I hugged a rapist after he tried to sexually assault me

TW for (attempted) sexual assault.

It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people how you can be friendly to someone who tried to hurt you especially straight after. If I punched you the expression on your face wouldn’t be a smile. If I stole money straight out of your hand it’s doubtful you’d be blowing a kiss. Our responses tend to match the situation. They’re involuntary and happen immediately without conscious instruction. This is true for the most part, however, there are situations where the response is due to another factor that isn’t the obvious one.

Take stealing money from your hand for example. The obvious instinct to this is anger or disgust. Now imagine the same situation except I am pointing a gun at you. Suddenly fear is more likely to override anger or disgust. Your response is more likely to be a reflection of the danger you are in rather than your personal feelings towards me.

This is the best way I can explain why I not only was friendly to the man who tried to sexually assault me but also went so far as to hug him.

Straight after his attempt to violate me he switched to being incredibly friendly again. This confused me. My brain responded by going into management mode. I knew he was capable of hurting me. I knew because he had just tried. My best chance of fully escaping the situation was to play along to avoid him switching back. All of myself – not only my brain – responded this way. That includes my body and voice knew to be calm and stayed focused on controlling the danger rather than react accordingly to it.

The hug itself happened months afterwards when I was out with friends. He saw me and his first move was to initiate it. I had no time to consider how to respond to this. Others were watching and to reject was to make it obvious something was wrong. My response was the same as my original; play along to stay safe.

Also I was taken aback by how someone who clearly despised me could suddenly become so charming. There was no slowly changing from one to the other. It was *click* a different person. He gave every signal that he liked me and was kind. I wasn’t able to process what was happening quick enough to know how I should be. This is why management mode took over, I couldn’t. Perhaps if he had taken longer to go into the super friendly man I would’ve caught up enough to respond differently. It didn’t happen like that so I will never know.

I was responding as we all do. The difference here is that I wasn’t responding on a personal level. My feelings of anger and disgust were there but the danger was prioritised. I couldn’t feel those emotions while around him as danger came with him. This pushed those feeling to the back while my brain and body took over to manage the situation. I wouldn’t allow myself to be myself by panicking or getting angry. What I became was two sides to the same coin, one part robot and one part human being, I could switch back once safe again.

Incase you’re wondering he is now in prison and will be for a long time. Unfortunately he raped others which is why. Once I knew of this I came forward however the police did not take it seriously (they laughed) because of the details to why he had failed. They found it more comical that he had not been more efficient with assaulting me than anything else.

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