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Author Topic: 'too young' to attempt rape ?
Pinkie Pie
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Ok I made a topic here a couple months back but my thoughts were all jumbled up & I kinda got scared & abandoned it... Sorry to Heather for dropping it like that, you were very kind and helpful [Smile] Anyway since then I've sorted out what happened to me in my head a bit more & now I'd like someone to help me clarify things.

I told my boyfriend what happened to me when I was 14. What happened was, I had a crush on this guy, who was 15. He kept inviting me over to his house & a couple of times we'd end up laying on his bed with him touching me. I let this happen because I was really excited to have attention from this guy because he was my first crush and I really liked him, even though I knew he liked someone else. I remember I was always completely passive in those moments, I was too scared to do anything in case he didn't like it and just let him lead. After all, he was far more experienced than me, and had had girlfriends, and had sex. So I trusted he knew what he was doing. The last time that happened he went further and pulled my jeans and pants down. He asked me, "Shall I get a condom ?" as in asking me to have sex. I was only 14, and very young and shy for my age, and had never held hands with or kissed a guy before. Obviously I knew what sex WAS, but I didn't know what it MEANT, if that makes sense. I was really confused and didn't answer, so he said "Ah f*** it" and went to get a condom anyway. I lay there trying to figure out what was going on in my head, I figured this meant that I wasn't going to be a virgin any more, and I was confused because we hadn't even kissed or touched intimately, he'd just gone from laying next to each other to sexual intercourse, which I didn't think was how it was supposed to happen. He came back and put the condom on, then tried to push himself inside me. It really hurt, and as soon as he went in every instinct in me said "I do NOT want this to happen" so I screamed and pushed him off. I rolled over and curled up on the bed in a defensive position. He got up and turned the light on and told me to get up and put my clothes back on and be quiet without looking at me. We went downstairs and I waited for my mum to pick me up, we were sat in silence and he wouldn't look at me. For the next year after that, he wouldn't even look me in the eye, & I thought I had done something wrong. I still really liked him, & I maintained the thought that if I had just let him do it, he'd like me back. This kind of internalised the notion that men would only like me if I had sex with them, and I spent the next few years up until now having sex with guys before I was really ready to. I still carry a lot of sexual shame from those experiences which badly affects me to this day.

Anyway, just over a year after that, this guy in question asked me out & became my boyfriend. I lost my 'virginity' (I hate that word... I had sexual intercourse for the first time) to him aged 15. A couple of months after that, I told him that I regretted having intercourse & I didn't think I was really ready. He shouted at me for 'lying to him', and told me that once you have sex with a guy you can't just take it away from him and spent the next year and a half coercing me into sex I don't think I really wanted to be having. I remember a specific incident where I said no multiple times until I finally gave in and had intercourse just to get it over with. I don't think that's healthy & I want some clarification on that.

So after all that, I got with my current boyfriend, who's lovely, but has still crossed my boundaries multiple times. After the year and a half of coercive sex I had given up on saying no to things and still held the belief that if I didn't have sex, guys wouldn't like me. I told my boyfriend what had happened and that I found it hard to say no to things, & that he'd have to pay attention to my body language. He said he wasn't any good at that and that I'd have to speak up, but I found that impossible. One night my boyfriend really wanted sex, and I just wanted to cuddle up and watch a film; he tried to compromise with me and said we could cuddle and watch a film afterwards, and ended up forcing me into oral sex that I didn't want. He was devastated afterwards, and has since been trying really hard, but just finds it hard to interpret what I'm trying to say sometimes. Now, 10 months from that night, he's very good and knows he has to ask me before he touches me, and I've got better at being assertive and giving straightforward answers.

Sorry for how epicly long that is, but there's the background. Here's my main question: a few weeks ago I told my boyfriend the full story about what happened when I was 14, and he said that I couldn't blame my ex for it. He says that he thinks it wasn't attempted rape, or assault, but that we were both just too young to understand how to do sex. I can see what he means, because it took me & him 10 months to figure out how to do consent effectively, & we're both 18. I learned a lot from articles on Scarleteen, and relayed the information to him, & we had a lot of discussions about it, and got it wrong a lot too. So, looking back, it's obviously wrong to have expected a 15 year old to know how to do consent, especially as he didn't have any of the information we have now. But he was still older than me, and I still trusted him. Maybe I was also at fault for not speaking up ? But if it wasn't anything bad, why did it devastate me so much ? It had a very strong negative impact on my life & I shed a lot of tears over it. I just need some sort of clarification. What WAS it that happened to me that night when I was 14 ? Am I right to hate my ex for going on at me until I gave in and had sex I didn't want ?

Thanks for your time if you read all this. Sorry again for the length.

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Heather
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The question you're asking here doesn't have any super-easy answers, as I'm sure you've already recognized asking it yourself.

But here's what I think we can do. I think it's absolutely fair to say that if someone isn't too young to attempt sex, they aren't too young to attempt rape. If a person isn't too young to have a sense of what sex is, they aren't too young to have a sense of what assault is. I want to just check in first with that and see if you and I agree before I say more. Does that sound about right to you?

I think it's also sound to do this with this situation: let's assume that the shoe was on the other foot here, and your ex was in your position, with some other woman or guy doing things the exact same way to him he did them to you. Do you think he'd think they were consensual? Do you think he'd have felt like they were sex for him?

