CW: Sexual Assault

I never thought I was going to be bothered again by what happened to me a few years ago. In fact, I never thought I would need to talk about it, but with the #metoo movement going strong and the Kavanaugh hearing, I need some catharsis. In fact, it’s not those two things alone that have made my assault start to bother me again–it’s the comments people have made regarding assault in general.

I’ll admit I am neutral on the Kavanaugh hearing, but what I am not neutral on is that a movement does not need to be made over the minuscule amount of false allegations that occur. In fact (statistics included), even a man is more likely to be assaulted than accused. I do know two men who have been falsely accused of things that they never did, and I believe them 100%, but I still stand by what I say because victims like me have been silenced time and time again. Look at Brock Turner. There was no justice.

False allegations should end in jail time, but #himtoo is a disgusting mockery of the #metoo movement, and I think that’s what scrapes me raw and divulges buried memories I thought I had come to terms with.

No. I did come to terms with them, but because people are horrible and don’t think about how victims of assault must feel when they make their disgusting comments, it’s upsetting. The #himtoo movement is the worst of all, and it’s even more terrible there are women who have decided to jump on this movement. I don’t care if Kavanaugh is in the right. I care that that hashtag has all sorts of nasty implications for victims.

No. You do not need to worry about your sons being falsely accused. You need to worry about them being assaulted. Especially your daughters.

Stop it. It’s sick and it’s absolutely cruel to the even greater number of victims of sexual assault.

The justice system does need to do something about false allegations. Lives are certainly ruined over them, but, again, they are a minuscule portion, and proponents of #himtoo want to ignore how victims are afraid to come forward, want to mock real victims of sexual assault to begin with, and take that mocking one step further when, especially men, write how careful they have to be around women anymore. How they have to have a consent form with them. A body camera. Make sure to not put themselves in compromising places where they may be accused of assault.

We’re not asking that. Consent is not a hard thing to grasp. If she does not want you touching her, don’t!

I’ll tell you exactly what I’d do if a guy grabbed my rear in public: Slap him, kick him in the shin, or stomp on his toe. I’ve done these things before. But I know not all women have it in them to do this. In fact, I didn’t have it in me the last time a man put his hands on me because I was on the clock. Which is absurd. I was just doing my job, training a client, when an older man decided to rub my back and put his hands in my hair, making me freeze and feel ungodly uncomfortable. In any other place, I would have turned around and smacked him, but I wasn’t sure if I was even allowed to retaliate in that way to a member.

I don’t care if he didn’t mean anything behind it. I did not want to be touched at all in the middle of doing my job.

I told the lead trainer about this, but unfortunately the man left, so I had no way of being able to identify him. Now there are some older men who like to pat me on the shoulder or the back, but I know them, have chatted with them, and I know what their intentions are because they probably see me as a granddaughter sort of person. I know other women would not be comfortable with that, and they have every right to voice that, and what you don’t have a right to do is call that woman a prude.

There are people out there, men and women, who do not want to be touched by anyone save for loved ones for a variety of reasons, and it’s sick to me there are people out there, men and women, who think those people need to get over it because it wasn’t ill-intentioned. We all learned in elementary school, and hopefully from our parents, that no one has a right to put their hands on you. You do not have a right to put your hands on anyone!

So it’s not hard to not put your hands on a woman or a person in general. If she’s drunk, don’t touch her! If you do, help her get home, put her to bed, be with her until she sobers.

Overall, I care that there are women out there who think much of us in the #metoo movement are being bothered by a little grope, and they’re mocking us and telling us to not be babies. No. It’s the consecutive gropes by too many men. That builds up. It isn’t just the one butt grab in a bar. It’s the multiple ones that have occurred over the years. Real assaults. Rapes. Even one grope rankles my ability to feel safe.

So what if one little grope doesn’t upset you. You do not represent the vast majority of people out there, many who would feel disrespected. I didn’t like when that old man put his hands on me; he was not respecting me nor my boundaries and did not take my job as a personal trainer seriously, as I was blatantly with a client.

I did call the cops against my assailant though. I pressed charges. But I pulled them because I was blamed. My assailant was a man I saw as an older brother because I frankly don’t have much of a relationship with my current one. I adored my boss, so of course I wanted to get to know her boyfriend well. I guess he didn’t see me that way. He saw me as a plaything he could mess with behind his girlfriend’s back.

My boss was the one who blamed me. She said she chewed out her boyfriend and he was crying, but that wasn’t enough.

