Fight, Flight or Freeze

 

Fight, Flight or Freeze… these are our natural coping mechanisms that happen to us when we are faced with extreme fear.  So, lets just say that someone comes up behind you with a gun saying that they are going to rob you.  What would you do? Or a stranger comes at you to try and take you away from your safe existence?  Or, if someone you may love, and trust makes inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances towards you, aggressive or not – what would you do?

Most everyone I have ever talked about this topic with has said they are sure they are “Fight”.  My favorite is when they start it with; “Obviously! I would fight!”

Most people, including my children firmly believe that they would have the wits about themselves to over power an attacker, say even to kick them in the balls and run away.  That’ s my eight year old speaking there.  When we talk about stranger danger with our children I always stress yelling as loud as possible and run, run, run.  But with each attempt to talk about some of the “evils” in the world – my son especially is more and more convinced of his strength and speed being his ticket out of a situation.  Inside my brain I am screaming – it’s not like that, it’s never like that!  At least not for everyone, and definitely was not for me.

I’m a freezer.  I totally freeze, not just physically but mentally.  I even find myself regressing to a much younger age rapidly.  My body has the same physical reaction it did when I was little.  One thing I notice is that my bum will shake, then my legs…and I feel as though I am literally seconds away from peeing myself.  I will find myself trying to get small, often ending up in a fetal position rocking back and forth to self soothe.  I more so freeze mentally now than physically as an adult.  Even when I don’t want to do something that will make me feel horrible, dirty, worthless, and ashamed I have extreme difficulty saying that. I feel bad for saying no.  Since I was just six years of age I can remember sexual abuse being not just a part of my life – but for years and years it felt like that was all my life was about.  I was groomed very young, and by many different abusers.  I was groomed to not say no.  To not question, or refuse.

At the age of 8 I was in a clinic in Mission, BC with my mother.  I have a very clear memory of that day.  I was getting my first PAP.  Most girls would not have a need for a PAP until at least they had started their menstrual period or had become sexually active – and that was for sure not before their teens I would hope.  But I was getting one because I had recently reported that my brother was raping me.  For some reason I was in the dr’s office room with only the male doctor and my mother.  I can remember being terrified.  I remember how tightly I was trying to hold my legs together while my mother and the doctor talked frankly and it seemed annoyed at the whole situation.

My mother said something to me that day that stayed with me through all the abuse that my body would take in my lifetime… While the doctor was examining my private parts, and talking about my hymen – I squeezed my legs together again.  My mother took her hands and pulled my knees apart angrily and said, “Carrie, what is your problem?  It’s not like it hurts, pussy’s are meant to be fucked!” That statement is what told me it was ok.  Why was I crying?  I would say that statement many times over the years to myself, and others when they might try to harp on how sad it was that I had been or was being sexually abused.  And, I would think back to that day in that fucking doctors office.  Too me, it made sense.  Yes it hurt, but I was young and small.  People told me it would get easier, one day I would get to liking it too maybe even. That stuff got easier on my body physically than all those beatings.  I just told myself it was apart of my identity.  This is what my body was for.  At least, most times I wasn’t getting my faced pounded in.

I did finally get it that what my mother said too me that day was dead wrong.  But it took until I had my first daughter.  Up until then I still thought that all the sexual abuse that I endured wasn’t really that serious, that I didn’t really have any right to cry about it.  That I deserved to feel dirty for the rest of my life, because I was a dirty slut – and I thought I had been that way since I was very young. Even during my lawsuit against the Ministry of Children and Families back in 2005 I still had a hard time acknowledging the effects it has had – and still continues to have in my everyday life.

But, when I saw my beautiful daughter, so innocent and full of life – I almost couldn’t catch my breath one day.  I was aghast at what I was telling myself.  Could I ever tell my daughter that her pussy was meant to be fucked?  Never.  No.  I remember feeling sick to my stomach and running to the bathroom to throw up. Flashes of horrible memories came flooding back to me… I was done with denial.  I knew that I would do anything to never have my children go through anything like what I and millions out there endure.

So, I freeze.  I don’t fight, or run.  I get through the moment and just try to fucking survive.  Even though I know – even when the moment is over I will have to relive it for the rest of my life.  I don’t have a day where I don’t find myself sicken by what I have had to do – what I wasn’t able to fight or run from.  But I survived dammit.

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