Guest golden lady

Fear of future assaults - how we deal with this?

45 posts in this topic

T - grubby mouth

Hi friends

One of my greatest fears used to be being sexually assaulted again. It made me cry, shake and just not want to go out. Over the years, I attempted to master that fear in various ways, then I became ready to accept the fact that there were only certain things I could control, and that I would not allow that fear to limit me. Yet, I remained very scared.

I have recently undergone another powerful transformation that enables me to live equitably with the vulneraibility to future assault, and I want to share it. A true answer to my fear is increased self-respect.

Feminist author Catherine Mackinnon has said "An inability to respond with anger is one way in which multiple experiences of sexual abuse destroy women".

When I first read that, I thought, well, I don't feel destroyed, but I don't think I'll ever feel anger for myself. I've tried to muster it; I mouthed the right words about "those fucking bastards"...but there was no real sense that I had something to feel angry about - all I felt was a dull numbness, or fear.

For the last years or so of my life, I've noticed that when I consider the thought that somebody could assault me again, I become truly angry, and I mean fucking outraged. I honestly believe that given the opportunity, I would take the bastard's head off.

Initially, I worried that this rage might be bitter or "toxic" and wondered whether I oughtn't to try and "resolve" it somehow.

And then I decided - hell NO. It does not need to be "resolved" because it accept this anger because I discovered it comes from a basic and new self respect.

I asked myself "Lou, why does it make you so angry?" And the answer came roaring out of me "Because it is a fucking violation. And a violation of me is WRONG!" Wow! I was surprised, but that's not just an intellectual truth anymore, it is a fully-integrated, blood-red truth. I do not deserve that shit.

Part of my fear for the future rested on the supposition that I had some sort of a "sign ion my back". I haven't - and I'm fucked if I will continue to see myself as a sitting duck for assholes to put their crap on, and I'm sorry I ever did.

I'm there, my friends, and I can still acknowledge my vulnerability. While I know that I might not realistically be able to punch a rapist to hell and back, it is the most marvellous feeling to know that I would want to, and that I deserve to want to, if that makes sense.

No, this anger is wonderful. It's empowering. While it doesn't cause me to think I'm invulnerable because that would not be realistic, by God, it is so much a better place to come from than fear or numbness. If I must have some fear, I'd rather have it with anger as well.

Because I'm worth it - hell yeah...and so are YOU.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts around vulneraility to sexual assault? If it's still absolutely terrifying for you, and, (as I used to think), you fear you'd just freeze, what sort of ending would you like to visualise instead?

Do you think your fear limits you? Can you imagine a time, when you're ready, of pushing those limitations?

Share away!

L xxx

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Oh my god, you have totally described the transformation I went through two years ago.

I was completely TERRIFIED of being raped again. I carried mace everywhere. I brought my gigantic scary dog everywhere. I was in a constant state of anxiety about being attacked. It was hell.

Then I decided that being afraid all the time really sucked. So I took a self defense class (RAD), and all of a sudden all of the anger that I had bottle up inside me came raging out (in repeated ass-kickings of my instructor). I ended up taking the advanced class, too, and I'm hoping to pick it up again at my new school.

Realistically, as you said, I might not be able to beat the hell out of a potential attacker, but I sure as hell would try. And the fact that I channeled my fear into constructive indignation and general wrath had a huge impact on my fear of being assaulted again. I often walk to my car late at night, checking my surroundings carefully (as you are taught in RAD), thinking, "I pity the fool who tries to attack me, because he's getting a key in the eye and a foot in the groin."

It has been very liberating for me. Has it helped anyone else? Or have you found other ways to confront fear?

-Lis

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Yes, as irrational as part of me thinks it is (I do not mean to minimize anyone else's experiences in any way when I say that), I am afraid it will happen again.  That's part of the reason I bought the alarm system for my home (I can't think of any way that what I went through could have been worse EXCEPT if it had been in my home).

I know that part of this is because it has only been 6.5 months since I was raped, but I still find it to be a paralyzing fear.  I'm quite sure I would freeze just as I did when I discovered the utility man unexpectedly in my back yeard a couple of months ago.  I couldn't move and I couldn't speak... for a long enough period of time that finally HE spoke to tell me why he was there.  But my anger about the first assault is still mostly unfocused (and generally directed inward instead of at THEM).  I'm hoping that once I can focus that anger, I will be closer to where you are.  That's definitely more my pre-rape personality!

