Highlighting Stories of Survivors
In this story, you will read about a “boyfriend” who abuses his girlfriend. The phrase “You Are Not Your Trauma” has affected my heart so profoundly. As my heart was breaking for what this young girl had gone through, in the end, she knows Truth. What man used for evil, He will use for His glory. Somehow, someway, her story will give the strength to someone else to SPEAK UP and GET OUT. Her strength and courage leave me in awe. I’m so proud of this young lady.
A TRUE story of this young lady being controlled, manipulated, abused, and her suicidal ideations. She is NOT a victim. This girl is a survivor and a child of the King. Please be mindful that I will not tolerate judgment or hateful things if I leave comments.
I don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I will start at the beginning. I had a very happy childhood; it was normal until it wasn’t. When I was about 14, almost 15, I was in a courtship with a person older than me. It seemed so innocent at the time. We were almost always supervised by my parents or his.
When you are 14, you start being interested in boys and all that fun stuff. So it was nice to be noticed by someone of the opposite sex. I had no idea what he was capable of, and I am still finding out what he was capable of to this day. I honestly don’t know when it happened, but he emotionally and psychologically abused me.
He also molested me. There, I said it. It’s not something I like to talk about at all. Some people in this world are super manipulators. They can play you and get inside your head; you have no idea what hit you. That’s what this person was like, a master manipulator. A snake. That’s a good word to use, the other ones I want to use involve curse words, and I do not think that is appropriate in this context.
I was afraid. All the time. Fearful of making my abuser angry. Afraid of him hurting me. Afraid that one misstep would be the end. That fear came to a boiling point when he attempted to force me to kiss him by holding my face with a blanket over my head and pulling me towards him. I fought like hell, and he backed off. But that wasn’t the end. I knew that he would hurt me if I said anything.
He didn’t even have to threaten me. He had such control over my mind that I knew without him saying anything. Then the molestation happened. I do not want to disclose that and don’t have to. I still didn’t say anything. I remember he came to my bedroom window after everyone was asleep and told me it was best if I didn’t tell anyone. That scared me. He scared me.
But I did eventually say something. And it didn’t end; I wanted it to end. I tried to forget everything that happened and never remembered it. Maybe if I ignored it, it would go away. No, that is not how life works. Then the police were involved, which was also terrifying. Me, a 15-year-old child, being interviewed by a detective (who, by the way, is a wonderful person. I am forever grateful for how he helped me. Yet it is hard for me to talk to him now. He reminds me of what happened.) The person went away. I only saw him a few times after that.
But it Didn’t End
Even though he was gone, it didn’t end. I remember not even knowing what I liked to do. I didn’t even know who I was anymore without him. I tried to put this whole situation behind me. I “forgave” this person, but I didn’t because I did not understand the scope of the damage he did to me.
Abuse, no matter the type, changes a person. It eats away at your brain. You get paranoid. Jumpy. Nowhere is safe. No one is safe. Trust is a prized commodity. If I bestowed my trust upon you, you better treat it respectfully. Because the moment you give me a reason not to trust you, you are gone. And there is no going back.
Returning to “Normal”
Growing up after that incident, my childhood returned to “normal.” But I didn’t feel normal. I felt out of place. My innocence was gone. I became very hyperactive. I could not sit still and chatter nonsensically, but the nights were the worst. I felt I needed to be doing something to avoid being still constantly. The nights were so bad. Alone at night with my thoughts, that’s when the dark would try to creep in.
When I got to college, I worked three jobs and took a huge class load. I was so depressed. I would fake being happy. Just put a smile on my face, and everything would be ok. But those dark memories I had repressed for so long kept creeping up on me. I began to have panic attacks and pain in places I had not experienced. These panic attacks stemmed from my trauma, but I didn’t know it.
I got a big girl job right before I graduated college. I was over the moon. I was good at my job. I met someone, he was sweet, and I gave him some of my precious trust. I thought I was “happy .”But I wasn’t. Those master manipulator traits the person that hurt me had, this person had too. He would make jokes at my expense, gaslight me, and only care about the physical side of our relationship.
