happened to me? i just can't hide from it anymore and i don't want to hide from it anymore or bury it anymore or try to act like it didn't happen.


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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Just a few thoughts for you, Ecofem, before I pretty much scoot offline for the weekend.
Thanks for taking the time to answer. (And assuming you're reading this when you get back...) I hope you had a good weekend.

quote:
The orientation issue is one I hear a lot about from both lesbian and bisexual survivors, as well as from people convinced that anyone who IS lesbian must only be so because of abuse or dislike of men.
I remember reading a quote in an article when I was new to Scarleteen that I found especially useful: Being a lesbian isn't about not liking men, it's about liking women. I meant to go into further detail as how I've resolved such questions with myself but decided to take a break after already writing so much in the post. I think a lot of the questioning of my questioning (does that make sense to me even?) comes from negative outside sources. Like my mother who isn't homophobic but not really down with/understanding of bisexuality, or that same boyfriend, who later announced that "it was ok if I wanted to tell him I was a lesbian."

quote:
Plus, there are gaping holes in that, like for instance, people like myself who have survived various forms of abuse from men and women alike.
I definitely recognize men being abused by their girlfriends/wives, and a conversation with a friend of the high rate of domestic violence in gay, especially lesbian relationships, really opened my eyes to this (I was shocked although I shouldn't have been surprised.)

quote:
Plus, once more, rape really isn't any kind of sex: not for the victim, and not for the perp either.
I know that rape is really about power versus sex, and that it certainly isn't sex for the victim, but I hadn't thought about it not being that for the perpetrator either for some reason... Maybe I am using the wrong term? I had thought that "sexual violence" was an all-inclusive term for rape, sodomy, etc., but I guess I'm wrong. What would be a better general term?

quote:
Otherwise, it's rape, plain and simple (which, hard a pill as it is to swallow, means a whole lot more people are raped than we like to think about, and without overt violence, often never get the chance to have that acknowledged nor to process that at all).
This point especially rings clear to me. I don't know why some people feel the need to judge whether or not something really was "rape", not realizing the various forms of it, or that they all cause trauma. I remember once a girl telling me that she had been raped, but that I couldn't really call it that because "he was your boyfriend and you were in his bed." I realize it's more of a reflection of their own misunderstanding or ignorance, but it really hurts the other parties!

quote:
Yay on the capoeira! I kep meaning to go observe some of that training some more: it's so powerful AND so beautiful to watch.
Yea! I really want to try boxing one day, because it's another sport I've been interested in. Especially because being able to throw (and take) a good punch seems like a particularly good self-defense skill!

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mylilbit6
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Miz Scarlet,

I just wanted to let you know that I did mangage to go to sleep last night and i actually slept. Which was nice. I am going to look in to classes on self defense as well as look into getting a book or two from the authors you mentioned. Today so far has been a little better than yesterday. I have turned off the t.v. I am going to try what you said and have a no t.v. week. So i guess that is step one on my list of things i need to change to help control the triggers. Thanks again for all your help last night. I woke up this morning feeling like I might just possiblely be able to get through this. With your help as well as my counseler. Also I wanted to let you know that respect your opinion and take your advice to heart. Before the group assualt I was molested and raped for 5 years by my brothers best friend. and then again when i was in the army someone broke into my barracks room and was assaulted again. So I am actually dealing with mutiple assaults right now. I have decided that if i have told you this much i had better tell you the rest. I buried it all and refused to deal with any of it for a long time. The only thing i did was cut for years. I turned to self harming from the time i was 11 until I turned 20 I stopped when I met my husband and got pregnant the first time. Oh wow did i just tell you all of that. I guess i realize it is time to get it all out. after i told you about the group rape it made it a little easier for me to tell someone else and then eventually take your advice and get a counseler. I now realize that the only way i can truely get better is to deal with all that is on my plate. including self harm. which had started again.
do you think that my counseler migh look at me funny if i come out with the rest of what happened to me? i just can't hide from it anymore and i don't want to hide from it anymore or bury it anymore or try to act like it didn't happen.


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Heather
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mylilbit:

No, I don't think you'll be looked at funny. In fact, I think knowing all of this will likely make your behaviour and your burden make more sense to her: this is a LOT for one person to have weathered. It'd be beyond miraculous if you were NOT going through what you are and feeling how you do. especially when you also factor in that you were a woman in the milirary. Lordisa, woman, you have been carrying a seriously heavy load. I'm so glad you're feeling more able to unburden yourself of some of it.

For whatever reason -- and likely, just because violence against women is so pervasive -- it's not uncommon for a person to have survived multiple assaults.

And it's certainly typical for anyone wh grew up in abusive environments to have a hard time knowing when they're unsafe, so that may be one of the things that inclines those of us who did to other assaults. I know for myself that having been living in a home where abuse was occurring when my group assault occurred likely contributed to my not seeing what was coming and getting the hell out of there fast, or asking for help. I'd gotten so used to my defense against abuse being to dissociate and just take it, and so used to asking for help and not getting any, that I wasn't able to shout out or instinctually able to just run.

Yay for today being a better day! rest certainly helps: being sleepless and not well-rested makes any emotional struggle a thousand times harder.


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Heather
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quote:
I know that rape is really about power versus sex, and that it certainly isn't sex for the victim, but I hadn't thought about it not being that for the perpetrator either for some reason... Maybe I am using the wrong term? I had thought that "sexual violence" was an all-inclusive term for rape, sodomy, etc., but I guess I'm wrong. What would be a better general term?

This is why I prefer rape as a general term. because rape is a lot of kinds of violence: in one way, yes, it's sexual violence (both in terms of someone taking what should be sex and making it into violence, and in terms of "sex" in the proper use as in, biological sex), it's gender violence, and it's physical and emotional abuse. It's a huge combinaton of things. (And I even feel safe saying that in one respect, rape is ALWAYS misogyny, even when the victim is male, because rape is historically overwhelmingly a crime against women, and part of the impetus of a perp when raping a male person is, essentially, to feminize them by forcing them into a position of submission, into "acting like a woman," or more accurately, into being treated like one.)

Mind you, my thoughts on this aren't everyone's thoughts on this, but others have said and thought similarly before. The way I see it, whe we look at a rapist, has he had sex by raping? Has he actually experienced partnered sex? Nope. Because someone unconsenting isn't a bonafide partner, eh?

Okay, I really am off now. My sweetheart is coming in from out of town very shortly, and every now and then it's actually nice for me personally to enjoy the fruits of my labors in terms of doing my part to make the world a better sexual place.

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor & Founder, Scarleteen
• ST blog • about Heather & Scarleteen
"You have to love women who are brave enough to do things so big in a world where women are supposed to be so small." - Andrea Dworkin


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