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Author Topic: Flashbacks
hs123
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I was wondering if anyone could attest to how long it took for you to recognize your triggers and avoid them during sexual activities...

As much as I think I've recognized my triggers, many times something will happen that will cause a flashback, and sometimes it's something that I've done many times and been fine with.

Earlier tonight I was fooling around with my boyfriend (not such a smart thing since we both have strep but that's besides the point) but when he reached down to take off my underwear, something he's done many times and I've had no problem with it, I became hysterical and had a flashback. Luckily, I've discussed what I need from him when I have one so he's always very helpful, so he wrapped me up in a blanket and carried me to the couch which is kindof like my safe zone- and he just hugged me cuz I like to be held. But really, afterwards is the worst because I just feel incredibly sad. For a lot of reasons really. I feel bad because I feel like I shouldnt keep having these moments, I feel bad for scaring my boyfriend so much, and also for what I feel is ruining such a nice moment we were having.
While my boyfriend is really nice and says it's ok, and gives me this whole, "Don't worry, it's just going to make us closer," I still feel really bad.
It's so frustrating for me because one moment, I'll be fine with something, and the next moment I wont be.

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atm1
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Honestly, this is one of those things that's really different for everyone.

I know a lucky few who've never gotten triggered during sexual activities, people who got past it very quickly, and people who have frequent flashbacks for years, and people who go years without them and get one or two unexplained ones (yeah, I know a lot of survivors). The last group is actually the biggest, in my experience.

The best thing to do is communicate with a partner about what to do, and it's clear that you've done that and it sounds like he's really great about it.

The one thing that I've found consistently helps me, no matter the activity (whether it's one of my typical triggers or not) is being very aware of what's going on. This means not letting my mind drift anywhere else and just being aware of what's going on with me and my body. I also always hold the feeling of being loved in my mind. Over time I learned to identify a split second "pre-flashback" feeling, and then re-focus myself so that the flashback never happens. That takes a lot of self awareness... I credit A LOT of meditation training for my ability to do that... and for me it's been a really personal process, that I think would be different for anyone else.

So... mostly I'm saying is that there's no "normal" amount of time or way to avoid getting flashbacks.

I know how hard it is to know how much being triggered effects a partner, and one thing that my partner always reminds me of is that he knew what he was getting into when he started getting intimate with me, and that he chooses to be with me and go through all of the stuff that comes up. So remember that your boyfriend is choosing to be with you because he cares about all of you--including the you who you are when you're experiencing flashbacks.

One more thing: does he have someone he can talk to about this stuff, and do you feel okay with him talking to other people about it? It has got to be hard on him (but remember, it's his choice to do this hard thing, and you've done nothing wrong), and being able to talk about his feelings with someone other than you might really help. You might want to at least talk about how all of that stuff makes him feel. Those are hard conversations, but they often prevent bigger problems in a relationship.

Did all of that make sense? If it didn't, I'm sorry... it's late and I'm tired, but feel free to ask for clarification.

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hs123
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Really, I don't feel comfortable with him talking to anyone else about it. I know that's so incredibly unhelpful, but it's the truth. I just don't want anyone to know right now. Everyone I've told, which is like, a whopping 3 people, I don't even feel comfortable having told, besides my boyfriend.
While I know he really does need to talk to someone about it, and he's already asked me if he could, I just know the anxiety it would add to my life.

And the truth is, that I just don't always feel that loved by him, mind you though, it's not his fault. It's not like whatever he does makes me feel unloved, I just feel like I'm impossible to love and not deserving of it. He really does his best to counteract all of that, but I dont think it's really up to him- I think only I can really change how I feel. I mean, I can tell him that I need him to tell me he loves me a million times, which I do, and ask him to sit around hugging me for a million hours, which I do, but he can't really change how I feel. I mean, I find myself convincing myself that I'm impossible to love and that he must be lying to me or just trying to be nice, and that no guy really WANTS to be with me, and I know that's just terrible, not to mention really taxing on him.

And I know that there's no normal amount of time for these things, but I feel like there should be. My boyfriend thinks that I just let the stress of him being in the hospital get to me which is why I had such a random flashback. I don't know.

To be honest, I think I've just been living in shock even though I've tried to play it off like I'm not in denial or anything, and I don't think I've been living in "denial" really, but I think I've just been trying to convince myself that this isn't my life. That I can make it go away because I didn't plan it so it's not my life. And now that its set in that I can't I just feel helpless.

