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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Talking to the abuser after the abuse

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Author Topic: Talking to the abuser after the abuse
branphlake
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It has been a year since I was sexually assaulted by my best friend in his bedroom. I was recently visiting my family in my hometown where this person also lives. I still have his phone number in my phone, we are friends on social networking sites and I had rarely talked to him up until xmas break.

Before xmas break, however, I desperately needed assistance with a school project and he was the only person I could turn to (due to the highly specialized nature of this project and the specific skills of said person). We briefly spoke over the net and I got my one answer I needed.

When I returned home over break, he ended up texting me and I found myself at the doorstep of his house. I walked towards his front door literally saying "what are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?" I don't know what I was searching for or what I wanted, but I think I needed to know that I was ok... like, I had lived my life without a very close person for an entire year and had gone through hell, but survived. Oddly enough, I quite enjoyed my evening sitting in his living room drinking tea and chatting about nonsense.

I guess my question would be, did I make a poor decision? I remember how greatly his actions affected my life a year ago and I have no intention of ever becoming close with him again (like I said, our conversation was not deep), but can I set limits and still function with him in my life or am I staring down the barrel of a loaded gun?

Any input from former survivors would be so helpful. Thanks.

Posts: 23 | From: Boulder, CO | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
orca
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I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "former survivors." You're not ever really a former survivor. Those experiences, they're a part of you for life. Over time, the importance may lessen so that you are not defined solely by those experiences and being a survivor is just one among many things that make up who you are. But that's a lot different than saying "former" survivor, as though the rape, the abuse, the assault can just not have happened.

I point this out both because it is important in a discussion like this to be careful that we are not alienating anyone or minimizing their experiences, but also because I wonder if you are trying to ignore your own assault entirely and pretend like it didn't happen. I wonder about that because it sounds like you are pushing yourself to be okay around your friend and to hang out with him, as though doing that will make the sexual assault have not happened. The thing is, it won't. We can't change what's happened, especially when what happened was something someone else did to us.

Some people find it possible to maintain a friendship after said friend rapes them, but I'll be blunt and say that I just don't see how it's possible or how it could be a healthy relationship, barring some extremely rare circumstance where the rapist has admitted to being a rapist and undergone extensive therapy and actually worked to make amends. I would say, though, that a year is a pretty short time to become friends again, if you do want that. That first anniversary tends to be the toughest for survivors because memories start to surface and when you thought you were OK and past everything, you realize you aren't, that you'd never processed, and that you need support.

Did you ever do anything to work through your assault? Did you talk to anyone about it, seek out counseling, tell a friend?

Can I ask, what do you feel you would get out of being friends with him? It may help to consider what your definition of a friend is. For example, my definition of a friend is someone who makes my life better in some way, someone who encourages me and supports me, someone who gives me the advice I need to hear even if it's not the advice I want to hear, someone who won't cause me any harm or by inaction cause me to fall into harm. That's but a small part of my definition, and there's obviously more to it than that, but you get the basic idea. Someone who assaults us simply cannot be our friend, not by the definition I give to the word friend. But perhaps you have a different one?

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May Day
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I'm not a former survivor.. i'm a survivor.

My sexual abuse ended over a year and a half ago and i've been very affected by it.
I consider the person who hurt me.. to be scum really, just a horrible person. Because he is, he treated me like i was an object that belonged to him.

The few and far between occasions i am at the same event as he, i feel very uncomfortable. Maybe less now because of the steps i've been taking in the past month, but i saw him 5 weeks ago and it really disturbed me. A big part of that is because up until recently i haven't had ways to control my responses and fears. The other part was that he doesn't know he raped me. If i were to confront him and tell him, he would deny it with zero chance of him changing his mind. He's a pig like that. It distresses me that he is the one with the issues, but i am now having to work through them to heal. The thought of being friends with someone like that, while dealing with the trauma *he* caused? ugh.

I can't answer your question about whether or not you made a poor decision, and even if i thought i could i wouldn't. Not my place to tell you what's best for you, mind, body and soul.
I can only relate to my own experiences, in that after i left my abuser i tried to remain friends. He was very helpful in not putting any effort in to do the same so i had no incentive to keep trying. I am very very glad this person is not longer someone i speak to or see. When i do see him, i can't function. Not yet anyway.
I would, with any person who has hurt you, take them with a pinch of salt. I can forgive, but for my own benefit i wouldn't forget. And i, with friends who have hurt me, think long and hard about if it's worth giving them another chance or whether it's better for us both to separate permanently

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coralee
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I would agree with orca that I don't see how you could have a healthy relationship with this person. I tried to stay friends with my abuser after we broke up, and the first few times we spent time together as friends we just chilled out and I felt like I had a good time. But the last time we met was horrible. Not that anything happened, but just the way I felt. That I was hanging out with someone who had hurt me so much. So after that I have avoided him. Trying to stay friends with him was just a way of denying what had happened, and also a way to make myself feel less guilty about my so-called "mistakes" in the relationship.

