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Re: Protecting ourselves. Chapter 1

Posted by Dinah on June 28, 2004, at 10:36:10

In reply to Protecting ourselves. Chapter 1, posted by fallsfall on June 27, 2004, at 9:53:26

I also think protecting ourselves includes learning as much as possible about the environment we are in.

When I used to be worse with my phobia about vomit, I would scan everywhere I went for people who looked sick, for possible escape routes. I calculated the probability that a given situation (for example, a college party) would yield vomit.

Ignoring posters already identified as causing me distress would only "protect" me from those posters. Identifying the environment, what is considered acceptable behavior by the moderator, what chance is there that I will post something that makes me vulnerable, only to be met with a post that is a suckerpunch to my gut, but considered perfectly acceptable in the environment, is also a useful quality in staying safe.

How much is it safe to disclose? How much can other people hurt me (or others) without consequence? All those things are scoping out the environment.

Discussing arguable civility decisions with the person designated to decide what is civil and what isn't is sort of equivilant to scoping out the escape routes. Is this something I can expect Dr. Bob to take care of? What will happen to me if I take care of it myself? If Dr. Bob refuses to make the environment safe, and I will be punished if I try to protect myself, what do I do with the feelings of impotent rage? Planning those things is planning my escape.

Knowing whether the person I look to as protector will protect the abuser and punish the abused is part of protecting myself. Learning which types of abuse/abusers will be protected is protecting myself.

In middle school, the tormentors were allowed to taunt, but not to hit. Looking to a teacher to stop the vicious taunting was useless. Looking to a teacher to stop physical abuse would have probably been useful, but since the pain was all inflicted with words, that didn't help any. Not only did I not have much chance of dealing with the problem myself, verbally or physically, but I was afraid of getting in trouble if I did, although I longed to. It was good to know these things.

I'm sure others have their own scenarios where abusers were protected and protecting yourself from abuse was punished. And I'm guessing that to many of the people who experienced this, ignoring isn't a viable "safe" option. It wasn't safe then.




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