Not that therapy hasn't helped or anything, but I guess it could only help so much when I sit around telling myself that this is someone elses life and not mine.

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atm1
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On him talking to someone: would you feel comfortable with him meeting with the therapist (or someone else legally bound by confidentiality rules)? This can be a therapist who has no idea who you are, and he doesn't have to use your real name when talking about you. Had you thought of that option? Could it be a possibility? I think even just one session for him to talk about it without you around might really help him. To me, there's a difference between a friend going to someone else talking about me and a friend going to a therapist to talk about me... I don't know if you feel the same way.

And on the next thing: I want to offer a seriously big hug. I know exactly what you mean, and you do have the right attitude towards it. It is something you've got to work on and there's a limit to how much he can do. You sound like you're going in the right direction, so the only answer I have is that incredibly frustrating one: it takes time.

One thing to remember: even though you can't make it go away, you are not helpless to improve your life. In fact, based only on what I know about you, you have been taking concrete actions to help yourself and make a difference in your life and the lives of others. When you feel helpless, remember that you have made progress and that progress is because of you.

I do encourage most the survivors I have worked with in my support group to find a way to feel like you own your experience and your recovery. For some people, this means writing down what happened to them. For some people, it's telling their story aloud to themselves or to a close friend. For other people, it's taking a good look in the mirror and having a good cry. They key is thinking to yourself "This is my life and I can make it better."
For me, going to a support group made a big difference in making me feel like I owned what happened to me and making it feel real. The single most empowering experience was when I spoke at an event and told the story of what happened to me.

So, my advice is really just to keep doing what you're doing. I know it may seem like it's totally unfair and like you're not getting better, but you are, bit by bit, baby step by baby step.

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hs123
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I wouldnt mind him talking to a therapist, not my therapist, but a therapist. Really though, the person he wants to talk to is his dad, who has been my teacher for 3 years, and even though I just graduated, I don't want him to. And, he would talk to my parents, and I don't want that. I do plan on telling my parents, just on my own time, because I know I can't handle it right now.
Also, money is an issue, and his parents wouldn't understand him wanting to see a therapist without him explaining to them in detail why he wants to.

I know he needs to talk to someone, I just don't know any good options. Maybe if there was some sort of support group for the partners of survivors? I don't know.

Also, I've been to support groups, but really, I just feel pathetic. There are people who have been through so much worse, and I just feel like an idiot. It was good at first, but then it just started to not help at all. I know there are no real degrees of "badness" when it comes to these things, but still, I feel like, why can't I get over it already? These people are still standing and if I were them I never woulda made it out alive!

I don't know...

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hs123
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Is there such a thing as support group for partners? I think that might help him a lot. If anyone has any info on it that'd be great.

I feel really bad for everything I've put him through, even though I know it was his choice to help me through it.

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Heather
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There can be: you or he can ask around in your community or through your healthcare provider. If you fill me in on where you're at, I'd be happy to help look for you, too.

It might also help him to read some good books on the matter. I'm a big fan of "The Survivor's Guide to Sex" by Staci Haines, and Ellen Bass and Laura Davis also have a book expressly for partners of sexual abuse survivors called "Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child." It's not only applicable to childhood sexual abuse, either.

I'd remind you that trauma cannot be quantified. Years and years back, I had a very sad exchange with a young woman in Bosnia who was the ONLY person she knew who had not been brutalized in the violence there. She had horrendous survivor's guilt, to the point that she was suicidal. the fact that she had not suffered directly herself did not make her trauma any lesser than those who had. I've been abused in many ways, and personally, I find that my trauma from my sexual abuses -- one of which was violent and severe -- pales in comparison to the scars and baggage left from years of verbal abuse.

You're probably the only person in a support group thinking you're an idiot.

Everyone deals with trauma differently, and any one given thing that can happen to a person does or does not traumatize people in different ways. You also can never say how you'd react in a situation you haven't been in: it's one of those things a person just can't predict and you only find out once you're in it.

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Stephanie_1
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hs: In addition to what Heather has said, if talking to someone is something that he feels would help him, what about an online support group? Because you've spoken openly with us here about your process in healing and asked for ideas to get you through the tough times, I know that you can understand the power of talking to others even when you don't see them face to face.