And one more: let's make this not about sex. Do you think your ex would have some sense of the difference between, let's say, a round of boxing with a friend, and someone just outright hitting him? If so, do you also think that he'd be able to look at maybe the lines between those two poles and have a sense of if and when things were more about nonconsensual hitting than about agreed-upon boxing?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Pinkie Pie
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Ok, I think you're right about the first point. I know at the time that happened, my ex knew what rape was, and thought it was a bad thing. However with this incident, it would be very easy for the lines to be blurred, and I don't think attempting sex and understanding what sex is are the same thing. I know a lot of people who dived into having sex at that age but didn't actually know anything about what it was apart from "his penis goes in her vagina". He knew to stop when I pushed him away, and not to be violent, he just didn't know how to cope with that himself and how to establish consent before it happened. Yet at the same time I feel I was being taken advantage of, because we both came to the situation with different motives, and I was even younger and more naive than he was. Sorry I've gone off point, but yeah, I think he had a sense of what assault is. I just think attempting sex with someone who was younger and less experienced than him, not to mention someone who had feelings for him he didn't return, was irresponsible.

I kind of feel like he did because he had a sense of power over me. Ever since he met me, he saw me as less than him, and bullied me, but still always asked me to come out and hang out with him so he could have his little ego trip over the fact I had a crush on him. And of course wherever he went I duly followed, no matter how badly he treated me.

If the shoe was on the other foot, he wouldn't let it happen. If a girl wanted sex and he didn't he'd just get up and walk away. I physically can't imagine him in that situation. It's hard, seeing as I've only just started to break free from seeing him as someone who has power over me, to imagine him in a situation where someone else is in control.

So let's move on to the last point. He could definitely see the difference with that. I know he engages in play-fighting with male friends but if one were to actually turn round and hit him without warning or reason, he'd throw a fit.

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Heather
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I think this sentence is the one that tells us everything we need to know:

quote:
If the shoe was on the other foot, he wouldn't let it happen. If a girl wanted sex and he didn't he'd just get up and walk away.
Because that tells me he DID understand and is perfectly capable of understanding. I think we can say the same with the last thing, too.

In other words, in those two things, I think you are expressing very clearly that he was not too young to know the difference. Do you? (You don't have to agree with me, obviously. But if you're asking my opinion, I think that answers the core question about if he, specifically, was too young to get this or not.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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I get what you're saying but I think that situation was a lot different. I didn't say "no" to his question, I just didn't answer it. In the situations you describe, the non-consent is clear, in this situation, mine wasn't. I didn't even know enough about sex to know that I had to give consent. It just felt like sex was something that was about to happen to me, due to someone else's choice. I DIDN'T get up and walk away, so how could he have recognised the non-consent ?
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Heather
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Accepting that yes, young men can be reared with some messaging that men in sex are active and women are passive, and/or that sexuality is about male desire and when women are involved, only about women answering or okaying that desire, not having desires of their own, I still don't think that lets most people off the hook with any grain of intelligence with this stuff. No matter what, he was old enough to initiate all of this, intelligent enough to know to get a condom, and, from the sounds of things, his behavior, IMO, gave away after the fact he knew he didn't do the right thing here. People who think what they did was A-OK don't behave like he did afterward.

Too? Most of us know no-means-no by the time we're 5. You've made clear he'd think his no was meaningful. You make clear you said yours after you starting dating numerous times and he chose to ignore it because he felt he was entitled to sex. These things don't speak to me of ignorance: they speak to me of abuse and arrogance.

Again, do you think that he couldn't recognize that if HE was so unsure or disinterested that he'd do more than just lie there? What about the guy you're dating now who suggested this was about your ex not understanding complex concepts like "No." (I'm being sarcastic there.) If the shoe was on the other foot with him, don't you think he'd get it?

I think it's important we know that when people have and experience sexual desire, they have a good sense of what it feels like. They will almost always know that when it's felt, people don't just lie there, don't keep saying no, don't look scared or uncertain. No, you don't walk away, but you had a habit of saying no. You also didn't act in a way that suggested desire, something your ex clearly understood for himself.

I think we have to be very careful when we talk about these things to recognize that the more comfortable answer, for everyone, is always going to be "They just didn't know," or "They just didn't mean to." For sure, sometimes this IS about people just not knowing or getting it, but we've got a lot of study on abuse and assault that has always, almost unilaterally, made very clear that the rule, rather than the exception, is that people DO know. That's a harder truth to hold for victims and perpetrators, and even for people who are neither, because it can make everyone feel pretty unsafe, and also make it seem, especially as victims or people who could be victimized, like the things we are told or think we can do to prevent abuse -- like dressing a certain way -- aren't actually real. And that can feel awfully scary.

So, where do you want to take this from here? Should we perhaps talk about how you thin you'd feel with either answer? In other words, if you could know, for sure (even though I think there's clear evidence to the contrary) that he just was totally clueless, how would you feel? What about if you could know, for sure, he knew what he was doing, even every single time? How does that feel?

And how about how any of this feels in the context of your current relationship and what your boyfriend now is saying? have you even talked about why he's saying what he is and how that makes you feel, effectively having someone you trust kind of make excuses for someone who hurt you?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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That really hits home what you say about the more comfortable answer. Last year I spent a lot of time with a close female friend & she turned out to be trustworthy, so I told her what happened when I was 14. Her immediate reaction was "I'm sure he didn't mean to." Her argument was the same as my boyfriend's, that he obviously knew it was wrong because he stopped when I screamed, and the fact he ignored me and wouldn't look at me for a year afterwards meant that he was showing remorse. To me, it just seemed to show disgust.

I have definitely noticed that none of my peers, especially as most of them still see this guy as their friend, are willing to hear the 'R-word'. There's only been a couple of times where I've had the courage to say "I think he might have raped me" and both times the other person immediately shut down and refused to accept it as 'real' rape. Because it was coercion, so I let him do it, so it was my fault for not fighting harder. The two people who said this were my boyfriend and my best friend, so it was hard to hear. Yet both of them still accept that he's a terrible person for what he did. They just can't accept that they might possibly have been friends with a rapist back when it was all going on.

