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Invalidation. Words Can Hurt!

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I have been thinking all day about this. Most of us had to deal with "invalidation" in some form or another. It can be someone minimizing your experience, even avoiding you because of it, or just saying the wrong thing. Sometimes stupid comments are made by friends or relatives, those closest to you and whose opinion you value the most, or by random strangers. Either way, they hurt. No wonder survivors often have a huge problem with trust...sometimes we learn not to trust to protect ourselves.

I thought I'd make a list of some of the stupid remarks that have been said to me together with my replies (Most of the time I didn't say anything but I'll write what I now wish I had said back then)

"This is an unpleasant issue"

Huh, really? You know it was so pleasant for me to live it.

"My life is still worse then yours"

I'm sorry, are we having a contest?

Feel free to share any stupid comment you heard and maybe we can find a way to laugh at them together :P

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Guest mmbenton

Well said Vera! I completely understand what you mean when you say that you didn't actually say what you would have liked to say at the time. Sometimes, I think if I really told people what I'm thinking they would lock me up.

I think what makes it so hard for people to understand is the fact that the physical act of the abuse is not always nearly as damaging as the emotinal scars left behind - which is something that they can't visually see. They expect it to be like a scrape on the knee, clean it up - put a bandaid on, and move on! Hang in there, I do like your idea of a collection of stupid things people have said to us over the years. I will have to think about it and add something later.

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The only time I can remember ppl saying anything cruel or unusual to me was the other day when my mum's b/f came in from a night of drinking with a family friend. A t.v programme had upset me and I told them so.

My mum's b/f, hardly Mr Sensitivity, scoffed at me, turned around and said "Why don't you talk to somebody". He meant a consellor, I suppose, but at that moment in time I lost my temper. I stood there and shouted at him "Would it help to have some details!" And proceeded to give him some details.

I hated him at that point in time. I don't think I'll ever forget that one. The family friend spent about 4 hours calming me down afterwards.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest oicuron2

My moms boyfriend ( a month after leaving abusive stepfather) moved us into his house and said " I know all about it pick a room and I'll even put a lock on it" Gee, thanks is history going to repeat?

Mom said ( without getting all details) It isn't sex if there isn't penetration...was there? Like she cared? She knew it happened and stayed 11 more years and never checked to see if still going on.

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What a great way to vent... good idea, vera.

Stupid things said to me...

"So since you had sex at such a young age, did it hurt the first time when you got older?"

Like it didn't hurt the first time it was forced upon me?!?!?

"How could she remember something like that?" said by my mother when my middle school guidance counselor disclosed the abuse

Like it was just some typical event that took place between niece and uncle... just another day of babysitting that any "normal" child would forget as time passes... what in the h*ll was she thinking?!?!

"Did you ever orgasm (from the abuse)?"

As if we don't carry enough shame!!!! Especially when our abusers DID manage to sexually arouse us... like I'm going to give you every detail like it was a raunchy romance novel story... I was never more taken aback or disgusted when asked that.

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Guest JessicaSC

Lilea, OMG that last comment made to you was the worst!

Hi Vera, this was a really good idea, venting like this. I myself have thought about it too. Here are the comments made to me:

By my "best friend" the DAY AFTER the rape:

"You seem upset. Your mom is worried about you. It's not the end of the world. Cheer up."

- Are you kidding me?? Unless you're totally emotionless, if YOU were raped, you would be A LOT MORE than upset!!

By my "best friend" after I started counseling:

"If that happened to me, I wouldn't need counseling."

- How would you know? You have never been raped, so you are not in any position to say!

(She is no longer my best friend.)

By the first people I spoke with after the rape...the police (actually just one officer):

"I think she's been here SEVERAL times." and

"Weren't you here A FEW WEEKS AGO?"

- No, I haven't been here in years. You don't know who I am, nobody has asked to see my driver's license. I hope you're not this insensitive to other rape victims.

Well Vera, this was a very good idea. Thank you!!

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one of the dumbest things someone said to me was "Why didnt you just tell them to stop?" Well, gee, i think it's cuz I wanted them to keep doing it!

Another stupid thing someone said was "if you didnt try to look good, boys wouldnt pay that kind of attention to you".... um, yeah, well hygiene is just a little important, dont you think?

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Guest Madonna

Yuck! This is the worst. I swear people don't even know how cruel they can be. Sometimes I wish these people can see the images that I see everyday in my head because then they wouldn't even dare say them. Oh man, people can be so dumb!!! It's frustrating!!!!


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Guest sleepysmile

"Why don't you just stop thinking about it? It was a long time ago..."

-I lost a part of me that day. If you lost a leg would you just forget it was missing?

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  • 3 weeks later...

My mother the day after i told her an albeit toned down version of my brother's abuse-

"Lots of little boys do that."

(he was adoloescent not pre-school and certainly capable of things a little boy isn't. ) So that doesn't make it ok.

After i told my friend i was raped

" not being funny but did you want him to?"

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"You seem upset. Your mom is worried about you. It's not the end of the world. Cheer up./ If that happened to me, I wouldn't need counseling."
Woow, Jessica what an insentive bit*h! Thank God she is not in your life anymore, you deserve so much better than that.

"not being funny but did you want him to?"
I hope your reply was something like "not being funny but do you realize you are a waste of space?"

I wonder why it still surprises me how low people can get....

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From a "friend"

"Why didnt you kick him in the nuts? did he have a knife? "

"I wouldnt let a guy rape me"

"just ignores anything I mention about it"

"You asked him if he had a condom so u obvioulsy wanted to have sex"

A girl who doenst like me much found out i had been raped and said to this other "friend"

"Who would be so desperate to have sex with Belinda. shes so ugly."

and another girl once said to me about another girl that she would believe she was raped if she said so because she is pretty.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Aurelie

When I confronted my brother and asked him to pay for my therapy he said...."I don't believe in therapy...bunch of quacks" !!!