Yes, women need to be more angry and less fearful about the violations they have suffered.  It has been my experience in other areas that anger more frequently results in positive action -- activism, legislation, etc. -- than fear.

Lora

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[quote name='Lis' date='Nov. 13 2003, 8:54 pm']"I pity the fool who tries to attack me, because he's getting a key in the eye and a foot in the groin."[/quote]
Yeah, baby! I think, "Bring it on, asshole. I will kill you". That is not an abstract, it is a real possibility.

And it is, as you say Lis, absolutely liberating. I don't think I've ever felt so strong in myself.

I read an interesting essay recently about how women effectively using violence would be a likely deterrent to rapists.

The writer asks us to imagine the scenario of the rape-victim turned on it's head - instead of the tatttered, torn woman turning up at emergency and being blamed for walking alone at night, there's a man walking into emergency with his ear torn off, and the doctor saying "You mean you grabbed a woman by the breast and tried to pull her into your car? Idiot! No sympathy for you!"

I suppose it's quite possible that rapists, who often won't stand up to men because they know they'll get creamed, might be less inclined to attack women if they knew the same thing would happen.

Would everybody please excuse the mispellings in the title of this thread, as well as the threads themselves. My typing is never that good anyhow, but is completely abysmal when I have half a bottle of Shiraz inside me.

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Fear of future assaults.....hmmmmm.

Most of my fears are about the things inside of me, not about the situations outside. I have more fears about social situations than about being assaulted. I'm not sure Ive ever been afraid of being assaulted, but I have made sure to learn about ways to stay safe. I let the hypervigilance work to my advantage, always being aware of my surroundings. I try to walk with confidence and a sense of purpose, even in a strange area. Any time I find articles, TV shows, or other info about staying safe, I try to learn all I can about it. I have a couple of tricks like the ones Lis mentioned, and am always planning on what to do if something does happen (another by=product of hypervigilance I guess).

I think the important thing is having a plan. That by itself seems to help with the feeling of safety, or at least rduce the reluctance to go out. Just my thoughts.

Barbara

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I certainly went through a phase of being terrified of future attacks. I was convinced that they would come - that it was only a matter of time. I found myself limiting where I went etc. I hated going out alone, even during the day. I carried a r*pe alarm and anytime anyone walked behind me I felt myself tense, waiting for something to happen.

I'm not sure what changed in me to take away that fear, but something did change. Like Lou, I think it was a growth of self-respect. I started to feel really pissed off that anyone would dare to do anything like that to me ever again. For a while I took unnecessary risks - almost inviting someone to try something - walking home alone late at night when there was no need to etc. I'd be there with keys in hand thinking "Bring it on you f*ckers, I'm ready".

I have a slightly more 'balanced' approach to it now, I think! I am careful, but not obsessive about my personal safety and am generally just more aware. I feel like I've taken away the advantage a possible attacker might have in the element of surprise.

I think Barb hit on something I can relate to - I now plan what to do if something happens. Having a plan, however loose, is reassuring whether or not it would work in a real life situation. And I still have an element of " Bring it on you f*ckers" in me.

Jen

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i guess mine is the "wrong" attitude to have, but i do have a definite position on the possibility of future attacks. i know i've mentioned this before, im not actually afraid of it happening, but i still really do believe that if some fuckwit is busy raping me then at least he isnt hurting some poor innocent girl who wont know how to deal with it... it makes a kind of twisted sense, and tho i maybe dont have quite so much self respect as the kick-ass ladies, i think i still have some, in that im confident i can deal with this crap better than most. i dont know if i'll ever feel comfortable with having an attitude like Lou's or Lis's, obviously i think its great for other people but its just not appropriate for "someone like me" :oo:

i have to go now as i have class, but thankyou for posting this (((Lou))), its really made me think.

love & hugs,
tanni
xxx

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hmmmm...

It's not assault by way of a stranger that I fear. I know some fighting moves... whether or not I'm capable of making like Croft on someone's arse is a question I'm not sure I'd actually like to get the chance to answer, but bloody hell I could certainly give it a fucking fair crack of the whip.

