Am I Over It?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2011
Am I Over It?
9
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 8:22pm

I am 32 and was sexually abused from the ages of 12 and 15.  I really thought I had moved past it.  I am happily married and have a great job as a teacher.  I am not depressed or have a substance abuse problem.  Quite honestly I think I have turned out quite normal.  I do have to admit thought that I tend not to trust people.  Which is what started the incident that happened that is causing me to write this post.

On Saturday, we were with some friends that own a shop.  In passing he mentioned that his employee (his only employee, its a small shop) was a sex offender.  I mention that because when I go to his shop to hang out when it is slow it is impossible to not see and talk to his employee.  The employee told him that when he was 19 he was dating a girl that was 16 and even though her parents approved of the relationship someone else turned him in.  His point was that after something that doesn't seem so bad (since they were so close to the same age) it was ridiculous that he still had to go see a probation officer.  I got to wondering if that is the whole story why does he still have to go to a probation officer years later.

On Sunday, I decided to look him up. I found his registry and the court case. It turns out he was 21 and I believe from what I read and what he was convicted of, she was at the oldest 14.  He served 5 years in prison and got probation for 12 years.  The incidents happened in 2000 and 2001 and he was convicted in 2002.

I told and showed my husband what I found.  He called our friend and told him.  Our friend basically said he still more or less believed his employee and that the age discrepancy didn't seem to be a big deal to him since most of his original story was basically true and since it happened 10 years ago.  My husband said that was fine and he understood but just thought he should know the entire story, and that because of my past I wasn't sure if I wanted to hang out at the shop for awhile.  I'm just not comfortable spending time with someone who served prison time for sexually assaulting a child.  Then our friend said "I was sexually abused when I was a kid but I've moved on.  If she still isn't over it and doesn't want to come to the shop that is fine."  My husband defended me but I think he kind of agrees with him. 

I thought I was over it.  But now I don't know.  Truthfully I really confused.  Does it bother me because I was molested?  Why does it not bother anyone else that he raped a child (he was 21 and she was 14, even if they were "dating", I believe it was rape)?  Honestly, I'm not sure that if I hadn't been molested I would be comfortable talking and laughing with someone who raped a child.  Do people deserve second chances and since he has served his time should I and everyone else just be OK with it?  It really has nothing to do with me, should I just mind my own business?  Am I overreacting?  Am I not over it?

Community Leader
Registered: 06-02-2008
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 10:19pm

Hello and welcome to the board.

I think the experiences of a person's past will always have some influence over their present in some way.  I don't think wanting to avoid this person  means you haven't made progress or experienced healing.  

As for giving second chances to sex offenders.  That is a difficult situation.  In my own experience, I gave someone with a questionable past the benefit of the doubt and eventually he raped me.  I wanted to believe that people could change and on some level I still need to believe that.  However, if I were to suddently find out someone I regurlary come into contact with had raped someone, it would  probably make me uncomfortable.  

 

Zoe

Community Leader - Sexual Abuse Healing

Boards> Health & Fitness >Crisis Support >Sexual Abuse Healing

http://www.ivillage.com/forums/health-fitness/crisis-support/sexual-abuse-healing

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2011
Thu, 10-04-2012 - 12:33pm
Ty so much for your replies. You both gave me a lot to think about. I did decide to go hang out at the shop last night. I figure it is what it is at this point. I decided that I have made a choice to not let what happened to me affect my daily life so I am not going to let what he did affect my daily life.
I still wish the people in my life, at least my husband, would at least say what he did was horrific. I don't want them to do anything about just not downplay what he did. So in the end I decided my view on this must be what it is because of my past. Which is okay. It is who I am and I am!
Community Leader
Registered: 06-02-2008
Thu, 10-04-2012 - 7:31pm
MoonGoddess15 wrote:
Ty so much for your replies. You both gave me a lot to think about. I did decide to go hang out at the shop last night. I figure it is what it is at this point. I decided that I have made a choice to not let what happened to me affect my daily life so I am not going to let what he did affect my daily life.
I still wish the people in my life, at least my husband, would at least say what he did was horrific. I don't want them to do anything about just not downplay what he did. So in the end I decided my view on this must be what it is because of my past. Which is okay. It is who I am and I am!

