Good golly. Woke up to great sex in the middle of the night and now I’m not sleepy. So instead I’m thinking about trauma and victimization, like a normal person. What? That’s not weird, right?
I think that trauma can happen without being a victim and I think that being a victim can happen without trauma. I think that consent is a nearby Venn circle that overlaps both in weird ways.
I think it is completely possible to consent to things that traumatize the fuck out of you for the rest of your life. I think it is possible to be a victim, to have your consent taken away and not be traumatized. I think it is possible to be a victim and be traumatized and to consent at the same time.
Because I feel like I’ve lived about fifteen lives in one and I’ve seen a lot of shit. Not just that happens to me. I pay a lot of attention to trauma and assault and rape.
Why are these things different?
I’m not going to look up the dictionary definitions this time. Connotative/denotative meanings… I’m defining for myself today.
Trauma is about a physical response in your body to something bad/scary/overwhelming. It’s a physiological process. You can be traumatized by things you consent to and you can be traumatized by things you do not consent to. People vary dramatically in what will traumatize them. Some people are genuinely not traumatized by rape. It is a bad thing that happens and they move on. Others… they are permanently physically impacted by their experiences. Something being traumatic or not tells you little about scale.
Being a victim is about whether or not you want them to happen. I think you can consent to things and still be a victim. If you feel your consent is coerced, if you are not really safe enough to say no… you can consent and still be a victim. I don’t know how much I think that your ability to get yourself out of a situation or not plays in with victimization.
I am pretty sure my father would be able to get away with saying that there were times I “consented” to what he did with me. But I was still a victim. Why? Because it should not have been happening. It was a crime and it damaged me. It didn’t matter whether I consented or not because I had no ability to understand what I was consenting to.
Adult rape. Paul. Situation: I was in my 20’s, at a sex party while on drugs. I didn’t want unprotected sex and he did. I did not consent to unprotected sex. I repeatedly said no. I wasn’t able to physically resist (yes, I know that was my choice) but I was saying no. I was conscious. I was trying to prevent it. That means I think that legally I was the victim of a crime. Is it one of the more traumatic experiences of my life?
I don’t feel particularly traumatized by that rape. Not really. I don’t wake up to nightmares of his face. I don’t feel terrified of what will happen if we run into one another (we could; this is a small valley).
So, no consent, no real trauma, yes victimization.
The kid who kicked me in the throat. We had a habit of play fighting/wrestling. I think that he did not intend to land a kick on my throat. He was just a kid who lacked finesse, control, and understanding. So quasi-consent. I think technically it was an assault. Do I feel like a victim? Not really. I think it was an assault but not a crime because it was an accident. Do I feel traumatized?
Ok, I do feel kinda haunted by the swollen throat feeling… because it reminded me so much of my brother. I don’t think I was traumatized so much by the incident but from the feeling of, “Oh my fucking god I DO NOT WANT a tracheotomy.”
I feel… I feel feelings about the mom. I don’t think that she victimized me. I don’t feel traumatized. But I feel like she is someone who would push me down in front of a bus and then tell me it was my fault. I feel like every warning signal in my body tells me that any woman who says, “You weren’t assaulted and if you were it was your fault” is so fucking dangerous I wish I was in a different time zone.
Is that about trauma, victimization, or consent? Call it the Spidey sense I developed after other assaults. I don’t want to stand near someone who has such an attitude. It’s a warning shot.
Quite literally, that is the kind of woman who uhm… yeah. That’s why we are where we are as a society. Congratulations to us.
Rich white woman hears her son commits assault? Blame the victim! Can’t be my perfect baby! (Ok this happens in other demographics too with other gender combinations. But I’m feeling pissy!)
Guess what? White kids are pieces of shit too. Just sayin’.
Not that I actually think that kid is a piece of shit. I think he isn’t being guided in the ways he should be guided and that’s tragic.
If someone comes to me and tells me that my children did something violent, awful, or otherwise worthy of judging the shit out of… my response won’t be “No they didn’t.” My response is going to be, “Ok, slow down and start at the beginning. I think I need to hear the whole story.”
I’m pretty sure that my kids can fuck up. Just sayin’.
I think I have gotten to the point where I am a relatively decent person. I started out lying, stealing, hitting people, breaking things, starting house fires, stealing cars…
I’m not in a position to judge. People fuck up.
Why am I thinking about these things? Because I’m trying to judge myself. Because I’m trying to figure out if I am as bad as I think. I’m trying to figure out what being so bad means. I’m trying to figure out how to stop hurting people.
But you know what? I think I’ll always hurt people. I’m not going to stop talking about the fact that I exist. Knowing that I’m here is going to hurt people.
I can’t really do anything about that.
If your safety depends on my being invisible then I guess you don’t get to be safe. Sorrynotsorry.
I think that when the vast majority of people say “the world is like” they really mean “I know a dozen or so people who are like”. The world is a god damn big place. Guess what? We are all weird and different. I draw great comfort from that; it’s why I get to be alive.
I have heard a saying about teachers coming into your life when you need them. I think that people tend to have the experiences they go looking for.
Some people want to be ignored. Some people want to be noticed. Some people want to have intense interactions. Some people want to hide.
Ever noticed how each person is completely convinced that the world they live in is “the world”? Ever notice how they do it by conveniently ignoring the people they walk past that completely contradict their view? Confirmation bias, my friends.
I think one of the most monstrous things about me is how loudly I’m willing to turn up my reality distortion filter. I’m experiencing the world I need to experience. Whatever that means. I’m going to tell you about it. Even if it fucks with your world view. Cause honey badger don’t give a shit. Yes, you think life shouldn’t be about violence and pain. Good for you.
I’m woo enough that I more or less believe we pick the lives we have because there are lessons to gain here. I’m either paying for being Hitler or for some insane reason I picked a life where I was going to have to learn as many painful lessons as possible.
A kind woman shared an Eve Ensler video with me about embracing your inner girl. I think she (Eve) had some good things to say but I was struck by something. (I’ve never seen the Vagina Monologues.) Eve spent a lot of time talking about the pain she’s seen… but she kept bringing herself back to it. “I’m going to tell you about this awful thing that happened to my daughter. I adopted her.” Uhm.
You really could have told the story without making yourself the hero.
Even if that is the relationship that is happening you could have supported her without centering yourself.
That. That’s what I don’t want to do with the incest research. I don’t want it to be about how these stories make me feel. I am going to be traumatized by hearing them, yes. So fucking what?! No one asked me to listen. This is my personal thing I’m doing. The work is my personal thing. The stories I hear are not my personal stories. I’m going out into the world looking for these stories–it is the very opposite of victimization. Even if it is traumatic, it will be done with full consent. How do I center the work and the stories and not myself? How do I tell the story without it being about my trauma. I’m kinda obsessed with my trauma and shit. Well, maybe I’ll always be allowed to whine here about how I’m feeling but when I speak publicly it will not be about me. I think that’s a reasonable boundary? Am I ever going to feel like it is ok to talk about me?
With the Impact instructors there is a tense/weird parting thing at the end of the class. They cannot have any social contact with students for a year after a class. And when they talk about it they all go really stone faced in unison. “We are protecting ourselves.”
What does it mean to do work with traumatized people and be traumatized by the experiences and not get muddy about who is hurting whom?
Well I guess I’m going to fucking find out. How much you wanna bet there will be drama galore for me around this?
Not “drama” but intense emotional surges.
Like I do. Sigh.