Of course, kit me out with dual holsters with H&K pistols and I'm bloody certain I could do a fairly good Croft impression  :;):

No, stranger assault does not freeze me. I suppose I feel my most vulnerable to assault in an intimate environment, due to the fact that I was raped by my boyfriend in my own bed in a situation into which I should have been able to have input. I can (and do) walk the streets at night and I don't feel panic, but put me in a room with a male I've been friends with for 12 months and have him put some slight moves on me, and yeah, I don't feel so bulletproof anymore. It seems that I would rather face the unknown than risk caring for someone who is, in fact, a rapist. (Not saying that my mates are rapists, because I'm sure they're not; just drawing a parallel between the rapist you know and the rapist you've never seen before.) I don't hide so as not to go outside, but I hide my emotions behind walls that make it very difficult for people to get to know me.

I am Ice :)
And somehow, that makes me want to laugh :laugh:

Right now, though, I feel my usual 10 foot tall and bulletproof :)

So, I am fearing and fearless.

I'm challenging the thought processes that say [i]your fear is your protector.[/i] Fear is many things, and it can even be a friend, but fear can also be an inhibitor and an obstacle. Fear can be a very real noose. There needs to exist balance between inhibiting myself and denying myself experiences and taking steps to protect myself. I fear more the man I know, rather than the stranger I don't. I need to find and apply the balance to both situations, and I think I'm doing that with my current bf. I'm taking chances by trusting him, and trusting myself in the knowledge that I could at least [i]try[/i] to kick his arse if he tried the wrong thing :)

As I said, I feel as though I [i]could[/i] kick arse, but whether or not I would actually be [i]able[/i] to do it is another thing. Being able to at least try, regardless of whether I know the man or not, is the balance.

luv'n'hugs,
Lara

edit: formatting

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Oh boy.  What a can of worms.

Like Lara, I don't have much fear of stranger assault.  I am very aware of my surroundings, I've taken self defense classes etc etc.  I don't know how I would react if I was attacked by a stranger, but it doesn't keep me up at night.

This is probably b/c every assault I've experienced has been in a place I should have been safe by people I knew, if only periferally.  

I don't fear strangers in dark alleys (although you won't see me setting up shop in one)  Instead I fear being in a room alone with guys I know.  I worry about angering my husband and having to be in close quarters with him.  That pisses me off to no ends of the fucking earth!  Not only do I deserve to know that my body is respected by those I know (and for those who are truly close to me, it is and I know it is) BUT the wonderful men in my life deserve more trust than that.    It pisses me off that the fuckwit-sad-excuse-for-a-man people in my life have placed a road block in every friendship/relationship I have.

Laney xxoo

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yah i am scared about it.....i would use my dog as a guard dog but she would most likely lick whoever tryed to attack me and unless you can be licked to death she wouldnt be much help.  I took a self defense class which was great and it feels so good to kick something or punch something (note to self not your little brother when you are SOOOOOOO agitated at him cuze he downloaded a virus that keeps you off of pandys during hte summer break) and i very rarely go places with out a friend or soemthing....i even take a friend to the bathroom when we are at hte school after school or out somewhere.

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<font color='#000000'>(((((Sisters))))))

I've always found the fear of assault by an intimate really scary because if you care about somebody, there's more to lose. I love Mithy's Lara Croft impression, so I'm going with that :)

The "what if" question is now more of a hypothetical rather than an actually feared thing...and I can say that in hypothesizing about what if...

((((Tanni)))) my love - sometime ago, a member from here shared how she had protected another girl from rape by offering herself instead because she believed that a rape on her mattered less. Though I told her it didn't matter less, (and it most certainly doesn't) I privately reflected that I probably would have made the same choice, because I believed that I mattered less - I really see what you're saying.

I hope you'll come to know that you and your beautiful, sacred body and self do matter as much as anybody else.

I feel as though a goddess has woken up inside me - to me, she is represented by the Hindu Goddess, Kali, and this is what she looks like:[img]http://www.aphroditewounded.pandys.org/images/Kali_4.jpg[/img]

Let anybody fuck with that. Just let them.

'Course, the next step is to do like Lis and get me some lessons on [i] effective[/i] use of violence - because realistically I'd probably be more Lara Flynn Boyle than Lara Croft. But Lord, this anger coupled as it is with a sense of worth is beautiful. To me, it really makes the fear so much less bigger than me.