On that note, IS the coercion rape ? I said no, he kept on at me, so I said yes and laid there until it was over, so I could get him off my case. I always felt there was something wrong with that, and it wasn't until I discovered Scarleteen a while back & read some of the articles on rape that I started thinking maybe something WAS genuinely wrong with my experiences. I'd love to finally get that cleared up [Smile]


But yes, back to your questions. If I knew for sure that he was totally clueless, I guess I'd be angry because I've felt so bad for so long and that would make all my emotions invalid, & make him a decent human, which I can't see him as. But there would also be relief because I wouldn't have to fight the "I think it was sexual assault actually" corner with my friends any more.
If he knew what he was doing, every single time, I'd feel a lot better because I'd know that none of the blame was on me & I wouldn't have to feel so ashamed of my previous sex life any more. And it would validate my current feelings of anger towards him.

& with my current boyfriend, we tried to talk about it the other day but it ended in an argument because neither of us would back down from our opinion. We're normally good at talking about how we feel about things but this topic was way too emotionally loaded for me to handle calmly. It was just us screaming "No, he tried to rape me," "No, you were both just too young and stupid to handle sex," back and forth for half an hour. I know my boyfriend and there are some opinions that he's just solid on, and there's no point trying to talk him down. This is one of them.

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Heather
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I think one thing to know is that we can feel hurt and be hurt even when someone has NOT meant to hurt us. In other words, even if and when someone does us harm or we get hurt, and they didn't mean to, that doesn't invalidate our experience and feelings. It just means that while we got hurt and feel hurt, it's not something that happened because someone meant to hurt us or was being careless. Know what I mean?

To give you an example, let's say someone was driving sober, and very carefully, but I just walked into their blind spot, and they hit me with their care. I got hit by a car. That hurts. I probably got injuries, real injuries. All of this happened even though that person SO did not mean to hit anyone and was trying very hard not to. But that's pretty different than if they were driving drunk, were not being careful or attentive at all, or earnestly tried to hit me. I remain hurt all the same (and may feel more emotionally hurt, especially if they just disregarded my safety or tried to do me harm), but the responsibility they bear is far greater than it is in the first instance.

As well, I think it might help to take the word "blame" out of this equation entirely. I think it's a lot more helpful to talk about responsibility. Do we agree that when any of us are initiating sex with someone else, it is our absolute responsibility to make sure, asking with words as well as looking for non-verbal cues, if that is also what that other person wants, too, before moving forward with anything sexual?

As someone who has worked with survivors of many kinds of rape and as someone who has also been personally assaulted several times myself - including the kinds almost everyone seems to agree are "real" and the kinds people tend to have more disagreement around -- yes, sexual assault via coercion is real. It's still rape. And that's not just something I'm pulling out of my bottom or saying per any kind of agenda beyond really wanting for everyone to only experience sex as something mutually wanted and desired. That's also something recognized by the laws of many countries, including yours and mine. However, I also think it's safe to say that both our nations populations, on the whole, are awfully quick to excuse it and rationalize it and have a long way to go when it comes to really accepting and understanding that. [Frown]

That said, I'm also in support of you using whatever words/language feels best to you at a given time and feels most in support of your own truth, your experience and your healing. So, if "rape" is very, very hard for you right now to use, that's okay. All of this is a process.

I wonder if you and your current boyfriend might not be able to have a talk about how it's possible some of what his opinion is on this might well have had to do with the troubles with respecting your lines he has had? In other words, if he can understand that yes, your ex very likely knew full well what he was doing was not okay and not consensual, but just felt he could get away with it, might he perhaps see, that in not accepting that, those kinds of ideas might have been a big part of WHY he himself kept crossing your lines?

I do also want to check in with something with you, and I hope that's okay. How are you feeling about being with someone right now with a history of also not honoring consent, and who is excusing your ex to some degree, rather than trying to adapt his thinking and also really honor YOUR experience and your feelings, as the person who is supposed to be in your corner, not the corner of someone who assaulted you?

(That all came out a bit more brusque than I intended, but I'm not quite sure how to say it more gently.)

[ 07-18-2011, 02:15 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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Ok I like that a bit better. I was talking to my boyfriend earlier & he said that it didn't matter what he would have defined my experience as because he knows that it hurt me & he wants to be there for me when I'm hurt.

I agree that if we think ourselves responsible enough to be having sex then we most definitely should be actually taking on the responsibility that comes with it and ensuring that it is a completely safe experience for all involved.

& I'm really happy that the law would define my experience as assault/rape [Smile] I've spent a very long time feeling ashamed & confused about what happened and to know that what made me feel violated, is legally a violation, is very reassuring. Thank you [Smile] & also, I spoke with my boyfriend earlier, & it turns out we had a misunderstanding what with all the shouting going on last time. We had a discussion today that was far more like us; we stayed calm and reassured each other and looked at each other's points of view, & I felt a lot more comfortable talking about things. It turns out that, as I said before, he defines what happened when I was 14 different - but still believes my feelings are completely valid - but he actually totally believes that the coercion was rape.

Thank you for all the support right now [Smile] I like that this is a process. I never believed anything 'really bad' had happened before so I didn't bother to consider starting a healing process or anything, I just thought I had to 'get over it'. & "rape" isn't an easy term, but I definitely feel it's my own truth. I feel like he raped me. I like the experience having a definition, especially one that matches my feelings. I've been so ashamed and confused for so long, it's actually pretty relieving [Smile]


As for my boyfriend... He came round earlier & we talked, like I said. I asked him about whether his opinion of what happened had anything to do with him crossing my boundaries, & he said no, because he understood that the coercion was rape, and when he forced himself on me, he felt awful about it and has been trying to change ever since.

