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Help me understand as a supporter of a victim

C

Confused22

Guest
#1
WARNING: I in a little detail describe a nonconsensual sexual encounter that may be sensitive to some readers.
I need some help understanding an instance of "statutory rape" as I would understand it.

I have some questions about the encounter as it was relayed to me. I have just been an ear at this point, listening and not openly questioning and I am confused by the encounter. I myself am a head strong, out spoken and practically peer pressure proof male in my mid 40s and the encounter I am seeking to understand was given to me by a family member. I wish to be more than a sympathetic ear, I guess I just wish I could be more "empathetic" in a deeper way.

This female is late 30s/early 40s. Grew up in Scandinavia. Keep in mind that she was "inappropriately touched" as a child (in the 4 to 7 year old range if I understand correctly) by an alcoholic grandfather who suffered from dementia and lived in the multi-level household during that time.

The encounter as she describes it to me is one of a few nonconsensual sexual encounters when she was 16 and a virgin during the first encounter. This lady as I know her is a very conservative, reserved, more introverted individual. In her encounter she dated a guy for a couple of weeks who was 18 years old at the time. On the 3rd date they were hanging out at his parents house in his room. She says he kissed her on the cheek a couple of times, no other forms of touching or making out that would have been considered an "invitation" on her part to progress further, then he just stood up and said "lets have sex" and began to take his clothes off in front of her. I guess her version is that she felt trapped and insecure, although not physically threatened. She said she just laid there staring at a poster on his wall having a shock/withdrawal or "out of body experience". A similar situation happened again a few weeks later with the same "boyfriend" in his room. She says somehow she didn't think it would happen again and that's how she ended up at his home again? After that second encounter she said she tried to avoid him in town and used the excuse that she had her period to avoid sexual contact with him. After avoiding him for a couple of weeks by either going out of town with friends or staying home that there was a couple of instances where he showed up at her house over a 2 month period while her parents happened to be out and she felt trapped and ended up in the same situation. After sleeping with her the last time he immediately broke off their "relationship". (I put relationship in quotations because she says that's for a lack of a better word).

She said when he "dumped her" that she wasn't mad or hurt at all, just relieved that she wouldn't have to be with him anymore and spend effort/energy avoiding him or places he might be.

So as a person who would have whipped this guys butt (even as a girl) in the first encounter for doing something so awkward and weird, I'm having a hard time interpreting and understanding her situation and I have have some serious guilt about my confusion. I'm the guy that has had verbal confrontations with the CEO of my company because I don't let anyone run me over or bully me so phrases like "nonconsensual" but let it happen are confusing for me. I've not expressed my confusion or doubts openly as I would never want to hurt this person or make them feel like I am placing guilt or doubt on her for this horrible encounter. She said she has nightmares where she's being chased by a shadow and the nightmares end with her crouched in a corner with no where left to run and the shadow steps into the light and has his face.

Can someone help me understand this situation?

I can understand being intimidated in the first encounter. She was definitely younger and more naive. I have read about the various forums of statutory rape and other forms of nonconsensual sex and coercion.

- I however don't understand why she let herself be put in any further situations to be taken advantage of. It sounds like she did try to avoid him, only 4 encounters over a 4 month period sounds like she did a pretty good job of avoiding this individual I guess. She said she feels like he knew that she didn't want to, that it should have been pretty obvious by her demeanor and her avoidance of him, etc. I guess I just have a hard time why a loud, resounding NO would be so hard for her to produce?

- She says she complied (my word) out of fear, insecurity, felt like she couldn't say no or stick up for herself and that it traumatizes her to think that she let this happen to her. She said as a Scandinavian she was taught not to make waves, to oppress emotions and not wear them on your sleeve. (As a result she has a hard time expressing herself, that much I've seen numerous examples of). She says she just froze and stared at a poster. Does this make sense to anyone? When I think of freezing out of fear I think of being frozen like a deer in headlights, not froze as in taking off your own clothes when someone basically demands sexual intercourse of you. How is my thinking wrong and what is it that I do not understand?

- To me it seems like out of desperation she would have overused the menstruation excuse, not answered the door when he showed up at her house, at least the 2nd time. I don't understand how she let it happen 4 times or so, even though that does seem like very few encounters as if she was definitely making efforts to avoid him. I mean he got to her basically 3 times over 16 weeks as I understand. So clearly they weren't together alot.

Could the abuse by the family member as a child have affected her self confidence or ability to stand up for herself? I've tried to do some research and I've come across all sorts of concepts like tonic immobility, etc that abuse victims experience.

