Can I Unlearn? (rape)

Discussion in 'Rape and Abuse' started by ThePhantomLady, Aug 24, 2015.

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  1. ThePhantomLady

    ThePhantomLady Safety and Support SF Supporter

    I lost my virginity to a rapist when I was 13.

    I always frowned when the girls in my class were talking about what they had done with boys. I had decided I wanted to wait till I had found the right person.

    The then 19 year old mildly retarded son of my mother's good friend decided to change that.
    I later learned he wasn't allowed to be alone with anyone, especially not little girls!!. But I had often been alone with him in his room playing with toy trains. His mother often baby-sat me and for some reason I seemed to have a calming effect on him.

    He had once in a tent tried to feel me up but I just laughed it off. And earlier that day he had kissed me and I tried to avoid it.

    The very few times I have opened up about it for some reason I have twisted the truth a bit and made it seem like he didn't know what he did.

    He had planned it, he even tried to find the right music to play, made sure we went for an extra long walk in the snow so I'd be col and he could sit next to and try to warm me... from some boys I after overheard them wondering why he had suddenly been asking them advice on sex...

    He wasn't more retarded than being capable of planning it.

    He was very harsh on me and it hurt so bad and it has made me scared of sex ever since. It's been 12 years now...

    I know it doesn't help that all the men in my life were abusive and my ex forced me into prostitution...

    But will it ever get better?

    I only told someone about the rape 2 years after. I was so ashamed, and had to go alone with all the fears and worries... (never have I been so happy to see my period).
    I told my mother first, but only after having had flash backs to being molested as a little girl by another young man. My mother didn't react like a mother should. (my single mother doesn't like children and was never capable of loving her own daughter).
    She did believe me, that it had happened... asked me technical questions about what had happened, but then she broke my heart. She told me I must have provoked it, she called him an "innocent boy" and that he had to be pushed into that situation; my own mother asked me if I teased him. And then she made me promise her to never tell a soul; she didn't want HIM to get into trouble. I was then for years dragged along to events in his family so we could keep up the 'facade'. Which two times almost gave him the chance to repeat the rape when he followed me to the bathroom.

    He'd follow me around town too, insist on pinning me in on the bus so I couldn't escape... I tried to pretend I didn't notice him and was listening to my music and often had old ladies think I was rude for not speaking to the 'nice young man'.

    I haven't been able to physically mouth the words since. I didn't tell anyone really before my boyfriend and I told him in an email. My best friend I've known for 7 years doesn't have a clue.

    My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship and I'm so scared of our first time together. Somehow it has been easier when I knew I was going to be abused.

    I think I got PTSD. I still have dreams about it, I sometimes out of the blue smell his aftershave and get sick. I can still feel his hands on my arms sometimes, especially when I wake up from those nightmares. It was why I started cutting, trying to get rid of the sensation...
    And I can't handle when the wind blows my hair into my mouth. When I finally came home that night I spent hours in the bathroom trying to remove hairs from him from my mouth.

    My boyfriend understands my worries, he's there for me all the way. I trust him like I've never been able to trust a man in my life. He wants to take it slow, and assures me our relationship is not about the physical things. He says he'll still love me if he can never touch me.

    Please tell me it's possible for my body to unlearn all that fear?
  2. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Seeing is Believing Forum Pro SF Supporter

    It is possible for you to heal. But lingering scars will depend as each person reacts differently.

    I do not know about denmarks health system but is there a way for you to talk to a professional like a Therapist about it? Shouldnt be doing this alone as it was a major trauma.

    Rape is rape. No matter who the person is. No one has a right or an excuse to do what they did. You did nothing wrong or provoked him. Your mom was a responsible adult and should have kept you away from him but what was done was done but for now foward just make sure you are getting help and protection from this guy.
  3. ThePhantomLady

    ThePhantomLady Safety and Support SF Supporter

    I have sought therapy, but have been pushed way down the waiting list. When I finally managed to stammer something about this attack during one of the initial talks with someone there (not a therapist) I was met with that since I had survived for 12 years maybe this wasn't so important. And was made to feel that I had come too late for help.

    I was so baffled by that response I didn't get to say more.

    I can't expect to see an actual therapist before February at the least. I saw a therapist some years ago but I never even implied any form of sexual abuse and faked my own recovery to get out of difficult questions.

    And there's always the fear that my mother will find out I'm opening up about what happened. Despite all the horrible things she did, we're trying to have a civil relationship... I have left her several times, but without her I will lose all contact to my family.
  4. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Seeing is Believing Forum Pro SF Supporter

    Rape is one of the most complex things a person can endure and react differently. Some can have trauma appearing 20 years later.... it does not matter what the length of time is. Have you researched on your own or gone to sexual assult survivors support group they have this type of thing in the US. They even have agencies specializing in sexual assult for free. Maybe you can google it and look up your home country's outreach programs and see if you have an organization that you can start talking with and yes that type of attitude is common with people who are not familiar with rape victims or was very new to counseling or something like that.

    Remember, everyone is different and reacts different. There is no cookie cutter model of what trauma looks like after it happens.
  5. Jabez

    Jabez Well-Known Member

    Hi Phantom Lady;

    I'm sorry you have had such terrible experiences. Especially that you had such a cold, unhelpful response from your mother after being so brave to tell her what had happened! So much of what you have said resonates with me, maybe if I share some of my story in my answer it may help you to find some hope. I haven't reached the end of my journey by any means, and don't have all the answers for myself let alone for someone else, but maybe it will help a little?

    I was also raped, for me it was when I was 7. I never told anyone because I was afraid they would tell me, like your mother did you, that it was my own fault.
    Somehow I got on with my life, throwing all my energy into my education and avoiding dealing with the pain. There were some other "incidents" over the next 10-12 years.
    I battled with suicidal thoughts and depression all through my teens, but still managed to do really well at school and went to university where I qualified as an allied health professional. I studied units in psychiatry and counselling as part of my degree, and used what I had learnt to try and "self-therapy". I felt like I knew everything that I needed and that therapy couldn't offer me anything. I can really relate to your comments about being "too smart for therapy"!
    While I was at uni I met a fantastic guy, we married just after I graduated, and nearly 21 years later we are still married with three wonderful, teenaged kids.
    It hasn't been easy. When we first started exploring sex, I freaked out. Everything from the rape was still there, and I did the only thing I had really learned to do to cope, which was to dissociate. Unlike you, I wasn't really honest and open with him about what was going on, so while he knew that I had been abused in some way he didn't know the extent of it. But we did still learn ways of being together which were okay and satisfying for us a lot of the time. It took a lot of patience from him, and unfortunately because of my lack of honesty there was also a lot of hurt and confusion for him at times. I think you are very wise to involve your boyfriend in understanding what is going on for you before your first time.
    After years of muddling through by ourselves, I finally realised that I couldn't do it all on my own and tried therapy for the first time about 6 years ago - nearly 30 years after the rape! I felt like I knew all the techniques and information on offer - I had used many of them with my own clients! - but having someone to talk to helped. At that time though I wasn't ready to face talking about the rape, and like you I found myself desparate to please my therapist by "getting better" so that she would feel successful. So I did. For a bit.
    Nearly three years agin now I had surgery which triggered a worsening of my PTSD symptoms. I went to one therapist but it all fell apart as I tried again to please her by doing well and recovering but just couldn't do it. Again I found there were no new techniques or understandings. And I wasn't perpared to deal with the rape. So I took a break, pretended to be better for a while. Did some counselling with the minister from my church. Just over a year ago at my ministers suggestion I tried a third time with a new therapist.
    This time I deliberately sought out someone with expertise in past child sexual abuse, and told her up front that this was an issue, but I wasn't sure if I was ready to deal with it. And I made a promise to myself that I would never lie to her about how I was doing, no matter how ashamed I was or how much I wanted to make her feel good. That promise has been incredibly difficult to keep at times, especially after I started self-harming. I have wanted to lie and pretend to have stopped. But I take a deep breath and remind myself that I promised myself to stay honest so that I can look after me and my loved ones. It is her job to look after herself and to find her satisfaction and success in her job by helping me to a genuine recovery even if that takes longer and more effort. I want to please, but that is not what I am there for. This is the one indulgence I give myself, to be the one being helped for once, and it takes discipline to make myself accept it sometimes!
    I still don't find that my therapist really has any new techniques to offer, but the real value has been in talking to someone who understands and has helped create a space where I can explore what it means for ME - not the theory that makes perfect sense when I apply it to everyone else, but connecting with and understanding my feelings within that framework. Until very recently I didn't even consider that I had been sexually abused, despite knowing what had been done to me. All that theory and knowledge I had didn't connect to my personal experience at all!
    About six months ago I shared the details of the rape with my therapist, and things got really, really difficult. I don't know if the body ever forgets - I am certainly still experiencing a lot of body memory sensations. I do know that I had learnt ways to avoid being overwhelmed by them. In the past this was mostly by disassociating. Now I am having to learn new ways that are healthier for me and for my husband. Finally after all this time I am starting to understand what I feel and where it comes from. And recognising that and with more patience, understanding and support from my Saint of a husband (he's not perfect, but he has put up with a lot!) I have discovered that sometimes I can be uncomfortable and choose to accept that because I love him and want to be with him. Sometimes I can be uncomfortable and not be okay, and I can say "not now" or "not like that", and he will accept that because he loves me and wants to care for me. And sometimes I am not uncomfortable, and it is fantastic for both of us. I hope with time and more healing there will be more times like that!