Now this person was a real charmer; he decided to break up with me a few months before we were going to get married. I remember being so distraught. That beloved trust I had given him was disintegrating. It tore me to my core. It took so long to be able to “get over” him. I should also mention that I don’t trust. Shocker. I know. I am very distrustful of people that I do not know, especially men. I make it a point not to be alone with men if I can help. I do it almost subconsciously. I don’t even really think about it anymore.
Then I lost my job. I was so sad, so hopeless. I don’t even know why I lost that job. I had to move out of my apartment to another one. I didn’t have hardly any money after that move because it took almost all the money I had saved. My depression was at its height.
My parents had to give me money to get by. I didn’t want their money. I didn’t want to ask, but they gave it anyway. I ended up searching for jobs and couldn’t find one. I interviewed for several, and nothing. I returned to a part-time position so I could have some money for my rent. And that was a comfort to me, going back to something familiar.
But my panic attacks, anxiety, and depression were almost insurmountable. At this point, I thought there was something wrong with me. I had everything when I was a child. There was no reason for me to be this way. What is wrong with me?
I ended up finding a different job. I had to go away to training for weeks, only coming home for the weekends. At the time, I was dating other people. I dated some peculiar people. But at that training, I met the forever love of my life. Not expected.
He is unlike any other man I have ever dated. He had no idea of the mental anguish that I suffered daily. I ended up marrying that man, still with this awful job that caused me to be physically ill because I did not want to be there. I still have flashbacks to that job and the horrible things I saw there. It was a dangerous job, unexpected.
Because I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around everyone, I was constantly on my guard (typical for me, but this was a dangerous situation) for anything to happen. And that is just not the way that anyone should live. I got another job now, and I am so thankful for that one.
At this time, my now husband encouraged me to go to counseling. And I did. But I didn’t go for the right reasons. I was fresh married, so we had a lot of getting used to each other. I was learning to trust again. And that was hard. I told this counselor what happened to me, but it was never the focus of what we discussed in sessions. It was helpful for the time.
I was medicated from my first big girl job, which seemed to help a lot. However, I was on a lot of meds. A lot. Too much, and it affected me big time. I felt like a zombie, numb, and it was not an easy feeling. I quit going to that counselor because I thought I was all better now.
Panic Attacks, Flashbacks, Intrusive Thoughts
Fast forward a few months, at home. Panic attacks run rampant. It got so much worse. I would lash out at my husband, and I didn’t mean to do that. He knew what happened to me, and one day I asked him if he thought it affected me, and he said it did. That struck me.
My panic attacks were so severe that I would feel like I couldn’t move. I would scream and cry in fear. For some reason, my brain would revert to those fearful times and make it seem like they were happening again, even though I knew I was safe. I would just see his face. The one that hurt me. He never left. He was always there.
I had the most intense flashbacks that I have ever had. And I realized. I wasn’t like this before this happened to me. I wasn’t hyperactive, I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t anxious, and I didn’t deal with intrusive thoughts or compulsions. I didn’t obsess over every little thing. I didn’t have panic attacks. I realized that he caused all of this. But what was I to do? I constantly felt like I was not enough.
Eventually, I went off my meds because I thought I was bett, which was a big mistake. I was fine for a while, but then I became numb. I didn’t care for the things I liked to do. I didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed all day long. My pain and anguish were so overwhelming that I didn’t think there was a way out.
Some days I would feel everything. Then other days, I felt nothing. I was suicidal. I didn’t want to do it, but the thoughts were there. It would sit on my brain for hours. And hours. And hours. I was in so much pain. In such a deep, dark tunnel, I thought no one could reach me. I was ashamed of what I felt. When I told my mom and my husband, I feared they would be angry with me. But they weren’t. They worked out a safety plan with me.
When Most People Think of Suicidality
They think well that person is selfish. That person is crazy. That person needs to be in an institution somewhere. I hate all of that. It is not ok. This stigma surrounds people who have suicidal ideations. The people that are suicidal are not crazy. They are hurting. They are in a mental anguish that you will never understand.
