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Scarleteen Boards • discovering past assault
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discovering past assault

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 6:50 pm
by Elias
So I have intrusive thoughts, terrible ones, about pedophilia and rape, both about being the victim or the perpetrator, and I've never addressed it as explicitly as in the sentence I just wrote. (Once in art therapy when I was maybe 16 and I mentioned intrusive thoughts my art therapist started talking about our subconscious desires and I felt so disgusted that she'd misunderstand, or rather make assumptions about, such a horrifying topic that I dreaded bringing it up again.)

The thoughts aren't exactly explicit in nature but they're still disgusting, and it makes me feel uncomfortable about being around children and older adults, especially men. Combined with the trauma I have from being emotionally and verbally abused by my father, those thoughts often involve him, or make me feel like I should be scared of him.

Now I'm going through the evaluation process my country has in place for anyone seeking gender affirming treatment, and the most recent doctor in a line of people involved in the process wanted to discuss my answers to a bunch of mental health surveys they have you do, and among them were my answers about intrusive thoughts. It was my first time talking about them with any healthcare professional in many years. We also talked a bit about past trauma and I mentioned that my father has been abusive for many years.

What took me aback was the doctor's next question. He asked if I wanted to look into past occurrences that could have caused my intrusive thoughts, for example assault. I've never been assaulted. Not that I remember. But I know you don't always remember traumatic experiences like that. Hell, there's entire disorders like DID out there that revolve around suppressing memories of trauma.

I'm sort of scared. I told my doctor that it's probably just a combination of mental illness symptoms and other non sex-related trauma that took hold and decided to show me stuff that horrifies me because that's what mental illnesses do, but it felt in part like I was trying to convince him, or myself, of something. I'm getting very paranoid remembering now that I used to be extremely sex repulsed (and sometimes still am to a lesser degree) and I keep thinking - what if there's some other reason for that, which I haven't addressed? What if there WAS something when I was younger, that I forgot, that caused me to develop sex repulsion and assault related intrusive thoughts?

I feel like I'm going a little mad. I am seeking trauma therapy for other things anyway, and now I'm considering bringing up my intrusive thoughts and looking into what could have caused them. Part of me feels like, I know it sounds pathetic, like I'm looking for horror stories that aren't there, or like I'm trying to be like friends I have who've been victims of assault. It sounds mad, right? I feel mad.

If it turns out there was something like that, what will that knowledge do for me? If there wasn't, I'm going to feel awful and ashamed of even having considered the possibility. I'm going to look back at the current me and be disgusted for making up such awful things about myself.

I feel so horrified and disgusted for paying attention to my intrusive thoughts and for being curious. I feel like I'm fabricating things. And it feels suspenseful, like the only way of getting through it is asking the question: did something happen to me? Even if just acknowledging that the question exists feels bad. Fuck. I guess I'm bringing this up once I get trauma therapy.

Re: discovering past assault

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:19 am
by Sam W
Hi Elias,

The first thing I want to say is that it sounds like you're doing a really good job building a support network for yourself when it comes to dealing with trauma and with the effects of mental illness. That can be a really hard process at times, but going through it can be an incredibly worthwhile step.

I would absolutely bring up your intrusive thoughts when you get in to see the trauma therapist; even if they're not tied to a repressed memory, they do seem to be tied to the trauma you carry as a result of your father's actions. They're also causing you active distress, which is something a therapist of any kind would want to know about.

We can't tell you whether there are memories you're repressing that are playing a role in these thoughts, but I can tell you that, if that turns out not to be the case, you're not a horrible person for having considered the idea. For starters, it was brought up by a healthcare provider during an evaluation, so it's not strange for you to wonder if it could be playing a role. But more than that, there's nothing shameful or horrifying in trying to work out where these thoughts are coming from. While you don't want to take intrusive thoughts at face value (in other words, having intrusive thoughts about an action doesn't mean you want/will do it or that it's happened to you), working out when and why they're likely to occur for you can be helpful information in coping with them. Does that make sense?

I wonder, do you think it would help to, whenever you start worrying about the question of repression, to remind yourself that you'll work on it in therapy and then let the thought go? That might keep it from consuming a bunch of mental energy and spinning off into new worries.

Re: discovering past assault

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 10:32 am
by Elias
it sounds like you're doing a really good job building a support network for yourself when it comes to dealing with trauma and with the effects of mental illness
I don't know if it's enough, I've got friends with varying experiences with trauma and healthcare, and several of the professionals I am in contact with know about the state of my mental heath, but I'm not actively in contact with any therapist or psychiatrist. Still, I feel like it's time to try and get trauma therapy, I'm bringing it up with the doctor that monitors my depression medication next week.
I can tell you that, if that turns out not to be the case, you're not a horrible person for having considered the idea. For starters, it was brought up by a healthcare provider during an evaluation, so it's not strange for you to wonder if it could be playing a role. But more than that, there's nothing shameful or horrifying in trying to work out where these thoughts are coming from.
I really needed to hear this. I might not be able to get past the shame as is, but I can remind myself of this when I start feeling ashamed of wondering what the cause for my intrusive thoughts is. For the time being, I think that'll be enough to be able to let it go.

Re: discovering past assault

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 4:12 pm
by Elise
Hi Elias, I'm so glad to hear that Sam's reply was useful to you. She is absolutely right, there is nothing shameful about trying to work out where your thoughts are coming from, and it would be a good idea to bring these up with a trauma therapist when you start seeing one. Talking to your doctor about getting a referral for a trauma therapist sounds like a great next step for you, it feeling right for you is a good sign. Part of building that support network Sam mentioned, is continuing to find the right kind of health professionals that you need, and practitioners that suit you. You are also doing well at ensuring that your professionals know about your mental health.

If you'd like any resources about determining if a healthcare provider is a good fit for you (there is absolutely no issue in needing to try a few therapists of the same discipline until you find someone that works for you), please let us know.

If you would like to update us on how you are going, discuss other things, we are here as always on the boards and chat here at Scarleteen :)