I feel a bit funny being with someone else who's assaulted me. I told him that after I came out of the coercive, abusive relationship with my ex what I really needed was someone who could be VERY gentle and delicate with my boundaries, and he agrees that he was the lousiest partner ever on that respect. He couldn't explain why he assaulted me, all he remembers is that he was upset and very angry and wanted his own way. He agrees that he was far too immature too have been having sex back then but he says that it's a learning curve. The more he has sex with me the more he learns about how to recognise consent etc. But after what I went through I needed someone who wasn't going to use my body as a learning curve. But he did & I feel like I was robbed of my chance to heal with someone new [Frown] It doesn't matter if he's gotten better now I still spent my first 10 months with him having sex I wasn't ready for & now every time we have sex that's a constant reminder [Frown]

I don't know what to do I just broke down & cried uncontrollably for that last paragraph [Frown] I feel crummy.

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Heather
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I totally understand. I'm out for the rest of the day, but can come back in the morning and talk more in depth.

It's not a minor thing to be staying with someone who may have or did assault you (though given what he's saying about being motivated by being angry and wanting his own way, I'm afraid it very much sounds like "did assault" to me, and I don't agree at all that assaulting someone should be or needs to be part of anyone's learning curve with sex). I know you know that, and I wish we didn't have this to talk about, not because I can't, but just because perhaps obviously, I'd wish the same things for you now with a current partner that you've wished.

For starters, have a friend you can talk to tonight who isn't your boyfriend and who won't say the kinds of things other friends have before? Or even your own journal?

I just think talking that part out some with someone who knows you and cares about you, who you can be this honest with, would be ideal. If we want to talk more tomorrow, I think it might be helpful to start from a place where we talk about what you really have wanted and do want, and how to get you there. You don't have to be without what you want and need, after all, just because you have been up until now.

Big hugs your way, I know how hard all of this can be.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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Thank you so much Heather [Smile] I couldn't talk to anyone last night, which kinda sucked, but I just kept calm & went to sleep [Smile] I have one friend that I can be honest with, who cares about me and I know will believe me & be kind to me, but he wasn't online last night & his phone hardly works so I couldn't contact him [Frown] I'm seeing him today though & I'd definitely like to talk these things out with someone [Smile] I'll try & do that today.

And it's funny, I was actually thinking I should get a new journal yesterday. I used to have one when I was with my ex so I could write in it whenever I was feeling sad about what was happening.. I got a bit put off though when he found it & read it all :/ Didn't keep it up after that. But I think a new one might be a good idea [Smile]

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Heather
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I'm around, so if you are, and want some talk some more, just give a shout.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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Hey, I don't know if you're on right now, but I would like to talk some more [Smile]
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Heather
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If you're still up, I can be on and off a little tonight.

If so, want to give me the scoop on where you're at today with all of this?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Pinkie Pie
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Okay so I've been doing a lot of thinking & I had a talk with my boyfriend today & I think things are a bit clearer in my head [Smile]

My main concern was being with someone who had assaulted me in the past, & told him this, and that I was finding it hard to see him in the same way since I started really thinking a couple of days ago about what he did. It went really well, we were both completely honest and comfortable with each other. He said that he was scared to lose me & that he thought he was getting better. I assured him that he was, but that after my experiences, I need someone who is really careful about crossing boundaries, and doesn't find it a struggle to do so. He said that it's really difficult for him and that when he's caught up in the moment he finds it hard to think about things he normally does. Outside of sex he's really good at things like picking up how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking without me having to say anything, he can read all my non-verbal cues so well it's like he's reading my mind, it's just as soon as the situation turns sexual, all that just.. disappears. However he said that he's fully aware of this and he knows full well that it needs to change. We agreed to have a couple of days to ourselves to think things over & then get back together and continue our relationship with the changes in place.

After the talk we just hung out & it was actually really nice. We hugged and held hands and talked about all the silly & nerdy stuff we used to talk about & it just felt really nice [Smile] I thought about it a lot and overall, he is perfect for me right now, & I love him dearly, it's just the one thing he isn't perfect at is sexual consent, which is obviously a big red mark for me. But I know he's remorseful of what he did and dearly wants to change, & I'm prepared to give him that chance. So I'm pretty sure I'm all sorted relationship-wise [Smile]

Apart from that though, I had a good hard think about things, & came to the realisation that I do not want to be sexually active right now, & I probably haven't wanted to for the majority of my sex life. Like I said before, I had a very strong notion that having sex = boys liking you, & up until now I think I've been putting that idea before my own wants and needs. Most of the times I've ever had sex, I've usually been left with a "we shouldn't have done that" feeling afterwards, & I think that's a pretty strong indication of whether or not I was actually ready for it. I'm a bit confused by this though, as there have been times with my boyfriend when we've had sex that I've really enjoyed as well. Sex has always been something that I've never been 100% sure on; one day I'll be fine with it, & the next day it'll terrify me. How do I sort out all these conflicting thoughts ? How do I know whether I want sex or not, & what do I do to make sure I'm not having sex when I don't want it ? I just want to finally reclaim my sexuality after everything that's happened.

(Sorry this is such a ramble, just getting my thoughts out !)

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Heather
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This is a lot of big progress to come to so quickly with such challenging stuff. That's fantastic. No worries about a bit of a ramble: this is a really important ramble.

I, too, am always concerned when someone is still with anyone who has assaulted them. I just have a very hard time, if not an impossible one, seeing how someone can really heal in that interpersonal environment, even if and when that person has changed. It's still part of your history, and some of your healing is going to need to be healing from THEM, which I just don't think is even possible when still being at all sexual with that person. Even being intimate with them at all seems very iffy to me, but being sexual...well, it just seems like you're going to stay stuck in the trauma with serious barriers to healing.

The fact that he's also saying it is hard for him to be good about your boundaries is also, I agree, another major concern.

I'm glad to hear you were able to voice all this and glad to hear you're going to take some time to think this through more yourself.

