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Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I wish I knew how to ask for support at this point.

These days, my friends know about my childhood. My lovers end up knowing about the more recent things by way of my quiet apologetic disclaimer for why I'm occasionally cold.

I want to stop apologizing. I want my friends and family to stop ignoring the problem.

Mom, don't you know something bad happened when I was little? The memories are still confusing to me, but I know part of it, the rest I have to wonder. Did your dad do to you what he tried to do to me? Why did you leave me alone with some of them? You are a psychologist, you know the signs - the nightmares, the startle response, the eating disorders, the anxiety, the insomnia that's plagued me almost all my life...

I know you can't handle the truth. I know you've never recovered from the rape and molestation in your own life. It's okay. I've forgiven you for the day 15 years ago I told you I'd tried to kill myself and you pretended the next day that I'd said nothing.

I've forgiven you for all of it. I always will. I'll never tell you the truth - just get some help yourself. Because your past enabled my abuse - and if that doesn't motivate you into therapy - nothing will.

And to my future lovers, just know:

My first boyfriend raped me. He was abusive. The nightmares made me scream in my sleep. I'd wake up immediately alert and terrified. But I've tried to learn.

My ex-fiance, he helped me heal. He's my rock. He'd pressure me into sex, but he loved me. We're still friends, he still succeeds with the pressure. I enable him. But I don't know how not to.

The last one, I hesitate to call it rape. Maybe it was. I said no, he went ahead anyway. But I didn't claw out his eyes like we're supposed to. I don't know why I trusted him. I remember the last time we had sex. I was in so much pain. The nightmares then were the worst in 4 years.

I know my last girlfriend only pressured me for sex and wanted to hit me sometimes because she was terrified of losing me. I wonder if we could have fixed it, had I not gone numb and distant in terror as the nightmares and panic attacks started again. I feel like a horrible monster. I still haven't stopped dreaming about her.

And now, I hate dating. I drink alone and I drink too much. I wish the first five dates were truly blind, because I can't help thinking it's always about my body. I just want someone who loves and cares about me - but I'm not sure I'm capable of falling in love again.

Through it all I've been so strong out of necessity, out of aloneness, that my strength alienates most. Stop asking me to be weaker for you. Don't ask me to cry. Don't expect me to trust easily. Forgive me when I'm distant - this is how I've survived and succeeded.

One day I'll get treatment for my PTSD. Until then, I'll pretend I'm pretty much over it, I'll keep trying to move on, I'll keep drinking to stop the nightmares, I'll apologize and pretend I know what my feelings are enough to talk about them.

But in reality, I'm a stranger in a strange land. And everyone that looks at my body is the enemy. Every touch is an attack. And my own desire to be touched feels like yet another violation.

Please forgive me.

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