Posts Tagged Rape

The World Has to Change

About a month ago I was running. It was dark out. I saw this kid/young teenager acting strange on the trail. I decided to slow down and wait to see what he was up to. He turned off the trail onto a street. So I started running again. Next thing I know, he jumps over a fence at me past this building. I took off running as fast as I possibly could until I caught up to three people walking on the trail in front of me. This isn’t the first time I’ve had someone try to jump me running in my lifetime. It scared me, but I brushed it off.

Tonight I was loading groceries in my car when a man in the parking lot came up behind me. I just loading the last bag and turn and see him with a knife and he asked for money. Fight or flight. I just said, “No” real firmly and quickly got in my car and took off. I saw him return to another car in the parking lot out of the corner of my eye. Driving home, I broke down in tears. The night before I had more nightmares about someone trying to break into my home – it’s a re-occuring nightmare. I must have these kinds of nightmares and nightmares of someone trying to rape me every week. You would think by now they would stop. And then things like this happen and it reminds me why they don’t stop. The world is still an evil place and cannot be trusted. I got home in tears and my boyfriend immediately came to see what was wrong. I should have called the police. He says maybe he should go with me from now on.

I text my brother, and he says I should get a flashlight as bright as a football field to fend off attackers and “The world is full of people looking to take advantage of those who they think are weak. You were raised in one of the worst cities in the country. Next time you run into one of these assholes let them know.” Why should I have to fend off these people? Why should women have to feel afraid? Why can’t the world be a better place? I don’t want my children to have to deal with this. The world has to change. I have to help make this world a better place. This is not acceptable. I should not have to be afraid every day, every time I turn a corner, every time I come and go from my home, every time I go to sleep at night and check that my door is locked over and over, every time I walk down the street or to work, or on the bus, or anywhere. This has got to stop.

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Reflection: Steubenville Rape

I was a rape victim. I was raped by a person I thought was my best friend since high school when I was in college. When I went to the school clinic for help, the way they treated me was as if I was the problem, as if I asked for this, as if I made him do it, like it was my fault and I was so terrible. When I told my ex-husband about the rape, he insisted it wasn’t rape, it was regretful sex. It was rape. Years later I received an email from my rapist apologizing for what he did to me. He realized how very wrong what he did was. He had to live with it for many years and though I really never wanted to hear from him again, he had to say something to make him feel better.

This is probably the first time I am expressing any kind of impartial opinion on here. And possibly the last time. All of the stories about the Steubenville rape have been disturbing me today. It is interesting that I have a deep compassionate feeling for both sides. People have been complaining about the sympathy for the two boys, but there has also not been sympathy for the rape victim involved and another article surfaced the victim being attacked once the boys were found guilty. I wonder to this day if my rapist still feels remorse for what he did or since his email has been able to go on with his life uninterrupted by it. I know I have not. And I’d like to think he has not either. And I can only hope as a result it had changed him to be a better person or at least stop him from doing this again. I will never get an apology for how the people at my school clinic treated me or for how my abusive ex-husband dismissed my rape. But, I can know that they were wrong and that I did nothing wrong to deserve what had happened to me.

I did not report my rape and I did not report my ex-husband’s extensive physical and mental abuse. I wonder to this day how things would have been if I had. I admire the courage people have to report these things and speak out against them. I am relieved that people are actually talking about it now rather than sweeping it under the rug even if I do not agree with everything they are saying. A couple weeks ago I started following Erin Merryn on twitter and her appearance on Katie Couric’s show and I am so impressed and proud of her for what she is doing to try to pass Erin’s law in every state in the US to help save children from child sexual abuse. I think it is time we talk about these issues and we stop belittling them and allowing them to happen. Rape, child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, it is all unacceptable and we can all do our part to stop them by saying they are not acceptable.

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Quest: B Causes C, Cognitive Restructuring

I’ve been quiet for a while now because I’ve been so busy reacting. Weeks ago I left off in therapy and in my last post, working on memory of the last (or first, however you want to look at it) trauma of the 3 traumas I experienced that I haven’t addressed. The past 6 months have flown by faster than I’d ever want my life to go. My memory problem keeps popping up. What was 6 months ago feels like yesterday and what was yesterday feels like days ago.

