I am an outspoken person when it comes to mental health. It is clear that I am a passionate advocate for bipolar and depression. I feel like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t divulge the diagnosis I struggle with the most. I feel like it is important to share victories and losses. I am losing this battle.
When I was 17 I was assaulted by a “friend” who I was very close with. I had known this person for many years. He was basically a part of my family at this point and he took something from me. I immediately reported it, but because I had been drinking there was no conviction.
No conviction with DNA evidence.
I too am still appalled at that sentence. More appalled than anyone reading this. Isn’t it funny? PTSD really sneaks up on you. Imagine that you are going about your day and a huge boulder falls in front of you. You can’t walk around it, it is too heavy to move, and the person you were talking to is on the other side and can’t hear you. That is PTSD. And that person? That is your daily life. It takes complete control of your body and emotions. It is like you can’t get a deep enough breath. (I’m looking at you with the anxiety, you know what I’m talkin about!)
I sought out help. Counseling offered by the state where I sat on a waiting list for SIX MONTHS. Private counseling which actually helped with a lot of other issues. I even tried group counseling. Do you know what that got me? Survivor shame.
Not survivor guilt, but shame. I felt so shamed that my stories didn’t align with theirs. I was told stories by all the other members of their abusive relationships and strange intruders. Everyone sat and listened intently. Then it was my turn. I tripped over my words and could barely get a sentence out. I felt brushed off though. I wasn’t looking for pity, but I didn’t think I would be treated like I had just sat down in the wrong class. It blew me away and left me feeling more alone than when I had walked in. It was so upsetting that I sought comfort in the presence of others who had experienced what I had and knew what I was going through. My biggest hurdle was feeling like my life was turned upside down with my new obsession of having to sleep in a room with a lock on the door or wearing a jacket to bed. I just felt alone.
I still feel like this. I know I am not alone, but it feels like that a lot. I have had people tell me, “that isn’t rape.” “That isn’t like tv at all.” “But you knew him.” “Just because you were sleeping doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have said yes if you were awake.”
It is hard to feel like you aren’t wrong for feeling the way you do. I even questioned myself at one point. “Did this happen?!”.
YES, it happened. TO ME! Olivia Benson where are you?!
Alas, my life is not a law and order episode. As much as I want to be told it Is okay to feel like this so many years after the fact, I really just don’t want to look at someone when they say it. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.
So, I lied to my psych doc. I told her I didn’t have any flashbacks or issues related to this assault. Truth is these news headlines have me all kinds of triggered. People out there saying things like woman need to have proof before they come forward and they can’t speak up years after the fact.
*steps on soap box*
We can tell OUR story WHENEVER we damn well please.
MEN CAN BE ASSAULTED TOO.
YOU WEREN’T EVEN THERE TO DEBUNK MY REPORT.
DON’T BASE EVERY VICTIM’S ACTIONS OFF OF ONE PERSON.
I AM ALLOWED TO DRINK AND EXPECT NOT TO BE VIOLATED.
I love you in advance for listening to me rant and spill my very very very emotional guts everywhere. I leave you with words of wisdom: Report it, don’t be ashamed, talk about it, write it down, yell, scream, and take care of yourself. As with anything bad: don’t let it become you. It happened to you, but it isn’t all you are. I am forever here if anyone ever wants to talk about any kind of assault. I will be your friend that understands and tells you it isn’t your fault, because it isn’t.
See my full length story here. It isn’t censored so if you are easily triggered, think before you read.