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Author Topic: Breaking my silence.
TheTasteOfPurple
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When I was fourteen, my then-boyfriend and I were riding home from the beach and he started fondling my breast. I'm not sure why I didn't just remove it; I didn't feel like I could say no aloud because there were other people in the car. Afterwards, over IM, he asked me if it was okay and I said, "It was interesting but I don't think I'm ready for that kind of thing yet."
A while later (I'm not sure if it was days or weeks) he did again, and again I didn't feel like I could say no. I stayed in that relationship for over a year, having manual sex and dry sex that I often (half the time or more) didn't really want; I knew that if I said no he would feel terrible for hurting me, and he was very uncomfortable talking about anything sexual. I thought that was normal, and just the way it was.

A small group of my friends and I had a journaling group at the time, and I always told them about what my boyfriend and I had done most recently; when we saw each other I was frequently asked, in a knowing tone of voice, "Sooo, how are you and _____ doing?"

He used physical force once, to spread my legs apart and thrust against me, but stopped a few seconds later--I'm not sure if it was because I was already crying at that point or not. I told him I'd felt violated, that what he'd done was tantamount to rape, and he was so, so upset with himself.

For the year plus I was involved with him, I just thought it was normal. I didn't think I was a saint for putting up with him, I thought he was a good person who just needed to work through his self-esteem issues.

At a camp I went to, near the end of our relationship (though I didn't know that at the time) we had a giant circle at the end where everyone stated an intention for the coming year. Mine was, "I'm going to learn to say no to people I love when I need to."

I broke up with him a little under two years ago, but I couldn't bring myself even to acknowledge that I'd been sexually and emotionally abused until two months later. I think I had read an article about rape, or maybe read a novel in which the main character had been sexually assaulted; when I was staying overnight with two of the previously mentioned close friends, I asked one of them whether what I had been through constituted sexual abuse. My friend C asked with a horrified expression, "He did that to you?"

Despite her previous exultation over her own and my sexual experiences, I think C really helped save my sanity. She did her best to support me. When we were at one of her parties playing truth circle, and talking about the best and worst things that had happened to us that year, I said my worst was realizing that I had been sexually abused for a year by my ex. Later I heard from C that my ex's brother had been telling people that I was probably "just saying that to get attention" and had only "met someone I liked better at camp; you know how fifteen-year-old girls are." She was furious with him and had told him why in no uncertain terms; I felt like she was my avenging guardian angel.

After that, several people dropped hints that they were angry at him, and he confronted me over IM asking what the HELL was going on. I told him that there had been times during our relationship when I had said no to something and he went ahead anyway, and he got angry at me for "telling everyone" (I think it was about ten people, three or four of whom didn't know him). He said that whenever anyone asked him about me, they got nothing but praise and that he knew he would never get that from me in return because he was a "lame boring person"; that he didn't like to think there were people talking about him behind his back, and friends angry with him for something far in the past that he could never change; and that he didn't know if he even wanted those people as his friends now, in a time where he didn't have many friends, with both his best friends leaving him, losing his girlfriend(me), and then having his brother all but ignore him. I was shaking from fear and anger, but I replied,
quote:
I'm going to cut this conversation short, I'm afraid, because right now you're just guilt-tripping me and/or wallowing in self-pity. There are a huge amount of good things that came out of our relationship, but I unfortunately can't focus on those right now because I'm busy dealing with a bit of emotional scarring (yes, I am guilt-tripping you right back there, and I'm not particularly sorry.) I am not perfect, I never was perfect, and it's your own damn fault if you put me on a pedestal.
After that, I proceeded to remain completely silent on the subject of my abuse, except on rare occasions when I downplayed it by saying, "Well, I was technically sexually abused," as if that made it better somehow. I met a beautiful girlwoman who I'm still mutually in love with, long distance, almost a year later, but I still haven't told her; now that I'm processing it, I will bring it up as soon as it feels right to do so (which will probably be the next time we talk.)

About six months ago I finally admitted to myself that I was also in love with a boy I'd known and on-and-off crushed on for over four years. He reciprocated and he and I have both been learning to communicate in a healthy way with each other (which we are really bloody good at, I think, especially compared to me with my last ex-boyfriend and the one before that.) I told him about being sexually abused not long after we first decided we were "together", because I wanted him to know why I'd been so wary of entering into a romantic relationship with him (the way I told him I liked him was so confused, he didn't even have any idea what I was trying to tell him.) The way I did it then, to make it easier, was illustrating it with stick figures. Both of my current partners are REALLY supportive and rock at communication. I looked at the abusive partner checklist and knew that I wouldn't check a single one of those for either of them; for my ex, I checked five.

The only other person I've talked to about it was a long-time friend of both mine and my abusers; I felt like I could tell him because he'd brought up my ex's destructive patterns before, and he's not the type to get squeamish about things like that.

My ex and I are friends again, although I doubt I'll ever feel emotionally close to him. We get invited to each other's parties (sometimes) and say, "Hey, we should hang out sometime," (although we never do.) I've always felt he was a fundamentally good person, which is another part of why I've kept silent for so long; on some level I believe that it would have a more serious impact on his life than his abuse did on mine. He had another girlfriend after breaking up with me, but she left him several months ago; the same mutual friend I mentioned in the previous paragraph told me that my ex demonstrated controlling behavior with his newer girlfriend and treated her like "arm candy" or a "trophy". Guess the leopard doesn't change his shorts, at least not until he realizes they stink.

I'm not sure what I'm really looking for with this post. I think partly it's the relief that comes from telling someone and getting it out there, but partly I also want validation; I can point out all the things that my ex did wrong, and all the things that I did wrong, and I just want to hear from an objective standpoint that I'm still an okay person. And hear more objective opinions than my partner's about whether or not I really WAS abused, given the described behavior.