I'm sorry if relaying this encounter is hurtful to anyone and I'm sorry if my confusion and or doubt is offensive or hurtful. I don't mean to be that way. I just don't want to be the support that has to nod my head in agreement all the time and say "I'm sorry" while I don't truly understand what this person went through. I also have a young daughter who will be a teen one day and the whole premise of this situation just makes me sick to my stomach and not knowing how to approach it due to my own ignorance of how it could happen just makes it all the more frightening.

Apologies and thanks in advance.
 

slothrunner

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#2
Hello confused and welcome to fort. As a survivor of a traumatic experience you do go into a fight or flight mode. Given that she had an experience when she was younger it is hard when a line is crossed. Even as an adult when your in a situation even if they are considered your “boyfriend/girlfriend” it’s hard to say no at the time.it’s normal to space out and like she stared at the poster that’s normal. Everyone reacts differently. A lot of times people who have been abused won’t speak up out of fear that no one will believe them or sometimes guilt because they allowed it to happen (even tho it wasn’t their fault at all). Even tho she didn’t say no doesn’t mean she wanted it to happen. I hope that helps. Maybe she could find a counselor or therapist to help her.
 
C

Confussed22

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#3
Hello confused and welcome to fort. As a survivor of a traumatic experience you do go into a fight or flight mode. Given that she had an experience when she was younger it is hard when a line is crossed. Even as an adult when your in a situation even if they are considered your “boyfriend/girlfriend” it’s hard to say no at the time.it’s normal to space out and like she stared at the poster that’s normal. Everyone reacts differently. A lot of times people who have been abused won’t speak up out of fear that no one will believe them or sometimes guilt because they allowed it to happen (even tho it wasn’t their fault at all). Even tho she didn’t say no doesn’t mean she wanted it to happen. I hope that helps. Maybe she could find a counselor or therapist to help her.
Thank you for your response. It does help I think. I guess I have such a knack for going from easy going to wrath of God a-hole when someone attacks me that I have trouble comprehending how some people can be emotionally bullied into being physically taken advantage of. It's my first nature to not submit, even when overpowered. I have a lot to learn. For example I have trouble swallowing that she answered the door and let him into her house because she didn't think she could just ignore him. Partly a culture thing as I understand it and partly a lack of self confidence and healthy ego. Something I don't understand from personal reference but I'm learning as I reach out to others and research material online. It's frightening and infuriating to see how many people are abused in various ways.
 

Sunfl0wer

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#4
Gonna speak for myself...
Agree with Slothrunner
Gonna add for me...
I was raised in a way that internally, my alarms for danger do not signal me to danger always. My existence in the foster care system as an infant/child was a constant threat so sometimes being in dangerous situations does not arouse any alarms in me, if you can imagine that. I do not always sense fear/threat, when I should. My physiology doesn’t always get activated properly to protect me.

For example, during a shoot out several years ago, people were scrambling to tell me to exit, I remained unphased and told them I was in the middle of something. Upon reflection, I wish I acted differently. I could not sense the fear same as others.

Then there is the molestation aspect of her upbringing that I relate to. I had never been touched much until I was molested by a much older man as a kid. I was starved for nice, parental, family touch and love, so when this man began grooming me, I began to feel stuff that I needed. I needed the touch an infant and child needs... but my only resource for touch was this molestation and knowing it was wrong was actually confusing cause while I am being violated, it is like being fed a need at the very same time. I froze. There is fight, flight, yet there is also a freeze or play dead response. I froze lots and because of this, sometimes when I reexperience feelings similar to that molestation I may go into a freeze or play dead just cause that at the time was safest response. No one woulda responded to a flight or fight from me, so freeze is what seemed safest for that.

Because of this situation... my neural networks of affection and sexuality are jumbled some. Sometimes getting close to female friends, and being appropriate affectionate may seem sexual to me since my wires got crossed on that while my brain and body were still developing and learning how to organize sensory/emotional information. Sometimes I have thought someone being friendly wants sex just cause my experiences of being groomed... were headed that way... and sexual touch got mixed in.

It has caused more confusion in how my emotions, feelings, perceptions developed than I can relay in this simple post.

Hopefully something helps tho.
 
C

Confussed22

Guest
#5
Gonna speak for myself...
Agree with Slothrunner
Gonna add for me...
I was raised in a way that internally, my alarms for danger do not signal me to danger always. My existence in the foster care system as an infant/child was a constant threat so sometimes being in dangerous situations does not arouse any alarms in me, if you can imagine that. I do not always sense fear/threat, when I should. My physiology doesn’t always get activated properly to protect me.

