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why do such small things trigger me - July 9th 2016, 11:41 PM

This thread has been labeled as triggering by the original poster or by a Moderator. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

Sorry for posting so much, this will be the last one...

Four summers ago (summer 2012) I was sexually assaulted (there were more instances before and after but this is one of them). The funny part was that I had specifically gone to a place that was intended to be "safe". I went there because things at home were really bad. I had been a member for a few weeks I believe. Sometime later, I told my sister briefly about what happened. I begged her not to tell our father. She promised not to but then she did. I know this because he randomly forbade me from going there ever again. I kept asking him why and he wouldn't tell me except "it's in a bad neighborhood". I then went in secret for a couple months following the incident. But then on my own stopped going there because it was way too triggering. Especially when I realized that there was a guy who I thought was my friend but when I told him I didn't want to date him, he basically stopped talking to me and got very cold and mean when I tried initiating a conversation with him online he would say things like "can't you leave me alone, I'm busy right now, ughhh". He had no clue what I've been through, we've only hung out for a few days each week for a few weeks. It was not more than a few weeks of getting to know each other. Looking back, there were times I was having anxiety attacks and he was busy talking about how he thinks I'm hot and pretty and paid no attention to me as a person or the way I was feeling. I was in my own world crying and thinking about stuff and not feel like eating so he'd leave me and go hang out with his other friends. After he got cold shoulders toward me, I had no one there to talk to and would have anxiety attacks I hadn't gone back for 3 years. I also was supposed to see a counselor there but lost her contact information so I only had a single intake appointment.

Since then I had sought professional help on and off, including counseling at my university which led them to referring me to outpatient facilities out of campus and the whole deal. When my insurance expired, that led me back to this same place I was assaulted at. This place in particular provides free counseling services and does not require health insurance and they'd help you get health insurance. So this place gets referred to me a lot and each time I tell the person referring me that I cannot go there because of a bad experience but I finally decide to go there. I go to intake, get an appointment for next week. But during that time I drop by the library and turns out there was a lady who is a "navigator" and her job is to help people get health insurance so she basically helped me get insurance and now it needs to be renewed but that's another story. So the whole reason of going to that place I was assaulted at did not stand anymore, but I was building a relationship with my counselor and wanted to continue. It hadn't been the strongest relationship but it's been okay I think. I mean there's a few problems but it's like I'd rather stick with my luck than venture out and get stuck with someone worse. Although I also kept telling myself that I'm turning 22 very soon and would be able to leave after that as 21 is the age limit but my counselor made an extension for me and while that's good, it's getting triggering to continue going there because I don't have anything to keep myself going such as what I was telling myself before, "it's only temporary" Also the fact that the place was remodeled and it doesn't look like how it did 4 years ago so I try to tell myself it's a different place now. The neighborhood became a lot more hipster as well so there's a different vibe to it. But not necessarily a better one.

I never told my counselor this but I pretty much self harm before and after every session. Part of it is the therapy itself but part of it is that this place is scary to be in. I am scared to make friends there. I used to go to the activities there but had stopped going because I realize that I am only ever made guy friends there and it always starts out with them saying I'm cute or sweet, or nice and then it gets worse from there. That's my experience with most (though I acknowledge not ALL) guy friends I've ever made were like in general too.

So last semester I was going in the morning to counseling and this place is an alternative high school in the morning and a community center for youth (12-21) in the afternoon starting around 2pm. I would finish sessions around 12pm and I would go home instead of waiting for when the activities started. However my counseling sessions changed to the afternoon which means there's a lot more members hanging out during this time. Yesterday was the first day I went for this rescheduled time. I arrived a little early. As I was walking up to the second floor, there were 2 guys sitting at the desk. I thought they were those welcome staff or some other kind of staff. They kept calling me. It is an open staircase and I look down and see them telling me come downstairs. I thought I was in trouble. I ask them if they were talking to me and they say yes. I retract and go downstairs. They ask me what's my name. I tell them. They look at each other and start laughing. They ask me where I grew up. At this point I realize they're not staff so instead of answering them I ask them why they're asking me. They laugh more and tell me "you're cute".

