Sufferer what i thought was physical abuse might actually have been CSA also

sidptitala

New Here
i feel like new memories of csa are popping into my head all of a sudden. it started in 2020 as a single dream, but then the dreams got more and more frequent since the end of 2022 and now the images and sensations come when i'm awake too. im not really committed to thinking of these things as memories but the possibility that they are is really disturbing to me.

at the same time, i have been through something like this before. about 10 years ago memories from my childhood came back to me in a very physical way (mostly when i was trying to have a sexuality with men). but at the time i thought what i remembered was just extreme and misguided physical abuse ('discipline' lol) that i for whatever reason would remember when someone would try to have sex with me (or when i tried to do martial arts). i thought it was an unfortunate coincidence. and i also wasn't really able to articulate or understand the level of pain that it caused me.

fast forward a few months of these memories and the abuser in them attacked me again (i was 21). it was like time stopped for me. i became homeless, i almost dropped out of college but somehow didn't and i developed the symptoms of ptsd from that one event (but i didn't know it until several years later). i've spent my whole 20s trying to handle undiagnosed ptsd by myself. i did try to get diagnosed about 5/6 years ago but the medical system where i live doesn't recognise ptsd or diagnose mental illnesses other than schizophrenia (which my sister has) so i ended up trying antidepressants and stopping when they made me extra suicidal. i also paid for person centred counselling, which really helped to an extent (someone sympathetic to talk to) and also has been too much of a bandaid on a wound (just listening, not really helping me understand why i have the issues i have). im doing my best to afford twice monthly sessions but thats (a) not often enough right now and (b) more than i can afford and i need to quit.

im trying to get diagnosed again now because one way of coping with my ptsd symptoms has been to go and work in war zones. which has helped some aspects and also added new layers of unresolved trauma the longer it goes without getting help for it. i presented myself to a gatekeeper dr about never sleeping and nightmares and to my surprise he asked about my work history and seemed concerned about ptsd., which there is now a better awareness of in that health system. i really feel the benefit of being older and having a documented history of trying to seek help for the same medical issue- its helping them listen to me. it also makes me realise how much we gaslight women and children about their experiences- because honestly, the ptsd i have from that stuff is way worse than the war stuff that is helping me get taken seriously. i have been referred for general mental health diagnosis and i don't yet know if diagnosis and/or treatment for ptsd exists in my country, or how many months or years i will be waiting. and while that is excruciating, i have been handling this problem alone my entire adult life and its such a relief to have the possibility of help with it. i never thought i would survive this, and had completely given up on getting help.

im really nervous though about how much of my personal history to disclose to mental health professionals. its hard to disguise who my abuser is in my biography, because it's my dad. and im wary of saying that the thoughts, images and bodily feelings i have are actual memories in case i have to defend that to anyone, especially him. im not ready for him to know i've spoken about this in any way and worried that he will find out if i i talk about it- that the whole thing will become a can of worms i can't ever take back. i've learned already that the consequences of standing up to abuse can be severe (homelessness, losing your family, being discredited as hysterical so you must have deserved whatever came to you) and im just not prepared to have to do that again. its my own healing i'm searching for, not a fantasy of justice i'll never have. i would be interested to know how other people navigate 'coming out' to professionals or even to friends about abuse but especially about potential incest/csa when they are still in contact with the abuser. do you obscure who the abuser is? and if you do that how do you answer questions about your family and upbringing?
 
Hi and welcome. You have a lot of important questions. I am not a child abuse survivor but I will try to help a bit and I am sure when other people see your post they will have even more help/support for you. You have gotten a PTSD diagnosis for combat stress. Now you are wondering how to disclose the abuse history. I wasn’t sure from reading your post if you have told any mental health professionals about the abuse. you did disclose to some people (family,friends?) and that turned out badly with homelessness and losing your family. I am very sorry about that and everything else you have had to endure. I don’t know what country you are from but I got the sense that you are not currently in a Western nation. I only say this because you mention being unsure if PTSD is a diagnosis in your country. I don’t want to ignorantly say you should try a specific approach when maybe the laws and customs of your country would make my suggestion impractical. I mean, if you lived in the U.S I could tell you that privacy laws would make it near impossible for a professionAl to share anything, but I don’t know about your country. I do encourage you to come back here and write more. At least you have one venue for getting things out and being anonymous. And as I said, there are a lot of people here who can help with the particular issues you are dealing with. Remember that when you decide to talk to people in real life you only need say what you want to say. This is for you and your healing.
 
Thank you so much for your reply, I deeply appreciate it.

I'm really feeling very alone with all of this, and like there is nowhere to turn to for help. I suppose some of my questions about how to tell your abuse history to other people seem less urgent to me now because I don't think I'll be doing that. I mentioned in the earlier post that I went to see a primary care doctor/gp just to ask about a few more physical problems (not getting my period and trouble sleeping) and because of how open he seemed as he was questioning me I also told him about my ptsd symptoms- to my surprise he immediately referred me to a psychiatrist and said it was beyond his level of expertise. I was surprised because I had tried to seek help about 5 years ago and the dr at the time told me there was no way I could see anyone and to just take antidepressants instead, 'because they basically fix everything.' The dr who referred me to a mental health assessment called me this week to say they would not see me because I have not been taking anti-depressants, even though their own website states that antidepressants should only be used for ptsd if the patient declines other interventions. I would imagine the mental health service is full and they have these arbitrary rules to find some way of cutting down their workload- but it's really demoralising as a patient who really had hope for a second, because I desperately need help more than I ever have and can't do this alone any more.

I don't really know what to do. I'm having serious financial problems and struggling to pay rent, never mind therapists. I've tried going back to a previous person centred therapist but it's just bankrupting me and not helping because I can't afford to go more than every few weeks, and I think I need something a bit more directive right now. Like, someone to tell me, you have x. And you should do y and z to treat it. What's frustrating is I may have had access to that if the mental health service had just accepted my referral, and possibly for free. But because they didn't I'm back to what I have always done which is ad hoc support groups for other problems where everyone has tons more social support than me and it's really demoralising to realise, and trying to access limited and general support via NGOs who tell me my problem is too serious for them and should be treated by the same mental health service that won't see me. I could tell that the doctor who referred me was unhappy about not being able to send me there, and that's a tiny bit of comfort- that I was able to say something to someone, not even the tip of the iceberg, and his reaction was -'this girl needs help.' The story of my life seems to be needing help so badly and asking for it, but no one believes that I need it.

It makes me want to end my life. I see all the suffering I went through alone and I know there's no way I'll survive that again. I need to tell the truth in order to heal but there's no one to listen. I hold so much of myself back from friends because everything hurts and what's casual for them, isn't for me. I bury myself in the problems of other people to distract from my own pain which I don't share, which other people can't handle because it's too extreme (that was my experience 10 years ago and it's even more extreme now). I think I might be able to say things to my friends in a more general way if I was more over it, but because I still haven't started treatment for or been given permission to name this problem I'm still in the intensity of it all the time and that is too much to share- because its not ok, i'm not handling or coping with it, i'm not on a program to manage it, im just drowning in it. despite trying so damn hard for so long to be in any other place than this, i'm still here.
 
Thank you so much for your reply, I deeply appreciate it.

I'm really feeling very alone with all of this, and like there is nowhere to turn to for help. I suppose some of my questions about how to tell your abuse history to other people seem less urgent to me now because I don't think I'll be doing that. I mentioned in the earlier post that I went to see a primary care doctor/gp just to ask about a few more physical problems (not getting my period and trouble sleeping) and because of how open he seemed as he was questioning me I also told him about my ptsd symptoms- to my surprise he immediately referred me to a psychiatrist and said it was beyond his level of expertise. I was surprised because I had tried to seek help about 5 years ago and the dr at the time told me there was no way I could see anyone and to just take antidepressants instead, 'because they basically fix everything.' The dr who referred me to a mental health assessment called me this week to say they would not see me because I have not been taking anti-depressants, even though their own website states that antidepressants should only be used for ptsd if the patient declines other interventions. I would imagine the mental health service is full and they have these arbitrary rules to find some way of cutting down their workload- but it's really demoralising as a patient who really had hope for a second, because I desperately need help more than I ever have and can't do this alone any more.

I don't really know what to do. I'm having serious financial problems and struggling to pay rent, never mind therapists. I've tried going back to a previous person centred therapist but it's just bankrupting me and not helping because I can't afford to go more than every few weeks, and I think I need something a bit more directive right now. Like, someone to tell me, you have x. And you should do y and z to treat it. What's frustrating is I may have had access to that if the mental health service had just accepted my referral, and possibly for free. But because they didn't I'm back to what I have always done which is ad hoc support groups for other problems where everyone has tons more social support than me and it's really demoralising to realise, and trying to access limited and general support via NGOs who tell me my problem is too serious for them and should be treated by the same mental health service that won't see me. I could tell that the doctor who referred me was unhappy about not being able to send me there, and that's a tiny bit of comfort- that I was able to say something to someone, not even the tip of the iceberg, and his reaction was -'this girl needs help.' The story of my life seems to be needing help so badly and asking for it, but no one believes that I need it.

