A mental health post with potential triggers regarding rape and assault.

When I was in my early twenties, I was in a short-lived marriage. In hindsight, it was obvious that this marriage was a mistake from day one. It was a classic rebound reaction to a bad breakup. I was also desperately trying to find my way as a quasi-adult. My parents consisted of a brilliant but alcoholic father, and a crazy mother, who was possibly alcoholic, and at least a narcissist if not a malignant one. Warm and fuzzy it was not. I have spent my entire life in search of belonging to something. That search has made me make more than a few bad choices in my life. Understandable, but bad.

So the kid I married, and we both were kids, had some issues. I had dropped out of college due to a major disagreement with my parents. Instead, I was working a very good job as a programmer and draftsman in a tool and die department of a Fortune 500 company. (Yes, there were computers back then, Virginia.) He was a welder. Or, he was supposed to be. I found out later he had either quit or was fired from his welding job, and instead of going to work he went out and got stoned.

Drugs were involved, I’m sure, in the assault that took place one morning. I was forced into our apartment’s bathroom, a room with no windows. I was wearing only a huge tee-shirt. My husband raped me. He beat me. He was a young, muscular 6’3″ to my 5’6″. He was also a hunter, and had hunting knives and guns. I remember a rifle pointed at me. I was threatened with death if I made a sound. I believed him. He’d leave and return. I was raped several times over many hours. It was morning when I first went into the bathroom, it was afternoon (I think) when he left. I didn’t leave the bathroom until the evening.

I don’t recall what happened during the next few days. I know he didn’t come back after leaving. Thankfully some of the details are fuzzy now, forty years later. That wasn’t always the case. Ten years ago I could have told you how many tiles were on the floor of the bathroom.

I know I became physically ill for a week. I got an eye infection. I couldn’t keep food down. I called in sick to work.

I went back to work about a week later. I still wasn’t “right” but I certainly didn’t say anything other than “bad cold.”

There may have been communication for the husband to not ever show up again or I’d tell his parents. I think there was. I worked with his dad. I never saw the kid again. At some point he picked up his things. I had the locks changed.

I did go to a lawyer about the rape. It was the late 1970’s. This happened within a marriage. There were no witnesses. The lawyer was nice, but told me, truthfully, there was nothing that I could do. Technically, I could try, but it would be horrible and nothing would come of it. I started divorce proceedings. I didn’t ask for alimony. I didn’t ask for anything. Done.

The mind is an amazingly weird thing. I ended up compartmentalizing the assault. I packed it in a little box and sent it floating to the far reaches of my brain. If you would have asked me six months later if it had happened, I would have said it had. I never forgot it happened. But you wouldn’t have asked me six months later, because other than my husband and the lawyer, no one else knew it had happened. I didn’t think about it after about a few weeks. I knew it was there; however, I just ignored it. I’m not sure how I did that. I’m glad I did. I don’t think I could have handled it any other way.

Who knows how much of my ongoing depression was due to that assault? I had experienced depression well before the assault. Given my family history, depression is hard-wired into me.

Within a year, I had reconnected with my high school sweetheart, quit my job, and moved 2200 miles west to California to be with the sweetheart, who I eventually married. I tend to run. CA-guy and I didn’t speak of the first marriage. He knew of it, of course, but it only had lasted three months. I just described it as being stupid and bad. We left it at that. CA-guy is a nice guy, but he’s a stereotypical emotionally repressed man and an engineer on top of that. In eighteen years of marriage I never told him what really happened, nothing about the rape.

I never told him because: I had the pain bottled up, and rarely brought it up to myself; also, I was afraid that I couldn’t handle his non-reaction. I figured he would stare into space, not know how to react and so not have any reaction, and I thought that would kill me.

