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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » I do not fully understand this feeling.

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Author Topic: I do not fully understand this feeling.
Princess23
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About 5 years ago I was sexually assaulted at a a party. I was in and out blacked out drunk and yesterday I watched an episode of a show I like in which a girl went through the same thing. Except she got raped. I call what happened I me a sexual assault, I never went to the hospital so I have no idea if it was an actual rape.
Anyways, watching that episode was like watching my assault on tv. Why did I want to watch it, I don't understand and yesterday I was feeling rather weird, it bought up feelings of my assault, and I cried.
You hear about assaults, I even had a friend that got assaulted. But when it happens to you it is so different. Sometimes I cannot even believe that this happened to me. It effected me then and it definitely effects me now.

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Heather
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You know, sometimes we want to see something that mirrors a painful experience we had expressly TO help us connect with how we feel about it and to make sense of it. Or to have a way to feel validated in that experience as being something real that happened to us.

A feeling of any kind of assault or trauma -- sexual or otherwise -- feeling a bit surreal, or kind of outside reality is common. It's particularly common with sexual assault given how much our world still doesn't support survivors well and still will often rationalize or try to justify assault by pretending it was something else.

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Princess23
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How long will I feel like this?! For example, there was this time a couple of months ago when an older man saw me walking up the hill to my house. I had my headphones in my ears and only realized he was there when he honked at me from across the street. His car was still and he was waving at me. When I turned my head and kept walking, he drove up the hill to the stop sign, turned around and drove up next to me. I thought he was crazy and figure I had better talk to him so I did not make him mad.
Nevertheless, time has obviously passed since that day but because of getting sexually assaulted and because of that guy I now make sure the doors in my house are locked. When I hear sounds I feel like someone is here. Even when someone locks the door, I feel as though I have to double check to make sure. I do not even feel safe waking around my neighborhood, even though I still do. It doesn't not mean that I am not leery of cars passing by me. Sometimes I feel someone will jump out and get me.
Most people are afraid that if someone breaks into their house they will get killed. I ALWAYS now fear getting raped in most situation then getting killed. My paranoia WILL get me sexually assaulted again. Why will this NOT go away.

And on a side note as odd as this may sound, is there a way for me to find out of I was indeed raped or if it was just a sexual assault?! I am still a virgin (as far as I know) do not know if that info helps. I know this is ALOT but one more thing, how do I deal and accept me keeping my assaulter's identity a secret. It is now a matter of should I have told or did I do the right thing.

Sorry of this is a lot, I am just trying to get back one part of my life.

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Heather
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It's okay. This IS a lot. Assault and healing from assault is a lot.

There's no one timetable for healing form abuse or assault, I am afraid. And the "how long" also often is greatly informed by what work we are doing to heal, and what kind of help and support we are getting in healing.

Of course, with something like that man? If that guy did not know you and was doing what he was, it may be that he was stalking/harassing and doing what you could do get away was exactly the right thing to do, and what anyone would do -- including someone who was never assaulted -- just to be sure to be safe.

These feelings are not going to just go away. rather, what is more likely is that over time, they will be less high-key and less scary, and you will heave learned to cope with all of this better.

It doesn't sound like you have yet sought out any help in healing. Do I have that right? If so, is that something you are open to now?

Rape and sexual assault are basically synonyms: they effectively mean the same thing. And the definition for either, most generally -- and this also includes legally in many places -- is that what either is is when one person does something sexual to, onto or inside of another person's body without that person's express consent.

In terms of reporting or not, there really is not a right or wrong there, just what any given survivor/victim wants to do and feels they are capable of handling. Mind, if and when someone does not report and later feels they would like to, reporting is usually still an option, even though once there is no longer physical evidence of assault, that report itself resulting in charges is unlikely. But a person can still report, if they want, and that can help with a sense of justice, and also help in the case someone who assaulted that person assaults someone else later -- which they often do -- should they report.

But again, no wrong or right choices here, just what you want to do.

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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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Also? You feeling scared of sexual assault will NOT "get you assaulted" again. The only thing that will make that happen? Is someone choosing to assault you -- that is always the only reason why assault happens, because someone chooses to assault someone else and they have the means and opportunity to do so.

Assault is nevereverneverever the fault of the person who has been or is being assaulted.

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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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Sam W
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Unfortunately, there's no way to predict how long you'll feel a certain way, which can be very frustrating. These emotions are not an uncommon response to something like this happening, so try not to feel to down on yourself for not reacting the way you feel you "should." Do you have (or would you like) access to support networks or resources for survivors of sexual assault (including a counselor)? Accessing something like that may help you.

Whether or not you call what you experienced rape is up to you. Whatever term feels most accurate (and that may change) is what you get to use.

When you say you kept your attackers identity a secret, please keep in mind that there is no right reaction or decision for someone to make in this instance. So, if not reporting it is what will make you feel best, then that's OK. However, if you feel that speaking up is what feels right to you, that option is still open. Does that help at all?
(edit: oops, Heather and I were on the same wavelength)

[ 03-18-2014, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: Sam W ]

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Princess23
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I have spoken about what happened to me with a therapist I was seeing years ago, but I have yet to discuss it with my current therapist. Plus, she is under qualified. She does not specialize in assault or abuse. But she have me information was someone who does. Plus, I looked online and found a sexual assault support group, but have yet to contact the woman. I suppose I should get on that. I definitely need to get through this.

I am sorry if I missed the answer to this, but is there any way for me to find out now if I had been raped or not?!

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Princess23
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And Yes all of these replies are helping me very much!! [Smile] it is so weird, as I have mentioned before, you hear about this type of stuff in the news and you see in it movies or tv episodes, but you never think it will happen to you. And now that is has it is truly UNBELIEVABLE! Almost like a dream. It brings up so much emotion and you end of being the one that pays the price even though you did nothing wrong, which is something I have come to realize over the years because I used to blame myself.
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Heather
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When you ask if there is a way for you to find out, do you mean that because you were blacked out, you do not have any memory of what happened?

If not, did you see that definition of rape and sexual assault I gave you up there? That's how we know.

Those inroads -- the support group, and the counselor you have a referral for who specializes in helping with healing from abuse and assault -- sound great.

--------------------
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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Princess23
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I remember bits and pieces of what happened to me. I do not however know if there was penetration. I was not hurting the next day but my underwear was dark and the first period I had after that day was heavy. But then the period after that was light, unusually light. I know he body parts was on my body because, well let's just say there was physical proof.
I had ALWAYS thought it was only a sexual assault because when I read about rape it said when penetration is involved, but from what I remember there was none of that so I assumed I was not raped.

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Heather
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So, that actually is not a thing you need to remember to know if you were sexually assaulted or raped (again, these are words that mean mostly the same thing, with sexual assault being the term more often used legally to describe any kind of sexual assault, be it via intercourse or oral sex, etc.).

It might help to look at the definition from the FBI, if another one helps:

"The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

(More about this here: http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/heather_corinna/2012/01/09/words_matter_cheers_to_the_fbi_for_recognizing_how_much)

So, yes, if you look at that one, for the word rape expressly, it talks about entry into body parts. But sexual assault, as a thing, is far wider than that, as I defined for you before. And whether it involves bodily entry or not, sexual assault -- doing something sexual to someone without their express consent -- is a crime and is not okay.

All you need to know -- I think, especially since I'm not sure what you are looking for per defining this as rape vs. sexual assault, as again, they are parts of a whole and all crimes and violations -- is if anyone did anything to you sexually when you did not consent, which, if you were blacked out, would have been that whole time, since blacked out people are not capable of giving consent.

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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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Heather
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By the by, I am heading out of work here for the day, just so you don't think I blew you off should you come back to talk more tonight. There may be volunteers around tonight who can talk more, but if not, and you want to, I'll be back in the morning tomorrow. [Smile]

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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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Princess23
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I am not going to lie and am not trying to be difficult, but that still does not give me what I am looking for. But that is okay. Basically, I guess I always thought rape was a lot more severe than a sexual assault. Like sexual assault was sort of minor compared to a rape. Not that my experience was any less traumatic than a rape, but seeing as how I thought they were so different, I wanted to know if there was any way I could be able tell which one to label my experience as.
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Heather
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That's okay, we can take time to try and best understand what you are looking for.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say minor and severe here: in what respect? Physically? Emotionally? Legally?

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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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Princess23
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In all forms, emotionally, physically, and legally. Idk I guess I just thought that being raped and being sexually assaulted were different. For some reason I feel like if I found out I was raped and not sexually assaulted I would feel worse. Not that my experience is not serious but I feel that it is somewhat minor compared to being raped if that makes sense. Maybe it is just the word idk.
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Heather
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It sounds to me like what is maybe happening here is getting tripped up with language when ultimately, these really are two terms to describe the same thing: sexual violence. Rape is an older and more of a layman's term -- we had it for a long, long time before we had sexual assault, which is more a legal term than one in more common use outside the law, and is also far more current.

So, ultimately, trying to find some big differential between these two terms is a bit fruitless, because in most ways and uses, there really isn't one. If this is about thinking or feeling like those of us who were assaulted in ways you were not, or may not have been, being "more damaged," know that's not something based in truth but in stigma towards survivors as well as in sexism.

