It is very hard for you to know what I feel when I say something because you cannot read my face, hear my voice or see my gestures when I talk with you. It is very limiting to talk on line.
Well, that is true, but you could just tell me.
But it does allow you to project on to me, which tells us both a lot.
What is it telling us, exactly?
I understand your point about perception and truth. But who told you that your perception was wrong? How did you get burned when you chose to accept your perception as reality?
Well, obviously I was told when I was younger that my perception of things was wrong (like if I thought my siblings were favored or I was being treated unfairly, or I wanted to hug on my parents or something). And you are saying my perception is wrong, aren't you?
As far as getting burned, let's see: One thing is that my perception of the world was that everyone is pretty much good. Nobody really wants to hurt someone else, or at least hurt them a lot. I also thought I was invincible and nothing bad would ever happen to me. But I certainly learned that those perceptions were dead wrong. Also, if I had been a bit more aware of the bad in this world, perhaps I would have known to be more careful or to be more suspicious or to tell something wasn't right. Second, I really thought people were honest and that I could trust people. But I discovered that a lot of people lie and manipulate and are not honest. I also learned that when you tell someone something in confidence, even a close friend, it doesn't always mean that they will not share it with anyone (or everyone). Third, I thought that if someone said they loved you, it was true, and that it would be the same way I felt being in love, only to find out that some people say it when it's not true, or even if it's true, it doesn't mean their feeling of "love" is the same way I feel it, or that it is as "sacred" (for lack of a better word) as I do, and it doesn't mean they tell you the truth and don't hurt you. When you trust someone fully, and believe what they say, then find out they have been lying and some things were never true to begin with, it is painful. Those are all examples of being burned when your perception differs from the truth.
I think you have discovered something about your situation. You already knew that feeling responsible gives you some sense of control. But you also recognize that by blaming yourself, you don't have to feel the bad guys are that bad. For to make them totally responsible you would have to face feeling anger and hate towards them. How do you feel about your anger towards them? How strong would you rate it?
I don't know. It varies. Sometimes it seems very strong, especially towards the mean one. Sometimes I feel nothing at all towards them. Sometimes I feel sorry for them and hope they found Christ. Right now I am moderately angry, I would say, but I think I may be a little higher on the hate scale today.
Owing the one guy something for not being as mean as the other is a bit tricky. He did participate in the attack. He did help the mean one. He did not try to stop the attack. He actively participated. So he is responsible. If he was arrested for the crime, he would be held just as responsible as the mean one. But I can also see your point that you might have survived because of something he did to help you. In such a life threatening situation, any thread you can hold on to is important. But did this man help you, truly, if he did not do anything to stop the attack? I am thinking of these two a little differently than you. More like the strong one and the weak one. One is more sick, more strong and angrier than the other. But the weak one is with the mean one when he does not have to be. So what makes him better?
Because compared to his friend, he was practically prince charming. During it all, he was so much better, because he didn't cut me and he wasn't as rough. And after a while, he just stood off to the side and didn't even participate. And eventually, he was not even laughing with or reacting to the mean one. And most of all, he didn't talk much. If the mean one would have shut up, it would have been so much easier to bear.
I know he was willingly with the mean one, and I do think he was in agreement with the plan to rape someone, but not the other stuff. But you are right - legally speaking, he was just as guilty. Kind of like robbing a bank - if you agree to commit a felony, and one of your co-conspirators ends up shooting someone, it doesn't matter that you didn't want him to do it or know he was going to do it. You are still criminally culpable, to the same extent as the guy who actually pulled the trigger. But it's hard to look at it that way. What if he hadn't been there? The mean one may have had a little more trouble controlling me physically at first, but not much. They were both fairly large guys. But without the other one there telling him not to kill me, maybe he would have gone with his first instinct.