Toward the end of the eighteen-year marriage, I was seeing a therapist. I was having not only depression but a classic mid-life crisis. We had been having sessions for about a year when the first backlash of the old assault started bubbling up. I started having PTSD symptoms. I finally told my therapist about it… Yep, after a year of weekly sessions. Things were very, very bad for a while. I had vivid flashbacks. I had anxiety attacks. Panic attacks. I would blank out for hours, aware but not aware. I went to a lovely inn at the ocean and just stared for days. I have to say, if you have to freak out, Half Moon Bay in California is a damned nice place to do it. CA-guy made a six-figure income, so that helped.

I had heard of PTSD but didn’t know much about it. Luckily my therapist did, and she knew about the uncommon delayed onset PTSD, my diagnosis.

I finally did tell my emotionally repressed husband about what had happened to me, and what was currently happening to me. Guess what? He had no reaction. He just sat there and stared. He might have muttered something. I know he didn’t hug me. He just stared. It was as bad as I had feared. Did I mention “ex-husband”?

Our marriage was in bad shape for many years before all of this PTSD thing. I don’t know how much of the reliving of it made my marriage end when it did. I’m the one who asked for the divorce (that’s important to say, for some reason).

I’ve forgiven the kid for the rape and assault. This surprises me to no end. Somewhere down the line, after the the PTSD hit, I was able to just let go. I blame him, of course, and the drugs. I hope he got the help he needed. I’ve worried that he might have hurt someone else. I wish the times had been different, and that legal action could have happened, but they weren’t and it didn’t.Β  The non-reaction of my husband still hurts, but I understand it, sort of.

I’m very proud of young woman me. I never once thought the rape and assault was my fault. Never. I blamed myself for the stupid marriage (still do, even though I understand it). I never thought I had the violence coming. Atta girl!

I’m glad, in a way, for the PTSD. When it surfaced, it shot out of me like a cannonball. It was not fun. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone (except one horrible troll of a person). It was, however, kind of cleansing. It was a release. The injury is still hanging around, but since I can put a light on it, it isn’t as damaging.

I need to step away from writing this now. Writing has stirred things up, and I’m getting a bit anxious and shaky. That’s ok, I know what it is, why it is, and how to deal with it now.

The featured image is an old digital photograph from Second Life. It is a screenshot, without post-production.

 

 

 

 

22 Comments

  1. Your so strong! I could really relate. To the whole PTSD thing! I was raped for many years all through my childhood. That is how I came to have complex ptsd and did. Brave of you to share with all of us! You rock! ❀

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  2. Yes, it’s often difficult to find the right words in those circumstances. But I felt saying something was better than nothing in this instance. πŸ™‚ I do admire you though for the way you’ve pulled through that experience and are talking openly about it. That must be very hard. You certainly seem a strong person – more than just enough I’d say. πŸ˜‰ Take care.

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    1. MsJadeli: I just watched Life 2.0 on Netflix and ugh. No. It’s a pretty horrible documentary, on a lot of levels. It actually had very little to do with Second Life, and more to do with the damaged people the film chose to focus on. The most “real” thing was the segment about the designer. Copybotting was (is) a real problem. I recognized some of the names in the lawsuit. Also this film was made in 2010, but if you see dates in the footage it was 2007-2008. In technology terms, thats two centuries from now! This was a biased, outdated film that went in with a thesis (that SL was weird and bad and destroys things) and then found the instances to prove it.

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      1. Ah! Good to know. I’ve seen some anime where there were avatars and going into rooms full of all kinds of them, but that’s the extent of my knowledge beyond what I saw in Life 2.0. Oh wait, there is another netflix short series I watched, called, “Kiss Me First” where the plot is all about people going into virtual environments. Have you seen that one? If you have netflix (sounds like you do) check that one out and let me know how it compares. That one is pretty new and seemed hi tech.

