Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

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Jess99
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Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:24 am

I’ve been numb and dissociative towards my family and anyone who said I wanted sex from Dalton (abusive ex). When they say comments like this, it brings me back to the incident and circumstances when I was with Dalton. It leaves me with the fact, I didn’t enjoy sex with him and it wasn’t fun. To me, it was far from that. He was very coercive and controlling to want sex. I said no for about a month to him. Finally, I con-caved and I said yes. Not for the sex part, but so that he can stop asking me. In the moments of sexual assault, I’d the gut feeling this wasn’t right: consensual wise. It was always him feeling pleased when I was ignorant to this because he was the first guy I got far with this. I wanted to save my virginity with my husband, but he wouldn’t respect my boundaries for not having sex and oral sex. It resonates with me until this day. I felt ashamed and guilty for going over to his house. It doesn’t help when people blame victims of sexual assault for not doing their part to get away. Dalton would give me emotional and psychological coercive threats to me if I said no or didn’t follow through. I felt like coming on here because my mom told me I chose to be sexually assaulted and harassed. I don’t know what parent and person would said that; however, I’ve gotten comments like this. It hurts because I’m starting to see my experience all over again when it’s not my intention. It breaks my heart that people think this.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:59 am

Oh Jess, I'm so sorry people have said things like this to you. You're right that it's heartbreaking when people--especially people who supposedly care about you--frame someone else's choice to ignore your boundaries and coerce you as somehow wanting those things to happen. What happened wasn't your fault, it was his.

How can we best support you around this right now? For instance, if you want a space to vent, or some reassurance that what those people are saying is nonsense, we can do that. We can also talk about things like shutting down those comments (or, at the very least, getting people to stop saying them to you) if that would be helpful.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Heather » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:54 am

Jess: I just wanted to stop in to give some extra support. This is something I can deeply relate to. I didn't feel able to tell anyone in my family about two different sexual assaults I experienced at 11 and 12 expressly because I knew that my stepfather would do exactly this -- use it as a way to further abuse me and to back his opinions of me up. I barely survived those years, especially since it also meant taking a bunch of blame for some of my coping behaviours without saying anything about what I was all coping with, and it was so hard to live with.

I can't speak for what your mother's own issues and/or ignorances are for saying that to you, nor why she's emotionally abusing you in that way, but I just want to validate you in in knowing she's wrong in every way. She's wrong that it was your fault, and she's certainly wrong in doing you harm by saying that to you. She's doing a major wrong in her parenting right now. We can talk about some of why people think or say this if you want, but I'd also be happy to support you in other ways if I can, particularly because talking about that can be a bit of a dead end, as it doesn't often dull the pain of it. <3
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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:45 am

Thank you, Sam and Heather!

Going back to Sam’s message, I want to learn to effectively shut down these comments. I only wanted to vent about what my mom and others have told me that I chose this. I don’t know why people have the audacity to attack a sexual assault survivor’s experience when they didn’t witness it but the survivors did.

Going back to Heather’s message, I’d like to know why people would say this. It hurts because I did my absolute best to cope through the circumstance, but it gets broken when people say these comments to me. I’ve flashbacks that make me desensitized. I never went to my mom first instead I went to trusted adults and friends. I lost some friends because of the comments they made similar to my mom. I’ve been pulling away from my mom as I’m seeing the way she emotionally abused me growing up. When I went through hard times, I couldn’t go to my mom because of her emotional coping issues.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Heather » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:04 am

Jess,

I think that the why of people saying this stuff and what to say to respond to it and shut it down are related.

This is certainly a super, super brief summary, but I'd say that there are four major reasons people victim-blame, and often more than one of them is at play.

1) Internalized Misogyny: Even when the victim isn't themselves a woman, misogyny has a long history of using sexual violence and victim-blaming to gain and retain power. Some victims have also internalized this, so even though the belief that their abuse was their fault does them harm, they just haven't had the education, gotten the support or done their own work to realize they have internalized this.

2) Ignorance. It's harder and harder to say that people just don't know better anymore, because the information that victim-blaming is wrong and false is very pervasive, but some people are so ignorant that even when they see that information, they don't believe it, or they believe people who tell them that sexual violence and other kinds of abuse are a victim's fault.

3) Being victims themselves and not having done any healing OR being abusers themselves, so blaming victims as a way to excuse their own abuse.

4) Using it as a way to abuse and control: the initial abuser usually does this, but other people -- like parents -- can do it, too. Secondarily, it's sometimes used to try and protect themselves, like when a parent does this to a child who is a victim of incest by another family member.

I think that the best way to shut this down when it happens is twofold: one, you want to say something, and then two, you want to protect yourself from anyone who victim-blames you as much as you can, like by, when it's a choice, no longer being around them at all, and certainly not sharing anything vulnerable with them again, or until they take serious responsibility, make amends to you, and only if you want to open up to them again.

