International Women’s Day- And I am subdued.

Today is International Women’s Day and I find myself feeling subdued.

Perhaps it should be a day of celebration, to recognise the achievements of the great women who have gone before us and those who are in this world today. Instead, I just feel heavy.

Heavy from the constant weight of being a woman in a man’s world.

Improvements are being made and things are changing, I won’t deny that.. but I am under no illusions. Women and men are not equals in this world.

Today, I hoped to feel empowered by other women. Those who stand up and speak for us. Those who work tirelessly to bring about change for us.

I hoped to find my own strength, to perhaps even celebrate the steps made in my own journey.

Instead, I feel resentful. Instead, I feel beaten down. Again.

Because I am reminded that while I want to help change this world, I cannot. All my strength is used up trying to heal from what men did to me.

 

Trigger Warning here

This morning I woke from a PTSD dream. In this dream my abuser found me sleeping on my front. He climbed on top of me and I woke to find I could not move.  This man holding me down, was so much bigger and so very much stronger than me. My months of grooming, stopped me from crying out in fear, or pain as he did what he wanted to me. This was not just a dream, this was once my reality.

It is not a feeling I can shake easily this morning. I remember that helplessness and more over, I remember his utter power. I cannot help but feel that no matter how strong I feel, I will always be at the mercy of men. If they choose to hurt me, what chance do I have?

Yesterday, my husband and I were being playful in bed. When I shoved my husband in jest, he didn’t move an inch, as he shoved me back, he then had to grab me quickly, before I fell off the bed. Men are so much stronger than me. How can I ever fight back?

This morning, I am reminded what it was like to be utterly powerless. Right now, it seems to me that men will always have the upper edge.

 

It’s not just my own experiences that have me feeling sort of flat this morning. Just look around the world. The recent news story and documentary covering the gang rape of  Jyoti Singh in Dehli. And while that is absolutely abhorrent and the attitudes by some (and I fear many) men there, utterly shocking, it is not limited to India. A “well it happens over there, thank goodness we live in a civilised society” sort of response is not acceptable. Male violence is happening all over the world. In your part of the world, your country, your town, your street. Everywhere.

Look in the UK, at the more high profile cases such as the  Jimmy Saville abuse, or perhaps the Rotherham or Rochdale trafficking. Look harder and you see how the media is getting it so wrong too. Reporting rape as sex. Using terms such as “young girls sold for sex”. How on earth can we end this violence, when we are still calling it sex?

In the USA, on campus rapes particularly, have been making news lately. Where preserving reputation and the lives of boys and men come higher on the agenda than justice and care for the victims, who of course, are largely women.

What about the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Nigera? Again, men. Men forcing. Men controlling. Men exerting their power over women and girls.

And the list goes on. Forced marriages. Female  Gentle Mutilation. So called “Honour”KillingsInfanticide  and Femicide.

How is this equality? How is this anywhere near achieving equality?

Women and girls are dying everyday, because we are still regarded as inferior.

 

Even well known charities are getting it wrong.  This poster by the Salvation Army South Africa on Domestic Violence- a sexualised picture of a bruised women. I’m sorry, but where do I start with this? What on earth are we learning from this? Where is the awareness, where is the advice here?

 

The right noises are being made and I suppose for that I should be grateful?  Except I am not. We are still getting it wrong. Men still rule this world. It is largely men in the UK government for example. White, rich men, making decisions about issues that they cannot possibly understand.

I cannot see the end to male violence. I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel at all here and that is why today, on International Women’s day, my heart is heavier than ever.

Nightmares.

He’s plaguing my dreams again. Every time I close my eyes, he returns to remind me of what was. Except a little different this time, like he is bringing then to now, rather than now to back then….

Forced to return to my home town and back into his trap, into a life, I once knew so well. Another, where I was dreaming that I woke in my bed, to a dark figure above me and pressure on my chest. As I reached out to my husband, it was my abuser who reached back..

