What would you call this? Possibly triggering and annoying babble…

The part below-above the asterisk row-was written a long time ago, but I got the idea to post it here because I’ve read several stories from my friends about similar issues and thought I’d add my ‘me too’ and let them know they’re not alone.- PQ

Okay, many of you who know me have heard me talk about this. I had an idea of what to call it, but some conversations with a friend made me wonder. What would the name be for this situation:

I was in a relationship in college. It lasted about 3.5-4 years. We did not have intercourse. But there were many things of a sexual nature that I did that I did not want to do. Stuff like fondling, oral sex, ‘dry humping’, using his fingers on me, etc. There were times when I did want to do things, but there were many times when I didn’t. Sometimes he would do something like touch me sexually and I would say no, but he would continue. Sometimes I would end up enjoying it, but not always. He would make sexual comments about me and other women, and some of his friends did too. When I would say something about it, he would make me feel as though I was wrong, too ‘prudish’ (I had been told before by other friends that I was too judgemental about sex), that I needed to ‘loosen up’. Toward the end, I would get quite angry and would not want to show any part of my body to him, would be very ashamed that anyone knew we did stuff, etc. He would make comments about it to argue with me and seem/get angry, knowing that I didn’t want to hurt or make people mad. Basically he was playing on my good nature.

He would manipulate me into doing many things. He’d use tactics like lying/pretending to be sad that I didn’t want to fool around, arguing with me, giving guilt trips, etc. If I were talking to anyone else I’d call it “coercion”, but for some reason I draw a blank when it comes to myself. We got along well sometimes, so I basically did things because I felt like I had to. I thought that that was just what you do, that I had to have a ‘tradeoff’ and give sexual favors to get the good things like support, etc. There were several times when I would wake up and he would be touching me sexually.

He would occasionally say something like an apology and that he was doing wrong, and stop for about a week or so. But he would shortly go right back to the same old thing. I stayed mainly because (as I see it now) he manipulated me and got me to where I felt dependent on him or didn’t feel strong enough to leave. Once, when I did break up with him, he would come up and try to be my friend. He would give advice to me about guys I was interested in, tell me how I deserved better and swoop right in when they left me alone. Come to find out, they mainly did that because he was harassing them and interfering.

I know the emotional and psychological stuff would be abuse, but what about the sexual stuff? At the time I didn’t know it had a name or that anyone would believe me or think it was wrong because he was my boyfriend. Also, there were times when I did want to do things, or ended up enjoying it.

Would that be a separate type of abuse? I thought that ‘rape’ had to be forced intercourse, and there wasn’t any of that.  I was talking with a friend, and she said something that make me reconsider that perhaps it really *was* rape because of the use of fingers. She also said that my eventual enjoyment of it was irrelevant, that it was the fact that he did not take no for an answer and that he did this consistently over a long period of time that was problematic. That prompted me to start reading on the internet about the subject, but I got different ideas and definitions from different sources.

What do you think? What would the name be for this, if any? I was using ‘sexual abuse’, but my friend’s comments made me wonder.

******************************************

The above was posted on Beliefnet.com a while back in the form of a thread on the Sexual Ethics board:

http://community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/43931/13270689/What_is_the_name_for_this

As  you can see here, I got some good responses and some nasty responses. They all told me things I’d already thought of: that it was my fault because I stayed with him and because I had done things in the past; that it didn’t matter what happened in the past, that it was still wrong for him not to take ‘no’ for an answer; that I didn’t set clear enough boundaries and gave him mixed messages, and so I was just as wrong; the whole ‘why didn’t you leave him?’…same old same old.

