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What do you do when sexual assault is the reason...

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Old 09-08-2009, 06:48 PM   #1
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Default What do you do when sexual assault is the reason...

...you hide behind the "safety net" of obesity?

I realized something today. I was at the grocery store today, getting a pre-made salad and water for lunch before I headed for work. A guy comes stands next to me, extends his hand and says, "Hi. I'm ____________. What's your name?"

He seemed a nice guy. Nice looking, average build, blond, blue-eyed. So the intense panic I felt definitely came as a surprise. I refused to shake his hand and stared at him. "Are you okay?" he asked and I said, "I know what you're trying to do and I'm not interested. Leave me alone, please." And he said, "Relax. I just thought you were very beautiful." And he walked away, probably thinkingI'm crazy. Meanwhile I was trembling, left my basket there on the floor, walked out, got into my car, foretting the salad. I went to a different grocery store, bought close to $12 worth of junkfood like chips, candy, soda, stuff I really don't enjoy eating to begin with and got back into my car. I was still in panic attack mode and trying hard not to cry.

I sat in my car for a while. I've only been hit on and approached three or four times ever since I crossed the 200 lbs mark. I started gaining weight when I turned 17. Before that I lived in another country. Pakistan. That's where I was raised. Being half Caucasian meant I had coloring that's rare for that country. So naturally, people noticed me more. Fair coloring is more sought after there, for reasons I don't understand, but it is what it is. Unfortunately, it's a very sexist, chauvinistic place, too. Relationships are frowned upon so unfortunately most men entertain themselves with sexually harassing women. They think it's okay. They think it's harmless. And worst of all, a woman is helpless to such advances.

I've been subjected to many such things. Since I was 5, up until 16, after which I moved to the US, things have been done to me like many other women there. In the streets at the market, at school, in public buses, absolutely anywhere, you're groped, fondled, violated. You're touched without permission. You're whistled at. Men in buses will yell out sexually obscene suggestions. It's constant sexual assault and harassment. And worst of all, you can't say anything. They'll say you only called attention to yourself. Yeah, sure, even if you're covered up from head to toe.

Please understand I'm not calling every guy there a sexual pervert. I understand there are wonderful guys out there. My ex-boyfriend is one of them (we were together for 8 years but we remain friends). But this is what I grew up with.

The more I gained weight, the lesser attention I got. And that felt great. That suited me just fine. I don't remember ever thinking if I gained more weight, soon, I'll get no attention at all. But maybe I was acting subconsciously. I always thought I was just extremely shy with guys. Now I know it was more fear than shyness.

It explains why everytime I get below 250 lbs and see a 249, instead of being happy, I have a panic attack and go back to stuffing myself. I don't even enjoy food that much. I really don't.

Sorry for such a long post. It's just that it feels like such a big discovery about myself, an honest deep look within myself. On a positive note, I calmed down and actually threw out the junk food. All $12 of it. Made me wince but I couldn't bring myself to eat it. I made a decision to make a new me, a better me yesterday and I'm going to keep it.

But for anyone who has gone through something similar or know how to combat this issue... I would really like to hear from you.

Thanks for listening to me.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:12 PM   #2
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Even in this country there are rude men or teenage boy who will make sexist remarks and whistle, I found that happens mostly with highschool boys but there are rude, insulting people in every culture. I just try to ignore these stupid people. About the guy in the grocery store, that was an odd encounter, I have never heard of anything like that in a grocery store. He was probably just as he said taken by your beauty. I would have been surprised if that had happened to me and I don't know how I would have reacted. I am sorry you had such a distressing childhood. Not all men are like that . I think it is just the rude, ignorant and immature who are. Try to ignore them. You don't have to have a conversation with them if you don't want to.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:18 PM   #3
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Bargoo, I find it so odd, too. I have no idea why he would say he finds me beautiful, especially since I was just in jeans, a sweatshirt and glasses. Nothing fancy. I know I'm not particularly unpleasant to look at but I definitely don't believe I'm beautiful and there were better looking people there. What's weird is that the other three encounters I've had, the guys have said the exact same thing. Someone please tell me they've had similar encounters so that I can stop freaking out.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:20 PM   #4
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I believe you must really be beautiful to cause such a reaction.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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I was molested throughout my childhood, and I'm certain the fear and guilt I associated with sexuality was a major contributing factor to my weight, which definitely tied in with my low self-esteem on both sides. Not once have I been able to conquer my problem with obesity since I was 13 years old, which has been a solid 20 years now.

The lowest I reached as an adult was about 220 in my early 20's, which is also when the guys first started to notice me. I never dated throughout school, in fact I was very afraid of the opposite sex. I believe being molested contributed to my extreme social anxieties and there was no way I could handle suddenly being hit on. Along with other stress-related issues I was going through, I stopped caring about my health and let the pounds pack on. It was also easier to "blend in" when I felt fat and ugly and believed that no one would ever expect me to be pretty or sexy. No pressure to deal with the guilt or fear of being violated, right?

I've since received some therapy and have been in a couple of relationships. While the first one ended up being emotionally abusive, parts of me did get better. I'm now in a healthy relationship, and although I still have sexual issues from time to time it's something I've been able to get through. I've explained my past to my current partner and he's been nothing but supportive of all this.

I truly believe I can now get past that "safety net," so to speak. I truly can't wait to get down to 220 again (when I'll be out of plus sizes) and beyond, as I feel I'm much more mentally stable now and should be able to handle any comments thrown my way.