You are right - the mean one was stronger and angrier. But I kind of feel like he was not only dominating me - he was kind of dominating the other one, too. I mean, who knows what kind of hold he had over his friend? You even said that psychological control can be stronger than physical control. But he still had sex with me, which was wrong. He chose not to participate in other things, but he did do that, and seemed to enjoy it, I guess. He could have chosen not to do that, either. And you're right, he didn't stop it. Physically, the two would have been a good match, so who knows? Except that if he engaged the mean one in a fight, I maybe could have gotten away., Or he could have gotten help (as unappealing as that sounds to me), but I am sure he wouldn't want to do that, since he had had sex with me, too.
I have a question: I know these guys were fairly young (early 20's probably), but they weren't adolescent boys. In that kind of situation, would the guy just automatically get an erection, with me not having pants on and having just watched (in very close proximity) his friend having sex with me? Can guys get hard in any situation pretty much? I mean, I don't know if the blood and my hurting and stuff aroused him, too (since it seemed to do that for the mean one), or if it is just kind of automatic, or if he could get an erection, even if he didn't like the blood and pain part, just because he wanted to have sex with me. Do you know?
And, you know, even if I did owe the other one something, I guess I already gave it to him, don't you think? I mean, he might not think so, because he might not think sex is a big deal, but I pretty much gave him (or he took) a third of my sexual experience with men, his friend being another third. Right? So he has that. I don't think I could give him anything more valuable (to me) than that, could I?
I sometimes think about him. He looked so normal and nice when I saw him that time. And I think he was truly afraid I would call the police. I wonder if he continued to hang around with the mean one and I wonder if he feels bad abut what they did. On the one hand, I don't want him to be consumed with it (I know first hand it's not fun), but on the other hand, the fact that he didn't know who I was at the bar, and the thought that this was no big deal for them and he never thinks about it or has somehow twisted it around in his mind, really pisses me off.
You mentioned that by accepting some of the blame you feel stronger, honest, acceptable and respectable. What about participating in the attack makes you like these qualities? (I mean that as a true question, not a comment or opinion).
It's not the participation that makes me feel that way - the participation makes me feel like a piece of crap. It's the fact that I can accept responsibility for my own actions that makes me feel that way. It makes me feel like at least I retained my sense of personal responsibility and character.
Your feeling that if you accept responsibility someone could be proud of you sounds like something your mother or father might say to you.
I know. They would probably want me to accept some responsibility, because they think that blaming others for any situation you're in or any of your actions is a cop-out. I know that comes directly from them. Because I don't know anyone else that would spin it that way.
Doing what you need to do to survive is not about responsibility at all. It's about surviving. Responsibility does not come to play in this, unless you are talking about the attackers. If a child conforms to his abusers wishes and does what he says to avoid being hurt, does that mean he is more respectable, or does it mean he is doing what he needs to do to survive? These attackers took away your choices and left you with only one choice, do what they said to do. And that is what you did to stay alive.
Well, first of all, I'm not sure the abused child examples really fit - there are huge differences between defenseless children being abused by those who are supposed to protect them, with whom they have no choice but to live, and on whom they depend for their basic life necessities, and an adult in a park with 2 strangers.
Did you mean "respectable" or "responsible"?
Okay, let's look at this: my choices were: (1) to comply; or (2) to be hurt more or killed. Okay. But: [a] that wasn't really true. I complied with everything from th time he peed in my mouth forward, and I said everything they wanted to say and acted like a total slut at his command - but he STILL used the bottle again. So I wasn't totally right in the assessment of my choices. I can never be sure whether he would have really killed me. And my compliance seemed to have nothing to do with that decision. But, I guess I thought he would, or didn't know. I was so floored by how much he hurt me that I could not even try to predict what would happen. And - in this kind of situation, I guess I had no choice but to depend on my perception of things, because there was no way I could know what was really going to happen. I'm not sure they knew ahead of time. And [c] aren't there certain things we shouldn't do, even if we might die if we don't? There's a line somewhere, but I don't know where it is. Certainly, if someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to hand over your purse, you should just hand it over. But what if someone holds a gun to our head and tells you to stab someone? What if they told you to rape someone? What if they just tell you to punch your child? And what if they tell you to denounce Jesus? There's a line - where is it??
