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THE DAMSEL: Predators, Instincts, "Nice Girls" & Neurodivergence

Updated: May 9

If you missed all the trigger warnings and the subject matter from the last post, I suggest you go back and read it.


Continued from:

JERRY-RIGGING: Building My First Set of Armor

BUILDING ARMOR: The Hard Way



We want so badly to believe that people mean what they say. That people’s motives are pure. That gifts truly are gifts. We want to believe that people are, for the most part, intrinsically good at heart. That they really do just like us.


I guess that’s why it’s called make-believe.



~Gavin De Becker - security specialist and author of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signs that Protect Us From Violence. I've linked to a full episode below. (11)



Covid has given me an unexpected gift. When the entire country started losing its shit from this pandemic, it occurred to certain powers-that-be that access to trauma therapy might be beneficial for humans who aren’t rich. Maybe?


Well, thank you microscopic badass, thank you Arkansas for finally granting me access to something I needed back in elementary school, something I had tried and failed to procure for nearly four decades: trauma therapy. At first I couldn’t get it because it wasn’t available where I lived, and later because it was such an expensive specialization that I couldn’t afford it.


Amidst this much-needed assistance to sort out the box of tangled spool threads in my mind, many lightbulbs of understanding have flashed into brilliance. One of these is the understanding that I have always had a breakdown with comprehending that great numbers of people around me don’t operate and think like I do. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t understand specifically what the differences were.


A big part of it is that a lot of people are not as literal, hyper-logical, and yet hyper-emotional as I am. Then there's this whole unspoken language going on out there that I don't get. I sense it. I have researched it. Copiously, because much of it doesn't make sense to me, and I spent most of my life trying to pretend this isn't the case. But at my core, I find a whole bunch of it baffling. I find the rest of it annoying and a waste of my very limited spoons. (1, 2) Traumatic Brain Injury only exacerbated these issues.


It also took decades for me to understand that my level of conscientiousness, compassion, cooperativeness, tolerance, forgiveness, and gullibility is just an eensie-weensie bit out of bounds from a lot of people around me. This has made me fabulous bait for users, abusers, and predators. (3)


Woot.


Part of this comes from trauma training--you know, that other lesser-known survival instinct F-word. We have Fight or Flight. Last time I covered what it's like to Freeze. And then there’s Fawning in the hopes of keeping volatile people from exploding on me. (5) I learned this coping mechanism instinctually, and it's a big part of social norms in my culture.


You probably have no idea just how much energy I exert trying to mold my face--well, first how hard I have to work to control the size of my facial expressions when I am excited about stuff. And my hands that want to go everywhere. And my full-body vibrating. Apparently my caliber of exuberance is only acceptable in cartoon characters.


Ahem.


Conversely, my Spockly intensity is also an issue, both when I'm using it to control my sproinging-Tigger self and when I'm simply concentrating on a task. I also doubt you have any clue how often I find myself instinctually lightening my face and brightening my eyes into an innocuous mask in the effort of assuring people who don't know me intimately, "I am not a threat to you. I will not try to steal your husband. I will not eat your children. I am not plotting against you as you sleep, so you do not need to preemptively attack me or give me a wide berth while herding your kids or your man away from me."


Constructing this Pleasant Face and its corresponding Pleasant Voice With ChitChat is habitual now, but it is by no means involuntary. It requires spoons.


This goes all the way back to, "Don't you look at me that way. Look at me when I'm talking to you!" And it goes back to being misinterpreted as "stuck up, mean, scary, unfriendly" or just plain..."off" with my weird facial carriage and mannerisms as I swiped all those awards, medals, classroom rankings, positions, accolades, and other things people wanted for themselves. Later, when I was no longer deemed "ugly," this included male sexual attention.


But I sweary-swear, I never plotted to "steal" anything from anybody. I didn't win stuff to be "mean." I just do what I do, and I was perfectly, Spockly aware of what I was good at. (Not allowed to have self-esteem and confidence, after all. That's also "stuck up and mean.")


And okay, yeah, later when I was heartbroken and bitter, I took vindicated delight any time I kicked their asses at anything they wanted to win.


But in the beginning, when all of this knee-jerk fawning started, I just wanted friends--REAL friends. Genuine friends who didn't expect you throw the race or hurt other people in order to get into their good graces. To me, those weren't friends, and I'd lost the only two I could trust. Johnny was a year younger than I was, so kindergarten dismantled that relationship. Then the one friend I made in my own classroom moved away at the end of that first year. (No Mari yet. She arrived in second grade.)