I responded: "OK! You don't believe in therapy! How about civil and criminal prosecution? Is that official enough....????":?

He followed up saying...."You've always been weak anyway and I've moved on..."

I responded "I'm not weak...and you're not superior, the only thing you know how to do is bring down someone to your level. As for moving on I seriously doubt that, you have to be aware and assume the consequences of your acts to move on. You are "blissfuly" ignorant nor do u feel the necessity to inform yourself of those consequences....! You're pathetic and you have far more to lose than I do.

Those words were a breakthrough at the time, it underlined the fact that for the first time in my life I no longer viewed and accepted HIS visions of things and no longer lived by it. I didn't like my first views of reality but I confess feeling a delicious sense of satisfaction of having set his clock at the right time. For once I saw in his eyes the fear that had been mine for years....P::

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(((aurelie))) Wow, girl, you are so strong! I really admire you for being able to stand up for yourself like that. I love that last line:

That is so empowering. Thank you for sharing! Keep up the good work, sweetie! I really really admire your strength!

love clarissa

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Originally posted by Clarissa

Another stupid thing someone said was "if you didnt try to look good, boys wouldnt pay that kind of attention to you".... um, yeah, well hygiene is just a little important, dont you think?

....hmmm....sounds like we know people in common. Like if we look all gross and nasty people will leave us alone, how nice. I have had this one said to me many times...it pisses me off every time.

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a friend said this to me today...

"Cheer up, things can only get so bad. If you have a smile on your face all the time things are bound to get better."

...yeah, thanks ass hole. I thought things couldn't get any worse before and look, here we are at worse...what's the next stop, Hell?! Keep a smile on my face? Well let me just pull out my lipstick and paint it on cause I feel like the corners of my mouth are about to touch my feet. Got any clips I could use to clip my mouth up into a smile?

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Some of the nastiest remarks were mentioned to me: *some are T*

My brother: "Lin, if you're doing this to f*ck up the guy, then you're fucked up!"

"Take a pregnancy test and if it comes up positive, tell mom, otherwise, keep your mouth shut"

From my boss when I needed time off:

"Are you sure this happened? You didn't dream this did you?"

From my boss, this time when I was browsing through A Sorta Fundraiser website:

"Incest. We shouldn't be helping people who are victims of incest. No one knows what is like to be raped. When you come into work and someone steals a sale from you, that's a f*ck up the ass."

My reply was: "How dare you, you know I am a survivor."

His smart ass remark:

"Who raped you, Fran?" (Meaning my close friend Francesca.

I cried for 2 days after that...

I've been told smart remarks too, but guess they weren't as bad because I have seemed to forget them.

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(((Lindy)))What an as* hole! I am so sorry. grrrrrrrrrr....people like that piss me off.

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Does that fu*king IDIOT of a boss know you could nail his balls to the wall if you pressed the issue?!?!?! I would be tempted to talk to Human Resources about "sensitivty training"... bet he'd shape up then! Not to mention the reference to your best friend could be perceived as sexula harrassment what an inconsiderate jerk, to say the least. Sad thing is, I've heard female coworkers make comments about women who come into the ER post-rape... to the effect of:

"Well, if she wouldn't have been at the bar/back alley/bad part of town, this would have never happened!"

AND these are NURSES?!?!?!

How can people be so cruel and thoughtless? I guess I just should hope and pray it never happens to them... and someday when I have the guts, speak up about my own past.

*Sigh *rolls eyes

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(Lilea) Nurses should never say things like that, no one should.... The nurses that I worked with never made comments like that ever! I can't believe some people! If my co-workers would have made comments like that around me I think I would have taken it to our administrator because as nurses, we should know better. Plus you never know when a patient is lurking arond a corner. I am sorry that you have to work with shuch jerks. It's not cool.

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Yikes... just reread my post... little bit more anger there than I realized... feel like I need to defend the profession now, because this is fortunately the MINORITY... I work with some wonderful wonderful nurses too... who would never say such horrible things. I guess it's just a sad sad truth that even people who are supposed to help us can be so hurtful...

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vera --

great thread idea. thanks. -smiles and hugs-

'you have nothing to be crying about, so stop crying. you have nothing to feel bad about.'

'don't let him make you a vicitm. (but) you were a victim of a crime.'

'we're going to press legal action/charges wether you like it or not.'

'let me see your scars (self-injury).'

'what exactly did he do/say/touch/etc. you. exact dates, times, etc.'


good thread. thanks.



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Guest NewFoundLife
Some people's comments just piss me off. They are so stupid. "Get over it" duh...u get over it...dealing with sexual abuse isn't something one just get's over. U have to deal with it...cope with it the rest of ur life. It must be nice to be able to make such stupid comments to a survivor having had not the joy of experiencing a life changing trauma. To them I say "bite my ass".
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Oooohhh...this hit home with me today. I was told by a (former) friend that she didn't care what kind of life I had growing up or what my childhood was like....and then went on to rip into me for something I totally don't understand :(. It hurt like hell. Not so much that she ripped into me but that she threw my past back into my face when it had nothing to do with anything.

[Edited on 4-2-2004 by Kelly]

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Guest moonsmile

My mother found out about my stepfather abusing me by reading my journal. She sat me down to ask me about it and before she said a thing. I told her I knew what she was about to ask and the answer was yes. SHe then said, " are you sure it was him?"

The wild thing about it is my mother was abused by her father all her childhood. I thought she would understand. She doesn't even believe me

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