They need love and support, not to be told they are selfish or crazy. Not to be brushed off as, oh well, you can’t be that depressed. I was told by some people well; you don’t look depressed. You don’t have anxiety. You can’t. Look at all you have; you can’t be depressed when you have all of this. Just exercise. That will fix it. LET GO AND LET GOD. Ughhh, how I hate that phrase.
Letting it go is not easy. It doesn’t work. If it worked, I would have been “cured” long ago. My trauma would have just disappeared if letting goes worked. But it doesn’t, so do everyone around you a favor and stop saying that. Just. Stop. Take it out of your vocabulary. Also, while you are at it, take out this one: “God won’t give you anything that you can’t handle.”
God gives us stuff we can’t handle so He can be the one to handle it. I have had to let myself be weak so God can be stronger. And that is not an easy thing to do. So stop saying all these fluffy phrases because you have no idea what people around you are walking through in their lives.
Unless you are willing to walk through the fire in their place, just be there as a support. But don’t tell them everything will be fine, don’t try to fluff things up. Just be there. Just listen without judgment. I repeat: JUST LISTEN.
Now that my soapbox is over, fast forward to the beginning of this year. I had the realization, the aha moment, that my trauma caused all of my pain. All of my mental illnesses. All of it. So I made the courageous step to seek out a trauma counselor. She is wonderful. I bonded with her immediately. She understood and didn’t judge me like so many people have. She listens and lets me cry. She makes observations that make so much sense. She tells me I need to re-parent that 14 years old because she is still there. Desperate for help. She helped me with my safety plan.
I had the support of her, my mom, and my husband. I got closer to Jesus. He helped me realize that even though I was going through a dark tunnel, he was there. He would pull me out. He was right there the whole time. And it was Jesus who pushed me to get into trauma therapy. While it is hard to revisit those awful things that happened to me, I feel more at peace than ever. I got back on my meds.
Good and Bad Days
I have good days and bad days. But more good than bad. Trauma processing is something that needs to happen. Because when trauma occurs, our brains do not file those memories away as they are supposed to. So I have to revisit every memory and refile it correctly so I won’t be as affected. It will always be there, it is a part of my story, but I no longer have to fear it. God wants all of me, even the parts I don’t want him to have. He has brought all those fears and memories into the light, so I don’t have to hide them anymore.
So, for those reading this that are in pain and suffering. Seek help. You will find it. You don’t have to go through life alone. If you are suffering, talk to me. Or find someone you trust and talk to them. If you need medication to get by, then do it. Ignore the stigma behind being medicated.
Many intelligent people in this world have figured out that mental illness is caused by brain chemicals not being balanced. So meds are there to help you balance your chemicals. Do not beat yourself up for taking meds. Just don’t do it. I did, and it isn’t worth it. It is there for a reason. There is no need to feel ashamed about taking medication.
If you need to go to therapy, then do it. It is not easy, but don’t feel you have to give your whole life story the first time you meet your therapist. If you don’t like them, find someone else. Get to know them, and make sure they are a good fit.
You Are Not Your Trauma
Do not lose hope. Even when you think there is no hope, there is always a sliver. Know that you are not your trauma. Know that you are not your past. No matter what you have done, know that you are loved. If you think no one else loves you, talk to me. If I am the only one, then so be it. You have someone that loves you. Your life is too precious to be taken so soon. You have a purpose in this world. You just may not have found it yet. Don’t lose hope.
Listen Without Judgement
And for those reading this who are fortunate enough not to have any trauma or mental illness. This is for you. Listen without judgment. If someone trusts you enough to talk to you about tough shit, do not take that for granted. These people are reaching out to you; take their hand and walk with them.
Don’t fluff up the situation. For Pete’s sake, quit saying let go, let God. Just listen and try to put yourself in their shoes. If someone is acting strange, not like themselves, don’t ignore that. Strike up a conversation. Ask them if they are alright. They may lie, but don’t ignore the warning signs. Keep talking to them, and let them know they are loved and appreciated. Tell them that you are there for them if they need someone. Just listen and love. Get rid of your stigma against suicide, mental health, therapy, and medication. Educate yourselves. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.
If you or someone you know is being abused, PLEASE reach out.