    In a way, I guess, this probably sounds really depressing because it has taken me so long to get to this point, but please don't be discouraged! My big mistake was not starting to get help much, much sooner. You are on the right track. You are sharing with your boyfriend right from the start. There ARE good men out there, and even with the messy way I handled it the bulk of our life together has been good, and while sex has been a bit of a minefield for us it has also been good a lot of the time. Hopefully for you, you can avoid a lot of the difficulties because he knows what is going on for you from the start. Therapy can be useful. I hope you can find a therapist that you relate well to, and a way to remind yourself that you are there to be helped not to make them feel good about themselves.

    I'm sorry this is so long, and so focussed on my experiences. I really do hope that you find some encouragement in it.

    All the best in your journey. Please keep us updated.

  6. ThePhantomLady

    ThePhantomLady Safety and Support SF Supporter

    Jabez I am so sorry to hear what you have lived through.
    But I am happy to hear that you have a good husband, even if there were misunderstandings. You actually do give me a lot of hope. Thank you!

    Telling my boyfriend about it was all a part of me trying to push him away at the start of our relationship a year ago.
    In a twisted way I wanted him to leave me because he seemed to be way too good for me... so I started telling him about all the problems and reasons why I'm just unlovable.

    I trust him when he tells me he'll stop even before I say it, that he'll do everything he can to feel if I start to feel wrong.
    The fear is still there, that he can't control himself... Technically a 'normal' man should be able to contain himself. Normal men don't rape.

    I keep hoping that once I get to be with him and start to be respected that I will slowly learn, that my body will learn that it can be okay and it's not something dangerous.

    When I was 21 I was in a club, usually people didn't notice me much when going out; especially not when I was with my former friend who was an aspiring model. But there were a few times guys would grab me and dance with me and I just couldn't handle the touch... One night a guy I had danced with (and to my surprise it was actually fun) wanted to kiss me... he didn't hold me or anything, it was 'just' a normal snog on a dance floor but as soon as it was over I ran out of the club as fast as my shoes could carry me.

    'Normally' when people have gotten too close, or my ex 'lovers' (they don't deserve to be called boyfriends) or clients did what they did to me stepping over all my boundaries I just zoned out and froze...

    I have this irrational and silly fear of kicking my boyfriend in the groin or punching him... moving on to the fight response...

    I actually tried to research therapists specializing in this, but I can't find any close to me. I am barely surviving on my benefits and even if the therapy ended up being free I can't afford to travel for it.
    My boyfriend would be happy to help me financially, while he's not the richest man in the world... but because of my past with being prostituted I have had to tell him to never give me money or expensive things. If I ever felt like he was paying me for my time it would just ruin everything.
  7. Jabez

    Jabez Well-Known Member

    I can see that the experience of being prostituted would make it really hard to accept financial support for your boyfriend! Especially in the early stages of your relationship...

    With a good therapist, even if they havent specialised in past child sexual abuse they should be able to support you and learn more. It would probably help them to know that it is an issue for you early so that they can research and learn. If you are not getting understanding and support you may have to try another therapist, although I know it can be hard to start again - and it sounds like the availability and waiting lists are a problem. So I really am hoping the one you see in February turns out to be the right one for you!

