The past 22 years have been one heck of a journey. In that time I met my ex, got married, had babies, was abused, broke free, only to be followed by years in recovery.
The beginning of my recovery was full of numbness. All I wanted to do was sleep. Everything in me was shot; my nervous system, my focus, my emotions, my whole being just fell apart. I lay in bed for hours. Sometimes sleeping and sometimes just staring at the wall in silence. I was in shock for two years.
Thankfully I had loved ones who cared for my children and I. My now fiance picked me up more than once and my sister listened to me tell story after story of my exes abuse. They were and are my rocks.
Slowly I started to live again. I started to get out of bed and interact with my family. I started to be an active mom again! I felt the sunshine on my face, the air in my lungs and that “zombie” feeling,I felt for so many years, started to slip away. I was finding me again.
Recently I bought a horse. She has given me so much in the last six months. A positive focus, a friendship and a desire to be more. Yes more. I want more than just being in recovery!
Many move through trauma recovery wanting who they were before their trauma back. I admit at one time I did too, but not anymore. If I went back to her I wouldn’t have the life lessons my exes abuse taught me or have found the amazing strength within me to survive it or the skills to help my children heal and grow. I wouldn’t be me and I like the me I am post trauma.
Recently I registered to go back to school and I am excited! I am excited about what the future will bring. I will admit that a part of me is nervous. Nervous that I will relapse in my recovery by adding school to my schedule, but I am doing my best to quiet that voice. I am trusting the survivor in me and continuing to move forward. All we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and make positive life choices. That is how we survive the uglies that life throws at us and learn to live again.
Trust. Trust is something most of us have when we are in a relationship with someone. Whether it’s family, friendship or a romantic relationship there is an understanding that you trust the other person. It’s almost a given. What happens though if you have been abused? How do you trust after someone you trusted and possibly loved hurt you in undescribable ways? Let me tell you, it’s not easy.
Trust. Trust is something most of us have when we are in a relationship with someone. Whether it’s family, friendship or a romantic relationship there is an understanding that you trust the other person. It’s almost a given. Trust starts when we are a helpless newborn. We trust that our parents will care for us. That they will feed us and keep us warm. What happens though if you have been abused? How do you trust after someone you trusted and possibly loved hurt you in undescribable ways? Let me tell you, it’s not easy.
Twenty two years ago I met a man whom I fell in love with. We eventually married and had a family. Under the grace of God I should have been able to trust him. I should have been able to trust him with our children’s lives and my own. We were married, we were one flesh under the eyes of God, so of all the people out there I should have been able to trust him with my life. I did give him that trust, I handed my life and my care over to him, but what did he do?
He abused me and our children.
He threatened my life.
To top it all off, he enjoyed hurting me! (which was apparent when he smirked when I cried).
It was a sick marriage and one that I left just over six years ago.
How do I trust after that? How does any Survivor of abuse trust again? It’s a pretty tall order, but believe it or not it can be done. What do you have to do?
When I first ended my marriage my world closed in around me. I struggled to focus, to get out of bed and I was scared of everything. I “hid” from the world in my bed. After suffering this way for a year, I was diagnosed with PTSD and Deep Depressive Disorder. Medication helped my moods, but they didn’t build my trust in others. In my head, my husband had hurt me in unbelievable ways, what was stopping some stranger from hurting me too? I barely trusted anyone.
During this time I started a new relationship. It was a new relationship with someone from my past, my Highschool sweetheart. We had a history that had been built on trust. I knew that in many ways I could still trust him, but there were also parts of me that made him earn my trust. It took time for me to learn that if we had an argument it didn’t mean he would beat me. It took time for me to know that if he carried my son to his room it didn’t mean he was going to hurt him, it just meant that my young son was being put on a time out. With each incident that happened that was free of abuse I relearned that I could trust him. In time I realized he was there to protect me and care for me and the same for my children. He gave me what I never had before; safety.
Once I trusted my new/old Beau he became the person I felt most safe with in my day to day life. If I went out I was calm if he was there. If he wasn’t there I was soon feeling panicky and running home to hide. It took another two years for me to be comfortable on my own outside of our home. At one point we moved to a new town and home. Next door we had a lovely single, retired woman and soon she became a family friend. I was ok if I went over there with my boyfriend, but the thought of going without him brought sheer panic upon me. My heart pounded and my legs shook. I wanted to visit with her. I wanted to be friends and logically I knew she wouldn’t hurt me, but I couldn’t seem to set my foot outside my front door to see her on my own.
