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Sufferer The toll of imagined trauma on secondary victims

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lazylinks

i highly doubt anyone will be able to relate to my story, and i'm okay with that, because i wouldn't wish it on anybody. suffering in silence has been absolutely horrible for my mental health and despite my crippling fear of being ridiculed for the details of my story, i think it would help me to get it out there.

i won't go into too much detail (i dont think im ready for that) but i'll give the basics.

a little over a year ago, as i was getting off work i got a text from my fiance saying he had been raped. it absolutely broke me. i can still barely function. i developed ptsd and my life has been falling apart ever since. i haven't shared the details of this with anybody in my life because i'm so embarrassed that i developed ptsd from someone else's trauma. i feel like im being overdramatic and i have no right to be upset or to have developed ptsd but its all i can think about. everything reminds me of that horrible night and its debilitating.

wanna know the real kicker, though? it wasn't real. he was on an intense bender due to alcoholism and hallucinated the entire thing.

so not only have i developed ptsd from someone else's trauma... i developed it from someone else's imagined trauma. and even with that knowledge that it wasnt real, it still haunts me. i dont know what to do or where to turn. i feel like i dont belong in any sort of support spaces because of the unique nature of my situation. what would you even classify this shit as? i sure as hell dont know what to call it. sexual trauma? not really, nothing sexual happened to me. secondhand trauma, maybe? i dont know. all i know is that its killing me.

im tired of suffering in silence. though im terrified of what people might think i feel like i desperately need my story to be heard. so to anyone thats read so far, thank you for reading. i really doubt anyone can relate to this but if somehow this isnt a 1 in 7 billion experience, feel free to reach out.

thanks for reading.
 
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i highly doubt anyone will be able to relate to my story, and i'm okay with that, because i wouldn't wish it on anybody. suffering in silence has been absolutely horrible for my mental health and despite my crippling fear of being ridiculed for the details of my story, i think it would help me to get it out there.

i won't go into too much detail (i dont think im ready for that) but i'll give the basics. content warning for discussions of r*pe

a little over a year ago, as i was getting off work i got a text from my fiance saying he had been raped. it absolutely broke me. i can still barely function. i developed ptsd and my life has been falling apart ever since. i haven't shared the details of this with anybody in my life because i'm so embarrassed that i developed ptsd from someone else's trauma. i feel like im being overdramatic and i have no right to be upset or to have developed ptsd but its all i can think about. everything reminds me of that horrible night and its debilitating.

wanna know the real kicker, though? it wasn't real. he was on an intense bender due to alcoholism and hallucinated the entire thing.

so not only have i developed ptsd from someone else's trauma... i developed it from someone else's imagined trauma. and even with that knowledge that it wasnt real, it still haunts me. i dont know what to do or where to turn. i feel like i dont belong in any sort of support spaces because of the unique nature of my situation. what would you even classify this shit as? i sure as hell dont know what to call it. sexual trauma? not really, nothing sexual happened to me. secondhand trauma, maybe? i dont know. all i know is that its killing me.

im tired of suffering in silence. though im terrified of what people might think i feel like i desperately need my story to be heard. so to anyone thats read so far, thank you for reading. i really doubt anyone can relate to this but if somehow this isnt a 1 in 7 billion experience, feel free to reach out.

thanks for reading.
Thank you for sharing your story. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling like your trauma is unique and that no one can relate. However, I want to reassure you that trauma can take many forms, and there are others who have experienced similar situations. PTSD can also develop not just from personal trauma, but also from witnessing or being indirectly impacted by someone else's trauma.

I want to validate your feelings of embarrassment and shame but remind you that developing PTSD is not something you have control over. It is a natural response to a traumatic event, whether that event was real or imagined. There is no hierarchy of trauma, and your experience is just as valid as anyone else's.

I encourage you to seek support, whether it be through a professional therapist or peer support. Myptsd.com has forums specifically for secondhand trauma and PTSD caused by someone else's trauma that you may find helpful. Remember that healing from trauma takes time and that it's okay to not be okay. Focus on self-care, and know that with time and support, it is possible to recover from PTSD.
 
First of all, this may seem like an obvious question, but did you at least share this with a therapist or psychiatrist? I only ask because you say you haven’t shared this with anyone.

Secondary trauma is trauma. Police officers can get PTSD by hearing details of child abuse of children they don’t even have an emotional connection to. You left work hearing that one of the worst things ever happened to someone you love. It would be strange if you were not deeply upset by it. Was PTSD a normal reaction? I don’t know. But most people who directly experience a sexual assault or life threatening event will not develop PTSD. There really is no rhyme or reason why some people get it and some don’t. You don’t need to feel any shame about it.

I can’t imagine the confusion and frustration you must feel still dealing with PTSD even knowing the rape never happened. And maybe you have feelings of relief and anger at your finace as well. This is as illness and regardless of how you got sick there is no instant cure. Unfortunately you are going to have to work at it. Posting here is a good start
 
a popular theory in my own peer support circles is that ptsd is the number one cause of ptsd. "secondary ptsd" is now an official dx and professional help is available. many of us theorate that addressing secondary ptsd at a peer level is the heart and soul of alanon
 
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