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Author Topic: Another Panic Attack
LifeEnColor
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I'm still shaken up about it, and it happened over 24 hours ago. I haven't had a panic/anxiety attack in months and have only had mild triggers that I've been able to work through.

Yesterday I was on facebook and I suddenly got a message from someone. I looked up to see the name of my ex boyfriend, my past abuser. After the abuse, we broke up (we were going to anyway, he moved across the country and I went to college) and for months I still missed him. I didn't accept or even think about what happened, and I forgot about it. I don't know what made me realize that he had sexually abused me, but ever since then I've wanted little to do with him. We had a falling out and we very, very rarely spoke from November-March and then all communications stopped. What little contact we had between those times were drunken calls and texts from him, often being very hurtful.

So imagine my shock when he asks me on facebook if there is any sound in space. I didn't know what else to do except answer him. I remember my stomach dropping and my heart hammering in my chest during the whole conversation and breaking out into a sweat. I immediately texted my boyfriend and struck up a random conversation to help distract me. My facebook conversation I had with my ex was civil, just talking about how we both are, and then he started telling me that every time he hears certain songs, he thinks of me and misses me and still keeps a box of stuff we collected together over the summer. We ended the conversation promising to keep in touch, and I was mostly fine after that.

But later that night when I finally got a chance to call my boyfriend and he asked why I was upset earlier, I completely snapped and started sobbing. I was shaking and crying and hyper ventilating for an hour with my boyfriend on the phone trying to calm me down. I could feel physical pain in my stomach and genitals and was flooded with flashbacks of the abuse. It was one of my worst attacks yet, and if my boyfriend hadn't been on the phone with me, I'm not sure what would've happened. He got me to get up and walk around, to make myself some tea, relax me a little, and then actually got me to have a normal conversation with him and laugh a little. Finally around 1:30am, I was feeling relaxed enough to sleep and we said goodnight with the promise that I would call him back if I needed to.

I know that this attack was my fault--I should've broken off all means of contact between my exboyfriend. But the thing is, and I really, really hate myself to say or think it, I'd feel bad if I did that. I'd feel bad to defriend him, to delete his number, to tell him to never try to talk to me again. I'd feel guilty and terrible and mean. I never told him how I felt or think about what happened and I didn't confront him at the time. I even had intercourse again with him the next day after the abuse even though I wanted to cry and scream the whole time. I really don't know what to do. To him, no abuse ever happened. He never hurt me. To him, it would just seem like I started hating him. And I'd know he'd want explanation and I'd break and tell him and make things for myself 100x worse.

I really don't know what to do. I've tried talking to a therapist, but I felt so embarrassed and ashamed admitting what happened to her that I stopped making appointments. I even tried to start going again, but when the topic came up I quickly changed it and stopped going again. I'm really lost and I'm so scared. I don't want what happened last night to ever happen again. I'm avoiding facebook because I'm afraid he'll message me but I'm afraid of avoiding him because I don't want to hurt him or make him ask questions. It's almost like he wasn't even the one who abused me. In nightmares, he has no face and when I talk or think about it, I don't see him hurting me, I just see some John Doe. I only see his face when I'm flooded with flashbacks. I'm so confused and so scared and this is the only place I feel safe to come to.

Posts: 112 | From: Upperstate NY | Registered: Jan 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I'm not sure I understand why not ending contact with him makes when he attacked and abused you your fault. Not only was your choice not to block him from contact after the fact, attacks or abuse are never the victim's fault.

I can talk you through some of this today, but can I ask you to first take a big step today, knowing someone can be here, all day if you need, to hold your hand through it?

Can you go ahead and unfriend him on your Facebook? I can be here to talk you through guilty feelings about that, but I think taking a small step like that for yourself to really move forward, step out of the mode of being an abuse victim, and protect yourself could have major positive results, and is so, so important for you to do.

Whaddya say?

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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I really don't know if I can. If I do, he still has my cell number, and I know he'll call or text me. And if I want to go and change the number, I have to let my mom know I'm doing that, and she'll ask why and I'm the worst liar ever born. And then I keep doubting myself. I keep asking myself 'did it really happen that way?' and I start to feel even guiltier because I don't even know what really happened to me. Which means that the stress I've put on others, especially my boyfriend over this, would've been a lie and I've felt like this for no reason for months. I'm still so confused about the event and if it was actually abuse or what to call it. I'm just stressing myself out more and more the more I think about it.
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Heather
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I want to give you an analogy to consider.