So, I'm not sure this is really all sorted, IMO. But I also can't dictate what anyone else's journey or process looks like, so it might be that you're not really at that point yet in terms of seeing that. And if you're not, you're not. This process is yours, for you to figure out and work out what you really think is best for you.

So, when you're thinking more about this, I'd try very hard to put aside thoughts of what things you want to give HIM -- like, "another chance" -- and what YOU really need and what you really, really think is absolutely best for you. So, maybe just focus on this: would it be best for you to heal and do so as well as you could close to or around anyone who has ever assaulted or abused you, or disrespected your boundaries otherwise? Or would it be best NOT to be close to and around anyone like that?

That said, it sounds like you want to take sex off the table, period, so that might actually take care of a lot of that all by itself. And I agree, it sounds like that might be a good thing for you, with all you're saying.

You know, we can enjoy sex when it still isn't the best thing for us at a given time, or when our motives aren't so great. How things feel physically and emotionally in the moment isn't always a match with the bigger picture. Know what I mean by that?

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Pinkie Pie
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Oh no, this is definitely about me and not him. I'm feeling a lot more sure about what I want now & I'm prepared to stand up for that. I definitely don't want to be sexual with him again until I've done a lot of healing. Could I get some advice on how exactly I go about healing, while we're here ? I'm not really sure on what I'm supposed to do. I want to regain control of my sexuality.

While I do see the problem in staying with him, I do really like him & I want to keep him as my boyfriend. Like I said, we were acting earlier like we did back at the start, before any of this happened, & I felt so comfortable with him. As a person, he is lovely, & I know he'd be there for me & comfort me through whatever healing I have to do & I want him to be the one by my side to do that. I know that he's changing and trust that it won't happen again, and I'm taking all sex off the table anyway so I shouldn't think it would be a problem.

About your last point, I don't really get what you mean, sorry. Could you explain a bit more please ?

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Heather
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Sure. You said you'd felt a bit confused about your feelings round sex, because sometimes it felt good during, but then usually, later, you'd not feel good about it. My point was that we can be emotionally conflicted about sex or a given sexual situation, or even feel not okay about it but still experience pleasure.

In terms of working on healing, there are plenty of routes to go through this process, and again, remember, it's a long-term process. Personally, I always encourage people to try and start with some counseling or a support group coming from people who are qualified and trained to work with abuse and assault survivors. Is that something you'd be interested in?

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Pinkie Pie
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Oh okay, so like physical pleasure =/= being sure about wanting to have sex ? That would make a lot of sense in a lot of situations I've been in.

I'd definitely be interested in counselling, I currently have a counsellor at my college, but she does CBT for my phobia. Where could I get this specific type of counselling ?

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Heather
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Nope. I mean, I think it's safe to say that more often than not, really, really wanting to be sexual is what equals people having the most pleasure, and more times than not, when people don't want to have sex, they don't enjoy having sex.

But sometimes there are exceptions to those things, for a bunch of reasons. One of them can include kind of forming one's sexuality around nonconsent, too.

In other words, if all we know of sexuality is that our boundaries and consent doesn't matter, it can feel like those things ARE part of our sexuality. This is often something people who have been sexually assaulted or abused --especially when that's all they have experienced, or those have been all their formative experiences around sex -- often have to work to really unlearn. (It's also one reason why healing when still with someone who has abused you or assaulted you, and who you are still close to, can be difficult, if not impossible.)

In the UK, I thinks Rape Crisis is fantastic, and know many people I have referred to them over the years who have had excellent experiences. They have centers and counselors all over the country, and their services are fee. They're online here: http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/

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Pinkie Pie
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Hello I'm back.. I thought I'd let you know what's happened since we last spoke..

My boyfriend & I broke up just over a week ago. He said we both needed time to get better; I needed to recover from the rape, & he needed to learn how not to rape. At first I was really happy because he was putting my happiness before his, by stopping me being in a relationship with one of my rapists despite how much he wants to be with me. I felt so relieved after he did it because being out of a relationship means I don't have to have sex any more, and it kind of proved to me that he was willing to sacrifice his own happiness to look after me & give me what I need.

But then a few days later he said he wanted me back, I missed him too so I said I wanted to start seeing him again but I didn't want a relationship because labels like 'boyfriend' and 'relationship' have such negative connotations for me. And I still needed a LOT more time to recover from everything. But he said he was too unhappy without me and that he needed the labels to feel secure. I said that I was too unhappy in a relationship where I had been raped and he said that he felt bad when he raped me but he felt worse without me so he would rather be in a relationship and risk raping me again. This makes me feel really scared.

We told my best friend about the rape together, & that finally made it all a bit real, to have someone else hear it. He said that we obviously care about each other & should try again in an innocent relationship, like the ones you have when you're a kid where you don't even think about sex. I really want that. Sex, to me, is something really horrible and scary and I don't want to have to think about it again for a very long time. My boyfriend said he'd be willing to wait for me but he would want sex eventually and I'm so scared that he'd end up pressuring me if I went back to him. He started to say stuff like my abusive ex used to, as well, like "you'll never find anyone who agrees with you" and "you're too old now to have an innocent relationship".

I'm so scared, I would love to just have someone I go on innocent little dates with, someone whose hand I can hold & who will just wait for me no matter what, but that just made me feel like I can never have that & that if I want a relationship I'm just gonna have to put up with the rape.

I've really stopped believing that you can have a relationship with a man and not be raped, it's scary & I don't know what to do.

I've been crying really hard over this, I got really upset last night because I just couldn't stop thinking about it, I think telling my best friend made everything real & kind of helped stop my mind from repressing it so much (I've never dealt with any of the memories I've always just blamed myself and pushed it to the back of my mind). It got to the point where I couldn't cope so I called the Samaritans. I got some really good advice & I realised that I am scared of my boyfriend & the most important thing right now is for me to feel safe so I have to leave him if he keeps making me feel unsafe. I just don't know what to do because if I leave him altogether I'll be heartbroken because I love him. I feel so trapped.