That being said, I do agree that sometimes, our minds just take over and act out of a sense of self-preservation. Consciously, that night I didn't care if I died. But subconsciously I probably really did care, right? And on all levels, I didn't want to feel that bottle again.
It is upsetting to think that someone could have that much control over you at any time. That is part of the reason people develop PTSD over such situations. The loss of control is very frightening. You literally lose control over whether or not you live or die. There is nothing you can do. And that can shake you to the core. Anyone who has lived through a trauma has a unique insight into what that feels like and that is often why survivors feel so alone and like no one understands. Your eyes have been opened to a world that most people do not see. It's why letting go of feeling responsible is important.
I'm not sure I understand the correlation between having seen that world and the importance of letting go of feeling responsible. Can you explain what you mean?
Accepting that you did what you could during the situation is a difficult truth. But it is a truth that makes you strong. Look at it this way- you had two people attack you, take away all the control you had over your life and you still found a way to stay alive. You did what they asked because your intelligence, instinct and determination told you, maybe subconsciously, that this was the best way to make it through. That is not about responsibility. It's about strength.
But ultimately, it was their choice and ONLY their choice whether I lived. I made a gamble, I guess. I was wrong thinking that complying would mean not having the bottle used again, although maybe he would have used it more. I don't know. And according to Dr. M, one more time may have killed me. But I don't know whether my compliance had any bearing on him letting me live. It didn't seem to, although maybe he would have been angrier if I hadn't done what he told me. I have to face the fact that everything I did probably had no bearing on what he decided to do with me.
Shay, it's good that you mentioned attack and rape. It's the first time you have written rape out as a word. It's a good sign that you are accepting your feelings about what happened to you. I know you don't like using either word because of what it means to you. And no one wants to label you. You are a person first and foremost.
Yeah, I typed it without realizing it, then noticed it. But I left it. (I thought you would appreciate that :) )
How would you view yourself in light of what happened?
I used to feel like I just had this big black spot on me that I could cover up, but it was there and I couldn't let anyone know, and was afraid someone would find out. I felt ashamed about what happened, although I didn't think about it a whole lot, except in and after my nightmares. But I was also kind of thinking I was tough - like all these people have such an issue with it, and I was able to get over it with the only "side effect" being the nightmares.
Now I feel kind of like I am broken some. Like my DNA make-up was changed when that happened. I feel different from others, and different form how I really am or am supposed to be. I feel like they not only took what they took form me that night, but I inadvertently gave them the next 20 years of my life, as well. I feel tethered to them - like it's somehow my fault that they did such terrible things. But I know intellectually it's THEM, not ME. I want to be off this leash that they have had me on. I feel like I am somewhat less than other people in some areas - in a lot of areas, I feel just fine or even better than others, but in other areas, I feel like I am less because of what happened. When someone uses you that way, it's hard, I think, not to think of yourself as "a person who can be used in that way." I feel sexually stumped. Either the thought of sex with a man makes me cringe, or I think I really want to experience loving, gentle, caring sex that actually feels good, but then I feel guilty for feeling that way - like my having sexual desires, or if I did have sex and enjoyed it - would somehow retroactively approve what they did. I know it sounds crazy, but that's how I feel sometimes.
Right now, I just view myself as confused and messed up. I feel like a jumble of thoughts, feelings, pain, justification, and exhaustion. And it's like I need you and Dr. M and Linda to unjumble things for me (or rather, to help me unjumble it). You know, like, when you have a delicate chain necklace, and you put it in a box with no cotton or stick it in your purse or something, and when you get it out, it's all tangled up? It's like that, except with more dimensions. It's like I know it's a pretty necklace, and I want to wear it, but it's going to take time to untangle it, and in the process of untangling it, I have to be careful or I will break it and it will be useless. And even when I do untangle it, it still may have bent links or something, from being tangled so long, and those are REALLY hard to repair.