Choosing to Move Forward

It’s been a while since I have been on here. Guess it’s time for a little update on my life.

  1. Started therapy in September
  2. Reported my second rape in October
  3. Separated and filed for divorce in November
  4. Been trying to deal with my first rape.

victim decide to survive

Months ago, I decided that I needed to stop playing games and choose to move forward whether it be with my family or not. As I am sure I mentioned, I spent the Summer in the hospital because of suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t escape. My life was going nowhere and I felt so trapped. I wasn’t in a good place at all. Once I started therapy in September, I realized that this was my time to fight. No more getting walked on, no more hiding my pain, no more “playing nice”. I needed to become healthy and that includes healthy relationships.

When I decided this, I thought I would lose my mom as she was toxic, but I soon realized that my husband was more toxic. Every time I would take a step in the right direction, he would pull me back 4 steps. This was no good. The constant circles and the bickering were killing me inside.

I remember sitting outside in my car so determined to finally report my rape. Days later, another argument about things we talked about for a whole year and a half. That was when I decided that my marriage came second and I came first. I was more worried about losing myself again than losing my marriage. Maybe my husband could see that because that was when things just started crumbling.

I honestly cant remember when or how I went to the police station to report but I did. The women’s center lady came with me and it was done within 30 minutes. I still haven’t heard back from them, but I am not so worried about that right now. At least it is filed. I have been trying to do that for a year and have been kicking myself for not speaking up for 8 years. So it was about time.

To be honest, I think that my marriage ended the way it did because I would not have sex with my husband once. I have only turned him down twice in 5 years, and both times he threw a fit saying “Let me know when I can touch MY WIFE” and proceeding to leave or sleep on the couch. If anyone has been a victim, they know that sometimes flashbacks and nightmares mess things up in your head. He couldn’t understand that. All he knew was that he spent all this money and did all this stuff for our date night, only to get no sex.

I see my therapist every Tuesday and most of the time we are and were talking about things that happened within our marriage. I have realized a lot wrong with my marriage and things I need to work on. But I have also realized that I deserve better and my husband is unwilling to do that, no matter how many times he NOW begs to get back together, after HE filed for divorce (which he blames on his sister).

But besides that, every now and then, I am able to speak of my first rape. We had some issues where she pissed me off at one point, but we got past it. And in the last few days, I have been dealing with the blame I still have in my first rape. I am still not quite sure how grooming works and I am working on it, but it is very difficult.

{If anyone has found any good articles on Grooming, I would love to read them.}

Today, my brother been on my case about how I deal with my rapes and divorce. Eh, maybe I will create a whole new post on this topic as it is still on going and I am not exactly sure what he means by my current divorce affects how I blame myself with my first rape. Interesting concept, right? We’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll go into more detail later about things, but this is more generally what’s been going on.

Anyway, thank you for reading.

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Freezing During Rape is Normal

This is all well worth reading! The last part especially. I have been going back and forth in my head and beating myself up tonight. So, when I read this, it definitely helped me with that. The whole FREEZING thing gets to me all the time. How could he see it not as rape? Hmmm. Well, if you need a little help in that department, its a good read. If you’ve never been a rape victim, this is very educational. I know A LOT of people who need to read this. Mostly Family!

Freezing and paralysis during rape
from Resurrection After Rape by Matt Atkinson, LCSW
http://www.resurrectionafterrape.org/

“I just lay there and took it!”

At first, few rape victims can tolerate alternate explanations for their rapes. For example, you may habitually tell yourself “I should have fought more,” without considering the possibility that you might have been harmed even worse had you done so. Because rape is about power and control, a rapist will use a level of aggression that exceeds any resistance in order to maintain that control. Furthermore, during a traumatic assault the body’s sympathetic nervous system takes over, instinctively regulating your behaviors for the sake of survival. That means your conscious mind stops choosing what to do, and your physical systems grab control, producing one of three basic responses: fight, flee, or freeze.

All three instincts have helpful and harmful aspects about them; they may either increase or decrease your safety. But contrary to what we see in movies and what we read in booklets promoted by the self-defense industry, the “fight instinct” is actually rather rare in both men and women. By far the most common instinct is the “freeze instinct,” in which the body becomes very still, rigid, and silent. This is called “tonic immobility,” and is a simple survival behavior. During rape, temporary paralysis is very common (it occurs in up to 88% of rape victims during the assault, according to studies) and entirely normal, and probably even quite healthy. (source: Heidt, J. M., Marx, B. P., & Forsyth, J. P. (2005). Tonic immobility and childhood sexual abuse: Evaluating the sequela of rape-induced paralysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy,43,1157–1171.)

