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PTSD for 9 Years - Abducted, Raped and Prostituted

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by catatonicky, Jan 24, 2007.

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  1. catatonicky

    catatonicky Member

    Hi all,

    I've had PTSD for the last 9 years. It came on as memories returned after the birth of my second child, of being abducted, raped and prostituted by a gang when I lived in the US as a child, when I was 15. I'd remembered a little bit about the first rape but had repressed the rest of the abuse, which went on for about 6 months. The memories came flooding back and had me waking in extreme terror in the night, screaming and not knowing where I was. It led to the breakdown of my relationship, as my partner couldnt cope. It led to the estrangement from my family, who at first didnt believe me (despite having taken me to the hospital after a suicide attempt at the time and being told by the docs there was sexual trauma etc), and later by my anger at them for not getting me help or counselling, wanting to cover-up and deny the whole ugly incident. They didnt even know the half of it. There was guns, drugs, extreme violence, hardened and scarred criminals, threats to kill my family if I told etc. I was lucky to emerge after it all, when my family moved overseas (for my father's work, not to escape the perpetrators), without serious injury or disease. Nevertheless I repressed all memories and continued my life, getting married early at 18, having children, pursuing a professional academic career.

    Although I know that you cannot keep repressing it, I sometimes wish that I hadnt opened the lid on those memories. I have had barely a half-life since diagnosed; the constant nightmares, flashbacks, "frights", sexual issues, memory problems, strange anxiety attacks over triggers as bizaare as wallpaper patterns, scarred skin, gunshots, slamming doors, mirrors, the bits and pieces that were burned into my brain. The dissociative states. I have tried all types of therapy, and end up ditching them after about 6 months or so. Therapists do not really understand. The trauma specialist thought that I was particularly well-adjusted because I held down a job, and didnt have an "abusive relationship". I get around that by being in a bdsm relationship where the abuse is consensual self-abuse by proxy. Pain has now become my friend, dissociation is something i slip easily into. Therefore it is cathartic and strangely healing. The rape counsellors thought I needed more serious help for the dissociative spells than they could offer. This is how I self-medicate and it has split my life in two.

    The psychiatric system here in australia is a difficult one to navigate at the sanest of times; psychiatrists usually dont bulk bill and just try to get you on meds. Speaking of which I've tried many of them, most of which I got off because they increased dissociation. Effexor was good until I had an allergic reaction. Now I am contemplating natural therapies and getting acupuncture, but we will see how that goes. I must admit to being a master of repression and wouldnt touch EMDR or any re-traumatising therapy with a ten foot pole. What I have remembered is horrific enough, i dont care to know any more, period. If there was a way to burn the memories from my brain I would gladly go through it.

    I oscilate between trying to address the PTSD and denying it. Literally my mind has been shattered and I have several personalities. On the plus side, I am (most of the time) a very strong person now. The abuse has made me empathetic to cultural and social difference. On the negative side, I can crumble suddenly into a pitiful fearful antisocial wreck, have suicidal panic attacks and cannot sleep alone in a housewithout the appearance of my shadowy personal black hole swallowing me up again. I've had the same dreams (of tidal waves, and of men breaking into a house) for 9 years running. It is hard because people do not understand PTSD and even those who are educated about it say things like "You must just get over it", "Forgiveness is the way through" etc etc. I dont believe anyone who hasnt been through it can understand it. I have long ago forgiven the perpetrators but find it hard to forgive my educated parents who still think I am being self-indulgent and over-emotional. Emotions were not allowed in my childhood home, especially anger, fear, panic or anguish. Even whistling wasnt allowed.

    The worst thing about the PTSD for me, aside from the major breaks in my career that it has entailed, relationship and sexual issues, gaps in friendships, etc, has been the impact on my parenting. I shudder to think what my children will be telling an analyst about their mother in 10 years time, about how their mother had "attacks" of anxiety and panic, would dissociate, and jump ten feet in the air and scream like bejeezes when they just said "boo" to her. I also have a hard time conveying to my children that the world is a safe place when I know that it isnt, that calamity and even death are a hair's breath away.

    Yet other people have it far worse, for example, Holocaust survivors, veterans, people who have lived through wars etc. I know that I am lucky to be alive and that makes me feel guilty to even have this problem. I am glad to have found this forum and reading the posts which tell stories that I can completely identify with. Its like we are a secret society; I can tell when someone I've just met or seen has this condition, has anyone else noticed this? At least when I see a glimpse of their emotional struggles anyway, it is all too clear, male or female.

    Anyway, still struggling, still torn, but still here......
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  3. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    Hi Catat..

    Welcome to the Forum! Yes, I've noticed that we all seem to recongize each other too. Sounds like you've been through a lot in a short period of time. I identify with many of your issues. And yes, therapists haven't got a clue. This is a great place, which I call home, and I'm sure you'll find tons of things useful to yourself.

    Again, welcome, now back to my morning java :)

  4. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Welcome to the forum Cat. I hope you find the understanding and some help you need here. I am really interested in where you said you have many personalities. I have heard of disassociating being so much so that you can develope split personalities, kind of a coping mechanisim? Is that what you are refering to? I think I am getting that right. How long have you known about that aspect of PTSD?

