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When I Realized My Trauma Was Not My Fault

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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.

Originally published: November 17, 2020
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