He did a few things to me (a lot of groping all over), most minor in comparison to the assault that led me to calling the cops. I never said anything about them because I found out from my boss her boyfriend was beating her. And I was even warned not to say anything by another person because not only could she end up hurt, but I might have as well. So I was living with an undercurrent of fear–and I had to deal with him a lot. I made it known I didn’t appreciate it–but I suppose I wasn’t firm enough because I was afraid to be.

Unfortunately, she is still with him to this very day.

But when I did call the cops and my boss eventually found out, that’s when things fell apart. Her boyfriend and I texted. To me it was completely friendly, exchanging silly jokes. Apparently those jokes weren’t jokes to him, so she saw that as evidence that I was enabling him to keep going. She even told me that on the day I was assaulted, I was bent over a certain way, just inviting him to do what he did to me. But I was trying to gather things together for an event and simply wasn’t thinking about how I was posturing myself because it was a skort, so I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing anything unseemly.

What really gets me about the whole thing is that he assaulted me at our place of work. He knew I had a fiancé (now my husband). He has a girlfriend for goodness’ sake! After it happened, I was a little shocked, but I played it off as no big deal. However, the next day (or it might have been the same day), I was at an event and opened up to my co-worker about it. She pointed out the seriousness of it and told me I needed to go to the cops. And of course that’s when it hit me that I needed to because the next step was rape.

It was traumatizing because of all the little things he did that culminated to that one grand moment. I felt stupid and naive and why didn’t I stop it and why did I let him grope me or touch me there or say that to me? I won’t go into details, but I can remember nervously saying, ‘Are you trying to rape me?’ And he replied, ‘You know you like it.’ I’ll emphasize again it wasn’t rape, but I’m positive that would have been the next thing.

Of course what ultimately landed me on suicide watch was being blamed. I was already in a bipolar depressive episode, so imagine being accused by someone I held in such high regard.

Oh, and he was stalking me, and I didn’t realize he was doing that until I found out he’d been at the mall for no reason other than to see me.

So when I see people making comments about what we as women need to do to avoid assault, trivializing any kind of inappropriate touching, wanting to scrutinize victims of assault and put precedence on the minute amount of false allegations instead of encouraging victims to come forward, mocking us for wanting to be victims, telling us to just carry guns, and then having the audacity to wonder why we didn’t immediately come forward, I can’t help but to get nasty with those people.

It’s the internet, I get it, but those are real people making real comments speaking thoughts they truly believe. And I can’t help but to hate those people. I can’t help but to hate every person who chooses not to be sympathetic toward victims of assault, who chooses to say we’re being whiny by even labelling ourselves as victims. I don’t consider myself a survivor. My life wasn’t in any danger during that moment, but I am still a victim because I never received any justice.

I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder. I don’t wear a cape of victimhood; however, I casually acknowledge I am still a victim without making a big scene about it. I’m not living in victimhood, but that doesn’t make me any less of one. After all, victims don’t need to be a certain way to be one, and people seem to think victims are bitter people who won’t move on. People thought that about Ford just because she was laughing in a few pictures. What do we need to do? Live our lives in misery for us to be believed?

You could argue my justice is in the life I’m continuing to lead, all the good choices I’m making, all the good in my life, but real justice would have been making him face the consequences of what he did to me and his girlfriend.

She lied it was an allergic reaction to a bee sting, then admitted later it was from her boyfriend. Apparently he was a drunk.

I don’t know what kind of person he is now. I really don’t care. But I know I’ll never seek justice for it because of the way accusers are treated.

Twenty years from now I will be thinking about it. Thirty years. Forty. To my grave. It won’t be on my mind every single day. It’s only things that trigger me that bring it to the surface. I believe I’ve recovered from my PTSD. I only get angry about it now.

It is important to have a fair trial, but what would I have gained by accusing my boss’ boyfriend of assault? What would have been my motive? It should be rather telling that I pulled it. And most of us don’t report it or retract our statements because of the very real victim blaming that exists, the way courts tear victims apart just so the lawyer can win a case for the assailant. And it’s even harder when there’s little evidence, save for your story and others who would have been able to testify how abusive he was, not just to his girlfriend, but even to her friends. I suppose other evidence would have been my suicide watch and my later development of an eating disorder because I wanted to disappear and didn’t want men looking at me that way anymore. I also had a difficult time being intimate with my husband and had a few panic attacks and crying spells and nightmares and flashbacks.

That was stupid to believe men would turn away from me. Even at less than 100 lbs. men still catcalled me simply for being female.

