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upset about new year's eve kiss on the lips - PTSD trigger


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I'm feeling very upset about a kiss on the lips that a male friend gave me tonight. It's triggering awful memories from when I was sexually assaulted when I was in jr. high (about 30 years ago). It would help to get some feedback.


I'd gotten all dressed up tonight and went out on new year's eve by myself. I was so proud of myself. First I went to a female friend's house. She and her husband were having a small get together and I knew that an old ex-boyfriend would be there. I saw him and we chatted for a bit. It was fine but I felt a bit sad and so I think I was a bit vulnerable when I left. I had other plans to meet some friends at a small music concert. Some friends were performing. It was very lovely and enjoyable. I'd only had one small glass of champagne since I was driving and yet when the clock struck midnight I felt a bit tipsy. I turned to a male friend I've known for about 2 years to say "happy new year" and before I had a chance to realize what was happening, he squeezed me close and kissed me on the lips.


It took me completely by surprise. I'm not sure if he'd been drinking or not. Anyway, he held me so close I could feel my breasts press against his chest. He then put his arm around my waist and said it was great to see me and he hoped we'd see each other soon. I felt very vulnerable and said "I'd like that" without really thinking about what I was saying. I started to feel PTSD symptoms and excused myself to leave. I'm back home now, crying.


The trigger is that when I was 13, I was abducted by an older high school boy and almost raped. It was violent and terrifying. The way it started is that he came up to me when I was with a group of female friends and squeezed me close, just like this male friend. The difference is that I didn't know him. The guy who assaulted me eased into it at first. But it started with him squeezing me and then kissing me on the lips in front of my friends. I didn't know how to stop him. I looked at my friends helplessly, hoping they'd protect me, but no one said anything. He then forced me to french kiss him and then touch his penis, in front of my friends!! And none of my friends said or did anything to help me or stop him. He then said he wanted me to go with him outside. I didn't want to go but I was afraid to say no to him. I stupidly went, and then he forcefully dragged me to his car and assaulted me.


I can't write anymore. I'm sorry I've rambled. I feel very traumatized. It helps to write.

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I'm so sorry you were traumatized all over again. I'm not really sure what to say except it doesn't take away from the fact that you took yourself out tonight and you can still be proud of yourself, not only for that but for being in touch with and sharing how you're feeling. If I were there I'd make you a cup of hot cocoa or tea, your choice.

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Thank you ready2heal. I wish you were here. I'd take the hot cocoa.


I think what upsets me most is that I'm never sure what is appropriate boundaries or not when a man is physically affectionate with me. I go into automatic pilot, even after all these years. I'm not sure how to feel about my male friend. Should I be happy, flattered, upset? I just don't know.

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Your male friend had no idea that you could have a negative reaction based on past experience, right?


It seems like he really likes you and maximized his opportunity on new years eve to let you know.


If you like him, it's okay. You will need to let him know in some way that you might react weird when he does that, or just tell him you prefer something else.


As far as freezing goes, I don't really know of a cure except a very patient partner who will stop at the first sign of tension and release over and over again until the old reaction is overwhelmed with new pleasant relaxed experiences and finally gives up control.

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It's been brought up in the past by counselors, but nothing ever surfaces. I cried when I read your post and most of the professionals think it may have happened when I was just a kid. It feels weird talking about it, thanks for your concern. I don't feel well prepared right now to go further.

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Yes, I understand r2h.


I'll just write more about how I feel. It helps me and maybe it will help anyone else who's reading this.


A part of me is angry at my male friend for using new year's eve as an excuse to kiss me on the lips and hold me close, as if I were his girlfriend. I'd prefer if he would ask me out on a date before attempting that sort of physical intimacy. But I also realize that a kiss on the lips is very common between friends on new year's eve and maybe hugging closely too.


Mostly, I'm angry at myself for not being able to control my bodily reactions. I know it will just take practice. I've been practicing so long, though! I guess there's no such thing as "practice makes perfect" LOL.

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hey stella.. i guess i've been there before, your position... about when i was 8 yrs old... it was my elder cousin bro of over 25then.... i used to love him so much... but this incident was terrible...being a guy didnt make me not vulnerable, you cud say i was a child.... i dont think i should go back with the details, dont want to aggravate your situation... it was really abusive and i had several wounds and nail marks and cigarette burns.. I've had night mares ever since then and it kinda spoiled my entire childhood... i was happy at times when i was awake but sleeping was the hard part... you know how it would feel to dread something so much and you have to face it... I had a lot of counselling... most of my friends would just tell me these thoughts are just futile...


well i know its difficult. it might be better if you share it. especialy when you are with a lover, he could understand...

once you are in a good relation you cud face your fears with him and he could help you out.. i know things remind you of them, for me watching rude scenes on tv sometimes triggers my past...


the best thing to do is be calm and forget about the past... or at least try and forget.. thats what i have been doing for a long time, even though sometimes these thoughts surface.... i've always been telling myself something, "I'm a survivor"... You know that sometimes boosts your moral... i had terrible insecurty problems to, i was always not confident in groups, i kinda feel smaller to everyone... its like an inner voice telling you that you are not like them, your spoiled... being a guy, i know i shouldnt be so upset... i'm doing better though... but things are very deep seated.... yet life goes on....


but what i have to say is, just keep that chin up and you will be alright... keep being proud of yourself... it helps when you love yourself and have pride in yourself.... take good care.... and smile..

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Stella, have you ever had counseling for PSTD? There are certain techniques they can use to desensitize you to prevent you going into the flashback mode, and it might be very helpful to attend counseling for a while.


On New Years Eve, i've seen strangers grab strangers and kiss! And i've been at parties where that has happened. Frequently, people will kiss whoever is standing next to them when New Years hits as that is the tradition. Especially when there's drinking involved and inhibitions are reduced, people get overenthusiastic and do that kind of thing. They don't mean to assault you and think this kind of thing is festive fun and tradition. It's like giving someone a kiss if you see them standing under the mistletoe.


So i don't think this was any big plot on his part, but the kind of thing that happens when you go out in a crowd on New Year's eve. I think the real issue is that you shouldn't have to tolerate the pain from these flashbacks, and the best way to prevent them happening in future is to get some counseling for PSTD. Look for a counselor who specifically deals with PSTD and rape victims. A woman's shelter or hotline can give you a referral.

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Hey, I've had my own bad 'sexual' experience. It was when I was even younger than you actually, with a male babysitter... I don't care for any comments about that, but I wanted to tell you for an example.


I understand that it might make you feel uncomfortable. At the same time. You need to think. You need to realize the difference between what happened to you back in high school and what happened to you last night/tonight.


The guy you were with tonight wasn't trying to force himself on you. He was trying to show affection. And he was probably confused by your reaction. Don't feel bad. I've experienced the same thing. Girls have shown me affection and I've sat not knowing what to do and hurt their feelings accidentally.


You need to realize that all contact isn't bad. Just keep that in the back of your mind. I try to myself.


I hope this helps, everyone experiences abuse differently.


PS. I wouldn't attribute it to PTSD automatically. It might be helpful to put PTSD out of your mind and deal with the problem rather than label it. Just my opinion. I've thought I've had PTSD myself, and thinking about it doesn't help.

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Hi all, I'm having difficulty sleeping, so I'm going to write some more. Thanks so much for your feedback.


Android and IronLion85 - I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. It's sad how the effects are so long-lasting.


BeStrong - yes, actually I've had counseling specifically for PTSD. I've had lots of counseling for the sexual assault and then I was also in a PTSD support group through my HMO for 3 years. That's how I know when I'm having a PTSD reaction and how I'm able to identify the triggers. Unfortunately, even though my PTSD symptoms are much, much less severe than they used to be, I'll always have them. I guess I could undergo the treatment that involves hypnosis and eye training but I don't want to do that. I can't remember what it's called - EMS or EMT??? I've decided that if I've blocked certain things out, there's no point in remembering them.


I guess what I'm wondering now is - should I tell my male friend about my sexual assault? I don't know him that well and think it might be TMI (too much information).

