Help me understand and process these really icky feelings
May 20, 2014 9:48 PM Subscribe
While walking my dog a few nights ago, a man approached me to ask for directions. When I (stupidly) got close to his window, I realized he was naked waist-down and masturbating. I am now feeling disgusted, angry, and frightened to a degree that seems incommensurate with the actual level of threat/violation I experienced. Can you help me understand what I'm feeling, and why I'm feeling it so strongly, so that I can move the heck on and get some sleep?!
Once I realized wht was happening, I called out to my boyfriend (who was walking a little further down the street) and ran. My boyfriend (being clearly smarter than me) attempted to follow the van and get his plates, but the guy was too fast and the block too short. The Cops were called, but there is obviously little they can do without better info than "generic white guy in generic white van".
I'm feeling VERY angry about this incident, both at myself for my incredibly non-clear-headedness during the incident, and at the man for thinking that he could manipulate me for his own pleasure. I'm also feeling incredibly disgusted by the whole thing and CANNOT stop obsessing about it, or seeing the image of him in my head. I'm unable to sleep at night, and having difficulty focusing at work. I'm scared of stupid things, and jumpy as hell.
All these feelings are very unusual for me, and while I accept that they are all valid to some extent, the degree to which I am feeling them seems really unreasonable (the entire incident lasted mere seconds, I was not touched or threatened, and a witness and ally was mere feet away from me the entire time). I have no history of sexual assault or abuse/trauma of any kind. I can't find a way to articulate/understand WHY I'm feeling what I'm feeling, and why it is feeling so overwhelming. I know I'm angry/disgusted/scared, but I cannot put words to WHAT it is that makes me feel those things. Why should such a minor incident have such a big effect?
Can you help me identify what is going on inside my head? If you've experienced something similar, can you help me with ways to snap out of the constant slo-mo replay in my head? You are not my therapist, but could you pretend to be for just a minute?