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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Was this rape or sexual abuse? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Was this rape or sexual abuse?
megan0596
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It has taken a lot of courage for what i'm about to post here as I've remained quiet about this for two weeks and haven't told anybody. I feel ashamed and embarrassed and really don't know what to do.
I was staying at a friends house two weekends ago, this is a friend who i've know for several years and have stayed there before. I will say that I am not a virgin and have had a boyfriend since the beginning of the year. The weekend that I stayed at my friends, her mother was out of town so it was just me, my friend, her sisters and her father. Saturday night, my friend and I went to a late movie and went to bed when we got home. They have a big house so I have my own room when staying there. About two hours after we got home, my friends father entered the room I stayed in and closed and locked the door. Now I knew something was going to happen right away because he took his shirt and pants off and pretty much put his hand over my my mouth and told me to be quiet. I will admit that even though I have a bf, I have always found this man very attractive. The next thing I know is that he is kissing me and removing my top and bottoms and within a few minutes we are having sex. I can't even believe this is happening and my first thought is "oh my god, I'm cheating on my bf". I asked him to please stop and he wouldn't, and he just got more aggressive, like he was out to prove something. The sex was very different than what I had been used too and I will be honest and say that it became very pleasing to me and it seemed to last a long time so it was very hard for me to break away from it. My thoughts went away from thinking about my boyfriend or that this was my friends father, and instead centered on how good it felt. Anyway I've felt guilty the last two weeks and have had a range of emotions. I've cried in my room for hours but I also find myself fantasizing about him. I don't know what to think or what to do. I don't know if this was rape or abuse or if this was my fault. I'm just confused.

Megan

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Hello Megan,

I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you. This was not your fault, this was that man's fault 100 percent. What he did was wrong and it was rape. You did not give consent, and he did this anyway. Even after you told him to stop he did not. Enjoying it in any way or feeling your body react in ways that it does when you're having consentual sex does not make what he did okay. People tend to react in a variety of ways to any kind of abuse, and people have a different set of emotions about these different things. You did not cheat on your boyfriend. Rape is not sex.

Scarleteen is pretty understaffed right now but I'm sure one of the volunteers or staff members will be along soon to give you advice that I would never even think of. For now, is there anyone in your life that you would feel comfortable confiding in by telling them what was done to you? Reaching out on Scarleteen is an important step, I am glad that you were able to do that. Also, if you look around the main site there are some articles that can really help with this.

How can we best help you right now?

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Heather
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megan0596: you're right, it does take a lot of courage to break silence about sexual abuse or assault. I'm so glad you were able to do that.

I'm just starting to come back after a little break, so am not all the way here yet, but why don't you clue us in as to what direction you'd like to take with this conversation and how you think we can best help you right now? For instance, we can talk about the sexual responses you had to this that obviously bothered you, about what consent is and is not, about reporting if you want to consider that, about where and how to find in-person or phone counseling near you, the works. Just let us know and we'll take this in the direction you think would help you most right now.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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megan0596
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I guess, I just have a range of emotions that I am having a hard time understanding. There was some attraction to him which I suppose played a part in the way I reacted with him. There are guilty feelings regarding what happened and how my bf would feel if he knew what happened. I feel like I betrayed him. Yet as bad as I feel about that, I also experienced something with this older man and I wonder if this will happen again and how I will react and I have found myself fantasizing about it since it happened. I haven't been back to their house since. I think if I go back, that this could happen again. I really feel like I must have wanted this and he even said that to me while this was happening and he made me admit that to him. While I won't go into detail, He said things to me while it happened and while he may have just been saying stuff for the hell of it, most of what he said was actually true and I believe him.

Megan

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Heather
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Okay, so let me try and riff a little around what it sounds like is sitting heaviest with you right now.

Whether or not we consent to sexual activity doesn't dictate how we will respond to it. For instance, some people reach orgasm while being sexually assaulted, but their body responding that way still doesn't magically make the "no" someone said -- or them not being asked at all -- turn into a yes unless THEY, with free will and without coercion, say yes at some point. Make sense?

Let's dig a little bit into the tricker and more complex waters of this, and please understand I am not dictating your experience here. Only you know what that was, and whatever you say it was, that's what I'll think and know it was, okay?

Thing is, let's say -- again, I'm not sure if this happened or not -- this person began by doing things forcibly and without your consent, which they did. They began to attempt to sexually assault you. Then let's say that at some point, you decided you DID want to do what they were doing. Then in that case, we are potentially talking about a situation where there was sexual abuse/assault but also consensual sex. And that can be something that happens sometimes.

I also want to bring up something that comes up sometimes which is that if and when someone is generally turned on by someone being dominating, by forceful sex, then for sure, a sexual assault can be more confusing sometimes for someone in that position. Again, I don't know if that rings true for you or not.

Regardless, people who are sexually assaulting people will very often tell their victims they want what is happening, it's their fault, to tell them they want them: this is almost textbook it's so common. And that tells us much more about people who assault people than it tells us about people who are assaulted. And no matter what, even if and when we DO want to engage in some kind of sex with someone, we still won't always say yes to that opportunity, for a world of different reasons.

And when we say no, when we say to stop, it makes no difference what our sexual desires in our heads or our bodies might be, because we have made clear we are not okay with or interested in expressing them in that situation, with that person, or at that time. So, even if part of you did want to be sexual with this person, consent isn't about mind-reading. It's about what is actually communicated. Do you understand that difference?

[ 08-07-2012, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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megan0596
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I know that I didn't want this to happen, I just feel like I didn't have time to react or that I couldn't anyway because he was in the room and on top of me. Then I realize it was happening and I guess I was more in shock that I was laying there having sex with my best friends dad. Then he was sweet talking me, almost like he was controlling me and then what he was doing started to feel good, and thats when I thought of my bf and asked him to stop. Then he said, "oh you feel guilty don't you...it feels good doesn't it" and I told him that it did. I have no idea why I told him that because then he got more dominant, rough, agressive I guess you could say and then at that point I just really couldn't do anything else about it and I guess I lost control.
What bothers me is that I know what he did was wrong, yet because of what happened I now find myself thinking about him. I also have lost interest in my bf and I don't want to hurt him. I don't know what to think and I wonder what will happen when I go over to my friends house again. Was this just a one time thing for him, does he want more than that with me. I guess I'm just young and don't really understand. Maybe this was just a game to him, I don't know.

Megan

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Heather
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I don't know how much you know about sexual assault broadly, so if I say things that are redundant for you, my apologies.

But freezing up due to shock is very, very common when any of us is being attacked or assaulted in any way.

As well, it sounds like this person was engaging some extra verbal coercion into the mix to try and keep you mollified (and probably also because -- as is common when people rape -- they were getting off on the power trip). And you responding how you were asked to was most likely just about instinctual survival mode stuff: we are often compliant like that when being attacked, because our gut instincts can tell us, often rightly, that complying is safer than resisting.

Losing interest -- sexualy or otherwise -- in relationships or people after assault is normal. We really can't be assaulted and then just hop right back into our lives as if nothing had happened: sexual assault most typically has a very big impact, just like say, getting hit by a car does, if you get me.

I don't think going to this house where this person lives or appears again is a good idea. I think going there is counter to your personal safety. If you are not going to report 9and we can talk about options with that if you like), then I think staying away from there is the next best thing, safety-wise. If and when someone attacks or assaults us, we have to know they have shown themselves to be unsafe, and absolutely could repeat the behaviour. With rape in particular, most offenders do not only rape anyone just once, but instead, rape many times over time, often with far more than one victim. [Frown]

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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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megan0596
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So if I know what he did was wrong, why do I keep thinking about him? Why am I fantasizing about him?

Megan

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Heather
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Sometimes -- and I'd say often, especially right after an assault -- sexual abuse or assault can sort of hijack our sexuality in some ways. To boot, the fact that this person did a lot of telling you you liked and wanted it likely had an impact: things we're told under trauma often take time to dump, and are often things we'll believe.

As well, as you've said, this was complex for you: you were attracted to this person, you did have some sexual desire for this person before the assault. So, I suspect that's playing a part here, too.

To boot, an assault is a big deal, usually. It takes time -- often years, at a minimum, to process and work through. So, it is, in various ways, likely to be in the forefront of your mind for a while.

Might you be at all interested in looking into getting some counseling to help you through all of this? Often, in many places, excellent counseling for rape and abuse survivors is no-cost or low-cost.

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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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megan0596
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Ok, I decided that I needed to go back over to their house because everything was uncomfortable and my friend was wondering why i hadn't been over. On Tuesday night, I went over in the afternoon and spent some time with my friend. I was asked to stay for dinner and when he came home, he didn't say anything but he was looking at me funny, i guess grinning is what it was. I had dinner with them, and he didnt say anything to me all night. I didn't go to school yesterday and apparently he knew that so I was very surprised when he was knocking on my door at 11am. He asked to come in and for whatever reason I let him in. I dont know what it is or why i feel the way i do when I see him but I get a scared but somehow excited feeling and I will admit I had a lump in my throat when I saw him at the door. I won't go into details but I feel horrible at what is going here. There is no romance or anything like that, there is no love between us or anything but within 10 minutes of him being there he's got me in the bedroom and we are having what I would call very rough sex. He's very dominant and controlling and without being graphic, he just controls me with what he's doing. I'm embarrassed afterwards but it's all I think about when it's happening. I know what is going on isn't right and I still have my boyfriend. Can somebody please explain what is going on with me?

Megan

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Robin Lee
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Megan,

Was this sex that you agreed to? It sounds from what you described as if it isn't, but I wanted to check in with that. Know too that even if you didn't say no, if you didn't say yes either then it's not something you agreed to.

It sounds like it's not safe for you to be around this guy anymore. What do you think about making sure that you're not alone with him from here on out?

As to what is going on with you, it sounds like it's pretty complex. Have you given any thought as to whether you'd like to find some counselling?

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Robin

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Heather
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Getting involved in an intimate relationship with someone who assaulted you is an incredibly emotionally dangerous thing to do.

It also may be a choice you're making -- assuming you are, you say this is ongoing and you're letting him in your home understanding what will happen, so there is clearly some level of choice here -- because you are still traumatized and haven't sought out any needed help.

We can't explain why you're doing what you are: you're the person who is going to have the most clues about that. But what we can say is you're choosing to be with someone who you know is dangerous, and who has assaulted you, and that's a very risky thing to do emotionally and physically, for anyone.

As well, if you're in a sexual relationship with someone else and not telling them you are involved, now, with this person, you are potentially putting their health at risk, and are also obviously keeping something from them which they probably would very much want to know, and would have a right to know as far as making their own decision about if they want to be in the relationship with you they are while you are engaging in sex with someone else.

So, my very best advice is that you seek out some help from a qualified counselor ASAP. I think seeking out rape victim services would be ideal, because all of this may well be in reaction to your assault. You express feeling that he controls you and that you have no choices here in some respect, that sex is "happening." If that is how you feel, that says to me that you're basically walking into a knowingly abusive relationship and feeling unable to take any action to stop it: and that, if that's what's happening, means you need big-time help, ASAP, okay?

[ 08-23-2012, 01:25 PM: 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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megan0596
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I didn't say yes or no but I knew what was going to happen. As I've said before, I have an attraction to him even though he's much older than me. I don't know why I feel the way I do towards him, I can't explain it other than its sexual. I've never really been involved with anyone to this kind of sexual level so I don't know if that's it or not. We obviously have some sort of physical connection because we can't be doing what we do and not have that. He knows exactly what he's doing and he knows how I respond. I would be very embarrassed if my parents ever found this out and I'm scared now that someone might tell them that he was over at my house.

