Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Hey there!

So sorry to bother any followers for this. This will not apply to like 99.9% of you… But I just wanted to make it clear, because I recently did a post that mentioned the mean comment of someone who’s been trolling me for years now, that I am no longer the first line of moderation on blog comments…

So, to that person, congratulations. If you were trying to get me to alter things about my life, or to take safety precautions against you, I have…

Someone else now moderates my comments first and throws out all the ones that are obvious trolling…

Obviously dissent is more than welcome! Please debate with me, disagree with me, tell me blindspots I see about myself. But obvious baseless insults for no reason (such as the one I did see – “you wanted it” on a post about sexual assault)…

Those are now getting moderated out before I ever see them (as of maybe like a week ago or so).

So, if you are the person who trolls this blog for fun, I mean, I would love it if you’d stop. But if you don’t stop, that’s your prerogative, just know that you are not reaching me. Some other person you don’t know is reading them now.

Thanks!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

That’s a weird way to start a post, right?

But one of the things that I’m finding odd about dealing with sexual assault (because mine was all intertwined with a relationship aspect) is that of course sex is hard sometimes (and I will talk about that in a post at some point)… I feel like that’s logical and expected. But even just like flirting, or having a good time with a guy can *sometimes* feel exceptionally hard.

Sometimes, it feels like, “Cool. Life is back to normal. And this is normal. And things will be normal again.” And that feels great.

But other times, it’s like… It’s a bunch of things.

It’s that:

  • I don’t feel as present anymore in life… So, it’s hard to truly be in the moment, enjoying the flirting and everything. And that sucks.
  • I am almost afraid of being put on a pedestal again… I can’t even begin to explain how much this guy propped me up at the beginning. And so, the fall from 500 feet in the air (atop my pedestal) was so much more crippling than it would’ve been from ground level.
    (Nothing against pedestals by the way, I love being put on a pedestal when somebody actually loves me and such. But this felt more like a game – build me up to tear me down. And I hated that.)
  • This, I think, is the most unfair one to other people (and maybe even to myself). But there seemed to come a time with him where almost no matter what I did, I was “selfish” and “disingenuous,” and just, basically like a complete piece of trash in his life.

    And I think because this person knew me so well, and because he was so so so so so so so so so so wildly sweet in the beginning – with very very specific compliments as to why he thought I was a “good” person, or kind, sweet, etc. (making me think he really did pay attention and care)… That for some reason, all those digs and hurtful things started to feel like the truth.

    And I know I’m not perfect. And I know sometimes I can be selfish. Sometimes I can fall short and such… But to feel like that’s who I am – that I’m some bad person or someone not worthy of a basic amount of respect… It’s very hurtful. And there’s a part of me that great to believe that stuff.

    (And I know that’s really vulnerable, and I feel crazy even saying it.) But it’s almost like I wonder, “Why would you tell me how much you like me, or how adorable I am, or that I’m sweet? …Don’t you understand I’m this terrible person?”

    And I’m not trying to play the victim. And I don’t actually totally think I’m a terrible person… But when you’re told something over and over by someone you think you care about, I think it can be hard to shake.

    So, I don’t know. There’s like this *hyper* insecure part of me that lives now…

    I’ve always been a little insecure. But there is this part now, that’s like, “But don’t you realize I’m awful? I wasn’t enough somehow…. How could you possibly like me or want to be nice to me? That’s insane.

  • Second to lastly, there’s a part of me that’s like, “Nothing about this is special anymore… This used to be fun. But now because it was all just a game, this is not special. Period.” And that sucks, because I miss only feeling butterflies and excitement without a shadow over it.
  • Lastly, there is a part that’s almost afraid. It’s like, “I know how this ended up before. I know that there was this romantic whirlwind that ended with the biggest nightmare of my life. So, I am almost (almost – not completely, but almost) afraid to even let anybody be cute or adorable.

    Because, I just feel like this was a huge betrayal of my trust. You know, of course as a person in this world, I’ve been lied to before and all that jazz. And it sucks and it’s painful and it maybe takes a while to get over. (And I am not trying to minimize anyone else’s pain for anything they’ve been through. I don’t wanna be like, “Oh, it’s only lying” or whatever.)

    But for me, personally, this was just like a whole entire other level of betrayal for someone I truly believed cared about me (and I don’t mean that in a “run away with me, be with me forever” way – I just mean legitimately cared about me as a human person)…. To just treat me like I am legitimately a piece of trash… It was beyond painful.

    And I refuse for that to make it so I never have fun or flirt with boys again… But there is certainly a part of my brain… Even though I’ve had fun – that never led to assault – with many different boys in my lifetime… So, I have a whole body of work to prove that silliness and fun and flirtiness does not always (in fact, almost never, for me) ends in assault… Because it is a recent experience, there’s just his weird part of my brain that’s like, “Oh no. Nope. Don’t have a boy touch you, or talk to you. Just stay away from them, in fact.”

    And I know I don’t want to do that… And I know I’ve been amaaaaaazed at the patience and lovliness and kindness of people I’ve been with this year. I know boys are great…. but I’ve just never felt so unsafe before – even with people I have literally every reason to believe would never hurt me.

Monday, November 21st, 2016

And I thought it was gonna be awful… (And sometimes it has been kinda awful, and kinda super hard…) But I also thought it was necessary… And I think it’s important. And I think it’s been worth it.

I know that I just talked yesterday about how hard it is for women to be heard and believed. (And I think I’ve mentioned that more than once in other posts…)

But I hope that in saying that, I’m not adding to the silence of people, making them wonder, “Eh, why even come forward?”

Because, I will say that while I’ve been met with some trolling or what have you, I have been met with so so so (so so) much love and kindness and patience.

For instance, when I was telling a friend of mine what an idiot I was to keep going back, and trying to make it work, my friend comforted me. “Aurora, you were in a situation basically unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. It was like you were put in a very cluttered room with a blindfold on, in the dark. Of course you were gonna bump into some stuff. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect.” (And I appreciated him and his analogy.)

I have generally felt, for the most part, exceptionally respected and cared for and trusted and loved.

A sweet, sweet friend even sat and talked with me through the middle of the night in some of the toughest times.

I have had lovely friends help distract me – and also make me feel sexy again. (Thanks ;))

I’ve even had strangers, or people I don’t know all that super well, welcome my story/and me with open arms. From Cory Booker’s staff to the Dr. Oz show, I have been heard. And I really appreciate that.

Of course that doesn’t mean that everyone’s response is perfect all the time – even the people who adore you and do believe you, and want to be there for you…
(It’s not just the obvious trolls who can be a problem)

Some people don’t know how to respond. It is possible that some people – even people you really love – will try to minimize your experience. (And it’s not because they don’t love you or aren’t worthy of your trust… They may just not know how to deal with this weird tricky confusing issue (as I didn’t know how to either! – even when it happened to me).)

And that can be confusing, because I sometimes, with certain people, I’d think, “Goodness. I love and trust this person soooo much and if they think that maybe it ‘wasn’t as bad as it couldn’t been’ (like, if it were a more violent assault), or wasn’t as ‘real’ because I knew the person, or they try to minimize it as some normal couple’s spat…

or if they tell me I’m ‘taking too long’ to get over this. ‘Come on, buck up!’ as a way to show tough love to ‘get me back to normal’… Well… I trust them so freaking much. How could they be wrong?”
especially because they may have been telling me some things I worry in the back of my mind too. “Huh… Am I taking too long to get over this?” etc.

But, just as you are human, they are human too. And this is a weird, tricky, complicated issue that I feel like we’re only all just learning how to deal with.

And I know every one of my friends tried their best. And I’m not trying to complain about anyone… I’m just saying it’s been hard…

So, coming forward might not be perfect, but I have found it to be more worthwhile than not to talk about all this.

I know that in some situations, it is really actually not safe to come forward. And I wouldn’t advise a woman put her safety in jeopardy.

