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Tonic Immobility



Today i was doing Title IX training for my college. The training focuses on being safe whilst partying and drinking at school. it also focuses on Sexual Assault. explains what to do if you are attacked or someone you know is stacked or you are accused of committing sexual assault. whilst going through the sexual assault portion of the training, i came across a fact i hadn't known existed. It said that almost 50% of victims experience something called tonic immobility, which is described as the body believing that playing dead is the best way to survive an attack. in other words, freezing up. this is what happened to me. i could't move or scream. i could do nothing. i was frozen.


i still don't know how to feel about this. i just feel nauseous and numb.


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I can totally relate.  People think of the brain as having a fight or flight response but there is a third response- freezing.  It is accompanied by dissociation and the inability to speak or move (in my understanding).  I have experienced it and read about it.  There is an excellent book written by Babette Rothschild called The Body Remembers.  I used to feel a lot of shame about not fighting back but the book helped me understand that freezing was a natural and normal response to a horrifying trauma such as rape.  It's a survival response.



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