Megan

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Heather
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So, he didn't ask for your consent, but you understood that if you let him in, he would have sex with you?

I strongly think you need to tell someone: a rape counselor, your friend (if nothing else, that should help you keep from seeking this guy out at their house), a parent, the police, SOMEONE. And now. You might feel embarrassed, sure. But feeling embarrassed sounds a lot better to me than getting stuck in abuse and assault.

I do think you two have a connection, but I think you need to understand that for him, what that connection likely is is that he has found someone who he can get away with assaulting and abusing. And you very well may not be the first or only person, by the way, he has found that "connection" with. This person has shown himself to be extraordinarily predatory. Grooming your daughter's friend for sexual abuse and using your children's friendships to access victims is not only deeply unlawful behavior, it is a signal of someone with something SERIOUSLY wrong with them.

Is that the person you want to be in your life? And that's a serious question, because singing on to that role in life is basically signing on to serious danger and a world of hurt. It's also a trap that is VERY hard for people to crawl out of once they are in it.

[ 08-23-2012, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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

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Robin Lee
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Yes, there are consequences to this outside of you, not only your parents possibly finding out, but, as Heather said, consequences to your partner.


Sometimes when people have a secret between them, like you and this guy have, the secret starts to take on a life of its own, and that's not always a good thing. In this case it's not a good thing at all. It's really crucial that you tell someone in your life, before this escalates any further.

A healthy sexual relationship is one in which both parties discuss and agree on things. This is not that.
You've been clear that this guy raped you; we know that he raped you. Any continuing sexual contact between the two of you is dangerous for you physically, and emotionally. I do understand the appeal of having a secret, and the thrill, even charge, from doing something clandestine, but this isn't okay. This guy is your friend's father, yes? This really, really is not okay.

At this point, it needs to stop. You can work on figuring out why it was happening, and how you feel about it, but the first thing is to stop it. Do you feel like you're able to do that? What will you do if he comes to the door again? Who in your life can you talk to about this?

We really strongly encourage you to get counselling to help you through this. We can help you find services in your area.

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Robin

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Heather
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You know, Megan, the longer I sit with this, the more not-okay I feel about this not being reported.

All I have to work with is your IP address, which gives me your basic area, your email and your birthdate. I could use that information and these posts to make some kind of report, but it likely wouldn't go very far, because identifying who this man is, even if the police could identify you, isn't something anyone could do without information from you about who he is. As well, I don't feel good about even trying to file a report on your behalf and taking that power, as it were, away from you.

I'm telling you this, and feeling this way, because doing nothing about someone who predates and assaults minors, and may very well -- as many people who do this do -- have a pattern of doing so via his children's friends is not really something I can live with. Suffice it to say, I am also very, very seriously concerned about your safety and well-being, especially since it seems pretty clear that you are having a hard time doing what you need to to stay safe and stay away from this man (and if he's been working on you well before this happened via your friend, that's probably a big part of why).

That all given, the very best scenario here would be for YOU to report this man to the police, for your safety, his children's safety, the safety of anyone else he may have already assaulted or may assault besides you. Is there some way I can convince you to take that step?

[ 08-23-2012, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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

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bookwormfairy
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If you don't mind me chiming in here, I agree with Heather. I was in a similar situation almost two years as you and Heather and volunteers has helped me a great deal. Like you, an older adult did something that I was really confused about and some how from there it progressed to secrets sexual relationship. I went on Scarleteen for help because I was confused about whether it was right or not. I didn't want anyone to know since it would cause a major rection from people nor did I want to report it, for the same reason. In the end, Heather helped me organize my thoughts and feelings and I eneded up telling someone and it got reported. I'm happy with how it all turned out and I hope that it turns out well for you on whatever it is you decide.

