Sufferer Trauma caused by betrayal, infidelity, stalking, harassment, and threats

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I'm four years out from the events that led to my PTSD/CPTSD and Anxiety Disorder. I have been in therapy, attended sessions with a psychiatrist who was monitoring my dosage of Antidepressants (2 years of Wellbutrin and Trazadone), and have regularly attended therapy (CBT).

The pivotal event was discovery of infidelity by my now ex-husband. Within days he left to reinvent his life, and became indescribably indifferent, dismissive, and cruel towards me and our child who at the time was 6 years old. I remember events from those early months in third person, as if I am "watching myself" where I went into survival mode separating out finances, shared obligations, and establishing a safe, structured routine while putting on a brave face. This was followed by a long period of grief where I experienced intense episodes anger/rage, gripping anguish and despair, unrealistic bargaining, and a gripping need to avoid anything related to him out of instinctual fear.

This was amplified when my husband's new partner about a year and a half later began to harass, stalk, and threaten me on social media. Around this same time my car was broken into and things inside visibly destroyed and the contents of my glovebox emptied all over the passenger seat, and a strange car was parked outside frequently with someone sitting inside it for periods of a half hour to an hour. Police intervention made it stop, but for about two years I put film up on my windows to block anyone being able to see inside my house. I also developed a fear of going out in public, and when I was out I had to "scan" the room thoroughly to make sure nobody seemed "off".

Things escalated when my ex-husband hired a lawyer to threaten me when the girlfriend's tactics didn't succeed a few weeks later. I hired my own lawyer, which started a legal process that was about two more years of paying my way through a re-traumatization of the worst moments of my life in order to "get safe". I lost a lot of weight and hair over a period of about 6 months during this "crisis" period that started with the stalking/harassment. I don't know if I could have managed to get through it without therapy and medication.

It's now been about 2 years since legal proceedings concluded, and while my anxiety has subsided and I feel somewhat safe my world-view and lifestyle has changed dramatically. I've become a recluse, only interacting publicly when I can't avoid it (e.g., going to work). I have groceries delivered, and my preferred method of "connecting" with anyone is online. I go "out" with family or close friends maybe half a dozen times a year. I avoid eye contact with complete strangers. I feel exposed just taking my dog out for a pee or doing yard work. I cannot stand watching or reading anything about intimate relationships, and the idea of "couples" makes me very uneasy. I've developed a distrustful view towards certain women as being predatory, and most men as being misogynistic.

I'm here because while I've found some online support in communities on Reddit and Quora, I'm hoping to find others who are struggling with similar issues as I am with PTSD/CPTSD caused by intimate relational abuse.
 
I'm four years out from the events that led to my PTSD/CPTSD and Anxiety Disorder. I have been in therapy, attended sessions with a psychiatrist who was monitoring my dosage of Antidepressants (2 years of Wellbutrin and Trazadone), and have regularly attended therapy (CBT).

The pivotal event was discovery of infidelity by my now ex-husband. Within days he left to reinvent his life, and became indescribably indifferent, dismissive, and cruel towards me and our child who at the time was 6 years old. I remember events from those early months in third person, as if I am "watching myself" where I went into survival mode separating out finances, shared obligations, and establishing a safe, structured routine while putting on a brave face. This was followed by a long period of grief where I experienced intense episodes anger/rage, gripping anguish and despair, unrealistic bargaining, and a gripping need to avoid anything related to him out of instinctual fear.

This was amplified when my husband's new partner about a year and a half later began to harass, stalk, and threaten me on social media. Around this same time my car was broken into and things inside visibly destroyed and the contents of my glovebox emptied all over the passenger seat, and a strange car was parked outside frequently with someone sitting inside it for periods of a half hour to an hour. Police intervention made it stop, but for about two years I put film up on my windows to block anyone being able to see inside my house. I also developed a fear of going out in public, and when I was out I had to "scan" the room thoroughly to make sure nobody seemed "off".

Things escalated when my ex-husband hired a lawyer to threaten me when the girlfriend's tactics didn't succeed a few weeks later. I hired my own lawyer, which started a legal process that was about two more years of paying my way through a re-traumatization of the worst moments of my life in order to "get safe". I lost a lot of weight and hair over a period of about 6 months during this "crisis" period that started with the stalking/harassment. I don't know if I could have managed to get through it without therapy and medication.