Let's say I leave my front door open by accident. Then that day, my house gets robbed. Now, it's not my fault that I got robbed, because leaving my door open was foolish, but it wasn't an invitation for someone to take my stuff, either. It's not like I left it open, then put a note on it that said, "The door's wide open: come on in and take what you want!"

But after that, I'm going to want to make sure I always make a point of locking my door. In doing that, I'm protecting my home. I'm not a bad person or mean or cruel because I'm making it harder for someone to commit a crime. I'm doing basic, smart things that are about protecting myself. If I don't do things to protect myself when I know what can happen if I don't, then at a certain point, I do bear responsibility in some of the bad things that happen to me. And if I can't take car of myself, I'm much more likely to wind up connected with people who won't take care of me, either.

This is basically the situation here with you. You having been abused and assaulted by this person wasn't your fault: they chose to commit crimes against you. They chose to do you harm.

But you also need to act in your own self-protection, which means shutting your doors, as you were, and keeping them locked from people you know will do you harm because they have shown you they have.

It's pretty clear you're pretty stuck in some very bad patterns, and can't seem to move far forward. There's a lot to do to really do that, but you really can't even figure you got started if you can't take tiny, basic steps in protecting yourself.

Let's deal with the phone later. That's another step, and blocking this person from Facebook isn't contingent on that. No one is obligated to be friends with anyone of Facebook, or to allow people to contact then that way. It's a privilege, not a right. And you know, for sure, from last night, that you are harmed and traumatized when this person contacts you. So, one basic, minor thing you can do is take one small step in preventing that that you have control over.

So, why NOT do that? What do you feel you get out of not taking steps to protect yourself?

[ 06-02-2011, 11:16 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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I understand completely what you're saying and I know that I should follow your advice and I want to. I really, really do. But I was raised my whole life to put everyone else's needs and feelings before mine, despite those people being abusive toward me. I came close to deleting him as a friend an hour ago, but the thought of him being upset in any way about it made me freeze up and I felt like I was physically choking.

I know it just sounds like I'm making excuses for myself, but its the truth. Its so hard for me to consider my own feelings when I know my actions will cause negative feelings in others. I really want to start doing things to help myself, but I feel so trapped. It doesn't help that the conversation we last had was very civil, so now if I broke off all contact, it'd be even more confusing to him and I'd feel even worse about it.

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Heather
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What it sounds like to me is that you're stuck in being a victim, and having a hard time moving towards becoming a survivor. That's understandable. Many people are challenged by that, especially when they are still in any relationships where abuse continues or when they don't seek out help for real -- which includes being honest about ALL current and past abuse, not withholding -- and accept that help, rather than resist it. Abuse effectively trains victims to get stuck the way you are, even when it's over and you're far away from any of it. It's really hard for a lot of people to unlearn. Very sadly, some people never do.

But I think you also know you feel stuck, and aren't someone without any information and resources for you to know that and understand all of this, so the question becomes this: what are you going to do for yourself to get UNstuck?

I'm sorry that I can't remember this, but I know you've had a therapist: do you still have access to that therapy? If not, could you get access again (not will you or do you want to, do you literally have the ability to access that counseling)?

(I also want to say something here about enabling. I think you have the idea that letting people continue to harass or abuse you means that you have to feel like crap, but they won't. But people abusing or harassing other people don't tend to feel good by being allowed to do that. Of course, it also isn't likely to be confusing to them. I'm not going to push this issue with you when you're having a hard time, but you keep suggesting no one who has maltreated you has any idea they have or do, and I need to let you know how incredibly unlikely that is. I know it's tough to accept they do know, but they usually do.

When you enable people to harass or abuse you in any way -- like by not protecting yourself, setting hard limits, getting all the way away from them -- you actually just contribute to them not even being inclined to change. You can't control, how people feel, especially dysfunctional people. So, if you have the idea that letting them mistreat you instead of cutting them off protects them from bad feelings, think again. Mind, there's the whole other issue of keeping yourself in harm's way to try and protect people who have done you harm, but I think that's a step/awareness that might be a bit further down the road for you.)