I know that After Silence is a non-profit organization that has a message board. Part of their board is a section for secondary survivors (friends, partners, and relatives) where he would be able to talk to others and gain ideas and support much like what we do here. There are other online resources and boards as well - you just want to be sure to check into them closely and see who runs them and what types of resources they offer.

[ 06-11-2008, 08:55 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

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hs123
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Thanks, I will talk to him about the books and support group things and see what he thinks. Maybe online is better seeing as he's very closed off emotionally, he doesn't like talking to people he doesn't know very well. He's a very private person and he really thinks for days before he actually says anything.

I am really worried about him though. Mostly because I can tell that it's affecting him but he doesn't want to talk to me about it which I guess is understandable. Some nights he asks me not to talk about it all to him because he knows he can't handle it that night. Though, it's not like I talk about it to him a lot, or even somewhat frequently unless something happens like a flashback and he's there.

I feel so bad when i have a flashback. I'm trying to remember what atm1 said, because I do think it's helpful to remember that it was his choice to help me through it. But still, I feel bad he was even presented with that option.

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Heather
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You know, given how very many women are sexually abused and assaulted, a heterosexual man who has at least a handful of female partners WILL likely have a partner who is a survivor at least once in his life, if not more often. His partners who are survivors may not always disclose it, but that won't change the fact that they are survivors, nor will it keep there from being any impact in the relationship.

You didn't rape you. There's no reason for YOU to feel bad that your partner has a partner who is a survivor.

As well, if you stay together long enough, he'll likely have to weather some kind of bad or tough something in his life, be it the death of a parent or friend, a mugging, a car accident, what have you. And then you'll get your turn to be the support for him with a trauma. In intimate relationships, we get close to people, we share burdens. It's not a bummer when you care about someone: it is a way to demonstrate love and care, even if it's hard or uncomfortable.

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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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hs123
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So, I know this and I understand this, but I still feel bad. I still feel like I've placed this burden on him that's slowly going to ware him down till he's got nothing left and then it will have been my fault.
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Heather
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I think that you're presuming it's somehow a lot tougher to be the partner of a rape or abuse survivor than it actually is. For real.

It just is NOT that hard. Abuse of any kind is most debilitating, by far, for the person who was abused. Supporting a survivor isn't anything close to as hard: it just is not. heck, I support abuse survivors almost every day, and have supported more than one partner who has been abused. I am here, I am whole, and I am just fine. And if I have provided help to any of those people who I cared about, it was worth any temporary discomfort or upset I have experienced.

So, if being supportive of a partner working through a trauma is THAT tough for someone, chances are good that person is going to have a tough time with long-term relationships, period. Again: bad things happen to people we care about. If we stay close to people for long enough, we are going to have to deal with those things, and probably more than once.

And no matter what, you're taking other people's responsibility for yourself, and that's not fair to you, nor is it fair to someone else. He CHOOSES to be with you and see you through this. Not only did you not choose to be assaulted or abused, taking ownership of his choice to care for you and work through this is actually somewhat disrespectful. It makes what he chooses for himself about you, not him, and kind of disempowers his choice. See what I mean?

Sometimes, when people get in a pattern of self-blame for one thing (and with rape, that's common, even though self-blame is never accurate), it kind of spreads out and starts covering other things. But there certainly is a point at which self-blame can kind of become a certain kind of self-absorption and emotional or interpersonal mypoia. It's totally understandable, but it's something you want to try and work past, both for yourself as well as for others who care about you. In fact, if you want to focus your energy somewhere when it comes to this, it makes more sense to focus on getting out of that pattern than it does to dwell on it or enable it like this.

[ 06-11-2008, 10:51 PM: 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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hs123
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Kindof... I know it sounds like I'm being self-centered, but I don't feel like I am. But who knows, maybe I am.
And maybe it isn't that hard for him, but I don't know, because he would never tell me if it was. That's what I worry about. He would never tell me.
So all I really know is what I observe. Part of me thinks I should just let him go ahead and talk to his dad about it because I know he wants to, but part of me is too scared to have anyone else know- especially adults right now. Not that I have anything against adults, they're just more likely to tell my parents, and like I said, I want to tell my parents when I'm ready, I don't want it just sprung on them from someone else.

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Heather
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Then perhaps you need to tell him that YOU need him to assure you that when it is just too hard, or he needs some time away or for himself. That's not an unreasonable request.

