Other Let's talk about dehumanization.

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
It's only entertainment. I don't understand how they can consume content about my abusers or about any abusers for fun. I hate true crime with a passion. "Let's sip tea and gossip and giggle about a crime against humanity.
True crime is conflicting to me for precisely these reasons. On one hand there are undeniable positive aspects. There are cases that I do follow within the International Criminal Court as I attempt to reconcile my trauma within its broader legal and social context.

It can be educational. It does provide an opportunity to hear stories that are relative to our own. It allows for an objective experience, especially when dealing with extremes. I struggle with my memory and it helps to have a factual recording outside of myself. This really did happen. I'm not lying. I'm not crazy.

Unfortunately, so much of true crime content is sensationalistic and just plain exploitative. There are news articles about my actual life out there that are written in a humorous way, and that's really challenging. And that's hard, given that the nature of being a crime victim is so rooted in exploitation and vulnerability and dehumanization and objectification and sadistic amusement all on its own.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
When so many people are entertained by stories of my abusers, or tweet about how we're just lying whores who wanted it, or publically speculate about the details of the torture we were put through it feels impossible for me to feel like I'm a part of any community. It feels like no one sees me as a human.

@prynne - I think you're mixing together very different levels of community (a not uncommon type of distorted thinking)

Lets say there are four levels -
  1. People we are intimately connected to (family, partners), who have been around us before and after the trauma.
  2. Friendships that are solid and reliable
  3. Acquaintances, who may know there's a traumatic event in our pasts, or may not; but don't have any connection to us beyond sharing space at work, or school, etc.
  4. The rest of the world - strangers who have no awareness of us specifically, but may have an awareness of our traumatic event(s).
As far as #1 goes, that's something that's not much different from being a survivor of a well-known traumatic event, with ongoing legal proceedings and recognizable perpetrators. What you live with is just as exposed as what a victim who was abused in the home as a child goes through, when they still have to see their abuser regularly in public; or, the victim of domestic violence who still lives under the same roof as their abuser. Confronting the faces of the people who harmed you as part of your everyday life. In that, you are not alone.

With #2 - I doubt those individuals can be lumped in with the 'everyone' you're talking about here:
When so many people are entertained by stories of my abusers, or tweet about how we're just lying whores who wanted it, or publically speculate about the details of the torture we were put through it feels impossible for me to feel like I'm a part of any community. It feels like no one sees me as a human. I feel like I can't be open and honest about who I am or what I've been through bc no matter how kind the response is, they start treating me like I'm different. Like I'm made out of glass and they have to be careful with their words, usually. If I'm open with them, they decide not to be open with me anymore because they're afraid to break me. It only makes me feel more alienated
You're mixing together the people who care about you and know you (and you know them), and acquaintances, who have no compelling reason to protect you from their own reaction.

In your case, does that mean you have to deal with a burden of being thoughtful about who you let into your life? Yes, it does. But I can tell you - no-one knows anything about the crime I survived; the event itself went unremarked on by law enforcement, the press, the public...because no-one knew but me and them. No notoriety.

Yet, the very very few times I've made an attempt to disclose not even details, but the mere IDEA of proximity to something pretty horrible...people go weird. Not the people I trust - those in category #2. But for them, I'm aware that it's a LOT to handle, knowing my story. So I choose to not bring that into those relationships, because I have treatment professionals in my life to do the job of listening to me when I need to talk. I have places like this forum, I have my notebooks....And I used to wish I could just unburden myself to close friends, but really? If I don't want to be carrying my past around like a backpack full of bricks, then why would I want to give that backpack to the people around me? I'm not withholding to protect them, so much as to protect that space where the backpack isn't the focus of every interaction.

And with #4 - sure, there are assholes. But do you actually want to be open and honest with assholes? And if you DO want to call them on bad behavior - if you're getting a cup of coffee and the people in front of you are talking about the perps and the victims, and they're being insulting - I wonder what's stopping you from telling them to shut up about it. You might give it a try, sometime. It could be better than silencing yourself - and who cares what the f*ck they think of you? You're not in their lives, and they aren't in yours. You're just in the same line for coffee. It's not that significant.

