100 lb. Club - What do you do when sexual assault is the reason...




AmberShimmer
09-08-2009, 07:48 PM
...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.


bargoo
09-08-2009, 08:12 PM
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.

AmberShimmer
09-08-2009, 08:18 PM
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.


bargoo
09-08-2009, 08:20 PM
I believe you must really be beautiful to cause such a reaction.

Elladorine
09-08-2009, 08:24 PM
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. :hug: 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?

TaraLee
09-08-2009, 08:26 PM
:hug: 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!
:hug: I am so proud of you for throwing out all the junk food. WTG, GIRL!!!

Serephina
09-08-2009, 08:31 PM
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. :hug:

Judy Lynn
09-08-2009, 08:39 PM
Amber, :hug: 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!

Onederchic
09-08-2009, 08:42 PM
Big big :hug::hug: for you. You'll be in my prayers.

AmberShimmer
09-08-2009, 08:47 PM
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.

TaraLee
09-08-2009, 08:53 PM
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. :)

Onederchic
09-08-2009, 08:54 PM
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.

RMatS
09-08-2009, 08:55 PM
Good job throwing away the food! :hug: 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.:hug:

nineoceansaway
09-08-2009, 08:59 PM
...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))

findingfawn
09-08-2009, 09:01 PM
I have no words, just :hug:

ernurse
09-08-2009, 09:16 PM
Amber, you are such a strong person for standing up for yourself, back in Pakastin ( moving to the states) and throwing away twelve dollars of junk food. As an emergency dept nurse, I would say first, please take care of yourself, physically as well as mentally. A defense class is definately an advantage to you. But somehow you must find peace within yourself, meaning, the next time a man at the grocery store tries talking to you, I hope you can say hello and move on without the fear and saddness that I felt overwhelming you in that moment. How about a counselor? Do you have family close to you? Do you have friends that you can really talk with? Have you looked into your local resources for sexually assaulted victims? Your local hospital can give you a phone number to a support group.....I hope this helps...:hug:

Smiling_Sara
09-08-2009, 09:16 PM
I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I can't believe men feel like they can do that to anyone.

I actually feel the same anxiety you feel, the shaking, fear, etc, when guys give me any kind of attention, and I wasn't abused. I can't imagine what it's like for ppl who have been.

:hug:

AmberShimmer
09-08-2009, 09:25 PM
Amber, you are such a strong person for standing up for yourself, back in Pakastin ( moving to the states) and throwing away twelve dollars of junk food. As an emergency dept nurse, I would say first, please take care of yourself, physically as well as mentally. A defense class is definately an advantage to you. But somehow you must find peace within yourself, meaning, the next time a man at the grocery store tries talking to you, I hope you can say hello and move on without the fear and saddness that I felt overwhelming you in that moment. How about a counselor? Do you have family close to you? Do you have friends that you can really talk with? Have you looked into your local resources for sexually assaulted victims? Your local hospital can give you a phone number to a support group.....I hope this helps...:hug:

We moved to the US, my whole family and I, and we live together. Honestly, it's not even that I was traumatized. Over there we were conditioned to believe boys will be boys and that's just how they are and to deal with it so that's the impression I had about them growing up. I met this amazing guy here who's also Pakistani, a gentleman, very sweet and patient, so it wasn't that I was afraid to get into a relationship.

It's just that when a man approaches me with the intention of asking me out, I get panic attacks. I detest that kind of attention because it reminds me of what happened back then and I start associating it with that. And the only way I know how to deal with that is by making myself appear unattractive. I feel more comfortable fat than I did skinny.

GirlyGirlSebas
09-09-2009, 08:47 AM
I strongly recommend seeing a psychologist or a counselor.