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I guess what I'm wondering now is - should I tell my male friend about my sexual assault? I don't know him that well and think it might be TMI (too much information).
Leaving aside your flashback reaction when he kissed you for a moment - if he were to ask you out would you be interested in him?
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Thanks Victoria.


DN, that's an excellent question. I'm realizing how difficult it is for me to separate the two. My intuitive answer is yes, I'm interested in him and I'd like him to ask me out. I'm attracted to him and he seems very kind. But then my resistances kick in and I think it's a red flag that he's so touchy feely with me in public. That's the trigger. I've never realized this before. It's why I hate public displays of affection. I guess I'll have to work through this with my therapist.

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Thanks Victoria.


DN, that's an excellent question. I'm realizing how difficult it is for me to separate the two. My intuitive answer is yes, I'm interested in him and I'd like him to ask me out. I'm attracted to him and he seems very kind. But then my resistances kick in and I think it's a red flag that he's so touchy feely with me in public. That's the trigger. I've never realized this before. It's why I hate public displays of affection. I guess I'll have to work through this with my therapist.

If you decide that you are not interested or it would be too complicated right now then don't tell him about your past - it would serve no purpose.


But if you are interested and he asks you out - don't tell him unless and until you think a more lasting relationship might develop and things become more physical. Once they do become physical then you will need to tell him so he can understand why your reaction to his touch, kisses etc. might be awkward at first. But you don't have to go into graphic detail - just that you were assaulted and it has made you a little gun-shy so you will need time to adjust to his touch. Let him know this is about what happened to you - it isn't about him.

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Even though it is a tradition, that would have made me uncomfortable. And I know there are other people out there who don't appreciate the "sneak up and give you a big kiss" tradition either.


I'm just saying this because, well, I understand you have this history and I understand what it is to get triggered too.


But even if you didn't have that history, and even if you didn't get triggered off by this - I just wanted to let you know that (at least in my opinion), it wouldn't be all that strange if this situation made you uncomfortable.


Just because something is a tradition, it doesn't mean everyone is going to like it or even be comfortable with it. And I think that is perfectly ok.


Last night was a bit of a triggering night for me too - I think with all the huge sensory attack and expectations of New Year's Eve, it's a very challenging night. It can be a challenging night for the most well adjusted of people - so I do hope you give yourself some slack about this. It doesn't erase any of your recovery, it doesn't have to mean you will deal with this for the rest of your life either.


I wasn't even thinking nor expecting - though it seems so obvious - that there would be fireworks going off last night in the city. That took me by a huge surprise when they started going off, and I started to feel some of those old feelings and the blood drain out of my face.


But this morning, I'm feeling some of my perspective come back. I hope you are feeling better this morning too. Applied your tried and true techniques, get back anchored.


My heart really goes out to you. It sounds like you just got taken a lot by surprise - I'm so proud of you for recognizing what was happening and taking control of it as you did. You did a good job of doing what you needed to do for yourself last night, that is something to feel really good about.


Today is a new day.

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Thanks itsallgrand. I'm sorry you were triggered too! I appreciate your post. It reminds me that even if I do feel uncomfortable about something due to what happened to me, it's okay and maybe I'd feel uncomfortable anyway. That's the challenge...discovering what my true boundaries are and not boundaries I've set for myself out of fear or boundaries other people force onto me. Boundaries can be flexible and that's often a challenge for me.


DN, that's good advice. Thanks. I told my ex-fiance after our third date and looking back I think it was too soon, even though his response was very loving and kind. At that time I still hadn't worked through as much and thought all men expected me to be sexual with them right away.

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Stella, i wouldn't tell a guy this after just a few dates. I would tell him the larger picture, that you believe in really getting to know someone before having sex. This is wise from any perspective.


I think once you know the person very well and have established there is a bond there, telling them is appropriate, but not until they are trusted and you are sure they are someone you want to keep around and who will understand it.


Meanwhile, work hard with your therapist and try different PSTD methods to desensitive you, and it might become a non-issue if you've worked thru it in therapy and are able to control the flashbacks on your own.

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