But I wanted to share and tell you that I understand how difficult and scary it can be. I remember not knowing what to do and running home from work crying when some of the guys were nothing but nice to me, telling me I was pretty or beautiful. I'm sure this guy really did feel you looked beautiful and possibly felt a connection with you. I simply didn't know how to handle any attention, even positive attention; so perhaps you're going trough something similar? Maybe therapy would help you as well?
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:26 PM   #6
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I can't really say I've had the experience you've had but I wanted to show my support. My mother has always been a fan of male attention...her whole life. She was raped about 4 years ago by a friend of her husbands. Her weight increased afterwards, partly due to stress and emotions but later she said it made her feel secure, like wearing a rape proof vest. She went through victims counceling (perhapes looking into a councelor who is familar with that sort, as I would say you were victimized) and now she's functioning and happy and started watching her weight again. She's got more confidence now that she did before the rape. For her it was bad enough that the man took something from her during the rape but it was her choice to keep giving him that power or to take it back...she took hers back!
I am so proud of you for throwing out all the junk food. WTG, GIRL!!!
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:31 PM   #7
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Ah honey, I have never gone through what you did and I think you should talk to a conselor, but I just wanted to say that I am sorry for what happened to you and am very proud of how you handled the food today.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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Amber, That was odd what happened today. I think you could benefit greatly from counselling. Just someone to talk with to help you sort things out. I also think lifting weights and getting strong is empowering. I used to love the way it made me feel to be strong. Maybe subconsiously I knew I could fend off unwanted attention if I had to?

I had no idea things were like that in Pakistan.

Good for you for throwing the junk away! That is a huge victory!
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:42 PM   #9
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:47 PM   #10
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Thank you for the support and understanding, girls. It really means a lot. Where I was trying to hold back tears of panic and frustration earlier, I can't help the ones of relief right now from escaping. It feels like a weight has been lifted. I know things won't be perfect all of a sudden and I'm not magically cured from the mindset by coming to this realization. But at least I know why I am the way I am, now. Maybe I should try taking a self defense class offered at our community college.

Judy, it's much worse than I described, especially now. It isn't safe for a girl to go out alone, ever. My folks kept me at home for the most part and as a result I've lived a very sheltered life. I can count the number of times I've been out with friends on my fingers in those 11 years.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:53 PM   #11
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I think the class is an awesome idea. It's hopefully give you the confidence and sense of security you need and help you feel more assertive.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:54 PM   #12
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I think the class is an awesome idea. It's hopefully give you the confidence and sense of security you need and help you feel more assertive.
Agreed.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:55 PM   #13
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Good job throwing away the food! In this culture, we're often told that grocery stores are a good place to meet people, so I'm sure he was just being friendly and hoping to talk; nothing sinister.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, and I can understand why you reacted like you did.
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmberShimmer View Post
...you hide behind the "safety net" of obesity?

I realized something today. I was at the grocery store today, getting a pre-made salad and water for lunch before I headed for work. A guy comes stands next to me, extends his hand and says, "Hi. I'm ____________. What's your name?"

He seemed a nice guy. Nice looking, average build, blond, blue-eyed. So the intense panic I felt definitely came as a surprise. I refused to shake his hand and stared at him. "Are you okay?" he asked and I said, "I know what you're trying to do and I'm not interested. Leave me alone, please." And he said, "Relax. I just thought you were very beautiful." And he walked away, probably thinkingI'm crazy. Meanwhile I was trembling, left my basket there on the floor, walked out, got into my car, foretting the salad. I went to a different grocery store, bought close to $12 worth of junkfood like chips, candy, soda, stuff I really don't enjoy eating to begin with and got back into my car. I was still in panic attack mode and trying hard not to cry.

I sat in my car for a while. I've only been hit on and approached three or four times ever since I crossed the 200 lbs mark. I started gaining weight when I turned 17. Before that I lived in another country. Pakistan. That's where I was raised. Being half Caucasian meant I had coloring that's rare for that country. So naturally, people noticed me more. Fair coloring is more sought after there, for reasons I don't understand, but it is what it is. Unfortunately, it's a very sexist, chauvinistic place, too. Relationships are frowned upon so unfortunately most men entertain themselves with sexually harassing women. They think it's okay. They think it's harmless. And worst of all, a woman is helpless to such advances.

I've been subjected to many such things. Since I was 5, up until 16, after which I moved to the US, things have been done to me like many other women there. In the streets at the market, at school, in public buses, absolutely anywhere, you're groped, fondled, violated. You're touched without permission. You're whistled at. Men in buses will yell out sexually obscene suggestions. It's constant sexual assault and harassment. And worst of all, you can't say anything. They'll say you only called attention to yourself. Yeah, sure, even if you're covered up from head to toe.

Please understand I'm not calling every guy there a sexual pervert. I understand there are wonderful guys out there. My ex-boyfriend is one of them (we were together for 8 years but we remain friends). But this is what I grew up with.

The more I gained weight, the lesser attention I got. And that felt great. That suited me just fine. I don't remember ever thinking if I gained more weight, soon, I'll get no attention at all. But maybe I was acting subconsciously. I always thought I was just extremely shy with guys. Now I know it was more fear than shyness.

It explains why everytime I get below 250 lbs and see a 249, instead of being happy, I have a panic attack and go back to stuffing myself. I don't even enjoy food that much. I really don't.

Sorry for such a long post. It's just that it feels like such a big discovery about myself, an honest deep look within myself. On a positive note, I calmed down and actually threw out the junk food. All $12 of it. Made me wince but I couldn't bring myself to eat it. I made a decision to make a new me, a better me yesterday and I'm going to keep it.

But for anyone who has gone through something similar or know how to combat this issue... I would really like to hear from you.

Thanks for listening to me.
((hugs))
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:01 PM   #15
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