PTSD is a very real, very scary part of many lives. It may or may not accompany other diagnoses. I am no expert, but I do know through a lot of therapy where mine came from, and why it is a real part of my every day life today.
When I was 9 my fathers friend lived with us. He raped me, and I was too scared to say anything. It was not even talked about until at 15, during a visit with my therapist, it was revealed. By law, she was required to tell my father of what had happened and to this day, my father has never been able to forgive himself.
When I was 17, my friends and I went to a convenience store to pick up a girlfriend from work. We parked in the wrong spot, according to one specific police officer. I have a lot of missing memories of this event (I assume I blocked most of it) but what I am able to recall keeps me in a permanent state of fear of any police officer. He was unhappy with “17 year old punks” hanging out there, even though we had been there for 3 minutes or so. He ordered us to all show our license (I had been driving) and demanded us to all get out of the vehicle. He then proceeded to show us his “power” and assaulted all 3 of us.
I remember him violently pushing me to my knees on the pavement – it hurt so much. He grabbed my purse out of the car and searched it. He then told me he needed to search me. I told him no, I wanted a female officer. Then he says “you have no rights, I’m in charge” as he decides to feel over every single inch of my body while I am crying and pleading for him to stop. He finally pushes me onto my stomach on the ground. My friends were helpless as they watched what this cop was doing to me, their hands were tied. We tried to file a complaint but no one believed us. After all, he was a police officer and we were just kids. Seven months later he nearly killed a 15 year old boy after beating him and slamming his face into a brick wall. He finally met with justice. Now, lets move forward another 2 years.
When I was 19, I had been dating a man for a while. We decided to move in together, that would prove to be a huge mistake. During a family trip with my brothers to the beach, one of my brothers (very irate) yelled for me to step in the bathroom. I walked in, and my 2.5 year old son had the perfect shape of a hand print bruised on his rear. It was a large hand print, not even possibly mine. I broke down realizing that this fresh bruise was caused by the man I was living with. Immediately when I returned home, I tried to kick him out of my apartment.
When I confronted him, he informed me he wasn’t leaving and neither was I. As I was leaving the apartment, he grabbed me and threw me down the entire flight of iron steps. I landed on the concrete, barely able to move. I was thanking god at that moment my son was with my mother.
With my brothers and my father by my side, I managed to safely move out of the apartment. For about a year straight I had severe anxiety and paranoia. Lets move forward 2 more years.
I am seeing a pattern here. As I come to terms with the previous attack, I am attacked again.
By the age of 21, I wasn’t too big on dating because of previous experiences with some really violent men. I was content with where I was. I did have many good male friends – but I did not date. One evening things took a very dramatic turn in a direction I could have never in a million years predicted. One of my male friends that I had worked with, raped me.
It was a very brutal attack. I was severely bitten, punched (repeatedly), and yes actually violently raped. If you wish to read my story, the grim details of the brutal rape and beating when I was 21, I will share it. When I am ready of course. I have already written about it, just have not posted it – not yet. I never brought my attacker to justice because I was afraid of losing my job. Being a single mom I could never afford that. I had to face my attacker every day at work for another 8 months.
So if anyone wonders if PTSD is real in a woman who has been a victim of any type of assault – the answer is yes. It is very real. I often wake up sweating from a terrifying nightmare. I find comfort in the arms of my husband who knows, understands, and supports me with love and compassion.
Photo by Capture Queen, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Last reviewed: 3 Sep 2011