So there I was in first grade, completely alone and coming home in tears yet again. My mother’s primary suggestions for bullying and abuse are branded into my brain to this day. The first one was to "ignore it because they'll get bored and stop." They didn't. In the face of Spock, they started using physical attacks that I couldn't ignore.


Her second tactic added systematic instruction to my instinctual propensity for fawning: “Give them a compliment," she said. "People feel good when you compliment them, and people who feel good about themselves are less likely to be mean to other people. It’s best when it’s specific to them. Like, don’t say, ‘That dress is so pretty.’ Say, ‘That dress looks so pretty on you.’ Because then it's about them, not the dress."


This last part struck particularly deep and persists in my heart to this day, because of that small nuance. I knew how these things landed in me when such a compliment was said in earnest instead of being a two-faced jibe. "That dress is so pretty," can easily throw the daggers of envy behind it and have nothing to do with connecting with the one wearing it. Whereas, "on you" screams to my hypersensitive system how dramatically it changes the entire sentiment. It lands in the heart, not on the fabric of the external veneer enshrouding my meatsuit from the eyes of other humans.

And what do you know, it worked for other people, too.


The taller of the twins had taken an especially aggressive dislike to me that month because I had cluelessly blurted out a logical extrapolation to the details she’d given me about her dad. She had assumed I was making a negative judgment about my findings. Not at all. It was simply an interesting fact to my mind. I understand now that she had probably been horribly derided about it by other kids, but it wasn't something that made me think badly about her dad or her.


Didn’t matter. Damage done. My attempts to explain my thoughts on the matter only hacked her off more.


So in the lunch line, with my heart racing, I mustered up the courage to use my mother’s exact compliment on her. The twins had these darling coordinated gingham dresses. One always wore blue; the one who bullied me more intensely always wore red. So before she turned around and saw me, I lobbed the shot across the bow, praying that it would land well. “That dress is so pretty on you. It matches your freckles. My favorite doll has a dress just like it.”

Bing!


Her face lit up and then she blushed, smiled, thanked me, and turned back around to collect her lunch. But she stood a little taller and she was nice to me for the rest of the day.


Lesson 1 learned: fawning works. ✅


Lesson 2 quickly followed on its heels: genuine compliments you truly mean are easier and swifter to concoct on the fly, and they land better in the recipient. They also feel way better than the icky spine-prickle and nausea induced by lying. ✅


Alas, fawning isn’t a solution. It’s merely a bandaid for the deeper problem: abusive people preying upon and taking out their own frustrations on those they perceive as weaker. Hence Lesson 3: Once you start fawning, you have to keep it up at regular intervals to produce similar results. ✅✅✅✅✅


And Lesson 4: fawning isn’t guaranteed to stop the abuse. In fact, it can create a horrible habit whereby someone sucks in all your affection and petting in exchange for the graciously bestowed favor of not abusing you.


NOT cool.


Especially considering Lesson 5: sometimes they abuse you just to spark your fawning and cowering because they’re feeling a little low and they need a fix.


Also Lesson 6: Manipulators and abusers will wield this tactic of "being nice" (technically acting nice) to lure you into a false sense of a "reciprocal" relationship. It’s how you know you’re forgiven. It’s how you know you’re back in their good graces. It’s how you know they “love you back” because they’ve stopped attacking you, withholding their affection, and giving you the silent treatment for whatever transgression you've committed. (4)


But noooooo…people wouldn’t DO that purposely. Not maliciously. WHAT?! No, it’s just a reaction like a scared, wet kitten biting your hand when you go to save it after the storm. You just have to wrap it up in a nice, warm towel and hold it close to your over-spilling heart and then it’ll know it’s loved. It’ll become your bestest buddy and—


Lesson 7: Manipulators and abusers will also use this tactic from the outset to lure in unsuspecting prey under the guise of “being nice.” At its most bloated, it’s called “Love Bombing.” (4) This volatile, addictive cocktail is concocted and tweaked specifically for your individual needs by a predacious master con artist. We’ll get into a whole lot of this in the future with regard to longterm psychologically abusive relationships.


For now, let’s stick with horny Satyrs remitting backend sexual invoices for their “generosity” in helping a newb shield-maiden build her first set of armor.


