Fun fact: I’ve been sexually assaulted enough that when the next one happens, one of the first things my mind does in the aftermath is rank it against all the other ones. Not because I have a weird obsession with ranking things, but because if I can quantify it, I can give myself a better idea of how long it’s going to be before I feel “normal”.
Before it stops randomly popping into my head with a wave of nausea.
Before I stop having nightmares about it.
Because I stop having tactile flashbacks of being touched or kissed or whatever without my consent.
I am not the only person I know who has done this, who has this as a coping mechanism. Of the people I’ve talked to about being sexually assaulted in the past, at least half a dozen other women I know have a similar coping mechanism. Many times, it’s not a coping mechanism, or maybe it doesn’t start as one. It might start as a consolation to oneself, a form of self-soothing:
“Having my ass grabbed at that restaurant wasn’t nearly as bad as having my crotch grabbed at that club”
“Being catcalled by those guys across the street wasn’t nearly as scary as that time that dude followed me for three blocks, promising me he’s show me ‘the time of my life’ if I took him home with me”
“That guy sticking his hand up my skirt and nearly into my underwear was better than being raped by that guy I dated in college”
Or maybe, when one sexual assault ends up being trigger to relieve other past assaults, if the most recent one wasn’t as bad as the worst ones, it’s a relief to relive it instead of the worst.
It is really fucking sad and disgusting that there are millions of people alive today, right now, who go through these things.
You know them. You know at least one, probably more than one. Think about all the people you know: your coworkers, your friends, the people who work at your grocery store, your mechanic…your family.
I’m somebody’s child. Two somebodies, even
I’ve never told my parents about any of my sexual assaults. Well, that isn’t true. I think my mom asked me once if anybody ever “got fresh” me with one the bus. I told her about one particular time that I guy grabbed my ass. But that was years after the fact, and I didn’t go into graphic detail about it because I didn’t feel like reliving that, and I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be and how she’s handle it.
It was hard enough coming home to Jon. Being held by Jon (which, to my everlasting gratitude, felt good and not triggering). Watching Jon simultaneously cry and do his best to be there for me (which he did a pretty good job of, even while crying).
I still don’t know…do I go back to class? Do I email this 80-something teacher and say something to him?
The first feeling I really felt, after the initial revulsion and anger at myself and most vivid sense of tactile flashbacks faded was a combination of fury and disgust. At him. At a relationship that’s spanned nearly a decade turning into ashes. At something that felt really good, and supportive, and wonderful now making me wonder how much of it was just to get into my pants. There’s a whole era of my life over now, with a class group I really liked, and teaching dynamic I thought I did really well in, and…then there’s him. Someone I cared about and respected and had many wonderful conversations with.
Now I mainly feel a combination of loathing and disgust when I think of him.
And a weary irritation, at the time and energy and pain that I’ll be spending as I get over this. Even with a great therapist, and Jon, and wonderful friends like Issi…I’d so much rather be spending my time and energy on…nearly anything else in the world.
I feel pretty wiped out now. My feelings are less intense. I need a break from them.
Sometimes, I really fucking hate people.