Last night was the worst yet, the fear as I tried to flee and he gave chase. No way out, once again.

And it is the fear that lingers, the terror I cannot shake.

 

 

 

 

The nightmare of all nightmares (possible triggers).

was waiting for me last night. Oddly I am calm right now, no grounding necessary, which normally follows nightmares. I am not shaky, I do not have hyper vigilance or even dissociation.

It should be shock, why isn’t it shock? I feel as if my insides have been ripped out. Raw in a way, but without the horror. Am I grieving? Is this grief? I am not sure I know.

 

To keep myself safe, to be sure I do not not over share, I have sort of a rule, to tell only my T and a friend about my nightmares. And if I write them down, I only ever write about them in my journal.

I considered writing in my journal this morning, however circumstances today mean that is a scary process I just cannot risk right now. I have to remain together, without being specific, I have responsibility today and feel a vulnerability that cannot be avoided. My journal is not an option right now.

So, today, I break my rule, I cannot keep this to myself.

I have experienced trauma dreams for years, these decreased about 6months ago, to increase again when we moved house. I have had a lot of dreams lately, about the past, but different to the trauma dreams. They are often about me and him now, not as a teen. They are scary, but in a different way.

Last night, I had a very detailed and (what felt like) lengthy dream. I was me, now, at 31. I was forced to return to his flat, except he wasn’t there, he didn’t (and doesn’t) live there anymore. The building was disused, falling to ruin. Despite my anxiety and a sense of dread, I was compelled to be there, I did not have a choice. My limbs were heavy, I had little control, as if I was a puppet or a doll. Even though I was fighting against it, I was still moving forward, climbing the seemingly everlasting stairs.

Everything was dark, daylight, but dark. I could almost taste the damp surrounding me. The walls were lined with  faded graffiti, the “artists” long gone. I felt increasingly constricted with every step I made, as if the stair well was gradually closing in on me, like a giant hand, slowly curling into a fist around me. It must have been cold, because I could see my breath in front of me, yet I could not feel it. I could not feel anything at this point it seemed.

And after walking miles, it seemed, I finally reached his floor, the door on the right, the faded pink hiding such horrors within. I felt relieved, to escape that stair well, I did not fight as I was propelled forward towards that door.

Then the door was open and it looked so different from reality, the living room in front of me with murky green carpet and depressing yellow walls. It was empty when I entered, but I found myself on a couch. I was seated, staring around, talking to myself. I knew I had been there before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, something was missing, someone belonged here and they seemed to be long gone. It was eerie sitting there looking around.

At some point things seemed to change, as if the flat was waking from a long slumber. Panic rose in my throat as I was suddenly pushed to face a door. The door I seemed to know led to a bedroom, an aging white painted door, already open, beckoning me to enter.

And though I made it to the entrance, I was unable to go in, because somewhere from inside, something began to scream. A scream so powerful it blocked the way through. Then the walls were like screens, showing projections of the horror that room had seen.

I  was trapped on the spot, forced to watch what was unfolding before me. With the scenes of the past flashing before me and the screams of terror passed. I could see it as if it were happening, terror and pain. The screams continued, louder and as if from multiple entities. Strangely, they were like solid objects aiming for me, as they reached me they did not stop, instead they went right through. They seemed to bounce off the opposing wall, before ricocheting back towards me to have another turn.

And somewhere in the chaos, I could not help but remember. I was forced to accept that the horror playing out before me, didn’t happen to a stranger. The girl in those pictures was within me, the woman standing in that room.

It felt as if the room had been sleeping, waiting for me to return. That room remembered me just as I remembered it.

There as a little more, I won’t bore you with.. but WOW, what a dream. I am exhausted now, hurting lots and way to aware of what was. As I said, it isn’t trauma. It is something though- pain I think, I am not sure. I don’t have time for this, I have too much responsibility today, why did it have to be last night? Why do things always have to happen when circumstances mean things are already difficult?

