I have never worn so many dresses as I have in the past two weeks. I would wear dresses occasionally before that but it would make me feel so anxious and I would worry I looked bad and if I wasn’t wearing shorts under it would make me feel unsafe. This is one of the after effects of being assaulted. I would dress in jeans and t-shirts and try not to look too “pretty” for fear that would make me a target. I know that isn’t how it works but with all the victim blaming in society it felt normal to me. Wearing trousers, apart from being comfortable, had a purpose too. It stopped there being such easy access to my private areas. I think about this and it hurts how much I felt I had to cover up and dress down so as not to attract attention.
As a victim myself and one who knows it doesn’t just happen in dresses or when you are looking your most fabulous self it was totally wrong. But when your brain has been so messed up you try to look for a fix, a way to feel like you have some control of what happens to your body. It is sad but true. My way of gaining control of the situation was to dress and look a certain way. It has taken me years (the first incident being in 2010) for me to shake off that thinking.
Even now I have my go to comfort clothes when my anxiety/PTSD is bad. I still get a bit anxious wearing dresses every now and then. But I am gaining back control over my life. This is with a lot of support. My family, friends and my boyfriend are people I feel incredibly safe with. The ones who without realising it have reassured me I look nice and that I should wear dresses more often. The ones who I can go to when I feel anxious and reassure me there is no danger.
I was talking to my mum a few weeks ago and she said when I was younger I used to love wearing dresses. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt happy in a dress. A few weeks later and here I am! So now I am definitely saying yes to the dress(es)!