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~Lillian

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Heather
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Megan: I'm very concerned about you. Can you check in with us?

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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

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megan0596
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Sorry, I've had a lot going on. It happened two more times and it turns out that he was just leading me on, making me think there was something going to happen between us. I know what he did was wrong but some of it's my fault such as being a willing participant other than the very first time I suppose. I told my parents who contacted the police and he was arrested last week. It was very hard to tell them because now I wonder what they really think of me. I am also seeing a counselor as of yesterday. I'm sad because I still think about him and the things we did and wonder how it could have been so wrong but I know that it was. I just never really connected with anyone like I did with him.

Megan

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Heather
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Oh, Megan. I'm so sorry this kept going on at all.

But I can't express how glad I am you told your parents. I know disclosing something like this -- especially with a friend in the mix -- is very hard and can be really scary, but for your safety, for everyone's safety, I'm so glad you did, and glad your parents and the police took action.

The last time you posted, I took some time to make some connections in your area with a few different people and groups who provide help and support service for sexual abuse victims and survivors. Did the police give you any contacts like that beyond the counselor you're seeing? If not -- or even if so -- would you like me to make you a list of them?

I think getting at the why's here is going to take some time, and probably more than usual because given your age, the kind of relationship you had to him (him being a parent of a best friend), and the fact that some grooming likely went on here, it's going to be really tough to sort out what your feelings were here, and what you might think and feel because that's what this person manipulated you into feeling. And that has a lot to do with assigning blame or fault here, too: hopefully the counselor and you can talk about all of these things so you can start to gradually make sense of them. I know it's hard and I know it can be terribly confusing.

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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

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Robin Lee
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Hi Megan,

Thank you so much for checking in.

I know it was tough, and you still have a lot of conflicted feelings, but I'm glad to hear that you did tell your parents and that the police and legal system are now involved.

I'm also glad to hear you're in counselling.

You experienced a lot of new things with this man, and it's understandable that that was exciting for you, but he had a lot more power than you did in this interaction, and he didn't have your needs or best interests at heart; rapists and abusers know very well how to manipulate the people they prey on, and they don't always do it with violence. Often they do it just like he did, by using, for his own abusive purposes, a young woman's desire for secrecy and adventure.

Please feel free to also come here to talk as you work through figuring this out.

I know it doesn't feel totally good right now, but you did do the right thing.

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Robin

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Heather
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By the way, bookworkfairy went through a very publicized legal case with her abuse, and charges that stemmed from her mother reporting. She's worked very hard to come out the other side, and I know she struggled with similar feelings, so if you think talking to her more here would be helpful to you, I'd be happy to drop her a line and see if she's got a little time.

--------------------
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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megan0596
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Well the counseling just doesn't seem to be helping and I cannot stop thinking about him. I guess I just don't feel that what happened was really wrong even though I know everybody is telling me that it is. I just feel like there was a connection between us, that i've never had with any guy. It's just hard to understand and nobody will listen to me.

Megan

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Heather
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Hey, Megan. Sorry to hear you're struggling with this. I'm hoping one thing your counselor told you is that healing from something like this -- and I recognize that for you, right now, this might not seem like a thing to need healing from -- tends to take a great deal of time: not days, weeks or even months, but most commonly, many years, and in some sense a lifetime. And it will also tend to take a lot of time to work through.

Has your counselor also talked to you about how being in an exploitive or abusive interchange or relationship very much IS, in many ways, a strong connection? It's one that is seriously broken, and isn't healthy, but it absolutely forms certain feelings of a bond, especially for the abused person.

As well -- and again, hopefully you two have talked some about this -- no relationship is one-domensional. So, even in abuse or exploitation, people involved can still have ways they connect or places that connect that we can't say aren't about the abuse, especially in a situation like yours, but might be connections felt or experienced even without that context, if you follow me.