I know I sound blunt; and I know that there are specific shitty things that people who have survived a widely-reported trauma have to deal with. But in many ways, all those traumas have much in common; and in that way, again, you're not alone in this. The community of people who lived through any one of the school shootings in the last 20 years, or who were in any one of the myriad bombings, any one of the modern wars or revolutions, massacres, hostage situations....

Sometimes it takes a little more digging, to find the people who really can understand. I've gotten a feeling of community just from reading news articles about the women who survived traumas similar to mine - and I've never even exchanged one word with them. They don't know I exist. But I know they do, and that helps me feel less alone - less singular.
In my own experience, when the public is aware of any part of your abuse, the dehumanization is continued by strangers long after the abuse is over. To them, the worst things that have ever happened to me are just another episode of a tv show, which by extension means that I'm just a fictional character. My suffering isn't real to them. It's only entertainment.
Not true. Your suffering is real to anyone who has survived something similar. And knowing about it helps them feel less alone.

I do hope you have a regular outlet, a place with a trained mental health worker where you can say out loud the things you need to say.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
Yet, the very very few times I've made an attempt to disclose not even details, but the mere IDEA of proximity to something pretty horrible...people go weird.
This in particular is something I have found is only too true. I've come to look at it through the lens of the actual PTSD diagnostic criteria. One of the categories of criterion A is hearing about or witnessing aversive traumatic details, which leads me to believe that sometimes just sharing trauma with others can evoke a trauma response in them. It doesn't rise to the level of PTSD but I think it does explain why so often those of us with more extreme trauma face irrational and bizarre reactions to discussing it openly.
 

prynne

Confident
You're mixing together the people who care about you and know you (and you know them), and acquaintances, who have no compelling reason to protect you from their own reaction.
Yeah, that makes sense. When I try to think more reasonably about it I do realize that these things that people do and say that make me feel alienated are mostly coming from strangers and acquaintances, not people I'm close with. It comes from my family sometimes, but they don't know what happened and they've never been emotionally safe for me.

I guess what upsets me and scares me is talking to strangers/acquaintances in daily life or going through the process of getting to know someone and not knowing if they're one of those people who are assholes about it. I get afraid that if they knew about it that they would reject me. And since I'm not going to go around talking about it all the time I feel like I'm hiding a massive secret/living a double life. To cope with these feelings, it's almost like when I'm around these people who make me feel alienated (or who don't know and I'm not sure if they would accept me or not) I become a different version of myself that nothing bad ever happened to. I push my trauma out of my brain so far that when I'm around my family/strangers/acquaintances for too long I legitimately start to deny that anything ever happened, that I have PTSD or DID. It's confusing and slows down my progress.

This fear of rejection and double life act make it hard for me to connect with other people other than the three people in my life who know what happened. It's making it hard for me to make new friends or participate in real-life social activities. It just feels impossible for me to have a meaningful connection with people who don't know what happened because it is such a massive part of my life. I guess the partial solution to that is to stop caring so much about what these people think of me.
As far as #1 goes, that's something that's not much different from being a survivor of a well-known traumatic event, with ongoing legal proceedings and recognizable perpetrators. What you live with is just as exposed as what a victim who was abused in the home as a child goes through, when they still have to see their abuser regularly in public; or, the victim of domestic violence who still lives under the same roof as their abuser. Confronting the faces of the people who harmed you as part of your everyday life. In that, you are not alone.
This is a good point. I try my best to believe that I have more similarities to other people with PTSD than differences and this is something that is very similar
Yet, the very very few times I've made an attempt to disclose not even details, but the mere IDEA of proximity to something pretty horrible...people go weird.
I'm glad it isn't just me
I do hope you have a regular outlet, a place with a trained mental health worker where you can say out loud the things you need to say.
I do! The need to purge the grossness just seems to keep coming, no matter how much I talk/write/think about it. Hopefully not forever
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
I think this aftermath is really important too. The aspect of rape I found BY FAR the most painful was the relentless will to dub me as a whore who wanted it (to which I'd like to say: so what? Whores who wanted it and changed their minds aren't wanting to be raped) and treated as lesser than a dog. I have been told "dogs are loyal and you're just a whore".