But if this is something that happened to you, to whatever extent you are comfortable and able to speak out, I would say from this side of it, it is worth it. For me, it has made it better to have a support system who talked this out with me… And I think – I don’t know, but I think – that the more of us who are willing to step up and say, “This happened to me too!” that maybe, just maybe, we can start to identify the problem, and maybe – dare I say it – even start to get on the path toward fixing this problem in America. We may start to be taken seriously, and believed.

So, I just wanted to make it clear that by calling out how awful it is when people say things like “you wanted it,” I’m not say, “So silence yourself!” I’m saying, “Speak out! (if you feel you are ready, and are safe doing that)”

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

It is so hard to talk about sexual assault…

I mean, we’ve done it. We’re doing it…

But, just like any other thing you put on the internet, you open yourself up to some really mean comments. (And I understand that’s part of the internet… But sometimes with sexual assault, it seems more intense…)

And I hate even giving any attention to the people who say nasty or “trolling” comments, because I know it’s not even worth it to acknowledge them… And yet, I think it’s worth talking about, because I think this is a larger part of the conversation of people not believing women, and women being afraid to come forward.

There was someone who commented on my story about being grabbed on the subway who said, “You wanted it.”

That random commenter was willing to tell me I “wanted it” when it was a story about a complete stranger grabbing me (after I asked that stranger repeatedly to leave me alone).

I’d reported that incident to the transit police who literally had video (security footage) of me trying to stay away from this guy, and then getting grabbed when I didn’t see him, and then whipping my head around in anger – never flirting, never laughing, nothing – *nothing* that would give the idea that I liked it. And yet, someone still wrote me telling me I enjoyed it.

That’s what happens when you’re a woman who talks about being assaulted. It can be minimized. You can be blamed. And the more “complicated” the situation is, I think the harder it is to really see it clearly.

So, I just wish… I just wish everything were different…

I mean, obviously, I wish I’d never been assaulted. *Sigh*

But, it’s like, if we can’t get people to believe us when there is footage of it happening, then how are we ever going to be believed?

The world is weird. And I don’t know how to make things better… And if you have ideas, hit me up, ’cause I’m in!

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

I’ve used the word “gaslighting” a bunch (and I might continue to)… So, we should probably talk about what it is..

I didn’t know what gaslighting was, until I was with this man…

Now I do know. And if you don’t, I would highly recommend reading about it a little, because it is terrifying.

It is nearly impossible for me to explain. The best recent example I’ve seen of gaslighting is Donald Trump and his campaign.

For example, during the vice presidential debate, Mike Pence told Tim Kaine, “You’re running an insult driven campaign.” And I was bewildered while watching it It’s like, “Wait. What? How did you just share that with me with so much confidence? Do you realize you’re the one who’s running the insult driven campaign? Donald Trump has thrown around more insults than practically any human has ever given. We are merely quoting him! …Yet you’re beyond confident that we’re running the insult driven campaign?” And then you start to feel crazy for so vehemently defending merely reality… That’s an example of gaslighting.

In fact, a reporter did a great article all about gaslighting and Donald Trump. I think it’s worth the read.

Also, I know Salon has a lot of mixed reviews, but I still found their article on gaslighting and Donald Trump pretty interesting as well.

Honestly…Goodness. There are so many reports of Donald Trump and gaslighting. Here’s a google search if you’ve got time to kill.

And then there are articles about how it feels to be gaslighted – signs to help know it’s happening to you, etc.

And having it done to me was unnerving, to say the least.

Kind (or neutral) things would be made to look selfish. Things I had a right to be upset about (such as sexual assault) were made to look like I was dramatic. Untrue details were fed to me. (Like, “I never said that!” And then if I’d show a text or something to show he did, it would become “Well, you know I didn’t mean it that way,” and he’d twist things with semantics and then pivot to how I was hurting his feelings by accusing him of hurting mine, etc…).

My perception of some of my experiences started to feel wonky, even though I was so sure of them. I was often asking myself if I was being dramatic or crazy or too harsh etc.