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – feeling bad.

 

Day 2 of feeling pretty bad. Yesterday a flashback first thing and body memories afterwards. Then, understandably I suppose, I had a nightmare last night and another early this morning. I’m hyper vigilant and feeling sore, I don’t know if it’s from body memories or sore from being so tense while I slept, either way it’s not helping things.

I hate feeling like this. It’s been no walk in the park dealing with pain and hurt, but it makes me feel better in a way too. Today, there’s no room for that, I’m grounding and trying to soothe myself through the hyper vigilance. I am also battling with anger. I am angry that I feel this way again, two days in a row- that was so normal just a couple of months ago, but I thought I’d left that behind- at least for now, at least while we are not doing “trauma work”.

I know it’s probably normal and to be expected, I think somewhere in there this is probably a sign of progress, perhaps  a sign of things we’ve been dealing with lately beginning to click into place. I wish I was seeing my T this week, so he could help me find that progress, so I can see that the way I feel right now is actually worth it.

I feel like I’m relying on my T like I did when I first started therapy, while now I am more able to contain the trauma side of things, I’m new to this whole feeling what I feel thing, add in trauma/ symptoms on top and I feel like I need his guidance more than ever. Is that normal? In a way it feels as if I’m going backwards, I want to be less dependent on him, not more…

 

 

My abuser and injustice.

I think this has been brewing for a while. I’ve been having a lot of violent nightmares and I can’t place them, I’m having body memories, but cannot relate them to a particular memory. Last week I was dealing with a lot of irrational fears, I was angry at the way authorities had treated me and paranoid about the involvement of similar authorities now. Though the irrational fears are calmer and paranoia now gone, I’ve been left angry and with some trust issues. I wonder if that is behind the nightmares? Or perhaps it is due to an anniversary last week of an incident I actually reported to the Police right away.

Either way, I am feeling really angry, there’s so much injustice, my own and all around me..

Trigger Warning.

I was not the first to be abused by my abuser.He was well known to the Police for various violent crimes, he was also well known to them for his unhealthy interest in young teen girls. He had even been arrested on several occasions for suspected “sexual contact” with underage girls. He was never punished and their lack of action didn’t just physically allow him to re offend, it also gave him the confidence to do so. He was as aware as I am now, that the Police would not prosecute.

The Police spoke to me on more than one occasion, they warned me to stay away from him, but mostly, they told me off for getting involved. Wasn’t he the predator, just like they said? Why was I treated like the criminal, while he walked free, yet AGAIN?

In the years I knew him, he was arrested numerous times for sexual offences against teen girls. The Police had to know he was guilty, yet with every arrest, he was at most, cautioned and then released. Even after a harrowing video interview, where I had to disclose the details of a rape I had just endured, I was patted on the shoulder, ensured he’d be warned and then I was sent on my way.

I just cannot understand it, how many times can one person be arrested for similar crimes, yet still get away with it?

And how many are there of us? How many have been his victims, before, during and after me? I have spent a lot of time agonising over those potential victims since and those that may still be in danger. I know I cannot carry that, I know I cannot change it, because nothing would be done anyway. Even if I reported now, my experience time and time again has proven that he will not be prosecuted. But right or wrong I do still carry that. I am haunted by the idea that he abused others after me. I know I cannot do anything to bring him to justice, but if there’s something I can do to raise awareness of abuse and to help other abuse survivors then I have to do it.

I know I am not the only one feeling like I got the life sentence, desperately trying to deal with the aftermath and work towards healing from the crime an abuser got away with.

I’m so angry with him and various authorities right now. I am angry that even good moments are fleeting because of the PTSD, an issue I proabably wouldn’t have had he been caught and punished right away. Instead, I was left with no defence, I had no way out, no escape from abuse that then continued for years. I had to endure rape and torture, I was physically and emotionally abused. I had to live for years with lack of choice and only drugs, alcohol and an alternative reality to keep me sane. I was utterly abandoned by the only people who could keep him away from me. He should have been in prison, not free to abuse me.