I have a life-trend that baffled me for many of my decades in this body. Once I started learning self-protection, saying "NO," setting boundaries, defending them, and employing the kind of selfishness that is self-care--putting my own oxygen mask on first...once I learned that having self-esteem was not being "stuck-up or mean to others," and that self-value is the foundational level of self-defense, you would think that my tendency to be predator-bait would have...abated. (Badum-tss.)


Au contraire, it only got worse.


This was illogical. I did not understand it.



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Many answers from well-meaning souls gushed forth like a broken sewer pipe: "Ohhhh, predators primarily prey on empaths and codependents, so you must still have awful self-esteem and be a doormat, and you must be letting your empathic nature toss you around like a bobber in a storm."


But I wasn't.


According to a study by Purdue on narcissistic and psychopathic abuse, the codependent demographic only comprised about 30% of the 600 survivors they tested. These subjects didn't have many of the personality traits of the classic long-term battering victim. Rather, the biggest characteristics they had in common would ultimately come to be what Sandra L. Brown has named "Supertraits" - and my base personality is comprised of a super-duper lot of them. (3)


This study showed that the classic target of a conscienceless predator doesn't have these traits in the extreme, but rather to a degree that is just outside the "sweet-spot of safety." This sweet-spot in the center of the bell-curve makes most people cut and run, put up walls, drop someone much earlier and with more ease than traumatized, abandonment-fearing codependents and those who are inherently supertraited.


When I tell you about those missing memories from 1992, we'll do a deeper dive into all of this. For now, here's the down and dirty version of what they are:


Agreeableness

  • Warm, open, loving

  • Deeply relationship invested

  • Trusting of others - because they are trustworthy

  • Optimistic about human nature, including the belief that people can change for the better - because they work hard to make positive changes in themselves

  • Straightforward, honest, confiding - an open book

  • Altruistic and sacrificially giving nature

  • Motivated by social and relational harmony (remember which quality the Whispering Tree analyzed my voice as - Harmony)

  • Willing to compromise and create a reciprocal relationship dynamic

  • Cooperative - prone to assisting rather than attacking

  • Sentimental

  • Approachable, gentle, humble, friendly, down-to-earth

  • Empathic, compassionate, tender, forgiving, peace-making

  • Tolerant, even welcoming of differences in others

Conscientiousness

  • Efficient, competent, resourceful, even perfectionistic

  • A good organizer, especially of people, resources, ideas

  • Hard-working

  • Dependable, take obligations and commitments seriously

  • Achievement oriented, ambitious, aim to fulfill outside expectations

  • Self-disciplined, controlled, not impulsive

  • Deliberate, cautious, careful, reflective, diligent

  • Persevering amidst challenges, loyalty, stick-to-it-ness, a survivor


These are all great traits to have. The second category of conscientiousness is one of the primary markers that colleges and employers consider necessary for success. The first category is filled with qualities that often form a likable person and bonded relationships.


But when you have an elevation of this particular trait cocktail, you create a specific type of personality, and it's one of the predators' favorite snacks.


When I am not reeling in the midst of trauma or scraping myself up off the pavement from it, when I am not bombarded by sensory overload and the confusion of trying to play social reindeer games I don't get, when I don't have people pressuring me to do things that feel awful, (and yeah, okay, when I'm not being an arrogant "no, I totally got this" fuck-twit), these traits are hard-wired into the core of my nature. It's what I default to more and more strongly with every trauma-born mess we clean up, and with every "Ah-HAH!" that modern research on neurodivergence grants me.


If I don't understand this about my nature, it's a huge part of what makes me such delectable prey. (Supply, target, victim--there are many names for it.)


As such, I have to educate myself about a very different skill-set beyond curing my trauma-born Fawn/Freeze mechanisms, defending boundaries, and erecting protections so my HSP system is not overloaded by external stimuli.


The first thing I had to do, which took me a reeeeally long time, was to even comprehend that I live out of bounds of the safety zone with these Supertraits. My personality renders me At Risk by nature, and trauma renders me habitually At Risk by too many years of nurture, so I have to mitigate that shit. (1-6, 11)


Unfortunately (fortunately?), I've swung to the opposite side of the pendulum. Now my overactive amygdala blares the warning klaxons any time someone simply…gee, I dunno…opens their mouth or glances my way. Anytime people breathe? After half a century of having it hammered into me, I now don’t fucking trust a fucking word any motherfuckers fuckin’ say, especially if it’s kind, complimentary, or offering me assistance. My hyper-alerted SWAT team swears that it can only be manipulation, lies, control mechanisms, and an underhanded attempt to get something from me that I wouldn’t willingly give if I knew their true motivations.

