November 7, 2016
What it is like to date after being sexually assaulted.
After I was sexually assaulted I felt like I could trust no one in an intimate way again and that it was the end of the world. Then after a summer of taking care of myself, and coming back to university I thought I could potentially get back in the dating game and whatever happens happens. I wasn’t looking for anything. I went on a few dates and I felt comfortable, which was surprising to me considering everything that had happened. After getting to know the guy, I started to feel comfortable enough to be intimate with him. This was unexpected to me, it took courage and a lot from me to do this with someone new. I felt as though I had conquered my fear of intimacy after being sexually assaulted, and it was great. Then everything turned upside down. I didn’t know that trying to conquer my fear of intimacy would trigger emotions from the sexual assault. I was in pieces. Dating was not as easy as I thought.
Dating in general is hard enough, but when you have been sexually assaulted it leads to a whole new world of dating. You can do all the right things, make sure that you feel comfortable with them, make sure they are a good person. All this can make sure that you feel the best you can be when with them. However, even all these precautions that you can take, you still don’t know who they really are when you first start dating or hanging out with them.
In my experience, the first time dating after being sexually assaulted, I did the right things, I waited and made sure I was comfortable again but then if the person starts being distant and ignoring you, this feeling of comfort changes. I started to feel used. This feeling of being used triggered feelings from my assault. These triggers adversely affected my healing path, which made me feel like I was moving backwards. This dating experience did not involve sexual assault but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t used or felt used. I am now good friends with this person, so no matter if you don’t end up dating them things can go well in different ways.
Dating is a rollercoaster of emotions. I thought I was ready, and before I was sexually assaulted I would have handled this situation so differently. But sexual assault changes you in ways you didn’t think it would. But, silver lining, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Despite this bad experience, I still think I am ready for dating but I need to be more clear about my needs. And maybe this is what you need to do as well. After being sexual assaulted, I was advised by SASC that you need to decide your needs for the people you want to or are dating. If you have boundaries and express your needs up front, it is more than likely that the people you choose to date will hopefully meet these needs. And if they do not meet your needs or the person does not want to meet them, do you really want to date that person? You need to take care of you first of all. At this time in your life you need to put yourself first, which is something I am still working on.
With regard to dating, if a person comes along and meets your needs as a survivor and you feel comfortable, then give it a go. What have you got to lose? You’ve survived being sexually assaulted, you’re strong. You can date, if you want to. It’s not going to be pretty, but you can do it. Do not be scared about dating. You’re a survivor, you’re stronger than you think.