Obviously I’ve talked to many people about being sexually assaulted since it happened.
And some of those people have been professionals (or at the very least trained volunteers). I’ve talked to people on helplines, a therapist, someone doing a study of people who’ve been assaulted.
And people always point out something I hadn’t really thought about before…
“Don’t you think it’s kind of odd that literally right after he did something that would totally fall under the umbrella of assault [as far as I, a PhD candidate and professional in this field would conclude], he immediately started talking about craaaaaazy a woman would be to accuse him of assault? …That incident he’d had with her, had it happened the day before?”
Had it happened even the week before?”
“No. As far as I could gather it happened a while ago.”
“Hmmm. So, it wasn’t like it was in the forefront of his mind and he just had to get it off his chest? …Isn’t it odd that of all the times to think of it, it was right then? It wasn’t like sex in general triggered it. You’d had sex for a full weekend and a whole other night before then. He could’ve told you at any time… But it was his assault behavior that reminded him of assault… Did you think it was odd that he seemed desperate in that exact moment to get you to say you didn’t believe he could assault someone? Was he already trying to discount your experience?”
And then there was, “Didn’t you think it’s odd how angry he got over you sharing a basically inconsequential story of a way he’d hurt your feeling sand how you were struggling with feeling that way – one that was completely anonymous and could’ve applied to multiple different people. I know people have privacy lines, and it’s not like he didn’t have any right to be angry at all – but to completely shut you down, to be that angry, to not talk to you for a month, because you were potentially a little too open for his boundaries on social media (again, in a way where no one could’ve pinpointed it was him)… Do you think most people would’ve maybe taken a day or two, if that, and been willing to have an adult conversation with you about it? Do you think – just perhaps – that he had to find a manufactured reason to be angry, to blow it out of proportion, and to make you feel so small, so that you didn’t have any room to talk to him about how you were hurt by the assault?”
“Well, yeah, I mean… It’s possible.”
And on and on. “Did you notice this manipulative thing he did?” “Did you know this is actually a frequent tactic of abusers?” “Did you know…” “Did you know?”
Now, I know to some extent, we can’t sit around and overanalyze people all day. And also, these could be wrong. It’s impossible to truly know someone’s motive, how intentionally manipulative they’re being, and all of that. We’re just seeing things from our own point of view, and doing the best we can with the information we have.
But, I do think professionals help you see behavior you might not totally understand or recognize without them. And I do overall find it to be very helpful… Even though I also find it slightly exhausting sometimes. I mean, don’t you remember serial?! My brain was all over the place all the time. What a ride!