None of this sounds like anything bad you're doing. please know that I get it, and I also get and remember times of being in that kind of space. But I also think this kind of space is actually a barrier both to your own healing as well as in relationships. It's a lot tougher to help and weather helping someone who keeps insisting they are a burden than someone who knows they need help and support and who gladly -- and obviously, within reasonable limits per what one person is capable of and is stating as their own limits -- lets you help and support them when that is what you want to do.

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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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hs123
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But I do let him help me and I've made it clear that I need/want his help. I want his help, I just worry that maybe he helps me so much that it's like, smothering to him.
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Stephanie_1
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In large part, being in a relationship is about communication. This communication isn't just about communicating needs and the good things, but also in talking about anything in your relationship that you have a problem with. As a partner in this relationship he should know that it's okay for him to tell you when he can't handle something at the moment - and with that understanding that you're going to allow this setting of boundaries.

As Heather said above, long term relationships are about the good times and supporting one another through the tough times that you'll face with life. Right now you're needing his help and he's offered it to you. Just the same, if something happens to him or something happens that he has a tough time with he'll know that you're there to support him a he's supported you.

When I need to talk or something reminds me of being raped one of the first people I turn to now is my boyfriend. The one thing he's told me is that it's difficult for him sometimes to know that he can't turn back time and make things better for me, but in understanding that he can do what he's able to in the here and now to make me feel safe and give me someone to talk to anytime no matter what it is. His family recently was going through some really tough times and we spent many nights talking until four when I had to be awake by six because he needed to talk.

I used to feel the same way that you do now, and it's definately a normal feeling. That balance allows the relationship to flow through and on. He made the choice to stand by your side and support you, and he's still there. Let him support you now while you need it and you can be his support later when he needs it.

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September
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Another survivor weighing in, in hopes this helps to reassure you.

I used to feel incredibly guilty for placing this burden on my partner, too. I felt like we'd never have a normal sex life, and I perceived myself as self-centered and needy every time we'd had a long conversation about my abuses. It just seemed really unfair for me to ask my partner to go through this with me, when he could have a much less complicated girlfriend.

Over time, I came to realize that I had it the wrong way around: I'm not responsible for my partner's choices - he is. He's choosing to be with me, because he loves me. If he didn't feel it was worth it, or if he just did not want to deal with something like that, he'd have left a long time ago. It's his choice - and there's no need for me to feel guilty about that.

I'd also like to second what Heather said - it's not really possible to be in a relationship for a while and not have to support your partner in something. Life can get tough like that, but it's not a burden to help someone you love through a difficult time. I've had to be there for my partner, as well, and that did not feel like a burden to me, either. It's just something you do when you're in a relationship with someone, you're there for them.

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hs123
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SO I understand this all but I feel like it's almost beyond me to not feel this way.

I mean, I'm sure it's the same as when I try to support him and he feels like he's smothering me, but I can't get rid of that feeling. I feel like September said, "I felt like we'd never have a normal sex life, and I perceived myself as self-centered and needy every time we'd had a long conversation about my abuses. It just seemed really unfair for me to ask my partner to go through this with me, when he could have a much less complicated girlfriend."

Like, that's exactly how I feel and I don't know how not to. I know it's because I care about him so much that I feel this way, I care that he's happy and I don't want me to be the reason he's not.

If that makes sense...

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September
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How about this for some perspective:

Do you remember what you felt a couple of days ago, when your boyfriend was really sick and you ended up taking him to the hospital? How'd that make you feel? Did you feel that he was a burden and that you'd much rather not have to deal with an ill partner, or did you focus on being there for him because you love him and he needed you?

I'm pretty sure that it's the latter. And maybe that'll help you understand what motivates your boyfriend to stick by you and help you through this.

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hs123
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Obviously I wanted to be there for him because he needed me, but this isn't like a temporary thing. this is something i have to deal with for the rest of my life...
I mean, obviously I would also be there for him if god forbid he came down with something awful and he was going to have to deal with it forever... I don't know anymore, I'm really confused...

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hs123
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Also, I know I've developed an unhealthy dependency on him, and even though I try not to let it show (because mostly, it's not my actions, it's just how i feel- like I won't survive if he's not there for me) I think that adds to why I feel so badly.

