The Longing for Justice

During the years of abuse, I reported my abuser to the Police more than once. He was known to the Police for his interest in young girls. I was not the first and I know I was not the last.

Despite this, the police were about as useless as a chocolate teapot, in fact their reluctance and even refusal to do anything just increased the already huge amount of guilt I was carrying.

I do not trust the Police, I do not trust our justice system. I do not believe I would be safe to report my abuser again. I do not not want to have to go through more disclosure, distressing video interviews and should it make it to court (yeah right) be treated as if I were the one on trial.

Yet I still long for justice. More so, now I am facing the true extent of what he did. I wish I could report him and be taken seriously, without being blamed in any way. I wish I could have my day in court to look him in the eyes while I out him for who he really is.

No punishment is suitable, nothing could take away the pain and horror of what he did to me, but if he could be made to pay in some way for his many sick crimes, it would be something at least?

And if a miracle happened and he actually went to prison, at least I would know no other girls or women could be hurt by him- a responsibility I continue to carry.

Do you ever get over the longing to bring your abuser/ rapist to justice?

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Therapy today- reeling.

I am reeling after today’s therapy session. Some encouraging things, but mostly uncovering the things I have been distracting from recently. I am feeling emotional and sad and shocked and hurt and disturbed. I am grounded, no flashbacks or body memories, but pain, lots and lots of pain.

 

Abandonment, rejection, grooming, helplessness- all came up today. Him, it was him, all of it was him. I cannot escape that anymore. I see what he did, how he got me, the pressure, the lies, the force. I was his puppet, he used me- and that control went deeper than I once believed. It is terrifying the depths to which I was controlled. My body, my memories, my thoughts, my feelings. Everything.

 

We returned to choice briefly, to what that meant and the enormity of admitting of how it was better when there was no choice- I cannot begin to explain what that means, what I admitted and how disgusted I am (with him, not me). It’s all so fucked up. How I could ever prefer the lack of choice- what on earth did he to do me to ground me down that much, to make me prefer “that”?

And then the resulting “does he believe me?” thoughts- which more recently I know to usually mean “do I believe me?” I didn’t ask him. I cannot ask myself. Because how can I believe it? How can I expect anyone to believe me? How can this be true? Any of it? Who does that to someone else? I will never understand, the rapes, the abuse, the devastation he caused. I remember but can barely believe the extent to which he broke me down, how hopeless I felt, how destroyed I was. What I admitted today was true- and evidence of what a number he had done on me- but I am not sure I dare believe it. I am not sure how to handle the magnitude of it all. It is unbelievable.

 

Then there was something new, or something old that now makes a little more sense. My fear of being asked anything more than basic questions, the pressure I feel to answer “correctly”. Normally I push through, sometimes it doesn’t bother me too much, but today, real fear stopped me answering. When my T asked me what words I would use to describe something, I couldn’t push through  and I couldn’t tell him why. I felt under threat- yet I knew I was safe with my T and there is no wrong or right answer.  Something else to explore, I guess.

Now my T is away (again!), no sessions for 2 weeks, a good thing perhaps, time to let this sink in a bit, to do some processing and maybe a little down time (yeah, fucking right). His being away is not helpful with the abandonment issue that surfaced today.

I should at least be grateful the PTSD isn’t bad.- I am, somewhere, I think. I just don’t know that I have the capacity to feel good about anything this evening.  This isn’t OK, it isn’t OK that I had to go through it, it isn’t OK that I have to go through this pain now. I am not OK with it.  It’s fucked up, all of it.

 

 

 

Suvivor’s Guilt

Apparently this is common in people who have experienced traumatic events. I have certainly heard of it in relation to soldiers who have survived war when their comrades did not. Yet it seems less talked about in survivors of rape and abuse. I cannot be the only one to experience this in some form, even if the reasons behind it differ?

Rape and abuse survivors experience so much guilt, it seems to be something almost all survivors have or will go through. Guilt that we didn’t fight back, or didn’t make it clear that it was unwanted, guilt over what we said, or did, where it happened and who was involved, etc. We certainly don’t need any other sources of guilt to contend with.

I no longer struggle with the guilt in the way I used to, at least not with the aspects of abuse we have and are discussing  in therapy right now, but survivor’s guilt- if that is the most appropriate term, is something I continue to struggle with.

Today, for example, it hit pretty hard. I was overcome with emotion after observing and feeling the pain of another survivor. I left the room to cry for her- tears for her came so easily.

I see her daily, but today her suffering was more evident than ever. Without going into specifics (because her story is not mine to tell) she needs money, that she just doesn’t have and is unlikely to have in the near future.

Watching her today left me feeling utterly ashamed of myself and twisted up inside with guilt. I wanted to help her, to give her the money she needs, to be there for her, to do something- anything.