It makes me want to end my life. I see all the suffering I went through alone and I know there's no way I'll survive that again. I need to tell the truth in order to heal but there's no one to listen. I hold so much of myself back from friends because everything hurts and what's casual for them, isn't for me. I bury myself in the problems of other people to distract from my own pain which I don't share, which other people can't handle because it's too extreme (that was my experience 10 years ago and it's even more extreme now). I think I might be able to say things to my friends in a more general way if I was more over it, but because I still haven't started treatment for or been given permission to name this problem I'm still in the intensity of it all the time and that is too much to share- because its not ok, i'm not handling or coping with it, i'm not on a program to manage it, im just drowning in it. despite trying so damn hard for so long to be in any other place than this, i'm still here.
It's understandable that you're feeling alone and struggling right now. It's really disappointing that the mental health service rejected your referral, and I can see how this would leave you feeling like there's no hope. However, please know that you are not alone in this. Many people with PTSD and CPTSD struggle to access appropriate care due to financial constraints, lack of accessible services, or stigma. You're not alone in this and there are others who understand what you're going through.

It sounds like you are doing your best to cope with your symptoms and seeking the help you need despite the challenges. It can be really difficult to find the right type of therapy that works for you and that you can afford, but it's important to prioritize your mental health as much as you can. There are certain types of therapy that have been shown to be effective for PTSD and CPTSD like prolonged exposure therapy or cognitive processing therapy, and it may be helpful to find a therapist who specializes in these types of treatment.

I also hope that you can find support in online communities like MyPTSD.com. Sharing your experience with others who have been through similar traumas can be really helpful in feeling less alone and gaining perspective on your symptoms. It's important that you continue to reach out for help and support, whether it's from friends, family, or professionals.

Lastly, please know that suicidal thoughts or feelings are a serious matter that require immediate attention. There are resources available to you, including hotlines, crisis centers, and emergency services. You don't have to suffer alone, and there are people who care about you and want to help.
 
I wish there was more support in place for people. It is really hard when the help you need is not available.

There's a lot in your first post I can relate to. It took me time to accept that what my dad did to me was CSA. There is a lot of good support on this forum. Keep talking here and keep trying to get yourself help.
 
Thanks for your reply, it means a lot to hear from someone who relates to this.

I went today to an in person support group for general mental health problems, and it actually really helped. I hadn't planned to say anything and was feeling really raw so I would not have if I hadn't been asked to speak. And after my first sentence I burst into tears, which was my worst fear. But after a few minutes, I got over it and was able to start speaking.

I didn't say what I was talking about exactly but I still got some excellent advice about navigating the healthcare system where I live (I just moved over the border into a different country, so technically I live in a different country to the health system I have been navigating and haven't sorted out my paperwork for the new country fully yet- it's not a big deal because the countries are very close and I can go back and forth). The advice of everyone present was to be 'politely assertive' and to just never give up asking for help. It's good to know that all of them struggled to find it too, that it's not just me. It was such a relief just to be honest with a group of people, and I need to practice that because I struggle to be honest with the people in my life even though they are honest with me (because their problems are smaller usually).

I am actually paying rent to a friend of mine, which is not that much and this is by far the best living situation I've ever had. But because she's moving away and needs to raise money she raised the rent a little and having paid it today, I'm in debt now. I sit and listen to her financial problems a lot but from my perspective she's doesn't really have any. I say this without bitterness because she is giving me a good deal but just to illustrate the absurdity of how much I'm obscuring myself at the moment- I've been consoling her about her financial position and assuring her its fine to raise the rent but also am looking up soup kitchens, trying to take up any job I can in the time I don't have, applying for loans, considering selling sex again etc to buy myself time before I run to the bottom of my overdraft. Which is a considerably different position to her, and I haven't mentioned any of it to her out of shame for being in this position in the first place and because I don't want her to think I'm complaining. I also will really miss her when she moves away.

Maybe other people know what I mean if I talk about a chasm of life experience that separates you from other people. This really keeps me from being honest with my friends, because I feel they won't relate to me. But I think I have to try, and just figure out why I'm talking to them- like what is it I would be hoping for? If I know, I'll have more chance of getting it.
 
I've spent the week taking practical steps to try to figure out all these issues. Sometimes it's been frustrating. The type of financial pressure I am under is so distracting to getting any other type of help, so this is what I've been focussing on- applying for new jobs, applying for food banks, looking for support groups to attend etc. I don't know where I would be now without the advice and support of that group I attended on Monday. The one benefit of struggling to provide basic needs is that my problems with memories seem to have subsided. But my problems with sleep are a lot worse and I'm struggling even more to get college work done.

