Sexual abuse is devastating, even more so when the abuser is a friend.
This is her story.
Age 13. Should be a time with no worries, right? Wrong. That was the year I was sexually assaulted and violated by my best friend.
One day she forced me to look at porn with her. When I looked away she made me. Another day when we were hanging out she tried making me remove my pants, but I said no. Not long after, she forced me to take off my shirt and felt me up even when I was practically almost crying. After I put my shirt back on she tried kissing my neck to give me a hickey but I shoved her off me.
Just before I left, she gave me a hug while grabbing my ass.
My mom asked me about a year and a half later why this girl and I weren't friends anymore. I broke down and told her. She was extremely supportive and I thought the pain was finally over. Wrong again.
I'm 22 now. I had forgotten about it for years until a close friend of mine sent me an episode on YouTube of an Oprah show talking about same sex rape and incest, not knowing what happened to me. My past immediately came flooding back to me and it keeps haunting me. It won't stop and I feel like there's nothing I can do. I don't want to date, get boyfriends or even have sex ever again after this suddenly came back.
I just want to make it stop.
Something awful happened yesterday.
Suddenly looking through my Facebook and Twitter feeds I found out that there had been several explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Explosions. Injuries. Fatalities.
Unfathomable situations to consider.
Social media is incredibly informative. We learn news in the blink of an eye, but just as quickly we can receive misinformation and find ourselves giving out incorrect details because we want to share and we want to help.
Social media can also be terribly triggering when it comes to disasters such as these. Sometimes we cannot handle what is happening in the world. Stories such as this horrible tragedy in Boston trigger dark thoughts for many of us. We get stuck in that mindset and can't push it down.
These are perfectly normal reactions to a tragedy such as this one.
But it's also totally okay to WALK AWAY.
We want to remind you that it is perfectly acceptable and often REQUIRED to walk away from the news stories. YOU are most important here. Yes, it's a horrible thing. Terrible. Emotional. Anxiety-provoking. But you need to know that if you are overwhelmed with the news you do not need to watch it, read it or listen to it.
Don't look for it. You'll hear it all eventually. It's not critical for you to know immediately what is happening.
Nobody will judge you for not participating. Nobody will ask you if you watched the Anderson Cooper show or read the latest AP News information. There will be no quiz here.
Social media IS amazing. But sometimes people just jump feet first without actually thinking or researching. And pictures that do not need to be seen get tossed about. Horrible. What for? Nobody needs to see that. Especially you.
If you are a parent, you are probably protecting your child(ren) from these things. There's no harm in protecting yourself, as well. I would recommend you do it.
I remind you, because I know that in times like these we often forget, that taking care of you is most important here. Avoid triggers. Close the laptop. Take a walk. Play with your kids. Eat something chocolatey. Dance around your living room. