Fear of men(6 Posts)
This is the first thread I've posted having finally joined MN!
I've finally come to the conclusion that I am afraid of men. I'm looking for support in overcoming this.
I was sexually assaulted by my cousin when I was a young child. It was at night and he didn't know I had woken up which makes me question what else happened that I didn't wake up during. He was a teenager at the time. Years later I was living with my Dad who suffered from depression and as a result, had a terrible temper and had occasional outbursts. I vividly remember telling him he was scaring me and being told he would "give me something to be scared about". I have a good relationship with him these days but try to keep it on my terms. We have never discussed the past as he has put it behind him and tried to become a better person.
Then in June I came out of a 6 year relationship where my partner was unpredictable and occasionally abusive. He would self harm in front of me and tell me it was my fault. He held a knife to his throat and told me I would have to watch him die, he dragged me out of bed by my hair, he threatened to kill himself frequently. Sometimes I was afraid to go to sleep incase he hurt me and there were a couple of times I genuinely thought I was going to die.
I'm still carrying a lot of emotional baggage from all of this. I'm struggling with guilt for perhaps contributing to this somehow? I loved my partner very much and I struggle to comprehend how I could love a man who frightened me so much, or how he could be kind and thoughtful between these outbursts. He hurt himself much more often than he hurt me so I wonder, was it really abusive or was he just unwell? It's all left me feeling very down and confused.
Anyway, despite my rational head telling me I've just had some very poor experiences with men, I'm finding it hard to view them as anything but a threat. I'm afraid to walk to my house from my car. I'm afraid being in the house alone. I have casually dated but when I called it off, I was a nervous wreck because I had no idea how the guy would handle rejection.
I feel like I'm in a society where males expect compliance from women and it scares me. Men are afraid of rejection but women are afraid of being attacked, or worse. But then I realise there are millions of kind and gentle men out there. I know these are sweeping generalisations, but I can't shake the unease of being around an unfamiliar man. I'm hoping to get counselling through Women's Aid but I'm guessing they are overwhelmed with emergencies at this time of year as they're taking a long time to get back to me.
Gosh, this has ended up a lot longer than I anticipated! If you made it this far I commend you! Has anyone else felt this way? I am a true believer of gender equality and I am a mother to a son. I want him to grow into a great man and I feel very sure he will. I don't want to carry this with me anymore!
Oh you poor thing! I didn't want to read and run, but don't know how helpful I will be.
It sounds like these experiences were very traumatic. I think that it's perfectly okay to decide to stay away from men for a while, especially if you're feeling anxious.
It seems like some kind of therapy might be helpful. There are organisations other than Women's Aid although you are right that they are, unfortunately, busy at this time of year. You could try googling for sexual abuse or domestic abuse counselling in your local area, this might show up some smaller, local organisations (and a lot of these can be absolutely brilliant). There is also Rape Crisis which is a helpline for all kinds of sexual abuse. I wouldn't look for generic NHS counselling as I don't think it will be specialised enough. But you could approach your GP and ask about being assessed for PTSD, which is a possibility.
Welcome to MN and well done for posting, it's a brave and pretty scary thing to do. I wish you all the best.
Thanks Bertie for such a lovely welcome. There is a local charity that may be able to help but they've not responded to my messages yet so not sure exactly what they can offer, if anything.
It's strange though because I've found a lot of information on what to do if you're in an abusive relationship but next to nothing on coping with an abusive relationship once you're out of it. I did call women's aid A few weeks ago and they were extraordinarily helpful.
Thing is though needy, you're right that men expect compliance from women. My DH isn't abusive and neither are any of my male friends, but all of them expect to control situations with women. It got to the point in my marriage where I was ready to leave because of DH's inability to see me as an equal, and he is one of the 'good guys.' Thankfully, he realised what was going on and we worked it out - but he's had to change his entire attitude from top to bottom, which hasn't been easy for him.
What I'm trying to say is that, while it is awful for you that you struggle to feel safe day to day, you shouldn't dismiss the core feeling that has led you to that point because it is based in evidence and fact. You'll have plenty of people telling you how great men are, but that's not been your experience and that's not been my experience and that's not been the experience of the millions of women worldwide who are raped, assaulted, abused, tortured and killed by men.
I think you could definitely do with some counselling to work through the experiences you've had and to allow you to feel less anxious day to day. But don't be gaslighted by society into the thinking the problem lies with you - it doesn't. The fact is, you have been treated very very badly by men and it is not surprising that you've learned from that. You don't have to accept that treatment and blame yourself for not dealing with it - it is right and normal that you should feel angry about it.
I understand how you feel, I'm 25 I was sexually assaulted 2 years ago & then a month later got into a relationship with a man that I trusted enough to tell him he then turned abusive blamed me for the assault & everything and anything! I lived in a women's refuge with my son for 5 months until we got re-housed! I lost a lot my job, my home & worst of all myself. But I am a year on from this and getting stronger as time goes on. Even though I know not every man is like my ex as my son's dad was my rock throughout all of this I too get weary if it is a guy I don't know I feel as time goes on I will build up and hopefully that feeling will ease. Counselling will help it did with me it may be worth asking women's aid about support groups they have as it helps to talk to other people who have been through similar things. They have a programme also called the freedom programme which helps you to spot signs of an abusive person, although with my ex there was no signs it was like someone flipped a switch but with what they have told me to look out for has eased the anxiety of it.
Feel free to DM xxxz
While you are waiting for counselling you could maybe try the forums on the womensaid website. I have found them to be very supportive , even when I feel like everyone is going to tell me to shut up and go away.
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