For example, during a shoot out several years ago, people were scrambling to tell me to exit, I remained unphased and told them I was in the middle of something. Upon reflection, I wish I acted differently. I could not sense the fear same as others.

Then there is the molestation aspect of her upbringing that I relate to. I had never been touched much until I was molested by a much older man as a kid. I was starved for nice, parental, family touch and love, so when this man began grooming me, I began to feel stuff that I needed. I needed the touch an infant and child needs... but my only resource for touch was this molestation and knowing it was wrong was actually confusing cause while I am being violated, it is like being fed a need at the very same time. I froze. There is fight, flight, yet there is also a freeze or play dead response. I froze lots and because of this, sometimes when I reexperience feelings similar to that molestation I may go into a freeze or play dead just cause that at the time was safest response. No one woulda responded to a flight or fight from me, so freeze is what seemed safest for that.

Because of this situation... my neural networks of affection and sexuality are jumbled some. Sometimes getting close to female friends, and being appropriate affectionate may seem sexual to me since my wires got crossed on that while my brain and body were still developing and learning how to organize sensory/emotional information. Sometimes I have thought someone being friendly wants sex just cause my experiences of being groomed... were headed that way... and sexual touch got mixed in.

It has caused more confusion in how my emotions, feelings, perceptions developed than I can relay in this simple post.

Hopefully something helps tho.
Thank you Sunflower. Where does compliance fall into this? Fight or flight or freezing? Why is the version of panic to comply (by taking her own clothes off) with basically the "rapist" instead of freaking out and screaming or running away, or having some other protective response or acting offended or defensive. My understanding is that she was abused but it was some in appropriate touching on the leg just like once or twice as a kid that she later realized was inappropriate when she got into her teens. It definitely created some trauma but not like most people would describe from a longer history of systematic abuse.
 

Sunfl0wer

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#6
I cannot speak for her, however, it is not unheard of for a person to feel dissociated/disconnected from their body, or their environment and what is happening, and move/"comply" robotically in sorta a state of shock or something similar.

Sometimes as a child, you may feel to naturally defer to the adult for a sense of authority. It is possible to repeat past traumatic responses as an adult because that is how the mind has learned to connect/behave in such situations.

I don't know if she is having some sorta out of body experience or out of reality sense, or a freeze-like response, just saying... While it may seem illogical to a more typically developed person... Trauma happens to the brain... It halts/interferes with what typical brain processing was supposed to develop.

I think she is the person best to describe her particular experience tho. It is very possible tho that people can do things that they otherwise wish they had not... For a variety of reasons.
 

Sunfl0wer

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#7
For example... During one rape for me... I noticed the man frustrated for struggling to complete. I therefore felt fearful of his anger... He already kidnapped me... I felt he may dispose of me... Participating was a survival technique... I decided that helping him like me or to think we were doing something consensual could confuse him enough to not beat me up and dispose my body.

IDK... She may have been taught compliance to avoid someone's agitation when a child... IDK. She may just not realize her body is hers to protect and she owns it, idk. Those are common things as well.
 
C

Confussed22

Guest
#8
For example... During one rape for me... I noticed the man frustrated for struggling to complete. I therefore felt fearful of his anger... He already kidnapped me... I felt he may dispose of me... Participating was a survival technique... I decided that helping him like me or to think we were doing something consensual could confuse him enough to not beat me up and dispose my body.

IDK... She may have been taught compliance to avoid someone's agitation when a child... IDK. She may just not realize her body is hers to protect and she owns it, idk. Those are common things as well.
Thank you Sunflower. That is all very insightful and helpful.
 

Manya

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#9
Where does compliance fall into this? Fight or flight or freezing? Why is the version of panic to comply (by taking her own clothes off) with basically the "rapist" instead of freaking out and screaming or running away, or having some other protective response or acting offended or defensive.
...i mean, when five guys twice your size corner you on an empty street at night and demand your wallet - you give them your wallet. you dont scream or run away because you know you got no chance. and acting offended or defensive will only get your butt kicked, in addition to lost cash. you give them your freaking wallet, and try to act chill about it too.

i actually got a better example - if youre a middle-school kid, and a bunch of older students are demanding your lunch money. you do give it to them, cuz they are bigger and stronger and will kick your butt if you refuse. but you could also be confused about the encounter, especially if they said that one is supposed to share, or that friends share and that you are friends, or something along those lines. and its actually harder to refuse after a few occurrences, rather than on the first one. cuz i gave them my lunch money before, what grounds do i have to refuse now, nothing has changed, we're still "friends", still supposed to "share", i "shared" before - why am i suddenly refusing?
 