Trust. It was all about trust. The world had become a scary place, a place where I now expected to get hurt everyone.
Then one day I did it. One day I gave myself serious talking to and asked myself if my neighbour had ever shown that she would purposely hurt me or had she been kind and caring at every visit? I realized it had always been the later. I also realized that my life was going to be pretty lonely if I didn’t at least try to put my foot out that front door on my own.
So I did it! I went to my neighbours on my own and we have developed a lovely friendship. With that friendship and others I have made I have become stronger and now I can go to the grocery store on my own without having a panic attack. I can visit with others and make friends. Looking back over these last two years I see how I have started to trust the world around me a little bit more. Yes I still get overwhelmed at times. Yes I still have times I want to hide and yes there are times when I still do, but I am here to tell you that there can be trust after abuse. Just take it one baby step at a time. Watch peoples actions over their words and most importantly listen to your gut. Your gut will tell you the truth about a person.
– On a side note I am proud to say that my blog has been featured in the Top 30 Domestic Violence Blogs on Feedspot! Please go to http://blog.feedspot.com/domestic_violence_blogs/ to check it out!
As I head into the New Year I am realizing there is a shift in my healing from my abusive marriage. What is the shift? I am laughing at my ex. Yes you read that correctly, I am laughing at my ex.
I used to live in a world that was full of fear. My ex enjoyed terrorizing me, raping me, physically abusing me and our son and abusing my daughters in ways that I cannot put into words. I feared him. A lot. He liked that I was afraid and that I was hurting. Even my Lawyer, from talking to him, noted that my ex really enjoyed knowing I was in pain over what he had done. As our family doctor put it in Court, my ex is mentally unwell and is an undiagnosed Sociopath. So yes I have had every right to fear him.
So why am I laughing? Well I am laughing because my ex can no longer hurt me. His only contact is his pathetic bashing of me online. I will admit when I first found out he was attacking me on-line my PTSD kicked in and I was……well unsettled. Knowing he reads my facebook page or this blog used to bug me. I did not want him to be able to touch any part of my life. Now though……well now I really do not care. I see what he says online and I see it as pathetic and extremely predictable. Abusers will do this when you leave. They will trash your name (see my blog The Smear Campaign) to deflect from what they have done and they will watch you online because they still think of you as their property and something they own. This is what they do. Now that you know that and I know that it almost makes what they are doing pathetic don’t you think? There is nothing special in their actions, they are simply like every other hum drum abuser (is that too crass??!!) It kind of takes away their power doesn’t it? Well it certainly has for me.
So to my ex, and all of his minions who also follow me online, read away. I hope you have fun going over what I write, how I share what he did and in turn empower other Survivors to break free. Please enjoy my work. I’ll just be over here in the corner laughing at your predictability.
My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done. He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry. I know I will be waiting for a very long time. I don’t want that long. I want to be free.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard especially when you are trying to forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply. I wrestle with forgiving my ex for what he did to me and our children. In fact this is an issue that I often pray about and have been working through with my family Priest. Let me tell you that this has not been easy. I loved this man purely and all he did was turn evil on me. How does one forgive that? How do you forgive someone who raped you, terrorized you, threatened you and hurt your children? How to do you forgive someone who doesn’t appear to take responsibility for what he has done, let alone be sorry for it? That is what I have been exploring because I do believe it is integral to my healing to forgive.
Forgiving my ex does not mean I have to let him back into my life. Forgiveness means that I no longer need to carry what he did to me. I can offer it up to God and ask God to deal with my ex in his Godly ways. In that I can find peace and I can move forward.
I am reminded of the Bible story about the prodigal son. He has left father with his inheritance and caused much destruction. Upon the sons return his father embraced him before he even knows if his son is sorry. He loves and forgives his son not because his son has earned his forgiveness, but because God asks us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in that love is forgiveness.
