Like Sam, I am deeply sorry that you're going through this, and I really hope that your healthcare providers accommodate your trigger in some way next time.
Jess99 wrote: ↑Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:37 pm
If anything, I'm ashamed I didn't leave him right away. I'm ashamed I didn't say anything sooner for him to stop.
I can understand just how overwhelmingly awful these self-blaming thoughts must be. Would you like to talk more about them, unpack them on here? I want to borrow our founder Heather's words from the article Was It Sexual Harassment? Was It My Fault?
here, to tell you that this shame is absolutely not
yours to bear, not even a little.
It is sexual assault ANY time one person does not want to be engaging in any kind of sex and another person does it to them anyway without their consent and against their will.
Silence is not consent. Because someone does not verbally say no does NOT mean someone is saying yes; because you were not able to say anything our of fear does not mean you actively participated in this or gave your consent. You were not silent because you wanted this to happen or enjoyed being silent. You were silent because you felt validly afraid of someone who was abusing you. That is not a context for consent or a scenario that demonstrates consent, and it is very unlikely the person who assaulted you mistook your silence for consent. The dynamics of rape/assault for an attacker are usually about power. Most commonly, someone who is sexually assaulting someone else knows the other person is not consenting and want to do what they are doing because they are not consenting in order to make themselves feel powerful.
How someone who is being victimized reacts to an attack also isn't something that determines where fault lies. I already explained that silence is not consent, but additionally, a lot of people, if not most, react to sexual assaults or abuses by freezing up. Some of that has to do with shock, especially if we're somewhere around other people who should be seeing what's happening but either aren't or are, but are choosing not to step in. Some of that is about fear, or even our gut instincts that not responding may keep us safer, which is true sometimes. Sometimes silence is about social messages a lot of us get and were raised with, especially around gender or sex. There are a lot of different reasons we can wind up literally scared silent with an assault, but no matter what they are, the person at fault will still always be the person doing the assaulting.
It's not hard to know when someone we are talking to or touching is feeling fear: a person trying to slide away, flinching when we touch them, or being completely silent during something in life that's about expression and engagement is not how someone who wants to actively engage in sex with someone else behaves. As well, if and when we want someone to do something with us sexually, especially someone we don't have an ongoing relationship with, we ask them and need to ask them. You were not asked, you did not respond enthusiastically to this person's actions, and chances are that the person who assaulted you both knew that you were afraid, wanted you to be afraid, and knew they were abusing you. If and when someone says they just didn't know, or that they misunderstood in a situation like this, they're usually lying.
This is not your fault. So much of the self-blame sexual assault victims do has to do with a long and incredibly horrible history of people blaming victims in order for those who abuse or attack to both exploit victims further and to avoid responsibility.
I'd like to add to the long quote above by saying that the fact that you stayed with your ex after he sexually assaulted you does not mean that you should be ashamed of it, because the assault wasn't your fault, and you must have stayed with him for other reasons, perhaps love, or because you had a life together. Like Heather says later in that article, the only thing that you're responsible for is to heal and give yourself the care that was denied to you by your abuser, and the first step to this healing is unpacking and eventually letting go of all self-blame. This goes hand in hand with holding your ex accountable for assaulting you. It will also allow you to "reclaim the life and the self that is and should be yours", in Heather's words. Does that make sense?