Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

I’m still not sure how to explain

I struggle to let people in. Over the years I've built a wall around myself for protection and I rarely let anyone in, because I've learnt that once someone sees your vulnerabilities they see how to hurt you.

For the first time in two years, I let someone in. I was totally open and vulnerable with him and it was OK. He quickly lost interest but he didn't go out of his way to hurt me and things ended naturally. It left me feeling a bit crappy and fairly vulnerable but I just needed some time to rebuild my walls.

A couple of weeks later, someone, B, I've sort of known for a while through a co-wotker, asked my co-worker if he should ask me out. He was told no, because I was too vulnerable and to leave it about a month so I could get over what had just happened. Five minutes later he told me he was interested but he understood that this wasn't the right time for me. He would be patient and when I was ready he'd like to go out on a date. The next day he was back at my work and when we left for the night he told me to text him.

We exchanged some messages that night, a few more messages a couple of days later and it escalated quickly to messaging almost all day.

A week after he'd asked me out, I was at work and a sales advisor at one of the suppliers made rape jokes during a call. I've been assaulted on multiple occasions and was in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship so I found it highly triggering. Of course I text B and told him what had happened, he insisted on coming through to my work to be there for me. And for the rest of the day, he was there by my side.

It almost sounds sweet but everywhere I went he was one step behind. He just followed like a lost puppy, constantly engaging me in conversation. He watched me cry as I talked about why the rape comments were so triggering. He came out with me to deliver cars (even though he'd asked if my co-worker needed help with anything beforehand and he'd been asked to stay to help) and listened to me talk for hours about every shitty thing that had ever happened to me.

The ten year anniversary of my dad dying was still very fresh and it hit me so hard this year. He listened to me open up about my dad, how close we'd been, how I hadn't coped when he'd died and how much I had been struggling with the anniversary this year.

I told B almost everything about me and he listened. He also knew I was emotionally drained, exhausted, hungry and in need of a glass of wine. I invited him over to my house and said he could join me for a drink if he wanted and could stay over.

When we finally got back to mine we hugged, he held me and as much as my mind felt calm my body didn't. I became almost agitated and very nervous. I put my pyjamas on and then came back downstairs to figure out what to eat and to have that glass of wine.

A few minutes later we were kissing and he took me upstairs. As soon as we'd had sex he wanted to go to sleep. I felt hurt and used and pathetic. And very confused. How had things escalated to sex that quickly? Why had I just lain there and not really done anything during? How could that have happened and I felt nothing? How could he suddenly care so little about me and my needs?

The next morning I wanted to die. The pain of realising what I'd let happen hurt so badly that I didn't want to live with the pain.

I'd been too vulnerable for sex. I was too vulnerable to let someone new in and I was too vulnerable to say no.

Then I found out that he'd asked if he should ask me out and he'd been told no. He'd heard conversations about how vulnerable I was. He knew I needed space and he pushed his way in. He pushed me for more when he knew I wasn't ready. And on a day when I was probably the most vulnerable I've ever been, he pushed for sex.

I know that it isn't really rape but the emotional impact it's had means that it might as well have been. I don't trust myself, I'm afraid to be alone with a man, I can't stand to be naked, I can't bear the thought of sex at all. I'm struggling to sleep and the worst part is that he doesn't understand what he did wrong.

I've explained it to him and had to beg him to leave me alone. He wants to be there for me, help me through this difficult time and learn how to be there for me in a way that'll make me trust him. When I said no and asked him to leave me alone, he messaged my co-worker to ask if he should come to my work to see me and check up on me.

Maybe it wasn't rape. But if I'd have continued to see him then it would have escalated to it. And it would have been and very controlling relationship.

I can't tell what's worse, what he did or the fact that I missed all the warning signs. How much abuse do I need to go through before I finally managed to spot the signs before its too late?

How is it that every single man I've spoken to about what happened seems to think that they wouldn't have even been thinking about sex that night? They'd have just wanted to make sure I was OK and nothing more.

Is it possible to be too vulnerable for sex?


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One thought on “I’m still not sure how to explain

  • Jenny says:

    Hi, I’m really sorry to hear what you are going through; I too have been through this. Following trauma, it can be really difficult to have sex and connect with someone again. The first time I tried, again like you the person was really attentive and listened to me, but afterwards, like you, I felt really raw and couldn’t cope. So what you are going through is completely normal.
    Are you getting any support from anyone, I.e. Counselling, some organisations such as rape crisis, you can just phone for them to listen. They support with the after effects of rape as well, as it’s not just the sexual assault that effects you, is relationships and life too.
    I hope you get the support you need, I’m slowly getting there myself and now do have a lovely man in my life, but it’s taken a long time and a lot of heart ache before I got here. Take care and give yourself time to heal xx