Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 61

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Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour

Posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

Hello all -
well, I'm dealing with my last therapy-like devil: sexual harrassment. As many read before, I have been harrassed/abused by many men when I was youger (a minor), but mostly by my brother in law (BOL). Other people I have lost track of, thankfully. I'm still stuck with the BOL and, even though he tries to behave, he has relapses.
Now, I want to tell my sister that I'm available for her and her kids, but him, I don't want to meet again. He started saying and doing inappropriate things to me when I was 8 (he was 28), and even though what he says now, he says as "jokes," the impact of it runs deep. Plus, it's really not funny, and he tries to justify it all the same way pedophiles do: he wants to see me more balanced. Since I don't have a boyfriend, he provides the sexual entertainment or something like that. He literally said he was behaving like this for my own balance (mental health), when my sister - his wife - gave him a hard time for behaving inappropriately, last Sunday. I left the house otherwise I would have lost my cool.

Anyway, I'm obviously still very much influenced by all this - I don't have a boyfriend and I don't want one. In part because I am a loner and I can stand on my own without a problem - I don't NEED a man in my life, and I'm quite proud of that too. However, I might want one, if I were not so disgusted due to my past experiences and the current harrassment that continues. So here's my question: What should I do abbout this?

- Tell my sister and that's it?
- Tell my sister and go back to psychotherapy to, once and for all, clear this issue with myself?
- Tell my sister and see a sex therapist about this?

I am embarrassed to discuss all this, I must say. It's incredibly crass and just so darn embarrassing. When I think back of the things he says and does, I can't believe it's true - I tend to censore myself anf think "it can't be." But it be. I've been affected by it for too long to let it continue, and I want to feel clear of all that. I don't know what to do for that to happen though. Your own experiences and insights would be greatly appreciated!

- sid

 

I forgot to say...

Posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:51:02

In reply to Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

I forgot to mention, for those who don't know me:
I am rather tired of therapy and I decided, after years of hesitation, to take meds for my dysthymia. I healed from a major depression with therapy, acupuncture and time. I had some dysthymia symptoms left and I decided to give meds a try last November. So far, it's working well. I'm realizing however that this "issue" imposed on me by my BOL is getting to me.
I'm now 34 (yes he's 54 !), a professional, and he still treats me like I don't exist - at least that's how it feels.

So you have a more complete picture now.

- sid

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid

Posted by Dinah1 on May 21, 2002, at 19:06:35

In reply to Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

I hate to be mathematical about this, but I guess there's a cost/benefit analysis to it.

Is the benefit (decrease in negative effect on your life and increased potential for happiness) greater than the cost (boredom with and cost of therapy)?

Did your previous therapy have clearly defined goals? Would therapy be more helpful to you if it was focused on one or two issues? Do you think therapy is likely to help you deal with this, and if so what type of therapy?

More questions than answers I'm afraid.

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid

Posted by Phil on May 21, 2002, at 20:28:46

In reply to Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

sid

a. Get back in therapy and stay as long as you have to. Find a good therapist and you won't be bored. You'll be taking care of yourself.

b. Does this ass---- live in the same town as you? Move or tell him your next step is a restraining order.

c. Tell your sister...they have kids! One guess on what he's doing to them!!!!

A few more observations. You say he tries to control himself but has relapses. Bullshit. You need to never see him again. Do you believe that?!!

You should not be embarrased because you were powerless when this started. You're trying to censure yourself is called denial. You aren't powerless now unless you choose it.

If you don't get good therapy for this you will continue to attract abusers unconsciously. That's why so many adult children of alcoholics grow up and marry three alcoholics in a row.
You need to put your recovery at the top of your list, be your own advocate, and play some serious hardball with this low-life.

You don't need a man cause you're angry as hell. Get help.

Sorry to be so blunt but I have no use for anyone who abuses children. If you were my sister, he would do well by checking over his shoulder every minute. I'd nail that bastard.

I hope I haven't offended you or anyone else but I cannot tolerate child abuse. I had it too.
Get busy. Keep us up to date, okay?