However, until someone explains to a survivor that this instinct is normal and appropriate, she will often spend years criticizing herself (“What’s the matter with me? I just laid there! I’m such a fool! Why didn’t I fight, or at least scream?”), and even lawyers and juries can be misled into lenience toward rapists whose victims are inaccurately described as “passive.” This behavior is not “passive;” it is a biologically-driven form of resistance! But this fact is so rarely understood that rape victims often multiply their own sense of guilt and shame because of the freeze instinct. One study even found that the link between this “temporary paralysis” during rape and later feelings of guilt and self-blame are directly related to increased depression, anxiety, and PTSD later.

This is why it is so crucial that rape survivors receive basic education about the body’s adaptations to trauma, so that you can understand and accept these behaviors as normal, rather than as failure. “This is a biologically hard-wired response that just kicks in, typically when there’s extreme fear coupled with physical restraint,” states one study of victims’ temporary paralysis during rape. Jennifer Heidt, commenting on a study she helped organize, wrote, “if we can help to show them [in therapy] that they weren’t letting this happen to themselves, that this is an unlearned response, that they were incapable of changing it, that they were incapable of fighting back, then we can help deal with that guilt.” (source: Finn, Robert. “Involuntary paralysis common during rape – Legal and TX Implications.” OB/GYN News, Jan. 15, 2003. http://findarticles.com/p/articles…)

It can also be difficult to separate the issues of “compliance” with “consent.” In most rapes where the victim is conscious, there is some degree of forced compliance with the rapist, simply as a reasonable way to protect herself from further harm. Although this is a very normal form of self-preservation, it can also produce one hell of a stuck point afterward:

• “The fact that I stopped struggling when he ordered me to means I am guilty of permitting the rape.”
• “I removed my underpants when he told me to. That means I participated or led him on about sex.”
• “I kept quiet and never screamed. Does that mean I wasn’t really raped?”
• “My whole body froze and I couldn’t move.”
• “They always say ‘no means no.’ But I never said the word ‘no’ because I was paralyzed with fear.”
• “I can’t remember how I got into the closet [where the rape happened]…If I put myself there, it must mean I helped him rape me.”

When a person is mugged, they instinctively freeze and will typically say to the attacker, “Take whatever you want.” They will compliantly hand over wallets, purses, watches, anything demanded of them, in a desperate, terrified hope that the assault will end without further injury or death. And nobody questions this cooperation; police even advise it as the correct course of action. People will support you and assure you that you did the right thing. Nobody blames you for carrying money by saying, well, didn’t you realize that would only lead a robber on?” Nobody would blame you for all the times you willingly spent money by implying that this means you “have a history of giving it away, so aren’t you just ‘crying robbery’ now?” Nobody would claim that the incident was probably just a cash transaction that “got out of hand” or you regretted later.

Yet when the violent assault becomes sexual, many people implausibly lose all their insights about the importance of cooperation to reduce harm. Suddenly, the guilty questions begin: “Why didn’t I fight back? What if I had resisted more? Why did I stay quiet? Why did I freeze? Why did I take off something I wore when he ordered me to?”

These stuck points exist because of the gap between what we want to believe (“I would never ‘let’ anyone rape me”) and what the rape itself seems to prove (“I must have failed to prevent rape. Or worse yet, I must have permitted it!”). It may seem like an unusual statement, but analyzing your stuck points is really a form of forgiving yourself for whatever actions you had to do to survive, and for whatever it’s taken to cope since, and for whatever misguided self-blame you have felt in spite of the facts. When Shannon* wrote the words “I’m sorry, little girl” in her story, it was written after she had finished writing and reading it aloud, and she had recognized the many forms of resistance she had used. The comment was her apology to herself for spending the next three years crucifying herself. She discovered during her “stuck point” work that she was neither weak nor willing, and that her younger self had never deserved the heaps of blame and guilt she had carried.

If You Are Healing from Sexual Assault

Someone shared this with me and I thought it was perfect. I hope this helps someone reading it. This was found from Pandys.org (Pandora’s Project). I, myself, haven’t searched through the website, but I have wanted to… Maybe one day.

If you healing from sexual assault and you get out of bed in the morning, you are doing well.

If you healing from sexual assault and you hold down a job, you are amazing.

If you are healing from sexual assault and and you are still remotely pleasant to others, you are a lot nicer than me.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you cannot always be there for a friend, you are still a good friend and a strong enough person to know what is best for you.

If you are healing from sexual assault, and find it difficult to care for yourself, but still find the strength to care and love your family than you are strong as well.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you decide to tell your story, you are brave.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you decide that you are not ready to tell your story, you are also brave.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you cry daily or have nightmares, you are normal.

If you are healing from sexual assault and seeing happy, healthy people makes you sad, angry, jealous and worse, join the club.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you decide to press charges against your perpetrator, you have incredible courage.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you cannot or choose not to press charges against your perpetrator, your perpetrator is still the one to blame, and you are smart for knowing what you can handle.

If you are healing from sexual assault and think that what happened was your fault, you are wrong, but you are not alone.

If you are healing from sexual assault and are jealous that some survivors put their abuser in jail, you are one of many.