It’s weird when someone is telling you so confidently that things didn’t happen – when they definitely did, or that you’re crazy for being upset about stuff you have more than a right to be upset about…

And while I know it might be weird of me to keep sending you to other places to read about stuff, it’s partially because SO many people have already talked about it online (many of whome are way more qualified than me to talk about – and/or are able to explain it better than I am).

I still can talk a little from my perspective though.

And I know the examples I’m about to give are small… But I think that’s partially why gaslighting works so well and is so effective… If someone were telling you something suuuuuuper crazy that’s easily proven false, it’s harder to doubt yourself… Not impossible, but harder… When they chip away at tiny things, it’s easy to feel nuts.

Here are two small examples of gaslighting from my time with this guy.

1) One time we were talking, and internet harassment came up.
Side note: It was weird because somewhat often, for some reason, he seemed to want to start conversations about how women are treated. But he’d want to tell me how women are treated in America, instead of listening to, you know, my experience being a woman and all…

And weirdly, I think he’d like to talk about that stuff almost as a way to prop himself up… He’d sometimes even start painting my past experiences with other guys as worse than I remember them… Almost as like a, “Do you even realize you’ve totally been damaged and mistreated? But don’t worry. I’m the very best guy, and I will indeed save you…” And to some extent, I started to play into that… “Huh, yeah. Wow. Yeah… I… I guess maybe that time with that dude was not cool (or worse than I remember, etc. etc.)… Yeah, goodness… Thank you indeed for being such an incredible guy.”

Anyway, I’m getting way off track here (and I know I’m starting to potentially sound paranoid… But it was all just so weird!)

Anyway, he started talking about online harassment. I said I experienced a fair amount. Later, he said, “I looked at your blog, but I didn’t see any harassing comments.” And I said, “Well, I moderate them out.” And we got into a weird conversation about it.

And then I ended up sending screenshots of lots of internet harassment to try to prove it was real. And I told him how weird I felt digging into archives of my computer just to prove an offhand thing I said was real… And he was all, “You don’t have to prove it to me. I was merely saying your blog doesn’t show comments when you’re on the home page.” And it’s like, ‘well, but that’s – that’s not what you said at all… Like, that is literally nothing close to what you actually said, and now you’re trying to say that what you said means something completely different’ But instead of arguing with him over semantics, I apologized for misunderstanding.

2) When I (was pushed to) talk about my troubles in my BMI class, and how it was frustrating that I was having a hard time being viewed as a performer, he said, “Don’t worry about it. Once you get to year two, people will be bringing in real performers anyway.”

And he didn’t talk like he meant Audra, or Sutton, or like super definitely real performers. No, he just meant solid singers, maybe Equity members… Like…You know… Me? It felt like a super dig, because he knew how important performing was to me.

He knew I have done it professionally. (Granted, yes, in little gigs. Yes, I’m not on Broadway. But I perform, and I’ve been paid to perform.) So, to tell me not to worry that I don’t seem to be getting across a *core* thing about myself to my class, because after all, the “real performers” will be coming soon…. It seems rude! (I’ve known some of the “real performers” who come in just to perform songs, and a lot of them are at my level. It’s not crazy to want to be held in the same ranks as people at my level.)

(And mind you, this whole stupid conversation is on a day when I was begging him not to have to talk about BMI, because I was so tired of talking about it and just wanting to enjoy my time with him. But he pushed and pushed because he always wanted to “help” me, if I had any problem… But forcing me to talk about something I don’t feel like talking about that day, and then telling me my fears are dumb or bareless or unfounded is not helping.

But again, I “read him wrong.” I was “sensitive.” He was just trying to “make me feel better” or “not be so stressed about it.” Okay… Well… that’s… possible

And it’s stuff like that. It’s stuff that we could sit here and wonder over and be like, “Weeeeeeeell… I meeeeeeeean… You know… He was just being a guy who wasn’t paying attention.” But when it happens all the time… It just cannot be all misunderstandings.

