How one night changed a life | #PTSDchat
Sexual Abuse Survivors

How one night changed a life

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Trigger warning: Rape

I don’t trust men anymore. I can’t be alone with them, I don’t like them looking at me and I certainly don’t like it when they touch me. They might be nice guys and they might just try to be friendly, but in my head they are only waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I lost my ability to trust guys when I was sexually abused by my former boyfriend 4 years ago, when I was sixteen years old.

We had known each other for a few months, and had been going out for about one and a half when it happened. I used to always see the good in people without thinking twice and almost blindly trust them, even if I didn’t know them very well. He had been pushing me to have sex with him for a month before the first time we did it, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to. He kept pushing and pushing though and asking me what was wrong with him and making me feel guilty for not immediately jumping into bed with him, so eventually I did it. It was fine for a week or two but then one night everything just went to hell.

We were both on a boarding school and the students were not allowed to sleep with the opposite gender, but he had sneaked out of his dorm and gotten past the guards. It actually started out okay. I agreed to have sex with him that night, I mean, it wasn’t like I thought it was going to be any different than the other times we had done it, but then things started to get out of hand. He was on top and he was a heavy and strong guy. Not fat, just heavy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he started moving more violently and it began to hurt. I asked him to stop, but he didn’t seem to hear me, so I asked again but as he just kept going I started to get scared and tried to move away while telling him to stop.
That’s where he grabbed both of my hands with one of his, and put it above my head and held it there, and when I told him to stop again, terrified of what was happening, he put to fingers into my mouth, I suppose to stop me talking.
I remember tears starting to fill my eyes but I just couldn’t get away, he was too strong for me to move him. It continued like that for what seemed like an eternity and finally, when he was finished and moved away, he turned on the lights and there was just blood everywhere. He seemed surprised as if he didn’t know what had just happened. I was just starring at the blood, my blood, horrified and in shock.

He left pretty quickly, and the first thing that popped into my mind was that I had to get rid of the evidence, because we could both be expelled if the teachers found out that he had been sneaking out to sleep with me. So I was up in the middle of the night, cleaning the sheets and myself up so no one would suspect anything. Two days later I was still bleeding, so I called my doctor and told her that I was bleeding from sex. I did say that it had been a little rough, but not at all how rough and violent it actually was. She told me I had to go see her as quickly as possible, because she was afraid something inside of me was broken and I could be sterile. That message seemed worse than what had happened the night before. My biggest dream have always been to be a mother, and what if this guy had made that impossible? I talked to him about it that same day, but the answer I got from him was: “Well, if you really are sterile and it’s my fault, could you please not tell me? I’d feel like I’ve ruined your life.”

That’s where I understood how much of an idiot he was. He was my boyfriend and he did this. The least he could do was support me if things were as bad as the doctor feared. That was the only thing I could think about, how much he had disappointed me and how he had broken my trust completely. We broke up after a few days and I eventually went to see a doctor. Fortunately nothing was broken and I am able to have children, thank God.


Officially diagnosed with PTSD

Officially diagnosed with PTSD

Since that day, I have not trusted men. At that point of course, I didn’t know how much this incident would change my life, and the changes didn’t come all at once. Sometimes I would feel uneasy at the presence of male friends and whenever I was alone with them I would automatically look for the easiest way out, even if it was the window on the third floor. I didn’t understand why I felt like this, why I suddenly couldn’t be alone with one of my good male friends and why I would shiver and shake and sweat every time I was alone with men, either my own age or older. Teachers, students, friends, even family male members made me feel nervous and afraid.

It was about half a year before the anxiety attacks started, when I had just started Danish upper secondary school (equal to high school I believe). I would have flashbacks, I would start hyperventilating, sweating, crying hysterically… I started cutting and eventually also started drinking every day just to get through school, before my two good friends noticed that something was terribly wrong and forced me to go to the school psychologist.

I finally told someone what had happened and I was met with understanding and support.

My psychologist was newly qualified but helped me a lot even though she didn’t have much experience. I stopped drinking and cutting, for the most time. She gave me a few tools to help control the anxiety attacks, like drawing, writing notes or writing poems. She also helped me get more comfortable with the incident by using some techniques she had learned on her school. She also told me what PTSD was, and that from what I had told her, this was what I had. Unfortunately, she was offered a better job and had to quit after only a few weeks and I never got an official diagnose, just the information that this was probably what I was experiencing. I got a new psychologist but after just a few sessions she thought I was well enough to be on my own, without help from the school anymore, which really wasn’t the case. I barely got through those 3 years, dealing with these anxiety attacks, stress and the pressure the teachers put on us. I was so happy when I finally got my diploma and could walk out of there with fair grades and know that I made it.

Just because others can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there

During the time from the psychologist “cut me off” and until now, I have been fighting on my own, trying to find new ways to move on. Fortunately, I have a few close friends whom I trust and I can tell everything (one of them actually the guy from before) and I have a wonderful boyfriend who supports me and tries his best to understand me. All of these 4 people were people I knew before the incident, which made it a lot easier for me to trust them (especially the male friend and my boyfriend).

Drawing, writing poems and notes during the anxiety attacks really helped me a lot, and I rarely experience the flashbacks anymore. I still have anxiety attacks when I find myself in uncomfortable situations with men that I don’t know, and I am still trying to learn how to convince my body that it’s not going to die from talking to a man. I recently started a program that the local council in my city offers, called “exercise and coping skills” which basically is about going to fitness to get healthy and feel good about your body, but also includes this “coping” meeting for people with mental illnesses, to help us get back into society and help us find a balance in ourselves to fit in and at the same time handling a mental illness.

Besides that, I finally got the official papers for my diagnose.

Some call it a label and think it is a bad thing, but I see it as a positive thing, a kind of proof that I’m not crazy and I’m not a liar, because people have been calling me that. Now I can finally get help from the government that I’ve needed, like a new psychologist and group therapy to help me move on and meet and talk to people who have been through similar things.

What was my point in sharing my story?
I would like to give hope to everyone who is dealing with the same as me, or to anyone who just might need a helping hand and encouragement. Someone who might be at the point where they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t worry! You WILL get there. It may take some time, it may be hard and seem impossible, but it is definitely not impossible.
I was a mess for 4 years mainly because of the flashbacks that came with the anxiety attacks, because  it was a constant reminder of what happened. I still deal with anxiety attacks, but it gets better all the time.

You learn how to cope, you find your own way of dealing with it and detect and avoid situations where you know you won’t feel comfortable.
Reach out and connect with people who know how you feel.
Talk to your friends.
I still have major trust issues, but  if you’re constantly trying to move on it will help. Be determined to get better. When you feel your whole world is collapsing, distract yourself. Call somebody, draw, read, sing, write… Anything that will help you get your feelings out of your body. I stopped cutting. I draw instead, or I write poems. I get my feelings out where I can psychically see them so I can watch them from a distance. My ex boyfriend is my ghost. He turns my dreams into nightmares, he is with me every day to make my life hell, but I choose not to listen to him, I choose not to give him attention. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, but it is teachable and I am positive that if I can do it, you can too.


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