Guest golden lady

Fear of future assaults - how we deal with this?

45 posts in this topic

I'm much more afraid of people I know than of strangers, partly because I've rarely been attacked by strangers. The one exception was a guy in a bar when I was out dancing with a friend. Jackass kept coming up to me and grabbing my breasts. I pulled his hands *off* and returned them to him several times, and the last times I droped my elbow through his palm as I did so. Cool crunching noises, and he turned somewhat grey and left. Message delivered.

I started taking martial arts classes after that and have a really cool teacher. He's very clear with new students that it's martial arts, not self-defense, but he also teaches occasional units on self-defense (a lot of the psychology of aggression, and how to take advantage of that, too). I'm pretty confident in my ability to deal with a stranger (I'm one of the senior students and I've done quite a bit of sparring).

The problem that remains for me is that when it's someone I know, I freeze. Totally. And give in. Which lets the person get away with whatever. My teacher says that not freezing is a question of practice, but hasn't had time to work on it with me. My therapist says it's got a lot to do with feeling like a scared little girl, and also feeling like I don't have the right to protect myself, and that it'll resolve with time. The problem is, things (usually little stuff) keep happening and every time something happens it makes it that much harder to deal with. So, I don't know. My teacher has promised that he'll do some more self-defense work before Christmas though....

When I first started dealing with this I read a lot of books about safety. They were almost all about strangers and required a huge money investment (which I didn't have) and a total lifestyle involvement. After hanging around with someone who was really into that I decided that I didn't want to spend my life in perpetual fear, in the hopes of avoiding a hypothetical assault. I decided that I was a strong enough person, and the chances of a stranger assaulting me were low enough that I would do what I wanted and trust my ability to deal with a situation,by avoiding it, fighting, or healing afterwards rather than live in fear. I go out after dark by myself. I come home at 3 am by myself. I don't vary my route or my schedule to throw someone off my track. I take the shortest way there and back.

And I'm OK with that. My mother thinks I'm asking for it (well, I just don't let her know anymore). My friends don't really think about that sort of stuff. My therapist, my teacher and I think I'm living my own life and doing OK. And that's whose opinions I care about.

(Sorry, got into a bit of a rant there)

Caitlin

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Hey Caitlin,

In the self-defense course that I took (Rape Aggression Defense - RAD - which I push like I'm a drug dealer), the instructors said that freezing is the natural reaction to aggression. Women are pretty much programmed from birth to *not* be aggressive, AND if you have experienced violence in the past, your body and mind are already programmed to freeze and dissociate to survive.

Anyway, this self defense class spent the ENTIRE first class trying to learn to not freeze. The instructor would walk up to us, and we were supposed to yell (at a certain distance) "STAY BACK!" (and then when he got closer) "NO!"

It was fucking impossible for the first 45 minutes (and I wanted to cry). But eventually I got the hang of yelling at someone when they got close to me.

Of course, I had to re-learn it all the next week, but the point is that a self-defense class that is geared towards protecting women from rape, specifically, can be SUPER helpful. It really made me feel empowered not only on the street, but in my relationships, too. It's a skill set - they called it a "toolbox" - and it can really make a difference.

-Lis

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Someone told me once, "afraid that the boogieman will get you?" when I told them that I get scared to go outside at night. I told them, "It's not the supernatural that I'm afraid of, it's the natural." They just looked at me like they thought I was crazy. The other night, me and my dad came out of the mall late and I felt like a wuss sticking so close to him.

My niece(shes 6) has been trying to "teach" me not to be so scared. She's in a Little Ninjas martial arts class. I help her practice sometimes, she always tell me, "just yell at them like this Uncle Gaby" then she yells at the top of her lungs as she is "hitting someone".

(((((((((hugs)))))))))

Gabriel

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Yes, sometimes (but less so now than in the first couple of months after...), I'm afraid that it will happen again.  It is not a paralyzing fear that keeps me from going out after dark or whatever, but it is a nagging fear that CAN be pretty intense when I get spooked (by someone at the door after dark, an unexpected car in the driveway, a stranger speaking to me in a parking lot, etc.).  The rational part of me knows that the fear is *somewhat* irrational (look how many years it was before even the first incident occurred, what are the odds of it happening again, it happened all the way across town, etc.), but it's not a TOTALLY irrational fear (what were the odds of them being there at the exact time I got there, if it happened once it COULD happen again under different circumstances, etc.).

My t. and I talked about it some, and I felt better after I got the alarm system installed at home, but for me -- and this may not work for anyone else, which is ok, too -- other than the times when I am panicked (by the man at the door, etc.), I think it's an "acceptable" fear (not totally unfounded, and usually maintained at a reasonable level)... it reminds me that there are dangers out there and it keeps me more aware of my surroundings.  