In following the Commandment; Love your neighbour as yourself, I am asked as a Christian to love my ex as I love myself. I have been working hard at loving myself. Let me say that loving myself has not been an easy idea or act for me to do. When you are in an abusive relationship your self worth will be attacked by your abuser in order to weaken you. The abuse will weaken your self esteem and you will start to believe all the horrible things your abuser says about you. My ex called me many horrible names, especially in the final years of our marriage. Whore, idiot, stupid, bitch and slut were among his favourites. Over time I believed I was those names. By the time I left the relationship I did not believe I was capable of anything worthwhile and it took a supportive group of family, friends and my faith in God to help me see that I was not any of the names he called me. In time I remembered that I am a child of God, that I am worthwhile and that I have so many beautiful qualities. I began to love myself. Now that I value me, now that I love me I find God asking me to follow His Commandment and love my ex. Not as a lover, but as a child of God and in that love there is forgiveness.
My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done. He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry. I know I will be waiting for a very long time. I don’t want that long. I want to be free. So what is next? Well in the words of Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” (that I will leave you with) I am learning to love the unlovable and asking God to help me with the impossible; forgiving my ex. May your journey bring you peace.
It’s Boxing Day and I don’t know about you, but I am Exhausted. Another Christmas Day has come and gone. For me the day was a busy and overall a good day. It was the first year that my 7am alarm was what woke my family up! I was surprised, but then again my youngest is now 10 years old so perhaps the 4 am – creeping – into – my -room -to -see -if -I -am -awake -and -can -we -open -presents moments have come to an end. Sigh. Anyways my day started with our little family opening our gifts, followed by prepping for Christmas supper, a nap, feeding my horse and then supper with my fiancé’s sister and family. It sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? It was, but then why did I end the day quietly crying in the dark in the quiet of my living room?
Recovery from abuse sucks and it’s suckiness can creep up on you at the most inopportune times. For me it was late on Christmas Day night. I find when holidays come memories of the past creep into my mind. This year they were not as powerful as they had been in the past. I did not have any full blown flashbacks or panic attacks. They were more like an annoying tap on my shoulder saying, “hey do you remember me?” My response was, “yes I remember, but you will not have a hold on me today” and I just kept swatting them away. I was pretty proud of myself, yet still I ended up in tears.
PTSD is not an easy road. You are constantly on high alert. Adrenaline is pumping through your body as your whole being prepares to fight or flee. Your heart is always racing, as are your thoughts and it is bloody exhausting. You are constantly on the lookout for danger. I need to remember that all of that was happening to me underneath the Christmas supper prepping and present opening. I often forget that in my recovery. I carry forward like I do not have PTSD and think that I should be able to function like I don’t have any disabilities, but I do have them. They are often unseen to the outside world but they are there. So really, is it any surprise that before my guests had left I had collapsed on my couch and was later crying in the dark? I think not. My nervous system had a lot to process yesterday; extra people in my house which would result in my whole being subconsciously assessing whether I was safe. I also had those annoying memories tapping me on the shoulder. I will be honest I was also trying really hard not to let anyone know I was going through all of this. So yes I do understand why in the end I ended up in tears.
I love my family, both extended and non extended. They are a huge part of my life and I would not change having these gatherings. I am glad I was able to see everyone yesterday. Upon reflection I just have to be mindful of my disabilities and perhaps be more open with my family as to what I am going through. Save myself from collapsing at the end of the night. Communication with loved ones is key as you recover from abuse and battle PTSD. You need a good support system to make it through the good and bad times. At the end of the night, as I cried, I was grateful for two people in my support system; my fiancé and my oldest daughter. My daughter heard me crying and came into the living room to see if I was ok. At that point I could not put it into words so we just sat together and then my fiancé joined us. They both held my hands and we chatted about everything and nothing all in one. It was a blessed moment. My fiancé reminded me that in this family we always have each others backs and that I am loved. I will get through this battle and my friends so will you.
Peace and Blessings to all of you during this Holiday Season.
It has now been 18 months since my rape trial against my ex. There have been 18 months of sadness, frustration, confusion, shock, anger, fear and horror at the whole process. Being raped is soul shattering. To have someone reach into your soul, touch it and rip it to pieces, leaving you feeling empty and lost, is devastating. To have that person be your husband and the father of your children is…..beyond heartbreaking. Everything you have ever believed is tested and shattered. Who you are is questioned by you, late at night when all is quiet. You wonder if you could ever let anyone touch you again? Would they want to? Are you damaged now? Can you trust anyone ever again? These are the questions that mill around your head at night. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t focus, everything that was normal before seems like a lie. Your whole life seems like one big lie.