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        1. If you’d like to see the progress of the avatars in SL, I’ve set up a few photos on a blog page I have that isn’t a blog, just a place to stick random things. Of course avatars can be just about anything. This is the evolution of my human avatar. I have a tiny plaid bunny, a teeny tiny little white thing that is some kind of Japanese something or other, a mermaid, a neko… usually I’m a pale brunette with green eyes, as in real life. The other thing Life 2.0 didn’t show is the cool sims! I’ve posted some of those shots as my featured images. But here’s the then/now-ish shots. https://randomplaceholder.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/10-yrs-ish-in-sl/

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          1. There sure is a lot of smoothing out of the avatars over 10 years. They all look very pretty and the last couple look glamorous πŸ™‚ I think I see what you spend time doing in SL — shopping! You’re quite the fashionista!

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            1. Heh. It depends on what I’m doing and what mood I’m in. I’ve noticed that over the years if I’m depressed, my avatar goes from pale to ghostly, from brown to blonde… I start vanishing. πŸ™‚ I do shop. But I love to build sims. I like to explore and take photos. I like to listen to music, both live and DJ’d. I haven’t ruined anyone’s life in, oh, at least a few years. πŸ™‚

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  3. M (I don’t know your name, sorry), it takes a tremendous amount of courage to write down what happened and share it with others. So much of what these nutzoids/dirtbags/abusers count on is the silence of the victim. I cannot imagine what happened to you felt like. Keeping it compartmentalized for so many years may have done things to you that you’ll need to work through. I’m so so sorry it happened and that your ex didn’t have the capacity to respond to you the way you needed him to. I’ve been through a hell of a lot over these 60 years and one of the things that has been most helpful is sharing what happened with others who are caring and supportive. {{{{{HUGS}}}}

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    1. M works. πŸ™‚
      Honestly, I don’t feel all that brave or courageous in reporting this. There’s a lot of time between the assault and now. There’s a lot of time between the memories surfacing, finally, and now. I do think if people are able to, then stories need to be told, for a variety of reasons. This was Part 1, there’s more, and part of that is to take back my own truth. Thank you! and :::hugs::: back. β™₯

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      1. Wishing you could see me smile. Yes, “if people are able to, then stories need to be told.” I’d still like to find that pipsqueak and put the beatdown on him! He needs prison! (He may already be in prison!)

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  4. “Liked” this somewhat reluctantly. Obviously I don’t like that the tale was a true thing that needed to be shared, but I’m glad that you were able to tell it. I hope that the telling is cathartic & not overwhelmingly triggering. I’ve personally never been violently assaulted, but I’ve got more than a passing familiarity with PTSD – and all that comes with it – and depression (and worse) is a family curse. So I can kind of relate. Stay well & keeping my fingers crossed that you can get back into therapy.

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    1. (see below in comment to “alittlebitoutoffoucs” about that “like” button thingie)

      I was and wasn’t surprised that writing about my experience in my 20s and then the delayed onset PTSD sent me into a bit of a hyper and agitated bit. Having this stuff flood out of me 20 years ago was a good thing. It happened when I could handle it. (I don’t think I could have dealt with it head-on at the age of 20.) By now, things are lessening.

      You’ll notice that this was Part 1. There’s more. And there’s a reason I chose to write about this PTSD thing now. I just don’t want my whole blog to be more mental health issues right now. It may still happen, but… ugh & sigh. There may be some movement on the therapy front.

      Thank you for your concern and comments. β™₯

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  5. Again, I don’t like the story (I cannot even imagine the terror and torment) though I do like the fact that you’ve shared it. I hope the shakes have stopped and you are feeling good again. If I were there, I would give you a big hug (assuming I was allowed of course). Also thanks for introducing me to Second Life. Not that I plan to use or immerse myself in it, but I’ve never hear of it until your last 2 posts. You learn something new every day. πŸ™‚

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    1. I think we all have those hesitations about the “like” button at times. Everyone I’ve read who has talked about it, me included, seems to realize in the cases of worrisome posts that the “like” indicates things like “read it” and “solidarity” and “hugs.” Often leaving comments is hard. I realize that. What do you say? So thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚

      Hugs, like bad/good puns are welcome, asking is appreciated.

      I should write about Second Life. I have such a love/hate relationship with it. I think it has been around for 15 years now! Writing about Second Life is like trying to grab smoke, though!

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