Thank you in advance for reading through this behemoth of a post, and to those of you who reply.

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

Posts: 50 | From: Halfway down the California coast | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ecofem
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Hey TasteOfPurple,

I just wanted to let you know that I read your post and am thinking of you. Right now I'm not in the mental space to reply (got some stuff of my own going on!) but I wanted to make sure you weren't left hanging. I and/or others will be back later to give you a detailed response.

[Thanks so much for all you've done to help fellow users here at Scarleteen. Good deeds don't go unnoticed. [Wink] ]

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atm1
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Hi TasteOfPurple,

Ok, there was a lot to your post, so there's going to be a lot to mine. I hope I hit everything.

You absolutely were abused. My own experience shares a lot of similarities to your own--he only really had to force me once after I had said no, because after that I was too scared to say no ever again (I had seen him get *very* violent and I was terrified of getting injured if I ever did say no).

What your ex did (and mine, for that matter) was absolutely wrong. Unless it is a previously agreed upon situation, partners should never use any type of physical force against a partner who has said no (and the exceptions mean that they have another safe word worked out).

Yes, what your ex did was rape, and was wrong. If you checked five boxes on that checklist, he was a truly dangerous partner for you, and it's wonderful that you've gotten out of the relationship safely.

I know how hard it is to navigate situations with mutual friends of an abuser/rapist. My own strategy involved not telling anyone who really considered themselves his friend until two years after the fact. Before then, everyone had just been told that we had had a terrible break up and didn't want to talk. I bet a lot of people knew what actually happened, but they respected our silence. I'm not trying to say this strategy is good--actually it was terrible. I felt incredibly cut off from SO many of my friends, and I lost friends that he got to keep (which I think is so unfair).

Basically, there's no right way to handle these types of situations with abusers and friends. There might not even be a good way, just ways that are different shades of bad and unpleasant.

One thing to remember is that you do have a right to say whatever you want to say to your friends, and you shouldn't shut up just because he wants you to. It's wonderful that your friend has been so supportive through all of this.

I know it's also hard to balance what you want with a desire to not be mean to your abuser--the feeling of wanting to protect him from the bad things that could happen if you spoke up. All I'd suggest is that you are responsible for how *you* feel, not how he feels. He had abused you; you do not have an responsibility to protect him from the negative impacts of *his* actions.


It's also rough to see someone possibly abusing others. For me, knowing that my abuser abused other young women (girls, really... after I left when I was 18, he dated at 14 year old) hurt but it also confirmed to me that it had nothing to do about me. His abuse was *his* problem, and it was something he was going to do to whomever he was with. And here, the fact that your ex is treating another woman badly just confirms that he's going to treat women badly, no matter who they are. The fact that you got involved with him absolutely does not make you a bad person. You also wouldn't be a bad person if you completely stopped talking to him, or decided to talk through it with him. Those are your choices to make, and they aren't "good" or "bad." Whatever helps you take care of yourself is right.

You've done an amazing job getting out of and healing from an abusive relationship. It's always good to take a step back and realize how important that is.

Alright, I need to get to work, and I'm actually going to be away all weekend, but I'm sure some other volunteers can jump in here, as well.

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TheTasteOfPurple
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Thank you both for your replies. Lena, I appreciate that you replied in spite of having your own stuff to work out.

It's definitely a positive change for me to be taken seriously on this; not that I've been disbelieved, but the partner I've told doesn't seem to realize how much of an impact it's had on me. I'm trying to figure out ways to explain it to him--any suggestions?

My girlwomanpartner and I have a lot of similar issues, one of them being that we don't tell people about the negative things going on in our lives because we don't want anyone to worry about us. I tend to be much too good at the game of emotion-suppression, as well, and afraid of sounding melodramatic.

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

Posts: 50 | From: Halfway down the California coast | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TheTasteOfPurple
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Edited due to accidental double posting. Sorry!

[ 08-07-2009, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: TheTasteOfPurple ]

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

Posts: 50 | From: Halfway down the California coast | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CJT
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You're definitely an ok person! Indeed, it sounds like you're incredibly strong and thoughtful in your relationships (of all types) with others. As atm1 said, there's really no "right" or "wrong" way to manage these sorts of situations. As you sort of noted at the end of your post, sometimes it can just be helpful to have others witness your experiences via writing or talking.

quote:
I met a beautiful girlwoman who I'm still mutually in love with, long distance, almost a year later, but I still haven't told her; now that I'm processing it, I will bring it up as soon as it feels right to do so (which will probably be the next time we talk.)
I think you're spot on to wait to have that conversation on your terms and whenever you are ready. Know that you're not obligated to speak to anyone about this unless you want to. I'm hoping she will be supportive if and when you do choose to speak with her. If you want to talk about how to go about that conversation I'm happy to do so. Whatever would be helpful.

Know that you're not alone and that none of this was your fault: people do not ask to or deserve to be abused. I'm glad that your current relationships don't show signs of abuse and that you are able to process some of this with yourself and others for the first time.

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Yakri
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I don't feel I really have the experience to comment on the rest, but as far as one can tell from reading a post on the internet, you seem to be a much more the okay person. ^_^


And I'm sorry if it's rude, and of course you don't have to answer, but it's going to kill me if I don't ask. What was the name of the camp you mentioned here "At a camp I went to, near the end of our relationship (though I didn't know that at the time) we had a giant circle at the end where everyone stated an intention for the coming year. Mine was, "I'm going to learn to say no to people I love when I need to.""

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Chin up and face the future, wonders beyond your wildest dreams await us!

Posts: 47 | From: Crescent city, CA. | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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