There is no justice for many of us who have been victims. So you must understand why we’re so angry, why the #metoo movement was started. And it’s not just for women. Men are victims as well. And they don’t get the justice they so rightfully deserve, whether their assailant was a man or a woman.

So #himtoo can die in a supernova, and all the people supporting it can be consumed by it. I haven’t a kind thought for people who don’t want to try and be at least somewhat sympathetic over why a person may still hold a grudge.

I don’t care if Kavanaugh was truly innocent because his life wasn’t actually ruined by the accusation since he was still appointed to the Supreme Court. But if his life had been ruined and he was truly innocent, I still don’t think a #himtoo movement deserves to exist because it has too many unsavory implications for real victims of sexual assault. Women are capable of being accused as well. Ford would certainly deserve to go to jail for it, there’s no doubt about it, but these false accusations are dealt with more easily since the accusation is already there and the accused has time to defend themselves. Yet, again, for victims of assault, many of us never come forward for the very reason we are afraid of not being believed.

What really. needs to be the focus is encouraging victims of assault to come forward and receive their well-deserved justice. People argue false accusations make it more difficult for real victims to come forward. That’s not true at all. What makes it difficult for them to come forward has nothing to do with a person falsely accusing someone and everything to do with the fear they will not be believed. Ford, after all, was torn apart, and it’s commonly known she received death threats. That’s what we’re afraid of. That’s why we won’t come forward.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What It Is

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What It Is

Mothers Matter–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When we think of PTSD, we often think about war veterans who have gone through a traumatic experience while defending our country. However, it is not just war veterans who can develop PTSD, but survivors of any traumatic event. Bipolar disorder alone can trigger PTSD because of the severity of the episodes. In fact, if you Google PTSD and go to images, it’s primarily war veterans, but from what I have observed, we don’t seem to talk about it in other instances. In fact, we often treat the traumatic event rather than the PTSD. I couldn’t even find a picture on Creative Commons Flikr that didn’t relate to war veterans and PTSD; thus, the picture on the left is the best example I could find that expresses PTSD outside the PTSD war veterans experience. What war veterans experience during this disorder is often going to be different from what non-war veterans experience.

PTSD is a disorder for those who have experienced any form of trauma, whether it be the episodes of bipolar disorder (or other disorders), spousal abuse, sexual assault, labor and giving birth to a child, surviving a natural disaster, witnessing horrific violence, or any other event that has a severe impact on a person’s psyche. Some people can develop PTSD after the event, some months after it, or even years later.

So why do some people develop PTSD and others who have experienced similar trauma don’t? There doesn’t seem to be much research into this, but PTSD is not genetic like bipolar disorder or something thereof. PTSD may develop in individuals who are more sensitive than others. It may develop in individuals who already have a mental illness. For example, someone who already has an anxiety disorder can be pushed over the edge, as an anxiety disorder often manifests itself again when anti-anxiety meds wear off if it’s chronic anxiety. There may be a personality trait that makes individuals more likely to develop PTSD than others. These are simply my speculations.

What are the symptoms?

  • Intense fear, helplessness, and horror during the traumatic event.
  • Intrusive thoughts or images about the event.
  • Re-living the event or that it’s happening all over again.
  • Triggers that make you remember the event and invoke an intense reaction.
  • Recurrent nightmares or distressing dreams.
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations that remind you of the event.
  • Avoiding activities, people, or places that remind you of the event.
  • Unable to remember something from the traumatic experience.
  • Distance from people or difficulties trusting them.
  • Difficulties experiencing or showing emotions.
  • Feeling your life will never be the same again.
  • Difficulties falling or staying asleep.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.
  • Difficulties concentrating.
  • Survivor’s guilt.
  • Being jumpy or easily startled–flinching.
  • Hypervigilance.
  • Symptoms lasting more than a month (this isn’t necessarily an absolute factor, especially if you meet a lot of the criteria above even after a few weeks of the event occurring.)
  • Experiences interfering with normal activities, like work, school, or even social activities.

The good news is that PTSD doesn’t have to last forever. It can be treated over time, then become nonexistent; however, you can relapse. Medication can be effective in treating it, such as anti-depressants. Yet, in people with bipolar disorder, the traumatic event can trigger an episode, and even with medications, PTSD makes it much harder to come out of these episodes. There is also cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapist will help the individual change their thinking about the trauma and and its aftermath. It can include homework assignments, such as listing out what you think trust is. There is also exposure therapy, which helps the patient have less fear about their memories. There is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This helps with reaction to trauma. You can go to group therapy as well to be around other people with PTSD so you don’t feel like you’re alone. (Source)

PTSD can affect anyone. If you have PTSD, make certain you have a strong support system. If you know someone who has PTSD, be that person’s support system.



