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I went to a seasonal house party last night, socialized, had a few drinks, sang a few carols, ... the usual.
One of the women at the party and I struck up a conversation. We know each other and are friends. Anyway, we got to swapping stories.
It turns out my friend had been sexually assaulted in the none-too-distant past. She and I had been swapping stories with a "survival" theme. She didn't go into any detail except to observe that a person sometimes does what they have to do to survive. I'm still a little amazed at her gumption in sharing that story.
[i]It never ceases to amaze and appall me how many women that I personally know have been victimized in this way.[/i] And I'm just talking about the ones that choose to be forthcoming with me.
That's it. Just thought I'd share that story.
Thanks N. Beltov for sharing that, and to your friend for being so courageous in sharing that story.
I find that sharing stories like that one tends to do two things, 1) get people in attack mode by belittling your experience(s) and 2) invokes the silent treatment and then avoidance.
Many women here on babble, myself included, have shared personal stories such as these, and the sharing of these stories has led to nothing good. I would never share like that again. I have learnt a lesson and that lesson is - beware of what you tell people about sexual assault and/or rape. It tends to bring out the worst in people and can damage an already damaged ego.
This is not a babble specific thing, but happens all the time, everywhere. I suspect this is why women no longer choose to talk about their experiences here or anywhere for that matter.
I think I'm still in a bit of a state of shock from hearing the story. Logically, I know this sort of thing happens all the time but it just kind of stuns me when I hear it in person from someone I know.
However, I'm glad to report that I didn't belittle my friend's experience. And I won't be able to avoid her as we see each other every week. But I have to admit it has made me think about her in a different way, mostly with admiration for coming through that experience with such strength of character, and I think it will be harder for me be light-hearted around her, make jokes, and such, until I'm able to "process" what I've heard.
People are amazing in regard to what adversity they can overcome. Perhaps that's the way I need to look at this matter.
N. Beltov, I would never think you were the type to do either of the two things most of us experience.
Friends like you are hard to come by.
Thanks for that. It might comfort you to know that my friend typically comes across as the most giggly, girly girl and I would never have imagined that underneath that light-hearted exterior lay a tough, bloodied but unbowed, survivor of sexual assault.
I hope you tell her that, if you haven't already.
It may not be as obvious to her as it is to us.
Well, I have a better idea what I might say next time we chat. Thanks you guys.
Originally posted by N.Beltov:[b]Thanks for that. It might comfort you to know that my friend typically comes across as the most giggly, girly girl and I would never have imagined that underneath that light-hearted exterior lay a tough, bloodied but unbowed, survivor of sexual assault.[/b]
Thanks for sharing this NBeltov, and for being open in your processing.
At this time, I would ask for you to expand that awareness to all the women you meet. Because underneath, most, if not all, women's exterior lays a survivor of assault. We have been surviving it for centuries.
Originally posted by N.Beltov:[b] I'm still a little amazed at her gumption in sharing that story.[/b]
Well, the fact that she felt comfortable enough (and obviously trusted) to share this with you, I would think says a lot.
Stargazer wrote: "...I find that sharing stories like that one tends to do two things, 1) get people in attack mode by belittling your experience(s) and 2) invokes the silent treatment and then avoidance."
A third and all too common reaction is neither attack or silence but a kind of gabbiness where a man, feeling unconsciously threatened by what he learns about a man or number of men - a number high renough to colour women's and his perception of men - puts out a flurry of I-Me-Mine discourse that more or less makes it imperative for women to reassure and praise him, deflecting the focus away from the survivor.
As you have just done martin. Geez give it a rest!
Cant you just listen and accept?
Originally posted by Bacchus:[b]As you have just done martin. Geez give it a rest!
Cant you just listen and accept?[/b]
Cant you just listen and accept?[/b]
Thanks! I prefer to listen here. That comment needed your words!
I'd like to add my thanks to N.Beltov for sharing his story. My comment is that N's experience is an illustration of the crux of the difference between how men and women view violence against women, which of course includes all rape and sexual assault. For women it's a real threat and possibility we live with every day. For some men it's way more abstracted, until someone like N's friend chooses to share her experience. The reactions / reasons Stargazer gave pretty much come from the same place: not being believed. Women usually don't share our stories of sexual assault unless it's with more close friends/lovers/family. It's our way of trying to ensure the safety of the telling of our stories. Women babblers have learned this the hard way. Please read many older threads if you want to know what I'm talking about.
Violence against women, for many men, can remain a completely academic and theoretical topic, even "a topic like any other" as in "Okay we're done talking about violence against women (it's bad, gotcha), what else you got?". I've had conversations like that with men IRL and even if we aren't talking about something personal to me, such talk reminds me that sometimes even the most strident of male allies (I mean that in a good way) can forget that women are always living with this.
N.Beltov, you've shared that you never cease to be amazed and appalled at the range and scope of violence against women, and how it affects women who are in your life. As an ally I would ask you to never cease being appalled, but to try to cease being amazed, do you know what I mean?
Thank you again for sharing, N.
I think I understand better the need for being supportive when this sort of experience is shared in person. I can already think of better things to say ... next time around. Without the face to face interaction however, as in someone sharing their own experience online for example, I can't help but think that that is an unnecessary risk. There are just too many anonymous jerks online.
But then again, I'm not the one taking the risk.
NBeltov, to take it even a step further, have you thought about what you are going to say to the next man, who grossly objectifies and degrades a woman?
I don't socialize or work with such people much at all. But I usually know to say something to put a stop to such talk when I'm faced with it.
I've got a friend who makes misogynistic remarks now and then. I put him on the spot, challenge whatever claim he's making, and let him try to answer. I usually just leave it at that as he's never able to make a coherent reply but sometimes we talk a bit more, dig a little deeper, and so on.
It's not much of a challenge; he's got few women friends, he makes ignorant generalizations that are as easy to dispose of as shooting fish in a barrel, he's poorly educated and not very articulate, etc., so I refrain from being "in-your-face" with him and just let him know what I need to say and that's that. I could bully him easily with words but that would achieve nothing.
Furthermore, there are other people that have a strong influence over him, one of which has spent time in jail for assaulting a girlfriend. I spend very little time with these other friends of his. The one who was convicted of assault once came at me with a beer bottle after I said that, given his criminal record of beating up women like his ex-girlfriend, he should just "shut the fuck up" with his misogynistic remarks about women. He moved pretty damn quickly, probably due to his time inside and having to fight now and then, and I would have taken a shot to the head with the beer bottle before I got one off myself. I have to give him credit though ... he backed off and didn't crack my skull open after all. We just sort of glared at each other armed with a couple of Molsons. In hindsight it was a foolish thing to say in those circumstances ... but I was just disgusted by his remarks and couldn't help myself.
Good for you NBeltov, your outrage overcame your sense of self preseveration, as it has to with everyone before the world will change. He may not have heard you at that moment, but he will hear you perhaps at a later date. If the words had gone unsaid, there would be no chance of him hearing them later, unless someone else with courage of conviction came along.
Right. And remind has a good point in suggesting you think in advance of the next such interaction because there sill be one - men who despise women or feminism are everywhere around us and will speak up whenever sensitive issues or events are broached. Then you *will* be able to help both yourself and that man by voicing your own thoughts and will not risk a cracked skull. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]