Why? I feel guilty that I am OK, that I can afford therapy, that I can afford to buy what I need (within reason) to make things better for me. I feel guilty that I have moved forward and away from my abuser and I am getting further from the grips of his grooming and control every single day.

I was ashamed of myself today too and I am not even sure why- as part of the guilt perhaps?

 

These are not new feelings, so often lately I feel responsible for other survivors. I want to help, I want them to experience healing, I want them to be safe. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense- but I feel guilty for being safe, I feel guilty for healing. While at the same time I know being in danger, or by remaining unwell, I cannot possibly help anyone else.

I know the rational arguments, I know what I should feel and why- yet this survivor’s guilt, remains. I know I deserve to heal, I know that I cannot help anyone if I do not help myself first, I know I did not abuse her or anyone else and cause suffering. I do not control the actions of others. Yet, I cannot help but feel responsible and guilty. Am I alone with this?

 

The end of body memories?

*Trigger warnings – I have been very honest and open about my body memories, so please take care*

 

Body memories are hell, absolute hell. They have to be one of the scariest symptoms of PTSD- for me at least.

To physically feel something that took place years before, in itself is frightening. To feel as if your trauma is happening or has just happened all over again is terrifying.

It is hard to explain body memories to someone who has never had them and even then my experience of them is likely to be different to that of another survivor. I often describe body memories as sort of echos, but if I am honest, that only covers some of the body memories I have experienced. 

Some body memories feel like just that to me, an echo of a pain that once was. However, as I have progressed in therapy, the body memories have intensified to the point where sometimes I struggle to tell whether it is a body memory or a new pain. For example when I experience abdominal pains, I wonder if it is hormonal or a body memory, yet so often when the memories subside a little, so does the pain. 

 

 

I belong to an internet forum called “Pandora’s Project” and it was there that I first learned that I was not alone-in my experiences.

I read how others experienced body memories and nodded with relief as I read explanations that used the words “body vibrations” and “echos”. They really seemed to fit with what I was going through. 

About 18 months ago, as I was going through a period of disclosing details of my abuse to my T, the body memories intensified. It was then that I turned back to “Pandy’s” for some reassurance. I had begun to experience new levels of body memories that were so utterly disturbing I feared I was going crazy.

*Extra Trigger warning here.*

The pains were so real. My thighs would feel bruised, my hips and lower abdomen ached, my throat would be raw and my jaw tight. My back was painful, and my knee would often give way as I walked. I would suffer recurring Cystitis, worrying mid cycle bleeding and distressing rectal bleeding. These were all so much worse around anniversaries or in the lead up to (and just after) disclosure to my T. It was (and sometimes still is) horrific. 

On “Pandys'” and elsewhere on the internet, I sought answers in the stories of others. While they were difficult to read, they brought me hope and comfort. I was not crazy as I feared, nor dying of cancer (as confirmed by numerous hospital appointments) instead I was deeply wounded by my past. 

I was unable to share any of this with my T, or anyone for that matter, for over a year. I talked of body memories but not the depth to which I suffered. I finally feel more able to share (as this posts shows!) and my T has certainly been aware for some months of the types of body memories that accompany the cycle of disclosure. However, while it was a relief to tell my T, it did not make the body memories go. More recently though, things seem to have changed.

 

The cycle I normally go through when I am bothered by a particular memory or a set of memories, starts off as intrusive thoughts and then turns into nightmares and flashbacks. These gradually intensify and then the body memories begin, which then get considerably worse until I finally allow the memory out. Those body memories become almost unbearable in the days following a disclosure in therapy, and then they gradually fade away. 

More recently that cycle has changed. Despite more disclosures over the last two weeks, I have not experienced the body memories following therapy. I do not dare say that it has changed for good, things are forever changing- but for now at least, I am not suffering in the same way following therapy (see “Spent”). Perhaps that is a risky thing to “say” given that I have therapy tomorrow and it is likely there will be more disclosures?!

 

I think the reason it has changed is because finally, I am able to connect with my memories as I talk about them. In fact I am connected with them constantly now. I have known for a while now that my memories are real, but knowing and feeling are different.

I am now in the process of accepting the reality of my past. I believe my memories are true and real. And now I have nowhere to hide from them (which is scary), when I am talking to my T about the things that were done to me, I am not only telling, I am beginning to feel it too. The last 2 weeks I have told more details of my past and I have felt instant relief. I have come home absolutely exhausted, but not carrying the trauma of my disclosure. 

 

My T has often explained that the body memories appear to be from where I did not feel in the past, where I was subjected to emotional and physical agony, but remained numb and switched off. He has told me that the pain has to escape somewhere.

There have been so many sessions I have told my T what my abuser did to me and I felt traumatised and upset at the memory, but not actually felt how I did (or at least should have felt ) as it was done to me. Instead I would come home to suffer terribly with body memories. 

