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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Going to school while dealing with a trauma

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Author Topic: Going to school while dealing with a trauma
orca
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I'm in my last year of college and in the process of applying to graduate schools. I've been thinking lately about how I got to this point and how difficult it has been. I am a survivor of abuse and sexual abuse by a former boyfriend. I left the relationship in my second year of college and struggled through part of my junior year because of flashbacks. To make it this far and have graduation and graduate school so close feels like an awesome achievement.

It's quite common for survivors of rape and abuse to not finish school or to have to put their education on hold for various reasons relating to the trauma. This can make us feel like our abusers are exerting even more control over us, even after we've left. Fortunately, some schools do offer services to aid students, but one has to know how to ask for them. The first step is talking to your school's counselor to see what options there are.

For those of you who are also survivors, how has your education been affected by your experiences? If you are having difficulties in school, is there anything we can help you with in terms of finding resources and information on options available to you?

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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September
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That's such an important topic, Orca! Thank you for starting this thread.

I was raped when I was in my freshman year of college. I failed a Latin final the very next day, and a Linguistics final two months later, because I was basically walking through my life in a permanent dissociative state. I'd been suffering from depression for years, and the rape made it so much worse that I was barely functioning.

I received my grades over the summer, along with the news that my chronic illness was flaring up and I would need surgery [and as my mother pointed out, flares can be caused by stress]. Since I'd failed that Linguistics exam for the second time, I had effectively flunked out of college.

Thanks to the lack of GPA restrictions in Germany for most majors, I was able to simply enroll in a new college in a different town and start over. My father moved my things while I was in the hospital, and in the fall I came back and gave it another shot.

Prior to that disastrous freshman year, I had always loved school. I always did well without having to extent too much effort, I loved learning, and studying was something I could bury myself in when my life sucked. Usually, I would work even harder for school when I was more depressed, because it served as a distraction, and the success built up my self-esteem.

So suddenly doing so badly was a huge blow. It made me feel hopeless about my academic future on top of everything else. But I am also very ambitious, and a perfectionist, so ultimately it only served as a motivator to make me do better.

At my new school, I put all of my effort into returning to my old form. I started therapy to work through my rape, and I studied harder than ever. I was feeling pretty lonely that first year, because I have a hard time warming up to new people, and because I was so wrapped up in myself. But by the start of my sophomore year, I started to feel at home. [I'm still at the same University now, btw - just getting ready to start the second and last year of my M.A.]

To be honest, my mother (who did not know that I had been raped, only that there had been some sort of trouble that involved a guy) suggested that I talk to the Professor from that Linguistics class. There was a clause that allowed a second re-take if the final was failed due to illness, which would have included severe distress. Since I also had a second strike with the Latin test, I likely could have also stayed at my school and saved myself the trouble of moving to a different town and starting over. But I knew that, no matter what, I needed to leave that place behind. I needed to be somewhere completely different to allow myself a fresh start. It was a bit drastic, and not everyone can afford to just change schools like that, but for me it was definitely the right move to help me deal with what had happened and get me back on track.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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May Day
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i was sexually abused within my relationship for 9 months between 2007-08, 07 being my first year at uni.

Am now going into my fourth and final year and really looking forward to it.

Last year must have been the hardest for me: i only started counselling in April, i only started talking about my experiences as rape and abuse months later. I was going through a lot of conflicted emotions because how i was seeing things, myself, my abuser, my boyfriend, my mum, were all shifting.
I was completely disinterested in studying last year, and very much expecting to have not passed 2 of my 3 units last semester. Instead it was a very pleasant surprise to find my work had been graded very highly:P
i was talking about my attitudes towards studying in terms of being "burnt out", really had enough of being in school, needing a break; but thinking about this topic it makes a lot more sense to me to say i was really submerged in dealing with my abuse, dealing with my hurt became what i focused on.

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polyprotic
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I'm in pretty much the same boat as you, orca. I'm in my last year of high school and the IB diploma program.

My trauma was chronic and occurred between eight and five years ago. It had almost the complete opposite effect on me, though. I've put a lot of effort into my schoolwork especially in the past few years. I found that it made me feel like my life had some sort of purpose or direction, and that I could measure my success (and what I perceived to be my worth) by my GPA. This past year, it's been getting more difficult for me to concentrate, so I've spent a lot of sleepless nights because I can't focus, and I won't let myself sleep until I finish my schoolwork. So it's kind of a catch 22. Sometimes I think the healthy thing to do would be to drop IB and graduate early, as I have (more than) enough credits to do so. But as you said, that would kind of be letting him continue to have power over me.

Next year I'll be going into a college biology honors program, which I'm looking forward to. I'm just a little worried that concentrating will get even more difficult when I'm removed enough (I'll be going out of state) to really start thinking about things.