Now the times when it sends me into a panic, that's another matter, and I'm sure a topic for some future therapy session.

In either case, for ME, I don't see it as letting them "win" or control me (although I do see that in other things).  I just see it as a natural (and temporary?) byproduct of what happened.

Lora

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I was so terrified of it happening again (I was raped in my apartment in my bedroom by a stranger).  I actually moved to a new place within 2 weeks, had alarms put on every door and window. I was terrified to be anywhere by myself.  A friend of my family gave me a hand made wooden billy club. I even picked the apartment because of the squeeky floorboards.

Now I've come to a point that I'm know that I will hear if someone comes in my house. I visualize picking up the billy club and wacking him in the head if they come near me. I now look at the hypervigilince as a bonus.

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Interesting thread.

I certainly think about this - especially when walking alone at night.  I imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios.  What I feel isn't really fear, more a sense of inevitability.  I'm convinced it's going to happen again someday (though logically, I know I live in a fairly safe place and that stranger rape is rare).

I have a different perception of "self-defense" tactics and classes than most who have posted here.  Although I took aikido for many years (both before and after the assault), I chose it because it was really not about self defense.  I actively avoided anything to do with self defense, since I thought "self defense" was a lie to decieve people into thinking they could have some sort of control.  

Guns remove any possibility of control, and they are far too easy to obtain.

My rapist had a gun at my back before I even knew he was there.  There was nothing I could have done but what he said to do.  I've talked about this to someone I know who's an expert in a variety of martial arts and defense tactics, and from what I've been able to gather, there's really nothing much you can do against a gun.  All the things I might learn about kicks and jabs and poking people with my keys wouldn't help me if I was in that situation again.  Which makes all the talk about being ready to beat up a rapist ring kind of hollow to me.  

And hence the sense of inevitability...

I know this is probably a biased and unhelpful attitude...  But I'm not sure how I could have a different one.  What do you all think about situations in which you cannot at all prevent an assault?

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I've been staring at this thread for weeks, both enthralled by it and afraid of it.  Afraid of feeling that anger, that is.

Now I get it.  And I'm right there with you...

Louise wrote:

"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!"  "

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!  Perfect, just perfect!  Except that then the ER doc should just toss the bastard into the garbage crate.

:cool:  :angry:  :devil:  :laugh:  :bee:

Trisha

(edited for pottymouth!)

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Yeah, a couple of years of karate helped me a lot. I also walk around with a 'don't even THINK of fucking with me' attitude.

I will fight to the death now, and if that means HIS death, so be it.

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as it was a doctor who assaulted me during pelvic exam, I have a big fear of pelvic exams. the speclum&ultrasound part is somehow bearable (though hardly), but the pelvic can give me strong panic. I have to go and see my gyn in March and I am terrified already now.

Even though I know that I have all the reasons to trust my gyn and I do trust her in my mind, emotionally I just feel too scared. I also did trust the dr who did this to me.. so theoretically it can happen anytime again. It just seems that I will never be able to see a gyn without having flashbacks.

So I guess the only thing how to deal with the panic, is to try to focus and stay there during the whole exam. (very hard for me to do as the exams are unconfortable/painful and I automatically want to fly away from the process in my thougts)

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I always fear that I'm going to see W again. (I have no idea where he is)As for "the psycho" and **, considering that "the psycho"just tried to call me Friday night, I'm worrying about him all over again. http://www.pandys.org/forums/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/bawling.gif My mom told me not to worry so much, because he's up north in prison and he can't hurt me anymore.

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I have panic attacks because of fear of it happening again. When I walk in dark areas or alone at home i feel horrified that i will be hurt again. The strangest thing about it is that sometimes I find myself entering unsafe situation even though my mind says "red alert" this is dangerous. I dont know if I am trying to punish myself or prove something or am just plain stupid. I dont know why I do it.

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Hmm, I'm a strange case. I've become acclimatised to extreme violence, so while there's the continual sense of the world being dangerous (which at times flips me out), handling myself in such situations has become routine. I still walk around most days thinking that something or someone will kill me any given moment. I think I have come to cope with this by becoming far less feminine, by taking on the persona of a strong, streetwise woman. It's quite a put-on, but in a way its a kind of signal to send out, or a dialogue (esp living in a dangerous area). I always wear shoes in which I can run quickly/easily, and clothes which lean more towards functional than pretty. I think subconsciously, I believe the more I deviate in looks from womanly, attractive, and pretty, the safer I'll be.

