I was sitting here for a couple of days, toiling over a post from one of the people here, struggling with getting to peaceful sleep, after being assaulted, or at minimum having their life turned upside down in a way that they felt powerless to deal with their nightmares of the person who had attacked them.
I am not going to try to explain that I know how anyone feels, or that one way is better to deal with night terrors and nightmares is a cure, or a solution, for your pain and your struggles with sleeping; all I can do is share my experiences, and what worked for me.
I can only hope that in my words, you can find peace enough to get some sense of peaceful sleep and take back the Night.
As a Male, who suffered Sexual and violent assault, at the hands of four men during my time in the Military the struggles were enormous, to say the least.
Not to mention having to return to the scene of the attack and try to find peace enough to sleep in my own bed; where I was gang raped, beaten, and then left for dead at the hands of other military members for over a year until I left the military.
To compound what had occurred during my time in the military, my own father attempted to murder me whilst I was sleeping in my own bed, in my own room, three months after I returned home from the military.
These are only two Traumatic events in my life, among over a dozen that would come after my father's attempt to murder me in my sleep; thankfully, the remaining traumas occurred away from my home, my own bedroom, in my own bed; but these two will suffice for discussion's sake here.
For over 32 years I have struggled with sleep, feeling safe in my own home, and more specifically in my own bed; in fact, for years, I was forced to sleep on the floor if I were to get any sense of rest or sleep at all.
Forgiveness was the hardest thing for me to find, but a year ago I found forgiveness to be my ally and not my enemy. I want to share with you that forgiveness is not absolution, and it's not for the person who wronged me, but its a point where I was able to move forward in my therapy and my life.
I realized that what happened to me, both while I was in the military and when I returned home, was an act by which someone who was powerless, had to find some sense of power over something as they had their power stolen from them and was left to struggle with their own journey in life.
My forgiveness was not for the people who assaulted me, raped me, and for those who left me for dead; instead, it turns out that it was my way of coming to terms with the idea that I did not have the resources to respond to the attacks; that I was disarmed and I had not ever been taught how to deal with the situations because I had never experienced them before.
In my journey, I found out that I also had to give both myself and my attackers' grace, in trying to find forgiveness; but most of all, I had to forgive myself for not being experienced enough in life as to not have the tools to deal with such attacks on myself.
My life had not prepared me for the idea of being raped by four men; much less being raped at all, as men were not supposed to fall victim to rape. My life did not prepare me for dealing with the assault and rape by the four military members, no more than it prepared me to know that people I trusted the most, could also inflict such damage upon me.
My nights were filled with nightmares, night terrors, and dreams that lasted to this very day; despite my forgiveness and grace; I hold firm with my forgiveness and Grace for both myself and for my attackers.
The Dreams may never go away. The instant reactions to the triggers may last me the remainder of my life. But it gives me more power over my nights. It has taken the power away from my attackers and allowed me to regain the power over my life, that my attackers tried to rob me of.
Taking my nights back does not mean that I will ever forget what my body was subjected to, what my psyche suffered, and it will not give me back the lost years of my life; thinking that I was powerless, but it gives me strength.
When I wake up from a nightmare, I remember that the reason I was attacked was that my attackers were trying to regain the power they had lost some time prior to my time with them. I am not absolving them of their actions but understanding them a bit more and finding pity for them, that they felt so helpless that they had to lash out to find some sense of control over their lives.
I give myself forgiveness in that I was ill-prepared for such an attack, and that I could not respond proportionately to protect myself from the assaults on my body, and life.
I give myself the grace to know that I could never have been prepared for the events that I have described here; there was no way for me to have known that I was in danger, while I was sleeping in my own bed(s); where I was supposed to be the safest.
Taking back the night, for me, is as unique as my experiences of trauma; each of us as individuals will experience the same things, in vastly diverse ways; depending upon how we are equipped in life.
Taking back the night will mean something different for each of us, as different as our experiences of our traumatic events.
Taking back the Nights means to me, that I have retaken my power away from my attackers.
My finding self-empowerment allows me to feel sorry for my attackers; that they had to suffer at the hands of someone else, in such a way that they felt powerless enough to need to strike out against someone who was vulnerable to find their power.
I will never forget the scars that are covering my body, my mind, my memories, and my life as I see those scars daily. I will never forget the lessons that my traumas have taught me, but I can give grace to my attackers and most importantly myself in my recovery.
If I accomplish nothing more here, I hope that my words will help you find your path to finding grace and forgiveness for yourself and your attackers.
I hope my words help you down the path to retaking your power and Taking Back your Nights so you can rest in peace.