I am angry about the abuse for sure, but it is the impact on my life now that makes me sick. I want to hold on to what I felt on Monday, when I was so grounded, I was excited for Christmas and for my future. I still feel like I have so little choice, because if I could choose, I would choose to feel as I did on Monday, I would grab it with both hands and never, ever let go. Yet PTSD and memories of abuse seem to rule my life, I do not get to choose when it strikes, only how I handle it. Because of failing of others, my life is affected now, I am tormented now, I am living with it now.

They (he and them) are the reason I have nightmares and flashbacks, they are the reason I lived the horrors of abuse. I blame them for difficulty to be close to others, my fear of the dark and of being alone. It is their fault it took me years to enjoy sex, that still I cry in my husband’s arms so often after. Their fault that I feel dirty and ashamed, that I feel worthless and unlovable and their fault that I struggle to find my Faith, that I feel anything but fear and anger towards God.

I blame them for my inability to feel anything for years. I blame them for my jumpiness at my own children’s touch. I blame them for my controlling nature and my need to always blame myself.

They crushed my self esteem, I lost my self worth, I was a shell for so very long. I blame them for my inability to ask for help even now. I blame them for my shame that I feel this way. I called Samaritans tonight (a UK helpline, who are fantastic btw) because I was feeling desperate yet too ashamed to call anyone I know and right now, I blame them for that too. Because I shouldn’t be here feeling this, I shouldn’t be ashamed of what I did not do, I should not be tormented by horrific memories, nor carrying responsibility for crimes I did not and would never commit. Not only did he abuse me, but they failed me spectacularly and right or wrong, I blame them and him for all of it right now.

I hate him and I hate them. Where is my justice?

Angry

 

I am angry at everything right now, even the slow internet connection and the need to reboot my netbook before logging on this morning, has pissed me off. I want a break, I want a fucking break. I felt so good on Monday, even after a nightmare-but the nightmares have continued and the body memories began last night. I am hyper vigilant and experiencing dissociation on and off. I’m snappy and grumpy with my husband yet, he just continues to hug me and tell me he loves me- which makes me feel so guilty..

 

Perhaps this is my fault? Maybe for actually thinking I could get some down time over Christmas, or perhaps I am being greedy?  I have felt good at times this week, I’ve been more grounded than normal up until today. I have enjoyed time with my children, I have felt excitement for Christmas and the future. I’ve discussed moving house with my husband with little anxiety. I had dared to hope that I was really going to get a bit of a break. I didn’t expect miracles, but I really hoped things were going to be better for longer. I thought my downtime was beginning.

Am I expecting too much? Am I over eager? Perhaps I need to be more grateful for those wonderful good moments and for the grounded periods this week. Maybe wanting more is wrong?

 

It was an anniversary last week, which I completely ignored, I was dealing with so much other stuff that kinda took over. Perhaps this is a slightly delayed reaction to that. I almost hope it is that, because then it will pass on it’s own with time. I fear it’s not that, I fear it’s a memory that wants attention, which I am just not ready for and not just because I don’t feel ready but because I can’t. I won’t have the support of my T as of Friday for 3 weeks. I cannot face it alone. Do I need to put into practice containing? How do I contain when I don’t know what it is I’m containing?

 

I’m so angry; with me, with him, with the world and with God.

 

 

Dream battle.

 

 

Night time again and fearful of sleep.

I want to celebrate my defeats of you

to revel in my victories and in reclaiming power.

But undeterred by my wins, you lurk in the shadows.

With little defence in the light, you infiltrate my sleep.

In my subconscious you await, preparing a cowardly attack.

As I give in to rest, you are plaguing my dreams

and the only escape lies is my consciousness.

But in what my mind cannot not recall

my body will remember

I can not and will not, ever forget.

.