Why I don’t feel triggered anymore with stories about abuse?
Why am I so drawn to stories about rape and abuse?
It would be normal for someone who has been abused to feel trigged by it, but after all this time in therapy — which isn’t long, to be honest — I feel somewhat okay to consume this kind of media. And let us be clear about what type of media I’m saying: it’s like Jane’s partial story in Big Little Lies or Charlie’s background in The Perks of Being a Wallflower or the Netflix’s short series Unbelievable. This type of media. Nothing even close to pornography, for example, which is recorded and socially accepted rape (we can enter that discuss later).
If anything, this helps me because after you come to terms with the abuse you want so much to feel like you are not the only one. And I know this sounds selfish and a bit weird and believe me I don’t want anybody to be abused but… when it happens to you it is so easy to feel like you are the only person in the world that is wrong. The only person that is so wrong that deserves this kind of punishment. You feel dirty, out of place, ashamed, afraid, like an alien and when you walk and see other people faces it all just seems like they know your secret and they are ready to point fingers at you because you did something horrible. And because of that you feel so fucking alone. It only gets worse because in most of the time when someone is raped people don’t believe in it — even when its child abuse — everyone always gets some excuse in the tip of their tongues; so the loneliness and the shame is amplified. So, yeah, knowing you are not alone helps you put things in perspective because you may think you’re wrong and deserves everything that happened to you but when you’re facing someone who went through the same things as you it is impossible to feel the same towards that person. You feel that surprise little thing called empathy. And by feeling empathy towards another person, with a little of help in the most cases, you learn to have it towards yourself.
When my therapist suggested me to see a group of support for abuse victims, I didn’t feel like it because I wasn’t in the place to look at other people faces and tell them what happened to me. I am far away from this place. But the security that a computer screen provides is enough for me to seek that support — if we only can call it that — in television media. And I supposed in writing in a platform in the internet where everyone has access to — but let us be honest: my life’s crisis isn’t that interesting.
As every first time for anything you usually don’t know what to do and it is still true when it comes to dealing with abuse. Especially when you are the victim. It may seem weird, but you do feel like you need a manual on how to do things. Should I feel all this anger? Should I be afraid of their face? Should I cross the street when I see them? Should I still want to have sex with other people? Should I not? Should I be okay with seeing a tv show that shows rape? Only in therapy I learned — as crazy as it sounds — that is okay to feel anything about it. There is no manual as how the victim should feel or act. And in fact, there are some feelings that are mutual to all of us but how we dealt with them is different for every person. But even so I wanted to know how other people react to it, and since I don’t have the balls to go and meet other survivors face to face, I’ll go to the next closest place: television.
Yes, you are probably wondering why the fuck I don’t act normal and go to a site or a safe forum, anything really apart from fiction, to actually see reports of the actual victims sharing their stories but I really can’t do that.
And then you ask me: Why not?
Well, I supposed I am still in denial of everything — I’m not 100% sure about that but then again what I’m really sure when it comes to emotions? The thing with seeing something on television is the fact that you know it aren’t real. It may be based on real life events, but you can disassociate enough to pretend that it is all an illusion.
“It’s just fiction, none of that really happens in real life. We are safe. You’re safe.” — I tell myself every fucking time.
The truth is: I don’t want it to be real. So, I will not be looking for real solutions and real people. I am going to look for the stories because maybe if I wish and pretend hard enough what happened to me is just a story I told myself.
If you made until here: thanks!
And make yourself a favor and watch Unbelievable, an Netflix original short series about a series of rape victims and how the justice system didn’t believe in them and The Tale a film by Jennifer Fox, about the abuse she suffered as a child but only recognized later in her adult life.
The former has Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as the detectives and the latter has Laura Dern as Jennifer — if you need that extra motivation.