Helped my girlfriend leave her abusive ex and all I got was this lousy ptsd

I think the thread title pretty much sums it up, but things are ROUGH right now. Gf has C-PTSD and has been highly symptomatic and disregulated for weeks. She says that I'm a different person and that she doesn't like who I am now compared with when we were "just friends". We're not speaking currently, it's unhealthy for us both and we're on the verge of a break-up...her decision, not mine. She can't acknowledge that the changes in me are from the persistent trauma I dealt with while helping her leave her ex. Says I'm using ptsd as an excuse for my changed behavior, which granted is pretty extreme. I'm anxious 24/7, hyper-vigilant, and when I have a panic attack I need major reassurance that what I'm feeling in the moment isn't what's actually happening. It sucks. I get on my own nerves. It will be a small miracle if we make it through this patch intact. I'm trying to handle my issues, just saw a new therapist today who is going to give me a formal evaluation and diagnosis just to make sure therapy goes in the direction it needs to. I felt like there was a question I was intending to ask, but apparently rambling is all I can do right now. Huge issue with focus, sleep, and work these days. Ugh. Uugghhhh.
 
I witnessed her being abused multiple times but froze. Didn't do anything. She was too afraid to be by herself so I stayed at her apartment with her, but he took the keys and would come in all hours of the night and pull her off the couch to force her to talk to him. I would hear her crying, begging him to leave her alone, but I froze. He then completely isolated her from everyone. She wasn't allowed to see or speak to anyone he didn't approve of. He went through her phone. Kept her purse and keys to the car so she couldn't leave. Told her he was going to blow my head off. Fast forward a couple months. She took a risk and got in touch with me. Made plans to leave him for good. I helped keep her safe. He stalked my house, my mom's house, had a gun, told another of their mutual friends he was going to kill me. We stayed in random hotels that no one knew about except my parents. She was too afraid to let me work alone (I do lawn care) so she would sit in the car and keep watch while I worked in case he found me.

My symptoms didn't appear for months, until I randomly saw him in public. Had a full on panic attack an hour later, or a series of panic attacks that lasted about 2 hours. Then came intrusive thoughts. Searching the roads for cars like his. Replaying what I saw over and over and over. Guilt over my freeze response. Guilt over not getting her out sooner. Etc etc etc. There's way more, but that's the nutshell version.

This started in late December 2018 btw. She successfully left in late May 2019. I didn't start experiencing symptoms until Sept/Oct, and didn't know what was happening with me. Got my hormones checked, bloodwork, etc. Thought it was physical stuff, until the first time I felt like I was reliving what happened and couldn't snap myself out of it. The image of him standing over her at 430 one morning just staring at her after using the key to get into the apartment, while I pretended to be asleep on the couch, never leaves my mind. He yanked her off the couch after a while from a dead sleep and pulled her outside. I froze. Again.
 

anthony

Founder
I witnessed her being abused multiple times but froze. Didn't do anything.
Sorry to hear that.
Told her he was going to blow my head off. He stalked my house, my mom's house, had a gun, told another of their mutual friends he was going to kill me.
How did that sit with you?
Had a full on panic attack an hour later, or a series of panic attacks that lasted about 2 hours. Then came intrusive thoughts. Searching the roads for cars like his. Replaying what I saw over and over and over. Guilt over my freeze response. Guilt over not getting her out sooner.
All normal. How old are you? If you don't mind me asking.
until the first time I felt like I was reliving what happened and couldn't snap myself out of it. The image of him standing over her at 430 one morning just staring at her after using the key to get into the apartment, while I pretended to be asleep on the couch, never leaves my mind. He yanked her off the couch after a while from a dead sleep and pulled her outside. I froze. Again.
Your response is normal. It is the minority who would act, or who could act, within the bounds of their ability under such circumstances.
 
@anthony I'm 41, no worries for asking, I've earned every one of these years lol. I'm getting a full eval done next month just to make sure it's actually ptsd, I'm not a doctor, just too many checked boxes in my opinion to be anything else. Logically, I know there was nothing more I could have done. Tell my emo brain that though. Sigh.

Things are especially bad right now because my gf is completely shut down to the point of barely functioning. She has 3 kids with her ex. He's now helping her with them almost daily, so the house I rented for her to be safe from him (and for me to feel safe) has become a giant trigger and I don't know if she's strong enough to not fall back under his control while she's in this state of mind. So I'm trying not to fixate on THAT, and focus on getting myself the help I need. I can't do anything for her right now anyway with him being at the house at random times. Every time I see him I flashback and am pretty non-functional for a few days. Things look bleak on the relationship front, but I don't have the emotional energy to devote to those thoughts.
 

anthony

Founder
I have to say... I'm not sure this relationship all sounds right to me. He abuses her - she leaves him and you help - he is threatening your life - you both have to hide in random locations from him - you have rented her a house having escaped the abuse, but now he is there most days.

I think you need to stop paying for her, save your money, and you both stabilise your own lives first as to whether or not you can be in a more permanent together relationship. That may sound harsh, but from what I'm reading, true from how I am reading things.
 

mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
I can't abide being anywhere near my SO's ex, either. She assaulted me and there just no way I can function without iron-clad boundaries with her and my SO's involvement with her.

He's, finally got good boundaries with her, but it took many years.

But he (and I) had to let the coparenting run it's course. Just because they are abusive, doesn't mean we can interfere or intervene, in any way, especially when there are children involved.

I hope you get some excellent support. It truly sux that it looks like you've developed PTSD through this.

It's seems to me, your energy really has to go into your own wellbeing and managing symptoms and cultivating acceptance and allowance for her choices, no matter how shitty you think they are.

I wish you much safety, support and strength for this extremely tough situation you have to deal with.
 
@anthony. I know where you're coming from, and I mostly agree. The situation isn't healthy and I've got sh*t to do every day that I have to be functional for, which is why I'm focusing on me right now. That's all I have control over anyway.

And @mumstheword. Thank you for the input, again ?. I'm glad you've gotten to a stable point in your relationship, hopefully I'll be there one day. Not looking good, but I still have a sliver of hope. We shall see. Goal now is get diagnosed and if it's truly ptsd, start CPT. That'll be fun I'm sure, but I did my research and found the best psychotherapist in town for the job, and I liked her when we had our first meeting today.
 

lil_fighter

Confident
I have just read about your experiences and really commend you for how supportive you have been of your girlfriend. You put yourself at risk and the situation caused you and your family stress. You clearly really care for her. I do agree that now you should focus on you and that sounds great about being in therapy. You recognise that it is unhealthy for you both to be in contact right now. Sounds like you have healthy boundaries in place and that is key to both your healing and hers. Take baby steps, take your time and avoid anything that would majorly trigger you for now until you have talked to your therapist and worked on this properly. This distance from your girlfriend may hurt initially but it is the only way of getting stronger and taking care of yourself. You have done your best for her and now you need to do the best thing for yourself, you owe yourself that ?
 
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