We remember that a major PTSD treatment goal is to integrate dissociated trauma material with associated memories so that the fabric of our memory becomes like one continuous memory. The problem is that traumatic memory doesn’t mesh with the way we want to look at the world. The dissociated memories often contain misinterpretations and inaccurate conclusions that were formed under great duress, while strong emotions and arousal continue to interfere with processing.” – Cognitive Restructuring Chapter, The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook

Every day I am making unproductive thoughts. I still stay “I’m sorry” too often. I still make decisions within split seconds in order to “protect” myself. The Chapter on Cognitive Restructing addresses a lot of the automatic thoughts and distortions that I am dealing with day in and day out.

A —-> B —–> C

A is the Activing (or upsetting) event. B is the Belief (or automatic thoughts) that we tell ourselves about A. C is the emotional and physical Consequences (or arousal).

I can think of several situations in the past few weeks where I have done these things.

  1. Flaw Fixation – Fixation on what went wrong
  2. Dismissing the Positive – Discount positive things, as if they don’t matter
  3. Assuming – Mind reading, jumping to conclusions, and fortune-telling (or what I call anticipating what will happen and trying to prevent a negative outcome except you have no control over the situation)
  4. Catastrophizing – making things much worse than they actually are
  5. All-or-None Thinking – or Black and White Thinking
  6. Shoulds (Should Haves) – “I should have done this better…” “I must be strong”
  7. Making feelings facts – I don’t know if I have this problem since I still have a hard time even expressing my feelings in the first place though I have really made an effort to
  8. Overgeneralizing – “Things always go wrong”
  9. Abusive Labeling – “I am the only moron who didn’t do this right” which I said tonight actually
  10. Personalizing – Seeing yourself as more responsible or involved in a given situation than you really are. I do this at work ALL the time.
  11. Blaming – I don’t do this one either and think I’ve talked about it in a previous post because I have a real pet peeve with people not taking responsibility for their own mistakes. I own up to my mistakes even when I am not really responsible (see Personalizing).
  12. Regrets – “If only I hadn’t…” In therapy I still catch myself doing this in regards to my marriage and divorce on why I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship earlier and leave it much earlier, even before marriage.

So now that I torn myself down more, how do you fix this? Which I’m sure everything I’ve worked on is not to be thrown away. But, apparently I need a refresher course in this.

1. A Daily Thought Record

You know those “Things That Bother Me” posts and reflections I do? And the Babel-fish cartoons? Yes, those are good for this. But, I need to dive a little deeper. What are my thoughts? How much do I believe in them (rate them)? What have I distorted? Then be more self-compassionate. What would you say to a friend if they had said or thought these things?

The next chapter is on Confiding Concealed Wounds, which talks a great deal about Trauma and Avoidance, something I have discussed a lot. “People might find ways to avoid the topic by staying occupied with trivial distractions such as work, cleaning, or exercise.” I know I can be guilty especially of the exercise and talked a good amount about. But, this is for another day. Good night!

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Major Breakthrough: Understanding What It Is I’m Afraid Of

I wasn’t going to write about this because it is all too personal, but it is too important to pass up. Today in therapy, I had a major breakthrough on understanding why I was so afraid of “being alone.” Yesterday I was talking to someone about all the things I have planned and the time I’ve spent with my friends and they said to me, “You’re afraid of being alone, aren’t you?” This stuck with me. I couldn’t quite agree that it was being afraid of being alone that causes me to keep so busy and to be very social. But, yes, I have been wondering for some time, why is it my whole life I always keep busy? If I am not doing something, I feel like it is a waste of time. My therapist kept asking questions to help me get at exactly what it all meant. He asked me to clarify what “waste of time” means to me. I could clearly identify, to me, it means not enjoying life and not doing something that matters to me or applies to my goals.

He asked how does it make you feel if you “waste time.” I said, “aggravated.” “Unhappy.” He asked me to think about the times when I felt the most despair and on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the most despair and 10 being the least, what it was. I could quickly identify 3 of the worst times in my life where I felt the most despair. And this should be no surprise.

1. When I realized my ex-husband was abusive, I felt like I could not do anything to get out of it, that I was fully responsible for putting myself in it, and that I had lost all of my personhood

2. When I was raped in college and I was told a) to shut up b) that I wasn’t really raped and c) to get over it by the people I cared most about in life. This too removed my own sense of self.

3. An incident with my caregiver growing up that also removed my sense of self and having needs and wants

All of these times I felt so much despair, what I categorized as a 1 (the worst) that I wanted to not be alive to just escape the pain of them.