One thing to understand about any kind of trauma, though, is that how people experience a trauma, and how big an impact it has, often has little to do with what happened, per an action. The only real differential we have with that that is based in broad, sound study is that we know that more times than not, people who, during any kind of trauma, felt or knew their lives were at risk do tend to experience bigger emotional impacts than those who had experiences where the loss of their life was not something they were afraid of.

Even with any one thing that it seems like any two people both experienced? Those two people can experience it, and find it impacts them, very differently. As example I commonly use from my own life to explain that to people is the fact that as someone who has survived a host of different abuses and kinds of violence, I personally have found that some verbal/emotional abuse I experienced seems to have had a much bigger impact on me than some sexual violence I did, even though the former left no physical wounds and the latter very much did.

What words any person uses to describe anything in their lives that happened to them truly are totally up to them. This isn't about a court of law, or about what someone is being charged with, this is about the words that you feel serve you best.

[ 03-20-2014, 04:57 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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Princess23
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I don't think one person is more "damaged" than the other I am just looking at the text book definitions and trying to make sense of my personal situation.
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Sam W
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The thing is, as Heather said, there are not really, truly textbook definitions of rape and sexual assault. People's experiences are too varied to make that possible. As you know from what she mentioned, there are legal definitions, but those have way more to do with helping legal officials figure out which charges to press than it does with helping survivors label the feelings they have as a result of the incident.

I think where some of the confusion comes from for many people is that in common usage sexual assault is a broad term that covers many types of actions, while rape tends to have a slightly narrower definition. You can read more about that in this piece: Blinders Off:Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault

It's up to you to figure out which term you are most comfortable calling what happened (and that term may shift as you work through your feelings). Beyond that, what, if any, things can we do for you that you think might be helpful?

[ 03-20-2014, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: Sam W ]

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Princess23
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Okay so with that being said, how would i determine if my situation falls under the broad term of sexual assault or if it falls under the narrower term of rape. To be more a little more clearer, I am looking for the specific term because I want to get the best help possible. For example, I have Bipolar 2 disorder. Because I do not have Bipolar 1 which is more severe, there are things that would help a person with type 1 that would not necessarily be beneficial to me cause my symptoms tend to be at times less severe. Does that make sense?! I just want to make sure I get the right help that I need. That is why I was wondering if there was a difference and how I could tell.
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Heather
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The trouble is that the same things are not true of these two terms. If you went into a counselor who serves victims of sexual abuse and assault and said you were assaulted, or said you were raped, you would not be helped in different ways based on your choice of those words. To help you, instead, they'd want to know about the impact the abuse/assault had on you, what you struggle with now, what you are looking for help with, and what you have so far found does and does not help you.

Maybe the best way to really get at what you're getting at here is to know what kind of help you are seeking out where you feel these terms matter?

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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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Heather
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This link, by the way, may be more of what you are looking for, even though they make clear, like we do, that these terms are often used interchangeably: http://www.rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault/was-it-rape

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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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Princess23
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That is exactly what I was trying to say. Thank you! I guess its true what was said earlier, that society says one is more damaging than the other. Because I never understood the difference. Some would say rape and others would say sexual assault. For some odd reason, having been sexually assaulted, obviously was traumatic for me, but the thought of having been raped and not sexually assaulted always bothered me. I guess there is no difference and perhaps maybe this is my way of somewhat, non intentionally, minimizing my experience. Which I am smart enough to know is not a healthy thing because what happen to me is no small thing.
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Heather
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It could be, and I think that's good awareness on your part. And for sure, there is some extra stigma put on people who survived assaults that happened inside their bodies, for a whole bunch of really crummy, half-baked reasons, some of which actually really enable rape culture rather than helping to dismantle it.

But again, what you call this truly is up to you.

You're not deciding what someone gets charged with here, just what language tells your truth best and also feels like the best tool for you in your healing. There really is no right answer to that, just whatever your own answer is. You also get to change your answer at any time if at some point, one term feels like a better fit, or a more helpful fit, than another.

--------------------
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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Princess23
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That is exactly what I was trying to say. Thank you! I guess its true what was said earlier, that society says one is more damaging than the other. Because I never understood the difference. Some would say rape and others would say sexual assault. For some odd reason, having been sexually assaulted, obviously was traumatic for me, but the thought of having been raped and not sexually assaulted always bothered me. I guess there is no difference and perhaps maybe this is my way of somewhat, non intentionally, minimizing my experience. Which I am smart enough to know is not a healthy thing because what happen to me is no minor thing.
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Princess23
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Sorry if I keep having double posts, the last one happened while I was editing and I just went to send one and it said that it is post overload or something like that
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Princess23
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Thank you so much! 😊 I feel I got what I came here for and I plan on calling the lady that runs the sexual assault group I mentioned earlier, sometime next week! I hope I can move past this. It would be nice not to be so afraid one day.
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