I don’t want to go on about how I’m a victim…I *hate* that word! I’ve managed to have good relationships with men since then, even if my view of sex might have changed a bit. What’s strange is that this whole thing still effects me, 10+ years later…probably affects me more now than it did around when it actually happened. I’m told that is fairly common.  I just hate how, even now, even seeing his *name* or someone who looks like him shakes me up.  In fact, I was working on a project about abuse in relationships a while back, but had to table it for a while because thinking of it all started weighing on me and I would find myself thinking or talking about it so much that it got in the way of other, very important things- things like taking Facebook quizzes and drooling over blonde male Aussies on TV. 🙂  Can’t have that, now, can we? 🙂

I tend to make jokes to try to deal with things, even if some don’t think I should.  I refer to this ex as Psycho Rapist because I think it sounds funny but I also don’t want to say his name. There are just *so many levels* to this relationship.  I had low self-esteem, didn’t think what I wanted was very important, thought I had to please people or else I was a bad person, thought it was a matter of taking the good with the bad, etc…typical thought patterns of a person in an abusive relationship. However, sometimes it still hits me. Not at this moment, but sometimes it takes very little to bring thoughts back up.  Now, there were some decent things and some fun things, and I keep trying to tell myself that, but I still keep going back to the negative, especially when I read about a friend having a bad situation. I hate that my friends have had these sorts of things happen to them.

Seriously, though-a few months ago he sent a friend request to me on Facebook. He sent and I ignored them three different times (he even sent them two days apart from each other), and ended up blocking him.

I’ve asked myself, friends and spiritual advisers about forgiving him about three or four times in the past few years, but for some reason I can’t seem to drill anything through my head. I’ve wrestled with that sort of thing many times, although lately I haven’t really.  It comes and goes. I just feel so weird because I know he can’t hurt me, probably doesn’t want to, he’s married, it’s been about ten years since I last saw him, etc…but still seeing his name kind of ‘kicked me’. This is what sometimes goes through my head: I keep going back and forth in my head remembering how I thought I had forgiven him a long time ago…actually, more than once…but every now and then I’m reminded of things, and back to square one. I feel bad because he didn’t hit me or anything…besides, it’s Facebook, what could it hurt? But I don’t like looking at another friend’s picture because that picture resembles PR…I still use that name…but it was so long ago and I should be past this by now…Round and round and round it goes…

But anyway, my question is if there something wrong with me spiritually that I keep thinking I forgave him but still feel shaken up by seeing his name.  I know forgiving doesn’t always mean that you have to have a relationship with that person and I don’t necessarily want bad things to happen to him, but shouldn’t I be at the point where I don’t feel nervous when I see him? Isn’t that kind of holding everything against him all over again? The verses about God not forgiving us if we don’t forgive others keep coming to mind.

As you see, I’ve become an expert in self-flagellation. I would *never* suggest to anyone else that they weren’t going to be forgiven if they didn’t forgive, or that they had to have a relationship with someone who hurt them. He just brought me back in so many times by using that, by manipulating me and appealing to my good nature. Appealing to my faith, basically anything really he could find a foothold.

I’ll stop babbling now; I’m probably not making sense anyway.  As you can tell, I’ve copied and pasted from other things I’ve written before, but I’ve thought I might as well because I keep going over the same things in my head over and over again. Most of it has never been published before, so it’s kind of like writing it for the first time.

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About theprozacqueen

30s, female, married, Georgia US, very opinionated, open-minded mostly, too nice for my own good, Christian, fairly liberal, friendly. I have a pretty big family and several friends and in-laws that might as well be family. I don't have kids, but I have five cats who think they're kids. I have a silly (and sometimes off-color) sense of humor. I'm a Christian so I'll try not to be nasty or use bad language in my posts, but I'm not making any promises, View all posts by theprozacqueen

14 responses to “What would you call this? Possibly triggering and annoying babble…

  • fromthesamesky

    Oh Prozac! I am so sorry you had to go through this. I have so many things I want to say that I don’t know where to start! I am really cross with those responders who minimized what happened to you or implied it was your fault. This guy was clearly abusive, and not respecting your boundaries or wishes. I don’t know about rape – I’m not up on the technicalities really – but it was definitely sexual abuse. And as such it is ok – normal – to be struggling with its impact on you. And because there were levels of emotional/psychological manipulation and abuse as well that complicates matters.

    In many ways I’d suggest that if you’ve never really looked at it/dealt with it properly, (i.e. done some trauma work) then it will continue to cause difficulties emotionally now. Those memories will be fragmented and not stored in helpful ways (this is why you get freaked out seeing his name), and until you can emotionally integrate everything I think it will probably still be difficult for you. But this doesn’t mean you are a failure or not good enough – it is just the nature of this type of trauma. So it’s ok.

    In terms of forgiveness – you can’t forgive someone if you haven’t fully appreciate the extent of what they have perpetrated against you. Until you’ve worked through what happened and allowed yourself to fully acknowledge what happened, get upset, get mad, get angry – then you can’t forgive. You have to accuse to forgive. And God gets that. Forgiveness is a process anyway – it isn’t just a ‘oh I know, I’ll decide to forgive today’. You have to do it over and over, and keep doing it, it takes time. AND it doesn’t mean you feel differently about the person. You can still be upset and mad.

    MOST importantly, forgiving someone doesn’t mean letting them back in your life. If someone is abusive, then forgiveness is putting the past behind you – and protecting yourself from them in the future. (You are doing them a favour by preventing them from offending against you again!) Keeping good boundaries and keeping safe is a really important part of the healing process, giving yourself permission to say no. This is ok, and doesn’t compromise forgiveness. Being nervous when you see him is good common sense given what you experienced before. Forgiving is not forgetting or allowing someone to hurt you again. Forgiveness is saying ‘I forgive you for what happened but I won’t allow you to do it again’.

    So no – nothing wrong with you spiritually. 🙂

    Love and strength to you, xx

    Like

    • theprozacqueen

      Thank you! I was kind of bored and thinking about this one day and looked it up…in the state of North Carolina (where I lived at the time), the definition of rape *does* include penetration with fingers or a foreign object, not just the penis. I have no plans to take him to court or anything (statute of limitations is up anyway, probably), but it helps to know the name for it. Sexual abuse in addition to other abuse, definitely. Does it help you just knowing there are names for what we’ve dealt with?

      It’s weird, sometimes I can think about it with no emotion and with forgiveness, but sometimes I’m still angry and shaken up…I’m thinking that forgiveness is more of a process, a consistent choice and action you have to make? Not a one-time thing?

      Sometimes I deal with memories in a constructive way, but not always. What about you? I try to help others by telling my story, but sometimes I don’t really want to hear it myself. I’ve been known to have dreams where I am back in the situation with him, but doing what I should have done then-usually yelling at him and telling him what I think of him, but sometimes I physically hurt him and once I think I even killed him. I told my therapist about that and she didn’t know what to say. What would you think? Some of my male friends know about some of the abuse (not usually the sexual stuff, although my husband knows about that), and while I generally don’t believe in taking revenge, I can’t help but smile when my friends volunteer to ‘teach him a lesson’. 🙂 The castration idea is especially tempting. They’d never actually *do* anything and I wouldn’t want them to, but it’s good to hear them talk about wanting to.

      My own father doesn’t know about this but given what he’s said to my sister when she was in a similar situation, I’m not about to tell him. Men just don’t get it…and would you believe that one of the people who was yelling at me on the thread about it being my fault is a *woman*???????

      Like

  • fromthesamesky

    Interesting – that definition of rape. In your case, where you said no – then to me sounds like you can very legitimately use that term. (I’m not certain about mine though, as there was no explicit ‘no’ for me, I froze and complied because I was afraid). I’m really happy with the term we’ve decided to use in therapy though – ‘sexual assault’ – I think you are right, having words really helps.

    Yes I agree – forgiveness is a process. Definitely not a one time thing.

    Memories, well. I’ve started telling my story recently, although I know I’ve attempted to do it in the past this is the first time I’ve done it in an attempt to heal. Like you sometimes I want to tell it and other times I don’t.

    About the dreams – sounds like on an unconscious level you are protecting yourself, saying and doing the things you needed to but were unable to at the time. Expressing the emotions and feelings you were prevented from doing then. This is good I think, although perhaps working it through on a more conscious level would be helpful also.

