Long Awaited Update… This Blog Will Continue!

It’s amazing how long I have been away from this site. So much has gone on in the last year. Here is just a short list of what I am up to.

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  • I stepped away from religion altogether. I do not identify as Mormon or Religious. I still say I am Christian, but opening up my eyes to the whole world has made me want to continue to look at things and learn from everyone, not stay in the restraints I was put in during my marriage.
  • Took on my ex’s car so I don’t have another repo on my credit report. Not the best thing, but I am keeping my credit in good standing, after I paid off all of my debt. Within 1 year, I paid off 9,600 dollars worth of debt!
  • Got into Habitat for Humanity. I have 150 hours of sweat equity so far. Only 200 more until I get my own home! I was approved for a 2 bedroom home. Just big enough for me and my daughter. Plus, I have friends and family who want to help me get my hours. It’s hard doing it on my own, so my loved ones are motivating me ūüôā
  • Started talking to a man. Letting a man in emotionally is scary. i have had many tears so far, and I am not even dating him yet. I know there are good guys out there. I have met one. I get to help him in his abusive situation, and he gets to support and uplift me. What more can I ask of right now?
  • Got into a lifestyle that fits me. Made friends and became¬†more social. I went from having one friend to having many, many people who I get along with. It has busted me out of my shell and helped me open up.
  • Have faced my fears of same-sex friendships after my abuse. I have gotten more comfortable around girls and women. I have friends, can hug them, can be close and goofy with them. I am not healed, but I am far into my recovery. Maybe one day, I will talk about my new life fully and explain.

In all of the growing and changing that I have done, I have not forgot about my passion. In fact, my passion has become stronger. It’s great to have people in your life that makes you want to do better. That is what I have come across the last month.

So, I am picking up one of my biggest projects. Finding helpful organizations and getting the information to those who need it. I haven’t figured out how I will get this to people, but I think resources are important. The reason this is so important to me is because those who need it have difficulties getting the resources, especially if they are afraid to ask. So that is what I am going to do… share and post and get the information out!

Been a long while. Lots going on.

Oh boy, I haven’t been on here in like forever! It’s been rough lately. Between my breakdown and trying to get my marriage back on track and a long distance move from everyone I know, life has definitely been hectic. Not to mention, this week I decided to message my rapist. AND HE ACTUALLY RESPONDED BACK! He’s such a liar! Ugh. Anyways, I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety (majorly), anger, crying, feeling violated, and wanting to throw up just thinking about what he said. I had so much anger that I replied back. I SO HOPE HE RESPONDS, but I doubt he will. There’s so much I wanna say to him. He only got a little of my anger.

Most don’t recommend contacting their assaulter, but I couldn’t not do it anymore. I think I was ready, just wasn’t prepared for the anxiety I would get back from a response. I really didn’t expect a response either. I guess everyone has to do what is best for them. And now that it is already done, now I can push through the anger.

Has anyone thought about contacting their rapist? or have they done it? How did it turn out for you? In the long run, did it help with your recovery? It’s only been 3 days since I sent my message, so it will be a while before I see how much help or harm it caused to my healing.

(THE NEXT POST WILL HAVE THE WHOLE CONVO… FOR THOSE CURIOUS)

Seeking out Help for Emotional Healing

Going to bed in a few minutes, but I wanted to thank everyone for reading this blog and for their concern. It truly touches my heart. Just wanted to share two things before I crashed.

1. Monday, I went to a mental health facility to help me with the loads of emotions I have had lately. I’ve had many times in the past months where I just cry out I need some help. So that’s what I did. I sought out help. Now, my therapist and psychologist (at the clinic) are going to work hand in hand to make sure that my therapy helps, along with the antidepressant they prescribed me. Therapy IS what will help me recover and heal from what has happened to me, but temporarily being on Zoloft should help control the mood swings where there’s a possibility to feel actual happiness. I did not come to this decision lightly. I just know that if I cannot actively seek avenues to heal, I will never get there. I’ve noticed how I have been, and so have others. The clinic classified it as PTSD, but I think it’s more depression and anxiety. I could be wrong though. Who knows.

2. I was on Facebook the other day and saw a link from Emerging from Broken. Darlene talked about how¬†Emotional Healing Does NOT Depend On…¬†I thought it was perfect. And SO TRUE! With the current situation I am going through, one part stuck out to me (ok maybe two lol).

