Getting Over Being Assaulted By An Intimate Partner Is Not Like Getting Over A Breakup

February 23, 2017

Kind of piggybacking off yesterday –

Sometimes I compare the fallout from my assault to a breakup (’cause there are some similar things – someone you cared about hurt you, you’re not sleeping together anymore, etc.), and I think things like, “Well, this is how I moved past this or that breakup or whatever… Why can’t I just do that?”

I think about it in terms of normal closure, and how you’d normally think about/treat someone with whom you used to be involved in any type of romantic and/or sexual capacity.

But that’s a) not the right way to think about it, and b) sometimes drives me a little crazy. Because I do not feel the same way about these circumstances or this man as I have about any break-up. In fact, my skin is crawling using the words “break-up” in this post. (We need a new word, for sure, for me to use.)
‘Cause take sexual assault guy out of the equation and I’m like, “Oh, but ‘breakup’ sounds so harsh!”

I don’t really view things as “breakups,” so much as kind of like, “A person and I are not together in the same capacity for one reason or another.” Breakup just sounds too mean to me (personally) for some reason.

There is not a man I can think of (again, aside from sexual assault guy) with whom I’ve had even the most quasi-romatntic relationship (or even a friend I slept with a time or two or whatever, or quite honestly even a one-night stand if we remember each other), for whom I wouldn’t be happy to have lunch with or something.

I cared about those men before and I still care about them now… Of course, maybe in a different capacity now. And, of course there are a couple instances where it’s like “Oof! This really was so not the right fit.” So, we might not keep in touch, or be active friends.
There’s maybe even a guy or a few out there who wouldn’t want to talk to me for one reason or another (even if I wouldn’t mind talking to them).
(…I know it’s gonna blow your mind to think this about me, but I’m not perfect. 😉 So, maybe not everybody wants to stay my friend always and forever.)

But there is no one I can think of, whom I’ve slept with (of course – asterisk – who didn’t sexually assault me), with whom I wouldn’t be more than happy to at the very least make small talk with at a party (and some I’d be happy to spend a week with!).

And that’s part of what’s so hard for me. I’m like, “Dang! ‘breakups’ are not supposed to deeply hurt this much; or make me feel this crazy, or on edge, or disassociated (and on an on); or be literally traumatic to where I cried during sex, or get literally ill at the sight of the person’s face, and/or seeing him in a specific nightmare or some such…

I know it can be uncomfortable to see someone in certain timetables or at certain events after a – what’s the new word we’re gonna use – can we, for the time being, just start calling breakups “crunchy goodbyes”? ‘Cause that sounds uncomfortable, but not mean…

Anyway, I’m not gonna act like every crunchy goodbye is heaven or that I haven’t had an awkward run in with a former mate. I’m human. I’ve had weird awkward run-ins in the stage where we’re not 100% ready to see each other quite yet.

But nothing – none – not one of my crunchy goodbyes has ever felt quite like this (in large part because that’s not really what this is…).

And yet, I’m trying to put getting over this crime into this same box as getting over a relationship.

And it’s really not helpful for me to do that.

And I have a few more thoughts on this tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Getting Over Being Assaulted By An Intimate Partner Is Not Like Getting Over A Breakup”

  1. Sounds awful.

    For what it’s worth, while it’s a smaller degree of magnitude than what you’ve been going through, I did once go through a relationship ending where for over a month I couldn’t have sex without bursting into tears. (The non-monogamy thing meant I was having regular sex in the immediately aftermath of a breakup–a privilege denied to most.), and i recall another where for about a year I wasn’t myself–would be hit by a wave of bad feelings at unpredictable times. Probably the pain of relationships ending is a function of how much you envisioned your lives being woven together and going in a fundamentally different direction and then that vision of the future is gone. It gets worse as you get older.

    In any case, being betrayed/assaulted by someone your’e close to still takes the crap-cake.

    1. Hey Kevin! Thanks for commenting.

      First off, I’m so sorry about those tough goodbyes for you. That really sounds hard and I’m sorry you went through that.

