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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Tears and Sleepless Nights

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Author Topic: Tears and Sleepless Nights
Member # 95149

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Hi, my name is Selene. I just turned 22 a few days ago and I stumbled across your website by accident while surfing the web. I just wanted to start off by saying how fantastic it is that the Scarleteen staff is available to answer the "tough" questions for teens and young adults. Where I live there is a real lack of sex-ed and an inordinately high number of teen pregnancies.

Anyhow, if I had known your site existed 3 years ago it would have been the answer to a prayer. Let me tell you about myself and my situation. When I was 17 my 53 year old high school teacher began a sexual relationship with me that lasted throughout my senior year and until my graduation. My home situation was less then optimal, as both of my parents were physically and sometimes mentally disabled, and I had no support system. Looking back, I remember high school as some of the most difficult times of my life. Through it all, He (my abuser) was a constant support. He groomed me from the time we met, when I was in 5th grade until I was completely dependent on Him for all of my emotional support. He raped me when I turned 18, I was a virgin and I still thought I was in love with Him. He told me we were soul mates, I was such a sucker! Now I know better. I tried to leave Him the summer after I graduated and went off to college, but he wooed me with expensive gifts and kind words, and I went back to Him. A few months later his wife (who barely spoke a lick of English) found out about our affair and I received a text message saying that our relationship had to be put on hold "indefinitely." Just like that, my lifeline was cut from under me.

Itʻs funny, you read about situations like this in books but never think it can happen to you. Then it does, and you are lost! I fell into a deep depression, because I missed Him and felt that if I truly loved Him then we would find a way to be together. I lost 30 lbs and rarely slept, and I cried everyday and every night. I come from a small community, I was terrified that someone would discover my secret, so I never told a soul. After a few months I was able to recover from the loss but hadnʻt yet processed the sexual abuse (partially because I couldnʻt identify it as such), and I ended up at a local church seeking help.

To make a long story short, I had no idea that the months to come would find me embracing a new religion and family, and embarking on a long road to self-healing. With the help of the church I identified my abuser and won our 6 month litigation process. (The hardest time in my life!) His certification has been revoked and He has been banned from teaching. I thought that my healing process was complete. Then came the year of psychological counseling, dedicated to the PTSD I was diagnosed with. Finally, almost 4 years later I am an adult getting ready to graduate from college, and I am nightmare free and moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thus, my issue(s):
1. I tried to start dating again this past summer and a good friend of mine (who knows about the abuse) quickly turned into more than a friend. We had lots of fun together and I was very much attracted to him so I thought we should try having sex. I gave it a lot of consideration and he was very respectful and understanding about the whole situation. He asked me if I wanted to have sex for the right reasons. To be honest, I really just wanted to try and reclaim my body for myself. Unfortunately, we kissed and took our clothes off and he was so gentle and kind and I thought I was so turned on, but as soon as he was on top of me I started to cry. Iʻm a very controlled person and I rarely cry, especially not in front of someone else. But I just clung to him and wept, I have never sobbed like that before, it was terrifying, and it happened very fast. After that, we ended our relationship amicably. But Iʻm beginning to date again and Iʻm afraid that I wonʻt be able to control my emotions during intimacy.

2. That being said, I have become a bit of an insomniac. I donʻt get nightmares anymore, but I think that unconsciously I still might be afraid to fall asleep at night. Iʻm not sure if youʻve heard of this happening before after abuse... But the only way I can sleep is to stay up as late as I can (watching movies, tv, reading, doing HW, writing, etc.) then I fall asleep from exhaustion. Otherwise I stay up thinking and my thoughts are directed back to unpleasant, triggering memories. Any advise you have would be great.