You try to find peace. You think that if you report what happened you will receive justice and peace will come with that. You go to your local RCMP Detachment and you tell a Constable what he did to you. You sit in a room talking about your privates and his privates with a complete stranger, but you do it because there WILL be justice, right?
Sorry to say that, but sadly it is true. I was naively led to believe that there would be Justice. I am here to tell you that that was a lie and for most Survivors of a sexual assault it is a lie for them too. Our Legal System (It is not a Justice System. It is a system that foll0ws the laws, not about vindicating someone) in Sexual Assault trials is not about focusing on what the perpetrator did. Instead it is a system that looks at the victim, at their actions and in reality the victim is the one on trial. Again I was completely naïve to this going into my trial. Here are things that I wish I had been told.
- In Canada you are not the one charging your perpetrator (rapist) with rape. You report your assault and an officer will relay your report to a Crown Prosecutor (usually while you are still in the detachment) and if the Prosecutor thinks they have a chance at winning a case against the perpetrator then they will be charged. If they feel they cannot win then no charges will be laid.
- Your life will completely turn upside down once those charges are laid. For me the RCMP needed to figure out where and how they would arrest my ex. He lived in another city but came to a city near me, monthly, to see our children at a Supervised visit. The RCMP decided that they would set my ex up for a visit. Instead of my children going into the visitation room they were pulled into a side room and hidden from view. The RCMP then walked into the visitation room instead and arrested my ex. Once he was gone I was called to come and get my kids which I did. I also moved towns right after that. Given the level of violence in my marriage I was advised to move and temporarily go into hiding until they could get all of the proper restraining orders put into place by a Judge. Now for you it may not go that way. I cannot predict that, but let me tell you I was not prepared for this when I first went into the detachment.
- In Canada it will take a long time to get this through the legal system. It will take at least two years on average. First there will be a hearing.
- At the hearing you and any other witnesses will be questioned by both the Prosecutor and the Defence Lawyer. Your rapist will also be there. Per Canadian Law everyone is given a fair trial and they are to be present to hear everything said about them. Being in front of him will probably through you off. Prepare for that. Know that you do not have to look at him. Keep your eyes on whomever is asking the questions. Trust me when I say that your rapist and his Lawyer are hoping that his presence will rattle you and cause you to stumble in your testimony, Please don’t let them get to you. Hold your head high!
- After the hearing the Judge will decide if there is enough evidence for a trial. There does not have to be a lot of evidence for a trial to happen. Most go to trial.
- Due to the overload in our Legal System it will probably be another year for your trial. Waiting will becoming draining. You will want it all to be over. Know that your day in Court will come. In the meantime try your best to look after you so you can heal.
- Just when you think you are in a better place you will be called to trial and you will have to share your story again to a room full of strangers. This will rip open old wounds. Make sure you have a good support system and that you look after yourself during this time.
- Some trials are Judge only. Some are Jury trials. Which way it will be is decided by the Defence Lawyer. The Prosecutor has no say in this.
- There will be games played in the Court Room. The Prosecutor is held to a high level of decorum. This comes from the Crown. They must act respectful and keep their questions clean and above board. The Defence, on the other hand, is not held to this same level. Heck they are not held to any level. They can make snide c0mments, yell at y0u, have temper tantrums, make up lies and no one will bat an eye, not even the Judge (well maybe some Judges do say something but they are very few and far between). The Prosecutor CANNOT warn you ab0ut this behaviour ahead of time. They will probably tell you that the Defence Lawyer may not be nice, but to just remember that he is representing his client and to be respectful. In actuality they know and the Judge knows that the Defence will probably pull some bad punches but no one is allowed to prepare you for that.
- The Defence Lawyer will be ruthless and it will feel like you are on the one on trial not the perpetrator. Your actions pre and post the rape will be scrutinised. What you wore, what you said and how you acted in the moments coming up to the rapes and definitely the ones after the rape will be examined. You will need to justify everything you said and did. Like I said you will feel like you are the one on trial. You see, unfortunately, our Legal System has a premade image of how a rape victim is supposed to act and if you do not fall into that then you must be a liar. It is terrible. It is wrong on so many levels and very traumatizing. Please let me tell you that everyone acts differently after they have been raped. No one can predict how you will react nor can they judge you on how you act. The Defense Lawyer is doing this type of questioning to try and break you. Be aware of that. Answer each question honestly and do your best to not react to their games. Another game that they will do is ask you the same question three times, each time a little bit differently trying to get the answer that they want. Be aware of this and answer each question the same each time.
