From the title, I hope this post is clear to contain discussion of rape, sexual abuse, and an abusive relationship. If you’re not in the head or heart to read such a post please don’t feel guilty and move along happily.
I have been raped twice. I have been sexually abused. Emotionally abused. Physically abused. Financially abused. My life has been, upon much reflection, very traumatic. One of the reasons of keeping this blog is to increase my ability to speak about what I’ve been through, on top of the very important factor of letting people out there know they are not alone.
My first rapist was my first proper boyfriend. And he was abusive, although it took me nearly being killed by a later partner to see that much. He used to hit walls when things didn’t work out. Sometimes very close to my head. Sometimes he’d throw things or hit other things, but usually it was walls. And I’d get scared but then worry about him and try and focus on calming him down. Fucked up when I put it like that, right? Didn’t seem that way when I was that young.
When he raped me, I was asleep. I woke up, he was inside of me and on top of me, thrusting. I asked him to stop. He told me to stay still, and he’d be done in a minute. He put a hand on my chest and I stayed still, like he asked, until he’d finished.
People talk about fight or flight in a traumatic situation. But in reality there is fight, flight or freeze. I froze. And I stayed frozen, mentally, emotionally, for a long time. I didn’t know it at the time but that was when the PTSD really started. My reaction to what happened didn’t come out at him – just at everything else. The self hatred increased ten fold. Sleeping became a task. At one point I slept on the floor for months because being in bed was terrifying – but again, I was too young to understand my reactions myself.
The damage it caused, and that it still causes, is massive. It stops me from functioning normally. Four Little Words covered just some of how my PTSD impacts me. The issue with multiple traumas is that there are multiple triggers. Everywhere I turn there is something that can knock me for six, for days, weeks, sometimes even months. It’s painful just stepping outside. Or staying inside. Being awake, or being asleep.
My rape wasn’t a vicious hideous attack you see portrayed on TV programs, and that confused me. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right, and I actually spoke out about it… but was ‘backstabbed’ for lack of a better term, and was told if I went to the police, the person would support my rapist, and not me. That kept me quiet for almost a decade. Instead of speaking out, I continued the relationship, trying to work out what had happened to me, and what to do, both with the relationship, and with myself.
In the end, the emotional abuse became too much (a dear friend took my phone away at a new years party when my ex kept calling, saying he was going to kill himself unless I came back to him) and I walked away. I tried to stay friendly but in the end the combination of the underlying abuse, and the building PTSD, meant that I walked away. But it consumed over a year of my life, and now that thought alone makes me furious. The damage that man caused is on going.
Today I saw someone connected to that rapist. It has sent me into a spiral of both rage and hysteria, as is common with a PTSD attack. The flip side is that it has led me to – finally – be honest to people about who my rapist was. I’ve kept this card close to my chest, out of shame and fear of judgement. Certainly the fear of being believed. As many rape survivors feel, I’m sure.
Today has been a hideous day, but as I work on my trauma, I work on putting the power it holds behind me.