Personally I think there can be a way to let him live his life, not let his past get to you and and still speak out against inappropriate behavior. .  For example, pin a teal ribbon to your purse or jacket that way you can promote sexual violence awareness in general.   

Zoe

Community Leader - Sexual Abuse Healing

Boards> Health & Fitness >Crisis Support >Sexual Abuse Healing

http://www.ivillage.com/forums/health-fitness/crisis-support/sexual-abuse-healing

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2004
Fri, 10-05-2012 - 3:52am

Wowsers. I think this is a rather judgmental response. If YOU are okay with giving sex offenders a second chance, that's your choice. "...we have to give them a second chance." Ummm, no, we don't have to give them a second chance.YOU may choose to. Others may CHOOSE to. But none of us HAVE to do that. It's a personal choice. Many, many sex offenders are repeat offenders. If someone has violated a child even just once, I would never trust that person around a child or myself. I'd not want to be near that person. That is MY choice. I don't have to do anything to make that person feel comforted and welcomed. I wouldn't do anything to make the person feel badly (unless I was concerned about the safety of children/other women or men, then I'd report it to the police) either though. I choose to stay away from those people.

I'm sorry it's tough on the families of abusers, yet I'm even sorrier that it's tougher yet on the victims of SA. I blame my abuser. I don't blame others for SA me.

I don't think the woman who posted this was suggesting "punishing" this man who had a past record of SA. She, when she first wrote, didn't want to be around him. Sounds pretty sane to me, especially given her history. I couldn't do it. SA can leave such deep emotional scars that it doesn't take much to reopen the wounds. I think the poster would be minding her own business by taking care of her own issues, whether that choice is to stay away or be near him. She's thinking of how being near this man affects herself and her life, which then affects her family, students and friends. That is HER business. That isn't punishing the man. That's called taking care of yourself. You don't now that she'll make herself "angrier and angrier" by staying away. For me, being near the man would make my emotions boil up and the anger would come out. For my own sanity I'd need to stay away. He chose what he was going to do and raped a child. He chose that action. He shouldn't be trusted around children so for her husband to tell the employer and friend the truth was a good thing to do, in my book. The employer should at least hear the truth and know the facts.

I'm curious about soemthing, piananana. I've read other posts of yours to SA survivors and they have sometimes come across as quite harsh on the survivors. I don't understand that. I'm not asking you to explain your position. On this board in particular, it seems quite unusual. All survivors of SA have had similar experiences, yet vastly different degrees and methods of healing and coping. Maybe your coping method is to accept it and move on and to be forgiving, but that's not where everyone else is or may ever be. I don't think I could ever feel forgiving of all abusers. I've forgiven my abuser for what he's done for my own well-being, yet I still struggle with the effects of SA. He's dead so whether I forgive him or not makes no difference to him at this point. I cannot, however, be so forgiving of other abusers I come across. Once again, I don't make their lives miserable, but I also do not trust them and I don't believe they are ever cured.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2004
Fri, 10-05-2012 - 4:24am

moongoddess, I read your later post and what you have decided to do, but I still want to reply to your original post.

"I thought I was over it.  But now I don't know.  Truthfully I really confused.  Does it bother me because I was molested?  Why does it not bother anyone else that he raped a child (he was 21 and she was 14, even if they were "dating", I believe it was rape)?  Honestly, I'm not sure that if I hadn't been molested I would be comfortable talking and laughing with someone who raped a child.  Do people deserve second chances and since he has served his time should I and everyone else just be OK with it?  It really has nothing to do with me, should I just mind my own business?  Am I overreacting?  Am I not over it?"

I am not sure any of us ever completely "get over it." I still have issues I am working on in therapy and I, too, wonder when I'll be over it. I finally came to the conclusion that I won't ever be over it, it will never be completely behind me. That doesn't mean it has to take control of my life and cause every moment to be obsessing on the past. For me it means that there will always be things that trigger it. I can't erase my memory. I would if I could. But i can't. So even when I can move past something, I still have days where it comes back to haunt me. A dream, seeing someone who looks like my abuser, a random memory, a certain smell comes along and wham! I'm back down memory lane despite kicking and clawing my way not to go there. That's what getting over it is to me. You do the best you can to go with life, and it sounds as if you've been very successful at that, yet sometimes the past will be likely to still haunt you, despite all you've done to get through it.

