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Author Topic: Re-emergence of 'flashbacks'
acb
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I was in a sexually abusive relationship a few years ago and although I've since become much better at dealing with the trauma recently I feel like I'm regressing in terms of how well I'm coping. I've used the word 'flashbacks'in the topic starter but they're not PTSD style emersive experiences; they're taking the forms of triggering dreams and a waking obsession with the guy who raped me.

I've been really stressed with work, my boss has been emotionally manipulative in a way which reminded me of being abused and I ran a discussion on sexual violence with my students last week which might all be contributing to the dreams but the waking obsession seems to centre around the guy who raped me finding me and replaying possible scenarios of that happening in my head.

I moved to Mexico 9 months ago for a teaching position and am returning to the UK in three weeks. This past year I've been mostly removed from triggers (or at least, ones that are specific to me - catcalling still sucks here) or the chance of running into the guy who raped me (pretty slim, we live in very different parts of the country although he still has my old address). I think I'm partly worried about what it will feel like to go back to being exposed to personal triggers and so geographically close to the guy who raped me. This year has been a really empowering experience for me and the idea of losing some of that to fear is throwing my step off a bit.

So, I suppose, what I'm looking for are:

- tips on how to manage this for the next few weeks while also maintaining a full workload and preparing to move to another continent

- suggestions for anything I might have missed from my own analysis of how I'm feeling

- ideas on how to cope to going back to a place I was a year ago geographically without regressing emotionally

- the online equivalent of a hug

Thanks a bunch for anything you think of [Smile]

Posts: 39 | From: UK | Registered: Oct 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
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Hey acb, I can't really help with most of this, but I want to send out a big internet hug. *hugs*

--------------------
~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Sam W
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Hi acb,

Ooof, I'm sorry you're going through this. *jedi hugs*

It might be worth seeking out some professional support (if you're not currently), at least for a little while. They might be able to give you ways to cope with the fearful or triggering/obsessive thoughts when they arise. The dreams would be a trickier thing to deal with, but even still they might have some suggestions for things you can at least try.

It might also help you to talk with them, or think about on your own, if there's anything that would make you feel more secure or safe when you go back.

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Molias
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I definitely think Sam's idea of getting some support is a good one. I'm wondering - when you return to the UK will you be nearby friends, family, or other folks you can turn to for support? It may be helpful to talk with some of them before you move and ask for specific things that might make your transition to an area closer to your abuser a little easier.

You wouldn't necessarily have to disclose the details if you haven't done so before and don't want to; even a general "can you spend time with me/support me in this way while I adjust to living here again" request might wind up being helpful.

I'd also suggest that you keep in mind that recovery from a traumatic situation rarely happens in an unbroken upward line. Setbacks can happen, but it doesn't mean you won't bounce back and keep getting better. So if you do find that moving back reawakens some fears or triggers from before, it may help to keep in mind how much progress you've made already! You say this year has been empowering; maybe you could write down some of what's been so great so you can remind yourself of all that if you need to.

Posts: 1316 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Molias
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I definitely think Sam's idea of getting some support is a good one. I'm wondering - when you return to the UK will you be nearby friends, family, or other folks you can turn to for support? It may be helpful to talk with some of them before you move and ask for specific things that might make your transition to an area closer to your abuser a little easier.

You wouldn't necessarily have to disclose the details if you haven't done so before and don't want to; even a general "can you spend time with me/support me in this way while I adjust to living here again" request might wind up being helpful.

I'd also suggest that you keep in mind that recovery from a traumatic situation rarely happens in an unbroken upward line. Setbacks can happen, but it doesn't mean you won't bounce back and keep getting better. So if you do find that moving back reawakens some fears or triggers from before, it may help to keep in mind how much progress you've made already! You say this year has been empowering; maybe you could write down some of what's been so great so you can remind yourself of all that if you need to.

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OhImpecuniousOne
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I don't any good advice, but I can manage an internet hug [Razz] *hugs*
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acb
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Thanks everyone - I have a really good support network back home but I haven't disclosed to anyone here so it's nice to have a bit of support (and of course *hugs*) [Smile]

I will be with my kickass family and boyfriend when I get back, so there'll be support if I need it, I just feel like I'll be so happy to see them after being away that to come straight home and focus on negatives with them would make me a bit of a Debbie Downer. I'd rather focus on all the good things about being home (cheddar cheese, I have missed you so much) than the one or two negatives, even if those negatives are important.

I think someone to talk to would be nice - I don't think I need structured counselling but phone line support could be a good option. I know recovery isn't an unbroken upward thing but sometimes it just takes someone else reminding you and talking things through to really hit that home. I really like the idea of writing down things that make me feel powerful or strong that I've gained here. The negative flip side to that feeling of empowerment is that I feel this real urge to confront my abuser, which in the long run is probably not a good idea. (I mean, that differs a lot, some days I feel like I've moved on sufficiently to accept I'm not going to get that middle-finger moment and other times I just want to bring that a****** down.) Perhaps writing out a list of positive things or internally defined empowering things would help me tip towards the moving on side of the balance.

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Molias
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I think it's really common for people to want to confront an abuser. But often when a confrontation does happen, it's pretty unsatisfying, as an abuser will often deny responsibility or start manipulation tactics.

One thing you can do, though, is write out all the angry things you want to say to him. Take up as much space as you want, make it as long as you like, get all that rage out of your head and on a page somewhere. Then just... don't send it. I think it can be helpful to say all those angry things you want to say; the process of putting it into words can help dissipate some of the ongoing anger that might be floating around in your head.

Maybe this writing exercise combined with the one where you write out positive stuff about how great you are and how far you've come can help a little bit with that confrontational impulse.

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acb
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Yeah, I guessed that'd be the conclusion. That's why I feel like in the long term it's not a good idea, however much I want to.

Writing things is something I've tried before - it's not something I really have the time to do right now but perhaps if this carries on over the summer I'll give it another try. I feel like perhaps when I get better at expressing anger in general terms that'll help a lot too as a vent. I suppose another part of realising that healing isn't a straight line is that I'm not going to be finding new coping mechanisms my whole life, I'm going to have to keep going back and repeating ones that work, even if that feels regressive to start with.

I am the kind of person who needs to hash things out with others to get them straight in my head and I think talking about this has reminded me that this is always going to be a lifelong process. But that that's OK. Thinking this through again, there's a couple of other things I might come back to in a few weeks when I have the time and the head space to do it properly, if that's OK. Thanks so much to everyone for all their support and suggestions here so far, it's good to know that's there when I need it [Smile] .

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Sam W
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You're welcome acb, and we're always happy to help when/if you want to check in [Smile]
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