[ 06-02-2011, 01:03 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(Just FYI, I'm heading offline for around an hour for my daily yoga and meditation practice, then grabbing a little lunch. I'll be back shortly.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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The counselor I was seeing about this is back at my college, so I don't have the ability to seek her out again until September. There is a counseling place in my town which is where I used to go when I was younger. I think I'd be able to go there again, but I'm not sure how expensive it would be if I didn't take my mother's insurance because I don't want her to know.

I'm sorry, I know you're trying to help and I'm just making it more difficult.

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Heather
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Can we make a deal? Let's make a rule that you stop talking about how difficult you are or how things that aren't your fault are here, okay? Negative statements about yourself are only going to be one more thing to hold you back. You don't need them, and I certainly don't benefit from them, either.

So, the answer is that for now, you can't see that therapist again, but there is a counseling place in town, but you don't know if it's affordable for you without using your mother's insurance.

Okay. So, why don't you call them right this very second and find out what their fees and payment options are? That way, you can have the answer to that question, and we can know if you have access to them. If not, we can do some more legwork to see what IS accessible to you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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I called the Family Services in my town just now and asked about prices. I was told that it works on a sliding scale, but without insurance, it would probably be somewhere about $150. She didn't tell me if that was per session, or for the whole counseling package, but either way, that's too expensive for me. I'm still searching for work for the summer so I've just been sucking up money from my savings account and borrowing some from my mom, but I definitely can't take out $150. The operator directed me to the counseling service line because she said the woman there would be able to give me more information, so I left my name and number with her and I should get a call back within the next 24 hours or so.
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Heather
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You didn't ask what that fee was for? Make sure you do when that person calls back, okay? Good on you for making that call.

If you can fill me in on what county you're in, I could likely also find you counseling services available for abuse and assault victims and survivors, since this is a big part of what you need counseling around and help with. Those services are not only targeted for those needs, by people who really get it, they're also often free.

[ 06-02-2011, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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I live in New Jersey and go to college in New York, where my last counselor is. I'm hoping that if I explain my situation, I can get the price lowered. I might even be able to get the counselor I had when I was in high school, if she's still working there.
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Heather
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By all means, I'd fill them in on your situation. part of the point of a sliding scale is to be able to accommodate people with special needs.

But let me also go right now and get you a resource or two for New Jersey so you can see what all your options might be. Back in a flash.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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Thank you so much for all of the help you're giving me. I really want to take steps forward to helping myself, even if some steps are too hard for me right now, I want to at least feel like I'm finally heading towards getting better.
And on a side note, I read through the links you gave me and also sent them to my boyfriend to read. I found them helpful and he's read them already and has started doing his own research and asked if I had any other links to send them his way.

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Heather
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You're very welcome. For now, though, let's focus on you and not your boyfriend, okay? Those were a lot of links and a handful of books, so he should have more than enough to get started with by now and certainly hasn't gotten through all of that material already. I mean, I read really fast, but reading four books about such a serious subject in a day or two isn't something even I can usually swing.

Looking at the resources in Jersey, I think of all of them, this one is most likely to know what counseling services are closest to you (unless theirs are: they have extensive services). That's the Resource Center of Somerset, at 1-866-685-1122.

The information I'd give anyone like this when you're calling is that you're not a minor, but are currently living with an emotionally abusive parent, and you are also a survivor of intimate partner violence, including sexual assault. Let them know you're a young person, as well, and that you want help finding counseling and/or support groups. That basic information should help them best direct you to the services you need and can best access.

[ 06-02-2011, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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The Resource Center of Somerset (I think Somerset is relatively close by), is this like another counseling service to call and ask about prices, or would they direct me somewhere else? I don't mean to ask dumb questions, I'm just a little confused. I know that the Family Services in my town is the closest and its where I went for years when I was younger. Should I wait for them to call me back before I go looking elsewhere? If I'm getting this all muddled, I'm sorry.
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Heather
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I'd still go ahead and call this place, too.

They are a resource center for all kinds of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and abuse/assault. Counseling is only one of the many services they provide.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LifeEnColor
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What would they do for me? Would it be counseling over the phone or would they refer me somewhere?
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Heather
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These are the questions to ask them yourself. But the counseling they provide via their center in in-person counseling. f they're not close enough for you, they can likely tell you the next closest service like theirs and give you that contact information.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Just checking in with you to see how you're doing.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68255 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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