In other words, some of that connection you felt and the attachment you formed might well be about things that happened in the context of abuses and exploitation, but weren't really about them, especially for you as someone who clearly didn't totally understand, especially emotionally, what was abusive about what was going on.

On top of all of that, given your age, I can't imagine you've had a whole lot of experience with sexual or intimate relationships in the first place. So, having an experience that was radically different than with "any guy" might be less about this and this guy, and more about simply starting to have more experience with connections with people period. Do you know what I mean by that?

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megan0596
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Well I understand what you are saying and i've been with a couple of different guys. All I will say is that with him it was a different experience and I guess it's just an experience that I will have to keep to myself. Again I still find myself thinking about him so that's what is so confusing. Everybody telling me that it was wrong but if it was really so wrong, why did it feel so right?

Megan

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Heather
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A couple people, especially early enough in your life that obviously these weren't long-term relationships, truly isn't a sound basis of comparison. In other words, with that kind of relationship/sexual history, I'
d expect someone to very soon find that there's a standout person early on like this. Do you know what I mean?

Your last question there is a big one. I can start answering it for you, but it's probably best for us to talk about that in an ongoing conversation.

The short answer is that things being unhealthy, abusive or exploitive doesn't mean they always feel that way, especially if we don't really know what the healthy, non-exploitive stuff feels like. In other words, it's sounded to me like you experienced an intensity with this you haven't before.

But if you had experienced this kind of intensity before but WITHOUT any manipulation, abuse or exploitation, it'd be a lot easier to sort that out, if you follow me.

The other thing to know -- and this is a tough thing to digest and accept, one that will often take time -- is that if you understood a bit more about what this guy was probably really thinking, plotting and planning here -- not just what he told you, what you felt, and what he wanted you to hear and think -- it'd be easier to see why this wasn't healthy.

For instance, chances are awfully good, given his age, yours, his position of influence, and him finding you through your friend, his daughter, this person intended to assault you for quite some time, and set things up over time, probably before you had any sense of it, to make you easier for him to exploit.

In healthy relationships and interactions, we don't try and set people up to do what we want them to do, including having sex with us, keeping things secret we know (and he's an older adult, he knows) can really harm that person, but we want them to keep so we can get away with things we know we shouldn't. In healthy interactions, we don't try and find the most vulnerable people we can to get involved with in intimate relationships. That's what this man did.

Maybe think of it this way: in some ways, what this guy did would be the equivalent of you maybe having a younger sibling and seeking out his 10-year-old friend for sex. That 10-year-old would have a lot less power and agency than you, even with just that six-year difference, because you two are in very different places of development and life experience. They couldn't have any idea about some of what was going on in your head, or get what you even wanted meant, because they're just too far from that place developmentally. But, because you were older, maybe appealing, maybe they even had a crush on you, they might say yes to anything you told them to do, and that'd be complicated by them not knowing how else to react.

Does something like that help make some more sense of this at all for you?

To boot, it sounded like at the start of all of this, some of what made this compelling to you was this person being sexually dominant. But here's the thing: there IS a healthy way to do that. Starting a relationship off with a rape, targeting a vulnerable minor through your kids, etc. isn't it. Again, those kinds of sexual dynamics may be something you want to explore later in life, and if you do, and read up on them, you'll hear a lot about what educators and communities who focus on that kind of sex call SSC: safe, sane and consensual. This was none of those things. But when those things ARE in place, someone can enjoy the same kind of intensity they feel from domination and submission in sexual scenarios but without manipulation, exploitation, and the kinds of emotional and psychic wounds someone in the kind of situation you were in is probably -- unfortunately -- going to have to grapple with for a very long time.

Again, this is complex stuff, huge questions, but let's maybe start there, now you can take a turn, and we can keep talking this through as much as you'd like.

Also, did your counselor give you any books to read about how abuse can feel, etc. and how to make sense of the kinds of feelings you're having? If not, I'd be happy to suggest some for you. I think some extra reading might help.

