Survivor Shame.

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.

PTSD.

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.

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26 Replies to “Survivor Shame.”

  1. Im so sorry for what you went through. I am glad you know it wasnt your fault. I am a victim of child abuse, and now have ptsd from that. PTSD sucks. I hate being diagnosed with it. xoxox

  2. Very moving post, you are brave for writing it, brave for reporting it, and brave for continuing to live and survive it. I, too, have PTSD although its a bit different, but someone very close to me was sexually abused by a family member, so I totally get it (as much as I can get it without being a direct victim myself). I recently took a workshop on PTSD through the Mental Health department in the city I live in and I found it very helpful to understand how PTSD works in your mind, so my only comment would be do not give up, and that I think one day things will get better. Sending you love <3

    1. PTSD is PTSD. I firmly believe that those who are close to victims can have PTSD too. My mother was assaulted as a child and blames herself for what happened to me. I tell her exactly that. IT JUST HAPPENED. It shouldn’t have happened but for a long time she was calling me whenever I was away from home worried. That is a form of PTSD in my mind. Thank you for sharing and thank you for reading.

  3. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I know that doesn’t really help, but I just want you to know your post really helped me. So thank you. Xoxo

  4. It’s usually, to blame these sorts of things on ourselves, because we were too young, too naive, too unknowing, but, we must realize, that none of it is our faults, that it’s those who’d, taken advantage of us, who abused us to blame, that they shouldn’t have, broken our trust that we placed in them, they shouldn’t have taken advantage of us, and it’s a very long process to recovery, to get from “it’s my fault” to “i’m not the one to blame”…

  5. I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew at 14. I was home in my own bed. He came through the window. But. Because I had tried my first EVER drink and had been drinking, he got 30 days. I got shamed by my father. To this day, I can say, I UNDERSTAND how you’re feeling.

  6. I’m so sorry you went through this. PTSD is not easy. It is one of my diagnoses too. Stay strong. I’m so glad you’re here for others and sharing your story.

  7. I applaud your candor, and thank you or all of us who have been victims. Most importantly, I thank you for your spot on Description of PTSD. For those who do not suffer with it, it is difficult to understand. Keep using your Voice to offer a hand to others! There is strength in numbers and sometimes just hearing yourself in someone else’s story is a great comfort. That is why you are a writer. ❤️ Thank you.

  8. Thank you for the post I speak out as often as I can, wishing you well😌

  9. I don’t understand how ones pain become smaller than the other’s. I hate the fact that people questioned authenticity of something that is so devastating and have audacity to even say it.

    You are so brave to talk about it. I love the tone and strength in the last part of the post.

    1. Part of me always wants to say it’s none of your business but I want it to be. We are all responsible for ourselves and letting others see the way actions others around them is so important. People can be asses. We just have to rise above it.

  10. Thank you for being so brave and honest. As a fellow sufferer I send you many hugs and the hope that one day people will just allow people to suffer and deal and move on than to try to make them feel worse for suffering in the first place.

  11. That sounds similar to date rape which is rape for goodness sakes. I’m sorry you’ve had a hard time. I was abused as a child and raped twice. Until recently I stopped talking about the abuse. It’s true U don’t want people pity but I think I also didn’t want to be triggered by taking about it. I have had pretty good control of my flashbacks. Taking about it had been ok tho. I have some triggering but not a lot. Thanks for taking about the rape.Everybody’s voice needs to be heard to change things.

  12. I needed to read this. I can relate to the shame. It’s like a big black cloud that sucks you under, and your suffocating. This was an excellent post and very raw. We all need to speak the truth because it’s cathartic for us and it always helps others to either hear their story or find something they can relate to. We all need to know that we are not alone. Thank you.

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