This is a back post,
[This is another post in a series on sexual assault.]
It never feels good to be “punished,” or “fail,” or “lose” or whatever – under any circumstances, it’s never fun. But at least when you know you’re doing something wrong, there’s something that just feels at least justified or something about, “Well, I chose to sneak out of the house… This was a possibility.”
But when you reeeeeeally think you’re doing every single thing right and then it all turns out to be wrong… that’s painful.
For instance, in the moment of the assault, I thought it was better to stay calm, just try to stay safe… Even now, it’s hard to imagine that fighting back would’ve been “better” – that it would’ve actually been safer. But legally, it would’ve been better for me. And in the moment, I was thinking of the grand overarching thing of it all.
Then, in the aftermath… Soon after it happened, I sent a flirtatious text.
For one thing, I thought the only thing that would make things better was quickly getting back to “normal.”
Also, we’d been fighting a lot leading up to that, I didn’t want to immediately fight with him again. I knew we would have to have a talk about what had happened. But certainly doing it through a text wasn’t going to help anything. It was going to need to be a big in-person talk. And while I new we would have an important talk coming up, I didn’t think that meant we couldn’t be nice to each other in the meantime.
I just thought we were treating it like people would a lot of fights – you know something is wrong and you want to talk it out, but you don’t go fully on silence lockdown. Or maybe you do. I don’t know. I mean, I could see that. I know sometimes you’re angry enough that you don’t talk to someone while you wait for your talk.
I didn’t want to trick him into thinking I wasn’t mad. I thought he knew.
I also just wanted resolution. I just wanted normalcy. I wanted answers. I didn’t want to live in the “incident” area of the cycle of abuse any longer than I had to. (It’s a really painful place!)
I feel like just as a normal person in the world, I learned, “Take care of your own problems. Go to the person and talk to them directly before you try to get authority involved. ‘Don’t be a snitch.’ See the best in people. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Come to things with the plan of forgiveness. Approach confrontations from places of kindness. Do the compliment sandwiches. ‘People won’t listen if you just yell at them and come in too mean. Be nice to be heard.'” And on and on and on – all those general nuggets of wisdom I thought we all got!
And yet, when I tried to use them, it became this giant thing of me apparently giving up all legal rights (and maybe even my rights in the court of public opinion?), that it’s like, “Well, if you’re nice to someone then they just didn’t do something bad to you?”
Like, do I just not understand what caring about someone means? Because in my mind, if a friend stole my bike and I saw them do it. I still feel like I’d call them or talk to them first to understand and be like, “Did you mishear me and think I said you could borrow it? Or am I missing something?”
People ask why I was nice to him, and it’s like, “I’m sorry. Why am I nice?” Gaaaaah! *Head flies off*
Heck, if a friend of mine got really drunk and angry and literally broke my nose at a bar, I don’t know that I’d press charges. (I mean, assuming the next day they were like, “I’m so sorry,” and it’d be nice if they paid the medical bills. If they were like, “You had it coming this whole time and I hate you and I’m glad I did it. And also, now I’m gonna act like you begged me to punch you in the face and make you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable around your classmates, and push you out of your dream school” – then I might have a different way of thinking about it, more than anything else for self-defense.
[And if we doubt I’d be like this, when a girl I didn’t even know who went to high school with me was texting and driving and ran through an intersection, hitting me on the driver’s side and totaling my car, my main goal was to reassure her and let her know everything is okay.
My first thought is almost never “revenge” or “anger” or anything like that. So, to imagine that that would be my first reaction with him just doesn’t compute to me.
I mean, yes, I was very angry and taken aback in the moment, especially after he followed me in the shower. But I wasn’t like “I’m gonna ruin you, or break all your stuff!” angry. I was just “breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Stay calm” angry. It’s not like I don’t or can’t feel anger. But I also so easily feel compassion and empathy and shock – which is what I felt that weekend.
Anyway, so, that’s just what I’ve picked up as a normal human, but also, as I’ve said before that as a past victim of abuse, the other lessons I really learned in my life were “be good, be good, be good, be good, always be good.” You don’t really even have the option to get angry. Because 98% of the time, if you get angry, you really get hurt – not just emotionally, but physically as well. And that is ingrained in your brain.
So, I did every single thing that I thought I was supposed to do as a “good, patient” person. I did everything I learned would keep me sage as an abuse victim. And all of it – every bit of it – blew up in my face. It makes it all seemingly less real in the eyes of many, it took away all my legal protections. And it sucks. It sucks to feel the world is upside down – that everything I thought was right was wrong.
I don’t know how to explain that confusion any further. All I can say is it has confused me.