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When I Realized My Trauma Was Not My Fault

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I remember sitting in my room locked away in a mental institution. It was cold, gloomy and scary. I sat on my bed trying to make sense of everything that happened. I tried to end my life again, and I just wanted things to stop for a couple of seconds. I wanted to breathe air that wasn’t full of panic and trauma. I wanted to feel something, but I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t escape my reality and every day I just kept living. I couldn’t escape my body no matter how much I wanted to.

I honestly didn’t know I was being fully controlled and abused. I thought this was normal — but nothing about my past relationship was normal. It was mean.

I already had childhood trauma, so my normal is a completely different normal than a regular person’s “normal.” I knew how to be quiet and do what I was told. I lost a lot of good friends because I was being controlled. I couldn’t hang out with this person or talk to this person because it wasn’t “right,” and it just meant that I was being disrespectful. I lost a lot and no matter what I did or said I was not good enough.

It was that night that took a toll on me. It was the winter night at the lakefront. I was lying there in the backseat of the red truck. I felt it. I felt the pressure of his body on mine. I remember that pain and me saying “stop” and “I don’t want to do this.”

He didn’t care. It lasted for a few months. I found myself going more numb on the inside. My voice didn’t matter. I felt like I didn’t matter. It was then I tried to end my life the first time. Months went on and no one talked about my incident. People thought I was OK and that I was doing better. But every day I was being heavily controlled. Every day I was being abused — verbally, mentally and emotionally. 

When things officially ended I was put to blame. My anxiety was an “excuse” for me not wanting to do certain things. Everything was considered my fault. I tried to argue in response but what I said did not matter. I was to blame for everything that happened in the relationship. 

A week went by and I was still being controlled. I wasn’t with this guy anymore, but I would get texts and pictures sent to my phone. He wanted me to know that he was still watching and that he still had power over me. I lost it. Self-harming was not enough for me at the time. I needed everything to stop. I couldn’t find peace in anything. So, in response I tried to end my life for the second time.

It was then that I realized I was being controlled. It was then I realized I was assaulted. I was broken. I didn’t know how to recover and I didn’t tell a soul of what happened. It took me sitting in my own bed in a mental institution to realize that what happened to me was not my fault. I was not the monster. I survived, and I chose to keep living. I became stronger, but I also became more fragile. The trauma will come back through dreams or in certain situations. The only thing I can do is panic and try to let it pass. I’m OK though. I take things one day at a time. I know at the end of the day I will be OK.

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