And it’s hard to talk about, since so many of the examples are so small. And I really don’t want to sound like a crazy person… But aye ayeaye, the gaslighting! It is painful and confusing and a feeling I can not completely put it into words. And if you haven’t experienced it, I hope to goodness you never have to. But if you do, and you can come up with the words I can’t, feel free to tell me about your experiences (or questions – since I feel like I’m a little bit failing ya here – sorry!) in the comments. xoxo

Friday, November 18th, 2016

I am obviously not happy with how I handled everything around being sexually assaulted and all the events that followed…

In fact, I’m embarrassed (as I think I’ve said before).

And there will be people (and there have been people) who say things like, “You’re only crying out rape because you’re upset that the relationship is over!”

That’s not true.

But I can’t argue that I didn’t try to make the relationship work, because I did.

I can’t argue that I never flirted with him again, or quite honestly had overtly sexual exchanges (in text, person, or email). Because we did.

And that sucks, because I feel like it does kind of dilute my case.

I mean, it seems unimaginable to me to claim someone sexually assaulted me just because a relationship ended, or because I’m mad or something…

One small example – Some years ago a man who said he loved me (whom I’d been with for kind of a while), abruptly left me for another woman (in not the nicest way).

(We are friends again now, and we were only in kind of a bad place for probably about a month after that happened. But anyway, at the time…)

I was indeed upset that that relationship ended, and I was upset about the way in which it ended… And still, I never once told a soul on this planet that that man sexually assaulted me – because he didn’t!

Relationships end. Sometimes people are mad. But this idea that anyone would lie about being sexually assaulted because they’re mad seems unfathomable to me…

Because why? What on earth would that possibly accomplish?

Do you think I cry in the middle of sex – interrupting something fun and enjoyable with someone I care about – because I’m lying? Do I gain anything from embarrassing myself in bed, and throwing a wrench in the mood?

Do you think I wake up crying from nightmares, alone, where it doesn’t affect anyone but me – doesn’t waste anybody’s time but my own, nor get me any “attention” or whatever it is some people think I’m seeking… because I’m mad at some dude, and I’m somehow trying to get back at him?

This has never been a blog that’s been about sex and relationships, and I never wanted it to be. And then this happened, and now it is what it is.

That anyone would think that I’d be getting any more or better attention for sexual assault than I would for running marathons, or being on game shows, or volunteering a bunch, or working in the TV industry, or any of the other stuff I talk about on my blog… It just seems so silly to me!

Because do you know what happens to women who talk about sexual assault? We’re called sluts. We’re called liars. We’re asked to defend every single second of the interaction (when people don’t ask victims of other crimes to do that). It’s not fun. Nothing about this is “fun.”

Some of this has been comforting, I guess… My friends have been incredible through all this. (Thank you all.) So, I have seen this beautiful human spirit of empathy. And that’s maybe been comforting or inspiring.

Some of this has been, I don’t even want to say interesting, because I don’t think that’s the right word, but I suppose eye-opening… It’s really made me learn so much more about what’s happening for so many other women (and I’m sure men too). So, this has been a few different things – but fun is not one of them.

None of this has gotten me ahead in life. In fact, my life has been deterred/deferred in many ways because of this (which I will get into in more posts later)…

So, I just wonder how people think this benefits me in any possible way… Heck, even if someone thinks I’m somehow “getting back at him,” I’m not even going on a vendetta against this specific man. (I’m talking about a broad important concept, rooted in something that happened to me – which I’m trying to make not about him (as much as I can).
I’ve worked to keep him anonymous in these posts – sometimes omitting details that would help to explain why this story is even worse and more painful than it already seems… But some of those details get too close to revealing who it is, and I’m choosing to make his anonymity a priority.)

Facts are great – and so important. I made a living working on a show that tried to present important facts to the world. I argued vehemently for Hillary Clinton to be our president based on facts. And it sucks that some of the facts in this story don’t look wonderful for me…

And all that I can really do is ask you to trust me – which I know is a lot to ask. And I’m thankful that so many people have. Because I’m telling the truth. But in an un-provable situation like this, I feel helpless.

But I just think the narrative that it would be so common or normal to boldface lie about sexual assault for some sort of gain (when I literally cannot understand what anyone would possibly be gaining from this)… it’s just very odd to me.

