I am a firm believer in a woman never “asks for it.” It doesn’t matter her occupation, her manner of dress, or her behavior, if a woman is sexually assaulted it’s not her fault. Period. End of story. As someone who feels so strongly about this, why do I blame myself when I get emotionally or mentally manipulated (“played”) by a man? I merely existed and did nothing wrong.
I have been the victim of narcissistic manipulation (twice by the same guy). I have seen women tell their stories about mental, physical, and emotional abuse, and I’ve seen those same women blamed for their abuse. I have never blamed myself for being sexually assaulted. However, I have blamed myself for being at the receiving end of emotional manipulation and abuse.
Lately, I’ve been in an Anxiety Spiral about this man I like; rolling through all the doom scenarios. Why? If it turns out he is manipulating me, why am I at fault? I’m not. I get my instinct is self-preservation, but if I am being forthright in my feelings and he isn’t, it’s not my fault. I am taking him at his word. If his word is shit, it is not my fault.
I do believe actions matter, but I haven’t always acted in accordance with my feelings. I can be really into a man and keep my distance as a means of self-preservation. What am I really accomplishing? Nothing. I am pulling away because I don’t want to feel stupid or played. I don’t want to be judge by other women. I don’t want other women to say, “How could she be so stupid? Did she not see the signs?” I know this is a novel idea, but not every man has ill intentions. Men are people, too. Maybe, just maybe, they are as apprehensive as women. Men can also suffer relationship trauma. Not every little thing is a red flag.
I like this man. He knows I like him. I told him I really like him. I asked him if I was way off base and he didn’t feel the same to tell me. He says I am not off base at all. So, fuck it. I’m going to operate under that assumption. I would prefer if he was as enthusiastic about me as he was months ago, but some shit happened and I can understand why he is hesitant. I probably would be too given the circumstances and prior relationship history.
If he is being manipulative, it isn’t my fault. I am being true in my intentions. I like him. I want to start seeing each other again. I feel like something is here worth exploring. I am not going to wait around forever, but at least I’ll know I tried. I put it out there. If he doesn’t feel the same and is telling me he is, that’s on him. If one, or even all, of the doom scenarios I’ve created in my head are true and I get hurt, it won’t be because I am stupid or gullible; it’ll be because he is an asshole and lied. I’ll survive. I have discovered I can survive a lot.
Closing myself off, building walls, and pushing people away will never allow me to make the connections I desire. I will be alone because I am too scared to put myself out there. I am pure in my intent. If he is not, it’s not my fault. Actually, I need to keep this in mind with all my “ships” with people, friendships, family, and relationships alike. Until, I know for certain that he isn’t being true in his intentions then I need to let go and trust. Trust isn’t easy. However, he hasn’t given me a reason not to trust his intentions. He has done things that have hurt my feelings. Maybe it is because he is an asshole that is manipulating me. Then again, maybe he has his own trauma and is now as apprehensive as I was in the beginning.
In short, go ahead, Play Me Like a Fiddle. If you’re intentions are not true, that’s not on me. It’s on you.
**I am not making light of sexual assault, Abuse and assault of any kind is serious and not okay.**
**I am writing this from the perspective of a mostly heterosexual woman. I know women can be manipulative and abusive, too. I’ll let a man write about that experience.**
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