Tag: why do people freeze during physical assault

Supernatural: Beat The Devil…Beat Your Demons

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Introduction

It’s been a LONG while since this episode aired, but after watching this past Thursday’s episode, had just HAD to get back into writing it again! Due to sooo much happening this past year, I almost forgot about this post.

Season 13 was filled with a lot of surprises and familiar faces. Relationships and hookups we didn’t see coming as shown below…

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Gabriel (Richard Speight, Jr) and Rowena (Ruth Connell) look like they’re having some sort of hanky panky.
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Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padelecki) are looking confused, yet looking reluctant to NOT figure out what’s happening between the archangel and the witch.

And yet the few earlier scenes, have made a lot of sex joke references. But for me what was funny was how the episode was mentioning the jokes without really trying to mention it.

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Referring to Gabriel’s grace to a man with erectile dysfunction disorder. So horrible!

Now To The Real Issue…

All jokes aside, for me, the episode was a tough episode. The thing was both Rowena and Gabriel have been hurt by Lucifer, however in order to help save and bring back Jack and Sam and Dean’s mom from Apocalypse World, they had to face their demon. Like, literally and figuratively had to face them, which was well the Devil himself. They had no choice. I mean well, Gabriel wasn’t able to produce any more grace (see my previous posts: Supernatural: Coming Back From The Darkness Within and Supernatural: Unfinished Business: Gabriel Strikes Back), so Team Freewill had to go to the next best source: Lucifer.

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Rowena and Gabriel trapping Lucifer

Speak of The Devil…

I couldn’t imagine trying to trap my assaulter. I mean…just thinking about filing a police report against him scares me. It’s not so much of the process that scares me, but having to see his face again. Having to see my innocence and vulnerability taken away…again. Now some of you may be thinking, it’s selfish of me not to report him, forget about the other women who may be hurt by him or why now and not three years ago? When you’re sexually assaulted, your assaulter doesn’t just take advantage of your body, but your mind too. Your self esteem is shot. You have to grapple with the thought about how could you have not seen this coming and/or what did you do or say or wear, that made them think it was okay to hurt you??? I mean speaking for myself, because until the time I was 28, I thought sex could have only been done vaginally. I never thought there were other ways and byways sex could have been done. I wasn’t sexually active and so interested about as most people were growing up.

Sam, Castiel, Rowena, and Gabriel have been violated by Lucifer…. Sam (who was originally supposed to be his vessel) was tortured by Lucifer, when he was stuck with him in “Lucifer’s Cage”. Next was Gabriel who we thought was killed by Lucifer (he later went into hiding in Monte Carlo). Then we have Castiel who was tricked by Lucifer, so he could have access to his body. And lastly, we have Rowena who was tragically killed by Lucifer. He has physically and mentally abused them, but fortunately the four of them have gained back some resilience.

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With a few ingredients and Pint (or pints?) of Lucifer’s grace, it powers the portal to take the boys to Apocalypse world)

So anyway, without Lucifer knowing Sam, Dean, Cas, and Gabriel were going to an alternate universe to save Jack (Lucifer wants his son back), the boys went on while  leaving Rowena alone with him. For a sec, I was kinda worried about that, because she’s in the room with the same guy who abused—no, killed her the first time. I can’t imagine how much strength she must have had (even with her full power restored. See post: Supernatural: Life After Assault)

Fight-Flight-Freeze

Lucifer: I’m just trying to have a good time with you like last time. Remember that? When I surprised you at your hotel room? Oh. I mean, I even wanted you to put up a fight. I wanted a little bit of a tussle, but [sighs] you froze. You choked. So I choked ya. What was that like, burning to death? You know, I can’t get that smell out of my nose, that…ashy reek of burnt up ginger! [Laughs]

We’ve all heard at some point this question, “Why don’t victims leave their abusers when they are being physically or sexually abused?” Apart from my own personal experience, it’s biology or called “fight-flight-freeze mechanism”. We’ve all heard about “fight or flight”, but when this situation occurs it’s not that simple. According the Psychology Today article, “Why Women Freeze During Sexual Assault” by Dr. Devon MacDermott, your body…your brain…is just focused on surviving the threat. The parts of the brain that responsible for example, reason and abstract thought, sensing your own body and mind, planning, and speech production is temporarily shut down. Using a less threatening example, recall a time you are giving a speech to large group of people. You may feel upset, unable to speak, or unable to speak articulately (MacDermott, 2018). That is a “fight-flight-freeze mechanism.”

On a biological level, your brain is trying to keep you alive, by redirecting energy into different parts of your body and brain (MacDermott, 2018). For example, the brain may be the blood flow and nutrients to the “safety parts” of your body or brain, instead of the “thinking parts”. Your input of from your five senses and your emotions and the output to your body get more attention than your abstract thought and problem solving (MacDermott, 2018).

According to the article, the most common mental symptoms of freeze are:

  • Your thoughts get cloudy or your mind goes blank
  • You feel panicky but without a sense of direction
  • You feel hopeless or trapped
  • You have a strong desire to get out of the situation or make something stop but you don’t know how
  • You feel that any action you take might make the situation worse and it seems better to do nothing

I’ve felt bullet points 2-5.

While  in terms surviving the wild, this mechanism of “fight or flight”  has been useful in avoiding attacks, unfortunately in terms of physical or sexual assault, it’s not. Also other forms of trauma are most like to build the “fight-flight-freeze” mechanism into your body like, body shaming, manipulation, frequent invalidation, or had repeated feelings of powerlessness over your body’s safety, sexual consent, or boundary violations (MacDermott, 2018).