If you are healing from sexual assault and feel like your significant other truly understands and is 100% supportive, he or she is rare and a keeper.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you have a good support system, it will help A LOT.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you don’t have enough people who understand what you are going through, I strongly recommend joining a support group.

If you are healing from sexual assault and were not believed or supported when you found the courage to tell, you still deserve to be heard, no matter how long ago it was.

If you are healing from sexual assault and you feel like you hate your body, remember your spirit is held within your body.

If you are healing from sexual assault and feel painfully alone and isolated, please know that there are thousands of people healing with you in spirit.

If you are healing from sexual assault and there are days where the only thing you are able to do is exist, remember, we are existing with you till you can live again.

If you are healing from sexual assault but still looking to the future, you are a survivor.

© 2009 Pandora’s Project – By: Shannon

Seeking out Help for Emotional Healing

Going to bed in a few minutes, but I wanted to thank everyone for reading this blog and for their concern. It truly touches my heart. Just wanted to share two things before I crashed.

1. Monday, I went to a mental health facility to help me with the loads of emotions I have had lately. I’ve had many times in the past months where I just cry out I need some help. So that’s what I did. I sought out help. Now, my therapist and psychologist (at the clinic) are going to work hand in hand to make sure that my therapy helps, along with the antidepressant they prescribed me. Therapy IS what will help me recover and heal from what has happened to me, but temporarily being on Zoloft should help control the mood swings where there’s a possibility to feel actual happiness. I did not come to this decision lightly. I just know that if I cannot actively seek avenues to heal, I will never get there. I’ve noticed how I have been, and so have others. The clinic classified it as PTSD, but I think it’s more depression and anxiety. I could be wrong though. Who knows.

2. I was on Facebook the other day and saw a link from Emerging from Broken. Darlene talked about how Emotional Healing Does NOT Depend On… I thought it was perfect. And SO TRUE! With the current situation I am going through, one part stuck out to me (ok maybe two lol).

“My emotional healing did not happen because my husband stood by me. In fact he DIDN’T stand by me at all.  He fought me and he fought the process. My healing and taking my life and individuality back threatened his control over me. It threatened his orderly little world where he was King and I was his servant.  He had his life all organized the way HE wanted it. He liked me messed up and compliant and he is the first one to admit that today.”

“Overcoming dysfunctional relationships and emotional healing depends only on ME. Not on results, outcomes, negotiations, agreement from others, the law, or whether or not I lost or gained weight. Emotional healing does not depend on people or on “things”, money, or circumstances.”

Her insights and thoughts were so inspiring. I can so relate to what she said and hope that one day, I can finally heal from all of this and look back stronger and happier. I’ve seen other victims who think that “if this” or “if that” they could be healed, but the honest truth is that this is all about EMOTIONAL healing. The physical stuff is behind us. The law could be working with us, failing us, or not even be in the picture, but it CANNOT heal us. The law is for what little justice it dishes out, and that’s it! Whether our perp is dead or alive doesn’t heal us. I know some who thought it would, and they are still as stuck as ever in their own misery. We all have to have the will and fight to move past this. Don’t rely on anyone but yourself and your support system. Keep those who will help you close and push all others away. Be selfish a little. My big problem is I never felt “worthy” to be first, second, third, or fourth on anyone’s list. But how can I have them so high on mine, and they not even feel I am worth more than the last slot on their list? Their list doesn’t matter… mine does. And I come first on mine. HEALING is PRIORITY!

Anyways, my medicine is finally kicking in. Think it’s bed time now. Hope everyone can push all the other voices around you out of your head and focus on what you feel will help you in your healing and recovery. I have had to do a lot of seeking out on this, as I used to be in a group on Facebook, but the negativity and lack of uplifting brought me down and kept me stuck where I didn’t wanna be. What is right for some victims isn’t right for others. We all progress in our own time. As long as we keep moving forward, we are doing the right thing. All I can do is imagine the day where this doesn’t affect me like it does. The day I can say yes, I used to be a victim, yes I still have my days, but I am STRONGER because I DIDN’T let them win. I am a fighter. Are you?

Why Many Survivors Struggle with Acquaintance Rape

“The consequences of acquaintance rape are often far-reaching. Once the actual rape has occurred and has been identified as rape by the survivor, she is faced with the decision of whether to disclose to anyone what has happened… The percentage of survivors reporting the rape is so low for several reasons. Self-blame is a recurring response which prevents disclosure. Even if the act has been conceived as rape by the survivor, there is often an accompanying guilt about not seeing the sexual assault coming before it was too late. This is often directly or indirectly reinforced by the reactions of family or friends in the form of questioning the survivor’s decisions… People normally relied upon for support by the survivor are not immune to subtly blaming the victim. Another factor which inhibits reporting is the anticipated response of the authorities. Fear that the victim will again be blamed adds to apprehension about interrogation. The duress of reexperiencing the attack and testifying at a trial, and a low conviction rate for acquaintance rapists, are considerations as well.”

American Academy of Experts on Traumatic Stress