:angry:</font>

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May be tri****gering


I had terrible fears about being attacked again, and about being killed (I was threatened with that). It stayed for years, and there was nothing I could do about it. I have been so focussed on trying to heal this, its been 5 years. Then one day, the unthinkable happened. A man actually approached me, and in a situation that normally would have frozen me solid, the words "I don't think so" very firmly came out of my mouth, and he backed away. That was last year. Not til now have I thought again about it. But at this point, I have so much anger coming up that I could definately say "SING" solarplexus, instep, nose, groin (the movie Miss Congeniality), and do it Hard! And maybe rip their head off. Like, "go ahead, please, make my f**** day!"  I do not have fear of getting attacked anymore.

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Wow, I feel so strong right now! Thanks for this line of conversation.

Anyone else?

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Hey (((((Rose)))))

I love that "I don't think so", sister!

Few years ago, I was followed in a carpark by a freak who first asked for sex, and when I refused he said "well, can I touch your breasts then?" Fool!

I initially squeaked out of habit, "please don't hurt me". Then I recalled all that I'd been learning in the course of healing, and I thought, "what the fuck are you doing, Lou? You have an alternative". So I waved my finger in his face and snarled, "you get the fuck away from me right now, asshole".

You'd have thought I threw a snake at him, he actually physically recoiled. It was tremendously empowering :)

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what a great way to think about this! I have had terrible fears about this - weirdly from strangers even though that was not my expierience.  I think I need to tap into this anger thing though because why the fuck should I feel sick everytime I walk home from the tube station?  

Steph

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Exactly Steph. And something I learned in self defense is that you are less likely to be attacked if you look confident, are aware of your surroundings (looking around, but not in a scared way, in an aware way), and have that, "If anyone comes within four feet of me I'm going to drop kick them like a soccer ball just because I'M A BITCH AND I LOVE IT."

About a month ago I was walking home from a party by myself at 2 am and I came across two guys who were on the other side of the street from me (passing me going the other direction). They stopped walking and one of them yelled, "Hey baby, can we come with you?"

My response: "PSSSSSSSSH Hell no." Didn't look at them. Kept walking at the same pace. Flipped open my cell phone and punched in 911. Held my finger on the talk button until I was sufficiently far away.

I figured that I probably couldn't kick both their asses (although I would have been willing to try), but if they had decided to mess with me, the cops would have been on their way.

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I used to be [i]terrified[/i] of future assaults. I was sure I would be hurt again and that I could not survive it.

One of the most devastating comments that hindered my healing was about future assault, from an ex of mine. He told me that the rape was my fault because I was inherently bad, or disgusting, or something. Honestly I can't even recall the exact words he used. He told me that my badness drew evil to me, and that consequently I was sure to be raped again.

Of course these comments come at absolutely the worst time, when we're least able to handle them. I had a lot of other, very painful, issues going on.

I feel stronger now. I'm not so afraid of it anymore. I think that's a sign of my healing overall; I'm not sure I can pinpoint when that change happened, or why.

I LOVE the Kali image, Lou, will have to keep that one in mind when I run across weirdos.

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Ever tried asking lecherous (or antagonistic) people 'Why are you doing this?'  You'd be surprised by the answers you get.  Most of them don't expect to be called out on their behavior and are pretty mortified.

Hugs,

Jes

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Ha ha, oh yes, Jes, I've done that. One day some guy in a car hooted at me and then tried to talk to me. I asked him "Have you EVER gotten a good response from that? Do you really think you're getting anywhere?" He was mortified and drove away.

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(((((((((((All)))))))))))))

I think I've probably read this thread 10 times in the last two days.  All I can say is THANK YOU for the empowering words and examples of how you all found the righteous anger that we all deserve to feel and show.

I have been very afraid of being assaulted again.....it's such a powerless feeling to feel trapped by your own fears - whether it's because there's a present threat or an anticipated one because of things that have happened in the past.

I've had nightmares for years about my abusers winning over and over again.  I've looked over my shoulder for over 13 years now...daily ~ when I go get the mail, when I read my email, at work, at the mall while shopping, at the park, when the phone rings (especially when the caller hangs up - ugh)...I always have that moment of fear when I wonder where he is.  Is he nearby? Is he watching me like before?   I've even thought of escape plans "just in case".  Even while I sleep I dream about him getting into my house and then standing over me while I sleep in bed.

I'm realizing now just how much time and energy I've been putting into my fears ~ and how much it's crippling me.