I feel as if I am finally in touch with my feelings as a teen, I remember how it felt, or should have felt. I see what he did to me- not to someone else- but to me. It is not like watching someone else’s life in my memories anymore, it is mine, I am connected to it. My experiences, my memories and my pain. So as I tell my T the horrible things he did, I am beginning to feel it too.

It is all very scary and very painful. I do not want to talk and feel, I dread my T sessions right now- but wow- is it not worth it when this really could lead to the end of body memories?!

I so hope it is true, I hope this is real. I hope one day soon I will longer have to experience the horror of body memories. 

 

 

 

 

 

PTSD progress

It is no secret (online at least), that I suffer with PTSD. There was a time when it was so crippling, each and every moment was a fight for me.

Somewhere along the way, the PTSD has improved. I have whole days where PTSD symptoms are at such a low level I barely notice them. Unfortunately, they never completely disappear, but hell, compared to this time last year, or 6 months ago, it is such an incredible difference.

I was fearful therapy wouldn’t improve the symptoms, in fact, I was certain it wouldn’t. Talking therapy isn’t supposed to help PTSD- I knew I needed that sort of therapy to deal with the cause, but I never expected it to help with the symptoms.

My T taught me how to handle the symptoms, which helped me manage the PTSD, but I remained skeptical when he suggested that there could ever be an end to the PTSD from “just” talking.

Oh, how wrong was I?

Sure, I am not cured (can you ever be completely cured from PTSD?), but the improvement of symptoms in my day to day life is nothing short of staggering. I more than function most days. Some days, it isn’t just going through the motions, I actually feel like I am living!

Today is a bad PTSD day, anxiety and hyper vigilance mostly. I have not had hyper vigilance in weeks, so immediately I felt frustrated and angry with myself. Yet, a year ago, I could not go more than a day or so without hyper vigilance.

I should not be angry with myself, I should be thrilled with my progress. If I didn’t feel so bad, I should be celebrating such a huge and amazing change. I have suffered for so very long, I deserve to celebrate that progress, don’t I?

So PTSD sucks, I still stand by that, but it can get better, it really can and I do not want to forget that especially on difficult days. It will pass. It has before, it will again.

 

 

Sunday conflict

I feel constricted this morning, my chest aches, my head is throbbing. I hurt.

Yesterday was OK, which is pretty remarkable (and progress) given the intensity of therapy on Friday, but today is different, for several reasons. I guess. Mostly dreams are the cause. I had some disturbing dreams early this morning.

My childhood Church featured and I am left feeling conflicted. I feel sort of churned up inside because I just do not know how to feel or what to think.

It seems that the further forward I go, the more of a need I have. The more I hurt, the more intense that need- which I guess makes sense.

I feel as if I am seeking something but I do not know exactly what that something is. I miss aspects of my past, which confuses me because those things have caused me so much damage. Part of that need is definitely tied up with those things I miss, which causes me so much conflict, because I also have a need (and want) to protect myself.

Inner conflict on a Sunday is not unusual. It is how I felt every Sunday as a teen during the abuse. It is how I have felt so often since, where I have craved the routine we had, the family day it always was, the companionship at Church and the familiarity of it all. Today, that all feels so much bigger, a huge flashing beacon, I cannot ignore. I guess that beacon has been slowly getting brighter recently..

As I type this, I am watching my two children looking out the window at their daddy who is busy gardening. Such joy, such  innocence. The love I feel for them is so strong I could weep. It makes me ache all the more. They are future, they are what matters. Letting go of my past to enable me to fully embrace what I have is the way forward. I want to let go, of it all so I can move forward, but it isn’t that simple, it isn’t just about what I want-what about what I need?

 

 

 

 

 

Spent

Arriving home from therapy, is often difficult, so many times I wished I had some kind of decompression chamber to allow me time and space to adjust.

It is a little different now it seems (equally as hard, but in other ways), now, I am more in touch with who I am now and present and grounded while I talk to my T, it is not so hard to adjust when I return home.

 

Recently, (the last 3 weeks) those 50 minutes of therapy have been completely jam packed. Today there was talking past trauma, but with a different focus and then some necessary redefining of boundaries and equally necessary reassurance from my T. The time was used constructively, but now I am exhausted.

I am home and oh how good it is to be here, laying in my garden, in the breeze. Watching my children play in front of me and listening to the surrounding trees. I love the freedom that I find here and even though I have just said some very disturbing things; here, in my new garden, I don’t feel so choked by those memories.

However, while it may not be the adjustment it used to be, it is not like I am unaffected right now. It is still very hard this evening. I am so utterly exhausted, I feel as if I have run miles or been awake for a week.

I am hurting and I am resentful of that, of it all, if I am honest. I am frustrated at this process and right now, angry at the world.

I feel as if I have no more to give, as if being honest with myself (my memories and feelings together) has drained me of my energy and all of my reserves. I am so very, very done right now. I feel well and truly spent.