I came to the understanding that I’m not afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of feeling so much despair that I keep busy to avoid that feeling. In these past two weeks I have found I am quite content being alone. I never get bored. I never hate being with myself. I actually love myself and have a lot of compassion for myself. But, now I fully understand what it is I’m afraid of. And thinking about it, is enough to make me cry. But, I also know I am incredible for getting through all that I have gotten through. I am a strong woman who has regained my personhood. I am me. And no one can ever take that away again. Ever.

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Quest: Broken Babelfish Cartoon

Quest: Broken Babelfish Cartoon

I had set this Quest a long while back, actually at the beginning of starting to play SuperBetter. It has now been 6 months that I’ve been playing SuperBetter and finally sat down and did this quest for a few scenarios in my life where I have been hypervigilant. It didn’t exactly come out like I envisioned it, but I did it! And it has helped me become more aware of situations where I am hypervigilant and misinterpret what people are saying and actually mean and have a much better understanding of why I do it, which I’ll talk about in a future post on Expectations and Hypervigilance.

Here was the original Mission / Quest:

Mission #3: Help Fix My Broken Babel fish – Every other week

This mission got turned down already! But, I think it would still be fun.

I have what I like to call a broken Babel fish. I hear people say something and think they mean something else, which is usually something negative. I almost see drawings being involved here with what was said, what was heard, what they really meant. Then I’d figure out why I thought they meant something negative and stop doing that. This is something we could do once a week or every other week.

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Quest: Challenge Guiding Fictions or “Supposed to” Beliefs

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Last week I had some not so great moments. I could tell my self-esteem was slipping. It was like I had an engine going down and I needed to do something about it fast before I crashed. I noticed my negative self-talk was back and running rampant. I pulled myself out of it by thinking about the positive things that were going on in my life and instead of getting caught up in my anxiety, looked outward and was caring towards others. I realized this could be a little dangerous because I have just been avoiding what I wanted to say. But, I admit I feel a zillion times better and things have been going a lot better. I reminded myself that if I exhibit confidence, that then it will seep out into my relationships and interactions with others too.

The other thing I did this week was finish the next chapter in the Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook, “Supposed to” Beliefs That Lead Women to Stay or Go Back. After finishing the chapters on guilt, I was amazed how easy this went. There is no doubt in my mind that leaving my abusive relationship with my ex-husband was in my best interest and the best decision I have ever made. And there is no doubt in my mind that I never want to be in an abusive relationship again. 

This week “Guiding Fictions” or “Supposed to” beliefs were on my mind. In one of my conversation with my SuperBetter ally, we talked about beliefs that have been very deep rooted in myself. These beliefs may have caused me to make certain decisions along the way in my life that I would not have ordinarily made if I didn’t have them. Some of these beliefs I have become aware of, especially the 7 “Supposed to” beliefs they discuss in the workbook chapter.

Some of these beliefs I realized I developed as a way of coping with what was going on in my life. I don’t know how many of these beliefs I’ll be able to recognize and see how they’re impacting the way I interact with the world. But, at least I am now conscious of the basic symptoms of post traumatic stress that I can now stop and question and even change what I am doing and why I am doing it, which may be the beliefs behind them. I realize that this can take a lot of work and I’m willing to do it because I’m going to feel a lot better and push what I can accomplish in life beyond what I thought was possible.

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Quest: Guilt & Forgiveness

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I know this is another post on guilt, but I needed to continue to work through to end of this week. I asked Thomas Skinner, a US Army veteran who writes about his battle with PTSD on http://www.understandingPTSD.org, earlier this week, what things have worked for him to overcome guilt? He responded with:
“working on forgiveness, and living, thinking and talking in the present.”
I knew what he meant by living, thinking and talking in the present as I’ve worked on that a lot already in earlier Quests in SuperBetter, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by forgiveness…

Until later in therapy this week, I worked through that my guilt is very connected to the belief I built when I was a child that everyone should be forgiven no matter what. I developed this belief to help me cope with the way my caregiver treated me when I was a kid. And then when I met my ex-husband I applied it then to when he first showed signs of abuse, that he should be forgiven. “It’s ok. He’s just having a bad day and things are difficult and that’s how some people react to that.” The same idea could apply to myself. I never knew what I always did that was so bad it made my caregiver angry as a child and then again with my ex. So I needed to be forgiven for what I did that was wrong that made them so angry, which was nothing really or nothing in my control. I need to forgive myself. I need to let go and realize I can’t possibly be responsible for everyone. And I will make mistakes and it’s ok.

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