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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / Is this emotional/sexual abuse/manipulation? With a fawn response?

Topic: Is this emotional/sexual abuse/manipulation? With a fawn response?

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. Janey_123
    Janey_123 avatar
    3 posts
    6 August 2020

    Someone who I'd been on a few dates with and I had a small disagreement where he reacted in a very manipulative way. I felt anxious. We ended up in his bedroom somehow then he was on top of me, grinding on me. ‘Stop’ then more forcefully, ‘Stop!’ He did, and I went home.
    This was assault but at the time I didn’t realise so stupidly, I went back to his house later to apologise. We went to dinner then he wanted meet his family who’d be at his house soon. I still felt guilty so I agreed.
    When we went to the house he wanted to ‘cuddle on the bed.’ Guiltly, I again agreed. I felt trapped by sick obligation. I’d been strategically manoeuvred and had no power. And then he was on top of me again, and my hand was undoing my shirt buttons like a slave.
    But I knew it wasn’t right.
    ‘I don’t want your family to think badly of me’ I expressed my discomfort. In response he dragged a piece of furniture across the door. Then I’m in denial - this isn’t a ‘make up’ interaction, is it? I asked. This is something else, he told me. I gave up and became a yes-man. Do you want this? Do anything, just be gentle. Do you want that? Yes.
    I have very strong sexual values so afterwards, I was in denial. I self-deceived saying that it had been my ‘most connected encounter’ and asked if he wanted reciprocation. I even met his family when they came.
    He invited me to his house twice after that. Once to watch movies or study. Neither of those things eventuated because sexual contact was initiated.
    And I complied. Sometimes I kissed him first. It’s almost like I knew it was coming and wanted to stop the threat before it happened. Something I now suspect is a fawn response. Sometimes, I felt powerless so I would request something during the encounters - a last ditch effort at control. But I wasn’t in control, I was a puppet being used. He didn’t care for me, it was lies. I was a piece of meat. I tried to convince myself that this person, as they kept implying, was my ‘the one’ but all it was self-deception to quell my anxiety.
    Eventually, I asked him to take a step back, to put a hold on the physical so we could ‘get to know each other better because I'd never been ready for it. But just like when I’d tried to assert myself the first time, his reaction was emotionally volatile and manipulative.
    After only a handful of dates, I found my strength and cut off contact.
    I feel so responsible and silly now, because I ignored some very predatory red flags, but his behaviour just isn’t right, is it?

  2. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6623 posts
    6 August 2020 in reply to Janey_123
    Dear Janey_123,

    First of all can we say how grateful we are that you felt brave enough to reach out to us here like this. We know it isn't easy but it is important. This is a safe and non-judgmental place where users give and receieve support based on their own experiences of mental health. 

    We want you to know we're here to provide you with as much support, advice and conversation as you need.

    You might also like to reach out to our friends at 1800-RESPECT: who specialise in professional counselling related to sexual assault and domestic violence. They're available 24/7 by phone on 1800 737 732 or webchat  via if you'd perfer to type rather than talk about it.

    Please check in and let us know how you're getting on whenever you feel up to it.
  3. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10938 posts
    6 August 2020 in reply to Janey_123
    Dear Janey_123~

    Please feel welcomed here, it is a good and gentle place where others can directly relate to your experiences. I’m please you have already met Sophie_M who has given you the 1800 Respect number and site. They are excellent, sympathetic and knowledgeable.

    Please do not give yourself a label, “fawn” or anything else. It is limiting and categorizes you whereas in fact you are a unique human being, and one I think is much stronger than you describe yourself.

    You have had a horrible set of experiences, and you have found that there are people who, unlike yourself, have no empathy for others, are pure out and out self-centered and will use whatever way they can to get what they want. Truth is a stranger to them, lies are their tools.

    There is no way without experience you can identify these people straight away, it is something you discover over time.

    For you they are a new sort of person. You are not taught about those personality types in class, and I’m pretty sure you would not have become familiar with them in your home as you were growing up.

    Is that assumption correct?

    So you were in a strange land, where you do not see the full picture, did not know how to react. Now living and re-living it all in your mind you start to blame yourself, for ‘giving in’ or ‘avoiding trouble’ or possibly even finding some things acceptable. Sadly self-blame seem to be built into us, even though not deserved.

    This all really comes down to learning about yourself from experience, and as a result having better ways to deal with toxic people.

    Sex itself is not straightforward -though it is often painted that way, but a learning process, hopefully learned together with someone that cherishes you.

    Sadly, here you were with a user, one that knew what buttons to press to make you behave as he wanted.

    You talk of ignoring red flags, until you have been there you do to know they are red flags at best just vague warnings. As for being silly, you gave him the flick, exactly right and why I say you have strength. Your final question, you can see from the above it was far from right, it was predatory and cruel.

    I would be delighted if you felt you could continue to talk here with us


  4. Janey_123
    Janey_123 avatar
    3 posts
    7 August 2020 in reply to Sophie_M

    Thank you very much for your reply, I really appreciate it!

    I've been dealing with this alone & I'm glad I decided to reach out. This is an incredibly supportive community and for that, I am so grateful. x

    Thank you for the links, I really appreciate it. Best wishes.

  5. Janey_123
    Janey_123 avatar
    3 posts
    7 August 2020 in reply to Croix

    Hello Croix,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    You are right - I've learned some hard lessons about the types of people there are in the world.

    Your supportive words have taken a weight off my heart. One thing that I've clung to is that when they feel unsafe or are manipulated, people behave in unusual ways to stay safe, or to cling to a sense of control. Add predatory/grooming behaviour to this and it is easy to be tricked, and difficult to think clearly.

    I've really struggled with self-blame, but I really feel that all these factors blur my consent to this messy situation?

    For now, though, I am back to my happy self, taking each day as it comes and enjoying the moment.

    Thank you again x

  6. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3151 posts
    7 August 2020 in reply to Janey_123

    Hi Janey_123,

    Welcome to the forums and thanks for being here. I too am so sorry to read about what you went through and I'm glad that you decided to share about it here.

    I'm thinking about what you talked about in fawning and manipulation - do you find that using those terms helps? Croix mentioned it being a label and limiting, and I can see that - but at the same time I can also see how learning about trauma responses can help reduce some of the blame and shame.

    While your post was titled as a question, I feel like you have answered it for yourself too.

    You did not deserve for this to happen, and this isn't your fault.

    It can be so easy to see in hindsight what could have or should have happened - I think a lot of us see that in Domestic Violence relationships of "why don't you just leave?", but it's not until we are in an unsafe relationship that we realise how incredibly complicated it is.

    I'm glad that you were able to get out of that situation now- taking each day as it comes and enjoying the moment sounds like an incredibly positive and optimistic attitude.


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