When I was a kid, I used to go over to friend’s houses and notice that their parents never seemed to bully them or hit them. I assumed this was just because they had a friend over, and that their parents terrorized them all the time when I wasn’t around. I didn’t identify my situation as abuse or reach out to a teacher or counselor because I thought everyone had to live through this. I was probably twenty by the time I realized that some families really don’t humiliate and belittle their kids, ever.
I wish someone had gotten that through to me. I wish instead of saying vaguely and uncomfortably “you can talk to the counselor if you have problems at home,” my teachers had said flat-out “it is not normal to be afraid of your parents, and not normal to be unhappy whenever you’re at home, and you can ask us if you’re not sure if something’s okay or not.” I wish someone could have taught me that wanting to be safe was human instead of selfish.
And I’m probably going to make a whole post about this so I won’t belabor the point right now, but this is why feminists care about media and memes that normalize rape. (Or that stigmatize the words “rape” and “rapist,” but enthusiastically normalize the act of forcing sex on people, as long as you don’t call it that.) Because it tells people that rape is normal, that it’s a popular and accepted way to express romance and/or dominance, and we can’t assume that everyone absorbing this culture knows “of course that’s not how it really works.”
I don’t really know. This isn’t a something that I’ve studied, and I don’t have much insight into the mind of an abuser. In my opinion, abuse is intentional. I apologize, but this is one question I really don’t feel qualified to answer.
I am a survivor of all kinds of abuse. I am triggered by physical affection. It makes me panic. I am terrified of it. I also crave it. I want to reach out and touch people. I want to know I’m not alone. I want to have sex. I also hate touching people. I hate reaching out. I hate sex.
It’s extremely hard to deal with these conflicting feelings. Often times, it tears me apart.
If you are a survivor and/or a victim and are experiencing these feelings, too, here are some things that may help.
- Remember it was not your fault. The abuse you have been through was not your fault. You did not deserve it.
- You are allowed to ask for physical space and should be given it if you ask. You have the right to have space to heal in if you want it.
- You have the right to choose how you want to heal, how fast you want to heal, and what your coping mechanisms are.
- You are important despite your abuse. You matter. You have worth. You deserve healthy relationships.
Here are some tips on healing and getting used to positive touch again.
- Go slowly. You can start by touching yourself, or by touching others. Mutual masturbation could be another place to start. Perhaps watching porn could be a step.
- Set limits. If you can, let your friends, family, and partner(s) know your physical boundaries. Let them know when they cross those boundaries. You are not obligated to explain these boundaries if you do not want to.
- If you are going to be sexually active, have safe words AND signals.
- Try kink and BDSM and fetish activities instead of sexual ones. There are tons of things to explore, and they can be a very healthy outlet.
If you have any personal stories to share, resources, or anything that can help, feel free to message them to me or reply with them or reblog with them!
Becauseiamawoman said: Rape culture may be somewhat related to an unwillingness to confront sexual realities and a culture that also glorifies violence, but a more accurate definition would be something along the lines of a culture where sexual assault and rape are not only common, but excused, accepted, and/or tolerated by the practices and norms of the culture. All of these things are definitly connected, and rape culture may not actually be the best term to use (although I cannot think of a better term), but I definitely do not believe that rape is a side effect of not confronting sexual realities. That would also mean that rape is largely about sex, and it very often is not.TRUE, especially that last part. Rape is usually not about “sex,” it’s about power and control.
oh hey, there I am.