“My emotional healing did not happen because my husband stood by me. In fact he DIDN‚ÄôT stand by me at all.¬† He fought me and he fought the process. My healing and taking my life and individuality back threatened his control over me. It threatened his orderly little world where he was King and I was his servant.¬† He had his life all organized the way HE wanted it. He liked me messed up and compliant and he is the first one to admit that today.”

“Overcoming dysfunctional relationships and emotional healing depends only on ME. Not on results, outcomes, negotiations, agreement from others, the law, or whether or not I lost or gained weight. Emotional healing does not depend on people or on ‚Äúthings‚ÄĚ, money, or circumstances.”

Her insights and thoughts were so inspiring. I can so relate to what she said and hope that one day, I can finally heal from all of this and look back stronger and happier. I’ve seen other victims who think that “if this” or “if that” they could be healed, but the honest truth is that this is all about EMOTIONAL healing.¬†The physical stuff is behind us. The law could be working with us, failing us, or not even be in the picture, but it CANNOT heal us. The law is for what little justice it dishes out, and that’s it! Whether our perp is dead or alive doesn’t heal us. I know some who thought it would, and they are still as stuck as ever in their own misery. We all have to have the will and fight to move past this.¬†Don’t rely on anyone but yourself and your support system. Keep those who will help you close and push all others away. Be selfish a little. My big problem is I never felt “worthy” to be first, second, third, or fourth on anyone’s list. But how can I have them so high on mine, and they not even feel I am worth more than the last slot on their list? Their list doesn’t matter… mine does. And I come first on mine. HEALING is PRIORITY!

Anyways, my medicine is finally kicking in. Think it’s bed time now. Hope everyone can push all the other voices around you out of your head and focus on what you feel will help you in your healing and recovery. I have had to do a lot of seeking out on this, as I used to be in a group on Facebook, but the negativity and lack of uplifting brought me down and kept me stuck where I didn’t wanna be. What is right for some victims isn’t right for others. We all progress in our own time. As long as we keep moving forward, we are doing the right thing. All I can do is imagine the day where this doesn’t affect me like it does. The day I can say yes, I used to be a victim, yes I still have my days, but I am STRONGER because I DIDN’T let them win. I am a fighter. Are you?

Fight, Flight, or Freeze Reactions

“When human beings are faced with danger, their adrenal glands flood their bodies with either adrenaline or noradrenaline. Adrenaline energizes the body in the fight or flight mode; noradrenaline creates a freeze reaction, or the numbing of the body and the emotions. This freeze reaction also can be caused by the endogenous opioid system, one of the body’s natural calming systems, which diminishes physical sensations and the intensity of emotional reactions.

As a result of these involuntary physiological reactions, during a sexual assault, the woman doesn’t have the power to decide whether she is going to fight back, try to run (flight), or go limp (freeze). His/her adrenal glands and neurohormones do. The same holds true when she is exposed to a reminder of the assault, also called a “trigger.” When exposed to a trigger, even if she is safe, her body responds as if she is being attacked.

If she responds with an adrenaline surge, leading to a fight or flight reaction, she may experience symptoms such as the startle response, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and increased nightmares and flashbacks. If she responds with a noradrenaline urge, she may have a numbing or freeze reaction. Or, she may alternate between the symptoms or fight or flight reactions and the symptoms of a freeze reaction.”

(The Rape Recovery Handbook, Chapter 4, Coping Skills)

A little more on RTS (Rape Trauma Syndrome)

I find that knowing what reactions are normal in rape victims helps me understand that the feelings I have are normal and that I am not alone. I already posted another article on RTS that I compiled from a few websites, but this one helped me understand a little more and, for me, anything helps. I hope that someone reading this can be helped, even in the least.

Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often affects rape survivors.

Not all rape survivors will experience RTS. Different women respond to the trauma of rape in different ways. Some women will experience severe RTS, while others have few symptoms or none at all. ALL rape survivors need to be believed, taken seriously and supported, regardless of whether they experience RTS or not.

Experiencing some or all of the symptoms of RTS does not mean you‚Äôre crazy. The symptoms of RTS can be very powerful and distressing. As a survivor, it may feel as if you‚Äôre going crazy, but that is a normal reaction. If you are supporting a friend or family member who has been raped, you may find the survivor’s behaviors puzzling or upsetting. HOWEVER, the symptoms of RTS are a NORMAL reaction to a traumatic experience, and they will fade over time with proper care and support.

A survivor’s individual response to rape, and the degree of RTS they experience depends on many factors:

  • If the victim knew and trusted the rapist
  • If family and friends are supportive and patient, or blaming and unhelpful
  • Treatment by the police and justice system, should the victim choose to report the attack
  • Age and previous life experiences
  • Cultural and religious background
  • The degree of violence used by the rapist
  • Injuries, illnesses or disabilities resulting from the rape
  • Whether the rape brings up memories of past traumas
  • The victim‚Äôs emotional state prior to the rape
  • The victim‚Äôs practical and material resources

Remember: Every rape situation is unique and it is very important to treat each rape survivor as an individual.

It is next to impossible to completely forget about a rape. Many survivors lose or suppress memories of all or part of the rape, but it is not forgotten; however, the memories will almost certainly resurface later, and the survivor will need to face them.

If the victim is very young, or experiences the rape as especially traumatic, they may block the memory of the rape even as it is occurring. They may not consciously recognize that they has been raped or may not experience any symptoms until months or years later, usually when another life event, such as a first sexual relationship or another trauma, triggers the memories. Once the memories return the survivor will never forget what happened, but will learn to live with the trauma. Recovery takes time. Survivors must allow themselves to remember the rape and feel whatever feelings it will bring, even though this is often very difficult and painful. They need to work through the experience, and integrate it into their lives so they can move on.

Physical Symptoms of RTS

  • Shock: usually an immediate response. May include: numbness, chills, faintness, confusion, disorientation,¬†trembling, nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems: unable to sleep, sleeping more than usual, or other changes in sleeping pattern
  • Eating problems: no appetite and subsequent weight loss, or compulsive eating and subsequent weight gain
  • No energy or too much energy
  • Physical illness: the stress may weaken the immune system and making them more vulnerable to illness. The rapist may have infected the survivor with an STD, or other illness. A general feeling of ‚Äúunwellness‚ÄĚ is normal
  • Physical pain: this may be as a result of injuries inflicted by the rapist, or a physical reaction to emotional pain
  • Cardiovascular problems: heart palpitations, breathlessness, tightness or pain in the chest, high blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal problems: loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dryness in mouth, butterflies in¬†stomach, feelings of emptiness in stomach, etc.
  • Exaggerated startle response: over-reacting to sudden noise or movement
  • Over-sensitivity to noise

Cognitive Symptoms of RTS

“As if” feelings or flashbacks: re-experiencing sensations that were felt during the rape, or actually reliving parts of the experience in memory or dreams.

  • Intrusive thoughts: sudden or forceful “intrusive” memories of aspects of the rape. Constantly thinking about the attack.
  • Memory loss: the survivor may be unable to remember the rape or parts of it; this is usually temporary, although it can last for many years
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased alertness
  • Speech problems: stuttering, stammering or other difficulty talking
  • Indecisiveness
  • Difficulty problem solving
  • Nightmares
  • Violent fantasies
  • Revenge fantasies

Behavioral Symptoms of RTS

  • Crying
  • Avoiding reminders of the rape
  • Pretending that it never happened
  • Neglecting themselves or other people
  • Increased washing or bathing
  • Self-blame
  • Fear of being alone
  • Not socializing or socializing more than before the rape
  • Relationship problems: the survivor may be irritable, argumentative or easily upset; they may withdraw from people they felt close to before the rape or form sudden new connections; they may grow overly dependent on others or become too independent.

Survivors may experience sexual problems after the rape. They may not want sexual contact of any kind, or may no longer enjoy it – this may be exacerbated if their partners blames them or are impatient with their recovery; alternatively, they might become more sexually active than before.

Survivors may make drastic changes in home, work, school or relationships; this can be an important part of helping them feel safe and in control again.

  • ¬†¬†¬† Substance abuse
  • ¬†¬†¬† Emotional Symptoms of RTS
  • ¬†¬†¬† Denial
  • ¬†¬†¬† Numbness or lack of emotion
  • ¬†¬†¬† Rapid, inexplicable mood changes
  • ¬†¬†¬† Shame
  • ¬†¬†¬† Guilt
  • ¬†¬†¬† Feeling dirty
  • ¬†¬†¬† Anger or desire for revenge
  • ¬†¬†¬† Fear
  • ¬†¬†¬† Nervousness and worry
  • ¬†¬†¬† Being easily upset
  • ¬†¬†¬† Powerlessness and loss of control
  • ¬†¬†¬† Grief and loss
  • ¬†¬†¬† Feeling “different” from other people
  • ¬†¬†¬† Loss of Self-esteem
  • ¬†¬†¬† Losing interest in life
  • ¬†¬†¬† Depression
  • ¬†¬†¬† Suicidal feelings

RTS symptoms change over time.  In the first days after the rape, survivors usually experiences shock. They may be visibly upset, or may appear calm and reluctant to talk. Once the shock has passed there may behave as if nothing has happened. This is called denial or apparent adjustment and helps the survivor block painful memories and feelings that they may not yet be strong enough to deal with. This phase can last for weeks or months or even years, but is almost always followed by a long phase of active healing, during which the survivor will probably experience other RTS symptoms. With care, attention and time, the symptoms will decrease and finally disappear completely.

Many rape survivors who experience symptoms of RTS, may find it helpful to talk to a counselor trained in working with rape victims. A counselor can help them deal with the strongest symptoms, or to work through memory loss. Other survivors may find that the rape brings up other underlying problems, and in these cases, more help may be needed. If you would like to find a capable counselor, contact UASA or another women’s help group.

For more information contact United Against Sexual Assault (UASA). We offer a 24/7crisis line for victims and also offer training, education and information about rape and other forms of violence against women, teens and children.

http://uasasonoma.org/services/rts.html

From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

Abuse can come in plenty of forms and the road to recovery can be hard…this is a list of what the stages of recovery are that goes on in the heart. It is normal to grow and heal in stages and your thoughts might be all over the board. Someone might be strong in some thoughts, while weaker in other thoughts. This list shows where your mind is and its normal to identify with the victim in some categories, and the survivor in other categories and the thriver in other categories…healing is a work in progress….

  • Victim ¬†Doesn‚Äôt deserve nice things or trying for the “good life”
  • Survivor ¬†Struggling for reasons & chance to heal
  • Thriver ¬†Gratitude for everything in life.
  • Victim¬† Low self esteem/shame/unworthy
  • Survivor ¬†Sees self as wounded & healing
  • Thriver ¬†Sees self as an overflowing miracle
  • Victim¬† Hyper vigilant
  • Survivor ¬†Using tools to learn to relax
  • Thriver ¬†Gratitude for new life
  • Victim¬† Alone
  • Survivor ¬†Seeking help
  • Thriver ¬†oneness.
  • Victim¬† Feels Selfish
  • Survivor¬† Deserves to seek help
  • Thriver¬† Proud of Healthy Self caring
  • Victim¬† Damaged
  • Survivor¬† Naming what happened
  • Thriver¬† Was wounded & now healing
  • Victim¬† Confusion & numbness
  • Survivor¬† Learning to grieve, grieving past aggrieved trauma
  • Thriver¬† Grieving at current losses
  • Victim¬† Overwhelmed by past
  • Survivor¬† Naming & grieving what happened
  • Thriver¬† Living in the present
  • Victim ¬†Hopeless
  • Survivor¬† Hopeful
  • Thriver¬† Faith in self & life
  • Victim¬† Uses outer world to hide from self
  • Survivor¬† Stays with emotional pain
  • Thriver¬† Understands that emotional pain will pass & brings new insights
  • Victim¬† Hides their story
  • Survivor¬† Not afraid to tell their story to safe people.
  • Thriver¬† Beyond telling their story, but always aware they have created their own healing with HP
  • Victim¬† Believes everyone else is better, stronger, less damaged
  • Survivor¬† Comes out of hiding to hear others & have compassion for them & eventually self
  • Thriver¬† Lives with an open heart for self & others
  • Victim¬† Often wounded by unsafe others
  • Survivor¬† Learning how to protect self by share, check, share
  • Thriver¬† Protects self from unsafe others
  • Victim¬† Places own needs last
  • Survivor¬† Learning healthy needs (See Healing the Child Within & Gift to Myself)
  • Thriver¬† Places self first realizing that is the only way to function & eventually help others
  • Victim¬† Creates one drama after another
  • Survivor¬† See patterns
  • Thriver¬† Creates peace
  • Victim¬† Believes suffering is the human condition
  • Survivor¬† Feeling some relief, knows they need to continue in recovery
  • Thriver¬† Finds joy in peace
  • Victim¬† Serious all the time
  • Survivor¬† Beginning to laugh
  • Thriver¬† Seeing the humour in life
  • Victim¬† Uses inappropriate humour, including teasing
  • Survivor¬† Feels associated painful feelings instead
  • Thriver¬† Uses healthy humour
  • Victim¬† Uncomfortable, numb or angry around toxic people
  • Survivor¬† Increasing awareness of pain & dynamics
  • Thriver¬† Healthy boundaries around toxic people, incl. relatives
  • Victim¬† Lives in the past
  • Survivor¬† Aware of patterns
  • Thriver¬† Lives in the Now
  • Victim¬† Angry at religion
  • Survivor¬† Understanding the difference between religion & personal spirituality
  • Thriver¬† Enjoys personal relationship with the God of their understanding
  • Victim¬† Suspicious of therapists– projects
  • Survivor¬† Sees therapist as guide during projections
  • Thriver¬† Sees reality as their projection & owns it
  • Victim¬† Needs people & chemicals to believe they are all right
  • Survivor¬† Glimpses of self-acceptance & fun without others¬†
  • Thriver¬† Feels authentic & connected, Whole
  • Victim¬† “Depression”
  • Survivor¬† Movement of feelings¬†
  • Thriver¬† Aliveness