Sincerely,

Phil

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Phil

Posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:47:13

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by Phil on May 21, 2002, at 20:28:46

Thanks Phil,
my sister knows about it - she witnessed most of it and thought it was funny. His French-kissing me when I was 8, his making comments about my different body parts, etc. Only now is she starting to find his behavior reproachable, because I started voicing the fact that it's wrong. I was in a foreign country for 8 years and I got back to that, thinking: oh my God, I was abused! I had to leave and come back to realize it.

He does stuff to his 16 year old daughter, I saw him do it (touchimng her breasts or at least trying to while she was running away from him - he laughed, that's supposed to be funny). I could call the police on him and he may spend his retirement in jail. But I figure that's my sister's battle. I spoke to my niece and told her about my problems with him, told her to be careful and if she ever feels like she can't take it, she calls me and I get her out of there. It's all so f-ed up!

The problem is, it's not rape. It's ridiculing, harrassing, in a way that makes you uneasy with anything regarding sex. He used to touch me inappropriately, now it's just talk (since I threatened to kill him if he did it again). I think it's called covert abuse. How the heck do you even talk about this without sounding like a complete weakling? He does it in front of everybody too - how can it be wrong? He can't ever be accused of anything - everybody saw it and nobody reacted! I guess they all thought it was fine. And nobody defends me or my niece, it's as if he did nothing. I talked to my mom about it last year, about how pissed I was of still, after all these years, being treated like dirt (she's 74) - all she said was: he's a man, get used to it, they're all like that. Wow. There's hope! Yesterday I told her that the thing that hurts most is not ever being defended against this creep. He's a creep - his actions can only hurt me so much. The fact that nobody else interfered when I was a minor, and that nobody interferes still, that's the toughest part. I feel like I'm alone thinking his behavior was reproachable.

Tell me what you think (I'm embarrassed to write this!). I recently bought a good bed because I had backaches and it was time to throw aweay my student futon. I currently live in my mom's house. When I got home, I went to my room and realized the bed was somewhat of a mess. I straightened it. He came in - my mom and my sister were there, my noece was in another room. He said: I tried your bed, but don't worry, I did nothing wrong - strocking his groin as he said that. Then he laughed. There's nothing illegal in what he did. It just made me feel like a pice of sh** however. I though: my God, I have to burn this bed ! I rolled my eyes in disgust, yelled at my niece if she wanted to go shopping with me (I had to get out!), and as I headed out, I heard my sister yell at him: why did you have to say that? He said, repeatedly, "it's for her balance, it's part of her balance." There, I told the story. Mpfff. That's what happened on Sunday that makes me want to tell my sister to shield me from him forever.

Thanks Phil. I was just watching the news, and I thought about threats of nuclear wars, terrorism, etc., and this little problem seemed indeed little and unimportant. I do think I need to do something about it, your message convinced me again after having doubts (well, I've toughed it this long, why not continue?). It's not clear what I need to do though. We're in the same urban area - he doesn't stalk me or anything, so I don't care about that. He's ill and I'm big - ultimately, if there was ever a fight I would win! Angry as I am with him, you bet I would win. We just meet (met I guess) at family reunions. I don't want to ruin everybody's life, but at the same time, I need to stand up for myself. I think I'll look for a therapist specifically for sexual abuse/harrassment. I need to get through this and move past it. It is becoming clear that my long term mental health depends on it. I can't continue to go shopping and pretend nothing happened everytime this jerk decides to have a little fun with his sister in law.

I also was abused/harrassed by others before: 2 uncles, one boss and one co-worker. I was so used to being treated like that by my BOL that it did not occur to me that it was sexual misconduct. Again, I was not raped (I would have died, I think), but I was made to distrust men and flee from them as soon as they seem interested in me. That's all it taught me. Beware fo the testosterone driven maniacs. Balance my ass!

Thanks again Phil - I hope you're doing well now and you're over this, or at least that your life is not too disturbed now by what happened to you. By the way, my father was an alcoholic too (not abusive though)! I better not get married at all.

- sid

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Dinah1

Posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:56:48

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by Dinah1 on May 21, 2002, at 19:06:35

Hi Dinah,

I'm tired of therapy, but at the same time, that's not something meds will solve for me. It's not my brain biochemistry that's the problem here, it's my BOL.