- Your rapist may not take the stand. That is their legal rite in Canada. If they do, do not expect them to be treated like you were. Remember the Prosecutor must act at a level of decorum and the Defence will have practised every question with your perp to make him look innocent. In my trial I was on the stand for two days. My ex was on the stand for maybe 30 minutes.
- There may be back room deals. There was in my trial between the Prosecutor and the Defence and I was completely unaware of it. I watched it play out though and I saw the moment when the Prosecutor realized he had been played by the Defence. I saw him scramble when he realized their agreement was never real and that it was highly unlikely the Crown was going to win.
- Lastly there is you. You who has gone through unimaginable trauma. You who has found the courage to come forward. You who has answered personal questions that no one should have to answer publically. Your whole life has been on display. It hurts and you may wonder how you will survive this, but let me tell you that you WILL SURVIVE! Y0u will make it through this. You might have a complete breakdown (I did) and that is ok. It is ok to get all of your feelings out. Know that on the other side of the wailing and the anger you will come out of this stronger. You will know that in the end, despite all of the games and all of the pain you did the right thing. You held him accountable for all to see and that, that is a victory all in itself.
Often, in my work with Survivors of Domestic Violence, I hear stories about how they are re-victimized or they try to be. Sometimes I have even heard from their current partners (who are not abusive) who say, “She keeps poking at me. Trying to start a fight and wanting me to hit her! Why? I have never hit a woman!” This got me thinking as to why some Survivors do this, more to the point why have I done it?
When you live in an abusive relationship you live in a constant world of chaos. You “walk on egg shells” wondering when will the next explosion be? Your whole world revolves around your abuser. You cater to his (or her) needs. All simply because you want to keep the beast happy and not suffer more abuse. The abuse does happen though, you never know when and over time this constant chaos attacks your self worth. You start to believe your abuser when he (or she) says that you deserve the abuse. That they wouldn’t have to treat you this way if you just behaved better. You never give up trying to please them and your internal compass is gauged by their behaviour. You lose yourself.
At one time I lost myself. I married a man who abused me physically, sexually, financially, verbally and emotionally. I lived in a world where I was paralyzed by fear. Every decision I made had my abuser in mind. Would this upset him? Will he yell at me (or worse)? I did not make decisions based on my own wants and needs. They were based on what kept him happy. That was how I survived.
After 15 years of abuse I finally broke free and separated from husband. I was over the moon! I no longer lived with daily abuse. I was free! In time I started to date again and eventually became engaged to a wonderful man. A man who would never intentionally hurt me. A man whom I felt safe with. We have a good relationship. We are equal partners and neither of us try to have control over the other like in an abusive relationship. So then why have I felt the need to create a situation where he might abuse me? Why would I want to go back there? This question puzzled me for quite awhile. Let me tell you what I realized.
I realized that I created situations with an unconscious desire to be abused. I did this because one, deep down my low self esteem had me believing that abuse is what I deserve. Two abuse was familiar. I knew how to exist in the chaos of abuse. After 15 years of abuse I no longer knew h0w to gauge my day to day life without abuse happening. Here’s an example.
When I started dating my now fiancé we planned a birthday party for me. Well more like he did with my kids. I was excited, but a little nervous. I had not had a nice birthday celebration (without abuse) in years. “Did I deserve one?” was my internal question. I woke the morning of my birthday to my house decorated with balloons and streamers. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I even had breakfast in bed! It was a lovely morning. Then my fiancé and I went out for lunch. Now that was not as fun. I basically chewed him out the whole time and every little thing that he said to calm me down made me even more angry. After lunch we were driving to an appointment and I kept poking at him, pushing for a fight. At one point I even jumped out of our car (at a red light) and walked to my appointment in a furry crying my eyes out. Now you are probably wondering what my problem was. I know my fiancé was and to be honest so was I. I did not understand what was going on inside of me. This started to happen every holiday and birthday. Then it started to happen on normal days. I would pick at him until we fought. Guess what, once he yelled back I felt calm. What???? Yes I felt calm.