Also, I've come to learn that if approached by someone of a dubious nature, a calm, direct, and genuine manner can be a powerful tool. I think that's a protective mechanism I've learnt, as "making them angry" is another scary factor.

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I cope by restricting my life. I never stay out late now. I trust the friends I've had for 20 years, but I would never go into anyone else's home or car however long I've known them. Someone invited me to go on holiday with them, but it would mean spending some of the time on my own overseas and I can't do that - I'm too afraid of not being streetwise in an unfamiliar culture. So I just make my life very small.

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Triggers, beware.

Brilliant thread, everyone.

I used to have balls way bigger than was good for me, got away with behaviours many did not. Then...

My friend was pack raped, beaten to within an inch of her life and left for dead.

Suddenly, supermarkets, servo's, restaurants and the like are a threatening situation. What does one person do against a pack?

Seriously.

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<font color='#000000'>Interesting thread.

I certainly think about this - especially when walking alone at night.  I imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios.  What I feel isn't really fear, more a sense of inevitability.  I'm convinced it's going to happen again someday (though logically, I know I live in a fairly safe place and that stranger rape is rare).

I have a different perception of "self-defense" tactics and classes than most who have posted here.  Although I took aikido for many years (both before and after the assault), I chose it because it was really not about self defense.  I actively avoided anything to do with self defense, since I thought "self defense" was a lie to decieve people into thinking they could have some sort of control.  

Guns remove any possibility of control, and they are far too easy to obtain.

My rapist had a gun at my back before I even knew he was there.  There was nothing I could have done but what he said to do.  I've talked about this to someone I know who's an expert in a variety of martial arts and defense tactics, and from what I've been able to gather, there's really nothing much you can do against a gun.  All the things I might learn about kicks and jabs and poking people with my keys wouldn't help me if I was in that situation again.  Which makes all the talk about being ready to beat up a rapist ring kind of hollow to me.  

And hence the sense of inevitability...

I know this is probably a biased and unhelpful attitude...  But I'm not sure how I could have a different one.  What do you all think about situations in which you cannot at all prevent an assault?</font>

You've nailed one of my prevailing fears, here. Botom line, I don't know if I'd get out alive or die fighting. I can only aim to not find out.

I can't believe this hideous world we live in. Who'd be young, or old, or pretty, or vulnerable, or ever at the mercy of anyone.

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It's funny, even though my assault was from someone I knew, I am much more at ease around people I know, as if now I should see it coming or something. I am much more hyper vigilant from the threat of "stranger danger". Even though with anyone I almost always size people up to see if I could fight them long enough to run, or outrun them in general. I'm terrified that I would just stand there like a deer in headlights again, just letting it happen. I know more now, I just pray it never happens again. I feel it would be silly to go through all this amazing amounts of healing to have to start at the bottom of the hill again.

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I was raised to be afraid of rape by my parents. They drilled it into my head from the time I was a small child. They thought it was loving, always bringing up the topic. It triggers me. They had a better dead than raped attitude, and seemed to paint it as the victim's fault. I'm trying to remember my CSA, and I wonder if the reason I suppressed it was because of this.

I'm so scared of stranger rape, with the whole scene running through my mind as I walk through a dark parking lot. It's not on purpose, but it just comes. The idea of flipping it around helps. So does having a black belt in Taekwondo, although I still worry I'd freeze. =/

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this topic has been running thru my mind since few years ago. I like cassie's reply as it pinpoints to the bottom line what I need to overcome. I run scenes of what I could do following if it happened again but I tend to feel more fearful. any1 else feels running thru a safety net get more fear ?

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I'm working on figuring out my answer right now. What's helped me has been learning how to box, actually, I like knowing that I might be learning something to help me defend myself. But then I think, wait, I was assaulted by a close friend, I'd never in a million years have my guard up around him. Even if I had specific "anti-rape self defense" it would have happened, because I just wasn't in a state where I could have used it. I'm scared that a friend will do it again. My rapist had hella red flags with how he treated other girls in our friend group who I was also friends with, but I was rarely around to see these, and I've only noticed them in retrospect, so even though I feel 100% about my current friends, I don't feel safe.

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I never felt really scared from a stranger but I guess it has to do with the fact that I assaulted from.family members and not so from strangers. O had the fear if being attacked from years and somedays I still have it but I can handle it. I was always ready to fight with anyone and trained myself to knives,guns..anything. In a way I dare to say that I always felt more sad about the fucker who would wanted to messed up with me cause I have so much anger and a use left me with a dark sadistic side.. I am not afraid of kill someone if my.life is in real danger as to be killed.

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