And part of the reason I’m sharing is because a LOT of women’s (and I’m sure men’s) stories are not “perfect.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share. You should not have to be “perfect” to be heard, or believed, or respected.

I’m not perfect. I didn’t handle situation perfectly. (But it’s a false equivalence to say that me not reacting perfectly makes sexual assault okay. It doesn’t.)

I’m working to let go of my guilt for “not being perfect.” And if you’re worried about “not being perfect,” I am loud and clearly (and very embarrassingly) admitting that I’m not perfect either! You have some company, friend.

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Part of me feels like this could be an unnecessary post to write.

But I feel like I need to say something, because I feel I’ve been very “blame-y.” And I feel kind of justified in that, because I think what we’ve been talking about (sexual assault and things that surround it) is important… And I feel that I gave a very truthful look at the full story of everything that happened (even if it is from my perspective)…

But that’s the thing, because it is my perspective, I almost feel I need to give a quick reminder that he has his own view of things too..

And I’m sure I don’t necessarily need to say that out loud, because you know that…

But still, I think just because it’s relationship adjacent, and relationships generally don’t work where one person is 100% in the right and one is 100% in the wrong… it feels weird to a) talk about all this and b) do it in the way in which I’ve felt I needed to (and the way I felt was fair).

I do remember a lot of fights and details and such (a lot, a lot – since things have played over and over in my brain for months). But there may have been conversations I don’t remember (or am not thinking about), where I was confusing, or maybe was meaner than I think, or unfair in some way… I’m sure there are texts I’d be surprised to re-read, or nuance things that maybe got lost in this big overarching story.

One example of something that I’m pretty sure must’ve bothered him is… I certainly know there was a time when we were fighting (before the second assault, not even about sex stuff at all – just about him talking down to me in general, or not respecting me) in which he kept getting mad at me for “projecting” on him.

And I would apologize profusely… “I don’t know why I’m projecting on someone who’s being so wonderful to me… Yeah, you are such a good guy… Gosh, I’m being such a jerk! I don’t know what’s gotten into me… I’m so sorry”

But then I’d get mad all over again when I’d inevitably feel spoken down to again… It was just this circle over and over. And I didn’t mean to be insincere with apologies. I truly thought that I must be crazy or projecting (because he was so confident in telling me I was, and because he was so wonderful sometimes). So, I’d apologize, ’cause I’d legitimately think I was wrong… But then I’d still get mad soon after, when I’d get spoken down to again… because, you know, I was so hurt.

And while I see that from my side – how I was confused (by all the gaslighting), I’m sure it was very confusing for him.

That would be annoying to have someone (me) acting in such a confusing fashion. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. You’re so great/Oh my goodness, I’m so mad. For the love of god, please stop talking down to me.” You know what I mean? (After all, I was always annoyed when he would be confusing, so he rightfully would be too when I was).

And we can tell me as much as we want, “Well, you were being manipulated!” or “you were trying your best!” etc… That doesn’t change how it must’ve felt for him.

So, while I tried to keep my narrative as objective as I could (at least from my point of view), I just think it’s potentially worth noting that I’m not perfect (as much as I’d like to be), and he has a narrative of his own. And I’m sure a lot of this was frustrating for him as well (though I do most definitely think it would be a false equivalency to say our frustrations are equal)…

And I don’t mean to be walking back things I said, or shrugging and saying, “Welp, it just didn’t work out and everybody’s equally at fault.” Because it’s not that…

It was a nighmare. It was something like and 8 or 9 months nightmare. And a lot of unfair things were done. And me trying to leave some room for some compassion here doesn’t take away all of that.

And I think we can blame him for the assaults 100%… It is SO weird to say I feel I can blame someone 100% for anything… But, I spent many months trying to find the blame for myself… But I think we don’t have to say, “Well, I should’ve been louder. I should’ve been this, etc.” – especially because he already said he knew where I stood, but was “helping” me.

So, he can get the blame on that. But in all the relationship stuff around it… I don’t think I can blame him 100%. That stuff isn’t all that black and white… And I just thought that was worth mentioning out loud.. So, I thought I should.