It’s an issue. We’re working on it. But it’s a complex, complicated project that’s going to take time.


Thank you, microscopic badass, for also giving me this distance from humans while I attempt to locate Humpty-Dumpy’s scattered pieces, particularly that misplaced box that contains an efficient internal warning system that accurately assesses data and spits out helpful suggestions for self-protection.


Since I didn't grow up with one of those and this got taken advantage of over and over throughout my adult years, it’s taking some time to build one from scratch on deeply rutted terrain.


Back when I was twenty-two, my first few months in the SCA and the generosity I experienced at my first event gave me the mistaken notion that I had finally, after a lifetime of searching, discovered the super-Scooby secret location where My Kind dwelled. Not just nerdy, artsy-and-athletic people who loved history and fantasy. I mean, the kind of people who genuinely meant it when they said, “I’d like to help you because you’re new.”


Without attaching an unspoken pricetag to it.


I thought I’d found the mist-enshrouded island of people who acted generously because they were generous. People who respected--nay, encouraged healthy boundaries and taught sheild-maiden-wanna-bes how to defend them out of the goodness of their hearts. People who were courteous and kind with a deep commitment to honor, excellence, and that long-lost attribute: chivalry.


Some of them truly were.


And that only confused the barely-adult, neurodivergent, supertraited greenhorn even more, because my introduction to the Society had come from Hal. Then it was backed up by that tight-knit little Shire on the shores of the Inner Sea. They pretty much spoiled me before my twinkling toes ever hit dirt at my first event, because they did actually mean it. It says oodles for them, but it didn’t do my theory of mind any favors.

I used to call myself an idiot. I’m not. I have come to understand that I simply have a different type of neurology from the majority of people I meet, so I miss a lot of social cues that are glaringly obvious to everyone around me. Then, when people have tried to warn me, I brushed them off in my naive, arrogant fuck-twittery because my supertraited guts were swearing--screaming--that people really are good at heart and you just have to give them the opportunity to show their best selves and noooooo, why would somebody DO something like that?


Hoooo, boy.


I am now capable of naming the reasons. (Not that I get them any better.)


I also used to bend over backwards to be a nice girl because for a female, "good person = nice girl." Thhhhpt. "Nice" can kiss my ass. I'd rather be genuinely kind. Reciprocally generous. Honestly affectionate. Firmly principled with a gentle, accepting demeanor. Fiercely loyal and cooperative with those who have proven through action that they are just as devoted to me. I'd rather be altruistically compassionate--from the minimum safe distance prescribed on a case-by-case basis. I'd rather protect myself and be labeled a bitch, reserving all my sweetness and warmth for those who are as upfront and conscientious as I am.


I'd like to be trusting.


I'm not.


We're working on it.


The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Now in hindsight, I understand why the other fighters bristled when I accepted Satyr’s offer for help. I understand that there were deeper reasons why people avoided and disliked him beyond a prejudice for his physical malady.


Their alarms should have triggered mine, but I’d long had this horrible habit of dismissing them. Why wouldn’t I? I had been well trained at home, at school, at church, and with multiple abusive men I’d dated. I had learned the hard way that boundaries were—


Well, at twenty-two I had no idea what those were. In fact, it had been drilled into me that my boundaries and the word “NO” were not welcome unless I wanted to remain as ostracized as I was in my youngest years. (11)


I was actually born with an alarm system that is as hypersensitive and detail-observant as the rest of my systems. Unfortunately, I’d had my wariness invalidated for as long as I have memory. Same with all the other signals my touchy, twitchy body gave me. Sights, sounds, sensations. I had never been allowed to have my environment the way my body and brain needed it--not in my home, and certainly not outside of it.

  • “Ohhhhhh, hush now. You’re all right.”

  • “Ohhhhhh, it’s not that bad/loud/bright/tight.”

  • “What?! That cannot possibly be hurting you.”

  • “Ohhhhhh, calm down, come here, get out there, do it anyway.”

  • “That is no reason to cry. You’re fine.”


This is not because my parents were cruel assholes. In fact, they were far more patient and accommodating than anybody outside our front door. So were a couple of my favorite teachers who really got me. But that wasn't remotely enough to create a stable sense of comfort and safety in my developing nervous system. Those two commodities were, at best, fleeting. More often they were nonexistent.


But nobody talked about HSPs and neurodivergence in the 70s. And as for talking about childhood trauma? Heck, war vets were pooh-poohed for coming back from Vietnam with PTSD, so children who hadn’t been abducted and gang raped every day for five years, then came home with every bone in their bodies broken? Pshhhhh.


Kids with regular ole lives can’t have PTSD. Right?? (1, 2, 6)


Such a convenient myth that serves abusers well.

Nah, we were just “weaklings, wussies, crybabies, picky, too sensitive, shy scaredy cats,” and that was unacceptable. Those traits needed to be smacked, yelled, grabbed and shaken, thumped, poked, wrangled, shoved, shamed, and chastised out of us “for our own good.”

Suck It Up, Buttercup.


The theory went that, if you just bombarded a sensitive kid enough, they’d toughen up and grow out of it, and thus become their best, badass selves.

Some did.


Some of us became badass maskers. (1) We learned to Just Deal with constant physical discomfort, neurological overload, disorientation in crowds, and never-ending micro-pain. We learned that our personal needs and preferences were “unreasonable, unimportant,” and thus, something we would never be able to have. My comfort and safety got filed alongside wishing I was over six feet tall with big, round, blue eyes.


In order to live with this, I had to muzzle, choke-chain, and imprison my internal boundary makers and self-protectors deep down in the dungeon. "NO" was banished from my vocabulary. Everything my body screamed at me—I learned to ignore it. To tune it out. To plaster over it with daydreaming, numbing, or hyper-focused Over-Achieving--all while cultivating that placid smile to cover up everything roaring beneath the surface.


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Anyone who’s ever lived with chronic pain or illness knows. After awhile, it all becomes a dull hum in the background. It’s the Spoon Theory. (1) It’s always there, either getting in your way, or making everything you do harder and more exhausting. You only notice how bad it was if it ever stops.


As an adult, the labels shifted but they meant the same thing, now with the extra bite of, “You are old enough to know better. Now you’re choosing to act this way. You’re high-maintenance. You’re a diva. Bitch. Priss. Prude. Conceited. Unfriendly. You're so selfish!”

I was the hypersensitive social butterfly-wanna-be who yearned to play with every amazing person on the planet. I was Annie wanting to save all the strays and defend all the orphans and make sure there was more than hot mush for everybody to eat. So my constant battle against those inaccurate labels created a pendulum swing in me. I wasn’t unfriendly or stuck-up. Not at all. Being chronically misunderstood, my efforts to prove that turned into a complex.


I certainly had enough role models for it: all the people-pleasers in my family, the Minnesota Nice culture, the media, swathes of females around me, my religion.


Feed the hungry.

Extend a hand to the outcast.

Lift up the downtrodden.

Forgive the criminal.

Save the cat.


These things are great. But where angry, manipulative, malicious people were concerned, I’d had it drilled into me since coming home in tears year after year that the answer to bullying and cruelty was compassion and kindness, because the attacks I was experiencing were “simply the signs of a person who was hurting even worse than they were hurting me.” In response, a “good person”—especially a “good girl” or a “good woman”—always went to compassion first and extended that helpful hand, before any thoughts of what one wanted or needed for one’s self.


This included so much as thinking badly about someone.

Can’t do that.


Certainly can’t put anyone out of their way. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make waves. Don’t make a scene. Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t burden other people with your problems and especially not with your paranoias. Thinking bad thoughts about people who are smiling at you or just being nice to you means that you are the bad person. Saying that you can feel them plotting against you behind your back but you have no proof because they’re smiling when you whip around or the teacher comes into the room—that's crazy talk.


And as for protection from bullies and predators? That was something I was going to have to “figure out myself” because adults were as clueless about PTSD in children as they were about neurodivergence, so they didn’t have any more time for my trauma—excuse me. “My drama.”


That’s why I’d wanted to learn how to fight and build armor. To handle it my fucking self.


My martial artist fiancé had been working on me to start learning self-defense for two years. Unfortunately, when I walked into my first SCA event, my guard was down. After those years dating Kyle, and after all the help and kindness I’d received from The Shire, I was convinced that I had stumbled into paradise when I found the Society for Creative Adultery—I mean, Anachronism.


See, I hadn’t heard that term yet, much less discovered why the organization is called that, just like I hadn’t heard the terms "neurodivergent" or "HSP." I certainly didn’t know what "masking" was, or understand how instinctually I’d been doing it all my life. We're all supposed to pretend that our toxic environments and the way people treat us is "okay." Even "welcome." Plus, I’d been an actress since I was very young, so it came all too easily.


Something else I didn't fully understand: why they called my new friend "Satyr" or that he would exhibit the sexually relentless qualities of this creature when he got me alone and indebted.

As for that other nickname they had for him, I was so busy shouting at myself to ignore it—“ohhhh, hush now, it’s not that bad, be a good person, not a shallow, finicky bitch”—that I wound up shutting up and ignoring a whole bunch of other things my warning senses were blaring. It was all just racket anyway. Things to ignore. Things to suck up and deal with because that's what we do.


Things my instincts noticed about him and did NOT like.


But acting on those dislikes would have required the word “NO.”

My Inner Tigress had noticed the way the other fighters bristled at Satyr. Unfortunately, she was locked up in the dungeon so her growls were muffled. The Annie Do-Gooder who sat in my driver's seat interpreted that incorrectly--Whaaaat? Pssssh. Annie dismissed it as prejudice and single-guy jealousy.


Of course, once I found myself mired in the precarious situation, my paranoid spidey-senses were also the biggest reason why I didn’t get testy and insist that Satyr sleep on the couch. Did I make my biggest mistake in that moment? Or was fawning one of the smartest things I did that entire night?


No clue. We can only speculate without nearly enough concrete data, because I never put myself in the position to see how he would react to me if I became cold, hard, growly.


“Bitchy.”


Something told me that his reaction could be as volatile as many other males I had pissed off. At best, it could be very unpleasant. Satyr had already shown me that he didn’t possess polite conduct or remotely appropriate boundaries between two people. Something told me that this trait ran a whole lot deeper than that first testing of waters as he smiled so “innocently” at me from my bed. I could smell it on him, just like I could see it in the back of his eyes. (11)


Back there, he was cold. Hard. Growly. And he was grinning.


I was terrified of provoking him into insult and anger, because that one fighting lesson in armor had not remotely taught me how to defend myself from a bigger, stronger person if he turned out to be not-so-nice under that helpful smile. On top of that, I’d been naive enough with my rosy-colored glasses to have trapped myself alone in my apartment with a guy who wasn’t my fiancé. A guy that I now owed. A guy who did know how to fight.

Conveniently, Satyr had taken the outside spot on the bed. I didn’t think anything of it when I turned out the lights and tiptoed shakily across the dark room--not because I didn’t notice.


Because I chose not to.

We blatantly ignore things like that, because if you notice, then you have to do something about it. You have to say something, and remember—if we say NO, that’s the grounds for the discussion. The negotiation. You have to defend it with rationale. Saying, “Ummm…I don’t feel so good about that because you have weird energy and my hair is standing up on end…”


Pfffft!


That’s the fastest way to get labeled as “paranoid, off your rocker, mean” and “making offensive, outlandish accusations.” In other words, you’re a crazy bitch, and we all remember what crazy bitches deserve, don’t we?


"FFS this is not that hard! If you weren't going to boot him, why didn't you just lie to him? Why didn't you make up something like, 'Oh, I always sleep on the left side of the bed. I can't sleep on the right, so can you move in?"


Yeah, wouldn't that have been a brilliant solution against trapping myself further?


Here's a fun idea. Why don't you try concocting a convincing lie in .2 seconds on a neurodivergent brain that is hyper-literal and already requires copious spoons to not blurt out truths the moment you think them, then add panic-freeze-shutdown to it?


No?


Cool.


So you choose not to think anything of the fact that he placed himself between the open spot on the bed and the only escape route in the room.


The Tigress, however, noticed. She did NOT like it.


I ignored her, too. She growled louder. I popped her on the nose.


Shhhh…down girl. Geez! Relax.


Conveniently, your compassion-first, Nice Girl traitor-brain is as overdeveloped and trigger-happy as your Emergency Shutdown System. Those lies that would have been handy for you to sling off your tongue to save your ass? Nah. They are better turned around upon you and used as restraints to keep you from standing up and speaking That Forbidden Word that will unearth Hell upon your tidy, fawning life.


It’s probably just the side of the bed he’s used to sleeping on. Gawwwd, you take everything so personally, so seriously. Stop freaking out about nothing. You always do this. You're just fine. You need a valium. Chill out.


When you hear these things from enough people over so many years, especially during your first two decades of life, sometimes you don’t notice that you parrot these things to yourself.

I didn’t notice.