Cost-benefits? As an economist I usually think in those terms... I guess I wanted to hear about others' experiences and see what their advice would be.

It's financially costly (I don't have insurance coverage fo it), it takes time, there's no guaranteed success, it can even hurt more than help, etc. I figure though if I can talk to someone specialized in sexual harrassment/abuse, then I'd have better chances of success. I'm fine in most areas of my life now, this is really the one last thing (and the person) that ruins the party for me.

Rationally, I know men are not all like that. At the same time, I don't even want to take a chance to find out about any specific individual. I'm so "marked" by it that I'd rather forego the option of even getting to know men. In a social setting, I stick around with the women, when there are men around, I don't feel safe. Only now am I realizing how much this is having an impact on my life. I feel I can't go on like this. I don't want to be this person. Overall I'm happy with myself, but this part of myself is so ugly.

Well, thanks Dinah. I'll talk to my doc (the one who thinks I have BPD), make it clear what my actual problem is, and see if she can recommend anything. Last time she asked me if I wanted to change. I was so angry with her BPD pseudo-diagnostic that I said NO, I don't want to change. Now however, after thinking about all this, and after one more incident with the BOL, I think: yes, I do want to change. It has nothing to do with BPD though, doc. Can you help me with my actual problem?

I'm seeing her tomorrow afternoon... crossing my finger that it'll go well.

- sid

 

...how can it be wrong? IT IS WRONG!!!! sid

Posted by Alii on May 22, 2002, at 0:10:03

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Phil, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:47:13

Sid--

I have no energy left tonight after today of therapy hell meltdown for world to watch (shoulda charged admission!).....so I'll keep this brief.

He was wrong. It was abuse....call it whatever form or level but you feel uncomfortable and that is proof enough for me.

He is clod. See sister...not him. Seriously...you don't need this kind of shit in your life sid....you are smart lady who is healing and needs SACRED space.

Claim that space hon.

--Aliiwoozyfromlonghardday

 

Sid--read SARK...just thought before I turn in... (nm)

Posted by Alii on May 22, 2002, at 0:11:11

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Dinah1, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:56:48

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid

Posted by IsoM on May 22, 2002, at 1:12:41

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Phil, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:47:13

Sid, what he's done & the other things done to you by others from just laughing at it all to other men abusing you is ALL wrong - VERY, VERY WRONG!

It's because of this & others reactions to this abuse that you feel it's not worth charging anyone or pursuing it further. I would make his life hell & make him pay for what he's done & is still doing!!! I'd go to the police, to whatever other authorities there are, to my doctor &/or therapist, & expose that man. I'd do as much in my power to prosecute him as I could. The legal system is changing slowly for the better in this regard. There should be no allowance made for this sick behaviour at all. With many men who act like this, it's not the sex really but the control, the power to belittle others.

Please, for your niece's sake, get this sorry excuse for a human prosecuted. It's not your sister's problem as you think, but your poor niece. I'd hate to see her condemned to a life filled with conflicting emotions & troubled relationships that this might easily lead to. Stupid, horrible bastard to do this to his own daughter, not to mention you. There's nothing funny about him at all, & your sister's laughter is just an indication of her own sick ego.

You're not the troubled person - they are! But I do think some therapy with a good person taught how to handle abuse cases may be a good idea & give you a lasting peace.

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour

Posted by waterlily on May 22, 2002, at 7:23:51

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by IsoM on May 22, 2002, at 1:12:41

I completely agree with IsoM. You must report this man to child protective services or the police. You have the power to help put a stop to the abuse. My husband is a child abuse detective, so if you have any questions you may e-mail me at katherineator@yahoo.com. Your BOL should NOT be around children and you should feel no obligation to be around him. If your sister gets upset because you refuse to be around him and she knows about what he's done to you, she is an incredibly insensitive person and it's best that you keep your contact with her to a minimum. After all, by staying with her husband and not reporting him, she's allowing her child(ren?) to be abused by her husband.

As for you, how else are you going to finally have peace if you don't get help? If you are deeply spiritual, perhaps you could work with that.

I truly hope you are able to do something about this and put it behind you for good.

