Recovering from Sexually Predatory Behavior
How does one recover from sexually predatory behavior? Donald Trump's recent comments have sparked an avalanche of ugly behavior and comments. What stood out to me was his remark that the women a celebrity abused would not do anything about it because the celebrity is in a position of power--classic sexual predator logic. But some people, despite all the risks, do come forward and have the courage to heal (The Cosby Case Can Teach Us Three Lessons). Here is how we go about recovering from sexually predatory behavior.
Acknowledge the Sexually Predatory Behavior Was Wrong
The first step to recovering from someone's sexually predatory behavior is to acknowledge that it was wrong. This is harder than it sounds because a sexual predator will make the victim believe the abuse is his or her fault. But it really all comes down to one thing: consent. Did you consent to the behavior? If not, you did nothing wrong. You were taken advantage of and your boundaries were violated. No means no; regardless of the offender's relationship to you. It doesn't matter if you were under the influence of a substance (a sober "yes" is consent, a drunken "yes" is not). It doesn't matter if you feel the offender "loves" you--many offenders groom their victims by making them feel special. If you said "no," it was abuse, end of discussion.
Many offenders tell their victim no one will believe them, which is why some stay silent for years. We've seen that in the reaction to allegations against Trump. The people who believed the allegations against former President Bill Clinton and said every victim should be believed are now calling Trump's alleged victims "fake" and "liars," and vice versa. This kind of reaction only makes it more difficult for victims to come forward. That's why it's safest to acknowledge the wrongdoing in a protected setting such as therapy--but be aware in some cases it is mandatory for the therapist to report the abuse.
While not being believed hurts, it ultimately doesn't matter. The question is, "Will you dare to heal?" Will you start by acknowledging the abuse and that it was not your fault?
Recover from Sexually Predatory Behavior by Seizing Control
Seize control of your recovery from sexually predatory behavior. Know that it won't always feel out of control. Research your symptoms and self-care options. Find a competent therapist to help you confront the trauma. You are not responsible for the abuse or your symptoms, but you are responsible for self-care and working on recovery.
You are in control. You never have to watch something to prove you can handle it. If you go to a movie and find it upsetting, feel free to leave. If your favorite weekly television show includes a scene you find upsetting, it is okay to turn it off for five minutes. You don’t have to watch anything you don’t want to. ... You are in control of what you see. You don’t owe it to anyone to be familiar with these news stories. If a particular piece is upsetting, angering, or otherwise making you uncomfortable, you do not have to read it. ... You are in control of your social media experience. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, you can exit a window at any time. When posting on social media sites, explore privacy and viewing settings to control what information you share with others and what information is visible to you. If you are concerned about receiving or seeing messages that may negatively impact you, feel free only follow people or groups whom you know would not post negative or graphic content.
You also are not obligated to share your story. If the person doesn't feel safe, trust your gut and don't tell them. Remember that people will react, and that it won't always be an empathetic reaction. You are not responsible for the other person's reaction, and that goes doubly if they react negatively. You were not responsible for the abuse, and you are not responsible for the reactions of other people to the abuse.
Don't Believe the Myths in Order to Recover from Sexually Predatory Behavior
Trump argued that the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct are too "ugly" for him to harass. That's one of the classic rape myths--that only attractive women get raped. Rape is not about looks; it is about power. Don't believe the myths about sexual abuse, such as only attractive women get raped, that if you didn't resist you consented, and that the rape made you a slut. It's a penis, not a magic wand, and while the trauma of the rape will affect you, it will not change who you are.
Don't believe the myths surrounding sexually predatory behavior. It is not caused by the way you dress. It is not caused by your previous sexual behavior. It is not caused by sin in your life. It is not caused by attractiveness. It is caused by a lust for power and dominance over another human being.
That's three things to keep in mind while recovering from predatory sexual behavior. What helped you in your recovery?
Oberg, B. (2016, October 17). Recovering from Sexually Predatory Behavior, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2016/10/recovering-from-anothers-sexually-predatory-behavior
Author: Becky Oberg
Way to make sexual trauma political. Could you seriously leave Trump out of this?