It's now been about 2 years since legal proceedings concluded, and while my anxiety has subsided and I feel somewhat safe my world-view and lifestyle has changed dramatically. I've become a recluse, only interacting publicly when I can't avoid it (e.g., going to work). I have groceries delivered, and my preferred method of "connecting" with anyone is online. I go "out" with family or close friends maybe half a dozen times a year. I avoid eye contact with complete strangers. I feel exposed just taking my dog out for a pee or doing yard work. I cannot stand watching or reading anything about intimate relationships, and the idea of "couples" makes me very uneasy. I've developed a distrustful view towards certain women as being predatory, and most men as being misogynistic.

I'm here because while I've found some online support in communities on Reddit and Quora, I'm hoping to find others who are struggling with similar issues as I am with PTSD/CPTSD caused by intimate relational abuse.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It takes a lot of courage to open up and seek support. Your story highlights the impact of traumatic events on our mental and emotional well-being, and how it can change our worldview and lifestyle. It is clear that you have been through a lot, and your coping mechanisms have helped you survive. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is not sustainable to live in fear and isolation.

MyPTSD.com is a supportive community specifically for individuals who have experienced trauma, including those who have experienced intimate partner abuse. You may find connection and understanding from others who have gone through similar experiences. There are different forums available for different topics, such as domestic violence and stalker situations, which may be relevant to your situation. Remember, you are not alone in this, and there is hope for recovery, healing and growth.

While forums like these can provide a sense of community and support, it is important to remember that they should not replace professional help. It may be beneficial to seek therapy, to work through the trauma and to learn coping mechanisms that can help you manage your symptoms. If you have not already done so, consider speaking with a therapist who is trained to help individuals with PTSD/CPTSD.

Thank you again for sharing your story and welcome to the MyPTSD.com community.
 
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It takes a lot of courage to open up and seek support. Your story highlights the impact of traumatic events on our mental and emotional well-being, and how it can change our worldview and lifestyle. It is clear that you have been through a lot, and your coping mechanisms have helped you survive. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is not sustainable to live in fear and isolation.

MyPTSD.com is a supportive community specifically for individuals who have experienced trauma, including those who have experienced intimate partner abuse. You may find connection and understanding from others who have gone through similar experiences. There are different forums available for different topics, such as domestic violence and stalker situations, which may be relevant to your situation. Remember, you are not alone in this, and there is hope for recovery, healing and growth.

While forums like these can provide a sense of community and support, it is important to remember that they should not replace professional help. It may be beneficial to seek therapy, to work through the trauma and to learn coping mechanisms that can help you manage your symptoms. If you have not already done so, consider speaking with a therapist who is trained to help individuals with PTSD/CPTSD.

Thank you again for sharing your story and welcome to the MyPTSD.com community.
Thanks very much! I am currently seeing a trauma-based therapist (online sessions every two weeks). I have found these sessions to be very helpful as I have recently been struggling with discerning familiar grooming patterns that I've observed in my ex-husband. I've grown strong enough to engage with him during child exchanges and events, but his attitude towards us has changed dramatically, where he is now being kind, supportive, and provides tokens of reminiscence (photos of our family before betrayal, etc.). I want the positive behaviour to continue and I fear seeing the "bad person" re-emerge. I also don't want a repeat of anything I experienced before, so I don't discourage his attention.

While Therapy has helped me stay grounded in perspective, these interactions have triggered daily intrusive thoughts and some nightmares have started to re-emerge. I found this forum while researching methods for self-administered options to support my therapy, but there doesn't seem to be many good options out there. I'm hoping someone will develop VR EMDR that people can engage with independently.
 
Welcome to the community! 🤠

Adding infidelity/betrayal (2-5 year recovery time; characterised by intense focus up to pathological focus -intrusive thoughts, maladaptive daydreaming, & other mental/emotional dysreg) to PTSD (life long disorder characterised by the exact opposite of what people struggling with infidelity & assholery are dealing with; Avoidance; as well as a shit show of symptoms including mental/emotional/physical dysreg, and a stress cup that turns every day things into tsunamis)… and you’ve got one helluva volatile cocktail / rollercoaster ride.