It's something that I'm trying to fix- (again, not my actions because I can control what I say and do- but my feeling like I always need him with me) I'm trying to not feel like that, I try to make myself realize that we weren't always going out, and I was fine when we weren't. But right now I feel like I need him with me always, and I think it also makes me feel like I'm a burden to him.

I mean, I think he feels like that too, but on a much lesser scale. I mean, we've had discussions- because though we want to get married, we both realize that things could fall apart somewhere down the line- and he's expressed to me the feelings I'm feeling, that he doesn't knwo what he's gonna do if something happens and we don't get married, and he can't find someone he connects to as well...

I don't know anymore, I think I'm really confused... (I know I said that before, but even more so...)

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hs123
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I'm sorry for posting again, but I think maybe I just need to write it out and hope that someone out there is reading it- because right now I just feel like I can't talk to anyone in person about it. I mean, I can't get the words out but I want to.

And I keep trying to talk to my boyfriend about it but the words just don't come. I know they will, but they aren't right now. And it's stressing me out, because the more I hold it in the more anxious, uptight, and jumpy I get.

I saw him the other day, like I really did. And of course there's always human error which I keep trying to convince myself that I was mistaken, but I know I wasn't. It's just not something you forget I guess. I mean, unless he like, has a twin or something, but it's not someone I would forget, I wish I could but I can't. And it really just freaked me out. And not that I want him to remember me, but I looked right at him, and HOW CAN YOU NOT RECOGNIZE SOMEONE YOU DID THAT TO? Like, at the same time while I was seriously having an emotional, mental and physical meltdown, I just wanted to walk up to him and be like "REMEMBER WHAT YOU DID TO ME?" I felt such like, I dunno... Whether it's him or not I just got this awful feeling like, he's still out there, and I'm so freaked out by it, and rightfully so.
And I want to tell my boyfriend so badly. He knows there's something wrong, I mean, I told him I needed to talk to him, and he was just like, sitting there waiting for me to say something and I couldn't/can't.
I really just feel so messed up right now, I can't even understand it.
I have this need to have my boyfriend next to me every minute of the day because I'm so scared, and he doesn't even know why. I just want to be held by him all the time so I feel like nothing bad can happen to me then. He doesn't ask, because I think he knows something is up.
I just feel like I'm jumping out of my skin.

Admitedly I feel better just typing this and knowing it's out there, but I think I'm going to show this to my boyfriend since I can't seem to say it.

Uchhhh... I dunno anymore

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September
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hs123, how are you doing for support systems outside of your partner? Do you have any close friends? How is your relationship with your parents? Do you feel comfortable being completely honest with your therapist? Because you're right, making your partner your entire support system is rarely a good idea.

I'm not suggesting that you tell your parents and friends what happened right away, but if you do have some good relationships there, it might help you to slowly open up to them, so you don't feel like the only person you can rely on in this matter is your boyfriend.

I would also encourage you to give that support group another try. I know you said you felt like 'an idiot', but I assure you that no one thought that of you, and I am sure that you'd benefit from being able to talk about your experience with other survivors.

As for seeing your abuser again - have you mentioned that to your therapist? That would probably be the best place for you to work out how that made you feel.

Just breathe, alright? I know what you're dealing with right now is just overwhelming, but you'll get through it.

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hs123
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I have 3 other friends who know, and I talk to 2 of them, only 2 because the other won't speak to me anymore after I told her. I mean, I'm not fully comfortable talking to them about it, but I try to because I know my boyfriend doesn't like to hear about it but he'll listen if I ask him to.
My parents, well my parents are NEVER home. They commute, so most of the week or sometimes consecutivce weeks, I'm actually alone or at a friends house. And beyond talking about boys to my mom on a very rudementary level, I don't talk to them much unless it's a financial issue. Also, they're getting a divorce soon (I don't know what soon is for them, I just know they both told me they want a divorce) so they're really enthralled in themselves right now.

It's not that I'm not honest with my therapist, it's just something I haven't been able to tell him yet. Like, physically haven't been able to get it out.

I'm not comfortable going back to a support group. I'm really not comfortable talking to strangers (in person) about how I feel, or listening to anyone talk about their abuses. It really just makes me nauseaus.

I'm trying to stay calm which I feel like I'm doing okay... Should I not tell my boyfriend about what happened?