Because I froze and at the moment of that particular rape, I internally felt it as an inconvenience and just wanted to "sleep" (I later understood that was a dissociative response) then it wasn't a rape, but just me being a slut, a whore, a dirty c*nt, a dead fish. There were plenty of those. Apparently I should have died on the spot instead of being raped. And as I survivor obviously I cannot agree with this. I want to live.

Actually dehumanisation often works in berating people for just wanting to stay alive. The message you get is very clearly that you shouldn't have existed even in the first place.

I'm pissed now lol
 

joeylittle

Administrator
This fear of rejection and double life act make it hard for me to connect with other people other than the three people in my life who know what happened. It's making it hard for me to make new friends or participate in real-life social activities. It just feels impossible for me to have a meaningful connection with people who don't know what happened because it is such a massive part of my life. I guess the partial solution to that is to stop caring so much about what these people think of me.
This all makes sense - and yes, partly it's to work on caring more about what you think about you than what others think...the other part is acknowledging that trauma work takes up a lot of headspace, and it's hard to aggressively pursue big life changes when one is in recovery. Eventually, the more you work through the trauma in therapy, it will shift into being more about an event from your past, and less a definer of who you are in the present.

It's not a bad thing to put energy into building a better relationship with yourself, cultivating self-care, daily rituals, and pursuit of group activities that aren't predicated on conversation. Interact through mutual interests, hobbies, etc. - it's more productive than working hard to open yourself up to others when you're still not open with yourself, if that makes sense.
 

frogthroat

MyPTSD Pro
When so many people are entertained by stories of my abusers, or tweet about how we're just lying whores who wanted it, or publically speculate about the details of the torture we were put through it feels impossible for me to feel like I'm a part of any community.
I was just relaying what my therapist told me. I feel similar about the whole community thing. I will never feel part of a community because I know the depths of human cruelty just as everyone else in this thread does. I don't even identify with the gay community even though I'm queer and gender non-conforming. Nothing clicks for me. I belong nowhere and there's a comfort in that.
True crime and even extreme horror are continually perpetuated mostly by people who have never been a victim of a crime or had a loved one that was a victim of a crime. They're so far removed from the reality of it that it's become a genre. Watching a documentary about little Billy getting kidnapped for the sex trade becomes the same as popping in Halloween.
It's hard to want to go out and communicate with people when this always at in the back of your mind. Violence is entertainment even if it's at your expense. How can I feel empathy for myself or anyone else? It's always just survival and cold calculating until emotions overflow and they're an inconvenience more than anything. This is something I've never been able to process. When it comes up it doesn't just send me 10 steps back it sends me back miles. This thread is relatable but deeply distressing. I just want you to know that stating what my therapist told me wasn't blowing anyone off or doing that seemingly passive aggressive "Go watch the sunset and wash with a loofah" bullshit. This a deep and festering wound that's gonna take years of dissection. I genuinely feel for your suffering and the suffering of everyone in this thread.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
I think this aftermath is really important too. The aspect of rape I found BY FAR the most painful was the relentless will to dub me as a whore who wanted it
I've been there. If I were to write a treatise on rape I fear the world would run out of ink before I'm finished. The most painful aspect of my rape was the violation of my ethical boundaries. Part of my rape was being made a rapist. Was being made to dehumanize others. Which I did.
 

frogthroat

MyPTSD Pro
The most painful aspect of my rape was the violation of my ethical boundaries. Part of my rape was being made a rapist. Was being made to dehumanize others. Which I did.
Mine too. Logically you know it was a tactic to further dehumanize you. I feel guilty as an adult for not just choosing the death I was threatened with but children in that situation don't think about that. I struggle with whether or not I deserve to be happy.
 

prynne

Confident
I just want you to know that stating what my therapist told me wasn't blowing anyone off or doing that seemingly passive aggressive "Go watch the sunset and wash with a loofah" bullshit. This a deep and festering wound that's gonna take years of dissection. I genuinely feel for your suffering and the suffering of everyone in this thread.
I understand. I didn't think of you that way, I just wanted to comment on what your therapist said because I've heard it a few times now and think it is the truth
 
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