On the upside? Your infidelity/betrayal stuff should taper off / peter out over the next year, leaving you with “just” the traumatic side of the equation.

(Unless you also have OCD, or are using the infidelity as a way to avoid trauma, but as you’re working with a trauma therapist I doubt they’d let you fall into that common trap of SHINY! LOOK! ITS SHINY! and focusing on the easy pain of betrayal instead of ….shhh. don’t look at me. ROAAAAAR!!! FOCUS ON ANYTHING ELSE!!!… that trauma does.)

So, since you didn’t mention any form of OCD, & are working with a trauma therapist? Prepare to BLISS out, over the next year, as all the other nonsense just sort of melts away. It’s a stunning & extremely welcome relief.

My precipitating trauma was combat, I didn’t add domestic violence & abuse/ spousal rape/ my ex abusing my child/ stalking/ et al. to my trauma history until much later. There are many of us on here, some who added domestic violence later to earlier trauma, some who grew up in it only to marry it, some for whom it is their first foray into Trauma-land.

Dealing with the school system was one of the most infuriating things, as they expected ALL bitter divorces to be roughly the same (assholery, infidelity, rage) and were totally inequipoed to deal with restraining orders, immediate & ongoing threat to life, etc. I had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting wih the school counselor at one point, as I knew (personally) 3 other families in the exact same boat as I was, knew of about half a dozen others, and here was this idiot recommending we “Love our children more than we hate our ex” and meet up for weekly coffee, etc. “Seriously?!? You often reccomend people meet for coffee with their rapists?!?” Guy about shit himself. And I spent the next 15 minutes or so outlining my own & the other families I knew he was counselling their kids, on the reality of the situation. By the end he was about to throw up. Good. The school wouldn’t pay for advanced training on domestic violence & abuse, but he & several others went and took that training, out of their own pockets, and RADICALLY changed how they handled the kids in their divorce groups. Too late for my own kid, the damage was done, and he was moving up to high school, but hopefully it helps other kids caught between 2 very different definitions.

The moment my kid turned 18 we both crashed for about 6 months, from the sudden removal of stress / ongoing trauma, which is (come to find) to be expected. Knowing that is pretty much the only thing which kept either/both of us out of the hospital.

That, and passing the 2-5 year mark for recovering from infidelity/betrayal, were the 2 reeeeeally shining moments in “only” having to deal with the PTSD side of things.

Again, welcome to the community!
 
Welcome to the community! 🤠

Adding infidelity/betrayal (2-5 year recovery time; characterised by intense focus up to pathological focus -intrusive thoughts, maladaptive daydreaming, & other mental/emotional dysreg) to PTSD (life long disorder characterised by the exact opposite of what people struggling with infidelity & assholery are dealing with; Avoidance; as well as a shit show of symptoms including mental/emotional/physical dysreg, and a stress cup that turns every day things into tsunamis)… and you’ve got one helluva volatile cocktail / rollercoaster ride.

On the upside? Your infidelity/betrayal stuff should taper off / peter out over the next year, leaving you with “just” the traumatic side of the equation.

(Unless you also have OCD, or are using the infidelity as a way to avoid trauma, but as you’re working with a trauma therapist I doubt they’d let you fall into that common trap of SHINY! LOOK! ITS SHINY! and focusing on the easy pain of betrayal instead of ….shhh. don’t look at me. ROAAAAAR!!! FOCUS ON ANYTHING ELSE!!!… that trauma does.)

So, since you didn’t mention any form of OCD, & are working with a trauma therapist? Prepare to BLISS out, over the next year, as all the other nonsense just sort of melts away. It’s a stunning & extremely welcome relief.

My precipitating trauma was combat, I didn’t add domestic violence & abuse/ spousal rape/ my ex abusing my child/ stalking/ et al. to my trauma history until much later. There are many of us on here, some who added domestic violence later to earlier trauma, some who grew up in it only to marry it, some for whom it is their first foray into Trauma-land.

Dealing with the school system was one of the most infuriating things, as they expected ALL bitter divorces to be roughly the same (assholery, infidelity, rage) and were totally inequipoed to deal with restraining orders, immediate & ongoing threat to life, etc. I had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting wih the school counselor at one point, as I knew (personally) 3 other families in the exact same boat as I was, knew of about half a dozen others, and here was this idiot recommending we “Love our children more than we hate our ex” and meet up for weekly coffee, etc. “Seriously?!? You often reccomend people meet for coffee with their rapists?!?” Guy about shit himself. And I spent the next 15 minutes or so outlining my own & the other families I knew he was counselling their kids, on the reality of the situation. By the end he was about to throw up. Good. The school wouldn’t pay for advanced training on domestic violence & abuse, but he & several others went and took that training, out of their own pockets, and RADICALLY changed how they handled the kids in their divorce groups. Too late for my own kid, the damage was done, and he was moving up to high school, but hopefully it helps other kids caught between 2 very different definitions.

The moment my kid turned 18 we both crashed for about 6 months, from the sudden removal of stress / ongoing trauma, which is (come to find) to be expected. Knowing that is pretty much the only thing which kept either/both of us out of the hospital.

That, and passing the 2-5 year mark for recovering from infidelity/betrayal, were the 2 reeeeeally shining moments in “only” having to deal with the PTSD side of things.

Again, welcome to the community!
You've given me a lot to think about here, particularly how you frame the difference between infidelity/betrayal and PTSD. I think I'm going to bring this up in my next Therapy session, and perhaps reach out again to my family doctor for a reassessment with the psychiatrist, because I feel this is now due. I'm six years out, and still struggle with some things, but I couldn't quite put a finger on "what" this was until reading your post.

You're right, the intensity of anxiety, avoidance, rumination, recurring and intrusive thoughts, night terrors, and emotional rollercoaster has subsided substantially. But I have noticed there are lingering changes in me that I'm certain are maladaptive. Specifically I have become a very socially avoidant person (by choice) where I wasn't once before. I'm extremely disturbed by any topics or material around romantic relationships where I now view traditional ideals of them as "complete and utter bullshit". I can't watch Rom-Coms, and fast-forward through love scenes of all types because I find them physically disturbing (I want to be sick). I view every couple I see and know with a heavy measure of skepticism, always looking for "red flags" and just innately knowing that there must be "something bad" going on behind closed doors in every one of them. I avoid getting too close to men in general. There is a thick wall I don't allow them to cross anymore.

It is these areas I'm certain are maladaptive coping strategies caused by PTSD that were brought on by the Betrayal/Infidelity and how my ex-husband and his enablers handled the entire situation. I lost my network of people with whom I'd developed relationships with for decades, including people I considered family. I was literally attacked by a complete stranger who knew nothing about me other than what they'd been "told" and to serve some selfish agenda they had for themselves (affair partner). My view of people in general has grown "distrustful" as my default state.

Thank you so much for your perspective. You've helped me find a lot of words to assert what I'm going through.
 
I will hope and pray your struggles ease soon. Before the infidelity did you and your husband have a good relationship? Did anything seem wrong? You had such a hard betrayal not just by him but other people in your life. Keep posting and I hope you are able to eventually trust people in real time again-not so much for marriage but for friendships
 
At the time, I thought my husband and I had a wonderful relationship. I believed we were best friends who shared many things in common. At one time we were extremely intimately involved and connected. I believed our friends and family respected our relationship. It wasn't perfect, and at times there seemed things that were "wrong", but my perspective at that time was that "nobody is perfect". I believed we shared this perspective of forgiveness, because I am not perfect either.

He could be quite volatile at times, and when he met a threshold for anger he became violent with objects. He destroyed several electronic devices, ripped light fixtures out of ceilings, tore doors off their hinges, and punched holes in walls. He never hit people, but the fear this behaviour inspired implied that he could. My arsenal was comprised of words, and often those words could be assembled in a way that caused great pain. I freeze then verbally placate aggressors when I feel I'm under attack, but when I'm doing the attacking the words I choose can be very hurtful. But shortly afterwards we'd express apologies to one another and move beyond these conflicts, repairing damage caused to one another, and fixing or replacing broken things together.

The infidelity was the only case where this didn't happen, and instead the indifference, rage, and violence he felt towards me amplified to a degree where I couldn't recognize him at all. He didn't just abandon me, he abandoned all efforts to reconcile the damage caused by his betrayal and rallied enablers to justify his actions and behaviour. Those enablers were people I also once trusted completely (family and friends).

