The other “how do I know”

Everyone has to deal with the normal “how do I know” questions when embarking on a new relationship.  “How do I know if this is just lust or something more?”  “How do I know how he feels about me?”  “How do I know he is the one?”  And so on…

As a survivor of rape (I can practically hear your collective “gasp”, but if I can’t be honest on here, where can I be?), there is another “how do I know” question that is constantly on my mind, whether I am on the first date or the 30th.  “How do I know when it is the right time to tell him?”  I always feel as though it is too soon to tell “him” and then suddenly, it feels too late.  I used to tell men as a way of judging their character, as though the way they reacted was a good indicator of whether or not I wanted to be with them.  It isn’t.  It just isn’t a fair moment to judge someone.  More recently, I got tired of telling people.  It is exhausting and people often react badly, leaving me feeling as though I need to support them.  Except for the most recent major player (Rat-Bastard), I haven’t told anyone in the last few years.  The thing is, no one is ever going to get to really know me unless they know.  It is a major part of who I am and who I have become.  I certainly dealt with it and no longer think about the events every day, but the fact of those events is present in my life every minute of every day.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately in relation to the fact that I will now be dating people who don’t already know me well.  (Having lived in a small town for quite a while, many of the people I previously dated had known me for years.)  Well, to be honest, I am mostly thinking about it in terms of Aaron.  (See previous posts.)  We have been on four dates and text all the time.  While it feels like it might be a little too soon, I am worried that it will soon seem too late and that I will just let the opportunity to tell him slip away.  In order to “take a risk,” like one of my readers so wisely suggested, I feel like I need to be very open and honest and let him actually get to know me.  And, give him a chance to run away if it seems like too much for him, not that I think he would.

Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to have a tattoo on my forehead that announced it to the world.  “I am a three-time survivor of rape.”  It would make everything much more straightforward.  Then people would know from the beginning and could feel more free to ask questions about it.  It is even hard to tell friends.  Since it was a relatively long time ago, it seems weird to bring it up to new friends in the beginning, and then like it is way too late.  Just like with men.  And female friends, while sometimes sympathetic, tend to have wildly different reactions.  You never can tell before you “tell”.

In all my thinking about it over the last few weeks, I think I have come to a conclusion.  When I want to tell him, I will.  I have a feeling that might be soon.  Of course I will wait to tell him in person; it isn’t something that should be shared via text.  But I do feel the need for him to know.  If it makes him nervous to be with me or makes him not want to get to know me, then he is someone I could never be with anyway.

As for my friends, those who read this and didn’t already know will know now.  Please feel free to talk to me about it.  And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you in person, please don’t take it as a sign of disregard or distrust.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. letuswed
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:27:50

    Here’s the thing, in my opinion there really is no specific time you should have to tell someone. As I dont know about being a victim of rape, I do know about emotional/physical abuse and they are sensitive subjects to just bring up with morning coffee. My fiance didn’t know about what my ex had done until last year (been together for 3). Men are known to not be the most sensitive creatures but if he’s a keeper he will be there to listen with an open heart. When you feel that you trust him and think its going to go somewhere then bring it up. Truth is one of the foundations of a relationship and all truths come with some time. And as for your friends, I’m sure if they really adore you they will be sensitive as well and just be there to listen.


  2. wtfhappenedtomyreallife
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 16:07:30

    I know how you feel. 7 time survivor here. I actually DO have a tattoo on my left forearm that says “Survivor” in Theban. It is an interesting looking tattoo that no one else can read and so they ask me what it means…this lends itself to starting that conversation. Some days I just say “It means survivor” and leave it at that.

    I am very glad you have gotten to the point where you no longer think about it every day. I know that the fact of those events stays with us. It is a shame that there is no way to just purge them from our lives. **Silently curses “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” for making it look so tempting…..**

    When you are ready to tell you will. My husband and I were friends for a really long time before we ever got together. We have known each other for 9 years and have been together for about 3. He knew way before we became a we.

    I wish you the very best of luck in telling your new guy.

    To: Letuswed….we are not victims. Being a victim gives the person who hurt us the power to keep hurting us. We are survivors. We have survived what happened to us and we have come out the otherside. We do not let them have power over our life.

    Lucky Star


  3. canitjustbeme
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 17:23:32

    I understand the whole “too early, but too late” thing. I am not a victim of actual rape, but a victim of sexual abuse, I it’s a hard subject to bring up. I know for me, the easiest time to bring it up is when I’m getting to be intimate with a person…To some people that may seem like the worst time, but it works for me.
    You’ll know when the time is right. Just don’t stress about it, it needs to come around naturally.


  4. CleoRENtra
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 18:02:52

    I feel as though, things like this should wait until we are intimate with men. When the word “love” comes, then there is naturally trust that comes with it, then it is OK to tell the person more about who you are and all the details of what made you who you are. If they say they love you, then there must be trust there. If there is trust there, then this type of information can be entrusted in them. Hope this makes sense. My main point is, there is such thing as “too much, too soon,” and men can be scared away if they are not wholey invested with another in an intimate way.

    As for telling your friends, you should tell when you are comfortable telling. But it should not be something you should feel obligated to tell, or fear that if they find out some other way they may feel scorned. True friends will understand and respect your autonomy to provide information as you see fit. You don’t owe anyone any explanations, and information like this should not deter a true friendship, or change another’s view of who you are.

    There are things in my past that I choose not to divulge, but that is my choice. We’re women and we have intuition and we go with it flow with it know when it’s time to divugle and indulge before we bulge and explode. Don’t implode. It’s your path, left, right or off road.


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