I had been on a list to speak on the phone with a college employed counsellor and spoke with her for the first time this week. She told me straight up that she wouldn't really be able to help with the root causes of my problems (which I appreciate, as I went somewhere before where this was the case but the girl I was speaking to wouldn't say that to me). She gave me also a lot of practical advice about places to apply for financial aid and asked me specific questions which I also appreciated (rather than saying, 'tell me whats wrong?' and having me recount it again). It was a short but useful conversation in that we spoke for maybe 20 minutes but I left with names of organisations to contact.

The problem from here I guess is that I will be facing a very long wait to speak with any of these organisations, and I need help now.

I mentioned to a friend about a month ago that I was having a lot of new memories, and she said to be careful because although she doesn't know what I am talking about it we usually forget things only if they are really traumatic, and there's a danger of re-traumatizing yourself. I said I think I did that last time and that I was committed to doing something different now. So for that reason I've been trying to avoid rather than recall memories. But the more I avoid them, the more they colonise every part of life and I start having to avoid everyone and everything, isolating myself. Not being able to speak to anyone about the details of these things when they haunt me is re-traumatizing too. I don't have anywhere to go with any of this- and this is what gave me this massive problem 10 years ago. Not having anywhere to turn, and just having to deal with the terror alone without speaking about it to anybody.

I don't want to be here again a 3rd time in 10 years time because I didn't get any help.
 
The problem from here I guess is that I will be facing a very long wait to speak with any of these organisations, and I need help now.
Best piece of advice I can kick is to double/triple down on ALL the coping methods, stress management, and stabilization skills that any good trauma therapist is going to insist you do, anyway, before working on trauma processing.

^^^ The AI Support we’ve just started trialing here on site? Is a fantastic way to drill down on any/all of those issues, as well as the regular discussion forums ^^^

Below, meanwhile, are (even) more things you can work on, on your own:

Don’t overwhelm yourself attempting to read / do everything all at once.


 
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Thank you to all who have replied to these posts in the past few weeks. I ended up being sent to a hospital emergency department last Tuesday, and I spoke to a psychiatrist for the first time, who told me I definitely have PTSD. And that there was treatment for it and I stood a good chance of recovering (which I did not realise).

The whole experience was very surreal and I felt so much relief afterwards, because I got answers to questions I have had my entire life about why I behave the way I do (dissociate or go into flashbacks). The psychiatrist also said it made sense that war experiences made memories of csa come back, because on a physiological level my brain had to root through its past experience to figure out what to do with the experience of being trapped. I had not up until then really spoken about the csa memories and it was the war ones I had been seeking treatment for- but the psychiatrist asked about my childhood fairly immediately. Her way of handling it was quite skilful- she warned me that if I said anything that identified who the abuser was or their relation to me she would have to report it to child services- and then asked me very little about my family life and more about the actual memories, so that I didn't have to tell her, 'oh it was my dad.' She even deliberately paused and wondered how she would ask a question so I didn't accidentally identify him.

I told my partner and 2 friends that I was sent to hospital to see if I have PTSD. And then when I got out I found it so much easier to talk to them about it (friend I live with and partner who lives in a different city). Which also was a relief (because we all knew I probably have this but I found it so hard to talk about). And now they are asking me how I am etc and I feel I can be more honest.

The kind of euphoric relief is waning a bit now as I realise I will still struggle to access treatment and also that the things I will have to confront are still awful. I was sure that they would not keep in me in hospital but it turns out that they might have. And now I'm not sure if it was for the best that I was sent home because it will be several months before I get officially diagnosed or treatment of any kind, and tbh I kind of need it urgently. I have been told to come back to the emergency department if I can't keep myself safe, and at the time I thought I would not need to. But now I realise that I might. Possibly several times before getting a first outpatient appointment in a few months.

I really didn't want to get myself admitted to hospital because I wanted to finish my academic work. But now I am at home trying to do it and I kind of can't (because I'm writing about those war experiences). I guess what I can do to help myself is attend support group meetings and try and do everything I can to help myself on a daily basis, accepting that my functionality is greatly reduced.
 
I'm really having a terrible time and don't know how I will survive this. I am drowning in m
emories last night and today. Awful ones about being raped as a child. I can now place how old I was more or less when things changed. I can't breathe and I can't sleep at night.

Didn't sleep last night because I had those rape flashbacks all night. Went to ask for food vouchers from a charity, which was humiliating. I have no idea how I'm going to pay my rent in 2 weeks. And my partner doesn't understand how hard it is for me to perform my usual supportive role right now so my relationship is collapsing. I'm not even asking for support, just a pause in providing it without any boundaries. I don't trust anyone enough to tell them what this is about but I can't handle it by myself. I don't think there is anyone I can tell. I would rather die than say it to anyone in my family, ever.

I really just need to tell someone, have them hug me and say it isn't my fault :( but that feels impossible. I don't know anyone who won't use that against me if I tell them :(
 
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