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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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I also wanted ot add one more thing: it truly is okay to have whatever feelings you have.

It's also okay to feel really confused right now: I don't know how you couldn't. Someone who messes with our heads and our sexualities and our hearts like this IS going to make a mess of all of those things, and when that happens, we are going to feel conflicted and confused.

Clearly, this person really got in there, since after the first assault, you weren't able to ask for help,act in a way to do all you could to keep yourself safe, etc.

So, I hope you can keep your expectations of yourself reasonable: you are not going to figure all this out in a matter of weeks. Even just getting some clarity at all is probably going to take months, and making big-time headway with all of it? Probably years. Unfortunately -- and of course, it's tremendously unfair for anyone victimized to have to do all the work, that part of this is always a serious injustice, and one of the many ways abusers do us harm: they do what they want and leave the people they victimize to do all the hard cleanup, basically -- all of this is a long process that takes a good deal of time and effort on your part.

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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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Sorry, one more thing. Don't mean to be so scattered!

I think it might help to look back at the title you chose for the post here, and the first post you made.

Because I think it's pretty clear that at that time, you did know that this was abuse and assault, and knew that it wasn't right at all. I think if you had thought it was all 'so right" you wouldn't have posted that, you know?

I also think that might be a clearer way to see that when someone abuses us over time, it really does confuse our heads and our hearts: the clarity you had around this first assault obviously -- and not surprisingly, when someone is "good at" abusing people, and the other person is very vulnerable to abuse, this is how it goes -- got a lot murkier, as it tends to when someone keeps working on us to keep us doing what they want.

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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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megan0596
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Not sure what's going on with me but I'm having a hard time trusting myself around new guys that I meet that I'm attracted too. I've never been promiscuous before and I didn't have sex with anybody but I did some things that I don't feel proud of, at least afterwards. Therapist says that promiscuity is common after sexual abuse/rape.
What's going on with me?

Megan

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Heather
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I wish that your therapist has not -- from the sounds of it -- oversimplified what she said or said what she did without explaining what she was saying to you in more depth.

I don't think "promiscuity" as a word tends to be helpful because it's a very vague term. Ultimately, it's means someone who isn't very selective when it comes to choosing sexual partners, but in common use, people tend to use it to mean "someone who has had more sexual partners than I personally think someone should." So, again, vague, often arbitrary, and not very useful.

What I think is more helpful is explaining that:
a) sometimes after sexual abuse or assault, some victims feel like sex is all they're good for, and so choose to have sex they might not otherwise if their own self-worth was in a different place,
b) sometimes after sexual abuse or assault, some victims re-enact unhealthy patterns from abuse in their chosen sexual lives, and/or
c) sometimes after sexual abuse or assault, some victims are traumatized and/or depressed and so aren't particularly thoughtful or mindful about their sexual choices.

This piece might help too, btw: http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/heather_corinna/2010/06/06/whos_calling_who_compulsive_calling_out_a_common_rape_survivor_stere

All that said, if you're thinking about dating? It's probably WAY too soon for that: you have just barely started healing, and your abuse was incredibly recent.

That doesn't mean it's not okay to have whatever sexual feelings you have or feel feelings of attraction, but were you to pursue any sexual or romantic relationships now? It'd probably be too soon.

I know, too, you'd said before you had a boyfriend, so if you had a breakup recently so that's also in the mix? Then it'd make a lot of sense to feel wary about starting anything new right now just on that merit, too.

Has your therapist given you any books to read about surviving and healing from sexual abuse? Is this therapist also someone who specializes in sexual abuse?

[ 09-24-2012, 12:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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megan0596
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Not looking to date anybody, this just appears to be risky behavior with guys that I find attractive. I still have a bf, but he doesn't know about this past weekend. I don't want to lose him, but I don't feel any excitement with him and I haven't since what happened a couple of months ago.
I have not been given any reading material by my therapist at this point.

Megan

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Heather
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Want to tell me what you mean by "risky behavior?" A risk of what?