      Also, I’m really not meaning to make it like the “Who’s Hurt More?” games. haha
      For instance, when I was in the hospital, people would act like they couldn’t tell me what was going on in their life, ’cause they’d say things like, “How can I talk about some dumb fight with my girlfriend when you have real problems?” And I’d always say, “What?! Your biggest problem in your life is your biggest problem in your life. And there’s not some kind of uber-ultimate scale where we decide what’s ‘worthy’ of being cared about. If it matters to you, it matters.” And I still think that too this day. So, I’m really really not trying to be like, “Hey, world, don’t come at me with your thing when mine is so much worse!” So, I’m sorry if I’m not doing that correctly. 😛

      Also, I totally recognize that people deal with both assault and breakups differently. Even in my own life… As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I was raped in college. I was held down. I was constantly shushed while I asked him to stop. He continued ’til I bled. And I never shed a single tear over it. I never had trouble having sex. I was just kind of like, “that sucks.” I merely never wanted to be called baby again. But that seems like a small thing in the grand scheme of things…

      Whereas, I’ve had a “crunchy goodbye” (as I liked to say in the post instead of “breakup” since I hate that word) that was really painful and heartbreaking.

      So, even in my own life, I have examples of times a “breakup” was waaaaaaay more painful than a rape. Details of situations matter, how people react to things matter. I don’t think there’s an absolute scale (like we’re robots or something) of painful to not or “worth caring about” to not…

      I do recognize that “normal breakups” can be really serious things, and people absolutely can have nightmares and some of the things they’d have from assaults. Then there’s even broken heart syndrome, where people die from the pain.

      So, basically I’m really sorry if I’m minimizing breakups and heartbreak. That’s truly not my intent. I recognize they can be so terrible.

      I guess all I’m really trying to say is that in my opinion, they are totally *different* – without thinking worse, better, or whatever. I think they are just so different. I think heartbreak is felt differently than the feelings after being assaulted. I think (at least for me) the way to get over it is different than getting over a relationship. Like they are just different feelings.

      So, I just think me trying to compare them to any feelings I’d have after a “breakup,” or trying to get over it in the same way or treating it the same way… Or even for people who are trying to be lovely and helpful like “Well, this is what I did after a breakup or whatever….” I’m just finding it very counterproductive to think about it in that way… And I’m not putting that on anybody else, ’cause I’m doing it too – a hundred million percent. I’m maybe even setting the tone. If there are times I’m thinking of it like a “breakup,” why wouldn’t other people?

      And I’ve just talked about this with other people who’ve been assaulted, and in the small sample size I have, it’s seemed that people have been like “Yes! I had that problem too.” I obviously can’t speak for all people who’ve been assaulted. But it seems like there might be this thing where a number of us are trying so hard to fit it in this box of just like normal relationship stuff. So when it feels so different, or we react so differently, we feel crazy. But it’s like, well, of course there’s a humongous possibility it’s gonna feel so different from a “breakup,” or we’re gonna react so differently – because it is something different. It is not a “normal” problem. It is not even heartbreak…

      There are things about it that kind of feel heartbreak adjacent. For instance, there’s a lot of sadness – even if it’s sadness that you ever got involved in the first place… And that’s a thought some people have during breakups… So, there is some overlap. So when it feels kiiiiiiiinda like something you know, it just feel like, “Oh, I know this and I know how I deal with this.” And then it’s so jarring (to me at least) when it’s actually so different.

      Like, if you treat it like heartbreak, but it’s something else, it never quite works. I know nothing at all about cars, but in my search for a metaphor, I’m gonna say it’s maybe like if you’re a mechanic and you think you have all the parts. You’ve fixed cars before. But someone comes in with some car from the ’50s. And if you go about fixing it like you would a 2015 model, it’s gonna be like, “oh, these parts aren’t really the same… Oh, with this car, they’re in a different order… Oh, goodness, this whole system is different. 8-tracks? What is this?” You think it’s just another car, but it’s not at all. Or maybe it’s actually like sending a mechanic to work on a spaceship or a submarine, like, “Well, you’ve worked with modes of transportation before.” And the it’s like “Okay, I guess, but that’s not what this is.” (I actually don’t know if any of these analogies are even working at all… I’m kind of just talking out of my butt here..)

      The point is, they’re just different – pain from a heartbreak, and pain from an assault. Or, at least to me they are. Pain from this assault is like something I’ve never experienced before and I think it expands even outside of him or the event(s), but on a societal level of how I fit in to the world now, and how assaulted women are treated, and and just so much stuff and blah blah blah.

      I have no idea if I’m even making any sense at all. I’m merely (I think) trying to say I kept looking at it like a breakup, but if I actually want to try to kind of “get better,” I think, for me, I have to realize it’s really not a breakup. (I mean, I did know that, but I kept comparing it to breakups, nonetheless…) It’s something else. It may look like a “breakup” and have some similar parts. But it’s a different beast (not better, worse, more/less worthy or real or serious) – just a different thing, and I need to treat it as such, I think, if my ramblings make any sense at all. 😛

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