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Andromache
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I dropped out of college after two and a half years. This Valentine's Day will be the one-year anniversary of my leaving school. I left because my mental health had deteriorated to the point that I couldn't predict whether I'd be happy or suicidal within a six-hour period.

I am now a lot more stable, but it's been a very rough year for me. I'm unemployed, in part due to the economy, but looking for work; I'm in regular therapy. I hope to return to college and finish my B.A., but for now my educational goals don't go much further than getting a CNA's certification so that I can work for something more than minimum wage.

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Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

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petitepois
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omg, this was so helpful to read. ever since i dated my ex and broke up with him i was a different person in school... before him it was pretty easy for me to get straight a's. like i enjoyed learning. after him its been all hit and miss. i remember days feeling like my legs were stone and trying to get to class and feeling like i was dreaming. i thought i was bipolar, seriously, when on meds for it... discussing things with my counselor we think i was dealing with ptsd. now that i am actually talking about things seriously for the first time i am feeling school getting harder again. i feel like someone slicked my brain and nothing sticks to it. i talked to both of my professors, per my friends and counselors advice, and they were very understanding which is a rare blessing. but i hate that this guy has so much influence...
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DreamCatches
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quote:
Originally posted by Andromache:
I dropped out of college after two and a half years. This Valentine's Day will be the one-year anniversary of my leaving school. I left because my mental health had deteriorated to the point that I couldn't predict whether I'd be happy or suicidal within a six-hour period.

I am now a lot more stable, but it's been a very rough year for me. I'm unemployed, in part due to the economy, but looking for work; I'm in regular therapy. I hope to return to college and finish my B.A., but for now my educational goals don't go much further than getting a CNA's certification so that I can work for something more than minimum wage.

Wow, that's so similar to how I've been feeling. I'm in regular therapy as well, but it's only been about four months and it's a slow and hard road as I'm sure you know.

I'm just not motivated to go to school... the thing is, I'm really good at school. Making straight A's is not difficult for me and frankly it has never been difficult to me. I constantly get things like, "why aren't you in school" "you are so smart" "don't ruin your life" "blah blah", but after two years of abuse from two different guys (one emotional/verbal abuse) the other (more physical and sexual abuse), I really don't want to go back to school. I feel like I am failing myself and it hurts. I don't want to keep pushing myself to do something that I don't want to do though. Right now, I feel like for years I worked and waited patiently for a good guy and a good school, and to be sexually assaulted by someone who supposedly "loved" me has left me feeling... shell shocked. I feel like I worked hard at college and made straight A's yet school feels like a hell for me and I don't want to go back. (I also had to transfer out of my dream school because my father said he wouldn't help me pay for school at the last minute and we couldn't get the money in time). The alternative feels equally unpleasant though. Being at home is so lonely for me and I don't want to be alone with bad thoughts. I am out of school this semester because my anxiety and depression problems were getting so bad last spring that I didn't want to spend another year away from home. I'm transferring to a school close by (only thirty minutes away from where I live), but it still feels like a bad decision to me.

I feel like of all the hard work I put into school, it's going down the drain all because I can't get away from all the issues that keep plaguing me.

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Think of me, when you're out, when you're out there...

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breath
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I have been going through my mantra that 'the best part is over' that it will take me time to heal...
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Heather
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Why do you think the best part is over?

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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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breath
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**TYPE-O** THE WORST part.

I am in school and the brink of my senior / last year in college. I have many wonderful opportunities ahead of me and I can't afford to screw them over, as harsh and "self-judgemental" that sounds.


For the past few days, I have personal mantra that says "The WORST part is over".This is also a phrase that I first picked up here. It gives me a new fresh feeling, hopefulness and a burst of energy. It lets me be present in the now.

I have also have to work on building my self esteem whether that is done by eating well or my doing good in school so good grades are validation. Although of course the personal issues are much deeper and sometimes seeking validation/ self-esteem booster in such things can be harmful...

I know that I will have melt-downs etc and it may take a very long time for this to heal...and I tell myself that this is OK...

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Heather
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Phew!

I was about to most likely make your eyes glaze over with the longest list ever of all the best parts likely yet to come!

Lucky you! [Razz]

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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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thumb tack
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When I left my abuser I had two more semester of culinary school to go. I put everything I had into it and graduated with a 4.0, got picked for a competition team and won a gold medal (first woman to do so in my category thank you very much!).

but then it it me like a pile of bricks about two years out of school. I ended up not being able to work at all for quite a while.

I guess you just have to deal with it when the emotions hit, I got lucky that it didn't hit while I was at school because I most certainly wouldn't have finished

congrats to all you who are managing dealing with past abuse and being at school, you deserve kudos!

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