Once in a while the anger comes to the surface and it's scary.  I can feel anger about other issues in my life (the ones that aren't really personal) but this anger I stuff way down deep...afraid to let it loose for fear that it'll never go away and that I'll be angry forever and will take it out on the wrong people.

Anyway, now I'm rambling.  I just want to say that I'm truly grateful for the examples of how you all use your anger to protect yourselves rather than the crippling fear that I've tried to hide behind.  I plan to print and keep reading this thread.  I want to get to that place where *I* can say..."C'mon you fucker, I dare ya!" (of course I think I need a bit of self-defense training like some of yas have learned to put some "oumf" into my 'tude, eh?!).  

Much love,
Cassie

PS - Perhaps I'll just have to start thinking of myself as one of Goddess Kali's trainees?!  :;):

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I can honestly say that i have never 'conciously' been scared of being attacked again. However, I have, and still do at times, struggle with being by myself out of the house so to speak. By this I mean, walking the dog, or walking by myself. When im particually weak, I will easily get panic attacks whilst walking the dog etc, for which i usually cannot determine the exact trigger. So..that could be seen as just PTSD, but im sure that there is a part of me that is scared of it happening again, and hell i think most women, have some concerns for thier safety in todays world.

Im afraid to say that, a small part of me (this is very hard to write) almost is resigned to being attacked again..almost like, it happened once, why not again. And a huge part of me struggles to get to the point that Louise is at, i struggle to stand up and say 'I do not deserve to be attacked again, no one has the right' etc.

I think that my view of the world is ultimately changed, esp due to my age and the circumstances that my attack occured.

However to sum up, my Logical, Sensible, Female brain, does know that NO ONE should EVER be violated in that way.

Once again..my two cents

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I was scared once, but then I realized that that was just another way of giving control of my mind over to those abusers and rapists.  I refuse to be scared any more.  Anxiety is the fear of something that hasn't actually happened yet, and I have to remind myself of that fact constantly.

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[i]"If anyone comes within four feet of me I'm going to drop kick them like a soccer ball just because I'M A BITCH AND I LOVE IT."[/i]
LOL
great way to put it :)

I was walking home one night when two fellas pulled up alongside me and made some stupid comments. I kept walking (with my hand in my pocket on my phone, ready to go). One of them said something about me getting off his [*ahem*], to which I stopped and replied, "well, since I didn't know I was on your [*ahem*], I would think that says a lot more about you than it does about me. Now, why the hell did you think that line would fucking work?"

I've never seen one man look so embarassed :)

Sarcasm to the rescue. Sarcasm is my dual H&K's  :laugh:

*scratches head* ummm, that didn't really have anything to do with anything... /me crashes back to the topic with a thud. You know, reading this stuff makes me realise just how much arse we all kick :)

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Is it possible to occupy both ends of this particular spectrum simultaneously?  'Cause I think I do.

I have taken self-defense classes and am the "queen of the don't fuck with me vibe" (as a friend so eloquently put it).  I like to think I could hold my own if something were to happen.

Except...

I was raped by my partner who exploited my trust and took complete advantage of the element of surprise.  A scary man in a dark parking lot can be anticipated.  The man who brought you roses earlier that evening is trickier.

I'm still terrified that in trusting someone I'm opening myself up to being hurt again.  I'm having a tough time processing that in a way which allows me to both feel safe and move on toward trusting someone new.

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Hey Cubby -

I know what you mean, and I think there are two different things going on there. One is feeling safe with acquaintances/dates, and the other is allowing yourself to trust again when you find the right person (which is a whole different thread).

I was raped by an acquaintance, so dates are a scarier concept than a stranger for me. Plus, should a stranger attack you, and you fight back, he can always just leave. Your date knows that you know who he is. So I try to avoid the situation ever entering his pea brained mind by letting him know up front that he doesn't want to mess with me.

I always bring my cell phone. I usually drive. We go to a public place. I try to convey the same confidence and bitch, and usually I mention the fact that I love taking "crazy ass" self defense classes "that teach me to break people's knees."

I also use passive-aggressive humor to let him know where my boundaries are (I had one guy slap my ass as we were walking into a bar. I turned around, smiled and calmly said, "Next time you do that, you're going to catch an elbow in the face. I hope you like that.").

I'm sure Jes has some tips to add to this. She is the queen of being mean to men.

-Lis

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