The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

I used to get into arguments a lot on my Facebook page that ranged from a myriad of topics, until I finally got rid of these people. The first person I got rid of was one who believed victims of sexual assault should take some responsibility for what happened to them. He said they (primarily women) should take particular care in how they dress, act, where they go, how they interact with men, and so on and so forth. This kind of thinking is damaging because it says men are uncontrollable monsters. This kind of thinking is also damaging because it suggests women shouldn’t have interactions with men period–and that is how I took it. If I even say hello to a guy and decide to interact with him and I am wearing a cute outfit and he decides to take me out and decides to assault me after the date, I suppose I was asking for it because I dared give someone a chance at being a possible partner in my life. (I am engaged, by the way.) 

It isn’t just the court systems that victim blame. It can be people you love and trust who will blame you, even though they will admit that your assailant was wrong for what they did. However, they still blame you because they think you were leading your assailant on in some way, while trying to reconcile within themselves why it happened and also, funny enough, wanting you to not act that way anymore so that doesn’t happen again. They consider it a lesson learned, when it isn’t a lesson that never should have been learned from the start, no matter what you were doing. I don’t care if you were sending nude pictures to your assailant. Once your assailant lays their hands on you and you say no and they won’t stop, you are the victim, no matter what you did before.

Your assailant is often a person you trust, someone you think you feel safe around, someone who is your friend or someone who you are flirting with or someone who may even be your significant other. Heck, your assailant could be someone cheating on their partner, even though you are in no way encouraging the infidelity but are trying to discourage it in your own way; however, you are too afraid to be direct because of the assailant’s history. Someone may be telling you not to tell because of that history of this person while warning you to keep away from your assailant–who won’t stay away, even if you say no. And even if you never say no, silence does not mean ‘yes.’ You may be too scared to say ‘no.’

Victim blaming is arguably just as damaging as the assault itself. While you can tell yourself it wasn’t your fault, those who blame you will shoot darts at everything you did that led up to the assault so that way you are constantly thinking about what exactly happened during the assault and what you could have done. You can have flashbacks, panic attacks, crying spells, and even have suicidal thoughts and plans. If there was already insurmountable stress in your life, like a mental illness episode you’re going through, things are going to be quadrupled in how worse everything is for you. The assault is going to make you more depressed, anxious, and suicidal. The victim blaming is going to intensify your illness to the point where you’re screaming and crying and telling others you want to kill yourself–and they don’t seem to want to take it seriously because they don’t understand. Some will try to protect you, but you know those people can’t always be around to keep you safe from yourself. Sometimes you’re stuck in silence. Oftentimes you have to pretend nothing happened. Others will tell you they hate victim mentalities, but that is another way to blame the victim because there is no set time period in which you should be over what happened to you. The important thing is that you try to let yourself heal from the incident. Yet, if you’re dealing with a mental illness, that’s hard. Really hard. Your mental illness is already deluding you from the beginning, and some people develop mental illnesses after the incident.

Others tell you that you should have fought and should have been angry, but people react to assaults in so many different ways, especially if it’s a person they forgive time and time again and still continue to like. These are the kinds of assaults that don’t hit you until even after a day or two when it happened. Then you realize what happened, it hits you all at once, and you are so overwhelmed that you start having flashbacks as to what occurred. Bits and pieces of your memory are missing. Only the worst things are ingrained in your memory. You’re pretty sure a few other things happened while you were trying to avoid the person trying to force themselves on you, but you can’t remember those things.

Also, sexual assault doesn’t have to be rape or leave marks. Sexual assault is simply someone forcing themselves upon you without your consent, thinking that you wanted it and in fact enjoyed it. Sometimes these victims pretend they don’t care–but they’re still scared. Other times they’ll fight. Yet, each victim will react differently depending on the circumstances and history of the assailant they’re dealing with. Regardless of whether it was rape or there was no violence, assault is assault and is still damaging. Your body was being invaded. You were being manipulated the entire time that led up to the assault. And you were scared.

There are so many stories about victim blaming that have been written already, but I thought I would finally contribute to the discussion since my blog is one that I have made a point to touch upon topics such as this.

Amber Skye Forbes,  Author of When Stars Die, a YA Paranormal