    Sadly I do believe you – people have very screwed up ideas, but usually they are in some way protecting them from the things they fear the most.

    xx

    Like

    • theprozacqueen

      If you didn’t want to do it but it was done anyway, it counts. My ex didn’t force me physically so much as coerced-meaning he would make such a big deal out if it if I said no, don’t do that that I would feel guilty or would go ahead and let him do whatever just so he would shut up and leave me alone. I got quite good at faking orgasm, even though there was no intercourse!

      Like

      • fromthesamesky

        Yeah – for me I can remember he used persuasion. Then once he got me where he wanted it was just a matter of doing whatever he wanted as I was a rag doll.

        And for me I was pretty new to sexuality/sex. I had no idea how to have an orgasm!

        Like

  • Pants

    Hmmm… similar kinds of experiences had here (although leading to pregnancy). I’d not really considered how it would *still* affect me now. Interesting.

    Like

    • theprozacqueen

      Hopefully you won’t have any of the post-traumatic stress…my ex and I did not have sex in the ‘intercourse’ sense, so there couldn’t have been a pregnancy, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in your position. (((hug)))

      And I love the email address!

      Like

  • nephron

    To make something clear (which I think you already know from your post, but just to make sure)- you always have the right to refuse consent. Even if you have done it 100x before. Even if you said yes 5 minutes ago. Even if you haven’t said no, but you haven’t said yes (or otherwise indicated yes).

    It’s interesting, what you are saying here is something that I’ve been talking about all over the place recently. I’ve been talking with many of my friends, both in real life and over the internet, about the ways in which predators (and they are predators, make no mistake) manufacture situations where you trust them, you believe you deserve whatever happens, you believe you can’t get help & don’t deserve it.

    This is all backed up by many other people, like your experience on beliefnet- they don’t understand and don’t want to understand how someone strong and intelligent could be in such a situation- it would make them recognise that they themselves could be at risk. So they create the situation in their head where you are less than or incapable so they can believe that it would never happen to them.

    It’s normal for you to be nervous and scared and any number of things by contact with the predator who did this to you. One of my friends was recently too scared to go to a large social event (>200 people) with many of her friends because her perpetrator was going to be in attendance- she is thankfully now able to attend because he was shamed into not attending.

    Being nervous and scared doesn’t make you spiritually any less. It makes you healthy, it means that your self-preservation instinct is intact. You can engage with the process of forgiveness without forgetting the damage or the risk.

    Like

    • theprozacqueen

      Thanks! Mark Butler from the Ship is on my friend list on Facebook, but I don’t like it when his picture is shown on games because the pic looks a lot like my ex. Not his fault, but an example of how small things can trigger.

      I don’t want to pretend that there was never anything good or that I never wanted to do anything, that’s what makes things so confusing. I don’t think about it a whole lot though, anymore, so I guess that’s a good thing.

      And it’s good that your friend can go to the party…and her attacker *should* be shamed.

      Like

      • nephron

        Of course there were good things. If relationships were all bad, you wouldn’t stay in them- though abusers will create good points to keep people in abusive relationships.

        Like

      • theprozacqueen

        Yes, and they will break you down to the point where you don’t feel that you deserve or get any better. I’m a people-pleaser, always have been, and that definitely came back to bite me in the butt with this one. I see he’s married, I hope he’s grown up, for her sake and his.

        How are you?

        Like

    • theprozacqueen

      Oh, and I forgot to add something. We did not have intercourse, but did most everything else…I didn’t believe premarital sex was right religiously, but I see now that sex includes more than just intercourse! So I really shouldn’t have been doing the other stuff either…anywho…One reason I didn’t know what to call this or didn’t know if it was rape/sexual abuse was because I thought it had to be forced intercourse to be rape, just like I thought that it wasn’t abuse if he wasn’t hitting me. You hear so many stories and have no problem calling something abuse but when it happens to you, somehow it doesn’t fit.

      Like

  • Abusive Relationships-A Closer Look | The Prozac Queen's Court

    […] bit odd about sharing this because the situation I’ve described in this and other posts (like this one) is nowhere near as bad as what other people I’ve known have been through, but I don’t […]

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