If that happened to me I'd....(56 Posts)
Name changed for reasons that will become obvious.
We've been through the trial of a former au pair. He was found guilty of 13 counts of sexual abuse, including penetrative. A major part of the defence's case was implying that I wasn't "upset enough" when I found out because I didn't scream, shout and physically assault the bastard.
I honestly don't think I'm BU (maybe I am, let's see!), but my blood now boils when I hear people say "If that happened to me, I'd..." usually followed by claims of violence, revenge, rage and murder. For two reasons:
Firstly, you simply don't know how you will react in any major crisis situation until you're in it. For me, from the moment my world fell apart, my singleminded focus was on minimising the harm to my child - and what is scarier than seeing your parent lose it - hence I became uber-calm (externally).
And secondly, the more people say things like this, the higher the risk that others think that any other reaction is impossible - and therefore makes tactics like those of the defence barrister more likely to succeed. Thankfully, in our case it didn't - but that was "helped" (in the most screwed up way), by multiple children being involved, making an "it didn't happen" defence much harder in the first place.
So, if you don't think I'm BU, please just try to stop and think before being tempted into an "I'd..." comment. Even in totally different situations (a death, or a critical illness perhaps), spouting off about what you'd do can devalue the actions (and feelings) of those who have actually been there - and risks serious consequences.
There are plenty of things you can say, and do, to help someone in that situation if you want to, but speculating about yourself isn't one of them.
YANBU. I have no idea how I'd react. If I was going to guess I'd be completely numb and wouldn't show any immediate reaction for a while. I think the idea of the "proper reaction" to extreme events is incredibly damaging.
Hope you're managing to move forward.
I agree. People are really quick to say what they want to believe they'd do. Having been through a few extreme situations, I can tell you that you never, ever know. People who seem really together are frequently not, and people you think would be useless are great.
Having been saved by a car-TWOCKing 17 yo in an emergency, while qualified staff were like headless chickens, I think you never know until something happens to you.
I'm so so sorry that happened to you. How you behaved and reacted is not your 'fault'. Trauma does what it does.
YANBU. No-one knows how they would react in any given circumstance until they have been there
I actually think that jury trials for such types of crimes are not appropriate. Looking at victim behaviour is very misleading. We all know about 'fight or flight' but actually 'freeze' is the most common reaction to many, many situations where we try to figure out how to best survive.
People are ignorant. People are cunts.
YANBU. I can't imagine going through what you have. Some people think emotions and reactions are so black and white.
What is completely in fathomable is that we live in a world where your reaction is a factor in this case. He did these awful things irregardless of what your reaction was.
My heart goes out to you and your family
YANBU. those people are wrong.
what actually happens is you work to get you and your loved ones away from danger
to a place of safety
and then deal with it.
Going numb or icy cold allows you to act without emotion, so if you are bonded to the other person you can still leave.
Your reaction sounds normal to me.
YANBU. Nothothing like you are going through but I have seen my child in danger and I was so calm and cool until my child was safe. Later when he was sound asleep I broke down and went into shock.
Hugs is. I have no idea what I'd do, I don't want to imagine what I'd do and I pray I never find out. I can't imagine how anyone could condemn your reaction when you are trying to hold your child's world together whilst yours falls apart xx
YANBU I've had something on a smaller scale happen to me, in terms of 'if I'd been bereaved lin that way then I would never have gone back to work so quickly'. You don't know how you'll react or what's best for you and your family until something happens. I hope you have lots of support.
You are absolutely correct and reasonable in everything you say in your post and thank you for posting.
And that argument for the defence has left me deeply shocked.
I loathe the idea that if emotion isn't loudly and publicly expressed then it doesn't exist.
So sorry OP.
YANBU. I think its like a grief process and anyone who experienced that would experience it differently. That doesn't make one person's reaction more correct than someone else's.
Its a more stupid example but I always said I wouldn't let my DPs or ILs say nasty things about DH or I in front of my DC due to my own experience in childhood. When it happened I eventually calmly showed the offender the door and did not even acknowledge it in front of the DC. I can't even predict my own reactions so I can't tell you how someone else should react!
YANBU. My heart hurts reading your OP - to you and your family, and any others that may have been affected by what happened. Truly deplorable.
YANBU and I am so sorry your family have been through this hell.
I have lost a child and I hear 'if that happened to me....' a lot.
'if that happened to me I would die/kill myself/wouldn't be able to go on' whilst looking at me, me who didn't love their child enough to drop down dead the moment I lost them.
People say awful things because they are thinking about themselves, not you.
Will you have an opportunity to make a victim impact statement? You could then make it clear just how upset you are and disabuse the sick pervert of any illusion.
His lawyers are absolute assholes for even considering that kind of argument as a defence. They should have stuck to mitigation.
I think people say it to let themselves think they have control. It's a fear thing. It would t happen to me because I'd deal with it differently...
You are very brave 💐
I am so sorry this has happened to you and your family.
There was a scene in Apple Tree Yard on BBC1 that touched on this, in relation to the trial of a footballer - along the lines of "if that was me I'd have bitten it off." There is no knowing how fear or shock or total horror will make any of us react.
The tactics of the defence were incredibly low and, as you say, the fact that "right" and "I would've " reactions are bandied about make it so easy to victim-blame.
Wishing you all the best as you move forward.
YADNBU. My rapist's defence barrister said similar re: my behaviour in the immediate aftermath. It gets used a lot in sexual offence trials.
I agree OP. We all think we know how we would react but we often don't.
Many years ago I was at the scene of a disaster. All hell broke loose and I froze. A friend I was with had been at Hilsborough and having lived through that gave him the skill to literally pick us up and get on.
I have been in similar situations since and now act army friend did. I get on rather than freeze.
Yanbu I am so sorry to hear this. I hope thT piece of shit rots in hell.
I have to admit I am guilty of thinking, if that happened to my child I'd kill the bastard, but after reading your post I realise that I would have no idea what I would actually do and although I'd want to string him up by his balls and cause untold damage to him I actually wouldn't do that. I think you have behaved in a very strong way and did for the sake of your child who so desperately needs you to be in control.
I can't promise I'll never think 'if that was ...' and fantasise about what I would do, but I will never judge anyone who has been in such a situation by what they do or don't do.
You are very brave and doing the exact right thing you need to do for your child
Yanbu. And I'm so sorry you've had to go through this. And I'm glad justice has been served.
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