Realistically now though and after a considerable amount of therapy, I see that my perspective of him and our relationship was very distorted. I think I projected a lot of my values, morals, and ideals on to him and our relationship that didn't truly exist. I wanted to believe we were a good couple, and he was my best friend, and would never hurt me, so I dismissed a lot of things that most people would treat as "red flags".

We probably never should have been more than friends, and I certainly shouldn't have married him, mingled finances with him, or had children with him, but I did and I don't regret any of those choices. I love my child, and he wouldn't exist if I hadn't made those choices. I am a stronger person today because I endured those things and learned from the experiences that came from them.

I'm here because I know that some of the ways I have adjusted beyond these events are maladaptive, particularly in terms of my own social perspective and functioning. I want to learn how to trust other people again, while not putting myself in such an overwhelmingly compromising position ever again.
 
I'm four years out from the events that led to my PTSD/CPTSD and Anxiety Disorder. I have been in therapy, attended sessions with a psychiatrist who was monitoring my dosage of Antidepressants (2 years of Wellbutrin and Trazadone), and have regularly attended therapy (CBT).

The pivotal event was discovery of infidelity by my now ex-husband. Within days he left to reinvent his life, and became indescribably indifferent, dismissive, and cruel towards me and our child who at the time was 6 years old. I remember events from those early months in third person, as if I am "watching myself" where I went into survival mode separating out finances, shared obligations, and establishing a safe, structured routine while putting on a brave face. This was followed by a long period of grief where I experienced intense episodes anger/rage, gripping anguish and despair, unrealistic bargaining, and a gripping need to avoid anything related to him out of instinctual fear.

This was amplified when my husband's new partner about a year and a half later began to harass, stalk, and threaten me on social media. Around this same time my car was broken into and things inside visibly destroyed and the contents of my glovebox emptied all over the passenger seat, and a strange car was parked outside frequently with someone sitting inside it for periods of a half hour to an hour. Police intervention made it stop, but for about two years I put film up on my windows to block anyone being able to see inside my house. I also developed a fear of going out in public, and when I was out I had to "scan" the room thoroughly to make sure nobody seemed "off".

Things escalated when my ex-husband hired a lawyer to threaten me when the girlfriend's tactics didn't succeed a few weeks later. I hired my own lawyer, which started a legal process that was about two more years of paying my way through a re-traumatization of the worst moments of my life in order to "get safe". I lost a lot of weight and hair over a period of about 6 months during this "crisis" period that started with the stalking/harassment. I don't know if I could have managed to get through it without therapy and medication.

It's now been about 2 years since legal proceedings concluded, and while my anxiety has subsided and I feel somewhat safe my world-view and lifestyle has changed dramatically. I've become a recluse, only interacting publicly when I can't avoid it (e.g., going to work). I have groceries delivered, and my preferred method of "connecting" with anyone is online. I go "out" with family or close friends maybe half a dozen times a year. I avoid eye contact with complete strangers. I feel exposed just taking my dog out for a pee or doing yard work. I cannot stand watching or reading anything about intimate relationships, and the idea of "couples" makes me very uneasy. I've developed a distrustful view towards certain women as being predatory, and most men as being misogynistic.

I'm here because while I've found some online support in communities on Reddit and Quora, I'm hoping to find others who are struggling with similar issues as I am with PTSD/CPTSD caused by intimate relational abuse.
Hi. I am so sorry to read this. I am going through something similar at the moment. Really experiencing so much re-traumatisation through the family court and severe gaslighting and lies from the father and ex (likely current) partner of his (I re-named him "narc central" yet the court judge was dismissive of me and sympathetic to him. I have a new one for Fact Finding and praying I'm "seen" and my truth is "seen". I made some mistakes and I take accountability for them, but they have literally twisted every single aspect of who I am to present me as the most unfit, unlawful, vilest creature which is so far from the truth it is unbelievable. They are so so horrible. What keeps me in my truth is that I contacted his ex in between myself and current and she too said she is still suffering some PTSD from both of them. I am sick of shaking and being terrified. HAppy to chat any time xx
 
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