Jane

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#10
As a survivor of a traumatic experience you do go into a fight or flight mode.
Think slothrunner captures it well here. How it was for me neeways when I was young and confronted by a frightening situation that I had not faced before. Seems these triggered my body memories of earlier csa. Certainly at the moment made me lose my ability to place myself firmly in my present situations...to see my escape and self-protective options. Took me years of maturity (and a lot of trauma work) to see that it was safe/ok/my right to not only say 'no' but to do whatever else I could (shout, yell, run) rather than freeze and feel out of my depth/helpless.
 
C

Confusedperson

Guest
#11
Thank you all for the responses. I have been researching and reading in various sources. Its frightening. I still struggle with comprehending some things but of course that isnt something that will change over time. I guess it confuses me why someone would have repeated or continued contact with an "abuser". In my mind when a person is able to overpower you in someway and do things to you or make you do things that are against your will to the point of trauma, that it seems like all sorts of desperate measures would be taken to avoid coming into contact with the person. I mean I fully understand how young people who are abused by a person in their household are trapped and faced with repeated encounters. But if its say someone that you dont have to make contact with then why do you not avoid the contact? For example if you're home alone and they show up at your home, why do you answer the door? Or if these things occur at their home, why would you ever let yourself end up at their house if there is no way to accidentally end up at their home? To be clear we're not talking about a child being dropped off at a babysitter. We're talking about a teenager being "coerced" by another teenager to take a 30 min walk out of town to a house where this incident has occured before. Why did she go back there? These are the details that cause me so much problems. I thank you all for your advice, I hope I dont come off as argumentive or overly stubborn. Im just, Im confused and quite frankly frightened by this knew scenario or situation one may face or be a part of in life.
 

Manya

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#12
continuing my lunch money example:
so you were bullied in school by older kids, they demanded your lunch money, saying that you gotta "share" with them cuz they are your "friends". if you refused - they kicked your butt. so you learned to comply. now you moved to college, and your roommate asks you to share some cash, hes throwing a party, needs money for booze, youre gonna be there too, since youre roommates, so hes asking you for cash. i mean, you give it to him. first, you got your highschool background, and second - what do you know about college life, maybe thats how its supposed to work, maybe all students share cash with each other and throw drunk parties nonstop, thats what you see in movies after all, it seems how its supposed to be. yeah, you had other plans for that cash, but your roommate said youre supposed to share, and maybe hes right, and even if hes wrong - hes bigger than you, so you just give him the cash that he asks for. then he asks for it again. and again. and yet again. yeah, you try to avoid bumping into him, and you come up with excuses (like that youre out of cash, or are having a headache, or whatever bs excuses you can come up with) - but you dont openly tell him to f off cuz you still arent sure if you have the right to refuse, especially now that youve given him cash numerous times before, and that this stupid cash is worth risking your butt kicked.

idk, am i making sense?
 

Sunfl0wer

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#13
Idk...
I feel like the question is like asking the doctor:
Why even tho I got this flap of skin torn off my leg and you sewed it back on, why does it not feel like the skin on my right leg? It is skin. Skin should feel like skin.

So hypothetically, on my left leg I have this scar. It healed with a keloid. It is bumpy, not smooth like not scarred skin. It pokes up past the surface of the skin around it. It doesn’t contain hair follicles like the non traumatized skin on my right leg. It is sensitive to touch. It doesn’t detect temperature the same cause of the nerve damage. And I cannot feel sensations too much there, it is numb, processes senses differently.

Idk... the skin has been affected by trauma. It had trauma done and grew a fiber network into the area to heal and repair best it does.

It isn’t the same as the tissue on the right leg.

I feel like to expect two people to have identical mental processes for the same situation is an oversimplification of how a mind grows, acts, functions.

I cannot fathom a person trying to lure another for exploiting and harming them to objectify them. I cannot wrap my head around such. I cannot wrap my head around the reality that person is living within that allows for such to be their mode of operation in the world.

Sometimes while I cannot jump into the mindset of another... I can just accept it exists, is their truth... and idk... helps me to know that there is more than one frame of experiences to have, to live within in ones mind. Cause it is good for me to realize the person walking on the street, or that is my best friend... may have entirely different perspectives, ways of seeing/interacting in the world... cause well... I think it could be useful that if I can’t sense/feel what another person’s inner world/mental processes are.... at least I am aware that mine vary from others and that knowing can help me be aware that others may have intentions that differ from why I am here and they could be interacting with me from different premises and assumptions... even if I don’t really grasp where they are coming from... I can sense differences... and respond to truth/what is seen/experience. (Even if I cannot perceive identically)

Not sure I was as articulate as I wish... but was my best shot for the moment.
 
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