Kathy

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour IsoM

Posted by sid on May 22, 2002, at 7:51:59

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by IsoM on May 22, 2002, at 1:12:41

> It's because of this & others reactions to this abuse that you feel it's not worth charging anyone or pursuing it further. I would make his life hell & make him pay for what he's done & is still doing!!! I'd go to the police, to whatever other authorities there are, to my doctor &/or therapist, & expose that man.

That's part of the problem... I told my therapist last year, and I told my doc recently. They just say - well, you can defend yourself, you're strong. Leave that behind you and move on. Just like that! Even they don't seem to take me seriously. My doc thinks I have BPD and she does not take this abuse thing seriously. I don't have BPD, I have an ass for a brother in law. I'm seeing her this afternoon, and we'll have a nice long talk. I will tell her that I am willing to get help, BUT not at the BPD clinic. Rather, with someone specialized in abuse cases.

Thanks IsoM. As for the rest, it's a big mess. If I make too many waves in the family, I'll end up taling care of my mom alone, which I don't want to do - she's enough responsibility when it's shared. She's functional illiterate, so she needs help with everything (everytime she writes a check or buys something expensive, or signs a contract, etc.). Quite frankly, the day my mother dies, I will consider myself family-less.

- sid

 

Thanks everybody, I did need feedback. (nm) sid

Posted by sid on May 22, 2002, at 7:54:14

In reply to Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour

Posted by ST on May 27, 2002, at 2:17:02

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by Dinah1 on May 21, 2002, at 19:06:35

Hi sid,

First of all, he's not joking. He says that they are jokes to help dissapate the negative effect his remarks have on you; it takes the heat off him. And it cruelly turns the tables on you, making you look like the "uptight one", the one who "can't even take a joke".

By all means, tell your sister. How do you feel about writing a letter? When I've really needed to make my feelings clear, but felt I'd lose my power in a confrontation, I've written letters. I've never regretted it. Write it all out, get it all out and let the letter sit on top of dresser (or in a folder on your computer). Go back to it in 48 hours and revise. Let it sit. Go back and revise. When you feel comfortable with it, give it to your sister. I think it may be easier for you to say everything you need to say if you are not interupted, if you can carefully chose how and what to say. If you can tell your story without feeling sidetracked or misunderstood while doing so. When I feel passionately about something, I can get so emotioanl that I can't even speak. Or I let the other person sidetrack me. Writing it all out ensures that you don't say anything you might regret; it ensures you say things exactly how you want to say it. It's really important that your sisiter hear you and understand.

Good luck,

Sarah

 

Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid

Posted by ST on May 27, 2002, at 2:27:37

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour Phil, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 22:47:13

Sid,

By the way, this is not "some little problem". People like your BOL are everywhere in the world. They ruin a lot of lives. They may have daughters and sons who grow up to be abusers. Yes, there are freaks out there who want to blow up buildings and blast us with nuclear weapons. Their actions affect thousands, even millions. It's a ripple effect. But when we try to make our own lives better, we make the world a better place to live. So someday, maybe there will be less pedophiles, less nuclear threat....I don't know. We can only start within our own circle, and if everyone does that, we CAN change the world.

Just had to say that. You must start believing in your own worth. You have no need to second guess yourself. People who witness what your BOL does in fron of them are in denial, they don't want to deal. The person next to them who sees it isn't shocked, so why should they be? His wife seems to laugh it off, so what's the problem? Deny, turn the head....

I hope you find a good therapist who can really challenge you and get you excited about yourself and what you deserve in your life.

Sarah

 

Thanks, Sarah. (nm) ST

Posted by sid on May 27, 2002, at 21:32:57

In reply to Re: Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour sid, posted by ST on May 27, 2002, at 2:27:37

 

Re: Abused Abuser Abused

Posted by Mark H. on June 18, 2002, at 20:27:11

In reply to Sexual harrassment/abuse/humour, posted by sid on May 21, 2002, at 18:38:04

How might dehumanizing the abuser, heaping the most vile imaginable labels upon him, even intimating the threat of violence towards him, be similar at a process level to what he has done to our friend Sid?

Can his inappropriate and damaging behavior be modified (or stopped) without anger and without creating additional harm (for him or anyone else, esepecially Sid)?

