Perspectives on the Freeze Response as I experienced it when violated Trigger Response…abuse/violation. This piece refers to a rape situation many years ago…so difficult to write that word… rape.
There will be no description of the physical assault, I do not wish to relive that experience but to witness it for what it was to me and my response.
This all happened as a result of my naivety, my trusting nature when offered a safe place to sleep for the night in a city where all accomodation was filled by displaced people. Displaced a few years before by an earthquake.
I was woken by a man I’d never seen and knew instinctively that there was no possibility of ” flight or fight”. I guess I detached myself, my inner and emotional self from the scene. What happened was inevitable. Emotionally I froze, cut myself off from engaging in any way with what was happening and that included ” fear”. Fear happens when confronted with the unknown and not dealing with the reality of the ‘now”. That “now’ was happening and with no where to run and no one to alert there was no point in fighting. That could result in further affliction.
May be things that happened in my childhood spoke to me and I recognised my powerlessness. Things that related to various forms of abuse by people who were supposed to be trusted. Trusted by the family.
Once that part of the ordeal was over I matter of factly prepared myself to leave that premisses. I walked into the hallway with backpack on, heard a bath running, no towel seen just a doily type thing and then the man sharpening a huge knife, not a kitchen knife, and silly me wondered why he would be doing this early in the morning. Was he preparing his breakfast?
It was only much later that I realised the enormity of his plans.
He saw me quietly standing there still in a frozen emotional state. I was calm and ready to leave. He put away his knife and backed his car into the porch , opened the door, told me to get in and lie low on the back seat. Some kilometres later he stopped his car, told me to get out and then drove off.
I cannot remember how I managed to get anywhere from there that part is still unclear. Somehow I was safe.
My autistic naivety may have led me into this dangerous situation but my autistic freeze response saved my life. I’m sure that the man expected some dramatic scene that I did not give him and this may have calmed him, he may have known by then that I’d not be calling out ” rape” or reporting him to the authorities.
It was quite sometime later that I made awful sense of that bath and knife.
My freezing had saved me but also saved him from committing a further crime.