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7 Symptoms You’re Still Reeling As An Online, Gender-Based Violence Survivor

#triggerwarning - These trauma responses are real ...

By Ruby AstariPublished 3 years ago 4 min read

“Those were just words on the screen. They should never have meant a thing to you. Ignore.”

“It was your fault too. You shouldn’t have trusted him too easily.”

“Look, he’s finally gone to jail now from the real sexual misconduct he’s done. Get over it. Move on. You know, #notallmen are like that.”

There are some symptoms you are still reeling as a survivor of online, gender-based violence. It is also known as ‘online harrassment’ or ‘cyberbullying’ against people based on their genders. Cybersexism is more precise. Disproportionately, this happens more often to women.

As once a victim and now a survivor, you know that #notallmen are like that. They don’t need to remind you that over and over again. What you really need from them is some empathy, if not a sense of understanding.

Of course, you can’t expect the whole world to understand you. Hopefully, by writing this, they can start learning to try.

So, these are the symptoms you are still recovering as a survivor of an online, gender-based violence:

1. As a single person, you get easily offended when people wonder aloud: “When will you start dating again?” or “When will you get married?” or “Why are you so picky?”

Maybe they mean well. Maybe they want you to be happy and the only way to do that is to find a partner for you. They don’t know that they make you feel pressured that sometimes you just want to yell at them: “Why the hell do I have to do that? How do I know that the next one won’t hurt me? Don’t you dare tell me I’m too picky. You have no idea!”

2. Sometimes you still have nightmares and your sleeping pattern is such a mess.

Sometimes you still see his face in your dreams. Sometimes you wake up screaming. Sometimes you don’t know how to go back to sleep, so you stay awake until dawn. You end up checking your work at 3 A.M.

3. You get so good at being alone and a workaholic.

Solitude has slowly become you. To overcome loneliness, you decide to distract yourself with so many things to do. That’s good, right? At least, more work means more money. Money doesn’t break your heart like people do.

This #Covid19 pandemic gives you more reasons to be a workaholic.

4. Romantic movies look like rubbish to your very eyes. You snicker at love songs.

You sneer at the scenes. Girl-meets-boy, they fall in love, yada-yada-yada, and they live happily ever after, yada-yada-yada. Yeah, right. They look too good to be true. Maybe they do to some people. Just not you, you think sadly before you try to distract yourself again with something else.

You even call yourself ‘romantically-challenged’ or a ‘philophobe’. You make fun of love song lyrics that you once liked. You no longer believe in them.

5. You only feel safe talking to men who don’t give you sweet-nothings.

“Hey, baby. How’re you doing?” You shudder at that. How easy are they to throw such sweet-nothings your way, even from the start? Why won’t they address you by your name, start off as friends first, and treat you with respect? You hate flirting. You hate how they keep on flirting with you, even after you make it clear that you’re not comfortable with that.

It doesn’t matter if you’re also interested in the guy. Basically, you’re still scared.

6. You freeze and tend to have panic attacks every time a guy asks you out.

Your mind gets stuck in a ‘fight or flight’ mode. Say yes or say no. Stay or go. If this doesn’t happen so often, you find yourself feeling so relieved.

7. You also freeze when some guys on a dating site you’re in ask for your phone numbers in less than a month of your interactions with them.

Your well-meaning best friends suggest that you give love one more try. So, you decide to use a dating app or two. You’ve already made it clear on your bio that you want to start off as friends first. You’re not really looking for love.

Still, that doesn’t stop guys on that site from asking you a lot of awkward, uncomfortable questions. Your profile pic looks so pretty. Wanna be my girlfriend? Hey, I’m looking for a future bride here. Would you like to be the one?

Then, when they ask – and even demand – for your phone numbers in less than a month of your interactions with them, you freak out. How come? You’re supposed to feel happy and flattered. What’s wrong with you?

It doesn’t matter that you ask them to wait a while. You freeze, silently feeling annoyed with the idea of having to please them all. In the back of your mind, you remember the last guy online you gave your number too online – just three months after your interaction:

You remember all that he’s done to you, which makes you feel sick to your stomach once again. Then you find yourself shutting off your laptop, crying until you feel choked. You wonder why you’re still obsessed with figuring out who the monster is among the men. This acute paranoia is slowly killing you from the inside.

When you talk to your best friends about this, the verdict is clear: you’re still not ready. You’re still not ready to put yourself out there, to give some other guy another chance to love you. You’re still scared. You don’t feel safe.

Guess what? That’s okay. Maybe you need to take a break from using that dating app. Maybe you need to focus on yourself first, taking care of you. No one should ever tell you when to heal – or that you need to heal as quickly as their deadlines. It’s not fair. They don’t live through your pain.

Just remember, your happiness should never be defined by the existence of a romantic partner. You’re still the very first person who should love yourself first. Okay?

Last but not least, it is never too late to ask for help.



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    RAWritten by Ruby Astari

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