I wish I knew where this article came from. A friend came shared it with me and I thought it was very insightful. ūüôā

Silenced No More

This weekend, at my family’s Christmas / Birthday party, I told my mom about being raped. I didn’t know what she would say or react to it, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold it in much longer. I had already told my father, an aunt, my cousin, and my brother’s girlfriend, but the rest of my family, including my mother, hadn’t known about it. The last time I tried to let them know I was dealing with things was last year, but without me sharing the R word (as I still wasn’t at a point of calling it that) they were quite confused and I suppressed it for another 6 months. It has been seven years of pure silence… from the world and from my own self. I’ve noticed that the more I open up to my past, the easier it is to cope with. Granted, I have those people who cannot handle talking or thinking about the subject at hand, but for those who can, it definitely helps me break the silence a little more each time.

When talking to a friend, I mentioned how the silence kills. And it truly does. For the last seven years, I have blamed myself for that night. I couldn’t tell my mom, as I let him in my house. I couldn’t tell my friend, as she wished me luck before he came over and I couldn’t understand how she could ever understand the magnitude of rape (I know I couldn’t). I couldn’t tell a school counselor, as my school didn’t have programs like the WAR Program in a Florida school does. And the morning after, I couldn’t even break up with him. If he would have just raped me and that be the end of it, things might have turned out differently. But the morning after he raped me, I was being told by a girl I barely knew that I was called his stalker. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he confirmed it with long conversations of me begging him to stay with me. My virginity was always a special thing to me, so when he took it, it truly destroyed me. I felt broken and used and no matter what I did, I could not get my virginity back. That’s a very touchy subject I stay away because I cannot always handle the emotions that come with that right now. One thing at a time, I guess.

Anyways, after being silenced for 7+ years, I have come to a point in my life, in my recovery, that I have to speak out. I have to release this blame that I have allowed him to hold over my head for too darn long. In my head, this is not my problem anymore. I did nothing wrong and I deserve to have people know the real me, and I shouldn’t have to pretend to make others feel better. Granted, I probably will still, but at least they know and they can either decide to support me or go on their merry way. Sorry, I’ve just come to the realization that I cannot please everyone and this is my time to heal. It’s almost like I’ve been conditioned to not have my own voice or feel like I am allowed to have an opinion. I have always been a kind-hearted person. I like that about me, but I can no longer be someone’s door mat. I struggle. I won’t hide that. I have a lot to deal with and I hope as each therapy session closes and more steps have been taken in my recovery, that I can have the life I deserve… one that is happy. I am determined to not be his victim anymore. I will be nobody’s victim, if I have my say.