Friday, May 4, 2012

Lasting Impressions and Safe Touches

My definition of what it's like to dissociate from the movie Rango and the secondary character Beans

How to have sex with a rape or assault victim. That may seem totally un-attainable or un-imaginably horrifying. If you are a victim it may seem that you don't want anyone to know and in a way you've decided to prove to the world you weren't affected by the incident. You might be a person who wants to run and hide from any physical stimulation. A simple close contact with someone's arm may make you cringe and flash back. I'm not a specialist and the only reason I know how to make this work is due to years of therapy gone wrong, years of promiscuity gone wrong, trying to work out the kinks with my best friend in marriage, and more helpful therapy 10+ years after the event.

#1 ALWAYS ASK BEFORE DOING eventually I was able to get to the point where I could handle more sponteneity in touching without retreating inside myself to battle with ferocious emotional monsters. Most of the times that bothered me I cannot remember due to the heightened emotional discomfort and physical triggering.

With the relationships I did try to have post rape event, I struggled the most. I wanted to prove I could be normal and do normal dating almost immediately after. These relationships failed in huge ways. There was lots of happy times and good memories made but my own immaturity usually cast them down in a fiery Holocaust within weeks or months. I did have several long term relationships but struggled to feel safe and accepted. They were shallow or I spent most of the time retreated in a triggered state for months even years.

If you were with someone before and after a rape incident NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING WILL BE NORMAL AGAIN. This was one of the hardest things for my family and I. My relationship with all men changed in my family. I did not accept hugs or loving touches from any male figure uncles, cousins, even my father. What was once a loving environment became very hands off. This might be the case with your (insert person relationship spouse, partner, friend etc.)

What happened to me and might be the case with others, is that my memory turned blank in certain places. I had forgotten what it was like in that event for my rapist to do XYZ to me but my body remembers. To this day I still have unexplainable reactions and I can only assume that some where in my trauma the reaction was implanted on my body permanently. It has taken years and years and years for me to work my feelings out towards these triggers, the way my body will react to certain touches, how to keep my mind/body calm in a sexual environment to avoid flashing back/dissociating/or freaking the freak out.

- FEAR I'd say is #1. Isaiah 41:10 says Do not be afraid, for I am with you. God is a great comforter in all aspects of my life and I rely heavily on this passage. However, that doesn't mean I won't go through times of extreme fear of the feelings, triggers, or emotions I encounter.

- Pulling away for no reason
-Stop or be silent for no reason
 Just be prepared for anything and everything to just happen at the drop of a hat. You probably should just be on guard at all times. It takes a very special spouse to be in a loving relationship with their partner after a rape incident.

-Don't be shocked. Remain calm while someone is having a moment. I say a moment because there is not a very good explanation of what happens to a victim as they are on the verge of dissociating or freaking out. Remain calm, speak calm, sometimes don't speak at all, just freeze like red light green light. When Red light is up you freeze or game over.

- Be ready for vomiting at any point. Bucket under the bed and work your way up to allowing your person to run away to the bathroom quickly. Stay calm. For my situations that involved this it worked much better for the person I was with to just not speak at all. Don't ask if I'm okay. Wait a few minutes and if you suspect the person would benefit from assistance silently just offer water, tissue, back rub, a soft "you are okay."

- Unexplainable discomfort, painful face expressions
-Being over stimulated
-Unable to handle any stimulation to any body part at any time for any duration
-Questioning normality, sanity, awareness, perception "Is this real?" "Am I really doing this?" "Are you sure, am I sure?" "Do people do this?" "Is this normal or okay".
-Showering, bathing, often after sex for any amount of time. Check on your person though I dissociated a lot in the shower at any given time.
-Feeling trapped or suffocated
-Being startled easily. In my situation I have done all sorts of things after being startled: Dissociated, cried, horror movie screaming, fighting, hiding, fainting.
-Night terrors
-Innability to understand sexual advances vs. non sexual advances
-Pain vs Pleasure confusion

If at any point your person doesn't seem to be acting normal, none responsive, or you just suspect something is wrong be a considerate partner and ask them if they are with you and if everything is okay. Part of having healing in a rape victims sexuality is having a partner who is aware of the situation at all times. It makes it difficult to act primal but it's important.You can ruin a lot of healing if you aren't aware of where your person is at mentally.

One of the hardest times for a rape victim is the moments right after a sexual activity of any kind and any duration. You may think it's normal to get up and leave the room or disappear from your person momentarily but they could be in desperate need to be coaxed back to reality. Again, it is very difficult on a rape victim to have sudden changes of any kind. Help your person out by communicating what's happening. Examples might be "I'm getting up to get a drink of water I will come right back", "I need to go to the restroom", "Can I get you anything?" "I need to stand up/sit down/turn around/move/jump/anything" "Can I move your arm/leg/hair/head/pillow/blanket etc." Keep a calm attitude and minimum frustration sounds even if it's difficult to move something or communicate. Your person might be dissociated and may or may not remember the things you say under your breath or directly to them. Remain sensitive and loving.

With a rape victim they may cry at any moment for any reason. Don't ask a lot of "why" questions because chances are they have no idea how they are feeling or why the feeling has come into being. It just is and work on calming techniques to bring your person back to a state of calm awareness. You might not get to have successful sexual encounters for a long time or they are few and far between. The healing takes a lot of years and positive encounters.

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