Has your therapist also talked to you about the challenges many people experience in existing sexual relationships after abuse or assault? It certainly can be rough, and that includes very commonly feeling no sexual or even romantic interest for a while.

Do you want a few books to look into? I'm very surprised she hasn't suggested any, and can think of a couple that it sounds like would help you out.

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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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Robin Lee
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In addition to what Heather says here, I'd like to make sure that you know that you can always ask your therapist what she means by something, or to explain something further if you need more explanation. Most therapists are very open to questions and would rather make sure you understand something than go without understanding.

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Robin

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megan0596
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Hello again, I had something that has recently come up that is bothering me. I don't really have anybody to talk to about this and I don't want people to think more bad things about me, so here goes.
About two months ago I started dating a guy that has liked me for a very long time. He's what I would say is an extremely nice guy. We have not done anything sexual at all together based on what had happened to me earlier in the year(although he doesn't know that's why). What i'm about to say is extremely hard and I feel so bad about it, yet I feel excited at the same time. He does not have any clue about this at all. A weeks ago, I went over to his house and he wasn't home but his older brother(he's 23) was home. He told me I could come in and wait for him. We ended up going downstairs to his brothers room. Now I don't know why I felt this way but when walking down those stairs, I could feel in my heart that something was going to happen sexually and yes my bf's brother is very attractive and well built and I could feel myself wanting this not even knowing for sure this is what he had in mind. So I had told myself that even though I have those feelings, I wasn't going to act on them. I really thought I could handle this but sure enough once we got down there, he made an excuse and said he had to put on some different clothes and he did this in front of me and I guess the attraction to him was very strong and he wanted me to see him like that. The next thing I know my clothes were off. There wasn't any love or anything, it was like we were both just filling needs and it was very good and just so hard to not want. I know he's older, this wasn't rape or anything like that, this was totally consensual on my part. What I don't understand is why I'm willing to give myself to my bf's brother, yet hadn't done anything sexual with my bf. I know this is horrible that I did that, and it wasn't just this one time. I'm very attracted to this guy and he knows it but it's just sex, nothing more. I don't love him or anything like that, I just love what he does to me. Am I addicted to sex? I just don't know what's going on but I feel like I did when I was doing this with my friends father. I feel special that's he's doing this with me because he can have any girl he wants and he's doing this with me. The other thing that is so confusing is when I'm at the house and my bf is there and all I can think about is his brother and it's only ever sexual thoughts so I'm like turned on 100% of the time. I really don't know what's going on with me. Is this a result of what happened this past year?

Megan

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Heather
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Megan, I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how you've been. I'm glad to hear from you.

Sex addiction isn't something considered bonafide by many therapists and counselors, and I'm pretty much on that same side with it. I think it's sound to talk about sex and compulsive behaviour, sure. And we can if you like, but addiction and compulsion both are terms for patterns of behaviour, not for one-time events like this, so I don't think it's sound to talk about them in regard to this.

Whether or not your choices here are related to the abuse you've survived is tough to say, especially as someone who hasn't been talking with you frequently, over time, and who doesn't have a sense of what the last few months have been like for you, or where you're at in healing.

For sure, it could be related: do *you* think that it is?

I think it might help to unpack this kind of thinking:
quote:
I feel special that's he's doing this with me because he can have any girl he wants and he's doing this with me.
Do you feel like you need someone to be having sex with you in order to feel valued? It sounds like you're saying you do. If you are, then certainly, that suggests this probably is related to your abuse and the kind of framework that was set up within it.

At the same time, some people who have not survived abuse also find that they need to be sexually desired in order to feel of value. And that need on your part may have been there before your abuse; it may even have been something your abuser capitalized on, as that is a vulnerability abusers can tend to identify pretty easily.

Have you spoken to your therapist about this?

It sounds like you're not feeling good about these choices: do you want to make different ones? Do you want some help in how to do that?

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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

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