For me, I wish I hadn't spent any time with my ex after we broke up. But on the other hand I doubt I would have been able to just cut him out of my life if I had not seen him again and realized that spending time with him just didn't feel right, that I was hurting myself by spending time with him.

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branphlake
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quote:
Originally posted by orca:
I point this out both because it is important in a discussion like this to be careful that we are not alienating anyone or minimizing their experiences, but also because I wonder if you are trying to ignore your own assault entirely and pretend like it didn't happen. I wonder about that because it sounds like you are pushing yourself to be okay around your friend and to hang out with him, as though doing that will make the sexual assault have not happened. The thing is, it won't. We can't change what's happened, especially when what happened was something someone else did to us.

No. I think you read into it a little too much - it's just a tag at the end of my question where I slipped up and wrote "former." I mostly just wanted people with experience in the matter helping me figure this out.

quote:
barring some extremely rare circumstance where the rapist has admitted to being a rapist and undergone extensive therapy and actually worked to make amends.
He did immediately go into therapy afterward and did admit to my face to being a rapist and knew that something was wrong. Though, I realize this doesn't justify anything nor do I want to justify anything with this statement...

quote:
Did you ever do anything to work through your assault? Did you talk to anyone about it, seek out counseling, tell a friend?


Yes, I immediately called a hotline the next night, went to a psychologist for a few months afterward and told my closest friends.

quote:
Can I ask, what do you feel you would get out of being friends with him?


Well, considering we don't live near each other, I don't think I would get much, except the occasional "hi" over the internet or something. I have trouble burning bridges... I think that's why I would want to be 'friends' with him.

I honestly haven't had that much interaction with him since I was at his house last. And looking back, I know a lot of what I wanted to hear was that he was going to keep my secrets safe - you tell your best friend a lot of things when you are friends with them. I needed that piece of mind... maybe now that I have that, it won't be such an issue. Who knows? Maybe it was a bad idea maybe it wasn't.

Posts: 23 | From: Boulder, CO | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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quote:
I have trouble burning bridges... I think that's why I would want to be 'friends' with him.
Can you recognize that someone who sexually assaulted you already burned the bridge? And that the idea that a conversation could result in someone holding your secrets and not betraying you doesn't make much sense, since they have made clear in assaulting you that there is no reason to trust them at all? Same goes with feeling you can set limits with a person who does that: clearly, they have shown they don't respect limits.

I think coralee said something really important:
quote:
Trying to stay friends with him was just a way of denying what had happened, and also a way to make myself feel less guilty about my so-called "mistakes" in the relationship.
In my experience, this is the usually root reason people try and "be friends with" or be in some relationship with people who have abused them. Same goes with also feeling like somehow, one'd be more protected by that person by being friendly, which is also usually an illusion.

That all said, what's done is done. I think the sage thing to talk about now isn't if what you did then, which is in the past, was sound, but what choices moving forward will be.

[ 01-05-2010, 01:11 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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atm1
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I am going to throw in a slightly different perspective here.

After my abusive ex abused and raped me, he did end up with some serious counseling (including some inpatient time). During my healing, I had told him not to contact me, that when I was ready to have a conversation with him, I would let him know.

Several years later, I did--I said that, if he wanted to, we could talk. I did this knowing full well it could be awful, but I did want something out of it too--I didn't want our mutual friends to have to worry about always not inviting one of us to parties when we were home. My friends had been great about that--keeping him away from me--whenever I'd visit my home town, but I was getting to the point where I basically wanted it to be okay for the two of us to be in the same room.

I wasn't expecting him to apologize or acknowledge any abuse, but not only did I get it in person, I got it in writing, too (which was a risky thing for him to do). He had been wanting to give me that letter for months, but was respecting my wishes to not be contacted. It was a true, remarkable, and heartfelt apology with no request for forgiveness. Basically, he acknowledged that he had abused me, done terrible things, and that nothing would ever, ever make those things okay.

All told, I don't really talk to him, but I'm okay when I run into him now--which does happen once or twice a year. Friends know that he and I can both be at the same events. That's all I ever wanted. Ultimately, it was a really good experience for me. I do strongly believe that it was a healthy thing for me to do, and I think it was even healthier for him.

I won't ever go out of my way to see him because that definitely wouldn't be healthy. In the two times that we've sat and really talked, it's been striking that he no longer is the boy (because that's really what he was back then) who I had known, yet I could still see all of those little things about him that had made me his friend for five years before any abuse ever begin to happen.

My brain can't really fuse the images of him as the friend who he once was, now many years in the past, the man he has become, and as my rapist. I know that I could never trust him again, never really be his friend, no matter how many things we have in common, no matter how hard he can make me laugh. So, I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that even though I'd say it's quite healthy for us to be acquaintances, I don't believe that fostering a friendship with him can really work and I have absolutely no desire to do so.

SO, finally, the moral of the story is that I don't think that maintaining some nominal contact with your abuser is necessarily unhealthy BUT like Heather said, it depends on your choices moving forward.

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