Instead, I let myself get pinned between Satyr and the back wall of my apartment. When he handed me the sexual price tag for that lovely set of jerry-rigged armor five feet away on the floor, something warned me not to get explicit about the real reasons I was turning him down. That’s a fast way to insult a guy and hurt his butt.


Butt-hurt guys can be very dangerous.


So in one last Hail-Mary, I tossed him the only reason a lot of guys will find fair to not remit sexual payment for their services: “I’m faithful to my fiancé/boyfriend/husband.” Can’t go tromping on the Bro-Code, after all. If another penis is in possession of a twat who is staying faithful to him, well, good on him and we don’t mess with that.


Okay, the semi-decent ones don’t.


The truly decent ones don’t make passes at friends who have already said that they’re taken, and they certainly don’t crawl into a woman’s bed uninvited and dare her with their eyes, “Go ahead. Try to make me move. You owe this to me.”


Codes of decency obviously didn’t matter to Satyr because he didn’t resist trying to sexually coerce me, just like he didn’t offer to sleep on my couch, abide by my spoken preference that he do so, or arrange crash space with any of the myriad guys in our area.

I also was too mousy to insist upon that myself while the arrangements were being made—can’t go putting anybody out of their way if they don’t offer, don’tcha know, which didn’t help horny Satyrs read my clueless, doormat, wishy-washy signals.


Something else that has taken me decades to understand about myself: apparently I’m also clueless about the social cues of flirtation. I think I’m being friendly; it gets taken as flirty. I think someone is being kind; they’re coming on to me. I think someone is flirting with me; they’re actually being a dick or trying to get information about my hot friend.


So I dunno. If you erase the bullshit policy of “I did this nice thing so you owe me sex,” and if you erase the ASSumption of, “You are female and I am male, therefore if you spend time with me alone, you automatically want to fuck me,” did it still seem like I was flirting with him?

I wasn’t.


I found him sexually repulsive. Not even because he wasn't a good looking guy. He was. There was just something about him that...NO. But I don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex in order to be their friend. The SCA and martial arts world would teach me that this is not the case with a lot of males.

Well, no matter if Satyr mistook our armor adventures as flirting or not, my signals couldn’t have been clearer when I laid there like a frozen porcupine-in-the-headlights, telling him that I had zero interest in his overtures. Even if I’d been panting and eyeing and touching him and making explicit sexual promises to him all day, the moment I rejected his come-on SHOULD HAVE BEEN IT.

Oh, and it was.


It.


It was the moment when he delivered the bomb of his answer.


“I could just take it anyway. I could just rape you.”


Rape you…

Rape you…

Rape you…




I'm not the person to ask for advice about this subject. These people are:


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) - Including the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE



CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

--UP NEXT: It’s always there, lurking in the backs of our minds—these kinds of threats. Seriously. You might have no idea how often it’s there, and how potent it is. So let me paint some pictures for you. And we're not gonna be nice about it: "YOU OWE ME" - Sexual Coercion, Expectations & Assault

--OR: I have lots of other writing about Neurodivergence & Hypersensitivity

--OR: You can find five decades worth of tales about being a female learning the Arts of Self-Defense HERE.

--THE NAVIGATION TABLE OF CONTENTS


JUST A FEW MORE LINKS

If I wasn’t born autistic, I at least lived really close to that border. Then my first Traumatic Brain Injury pushed me right over the edge to where I now function like someone on the spectrum. But if I have always been an undiagnosed autistic, my life and experience in a body on this planet finally make sense for the first time when viewed through this lens.


Whatever the diagnosis, I developed heavy (and constantly failing) compensation strategies for my personal cocktail of neurodivergence that TBI whisked away from me. Every subsequent brain trauma makes it worse. Masking is exhausting. Always has been, and Covid finally gave me the excuse to drop that whole circus monkey facade.


Want to really understand me?


1) Masking & Compensatory Behaviors

--Neurodivergent Compensatory Behaviors (commonly called a general “Masking”)

--Masking: I Am Not OK - #DoILookAutisticYet & #TakeTheMaskOff

--TEDx - The Neurodiversity Paradigm: the Medical vs. the Social Models. “I’m not disabled by my autism {my neurodiversity, my TBI}. I’m disabled by my environment.”

--The Spoon Theory - why chronic pain, illness or disabilities make life harder and more exhausting


2) Neurodivergence, Trauma & Abuse

--Neurodivergence, Abuse & Adult Females

--Toxic/Abusive Relationships and Autism

--What Autistic Women Want You to Know - including why there is a greater risk for falling prey to abuses like sexual assault and date rape. (In the past few years, it’s also understood that this manifestation that differs from the stereotypical “Rainman” or “Sheldon” archetype is not merely limited to females.)

