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Fear of future assaults - how we deal with this? Share your though
Posted 13 November 2003 - 04:54 AM
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?
Posted 13 November 2003 - 05:09 AM
Lis, on Nov. 13 2003, 8:54 pm, said:
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.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 04:43 AM
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?
Posted 14 November 2003 - 04:56 PM
Posted 14 November 2003 - 06:20 PM
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?!).
PS - Perhaps I'll just have to start thinking of myself as one of Goddess Kali's trainees?! :;)/>:
Posted 14 November 2003 - 08:27 PM
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
#22 Guest_Ordinary Vanity_*
Posted 14 November 2003 - 09:36 PM
Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:11 AM
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 :)/>
Posted 15 November 2003 - 07:42 PM
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.
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.
Posted 16 November 2003 - 07:04 AM
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.
Posted 16 November 2003 - 08:28 AM
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)
Posted 17 November 2003 - 09:57 AM
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.
Posted 17 November 2003 - 10:17 AM
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".
Posted 18 November 2003 - 08:44 AM
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.
Posted 18 November 2003 - 10:16 AM
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.