I'd suggest keeping what you say brief and clear, like, "That's an ignorant and hurtful thing to say," and then following it up with a limit or boundary, like, "And please get away from me and stay away. I don't want to be around you or friends with you anymore." Or, if it's someone you can't get away from, like a parent, tell them it's ignorant and hurtful, ask them not to do it again, and then do what you can to be less vulnerable around them, like no longer giving them information about you they can hurt you with.

How do you feel about all of that?
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Jess99
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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:48 pm

Thank you so much for your advice and insights, Heather! I appreciate the four things you shared with me about the way people assume and blame a sexual violence abuse or any person who went through an abuse or violence. I personally have witness the four ways people victim blame personally and it was heartfelt and relatable. I feel safe and secured to myself that I don’t have to be blamed for people victim blaming me for the trauma I went through with Dalton. When I get comments, I chose it. It makes me feel like I’m trash and I wasn’t the best person I could be. I’ve internalized this trauma. My fiance has helped me to recognize if I start internalizing it. If anything, I want to talk to him and close confidants I trust about this. I believe my mom says the things she does because she was assaulted herself and I see she blames herself and internalized the trauma without coping through it. When I first told people about my sexual assault and sexual coercion, I’d people that gave me there support and people who were ignorant and arrogant for the experiences I went through. I’ve cut some friends off for this. I saw they were toxic people after I cut them off. For my family, I avoid situations I can get vulnerable in front of them. I don’t talk about vulnerable things with them.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 am

I just want to say that it takes a lot of strength to cut people who victim blame you out of your life, especially if they were people you thought of as friends. That was a really huge step in looking after yourself, and want to give you some credit for taking it.

I'm glad your fiance has been trying to help you through some of this; if nothing else, that points to someone who will be a great long-term partner for you. Since you want to talk with him and some other close friends about all this, are those conversations you feel like you know how to have? Or do you feel like you have no idea where to even start?

I think you've recognized something very important in how your mom has reacted to this. An unfortunate thing that happens is that sometimes survivors do internalize victim-blaming messages and, for various reasons, never challenge them or reject them, which sadly means they can turn those same messages onto others. Coming to that realization about her will help you both have compassion for her while also allowing you to know that she's someone who is just not safe to seek support from.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:19 am

Thank you, Sam! I do continue to have compassion towards my mom, but I don’t trust her with my vulnerabilities. When it comes to talking about this, most of this comes up through flashbacks. I only bring this up during flashbacks to my close friends and fiance.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:42 am

You're welcome! And that strikes me as very sound way of having compassion while keeping yourself safe.

When you bring this up during flashbacks, do you feel like your friends and fiance are able to support you in the ways you need?

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:41 pm

Yes, they support me through this. My flashbacks come up when I’m reminded about it. If it does, I cope through it all my own by doing self care process. However, I talk to my friends and fiancé through this as Dalton isolated me from my friends, and it reminds me Dalton’s not controlling me. This happened two years ago, yet it’s still fresh when circumstances or other related sexual violence topics, movies,and television remind me if my trauma. I cope through it and reminding myself, I’m no longer with Dalton. But his control and sexual coercion/assault, that’s what makes me hyper vigilant where I’ve to talk to my friends and fiance because of this.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:28 am

Those all sound like great ways of coping with flashbacks and grounding yourself in the reality of having gotten away from him. And I think it's an understandable reaction to feel hyper vigilant about talking about this to friends and your fiance; you're still working from the survival instincts you developed around Dalton, and you've had negative experiences disclosing the assaults to others. Hopefully, the more they demonstrate they're trustworthy and supportive, the easier it will become to relax some of that vigilance with talking with them about this.

Jess99
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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Jess99 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 6:50 pm

The people I do trust, I do talk to them if it’s needed. However, I’m trying to break out of the survival tactics I’d to do with Dalton. Even though I try, I get hyper vigilant because Dalton was very controlling with me when it comes to pleasing. Although I’m with my fiance, I get reminded of Dalton. My flashbacks haven’t been bad since then, but I’ve been getting them. Dalton made psychological coercive threats if I didn’t please him and I did something wrong. I’m glad I never found out. I know Dalton’s out, but it still haunts me that I’ve flashbacks and PTSD with the circumstances around him. I try my best to get out of this, but it comes up fast. All I do’s breath through it and cold through all of the flashbacks; I remind myself he’s not in my life. But psychologically, it’s different as it makes my mind race and this causes my hyper vigilance.

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Re: Being told I chose to be sexually assaulted when I went through sexual coercion and assault

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:20 am

Hey Jess99,

I hear that. As someone also living with PTSD from an abusive relationship, sometimes having healthy relationships can actually remind me of my abuse more because the contrast in the ways I've been treated is so stark. I'm glad that you're practicing breathing through it.

Do you and your fiance/friends have a care plan for you when this happens? For example, when you have flashbacks, you could tell your friends/partner how it's best for them to respond in the moment. I know many people who ask folks to hold them (or sit at a safe distance), and who ask for people to do grounding exercises with them (e.g. name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste; talking you through who you are, who you're with at the moment, etc.). These plans can be really helpful because it's hard to articulate what you need when you're in the middle of a flashback or panic attack.
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