Monday, September 24, 2012

So if you googled my OkC username and found this...

Hi. I realized a few days in to having my OkC profile that using the same handle was not the brightest idea I've ever had. However, since Google has a rather firm grip on Sayrina being my blogger name, rather than trying to deny that this is in fact my blog, I am writing this post to intercept any misconceptions before they occur (I hope).

If you were interested enough to google my username after having read the spiel on consent on my profile, I assume that you're not resistant to the idea of women's rights. Maybe you even suspected something because who writes about consent if they haven't had an issue with it before, right? (Not necessarily true, but not a bad guess.)

I was one of those people who lived in a bubble and never thought about it before it became an issue for me. Yes, I am a survivor of both relationship abuse and rape. I realize that this isn't one of those things you normally talk about when you're first getting to know someone, so I do apologize for my lack of foresight when choosing an OkC handle. However, if you found this blog, it's already come up, so here's trying to make the best of it.

Yes, I did have post-traumatic stress disorder for some time afterwards. I've since moved on with my life and feel like I am a stronger, wiser, more confident woman for having experienced what I did and growing and learning from it. I will always care very strongly about issues related to sexual assault, relationship abuse, and PTSD. However, that doesn't mean I live in the past, or that I have so much baggage that it's practically falling out of the closet. I don't hate men or run screaming from relationships. It just means that I am more aware of the need to communicate, set clear boundaries, and make my expectations known.

If this freaks you out or makes you uncomfortable, I understand. If it would help, I am always open to answering questions; I am not ashamed of what happened and will talk freely about it if prompted. On the other hand, because I've learned that it can make people uncomfortable, I won't bring it up out of the blue. While this is part of my past and who I am, it's just that-- a small part.

One other thing: I realize that by scanning through my posts, it looks like I'm always talking about being triggered. Please just bear in mind that this is like a review site, where some people only write reviews when they're angry or displeased with the person, place, or thing being reviewed. For various reasons, for better or for worse, most of my posts were written when upset. As you can see, the number of posts has decreased significantly over time (which is actually sort of a failing on my part because I'd hoped to keep this going as a resource, but I haven't had time to do the research to post more educational, rather than personal, things).

Finally, if this hasn't gotten you backing away and looking for the nearest exit, feel free to mention to me that your Google-fu brought you here and you read this. There are brownie points to be had!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello, World.

First of all, I have to share this. It's an extraordinary read that says so much of what I want to say in powerful, eloquent terms. It comes with a trigger warning and may be uncomfortable for non-survivors as well, but please read it. Here is an excerpt from the intro that should give you an idea of what the post is about:

It's a very strong idea in our culture and one which keeps rape victims in denial about their experience and ensures that they don't face up to what happened to them for weeks, months or years in some cases, because their image of themselves, doesn't fit in with the image they've been fed, of a rape victim.  So I want to talk through the step-by-step process of how a woman can be set up to become a rape victim and how that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the man who decides to rape her.

Secondly, a small update about my life that will shortly become relevant: D* and I broke up a few months ago (the parting was mutual), and I have tried to start dating. It's the first time I've really tried dating (as opposed to my normal friends-evolve-into-relationship pattern), and it turns out that I am having some difficulty with certain aspects of it.

[Edited out some stuff that I decided I don't particularly want on the internet.]

This, of course, leads into the question of when and how I should tell a prospective boyfriend about what happened to me. I am trying extraordinarily hard to not repeat what happened with D*, when I blurted everything out as quickly as I could in an effort to be up-front; I suppose that at the time I thought full disclosure in that manner was a good idea, and subconsciously I was giving him the chance to run away before I could become too invested. I've now realized that this is not ideal, but I don't have a better plan. I need a way to test the waters and gauge his reaction to things like sexual assault. I need to know that he won't tell rape jokes, or laugh at them, or blithely contribute to rape culture. :-/

Also, I realized how low my bar is set right now for what I consider a good date, because I remember wondering if/when he was going to make a comment about my body or say I was fat. Hello self-esteem issues?

I'm drained and I think I'm beating a dead horse, so I'm going to stop here for now.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How NOT to try desensitization...

Really rough night last night. I can't remember the last time I was triggered so badly that I couldn't fall asleep when I tried. Even worse, I didn't realize I was triggered; I thought I was okay. Only after an hour of lying in bed, sleepless, with my heart pounding did I realize why I couldn't fall asleep.

I've come to accept that lots of books will use rape as a plot point in some way or another. Most of the time, it comes as a surprise, too, because the description on the back of the book doesn't mention it. The thing is, after four years, I can usually get past that and not be too affected by it. (Sometimes I will numb out a little, but then I'm usually fine.) I was reading a mindless romance novel last night, Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard. I have liked her books in the past. A series of stranger-in-a-ski-mask rapes occur in the town, and the main character becomes a victim of attempted rape. The author tried to realistically portray PTSD in a strong, stubborn woman who values her independence, and I appreciate that. However, during my bout of sleep-destroying anxiety, I finally deduced that what really got to me was how the character tried to deal with her fear. She wanted her lover (the other main character) to re-enact the attempted rape with her in order to try to replace those memories with something good from someone caring. Sure, desensitization, that's legitimate. But when it got underway, with her running and him chasing her, the description of him became really disturbing. It felt like he was portrayed as enjoying it. And when he captures her, she starts to scream and cry and struggle and she repeatedly says "no" but he doesn't stop, and he has sex with her. In the end, of course, the author portrays her as being fine and the desensitization successful, but all I felt was revulsion and horror.

In my mind I kept screaming "oh my god, use a safe word!" before I realized that the characters had no concept of that, and had never established a way to distinguish between "I'm scared but okay to continue" and "please, stop, I'm really having a hard time." It gives me the squicks, and just thinking about it makes anxiety claw at my chest. What the characters were doing felt much more like rape to me, and it evoked a much more visceral response than the stranger-in-a-ski-mask thing because it was someone she cared about and trusted. And, cynical person that I am, if that scenario had gotten out of hand and she had legitimately wanted to stop and he didn't, and she quite correctly called it rape, he would have said she asked him to do it-- i.e. she was asking for it. It makes me nauseous.

Ugh, I can't write anymore. I will write another post later about the trouble I am having with reconciling my identity and fears as a survivor of sexual assault with my somewhat long-standing interest in [safe and healthy] dominance/submission. I know a lot of people think submission fantasies are a way of coping with being raped; I feel like all the resources I have found for assault survivors treat submission fantasies as an unfortunate consequence of sexual assault that survivors can learn to get past, like a disease people can strive to heal from. I don't think that is necessarily the case, and I'd like to do more research about BDSM for survivors of sexual assault before I write this post. If you have any thoughts or insight, let me know!