Chaos, fighting, abuse, whatever you want to call it is what I knew for 15 years. It is what I thought I deserved so when he finally yelled back I felt calm because suddenly I was in a familiar world again. I understood this world and I could function in it. Crazy uh? That is re-victimization and something so many Survivors do to themselves. It’s not that we really want to be hurt again, but it is what we know and until we have a stronger self esteem it is what we think we are worthy of. For me the holidays and birthdays were a huge trigger because my ex always abused me worse on those days. So to have a birthday where balloons were hung for me and I was given breakfast in bed was, well it was completely foreign to me and it scared the hell out of me.
In time, as I healed, I recognized the unhealthy pattern and I started to re-victimize myself less. It helps that my fiancé also recognizes when I am trying to re-victimize myself and we name it. I now know that I do not deserve to be abused. I do deserve balloons on my birthday and so much more!! I am also learning to trust an abuse free life.
Recovery from abuse is a journey full of bumps and yes there are victories. Times where you heal and move forward. If you recognize the re-victimization pattern in yourself or someone you love name it. Acknowledge what is happening. Talk it through with someone you trust. Change can happen once we see what needs to be done.
Recently I was reminded about the lasting effects of verbal abuse. My fiancé and I were visiting friends in another city. We have not been to their place too much and got a bit lost on our way home. It was late, we were all tired and somehow ended up in some industrial area. Wrong turns were made and tensions rose. No name calling happened between us but suddenly I was being verbally abused. I could hear my ex in my head telling me how stupid I was, that I was an idiot. I had flashbacks to times he would give me a map and tell me to navigate (usually in a strange city while we sped down some freeway) and I would fail at it. This is of course what he wanted to happen so then he could justify yelling at me for a 1/2 hour or more. It was horrible and damaging to my self worth. Last night, as I quietly cried, I was a reminded of the damage done.
Many verbal abuse Survivors will tell you that they would take getting hit over one more minute of being verbally abused. I remember saying to my ex more than once, “just hit me already!” My thinking was that if I was hit then the abuse was over and I could heal from a bruise whereas verbal abuse cuts you to your soul. Verbal abuse changes how you think of yourself. Verbal abuse is crazy making. Often the victim feels like it is all just in their head, maybe they aren’t being abused, maybe they are just going crazy. If this is how you feel after suffering verbal abuse let me tell you that you are NOT crazy. You have been abused.
So what is verbal abuse? It is just name calling? No it is not.
Verbal abuse includes the following:
- abusive anger
- accusing and blaming
- blocking and diverting
- chronic forgetting
- denial of anger or abuse
- judging and criticizing
- minimisation, discounting, trivializing
- name calling
- also age descrimination can be considered a form of verbal abuse.
How do you heal from verbal abuse?
Well I am still working that, its a journey of ups and downs. If you have to remain in contact with your verbal abuser it is important to set boundaries with them. Telling them to “Stop it!” or saying, “You aren’t allowed to talk to me that way!” are two statements you can use to bring your abuser up short. If possible cut all ties with your abuser. I know this is not always easy to do. Some verbal abusers are family members, a boss or your spouse, but you are worth more than what they are giving you. You cannot properly heal until there is closure. Another important point is that most verbal abuse will escalate over time and it WILL lead to physical abuse. No one deserves that.
It’s important to seek support as you recover from the abuse. A counsellor can be a great confident who can give you insight as a third party. Unlike a family member or close friend they are able to give you professional advice without the overshadowing of family dynamics or friendships. This does not mean support from family and friends is not valid, it defiantly is. You might even find yourself reconnecting with family and friends once you leave the relationship. Abusers often isolate their victim from family and friends as it is then easier to control them. So reach out to them. They can help you remember who you are rather than what the abuser tells you, you are. Social support is also another support system. There are many groups on facebook, twitter or domestic violence hotlines that can help you. It is easier to move forward when you have a positive support system around you.
As for me, well we did find our way home. Today my fiancé and I sorted through what the effects of my verbally abusive past had on me last night. It is a two steps forward, one step back sort of journey. I am just glad that I keep moving forward.
Intimacy after rape, let me tell you it is not easy. I was raped at least once a week in the last nine months of my marriage. For my ex it was his one last attempt to regain control over me. We had been caught in an abusive marriage for over a decade. At the time the rapes started I was “waking up.” I was seeing him for who he was, an abusive man who enjoyed hurting me. I was going to counselling and learning that I did not deserve this abuse, that I deserved a life free of abuse and I was starting to stand up to him. When he started to verbally abuse me I asked him firmly to stop talking to me that way. I was calling him on his abuse and was standing up to him. I was getting stronger and he did not like that. An abusive relationship is all about one person (my ex) wanting power and control over another person (me) and for a very long time he had that control. My world revolved around him and his moods. I tailored my behaviour in hopes that I would not rock the boat and wake the monster in him. I walked on eggshells and our kids did too. He had gained his power through fear and intimidation.
