Confessions of an Anxiety Case Part 10: Life After Sexual Assault
Posted by Pedal Powered Anthropology
This is an isn’t about anxiety. Some of it is indirect, some not. But my anxiety is what put me into the kind of mindset that allowed me to be preyed upon by someone like this, and in that respect, it’s fitting that it falls under this title.
So it’s been maybe a little over a month since I made the conscious decision to sever all contact with my ex. It was a long time coming, but for millions of reasons, it needed to be done. I’ve felt really good about it. I’d blocked, ignored, told off, and contacted the police about this person before. For some reasons we always wound up back in touch. Important mail still coming to my house. Stuff still in my house despite years having elapsed since our breakup. Enough was enough, though.
A few days ago, however, a mutual friend posted a link to a gofundme page for a startup business making soaps and all that. My ex, of course. It’s good stuff. I read the bit written about the background of the products and whatnot. I wasn’t mentioned in depth. I was happy to see some progress and whatnot.
But then a lot started coming back to me. Stuff that’s kind of always in the back of my mind, and sort of whatever. But sometimes I stick on it.
Back story time.
I’ve talked about this to various degrees in other posts, but I had a very rough relationship with my ex. Retrospectively it was a lot worse and more damaging than I realized. It didn’t start off that way. Typical relationship. Two adoring partners, excited about a new relationship. Really though, it was always lopsided. And things started to change in ways that, though obvious, were easy to rationalize as something other than being abuse.
Things would go insane. And I would do anything to get things back to where they were. And when we were good, it was good. Good got worse, but it felt better than ever every time.
Anxiety has a way of making you feel at fault. It would always have to be me. Even when nothing was wrong. Even when it was insane. When I couldn’t make plans with friends because I was thinking of going to college and she didn’t want me to do anything but spend time with her because once school started, I would have less time and she wanted to “bank” it.
I couldn’t answer my phone. My text messages were intercepted. I was kept up all night so she could be on her phone and told to go sleep in the other room (I work at 7am). The few times a year that plans seemingly weren’t an issue, the texts and calls started usually before I had reached my destination.
Flash forward to 2013. Things were really difficult and I was on my way to Kenya for field school. I can’t really explain the stresses there. But I decided that my time in Kenya would be spent reflecting. To some extent, anyway. I hadn’t “met someone,” but I had met a lot of like-minded people and it was clear to me that I shouldn’t be going through some of the things I was going through regularly.
Then, there were some weird issues going on with tuition billing. Got an email from whoever it was saying not to worry if there’s no way to pay, it would be sorted out while we were gone and I could pay when I got back. No worries.
But while I was gone, all the plans I had made were undone. The money I had saved for tuition was now spoken for. My life simply wasn’t as I had left it. And it kept getting worse. In October, after 6.5 years of this, I broke it off. And it still kept getting worse.
She refused to leave. Said she had nowhere to go. Had talked to all her friends and nobody would put her up. At this point it had been a year and a half since she worked and she had no money. I was sleeping on the couch. After several nights, she started coming downstairs and it became difficult to resist.
After a little bit of that I kept getting more and more uncomfortable with it. I had a room that was set up as a music studio. It had a futon. I set it up as my bedroom. She started coming in there. Wanting closeness. It seemed innocent enough until it wasn’t.
I told her, “We shouldn’t be doing this.”
“Yes we should.”
I told her, “We should stop.”
“No we shouldn’t.”
I told her, “I don’t want to be doing this.”
“Yes you do.”
I’m 6′ tall. I’m not a heavy guy but I still had 60lbs on her. Do I make her stop? What will her reaction be? How horrible will the fallout be? How long do I have to live with this person after? What irrational stuff will go on if I make this stop?
I know I “could” have made her stop. I know a millions things and I know how inthougjtbibwould react in a million hypothetical situations involving attack. But in the moment, amidst all the emotional abuse and physical threats that had gone on for years, and during this betrayal by someone who at one point was perhaps the most trusted person you’d ever known..you don’t know. You can’t. And I hope you don’t find out. Because it really sucks.
I felt like I had to go through with it.
The rest of that night and the following day were not easy. I slept with the door locked after that. I did confront her, that next day. I told her that had the roles been reversed, I would be in jail for having raped her.
I didn’t and to some extent still don’t know what to do. I don’t really know how to talk to people about it. I could probably throw her a good 10 feet. But I didn’t stop her. I didn’t know how. I didn’t want to physically hurt her. I was afraid of what she would put me through emotionally if I made her stop. And I’m the “guy.” Aren’t I supposed to want this shit? I mean…I know I didn’t and knew I didn’t but that perception weighed heavily and sometimes still does.