What is our motivation in reacting so angrily? Do we want to punish, hurt, harm and/or incarcerate those whose behaviors are personally repulsive to us? How is that different from how people with mental illness and mental retardation were treated until quite recently? Does it help to hurt those who hurt others?

I understand and share the almost instinctual thoughts and feelings of everyone who has posted, but I wonder if we aren't on awfully thin ice, both morally and psychologically, in thinking that way.

We have an obligation to protect people from violence and abuse when we can, to stop further harm from being done. But might it also be useful to look at how we react, and choose to react from compassion rather than scorn or hatred? Even if only to prevent further damage to ourselves?

With kind regards,

Mark H.

 

Re: Abused Abuser Abused

Posted by sid on June 19, 2002, at 0:03:48

In reply to Re: Abused Abuser Abused, posted by Mark H. on June 18, 2002, at 20:27:11

Well, Mark H., while I can appreciate rhetorical questioning and theoretical endeavours, we are talking about a piece of crap of a man who has abused me since I was 5 and who still sexually harrasses me. Perhaps others can be compassionate towards him, I will go on loathing him and planning to dance at his funeral. He has destroyed a part of my life, I may never have a family of my own because of this testosterone-driven jerk, I'm not about to feel sorry for him.

- sid

 

Re: Abused Abuser Abused

Posted by wendy b. on June 19, 2002, at 0:45:59

In reply to Re: Abused Abuser Abused, posted by sid on June 19, 2002, at 0:03:48

Yeah, Mark, I guess I can't say I have much compassion. Children and women who have been abused will probably never be able to feel sorry for their abusers. Abusers who rob people of their sexuality and their personal boundaries are not in the same class as your garden-variety mentally ill, or alcoholic, etc. Sure, let them get help, and I bet someone else might be able to feel compassion. But keep them away from Sid and me and others who've been damaged. Forgiveness just isn't an option sometimes. There's no way to recapture the losses we've experienced.

Best, & with respect,

Wendy


> Well, Mark H., while I can appreciate rhetorical questioning and theoretical endeavours, we are talking about a piece of crap of a man who has abused me since I was 5 and who still sexually harrasses me. Perhaps others can be compassionate towards him, I will go on loathing him and planning to dance at his funeral. He has destroyed a part of my life, I may never have a family of my own because of this testosterone-driven jerk, I'm not about to feel sorry for him.
>
> - sid

 

Re: Abused Abuser Abused

Posted by Mark H. on June 19, 2002, at 14:26:58

In reply to Re: Abused Abuser Abused, posted by wendy b. on June 19, 2002, at 0:45:59

Dear Sid and Wendy,

I completely respect your positions (and expected even more heated responses, given the loathesome subject matter).

My own bias is that I care a great deal more about your well-being and health than I do BOL's. My personal feelings about him are a lot like yours.

However, I also believe that true healing requires understanding and compassion for the oppressor -- not for his sake, necessarily, but for our own. Compassion is a tool to help erase a little more of the life-long damage he has done.

As long as we remain angry and vengeful, we're still to some extent on the oppressor's agenda. Perhaps only through compassion are we finally free.

Again, I respect and share your feelings. I would feel no different about him if I were in your position. I intend these comments as support for your well-being. I am very sorry for your suffering.

With kind regards,

Mark H.


> Yeah, Mark, I guess I can't say I have much compassion. Children and women who have been abused will probably never be able to feel sorry for their abusers. Abusers who rob people of their sexuality and their personal boundaries are not in the same class as your garden-variety mentally ill, or alcoholic, etc. Sure, let them get help, and I bet someone else might be able to feel compassion. But keep them away from Sid and me and others who've been damaged. Forgiveness just isn't an option sometimes. There's no way to recapture the losses we've experienced.
>
> Best, & with respect,
>
> Wendy
>
>
>
>
> > Well, Mark H., while I can appreciate rhetorical questioning and theoretical endeavours, we are talking about a piece of crap of a man who has abused me since I was 5 and who still sexually harrasses me. Perhaps others can be compassionate towards him, I will go on loathing him and planning to dance at his funeral. He has destroyed a part of my life, I may never have a family of my own because of this testosterone-driven jerk, I'm not about to feel sorry for him.
> >
> > - sid


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