When I was 9, I was molested by my Uncle. That was when my weight gain and my battle with depression began. At the age of 27, I finally sought counseling. My psychologist helped me to deal with repressed emotions regarding the events with my Uncle and she taught me coping skills for dealing with the depression and the negative self worth feelings. I was finally able to allow myself to work through the pain and move on with my life. I still battle mild depression when I slip into my old thinking and eating patterns, but I now have coping skills that I can use to pull myself back out.

rockinrobin
09-09-2009, 09:50 AM
I suffered through molestation as a child. And I am CERTAIN that's why the weight initially poured on me. I DEFINITELY used it as a shield to keep men away from me. I also used it as comfort and probably like Rhonda said, there was some negative self worth issues going on there due to it.

But then it became just too difficult and too painful to remain morbidly obese. I was suffering so, so, so, so much. I knew that dealing with the attention HAD to be easier then dealing with the the way that I was living, which was really not living. And yes, upon losing the weight, all of a sudden I've had to deal with unwanted male attention (a few ladies as well), but I am older, wiser and having been through what I have - stronger, and I CAN indeed handle that attention MUCH better then I was handling my being morbidly obese.

I also think that you would benefit from speaking to a therapist. You don't have to suffer like this. You CAN work through this. :hug:

Beverlyjoy
09-09-2009, 10:25 AM
I am sending you hugs. I too think you could benefit with some counseling. It's alot to deal with on your own.

I too was molested throughout my life. It effected many things in my head and lifestyle for many years.. But, through therapy I can honestly say I am so much better putting it in the past.

Am wishing you well.

starfishkitty
09-09-2009, 01:15 PM
My boyfriend is actually from India, as well as many of my guy friends in college, and we've actually talked about this stuff many, many times. Seriously, they can be downright CRUDE when it comes to that kind of stuff.... and it's normal there. I'm going to India in Dec or Jan to visit and stay with the boyfriend, and even he's worried about me getting harrassed too much. However, I've told him many times that if these guys think they know what they're getting into with me, they're going to be shocked. :devil: Growing up half Mexican, and visiting Mexico a lot growing up.... it was the same there. They are a macho culture and these guys have nothing better to do and were taught this from their father, and their father's father, etc etc. Well you know what? That's fine, they can say what they want, think what they want... but if they touch, they're getting their mf'in fingers broken off and their faces maced (keeping a small can of mace with you definitely helps your feelings of insecurity, heh). But, bear in mind..... NOT all guys that approach you are that way. Guys are people too.... and there are good ones and bad ones, in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Please keep that in mind. So yeah, those few guys that said those things to you.... half might have meant it, half might not have.... or all of them could have.... but until they DO something (innocent until proven guilty in my mind! hehe).... just try to remember that they are people with feelings, loves, hates, fears, loneliness, etc..... just like you. It's what helps me anyways. :) :hug:

And, just in addition... after actually getting CLOSE to some of these jerks (who I later came to love), I've ASKED them exactly what they think they're doing when they do that kind of stuff...... and you know what they say? They're not really sure! It's just the thing to do..... and it's just all in fun. I made it clear to my little gaggle of boys that its NOT just all in fun sometimes and they need to watch what they say and do with women, because one day they're going to mess with the wrong one and they're going to get their arm broken.

For instance... a woman like me. :D

AmberShimmer
09-09-2009, 02:10 PM
Thank you all for your support and understanding. Maybe I really should think about counseling. For the longest time I thought I could do this on my own and haven't been very successful with it. Maybe it's time for a change.

Amanda, when a man makes suggestive comments without knowing you it's demeaing but easily ignorable. What I had to deal with was people not just saying stuff but molesting, touching you without permission in the streets and I don't mean just your arm or shoulder. In that case there is definitely no innocent until proven guilty chance. They're guilty from the start and deserve to be castrated.

I don't know how conditions are in India but from what I've heard, they're definitely better than they are in Pakistan. But carrying mace is always a good idea. :) Most people don't even know what mace is there so imagine their shock when you decide to teach one of those jerks a lesson :)

Nikki6kidsmom
09-09-2009, 02:37 PM
It looks like you had a huge "AH HA moment" there. I think this is something that you can work on to over come both emotionally and mentally and be aware of without hiding in a fat suit. If taking to a therapist is an option for you it would be a great help but I think just understanding it and being aware of how your past plays a role in your weight is helpful.

