Thursday, December 22, 2011

Self-Interview (Part 1/2): Sexual Assault Healing Exercise

On her blog "My Unfair Fight," an online friend recently posted 10 self-interview questions assigned to her by her therapist. I usually sit down to write posts without too much forethought, so I thought that it might be nice and beneficial to change things up a little by
completing a structured activity. Below are my answers to the first five questions of the self-interview exercise.
  1. How would you classify what happened to you?
    • At the moment, I feel comfortable stating that I was taken advantage of when I was extremely intoxicated by a guy I was casually dating. Although I can logically assign my experience to other classifications, this way of framing my experience is most indicative of what I actually accept as the truth at the moment.
  2. What (if any) effects does your classification of what he did to you have on you?
    • My classification does not jibe with my emotional experience during the immediate aftermath of that night (e.g., panic attacks, hospitalization, depression, anxiety, nightmares, “fear flashes,” distrust of others, dissociation, difficulties concentrating, insomnia, fear of men, emptiness), or now (e.g., depression, anxiety, difficulties concentrating, crying, emptiness).
    • To me, my classification implies that it should have been much easier to move on from this experience; in other words, it suggests that I should have gotten over it long ago. I feel like I am making a big deal out of nothing, but I can’t seem to shake the hold this experience has on my life.
    • I tried to push it out of my mind for years, but it was still there, lurking in the background and infiltrating all areas of my life. Because my classification does not seem to warrant severe emotional unraveling, I have never felt justified in feeling the way I do.
  3. What kind of things did he do to you?
    • He used his mouth to bite and suck my chest. 
    • He alternated between inserting multiple fingers into my vagina and rectum. I am not certain due to my level of intoxication, but I think he used the same fingers in both areas. 
    • He performed oral sex on me. 
    • He penetrated my vagina with his penis and ejaculated on my stomach.
  4. How did those things make you feel then and how does it make you feel now?
    • Then: Everything he did leading up to his ejaculation made me feel uncomfortable, particularly what he was doing with his hands. He was being very aggressive, and his fingers felt really dry and pointed. Because I was heavily intoxicated, I felt sleepy once I laid down on my bed; his quick, aggressive handling of sensitive areas on my body made me feel almost like he was pestering me. When he disregarded my complaints that what he was doing with his hands was hurting me, I felt annoyed.
    • His unexpected ejaculation clued me in to the fact that he had exchanged his penis for his fingers. When I looked down at the substance hitting my stomach, I felt really confused, but I also felt like someone had given me a jolt of adrenaline. I immediately knew there had been penal penetration, but when I immediately asked him, he denied it. I felt extremely confused because I knew that it had happened, but he verbally denied it when I asked him (and, well, he was much less intoxicated than I was, and I wanted to believe him…badly).
    • Although his words said one thing, his uncharacteristic behavior was telling a much different story. Usually, he smiled at me and lingered around to make small talk; however, this time he avoided eye contact and was out of my room in a flash. As soon questioned him, he rushed to wipe his semen from my stomach, and in what couldn’t have been much longer than a minute, he was dressed and out the door.
    • Nothing seemed to make sense. I stared at the door, fully clothed and wondering what the hell had just happened. The entire began to feel like a dream. I’m not sure how much time lapsed before my roommate reentered our dorm room, but I was already pretty dissociated from what had just transpired. It was confusing, and I was drunk; any “detective” work would have to be postponed until my mind was clearer.
    • Now: I have a more complete understanding of how the actual events played out that night because my memory gaps started to fill in during my semester at home. For example, initially, when I awoke the next morning, I couldn’t remember the moments leading up to his ejaculation; I had a very defined gap in my memory that extended from my complaining of discomfort (i.e., caused by the alternating insertion of multiple fingers into my vagina and rectum) to his ejaculating on my stomach. The memory gap led me to wonder for weeks whether he had anally penetrated me; after all, I had never explicated stated, “no anal sex.” In fact, doing so had never even crossed my mind. For weeks, I wondered whether I had wrongly assumed that this boundary was a given. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the possibility that he inserted his penis in my vagina knowing that I was a virgin and that we had recently discussed (at length!) my desire to wait until marriage.
    • Although I am more confident in the actual events of the night, I am still very, very confused on certain issues. Particularly, I have no idea how I should feel regarding what happened that night. I am familiar with the notion that as humans we are entitled to feel whatever we feel and that there is no “right” or “wrong” emotion; however, when I think about that night, a hundred different paradoxes cross my mind, and it is frustrating and overwhelming to try to sort through such conflicting thoughts! I don’t even know why it is so important that I work through these thoughts – it seems like I would eventually reach a point in which I would just cut my losses, accepting “It ain’t worth my time or energy – time to just live life!” But for whatever nagging reason, something within me won’t allow myself to let it go just yet.
    • Particularly, I feel angry and annoyed, but more at myself than him. I feel weak in both an emotional and physical sense. I cry a lot about it, but I experience sadness only as intense fleeting waves. I frequently feel emptiness inside me; sometimes this sensation is so severe it feels unbearable and paralyzing. I also regularly feel like I’m a bad person and that I’m dirty and worthless. Sometimes when I am intimate with my husband, something will remind me of that night (e.g., dry chaffing sensations take me back to that night). When memories from that night intrude intimate moments with my husband, I feel angry towards the guy who created those memories, but I also feel disappointed in myself for allowing my past to occupy precious time in the present.
  5. What was the worst thing he did to you?
    • He penetrated me with his penis although he knew that I was virgin and that I was waiting until marriage.

7 comments:

  1. Answering these questions can be emotionally draining, I know they were for me. I probably should have broken it up in two parts so that I could have felt more comfortable with more concise answers.

    You did good.

    Are you going to share this with your therapists?

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  2. Thanks, Jaime,

    Yes, I am planning on showing it to my therapist. I have a few weeks before I go back to therapy, but I'm thinking about printing out a lot of what I've written here and dropping it by her office beforehand.

    I think this self-interview is a good exercise - I agree about it being a tough one though. When I read over it, I feel uncomfortable and embarrassed by some of the answers (particularly I want to delete # 3). Once I'm a little more comfortable about it being on here, I'll post the second part.

    How did it go when you showed it to your therapist? Did you guys talk about it, or did you just give it to her?

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  3. Hi Jaime,
    Just curious - what did you mean by becoming "more comfortable with more concise answers"? Are you saying that you feel more comfortable providing longer responses or shorter ones? Thanks.

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  4. How did it go when you showed it to your therapist? Did you guys talk about it, or did you just give it to her?
    I'm not ready to share all of my therapy stuff.

    what did you mean by becoming "more comfortable with more concise answers"?
    I meant if I probably should have broken it up in two parts so that I could have felt more comfortable with more information about each answer. With half as many questions I could have provided nearly twice as much detail without feeling overwhelmed.

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  5. Thank you for making this site. I had a similar experience as a teenager at 17 and am now almost 25. It's good to know I'm not alone.

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  6. @Jaime, no worries about not responding to the therapy question. Breaking it up has definitely been helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  7. @Adele, thank you for reading and commenting. I am sorry to hear that you had a similar experience and that you are also struggling with it years later. I hope that you continue to find this site useful.

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