Devil’s Advocate

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Rowena: You want to get inside my heat, twist the knife? Two can play that game.  Do you know what your grace is making possible right now? The heartfelt family reunion of Sam, Dean, Cass, Mary, and your very own son Jack. That’s right. Your wee boy’s over there, and he’ll be so glad to see his three fathers. Of course, as far as he’s concerned, they are his father. And you? You’re nothing to him. Or me. Or anyone now. Nothing.

I know sometimes if feels it’s best to taunt your assaulter or stand up to them, but you know what I’ve learned? Don’t. Just don’t. Speaking for myself, it’s not because I feel weak, it’s just I’m trying to protect myself from being taking advantaged of again.  I feel he’s already penetrated my mind, so he knows how to lure me back into his life by either giving or saying something I like or by trying to have me respond to something I clearly don’t like. I’m all for defending my honor and all, but defending my honor is also by leaving my ego where he is and walking or possibly running as far as I can from him. I can always regrow my ego, but entertaining him….hell no.

I use to have him as my instagram buddy (again at the time I had him as an IG buddy, I had no idea this whole time he was assaulting me). He sent me a direct message asking me how I was doing. As much as I wanted to respond to that, because I do to people I’m familiar with, I just felt I’d be stepping into a rabbit hole I just got myself out of. Innocent question, not-so-innocent guy. A couple minutes later, he wrote, “So I guess that’s a no.” And you know what? That’s fine. He answered his own question, but regardless, I wasn’t going to entertain him anymore. I already entertained him with my naivety about sex, I’m not giving him any more of me. F*ck that.

So if you want to face your assaulter, make sure you take your crew with you, because if not, they might screw with your head again. Never be alone whether in person or via social media. And you always…let me repeat…always remember you have a right not to talk or even be around your assaulter. Period. Protecting your physical, emotional, and/or mental well-being, should always come first.

Crocodile Tears

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Lucifer: Aw, Red, you shouldn’t have made me mad. Step into my office. You know…you and Gabe, kicked me when I was down. I didn’t have any fight. I didn’t have anything to live for. But you, you, you gave me something to fight for again. My boy. So for that, that I’m gonna be quick.

I can’t believe how Red—I mean Rowena, must have felt in those first few seconds that she was in Lucifer’s clutches. I mean, first of all he was back in his clutches again and two I’m sure those seconds felt like minutes.

Lucifer tried to make Rowena (and Gabe) look like THEY were the bad guys. Making them feel as if he was the one being kicked around (although he’s stronger than the both of them; Gabe is out of grace). He ignored the fact that he had hurt SO many people in his wake, that one person does him wrong or one thing goes wrong, he feels victimized.

Whether the assaulter is male or female this is one tactic these use: emotional abuse. So what is emotional abuse? Well emotional abuse is:

“any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”

(Tracy, 2016)

But remember…the whole point of emotional abuse is to discredit, isolate, and silence the victim (Gordon, 2018). They achieve this by:

  • Displaying unrealistic expectations
  • Invalidate you
  • Creating chaos
  • Using emotional blackmail
  • Acting superior and entitled
  • Isolating and controlling you
  • This form of abuse is by far the hardest one to identify. My guess is because when it comes some you know and/or love or from a respected person, THESE relationships makes it hardest to identify. For Rowena, at one point she respected Lucifer BECAUSE he was powerful…and she didn’t want killed by him. Now, because she respects him (in a way) because she knows he’s powerful enough to be killed by him again. Usually the last reason is why assault victims are more likely to feel hopeless or helpless by their assaulter because they don’t want to be put through the pain again. You’ll do ANYTHING to not be put through that pain again or to experience more pain.
  • Beat The Devil

  • After realizing what she had done

    Rowena: [Grunts] Defendatur!

    Rowena’s spell propells Lucifer into the portal

    Rowena: Bullocks

    Now unintentionally by Rowena (although perhaps antagonized by Lucifer) she used a spell that blasted them him into the portal where the boys were. Oopsies.

    But can I point out something here…I loved the same of Rowena’s spell, “Defendatur”. While it’s quite an obvious name to give a defensive spell, I wish I had a spell like that could work in the real life. While we don’t have spells to cast off villainous folk, there are ways we can defend ourselves from would be assaulter. Here are some of my suggestions:

    • Kick ’em where it hurts. Sounds violent, but whether your assaulter is a male or female or even a family member, fight. You deserve the right to protect and fight for yourself. When I was Ubering, I carried my pepper spray, but sadly I didn’t use it. Why? I was afraid of hurting the passenger. While I never though a man would dare put his hand on my thigh. I NEVER thought I’d have see someone be in pain. And I get it…it’s in my nature to be nurturing and caring, but there are times I have to be willing to fight and protect myself. Besides there’s a law that protects people for defending themselves right?
    • Take martial arts classes. There are all types: Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, Muai Tai, as well as just basic self defense practices. Take em’. It’s fun! Myself I’ve done Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do.
    • Weapons. Carry a stun gun or pepper spray or gel.
  • Conclusion

  • Listen… whether you are a man or woman who has been abused, you deserve a right to be okay. You deserve a right to be safe. You deserve a right to fight and protect yourself. You deserve a right to be happy and be in a safe environment. I don’t care how long ago the abuse happened, whether you remembered or not, whether you were naive or not or a child or not, you deserve all those things I mentioned okay? Live your life and be happy.
  • References

  • Gordon, S. (2018). How To Identify and Cope With Emotional Abuse. Retrieved from, https://www.verywellmind.com/identify-and-cope-with-emotional-abuse-4156673
  • MacDermott, D. (2018). Why Woman Freeze During Sexual Assault. Retrieved from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-trauma/201805/why-women-freeze-during-sexual-assault

  • Tracy, N. (2018). Emotional Abuse: Definitions, Signs, Symptoms, Examples. Retrieved from, https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-definitions-signs-symptoms-examples