And I don't get to see my counsellor for another two weeks & I really don't know how to deal with this [Frown]

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Heather
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Pinkie: I'm so sorry you've been going through all of this. I do think the best choice was made here in support of your healing and safety when it comes to breaking up. And the way you have been standing up for yourself and asserting your needs and safety is fantastic. I'm sorry that you have had to, but it sounds like you're really doing an excellent job in a very, very difficult situation to be doing that in.

I'm also glad to hear you really paying attention to cues and red flags about this person and the way they are interacting with you: so many people have a hard time seeing those, especially when they have already been entrenched in an unhealthy relationship.

You also told someone else: that was very brave and really in the interest of getting the support and hep with self-care we all need. Big time, well done. And you called for more help when you needed it.

I know all of this is very hard, but I hope that at the least you are able to give yourself a lot of props for these things.

So, in the interest of figuring out how to come to a resolution you feel like you can live with, that's also about what you want and need in terms of care, safety and healthy interactions, I hear you seeking out so much hep and quality advice.

Has your ex/boyfriend done any of that himself yet? Is he seeking out anything like counseling and support for himself? Has he told anyone in his life the truth of all of this yet?

quote:
I'm so scared, I would love to just have someone I go on innocent little dates with, someone whose hand I can hold & who will just wait for me no matter what, but that just made me feel like I can never have that & that if I want a relationship I'm just gonna have to put up with the rape.
I want to make sure you know that this is not true. From what I can gather, this is something someone trying to manipulate you -- whether he realizes he's doing that or not -- into giving him what he wants, for himself, without caring, for whatever reason, about the impact that will have on you. But you know what? You can't have that with him, obviously. But you CAN have that with someone else who will never assault you and who will not manipulate you. If nothing else, he's telling you the truth about HIS limitations in these kinds of statements, but they are NOT the truth about yours in your life, with other people.

Know what I mean?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Heather
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By the way, if personal anecdotes help you, while I have spent my romantic/sexual life with men as well as women, I have not had a single relationship since my assaults when I was younger in which anyone assaulted me or tried to assault me, whatever their gender.

And maybe what you can take away from that is that if we know that can be/is true for even just one person, then it cannot be true that no one can have that. I'm hardly the only person with that history, but even if I was, "no one" couldn't be true anymore.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Pinkie Pie
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Thank you, Heather, I feel really proud of myself for doing all that [Smile]

I went out for coffee with the ex/boyfriend yesterday & told him I felt scared of him & what it is I want from a relationship right now. He said that he wanted to be that person & that he would wait for me. I really love him & really want him to be that person for me. He said that he did what he did because I was his 'first' & he got a bit carried away and obsessed with having sex. He said he realises now that he wasn't ready any more than I was. I suggested to him getting counselling for himself, but he seemed VERY reluctant. He said, "I'd need a valid reason to get a counsellor," so I said that if he told a counselling service, "I'm a rapist & I don't want to hurt women any more," that'd sound like a pretty valid reason to anyone. He then said, "I've raped, but I'm not a rapist," which seemed off to me. I told him I would support him as much as I could if he got counselling, & I think I would start to feel safe around him again if he was getting counselling, but I don't think he would do it of his own free will.

I talked to one of my friends about it, and she said that from the man's point of view, it's easy to misinterpret silence as a 'maybe she likes it, I should keep going', which I understand.. She asked what I'd do if it was her initiating the sex, & I said I'd push her away and assert my boundaries. & she said that's what I should do when I'm with him, which I agree with. I think me & him were too young & unready to be having sex & I can't just make him out to be a monster when he was just doing what most stupid young teenage blokes do to their girlfriends. What I got from your second post there is that as we get older we get better at respecting boundaries, which I am happy to wait for.

I'm just so confused. Last night I was talking to him on Skype & the conversation turned somewhat sexual. I was completely fine with it, I've always enjoyed cybersex.. I think being in control of the conversation and knowing I can close the conversation whenever I want is why I like it, but then, back in the real world, I'm terrified of any kind of sexual contact, especially with this guy. It was kind of confusing.

Also the fact that we were hanging out yesterday & it was just like when we first met, we were laughing and flirting and enjoying each others company. It's like he is this lovely guy that I want to be with & he makes this one mistake & suddenly he's an evil rapist. When I'm also at fault for not asserting my boundaries clearly or consistently.

Basically... massive confusion. Your posts are really helping though [Smile] Thank you.

EDIT: Just talked to him about this, & he DOES actually intend to get a counsellor. Basically he's willing to do everything that would make me feel safe around him now.

[ 08-02-2011, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: Pinkie Pie ]

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Heather
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It sounds to me like this guy has a very long way to go when it comes to recognizing that a) he committed a serious crime, b) it was likely not about his being "obsessed with sex," c) taking real responsibility and d) understanding the gravity of what he did.

It also sounds to me like he's a long way off from having any idea at all -- outside the way this makes him feel about himSELF -- about how this has impacted you, the person he victimized. If he doesn't even recognize all of this is a valid reason to get counseling, or that, without it, he is very, very likely to reoffend, be it with you or someone else, then what you have to know is that this person remains very unsafe.

It sounds like you already know all of this, so consider me simply backing you up here.

That said, I hear you still doing a bit of excusing his behaviour, too. I'm not really on board with what your friend said here, in large part because we know, from a lot of study, that there is a big difference between sexual violence and sexual fumbling. While our culture allows for a LOT of lack of responsibility around this, that shouldn't be mistaken for the truth of anything save the truth that we still excuse or rationalize sexual violence a lot, and let a lot of people get away with doing it.

Too, I think it's important you know that it is NOT true that most teenage guys sexually assault their girlfriends or that sex they initiate isn't consensual (the statistics change, though, once we look at younger teen girls with guys in their older teens or who are over 18: that's where we see higher rates of that). What we know from studies and reporting and sound statistics, IMO, if that, in fact, it is the MINORITY who do that.

I think another thing to maybe start thinking about with this guy is the bigger picture. So far, based on all you've written and said, I'm not seeing this totally awesome guy who messed up once or twice with sexual violence. I'm seeing someone who isn't willing or able to take personal responsibility for things, and who also has been, and still seems to be being, manipulative in some ways. This hearkens to a person who has a bigger pattern of being controlling or abusive.

Have you and I talked yet about patterns/cycles of abuse so you can perhaps better evaluate this in a bigger way, rather than just looking at one or two past incidents of abuse? Like talking about how pretty much NO abusive relationships are always violent or what seems like abuse, but how they usually have a cycle which includes "honeymoon" periods?

[ 08-02-2011, 10:54 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Heather
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Just saw your edit. Still glad to talk about all the things I just brought up before you made it, but how about this?

How about you set a limit with him that UNTIL he has had a few counseling sessions, you two simply take some time away from each other?

One thing you should know is that if and when he does start that counseling and tells the counselor his history with you, that counselor is about 110% likely to tell him he may NOT be in ANY kind of sexual relationship with anyone, and should not be in an intimate relationship with you or anyone else he has abused in any way. That's not just about your safety, it's about his having a chance at changing his own behaviour and the way he relates: once a relationship has had any kind of pattern of abuse, it is very, very hard for an abusive person to change that pattern with that person, something people who counsel people who abuse or have abused others generally always have a consensus about.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Pinkie Pie
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Ok... I think you're right. I looked back at what he said to me & he actually shows no awareness of something being wrong, he just wants to get a counsellor so I'll go back out with him.

Why does he say he loves me & wants to be with me so much if he just wants to hurt me ?? I just don't understand. [Frown]

I think a lot of my experiences have been explained and rationalised away by society's expectation, which is why I've always been so conflicted over them.. Half the time I feel very empowered being able to say I was raped, & then I tell someone who says 'it's not rape, it happens to everyone' and I'm back to square one. I'm starting to feel a bit stronger in this respect though. I can see where I'm making excuses for him & I know that needs to stop.

I want to cut ties with him but that seems unbelievably hard right now [Frown]

& I think you've mentioned abusive cycles before, we've never really talked about them though.

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Pinkie Pie
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Saw your second post... That sounds like a really, really good idea. If he does go for the counselling, I'd be more than happy to do that.
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Heather
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quote:
I looked back at what he said to me & he actually shows no awareness of something being wrong, he just wants to get a counsellor so I'll go back out with him.
That sounds likely right to me, too, and it would, unfortunately, be very much in line with someone who has a pattern of being manipulative.

quote:
Why does he say he loves me & wants to be with me so much if he just wants to hurt me ?? I just don't understand.
You probably don't need me to tell you that this is a very big question with some pretty complex answers. We can talk in depth about this if you want, but if you want something summarized as much as it can be, then I think the best answer is that not everyone knows how to love someone else, and not everyone can tell the difference between love and control.

It's not at all uncommon for even partners who are sexually assaulting and physically beating partners to earnestly think that they love them. Now, obviously, from the outside, most of us will recognize that of course they don't love them, because that is not how we treat someone we love. However, we need to know that people who abuse/assault people are not well-adjusted people, not people who understand healthy relationships, who have the desire or ability to have healthy relationships.

The why of all of that isn't something we can summarize, because it's not the same for everyone. For instance, some people were raised in such a way that all that was modeled for them was abuse, control and dysfunction, so that's the way they learned to interact with others. For others, there can be issues of personality disorders. It varies. I don't know anything about this guy's history to be able to guess at what his deal is.

So, in terms of abuse cycles, what most typically happens is that someone controlling, abusive or manipulative leads with the sweet stuff. They're nice. They act in a way that seems or feels loving. Then, over time, things build up: the things that trigger their desire for control start triggering. Then, things escale and some kind of abuse happens, be it verbal, sexual, physical, emotional or some other kind. Then, they usually go right back to that sweet space, being very apologetic (even though they rarely actually take responsibility), and the cycle starts anew.

This is really the big why around why people don't have an easy time leaving abusive relationships or identifying them. So many people have the idea that abusive relationships are always in that phase of the cycle where some kind of explosion is happening -- an attack or assault -- so when those honeymoon phases happen, they second-guess it all. This cycle can also play a huge part in kind of getting stuck in abuse, because it can make a person being abused feel like they can somehow just do the right things and make those "sweet" times last forever. Of course, what often goes without recognition is the fact that those times are part of abuse.

Again, I am seriously summarizing here. But the point is that most people who abuse or control, if not all, do not behave in a way that many people learn is abuse. Being sweet or nice sometimes doesn't mean someone isn't being abusive, manipulative or controlling. Unfortunately, what it often means is just that they're good at it: after all, if someone didn't behave like that, and was just exploding most of the time, few if any people would get close to them in the first place. It'd be a lot easier to see the danger coming.

[ 08-02-2011, 11:41 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Heather
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Per your second question I quoted there, I realized I didn't address the second part of your question.

It can be tough to understand, but people who feel the need to control, hurt and manipulate other people DO tend to feel those things as needs, even though they're obviously not things anyone needs to be doing.

Especially around control, not being with someone like that means a loss of control, which is about the scariest thing there is to someone who feels the need to control someone or something.

And again, one of the other hard things to wrap our heads around is that sometimes people who do other people harm and keep doing it don't really understand it the way other people do. It's not that they don't know they aren't doing harm, they usually do, they just can have rationalizations or other things going on that make it seem either like it's supposed to be what happens or where they are just so caught up in their own headspace and their own experiences of things they just aren't clearly seeing that other person as separate from themselves.

That was a bit obscure, but do you get what I'm getting at?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Heather
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(Just an FYI, I'm heading off today, and will probably be offline for most of the day tomorrow. So, if you want to keep talking with me, we can pick this up again Thursday. Or, you can also keep this conversation going with one of our volunteers.

Just didn't want to leave you hanging and wondering what the heck was going on.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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Pinkie Pie
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What you say about the abusive cycle makes an awful lot of sense... I really don't want to admit it but I can recognise it in him. I know he grew up in a dysfunctional household, which could be where it comes from.

The start of our relationship, he was so nice, he never did anything wrong, he never shouted at me, or made me do anything I didn't want to.. He was really kind and understanding and I thought he was my perfect guy. And then when I started to feel bad about sex, because of what happened before, things started going bad, & then one day he just got angry & raped me. Immediately after he was really upset & apologetic & said he felt really bad. He didn't want to see me for a while because he felt like he shouldn't be around me because of what he did, but I begged him to come back [Frown]

But things were all good after that, we didn't have sex at all, apart from when I wanted to. I still have a lot of bad ideas ingrained in my head from everything that's happened, so most of the time, I'm the one forcing myself to have sex any way, but he couldn't know that. There were times I did want to & I did enjoy it.

And then when we broke up, I thought that was so caring of him, because he was putting my safety before my happiness. But now, I feel like he's putting his happiness first again, & is pressuring me to get back with him. I told him yesterday that I felt unsafe & that he didn't recognise what he'd done wrong (I told him, "We both need a lot of work before either of us are ready for sex, you understand that?" & he replied with, "Does that mean we can still talk dirty on Skype?") & that I didn't want to get back with him at all, & he got mad & stopped talking to me. I called him later & he was very apologetic, telling me everything that I want to hear & saying that he'd go to counselling, that he'd change, etc. etc.

It just reminds me of the time that I found out he'd been lying about his sexual history & that we were at risk of STIs, so I kept on at him about getting tested, & he promised me a lot that he'd go, then in the end just turned round & refused. I have a feeling this is what him saying he'll get counselling is going to end up like.

I'm really scared.. If whenever I try & leave him, he just gets mad and manipulates me into wanting him back, how do I get out ? & more importantly, how do I convince myself that I actually WANT out? I keep wanting to believe that he's going to change for me & that we can be happy again. But I don't see why he can't change outside of the relationship. He keeps saying to me, "How will you ever know I've changed if you don't get back with me?" I don't want to put myself at risk of getting raped again. Staying away from me & getting a LOT of counselling will let me know he's changed. How do I tell him that ??


Also, where can I go to get help recovering from rape? You gave me a link further up but that website just seemed to deal with what to do if it's only just happened. I had a really delayed response where even though it happened months and months ago, it only hit me & I only broke down about it the other night. Now I keep crying all the time & I just want to get better.. I was with my best friend yesterday, who is the first and only person out of all of the friends I've told about my previous relationship who believes that the coercion was actually rape and wasn't actually my fault. I feel very safe around him, and he knows that my ex/boyfriend raped me too, so I could talk to him about it. I still find it really hard to say out loud but he was really understanding & could vocalise a lot of my feelings for me. He suggested that I could find a local focus group for survivors where I could go get help. I quite like that idea, have you got any information on things like that?

I just want to talk to my counsellor but I don't see her until the 18th [Frown]

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Heather
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Rape Crisis, who I linked you to -- http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/ -- isn't just for services immediately after sexual assault or abuse. They're for support and counseling for survivors any time after. In fact, I referred a woman my age there who used them and was really helped whose assaults had happened 30 years before. So, you can still utilise what they have to offer now.

I have to tel you, I continue to be really impressed with how in touch with all your thoughts and feelings you are in all of this: that's really unusual, and that's excellent for you. I think that once you can start some counseling around all of this and get your life clear of people who have abused or assaulted you or do that you're going to find that you feel a lot better very quickly. I wish I could say that to everyone, but I'm glad I can say that to you.

It's clear you're seeing patterns of manipulation and lack of responsibility here. For instance, someone at all healthy would want to go into counseling to be sure they never did what they did to you to ANYONE else again, and to change things for themselves so that they didn't have to feel the way one does who is inclined to abuse and assault people. But it's obvious he's not there at all: it sounds like he's lobbed on to counseling only as a way he can potentially use it to keep you around or get what he wants. That's really sad for him, but we're here working for you, and what that is for you is an indication this person is still really unsafe. Chances are that what would happen if he did go, and you said you would get involved with him again is that he'd go only as long as he needed to to get you back, then he'd immediately stop, saying something like that the counselor sucked, or they couldn't help, or some other excuse.

I hear you saying you keep believing he could change for you, so I wonder if it might not help to realize that no one really can cultivate major change FOR someone else. In order for him to earnestly change, he'd have to want to do it for himself. And the kind of change we're talking about here is rare even with help, and when it does happen, tends to take years of hard work and dedication TO oneself and to that change FOR oneself. I don't get the impression this is someone capable of that or anywhere near that place in his life. Do you?

What you may also be identifying in that desire to have him change for you is a couple things. That could be about low self-esteem on your part. It might also be about very much wanting him to do something that feels like some real kind of making amends. Either way, I don't think staying with this person is going to do anything but make issues like that worse, rather than better. Again, I think you, like everyone, deserves someone who is good to you right at the gate, and who always remains good to you. I think you deserve a healthy relationship that has always been so.

Getting out of a controlling relationship is certainly often tricky, but if you like, we can talk together and come up with a plan for you to help you do that without the same results. You've got friends now who know what happened, and that's fantastic, because part of doing that in a way that works usually involves a team effort of support.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Just checking in to see how you're doing.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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