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January 28, 2018 - 8:36 a.m.

Me Too:
To the people who say, "Why didn't you just leave?" and those who snap back at writers who are looking into the science and socialization behind the flight or fight responses, and why survival instincts sometimes don't serve us well in extracting ourselves.

This writer's perspective did help me. At 15 I found myself alone with a 24 year old man, and even though I was raised not to see myself as a victim, to believe I was strong and confident (which I am), I was totally out of body when I realized that the things I didn't want to happen were going to happen to me. Even though I said the word 'no,' I tried to leave, I reminded him that I had said I needed to go home... and all of my verbal and body-language cues were non-consenting - but I was in the middle of nowhere with no way to leave. We could critique my idiocy for being alone in the first place, but this was the older brother of a friend - who I had trusted to get me home safely. My friends put me in that car and waved me away. I thought I was going home, but he stopped at his place first - in the middle of the country off a back road.


"If a person — man or woman — feels, I may not be allowed to communicate that I’m not consenting, [the situation] turns into a safety planning," she says. "Someone is ignoring your cues, and you’re in a moment of considering if this is safe, because a person is ignoring your space or violating your space, and feeling entitled to do so."In other words, if someone is already disregarding your cues of a "no," your brain may begin trying to register whether or not this is a safe situation for you, and a factor in that consideration is whether or not this person can overpower you physically.
Saying no, then, becomes more difficult when you feel as if your safety is at stake. But "why didn't you say no?" or "why didn't you just leave?" are unfortunately all-too-common questions people ask survivors of sexual assault. When confronted with a perceived danger or threat to survival, however, the brain can go into fight-or-flight mode, sending signals to the rest of the body to either resist or try to leave the situation.

"If you could have just walked away, you would have done that," Kim says. "The human brain picks up on threat. The reptilian part of the brain will make a decision, and the only concern it has is survival." The main concern, she says, is getting out alive, even if that means freezing up or going along with a sex act that you were coerced into. "You're appeasing someone to prevent more violent behavior," Kim says.
What the writer says makes a lot of sense to me. I was angry with myself for not fighting harder and at a certain point, I definitely realized that if it was going to happen I could make it worse and more violent, or I could minimize the risk and survive.

I let that happen, sure, instead of something much worse. Maybe.

I asked myself the same questions people are asking here, because I had assessed this person as kind and thoughtful, and felt deeply ashamed and stupid afterward when I realized that I had been wrong. Not fighting made something that could have been much, much worse a situation that I actually got to walk away from. Hearing other women say that 'just walking away' could have spared me this experience is brutal. A lot of things could have gone differently, but 'just leaving' or 'communicating better' wasn't one of them.

Also worth noting: When someone stops listening to you, screaming louder doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy. I wish I could say I should’ve just been better at not getting raped, but I was only 15. I didn’t have a lot of experience in that department yet.


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