Hit on? Help me process. Long.(25 Posts)
Today, we (me and dh) took our children to a local park. The children ran off to play and dh went off for a run. I settled on a bench with my kindle and a cup of tea.
All was good until some guy appeared out from the wooded area behind me. Firstly he made me jump, fine not his fault, I have PTSD, I am jumpy. Then he just looked at me for a couple of seconds longer than i would have deemed necessary to take in the surroundings.
Then he asked if I minded if he sit down. Clearly he had been hiking(he was sweaty and smelt really, really bad) so I assumed be wanted to rest. I said "no, go ahead".
He sat down, on the large bench, he sat a little too close to me than i would have done with a stranger, but fine we all have different boundaries.
I admit I was immediately on edge, my spider senses were in over drive. What upset me was I couldn't decide if they were to be trusted or if I was just on edge given the PTSD (which is from yrs of sexual abuse).
He then started trying to make conversation. Asking me what I was reading and then a bit later if it was good. Commented on the weather. I responded with one word answers. Again, that bothered me..I couldn't decide if I should be pissed off that this random guy thought he had the right to intrude on my day, when my responses clearly indicated I wasn't interested (or did they?) or if I was over reacting and he was just making conversation.
I felt sort of frozen honestly. And I've been there before so knew I was in fight or flight. I was trying to deal with dissociation and again couldn't work out if the PTSD had me on edge or if he shouldn't be hitting on me.
My children came over a few times and he read a book, occasionally trying to initiate conversation. He was not threatening, rude, or demanding.
After my dh came back, the frozen fear remained, even as we drove home. Then i found myself asking if what I was wearing had invited his interest (wtf, I know clothes don't matter, or shouldn't) or if I was being harsh, maybe he was just a nice guy making conversation. But I do know when I'm being hit on and around my kids in a park doesn't seem the place to do that. I felt vulnerable. But is that my past?
Honestly I'm confused by it. If i should be angry with him or if i was being too touchy cos of my past?
How could I have handled this better?
Honestly? I think he was just a guy who sat a bit too near you and tried to make a bit of conversation. People do that. I walk my dog everyday and meet people all the time of various 'friendliness'. It doesn't mean they're hitting on me.
I really don't mean this harshly. I think I would feel jumpy too given your past and your anxiety. Honestly though you didn't respond in the 'wrong' way but he didn't really behave that oddly,
No he didn't act odd or threatening, he really didnt. I'm bothered by my freeze response and by feeling so vulnerable. I know thats stuff for therapy sessions. I work hard to feel safe within my own skin and to ensure I am grounded. I guess I didn't achieve that today.
I've no idea if he was hitting on you in a trying to chat you up way or if he felt he had the right to initiate a conversation.
Probably the latter and whilst there is nothing wrong in an initial " afternoon, nice weather" or similar if you were going to have to share a bench, continuing the conversation when you clearly did not want to engage is rude.
Maybe he had poor boundaries? Why am I so bothered by this?
I'm bothered that I keep blaming the PTSD..cos I have PTSD because of men. Many men. Lots of assaults and harassments as well as grooming and all that stuff. I didn't do this, men did.
Is it years of having to deal with male violence and male bull entitlement that makes me suspicious? Will I ever be able to relax and just take men on face value?
I guess that's probably the crux of it all.
I think you've answered your own question. I think it's your natural response considering your experiences.
Carry on with the therapy. The more small experiences you have with men you don't know - some who will chat a bit and some won't - you will begin to trust that not all men will harm you.
Sounds like he was just being friendly. I don't really 'get' talking to random strangers tbh besides maybe the odd 'horrible weather' or something occasionally.
With your experiences though its totally understandable why it made you uncomfortable.
Thanks. I've just taken a long shower and had a hot drink. I think the experience triggered me. I am calmer now.
I still have a long way to go in therapy and in healing and I have decided that its OK that I was Un nerved today. It's not my fault and not his either.
At worst he was a bit rude. He didn't hurt me. I'm safe. I'm hurting because of what others did. Not because of him. But I am safe.
Thanks for your input and for reading.
Well it was his fault for being rude in trying to continue a conversation when you didn't want to.
Well I don't have PTSD and this would have pissed me off and stressed me out
Spidey senses would go off for many women
I'd have to,d him to fuck off as soon as he sat too close but it's taken me a long time to learn that's the easiest way to get rid of them and stop them trying to engage
Hope you have a relaxing evening now
He was at the very least rude in repeatedly crossing your boundaries, when someone with the smallest amount of social awareness would have taken the hint and buggered off.