    I can relate to the fear of lashing out at a loved one. My husband did get hit a few times when he tried to cuddle up while I was asleep, but he soon learnt to make sure I was awake before he made his move. I have only ever once hit out while awake, and that was when a doctor walked up behind me while I was sitting at the ward desk writing notes and he came straight up and put his hands over my shoulders and grabbed my breasts - so I don't feel TOO bad about it! But for many years I have lived in constant fear that I will over-react one day, and that fear contributes to my hyper-vigilance and takes a lot of energy.
    My big fear was that I would hit one of the kids if they touched me while I was asleep, knowing that this was what had happened with my husband. So as soon as they could walk my children were taught to wake me by coming to the foot of the bed and tapping my foot from where they could reach me but not be hit or kicked. I feel sad in a way that they have had to learn this way, but for them it is normal as they have never know anything else - they don't even realise they were taught it, it's just what they've always done - and it was to protect them. Recently my daughter commented that they have never had to wake me up - they just walk into the room and I'm awake by the time they reach the end of the bed. So adaptations have been made all around and everyone is safe, and the kids apparently don't feel like they have missed out or been at risk or anything.
    I'm sure you and your boyfriend will also find what works for you so that you both feel safe and comfortable - for me, trusting myself has been the biggest issue!

    Hang in there, and be gentle with yourself. You are dealing with a lot of huge issues.

    Hugs to you!
  8. ThePhantomLady

    ThePhantomLady Safety and Support SF Supporter

    What a smart tactic with your kids, especially because they never had to deal with it feeling strange to them. I think I'll try to remember that if I have children some day (I do hope I will, and can)

    Ugh that doctor! He deserved that!
    My former GP got a bit too close to me last year and I had to change doctors. I don't know if what he did was proper or not, but I didn't feel comfortable... (He was testing my joints as he found out I was double jointed. One of the tests he did was standing close to me and holding my hips and asked me to bend over to touch my toes). It might have been how it's done... but I didn't like it.

    I don't know why I trust my boyfriend so much... but he does everything to make me feel at ease. He's patient and he seems to really care. Usually any form of touch I just can't handle; even accidental... but for some reason I want to feel how it feels when he hugs me.

    This fear of touch actually got in the way for me this month... I went all the way to London to see my favourite actor and idol in a big play. After I just panicked and couldn't get myself to go to the stage door and ask for an autograph. I couldn't even handle the thought of the shoving and pushing from the other fan girls. It's been eating me up!
  9. Jabez

    Jabez Well-Known Member

    Apparently, the doctor mistook me for his girlfriend who was a nurse on that ward... At the time I believed him, although looking back I'm a bit cynical. I was so scared he would accuse me of assault it took me a while to realise there was no way - he was terrified I would accuse him of sexual harassment!

    The way your doctor examined you sounds like the way the physios I work with would check scoliosis, although there's close and there's too close in how close you stand... But even if the test was valid and appropriate there are ways to go about things that help people to be more comfortable, and to know they are safe even if they're not really ever going to be fully comfortable in some situations. Like discussing what is involved and letting you know your options and what control you can take. I have found a good female GP which helps a lot, but not everyone is that lucky. I've had really mixed experiences with the various specialists I've seen over the past 3 years, from one who responded to the subtlest of non-verbal cues and helped me cope with being touched by letting me do everything I could for myself and keeping up a running commentary on what he was doing when he had to be hands on, to another who triggered the worst flashback / panic attack I have ever experienced - even though my husband was right there in the room with me - because he insisted on using a high-tech positionable chair instead on one I could climb in and out of. Are you more comfortable with your new GP? I hope so!

    I hate public transport, nightclubs, large shopping centres, anywhere where there are lots of people really! I work in a profession where touch is a part of my every day activity, but it's on my terms. i get really uncomfortable when I'm not in control of it.
    I believe our bodies and minds are hard wired to need touch to be well, but the trauma of abuse messes with our ability to tolerate that much needed touch. im not surprised that now you are feeling safe and secure with your boyfriend you want to feel what it's like to be hugged by him, but at the same time find that scarey because of your past experience.
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