I haven’t told many people. I don’t intend to. This is one of few posts I’m not going to share on facebook or whatever. I guess I just kind of want it behind me.
And the thing is, I don’t think she meant it as a sexual assault. As a rape. She just saw it as what she could do. Why would is stop her? You know? She was so accustomed to the power dynamic of the fucked up and awful relationship that we had that it never crossed her mind that I would try and reclaim my own identity and resist her.
After a few days I thought I was alright.
A couple months later I was seeing someone. Weirdly similar living situations and we were taking it slow and helping one another.
I found out my ex had an “experience” while I was in Kenya. With a friend of hers. She had given him a ride and subsequently fell asleep on his couch. Claimed he sexually assaulted her while she was asleep…she woke up to him going down on her.
Later I would find out that he woke her up and kissed her and it escalated and after he was doing his thing for a while, she stopped him. And he stopped and that was that. Whatever she has convinced herself of, that sounds like something she immediately regretted rather than a sexual assault. I was devastated. Despite being with someone else, the emotion of her having cheated on me, and claiming it was an assault when it was something she reciprocated and that stopped when she asked, and then contrasted with what she had done to me…
One night when I was with the woman I was seeing during this time, things got a bit…busier. I was uncomfortable and she pushed me, though not disrespectfully. It wasn’t her fault. But I kind of shut down. I wanted it to stop but didn’t. I wanted to tell her why but didn’t even really know. I tried sort of usher it back to just being close. And it was really not a fun time.
That relationship only lasted a few more weeks after that night. It took me a while to realize how deeply affected I was, and am, by what happened that night my ex took advantage of me.
And even now, this isn’t easy for me to talk about. Even though I’m just kind of tossing it out into the internet to be read by random people who search for whatever hashtags I use and, like…the one friend I have that reads this stuff. It’s not easy.
We kept the dynamic for a long time. It’s almost three years since the breakup, and I finally managed to make the break clean. No more texting. No more favors. No more hanging onto shit indefinitely until she can get it. No more privacy invasions and read journals. No more checking my email. No my ruined finances. Done. Done done. And I don’t feel that nagging feeling of being connected to her in some way and we “should” be friends because of our history. Our fucked up, emotionally and sexually abusive history. Just done.
We lived together for about a year past the breakup. We lived together when I was briefly seeing the lady with whom I had the aforementioned awkward evening. It wasn’t until her car was going to be repossessed for nonpayment that this changed. My car was blocking hers, and they couldn’t get it. Suddenly, despite having supposedly exhausted all options when we broke up and were clearly in a very unhealthy household together….suddenly three people were willing to put her up.
In March, 2014 I had given her until the end of June to be out. That would allow her to find a job, finish the semester and find an apartment without having to be overly stressed about any of it. None of that was happening. Then she was gone before, because it served her best interest. Toward the end of the first week of July, she still hadn’t gotten her things and refused to give the keys back or to be at the house while I was there. I called the police and asked what to do and they told me to change the locks and have an officer present. I changed the locks to a flurry of threats from her.
It got worse after that. It got better. I slowly managed to carve my life back out of what had been created while with her.
I’m sitting in my livingroom, watching Orange is the New Black with my fiance. That’s right.
It’s now almost three years later. I feel like overall I’ve adjusted well.
And a few days ago, she pops up into my periphery. And my immediate thought is to be supportive and happy for her.
You know– In between being torn between considering bringing charges against her for what she did to me and may do again, and wanting to just leave it because I want her to stay out of my life.
And I decided to just keep scrolling past that post. Amid a flood of emotions and memories and thoughts about all the things she fucked up for me and put me through.
I’ve finally come to a point that while I don’t wish anything bad on her…I realize that I don’t have to be happy for her anymore. And that’s ok.
About Pedal Powered AnthropologyI have a degree in anthropology from Rhode Island College. My focus was in biological anthropology but I also have a broad interest in cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology. This blog is intended to be for the development of my own positions and ideas, mostly regarding paleoanthropology and paleontology in general, with a heaping helping of evolution on top...but also includes bits about a lot of different aspects of culture, primarily race, gender, privilege, the environment and my own personal relationship with anxiety.
Posted on 06/26/2016, in anxiety, confessions of an anxiety case, feminism, Health, identity, introspection, mental health, personal perspectives, Sex and Gender, Social Justice Babblings.. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.