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I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

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I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

Postby DesperatelySearching » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:23 am

I had saved up for this dress. Strapless. Not provocative at all. Elegant. I'd eyed it for weeks hoping it would still be there by the time I had the money.

The night I wore it was a special event, an exciting event. I FELT elegant. I felt pretty.

But I was sexually assaulted that night so I guess it didn't really matter how pretty i felt or how elegant I thought my new dress was.

I won't rehash any of my assault from that night. I've already posted my MeToo about night. I think I've share as much as I can for now. But the reason I'm writing is because of what happened that night after when I left.

I was dazed as my friend and I said our goodbyes to everyone. It was like everything I saw was in HD. Like sharper focus but yet didn't seem real. My thoughts were slower. My friend noticed and I lied and said nothing really happened. She didn't seem convinced. I just told her that he (my attacker) had wanted to hook up but nothing happened. I wasn't sure what had happened. It took me a couple of years to figure that out. But last year I did. He sexually assaulted me.

I went home. I took off my dress, underwear and bra and shoved them in the back of my closet. That's where they stayed, unwashed for months. When I rediscovered them I placed them in a plastic shopping bag and locked them in my trunk under my bed.

Why can't i just throw them away? I'm not trying to save evidence. I've never worn those clothes again. I didn't even think it was a big deal to me until a couple of weeks ago a male friend of mine suggested I put on THE dress for him (i know, i know I don't want to discuss that right now) but it was in that moment that I was hit with a wave of absolute fear and panic. I could feel my body cringing from the idea.The idea of having it on my body made me hysterical. I was crying at the thought of putting on a stupid dress. I was completely taken by surprise my own reaction. I could never have anticipated to feel that way. And yet...STILL... I can't throw it out. Why???

I posted about this on a different site but all I kept seeing was a lot of ppl writing in all caps about throwing it out. Or being abusive towards me.

I KNOW I should throw it out. But I'm trying to understand WHY i didn't and WHY I still can't. What is wrong with me???



And sorry if this is the wrong forum for this. I'm only posted twice before. I'm never sure where to post.
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Re: I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

Postby avatar123 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:07 am

Sorry you're having to deal with this. Obviously that was a very significant event in your life, and we tend to keep things that remind us of significance, both good and bad. You toss things like that when they've been put behind you, and you don't need to be reminded of them further.

I think you may not be done with processing that whole episode of your life, and so you're not done with the dress either. That may actually be healthy, you keep the dress because you still want to deal with what happened, and come to some form of resolution for yourself. The dress may be symbolic of the unresolved injury that was done to you.

I hope when that happens, you both won't fear the dress and also won't feel the need to keep it. In the meantime, you shouldn't feel that something is wrong with you. The dress still has importance to you and it's not wrong for you to feel that way. Just a symbol of the larger issue of your well-being.
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Re: I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

Postby Terry E. » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:59 pm

What Avatar said. I think you have yet to fully process it yet. To come to terms. Maybe one day you will build a small symbolic fire and burn it. Maybe you will realize it was not you not the dress and decide to give it another home. You will know one day.
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Re: I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

Postby DesperatelySearching » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:53 pm

avatar123 wrote:Sorry you're having to deal with this. Obviously that was a very significant event in your life, and we tend to keep things that remind us of significance, both good and bad. You toss things like that when they've been put behind you, and you don't need to be reminded of them further.

I think you may not be done with processing that whole episode of your life, and so you're not done with the dress either. That may actually be healthy, you keep the dress because you still want to deal with what happened, and come to some form of resolution for yourself. The dress may be symbolic of the unresolved injury that was done to you.

I hope when that happens, you both won't fear the dress and also won't feel the need to keep it. In the meantime, you shouldn't feel that something is wrong with you. The dress still has importance to you and it's not wrong for you to feel that way. Just a symbol of the larger issue of your well-being.



Thank you so much for your insightful words. I read this a few days ago and just kinda sat with it for awhile. Read it several more times. You're right. I think in that dress is my shame, guilt, fear and memory of that night. Maybe that's the significance. And until I can sort those feeling out perhaps it feels necessary to hold on to them. Maybe its a matter of validating what happened? Like if I throw it out then the experience wasn't a big deal? I dunno. I do a lot of self analysis. Obsessively so and its exhausting.

But ever thing you said makes sense and relieves that anxiety I have at not understanding my own mind and emotions in regards to this. Your insight makes me feel like its not a permit state of being. Like its not just as simple as keeping or throwing it out. I didn't process that experience for years. That night I hid it away in the back of my mind that way I hid the dress in the darkest park of my closet then later locked it away in a trunk that only i had the key to. And over the years I mentally and emotionally treated the dress and the assault the same way-- "Its not a big deal. Maybe I don't understand it but it doesn't effect me in a negative way". Maybe I will put it back on one day with the support of a therapist or friend. Maybe that's the journey I have to take.

-- Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:55 am --

Terry E. wrote:What Avatar said. I think you have yet to fully process it yet. To come to terms. Maybe one day you will build a small symbolic fire and burn it. Maybe you will realize it was not you not the dress and decide to give it another home. You will know one day.



Thank you for your kind and supportive words.

I think that would be lovely. I hope that one day I will be able to burn it or toss it off a bridge, walk away and never give it another thought.
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Re: I kept the dress I was sexually assaulted in. Why??

Postby Jen123 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:24 am

I wonder if you might feel that if you threw the dress away it would be like you let him win. I felt like that about my clothes. I felt like it would be another thing that ahole took from me. It wasn't really about clothes though. In my case it was my favorite shorts. I felt sexy and confident in those shorts. It felt like if I threw them away it would be like me giving up that feeling of confidence that I had wearing those shorts. Like I "felt" confident, but he took that away and made me feel like an object. I didn't want him to win that battle. I wanted to keep the shorts and and show him that he couldn't win because I was going to feel confident just the same as before. This did not work in the end for me, however. I ended up throwing them away and it was like letting go of my vision of myself prior to the rape. Every trauma changes me and and there's no use hanging onto the hope it won't affect me. But I swear for me the worst part is accepting how traumatic events have changed me forever. Maybe if this is the case for you, you can overcome it and wear your dress with confidence. Maybe you will keep your clothes and feel a sense of strength from not letting him take that from you. I don't know how others feel or what helps them, so I don't want you to think I'm telling you to throw it away. That's just what I ended up doing but it doesn't mean it's best for you.

Also, I'm going to say that with regards to jerks telling you what you should do or how you should feel, ###$ them. You have had enough taken from you. They should not tell you a damn thing. Everyone is different.
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