Iʻm sorry for having taken up so much of your time, I didnʻt realize that this post would turn out to be so long. But I do appreciate all that you do. My parents still do not know about my rape, court case or relationship, and as my mom is ill and my dad passed away last year, neither are in any position to be told. But my adopted parents have been an incredible support to me, and my adopted father literally held my hand through the entire testimonial process. My Dad is a pastor, and he and I have such a great relationship that I know I can talk to him about anything. But Iʻd really rather see if I can solve these sexual/sleeping problems on my own first. Thats why Iʻm here at 2:45am! [Smile]

Thank you for all of your help,

Posts: 4 | Registered: Mar 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Welcome to Scarleteen, Selene, and I'm glad you feel like you found a place where you feel comfortable asking for help. [Smile]

You've clearly come a long way and through some bad abuse (coincidentally, I was just talking to someone the other day about how we need something here about grooming: I think very few people will ever recognize it for what it is, especially since most of the time when we are groomed, we are coming from hard, vulnerable places so it's even harder to see for what it is) but also through doing a lot for yourself. Biggest kudos on getting through all of that, including your legal process, and doing what you could there -- and I know that, itself, can be so rough -- for justice for yourself and the safety of others to boot.

So, let's get started on your questions here:

1. I completely understand all of what you've said here, and I also think there can be so many "right" reasons for choosing to be sexual with someone else, and I think your motives are more common than you probably know. I also think it's okay for sex to turn out to be a very emotional experience, and, ideally, it should be a safe place for us to have and express big feelings. So, for me, this is really a matter, moving forward, of you figuring out your comfort with potentially feeling those kinds of feelings and your comfort in that, specifically, with any other person in a sexual situation.

2. Sleep disturbances are very, very common post-trauma, and with PTSD. have you already tried the most common advice when it comes to insomnia (things like sticking to a set bedtime, avoiding food or drinks that aren't things like water a couple hours before bed, not reading or watching movies in bed, etc)?

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 95149

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Hi Heather, thanks for your reply! Grooming is something that took me a long time to understand, and has impacted every aspect of my life for the past 12 years. I used to have trouble looking at myself in the mirror, but now I am finally getting used to reconstructing my identity without His presence beside me.

1. Its funny really, there is something about sharing our pain with others and realizing that we are not alone that truly brings peace. I testify for the woman who are also trying to take back their bodies for themselves and take strength from our mutual struggles.

2. I have pretty much tried everything from warm milk, aroma therapy, meditation and nature soundtracks, etc. But I have found that on the days when I am physically/or mentally exhausted (sometimes in a positive fun way), I fall asleep immediately. One question that I do have is about dreams. I know all of the dream/sleep theories and whatnot and about cycles and interpretations. But I was wondering if you are anyone else youʻve counseled have ever experienced this. Im a writer, musician and artist, and I used to have incredibly vivid dreams that I would always remember. Sometimes lucid, sometimes just very vivid. After the nightmare period passed, I stopped dreaming. (or at least for the sake of explanation stopped remembering my dreams upon waking) As my healing process has moved forward, every once in a while I will have a truly excellent day and fall asleep to a very vivid dream. But otherwise I feel that a part of myself has been shut down and hidden away from myself. I stay up until exhaustion knocks me out cold and wake up feeling groggy and blank.

As usual, I appreciate your thoughts!

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Saffron Raymie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 49582

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Hi Selene; are you saying that you used to dream, but now you don't; and you miss dreaming?

'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

Posts: 1285 | From: England | Registered: Oct 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 95149

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Yes, Iʻm sorry if it didnʻt come across clearly. But before the abuse I used to dream vividly and happily and wake up feeling rested. Now, although Iʻm happy that Iʻm not having nightmares about the abuse, Iʻm so sleep deprived that when I finally fall into an exhausted REM cycle I wake up in the morning even more exhausted, with no memory of having dreamt. I usually get about 3 hours of sleep each night if Iʻm lucky.
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Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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I can definitely understand why being dreamless feels like losing something, especially in light of you being a creative person.

I see above that you mentioned that physical or mental exhaustion leads to sleep. Is regular physical exercise a possibility for you? Is this something you think would help?

Sleeplessness can lead to health problems. I'm wondering what you think of discussing this with your doctor?


Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 95149

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Thanks Robin, I guess its a little hard to explain, but as a writer and musician dreams always used to be a source of inspiration to me. It is a loss.

I havenʻt tried exercising at night, thanks for the suggestion. And I will give my doctor a ring too, I didnʻt know they could do anything for sleep issues?

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