--Unsafe, Unheard, Misunderstood - A number of lesser known and lesser understood atypical types of trauma experienced by neurodivergent people. These constant stressors encourage masking, people pleasing, the dismissal of instincts and one’s own needs, and not standing or speaking up for one’s self.


3) The Pathological Predator’s Preferred Prey Personalities

(Can I SQUEEZE any more Ps in there?)

--Supertraits - Beyond Empathy and Codependence in Survivors of Pathological Abuse

--The profile of the conscienceless predator’s preferred prey - Sandra L. Brown M.A and the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction


4) Coercive Control & Psychological Abuse

--The Tactics



In case you missed these last time:


5) Just Say NO

Why Didn’t You Just Say “NO”?

—Before you ask why someone didn’t say “NO” or leave, CONSIDER THIS.

Fawning is not consent. It's a trauma response like Fight, Flight & Freeze.

The Freeze Response


6) The Traumatized Mindset & C-PTSD

Complex PTSD - how prolonged and repeated childhood trauma rewires the nervous system and manifests in personality, self-esteem, and behaviors

8 Signs You Might Be Traumatized

How Trauma & Dissociation interrupt the ability to form memories

—One of the best books I have ever read in my life: The Body Keeps the Score - Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma

—Don't want to read the book? Here's the basic premise of what trauma does to the body and why talking about it, even in therapy, so often doesn't solve the problems: Short Version. Or Long Version by the author himself

—A few of the myriad healing techniques discussed in the book: EMDR, Yoga, Mindfulness & Support Network. These are only a few the book covers.

EMDR: The technique that has given me the most success, both for immediate single-incident trauma (my big car wreck) and for C-PTSD.


7) The “Friendzone” and Using “Nice” to Get Sex

—“Friendzone” sounds better than “liar intent on sexual manipulation zone” to me.

One man talks about using “nice” as a tactic for sex - “Women aren’t slot machines that you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.”

How the term “Friendzone” perpetuates rape culture and sexism

The Dark Side of the Friendzone


8) The positive side of the Friendzone - the differences between what many women and men are looking for from coed friendships and why it’s so confusing


9) #MeToo and More Fun Feminine TomFoolery

It’s no wonder men objectify us when our bodies are asking for it

Schrodinger’s Rapist - why women assume the worst about that guy who's "just trying to be nice"

—Schrodinger’s Rapist - yes, we have to talk about this again

Male sex entitlement is killing women

—ALSO: Sexual violence committed upon males hits just as hard--and it's not only done by other males. They're just silenced and stigmatized, which heaps on more damage to male survivors, and it further perpetuates the cultural "boys will be boys" myth that “males are either sexually insatiable and aggressive or pussies; females are weak, pure damsels or conniving, manipulating whores.”

--Cunt.


10) #YouToo: A Few At-Risk Populations

Rape Statistics by State 2021

Rape Statistics by Country 2021 - and how difficult it is to get an accurate account. Anywhere. Because not everybody calls rape "rape". Remember once upon a time that wives were considered "unrapeable?" In a bunch of places, they still are, and even in spite of US laws it's still difficult to prove even here.

—Ooooh, and remember that time the United States conveniently labeled Black females "unrapeable" so they could do what they wanted to their slaves? That crap still trickles down into attitudes today:

The legal system has failed Black girls, women, and non-binary survivors of violence.

American Indian and Alaska Native women are still the highest at-risk group for violence and sexual trauma--96% from non-Native perpetrators because the indigenous Nations have been stripped of their authority to prosecute them.

—Another hidden atrocity: People with disabilities are more than seven times higher to experience sexual assault than people without.


11) Boundaries, Instincts, Self-Defense

—Another one of the best books I’ve ever read - The Gift of Fear - Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin DeBecker

Gavin De Becker

Why your boundaries are not welcome in an abusive relationship - the mindset that I was drowning in after escaping a violent and head-fucky relationship the year before I got engaged. And a few thoughts on how to rectify that.

Setting healthy boundaries after an abusive relationship

A full episode on Oprah with Gavin DeBecker



“NO” is a complete sentence. Full Stop.

Additionally.

🖕Lawnmowers.🖕



**It should be noted that I’ve never known anyone who was nicknamed Satyr. That makes this tale a work of fiction.


Based on the pieces of my life that aren’t.

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