I don't know why this triggers me so much. I just know that every time someone had sexually harassed me and/or assaulted me and/or violated me it started out with them calling me cute, hot, pretty or another one of those things. I ended up going back upstairs and felt them looking at me while I walked up and I cried for half an hour till my appointment. 15 minutes or so later, the 2 guys come upstairs and walk past me as if they were going someplace but I saw them that they were just watching me from a few feet away and whispering. Then the first one past me again, then the second one. Then they went back downstairs giggling and whispering. I don't get it. I am glad it stopped there. But did it? I go back on Monday. And I don't want to.

While I was crying , another guy D was kind to me. He asked me if I was okay. He was holding a violin and asked me if I liked music. I said no, but I ended up letting him play a few songs for me. Overall I found him really nice but there was something triggering about the interaction with him too. I would go between smiling and back to crying and it was like he got disappointed in me every time I went back to crying. He would try to make me sing while he played, or asked me to try playing the violin or to be more talkative or to smile more or when he saw I started crying again he was like "you're still not feeling good..." but in like a disappointed way even though I didn't tell him what I was even upset about. But I wonder if I did, if he'd still think I should get over it once he plays music. I mean I understand music can cheer a person up but I really just wanted to be alone.

Every so often, a guy tells me I'm pretty, or he wants to marry me or something really flirty and plain creepy. And it happens quite often. And I get triggered every time. Why? ughhh

Also there was an incident a few weeks ago, I don't know how it got there but it ended up being an argument about the definition of rape. The person ended up telling me "only a rapist would think like that". and hearing something like brings me really really down. Like....small things build up. How do I even live or survive like this. Is there even such a thing as a safe place?
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Re: why do such small things trigger me - July 13th 2016, 01:02 PM

You donít need to apologise for posting. Iím really glad that you were able to get all these feelings out!

Iím sorry to hear that you were sexually assaulted in a place that was supposed to be safe. Iím also sorry to hear about the guy you thought you were friends with. I understand that when someone calls you Ďhotí and Ďprettyí it can be difficult to deal with as they donít seem to take into account that you are more than just a body. And worse, when you are having an anxiety attack, and they donít seem to notice or care. Though this place holds bad memories for you, itís good that it didnít deter you from getting the help you needed.

I totally understand the feeling that once you have a counsellor who you feel okay with, even if there are times when you donít agree, that it feels safer rather than to try and find another counsellor and risk being worse off. Iím wondering if you have told, or would consider telling, your counsellor about why you find the place triggering, i.e. the assault? It may be harder to make progress in therapy if you donít feel safe in the environment and have to resort to SH methods before and after.

Guys calling you Ďcuteí and such are triggering because it reminds you of being sexually assaulted. I feel this way tooÖI donít like guys telling me similar things because my mind automatically assumes they are after one thing. And it is scary. Though not all guys go on to assault, I understand that it may seem like a small thing to get triggered over, but since you have been assaulted, then itís not such a small thing either. Iím really sorry to hear this happened right before a session as well. It mustíve been very unsettling for you. As for the other guy, perhaps he felt disappointed in himself, that he couldnít cheer you up? Though I do understand after feeling triggered, you would just want to be by yourself for a while and cry, perhaps he doesnít understand that? Iím sure he wasnít disappointed in you and I doubt that if you did tell him why you were upset, he would tell you to get over it.

I think when guys are being really flirty, after being assaulted, itís understandable to get triggered. It can be difficult to tell if they are joking or just being really creepy. Itís not nice to go through either. I also think that after experiencing assault, we tend to think differently than those who havenít, so our definitions and explanations for things like rape, may be more down to what we have been through and so itís difficult for others to see where we are coming from. Not to mention thereís unfortunately still a lot of stigma attached to rape and assault anyway, and a lot of people are misinformed, which doesnít help the situation. Iím sorry to hear about the remarkÖit wouldíve brought me down a lot too, especially when letting things build up. I donít know much about safe places, but Iíd like to assume that there are safe places out there, free from all these things. It gives me hope anyway.

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