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hs123
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Honestly though, I think I'm only calm because it hasn't even fully registered, minus my throwing up after I got home that day. I mean, I know what happened, but I'm just in this like, OMG state of being. I don't know how to describe it...
If any of that makes sense...

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It makes perfect sense, hun.

It's unsettling to run into the person who did something like that to you. Three times now I've randomly run into a stranger who assaulted me a few years ago (in bright daylight, in the middle of a well-populated park, no less), and each time it left me feeling out of sorts for days. I felt some of the same things you described: anger that he was still walking around, free to hurt others like he'd hurt me; fear of being recognized and at the same time upset that he wouldn't recognize the person who's life he altered so much. It's tough, and the way you're feeling now is perfectly understandable.

If you want to talk to someone about it, I see nothing wrong with mentioning it to your boyfriend. If you can't get the words out, then, sure: printing out this thread and showing it to him, or even just writing hi a letter, sounds like a good idea.

As per your therapist: Are you comfortable discussing this with a male? Does he have any experience counseling abuse survivors? If you feel good about this therapist, and it's just a matter of not being able to say what's on your mind, have you considered letting him know there's something you'd want to talk about, but can't, so that he can ask you some questions to draw it out?

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Johanna
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hs123
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My therapist is a woman now. I feel comfortable talking to her, I just havent been able to say it. I don't even feel comfortable saying I need to talk about something, though i don't know why. I mean, I know it'll come out soon enough, I'm not very good at holding things in, even though I try to a lot- just, the sooner the better I guess...

I think I'll show my boyfriend this... Maybe he will be willing to come to a session with me. I don't know if that will help, but I always feel more comfortable when he's around.

I dunno, I really just feel like I'm jumping out of my skin. I try to get out, but all of my friends are out of town, and there's really nothing to do here. I try to just go for drives at least, but still... And my boyfriend works during the day- I see him at lunch but not most of the day. I'm about to start work soon so hopefully that'll be something to occupy me.

I just feel confused and I dunno... Not right.

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hs123
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Also, my therapist does have experience counseling abuse survivors...
It's just always like, I feel so much better one week, and then I sink back some of the way to where I was before, and the next week, better, but then I just sink back part of the way.
Make sense?

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hs123
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I don't kjnow what's wrong with me. im so anxious, I'm so jumpy- i dont know what to do with myself. I haven't been able to show my boyfriend the post just out of pure nerves, so he's also freaking out because I'm freaking out even though, I did tell him I needed to talk to him- I just haven't been able to say anything- so I'm pretty sure he knows something is wrong since I sat in a room with him for 15 in silence just staring at him.

I don't know what to do with myself. I feel so jitery and I can't relax- and I feel sick to my stomach. My parents are gone for 2 weeks (as usual...prob my dad for longer) so I'm just sitting here freaking out. I tried to do stuff all day long but it didn't help. Everywhere I DO go I freak out that I'm gonna see him. I'm actually less anxious sitting here alone, but whenever I hear some noise in the house I freak out that it's him.
My boyfriend says he'll stay with me late tonight cuz he can tell I'm freaking out, but I just don't know. he told me to take the anxiety medicine my doctor gave me, but I don't know if I should.

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atm1
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You might want to consider the meds at some point tonight because they will almost definitely help you sleep and make you less likely to remember dreams.

You do know what's wrong with you: you've had a very upsetting experience. What you're feeling is completely normal. For months I was terrified that my perpetrator would show up at my college, despite the 3000 miles. Once, when I was visiting home, I saw him driving, and I almost slammed head on into his car because I freaked out so badly. The near accident didn't help (we were each going at least 40mph in opposite directions, and a crash would have definitely been fatal for one or both of us). I then pulled over and puked all over the side of the road... it took me about a week to feel normal again.

I know it's tough, and if locking every door and window and checking them four times each is what you need to do to feel safe, then do it. It might help to not be alone in the house... have you considered having your boyfriend sleep somewhere else in the house, so that you have someone there if you need them, but don't have him right there in bed with you?

I really encourage physical exercise, too. It's what I do when I'm having major anxiety problems I can't get under control. After some amount of exercise, the body often just looses it's ability to stay so tense... It's an idea.

Good luck hun. I know it's really hard and it doesn't make sense and it hurts and you just want to feel better... and I also know I can't really help with any of that other than say, I know.