You should be proud that you snapped out of it before eatting the junk that to me is a step in the right direction. Big hugs!

JulieJ08
09-09-2009, 02:41 PM
Hopefully I'm worried about nothing, but I'm worried about expecting macing a man for sexual advances in another country to go over the same way it would in the U.S. - the actions of the bystanders (other men) may be quite different, and the actions of the legal system (as in maybe considering *you* the assaulter for using mace over "nothing") may not be as expected either.

AmberShimmer
09-09-2009, 02:59 PM
Hopefully I'm worried about nothing, but I'm worried about expecting macing a man for sexual advances in another country to go over the same way it would in the U.S. - the actions of the bystanders (other men) may be quite different, and the actions of the legal system (as in maybe considering *you* the assaulter for using mace over "nothing") may not be as expected either.

You're right, Julie. I don't know about India but in Pakistan, in this case the law tends to favor men. It's been a while and I don't know if it's different now (although I seriously doubt it) but just to prove a rape, two male witnesses are required. Or in the absence of male witnesses, two female and one male. It's no wonder that women are encouraged to try to ignore such behavior and keep quiet. Often it turns out to be the woman's fault for somehow 'encouraging' such behavior.

kiramira
09-09-2009, 03:49 PM
Hon, you need some sort of support group or counselling about your experiences. They are clearly affecting how you are living your life today, including how you feel more comfortable in a very large body to protect yourself from male attention.

Here is a link to South Asian womens' support groups in the US. One of these organizations may let you connect with other women who have lived what you have and they may be able to help you out with handling your experiences.
http://www.sawnet.org/orgns/#National

:hug:

Kira

AmberShimmer
09-09-2009, 04:05 PM
Kira, thank you so much for the website. I'm definitely going to look at it after work tonight. I found a few websites dealing with the issue in my state.

MugCanDoIt
09-09-2009, 06:28 PM
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. :)

I agree...and maybe it will help your self esteem as well. Its worth looking into.........:hug:

famograham
09-09-2009, 06:41 PM
Well first of all, let me say how sorry I am for what you have been through!!! :hug:
My heart aches for the little girl that was you, and ALL the girls and women of the world who have been so deeply mistreated! You are so brave.

I think that many of our weight issues stem from some form of abuse. I know that mine did. My dad was an abuser (mentally/emotionally...and a small part of me believes possibly sexually too) and I had one boyfriend when I was a teenager who was just awful. Also, all of my male friends when I was a kid wanted "something" from me at one point or another.

I'd be very curious to see a study on overweight women and the link between abuse and fat, and our feeling of the need to protect ourselves from men!
I have to say though, that today.....I'd pity any man who tried to treat me badly! I've been through a lot of therapy for marriage issues (Read: SELF issues), and am FAR healthier today than ever before. Luckily, there has never been an issue with my hubby treating me badly. He's had his problems in the past (porn/sex issues), but the therapy helped me to express to him...what I was, and was NOT willing to accept in MY life. Unwanted things are now out of my life, for several years now, and my hubby is still here...which is a very nice thing. BUT I do know that I would be fine on my own if necessary, and VERY deserving of a healthy love! A very good feeling.

The treatment of women around the world is something that haunts me deeply, right down to my soul.

:hug:
Linda

Bunnababy
09-09-2009, 06:55 PM
Counseling. It is so good to have someone you can talk to face to face and not be judged. Feelings are neither good nor bad they just are, and you had a very strong reaction to what might have been a totally innocent remark from that young man. In the office I worked in for years when we heard the first time that a police officer had abused someone during an arrest we just kind of yeah, yeah, we heard it the second time and starting listening closer, the third time we heard it we believed it. That is third person who has told you you are beautiful, that makes it truth!!!

Support groups are also very helpful.

Great job getting rid of that food! :hug::hug::hug: