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sexual assault advice needed

(33 Posts)
lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 12:13:54

I'm feeling a bit lost. On Monday I had a phone consult with my gp due to worsening depression and thoughts of harming myself. It's in hand I've started medication and I'm safe. But on the phone I let some stuff slip out which he followed up today and I ended up disclosing (partly) about a sexual assault that happened 8 years ago. He didn't push it and gave me some info from nhs choices website, and spoke about SARC. I definitely don't want to report it. I had been drinking at the time, i woke up to find a 'friend' with his fingers inside me, it was hurting. I pushed him off and he went out and laughed about it to our other friends, including my best friend. Ive managed to bury it till recently but i keep getting flashbacks to it, purely triggered I think by my 14 month olds comfort ritual of playing with my breasts constantly.

When he mentioned the SARC I got the feeling it was geared towards reporting. I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to just bury it again and part of me wants to face it but I'm scared to. I don't want my family to know, this man was a friend of my husband and he ended up having a long term relationship with my best friend. It was like it never happened or want a big deal.

Another thing that worries me is I was reading a fb thread yesterday where lots of women said similar things had happened to them, ie waking up to something happening, and that it hasn't affected them and it seemed so common. So maybe I am just making a mountain out of a molehill.

I'm not even sure what advice I want. Ive created a new profile just to post this.

TheLittleLion Thu 14-Jan-16 13:48:29

I don't think that you are making a mountain out of a molehill at all. You were sexually assaulted and violated and you have every right to feel the way you do. It's not something you should be ashamed of because you did nothing wrong, it doesn't matter if you were drinking or not. He was in the wrong. Maybe some people might just be able to forget about it but some can't, I know I wouldn't be able to.
I think if you are getting flashbacks and it is affecting you it would be worth talking to SARC, they will offer you support regardless of whether or not you decide to report it and they won't pressure you into anything.
You should do what is best for you regardless of who this man is, he shouldn't have done what he did.

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 14:22:54

Thank you for answering. I kind of want to talk about it but at the same time I worry that confronting it will make it worse. To be honest I don't even know if I should call it sexual assault, it seems too severe a term.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 14-Jan-16 14:34:29

You are not making a mountain out of a molehill.

What happened to you was not your fault in any way; he is only to blame here. He took full advantage of you in a despicable manner; abuse is also about having power and control over the other person.

I would think that your worsening depression and this sexual assault (you were indeed assaulted in such a manner) are clearly linked to each other.

Would suggest you talk to SARC as they can and will help you further with your also ongoing mental trauma stemming from this assault. Confronting it will ultimately be of more benefit to you. Burying it will simply make you feel worse in the long run and your very real and understandable feelings now need to be properly dealt with.

CiderwithBuda Thu 14-Jan-16 14:36:10

Actually it's more than sexual assault I think. I think what you are describing is or certainly has been described as digital rape. I could be wrong and am happy to be corrected if I am.

It sounds as if you need to talk about it if you are having flashbacks. And just because others aren't affected by similar doesn't mean you can't be. We are all different.

It sounds horrible and I am sorry it happened to you.

MrsHathaway Thu 14-Jan-16 14:50:37

You don't have to report the assault (and it definitely was) to access psychological therapy for your feelings about it. Do consider asking for targeted help.

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 14:55:55

I'm not sure I can even speak about it. I couldn't to my GP directly. Its far easier to type it anonymously. I've googled the SARC. The fact my best friend knew about this and dismissed it as nothing makes me feel silly. Why now?

DreamingOfThruxtons Thu 14-Jan-16 15:13:54

Are you still friends with these people? I can't quite get my head around this: if I had been in their position, I would have torn him a new one, and then checked to see whether my friend wanted me to call the police, there and then. As would any of my friends, male or female- because that's what people who are not dicks do.

I certainly wouldn't have wanted anything to do with the knob afterwards, much less have a relationship with him!

So, yes- you are right to question your friendship with this person, in my opinion.

And fuck Facebook. People talk utter mince on there all the time, it isn't the place to go for any sort of proper psychological guidance!

(Sorry. Pregnant and hormonal, possibly more of a 'rage filled' response than I might usually write!)

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 14-Jan-16 15:15:40

Your so called best friend (I hope you do not see her nowadays) does not want to believe that this man she had a long term relationship with is capable of sexually assaulting another woman. Denial is easier for people to accept, she does not want to face the truth about him.

Not speaking out about what happened to you will not help you at all; burying it has not worked out well. It has simply caused you to have flashbacks and post traumatic stress. You're still very much traumatised eight years on.

SARC will help you, you just need to take the first, often the most hardest of steps, to actually make contact with them.

pocketsaviour Thu 14-Jan-16 15:25:05

Many people who have been victimized are heavily invested in pretending it didn't harm them. They are in denial as a coping strategy.

It's the same impulse that leads people to say "Oh yes, my parents used to beat me bloody as a child! Had quite a few broken bones, it never did me any harm and taught me respect!"

Confronting your own fear and pain is actually a very brave thing to do. It requires a lot more courage to bring these things into the light and look them in the face than to try to stuff them down a well.

The problem with trying to bury a trauma is that trauma is poison. It's like trying to bury radioactive waste - no matter how deep you dig the hole, that fucker poisons everything around it. And then you find that slowly but surely the trauma is beginning to affect not just the obvious things, e.g. your sex life, but everything else as well - your ability to parent, your confidence in driving, your ability to set healthy boundaries, your choice of partner, your weight, your career prospects.

Take heart, you don't need to do anything right this minute - you can take things at your own pace and decide what to do. Nobody can make you report it so don't worry about that. Who you choose to tell is entirely your decision. You can seek help with this in whatever way you feel is best for you. You can and will feel better. You didn't deserve this and you are NOT making a fuss or a mountain out of a molehill or any other victim-blamy, rape-apologist phrase.

PitPatKitKat Thu 14-Jan-16 16:32:53

Sorry to hear that happened to you lumijay

You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. Agree with attila and pocket re denial and burying. You are right to address this in whatever way you want and at whatever pace you want to.

You asked "Why now?". As you are getting flashbacks, it could be that they are telling you that the time is right to start looking at this in whatever way you are comfortable with.

You say that this man was friend of your husband that he had a relationship with your best friend. I am right in thinking that these things are in the past now? He is no longer friends with your husband/in a relationship with your best friend. If he is no longer close to your husband/best friend, then it could be that you feel safer now and able to deal with it as he isn't in the picture so much.

I recently read a book that said that having flashbacks is part of process where your mind and body are telling you that they are ready to heal from a past experience i.e. it's time to explore that experience now, as you are in a safe place, and the impact that experience had on you is starting to hold you back in other ways.

So the flashback is almost like a pop up reminder, showing you the experience that is causing you pain deep down and asking you to do whatever you decide is best about it. And if you do nothing about it, they will come back, more and more often, just like an alarm clock going off. but if you start to address things, slowly and at your own pace, over time the flashbacks will fade.

(Book is called "Unlocking the Emotional Brain" BTW. )

Perhaps the SARC could help you find a web or text chat based support/counselling service if you are more comfortable talking that way?

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 16:34:49

At the time I guess the others thought it was consensual? I spoke to my best friend about it the next day (he was her housemate at the time) and told her that i hadn't consented and she might want to tell him that he should be more careful to ensure consent. So naive back then. And we never spoke about it again. Yes I do still see her, we have an old and complicated relationship.

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 16:36:17

No he hasn't been in our life at all now for a few years, except he popped up on a fb photo the other day.

PitPatKitKat Thu 14-Jan-16 16:50:59

So maybe that's why it's coming up now...

He's out of your life and that's better, so things start to surface slowly.

Then he pops back up on facebook and your depression symptoms worsen and it slips out in your conversation with your doctor.

It could be that you are looking for support and help to heal and/or because subconciously you've taken this photo popping up on facebook as a threat. Was it just an old photo popping up (like a throwback thursday kind of thing) or was it a current photo?

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 16:59:47

An old photo. My depression has been building for months but has become problematic the last couple weeks or so. It popped up literally just before my GP phoned for my phone consult so maybe that's why I said something.

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 17:04:15

Thanks everyone for your kind words. It does help to get this down. I have spoken to one other friend about it but it's hard to talk in detail to her.

PitPatKitKat Thu 14-Jan-16 17:06:31

Glad to hear that it's an old photo.

As that's the case I would say it one of those times that the universe is helping you find help by giving you little well-timed nudges in the right direction smile.

Being serious though, it does sound like your subconscious is gently nudging you a bit (i.e. you chose to say something to the GP after seeing the photo, so you are going with your instincts and they are serving you well).

My experience is that it is best to listen to yourself, as the nudges get stronger if you ignore them.

Sounds like you've just pinpointed the source of your depression so you can start tackling the cause as well as the symptoms.

lumijay Thu 14-Jan-16 18:18:40

From what I've seen I need to be referred to SARC anyway. I've got a GP appointment again on Wednesday so that gives me some time.

PitPatKitKat Thu 14-Jan-16 19:36:42

Your GP or SARC will be able to point you towards lots of specialist help I hope.

I had support about sexual assault from a small local charity. They helped me very quickly, partly because they really knew what they were doing and were so specialist. Just being believed and listened to made a huge difference to me.

That charity now has web and text support too, so SARC might be able to find you similar. That charity also had no pressure to report, none whatsoever. They really put me in a very comfortable place and made sure I knew there was no pressure on me to do anything I didn't want to do.

lumijay Fri 15-Jan-16 10:05:43

I'm sorry you've been through this too PitPat.

I probably will ask my GP to refer me on Wednesday. Is it wrong that i want to keep it secret from nearly everyone, including my husband? I really don't think the way he will react will help me and we haven't the strongest relationship at the moment.

Also, is that book something that might help me at the moment? I still feel as tearful and low as ever.

PitPatKitKat Fri 15-Jan-16 16:40:38

Thank you, that is a very kind and thoughtful thing for you to say.

However you feel about it is not wrong. If you feel more comfortable keeping it secret, then that is the right thing. You know best how your husband would react and where your relationship is, so you know best what is right for you.

The only thing I would add is that just be aware that how you feel about sharing what happened may change over time. All I mean is don't make some big, forever binding decision of "I will never tell anyone" that could stress you out. How you feel about speaking about it might change, it might not. You're the best judge of that.

I say that because once I got specialist help it became a bit easier for me to talk about it. So it might be the same for you and your relationship might be in a different place in the future.

That's all a bit theoretical though and the most important thing is for you to focus on getting help for yourself as soon as possible! Which you are doing.

That book is quite focussed on the role of flashbacks in various mental conditions. So it is about mental health but not specifically about depression or sexual assault. When I tried to read self-help books about sexual assault I found it retraumatising, so I found it more helpful to read about mental health in general.

So I focussed on trying to understand how the mind works when it is under pressure. It helped me but also took my mind off it at the same time IYSWIM. If you think that would be helpful for you, then yes that book is good. it's quite heavy going though and quite expensive.

When I started reading things, I started on this website on this page:
Flashback management It's written for adult survivors of childhood abuse, but I found it really helpful when memories of adult sexual assault started surfacing.

There are some practical step around what to do if you have a flashback at the bottom of the page I've linked to, called "Managing Flashbacks", I found them really helpful. Especially Step 7. These things were helpful not just when I had a flashback, but when I got low and withdrawn too.

I also found his whole website really helpful over time. He writes with a lot of empathy, sympathy and understanding (he is a survivor of abuse himself).

One thing I do remember from the time my memories surfaced was that all the books said that if you read something on the subject and it makes your symptoms worse (e.g. it makes you more depressed, it gives you headaches, it sparks suicidal thoughts) then STOP, and go something soothing/comforting instead.

So I found a range of things that I could reliably do to reassure myself if I got really upset (as recommended in Step 7 on the website). For me these were:
1. Putting re-runs of Friends on the tv in the background (any familiar light hearted programme would do I think)
2. Playing music I loved (Sigur Ros really worked for me)
3. Cuddling a special cuddly toy or hot water bottle
4. Having a long bath with oil or bubble bath that smelled nice.
1 and 2 are really helpful as they can be done even if you have other things to be getting on with as well.

I suppose what I am trying to say is, it is good to confront things when you are supported. But there is also nothing wrong with a bit of escapism to comfort yourself if you get overwhelmed, or as a break between the brave work of coming to terms with things. I found that doign nice things for myself gave me the strength to face the past experience.

As long as you are in a process of dealing with things, it really pays off to take things one step at time and at your own pace, getting reassurance along the way.

Take care

lumijay Fri 15-Jan-16 20:49:14

Thank you, thank you so much, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the kindness shown here. PitPat thank you for taking the time to help me. I need some time to focus my thoughts and then will have a look at that website.

Serioussteve Fri 15-Jan-16 21:22:49


We've been through things with a member of immediate family (ongoing) and our local SARC team have been amazing, I cannot speak highly enough of them.

Really, best wishes for finding closure and healing. PitPat best to you too - hits home how much this kind of thing fucks people up when you watch them going through it.

SirBoobAlot Fri 15-Jan-16 22:14:52

There is a lot of talk in the press at the moment about rape and sexual assault starting when the victim was asleep. It's great that it's being talked about - traumatic and triggering as hell though.

I was raped the first time that started off when I was asleep. I suppressed it for years, and it took nearly ten years for me to fully deal with that happened to me. I didn't tell anyone when it happened, and only this week actually told my mother who had done it to me.

You don't have to tell anyone anything if you don't want to, professionals or personals. But you may find it helps more than you think it will to say it aloud. I didn't believe that when someone first said that to me, and looked at them like they were bonkers, so I won't be in the slightest offended if you don't believe that right now. But there can be power in discussing these things, even if it is just with one person - or here.

As for the 'friend' - a real friend would have kicked this bloke out of the house, and certainly not had a relationship with him following knowing he had assaulted you.

I'm so sorry you've been through this. I'm now four years on from addressing what happened to me the first time, and I promise you, it does get easier.

With love. x

snowflake02 Sat 16-Jan-16 09:52:35

I really understand how you are feeling and about trying to minimise what happened. You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. In most other countries that is considered rape.

I'm so sorry you have been let down by your friends and hope that now you can get the support you need and can start to heal from this.

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