Then one day, as I said before, I “woke up.” I could no longer swallow the abuse. I could no longer deny what was happening to myself or my children. As I said earlier I started to see a counsellor and I learned about the abuse cycle. I started to unisolate myself (he, like most abusers had isolated me from family and friends to be able to control me better), I went out with friends and started to have outside interests, interests that did not involve him. I no longer let my life revolve around him. Now let me just say I was careful. I was still living with this man and I knew what he was capable of if pushed too far. He could see though that he was losing control of me and it drove him mad. He yelled more often, screamed at me that he would Never Stop Abusing Me, criticized my friends and outside interests all in an attempt to deter me from having a life away from him and his control. It didn’t work. I kept rebuilding myself.
Then the unthinkable happened. From January 2010 to September 2010 my husband came into my room (we were sleeping in separate rooms) and he exerted all of his power over me, stripping me of my power, and he raped me over and over.
At the time I felt nothing. I couldn’t let myself feel anything. I still lived with this man, a man I had tried kicking out, but he kept coming back and now he had suddenly upped the danger level in our house. I simply existed. I was numb.
We did end up separating and I started to live a life free of abuse. Eventually I dated again. Yes I did date after being raped. I started to date a man that I had dated in high school. He was my first love and I was very happy that we were back together. I felt safe with him. Intimacy was easy. I, despite what I had gone through, felt no fear. I was honestly surprised by that, but did not question it.
Unfortunately as time passed intimacy became harder. I started to have panic attacks when we were close, fear would run through my body and I would freeze. Let me state that my boyfriend never hurt me when we were intimate. My reactions were not due to something he had done. My reactions were trauma reactions. I was getting stronger in my day to day life so my unconscious self decided it was time to deal with the trauma memories. You see my cells, my nervous system, my muscles and layers of my brain all held memories of the trauma. Per Wikipedia;
Traumatic experiences include natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis; violent events such as kidnapping, terrorist attacks, war, domestic abuse and rape. Traumatic memories are naturally stressful in nature and emotionally overwhelm people’s existing coping mechanisms. When simple objects such as a photograph, or events such as a birthday party, bring traumatic memories to mind people often try to bar the unwanted experience from their minds so as to proceed with life, with varying degrees of success. The frequency of these reminders diminish over time for most people. There are strong individual differences in the rate at which the adjustment occurs. For some the number of intrusive memories diminish rapidly as the person adjusts to the situation, whereas for others intrusive memories may continue for decades with significant interference to their mental, physical and social well being.
Ok so I was trying to proceed with life, but the trauma memories were getting in the way. As a result I had to do more counselling and I have learned new coping skills. My boyfriend and I will often just cuddle with no pressure of anything more. It’s not always easy for him or I, but we do our best to be patient and understanding of each others feelings. There are days where I skirt affection all together. When the fear takes over, I feel like I am screaming from the inside and any kind of touching stresses me out. We try to talk through those days and reassure my whole being that I am safe. It’s not an easy journey actually some days it really sucks, but I am glad we love each other enough to get through it together. One step at a time.
If you have been raped practise these acts of self care;
-Be gentle with yourself. You may be recovering from physical injuries plus mentally and emotionally you have been hurt. It takes time to heal.
-Reach out to loved ones, friends or family for support.
-You may notice that your appetite has diminished due to stress. Eat small, frequent nutritional meals. Try to avoid large amounts of sugar or caffeine.
-Get outside. Feel the sunshine, breath in the fresh air, get out for a walk.
-Keep a journal about your thoughts and feelings.
-You may have trouble sleeping and feel extra jumpy. These are normal reactions to trauma. If these symptoms last longer than a month please see your doctor for extra support.
-There are many forms of counselling to help with trauma. Your local Sexual Assault Centre can offer extra support or your family doctor can refer you to a therapist.
-Check out RAINN’s website rainn.org for helpful information.
-Please know you are not alone, you did NOTHING wrong and you did NOT deserve this happening.