    I had a therapist that was dumped after our 2nd appointment as she was very fast to ask if I had memory issues. Of course I have memory problems (we all do) and she was quick to point out I may have MPD. She had also said she thought bipolar due to bad reactions to meds. She had no clue what she was doing needless to say without having my history or records yet from the doctors I had been seeing (and they were doctors, she was not!).

    Never think you have not had it as bad as others. It does not matter what form trauma comes in, it is never pleasant and does not change it was traumatizing enough to give you PTSD. But you can take heart that those other survivors that have PTSD have healed too, and we all can get to a better place.

    The trying to address it then to deny it I think is pretty normal, though here you will find people will try to get you to accept you have it if you have been diagnosed. That has to be done before you can start to really knock it out.

    Look forward to hearing more from you.
  5. Terry

    Terry Well-Known Member

    Hi Cat, welcome to the forum.
  6. cookie

    cookie I'm a VIP

    welcome to the forum, cat.
  7. catatonicky

    catatonicky Member

    Thanks for the warm welcome everyone,
    Yes, the dissociation/MPD connection is very strong. Although I luckily do not have "voices" in my head, unlike some early CSA victims who are diagnosed schizophrenic, I do have several distinct personalities or modes of being. The main one is the one who gets up and gets things organised when it all falls apart and is quite a superwoman. I dont think you need to have the full-on "Five Faces of Eve" or "Sybil" type totally different people inside extreme to have this; I think probably many of us have it to some extent, sides to us that have a particular "mood", talents, tastes etc which can be totally different to the other ones, particularly the "stuck in the trauma" one. I think I've known about that other side since I realised that the strong one had been the one coping and hiding the full extent of memories from me for 9 years. Its like my mind has not belonged to me since it all happened, with that one being the "screen"; it took over when I first plunged into the trauma hole when it happened and I immediately would "forget" what was happening. Even today I have remarkable "powers" of forgetting anything unpleasant. Which makes it even more terrifying when it does leak out, in dreams, flashbacks etc. There was an article on this site about it being easier to process trauma if sleep is discouraged straight away, broken etc. Its like if you dont consciously process it, it stays in your subconscious. So its like, for me, i've been half asleep for half of my life. I'm sure that if I'd been allowed/encouraged to tell/process immediately, the brain damage would not have been done. That is the worst thing, not the actual trauma but the effects it has on the brain, to me. Extending this to a larger social scale, we live in an age or fierce repression, and the effects this is having on our society are frightening. There was a book written a while ago called Dissociated Nation which discussed this. As i'm sure many people can identify with, the worst thing is the secrecy, the denial. Emotional pain will work its way out somehow, like lava underground which eventually explodes into a krakatoa. Has anyone else noticed all the movies which run along with this theme eg Momento, Fight Club, etc etc? I think they are popular because we as a society are so familiar with it, they touch a chord perhaps although personally on a smaller scale, and we are becoming connoiseurs of dissociation, a dangerous social phase and form of mass social "forgetting" and escape from unpleasant reality, similar to what has happened in once-terrorised Moaist China, or the Soviet Union, etc etc. I think our greatest challenge is staying "awake" to suffering and pain and addressing it square on. What do you all think? As a social scientist one of the things that keeps me going is to see the "bigger social picture"; eg the integration and inner-urban racial conflict that allowed a 15 year old white girl to be abducted in broad daylight from a public park and have sexual value due to the colour of her skin to a black urban gang. It has helped me to understand that my trauma happened in a complex social context in which there is no simplistic understandings; it was part of their "normal" reality...which our society has contributed to. Not to deny personal choice and responsibility, of course, but even this is always framed in a larger social context (of need, of reprisal for racial "wrongs" etc). Perhaps these thoughts on the larger social context of PTSD belong in a separate thread?

    Anyway, sorry, this was just meant to be a short reply but it is so exciting to be amongst people who understand......!
    Thank you for being here, and for this forum. It is extremely necessary, and appreciated...... :)
  8. wildcritter44

    wildcritter44 Active Member

    :hello: Hi Cat,
    Welcome to the forum. You have lots of supporters here for what you have been through.

    Hugs to you. I truly do believe you are a very strong person.

    Take Care

    D (wildcritter)
  9. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Hi Cat, welcome to the forum and look forward to chatting more with you. I wouldn't say people have it worse when it comes to PTSD itself, maybe some get it worse from the trauma they suffered, but lets face facts here shall we, woman + rape = about as bad as personal invasion can ever get!
  10. nov_silence

    nov_silence Well-Known Member

    Hello Cat. Glad you are here and were able to share so much so early. That's great! I too have struggled with dissociation and MPD (now called dissociate identity disorder)... I can relate to the superwoman thing...
  11. GR-ass

    GR-ass Well-Known Member

    hey cat, welcome hon

    Them memories suck hon, and yeah, they don't fit back into that box very well once they get let out.

    anyways, welcome again hon
  12. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

    I second what Cass said. It does suck, right now, but when it's all dealt with and done, you don't have to carry it with you any longer.
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