Don't second-guess yourself or think you were being unjust in being twitchy around him. Women are often put in an impossible position in making nice with strange men - if they are polite, then they can't complain when the man carries on the conversation, and if they are brusque then they are being uppity bitches to a man who was only making conversation, and they deserve any response they get.
Trust yourself. If it happens again, move away if you want to. Tell him not to bother you if you feel able to. You don't owe anything to him or any other random man who makes you feel uncomfortable.
I hope your evening improves.
I wish I had moved. I have no issue being rude, I owe no random person anything, but I froze. I couldn't move.
Feeling better now. Grounded and no longer beating myself up for my reaction. I was innocent. I did nothing wrong, whether he did it not, I know i didnt.
Glad you're getting over it, but I don't think it was just your PTSD. I'm with a PP that this was creepy behaviour on his part. Not just that he sat too closely, but that he kept interrupting your "me time".
You don't owe anybody your conversation.
I'm sorry about your history of abuse.
Yes, he didn't do anything outrageous but this is the problem with the world we live in. Men aren't trained to have empathy or to consider whether they might be making a woman uncomfortable. Far too many women have ptsd for the same reason you do, and far too men give a single consideration as to whether their behavior might be triggering.
Thanks. My dh actually said, he is either an arse or has poor boundaries because there is no way on earth he would firstly bother a woman on her own and secondly continue to talk when all signals point to her being uncomfortable.
I've been hit on plenty and I generally deal with it ok, but with my children there, I felt vulnerable and because he didn't seem threatening I was annoyed at myself.
I've read the gift of fear and my instincts are normally spot on.
Thanks for all these perspectives. Helps a lot.
Your DH is right. Some men feel that they are entitled to converse with a woman , even when she has given clear signs ( one word answers, continuing reading ) that she doesn't want to talk to him .
In fact exactly what Annie said.
BTW I live in a city where it's normal to talk to random strangers . But not in this context.
I don't think he meant to make you feel uncomfortable, as some people have no clue how to read such signs. So he knew you had children and still continued with the attempt of conversation? I don't think anyone reasonable will continue any hit attempts after seeing one's children honestly. I think he was just a bit dumb overall.
Why did he think it was OK to sit down in a park next to perfect stranger (too closely - I'd trust your instincts on that), and interrupt their day by talking to them? There was no need for him to do that. He didn't want anything from you (like directions, or the time - and more importantly left it at that). He wanted your time, headspace and your attention...on him.
Your responses to him would have most people with an ounce of self-awareness, fully alerted to the fact that you did not want to carry on a conversation.
Sounds like a really uncomfortable situation he shouldn't have put you in (and I don't buy people - read men - not having a clue how to read the signs. The vast majority do).
Trust your instincts like Annie says. And your instincts to freeze were part of that. You didn't want to have that confrontation about him making you uncomfortable because you knew it could escalate.
One day, maybe, it'll be a criminal offence (public order type offence/breach of the peace type thing) for people to speak to strangers without a good reason. (My mother better look out - she's always at it).
I think you read the situation accurately, OP. So he didn't escalate when your dc turned up but how do you think it might have worked out were you in a more secluded spot?
He was weird. Sitting down with a lone woman, sitting too close, pursuing an unwanted conversation. The next step would be touching you. You were right to be scared, though it would be better if you learnt to flee rather than to freeze.
...gags could be fitted to young children until they learn. Eye contact would be for perverts. Eek !
Some sort of headgear to cover faces perhaps ? - there's a lot we could learn from other cultures.
cadnow I occasionally agree with you ( unlike most other regulars here) but the bloke was at best rude and/or lacking social skillsand/or lacking awareness or at worst, well who knows.
Thanks for all perspectives. I spoke with my therapist yesterday and agreed that my past has a lot to do with the freezing. He triggered me by his smell..sweat and damp smelling. But also he was definitely at the least socially awkward and poor boundaries. He was definitely hitting on me. I know when I'm being hit on. He soon moved on when dh arrived.
Look, you might not have been "in danger", but you weren't wrong that he was hitting on you. It's a little sad that you had to ask us and then have it confirmed by your therapist, but it's completely understandable . Even if you didn't have your own set of trauma surrounding this sort of a situation, you would have had the same social conditioning shoved down pretty much every female's throat about being nice to people (men) and never trusting yourself.
With time you'll trust yourself more. A really good therapist can even take the previous trauma, and every trying situation you go through, and help you turn it into strength for future situations.
Give yourself a pat on the back.
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