Yes, at 21 and 14, "consenting" or "dating" or not, it was rape. Hence he went to jail. If others knew his history, many would be bothered. Just because your friend isn't doesn't mean no one else would be. Can you ask your husband his feelings on it? Don't guess or assume you know how he feels, but have a conversation with him so you know. And even if he disagrees with you, that doesn't mean you have to change your feelings towards the abuser. You're entitled to feel however you feel. Whether you stay away at times when you feel more vulnerable to the past or you choose to never go there or to always go there, it's okay whatever you choose, even if your friend and husband think you should be choosing differently. Your friend said he'd been abused as well. That' still doesn't make his experiences and emotions the same as yours. Everyone has different ways of handling things. Maybe he feels he has more control by letting a sex offender work for him.

As for second chances, I don't really think that's what is at issue here. You're just trying to decide if you feel comfortable being near him. Second chances for some things are okay, though. If you had a young daughter, would you leave her alone with him? My guess is no. I know I wouldn't. Not for a minute. And even if everyone else in the world was okay with being around this guy, you don't have to feel as they do. You're entitled to your feelings, even if they seem irrational to others. I don't think you should be okay with it because others do. That's totally up to you.

No, this man didn't offend you, but it's easy for anyone to see why you'd have trouble being around him. I don't think that choosing to take care of yourself is not minding your own business. You need to protect yourself (from emotional pain, from memories haunting you by being around this man) and I'm sure you want to make sure no one else is hurt by him and has to go through what you have. I think that's being safe, cautious and responsible.

If this man has truly changed and deserved that second chance, that why is so defensive about what happened?  Why did he lie to his employer? If had changed, I think he'd be at least saying he was sorry for his past mistakes, rather than lying and blaming someone else. He obviously doesn't see anything wrong with what he did, even after being in prison. I wouldn't trust him, especially given his attitude about it all.

No, I dont' think you overreacted. I know you said in your other post that you've decided to go back there (although I don't remember the rest of the post). However you choose to handle it--go back there or avoid him--you have the right. And I think if it didn't bother you, you'd have never stopped in to post about this. I wish you the best in all of this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2011
Sat, 10-06-2012 - 12:09am
I really appreciate everyone's posts. They have really made me feel validated in my feelings. I really agree with some things just open up old wounds and this did for me. At this point I sometimes can go months and not give it much thought but this brought all the anger out in me again. Anger I guess I didn't even realize I was still holding on to. None of us, my husband and me, or our friends have children in our homes. I think if they did they would feel different. I love that there are places that people like us can go to get support and to hear other's stories. I find it difficult at times to really talk about it with people that didn't live through abuse. No matter how much they try to understand they can't. Personally I have found that they only focus on the event and for me my feelings go so far beyond just the event. I also don't want to be seen as a victim which I think sometimes happens. I will be visiting this board more often.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2004
Sat, 10-06-2012 - 1:32am

I agree that most people who weren't abused don't understand. To them, we haven't been abused for years so why would it bother us now? They don't understand how it screwed us up emotionally in so many ways, and different ways for each of us. I had a friend who knew I was SA as a child. A few years back I casually mentioned I had an appointment with my therapist the next day. She looked puzzled and asked why I was seeing a therapist. I said I still had issues to deal with from the SA. She responded with, "That still bothers you?" She wasn't trying to be insensitive, she just didn't get how much it affects someone's life. I've been through so many issues in therapy and yet there are always more for me. And some of the same issues creep back into my life again and I have to work harder on those again. I seriously wonder if I'll ever feel I'm finished with therapy.

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this: as bad as being SA was (the actual sexual acts done), it doesn't come close to comparing to the psychological damage done. And instead of being helped, for most of us we had to stuff away all those damaged feelings. So as we go on being SA, we're quietly suffocating on our own feelings, unable to tell a soul. For me, thank God it wasn't until I was an adult and living alone before all the memories came up and the emotional breakdown begin. I think it was survival. Had I still been in college or living at home with my parents, I do not see how I could possibly have dealt with it. I think my mind had protected me for years, helping me to forget and move on through college and into adulthood, before I could start to remember. Since my family was not supportive I couldn't have dealt with it while living at home. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been.

Glad some of the posts have helped you. Hope you do come back.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-22-2001
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 11:58am

~hugs~

I agree with you...

And I don't think it has anything to do with my own abuse.

I would be uncomfortable myself.

 

 

Nightangel