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hs123
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It helps to some extent. It helps to know someone else felt the same way at some point. I don't know though.

My boyfriend can't stay the whole night, his parents will kill him. He just said he'd stay till I fell asleep. We live next door to each other, so he's there when I need him, and if he hears something he'll go check for me and all.

I just feel sick to my stomach, and i don't know how to make it go away, and my mind is just racing constantly.

I don't know what to do anymore.

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hs123
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And I'm sorry I'm posting here so often, I know yall are all busy.
It's just seemingly the only thing that makes me feel slightly better, I don't know why.

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hs123
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So last night I was obviously freaking out so I tried a million things to make myself relax, I tried just laying with my boyfriend hugging me, we took a hot bath, and I was even listening to relaxation tapes he brough me--so I took that medicine, which only made me tired (but I guess that's good enough) but I was still freaking out. So my boyfriend stayed with me until I fell asleep.
And though I'm still groggy this morning, I still feel really anxious (i know that medicine isn't long lasting.)

But more importantly, I keep feeling the need to read all of these rape survivor stories. And I think that's why i was freaking out so badly last night- and I know it's not a healthy thing to do, but I keep wanting to read about rape so much. But in particular, I read this story, http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/jill/2008/05/10/beyond_rape_a_survivors_journey and it scared the bajesus out of me, to the point where I started hyperventilating and i didn't realize it until my boyfriend walked in and grabbed my laptop away from me.

I know it's not a healthy thing, but I've started wanting to hear what's happened to other people... I don't even know if that's normal, but either way they still scare me to death. I'm going to tell my doctor this when I see her next...

I also showed my boyfriend the post and he was really upset and he started crying and I felt so bad that I'd even told him. He said it was okay, but just that it's hard to see me in so much pain and that it's upsetting that there could even be something that adds MORE pain. So we just layed in bed with each other and he hugged me until I fell asleep finally.

I don't know what to do anymore. I think maybe I AM going to try the support group thing again. Maybe that's a healthier way to hear what other people are going through.

But I don't know.

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hs123
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So I'm going to try the support group again, my boyfriend is gonna take me.

I'm feeling the need to be with my boyfriend 24/7 right now, and I don't think it's a good thing. I just feel so much better when he's with me, and I want to keep that feeling. He's been staying with me till I fall asleep every night, sitting on the floor holding my hand.

I have such trouble going to sleep right now. When I close my eyes, the image of the person is burned into my mind. It's awful.

Also, my boyfriend wants to put off sex now- but I want to continue on- I want to actually live my life. He says that he thinks we should just put it off till my anxiety calms about seeing the person. But again, I don't want to. I told him all this, and he just said that he thinks it will be much more of an enjoyable experience if we just wait a bit... I still don't want to...

I dont know what to do. I'm feeling very lost and confused right now.
Anyone have any advice?

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atm1
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If he wants to put off sex, then the two of you should. If he feels uncomfortable with sexual activity, then the two of you should talk about it, but you really shouldn't pressure him to do anything. He may be right that it'll be a more enjoyable experience if you're relaxed and not really anxious. During the second anniversary of the worst part of my abusive relationship, my boyfriend and I didn't do anything sexual for two weeks or so. It wasn't that I couldn't have been sexually active then, it was that he was afraid of triggering me and I was more relaxed not worrying about being triggered. So... a hiatus worked well for us. That's not to say that it'll definitely work well in your relationship, but you don't need to dismiss it so quickly.

For me, recognizing those types of needs (needs for space, to be comforted, etc) have been a part of accepting what happened to me as part of me. For me, living with the effects of having been raped IS living my life. My life includes being a survivor. It's part of me, and it's not something I fight. For me, seeing things that way makes it easier to handle. I know it's really hard to get to the point of accepting what happened as a part of one's life (as opposed to seeing it as something that happened to someone, or something to be ignored), but I do believe that it is something to work towards.

And a note on support groups: they don't always help right at the beginning. After the first time I went to mine, I flipped out and was crying uncontrollably for so many hours and I felt like I didn't even know why. Something similar happened after the second one... but then it started to get better. Now, two years later, that group means the world to me, and I run it along with one other woman. I couldn't imagine going through what I've been through without the advice and support of people in the group, and being able to give advice and support others is one of the most rewarding things I do in my life. So giving a group a chance means trying it out for more than one or two meetings.

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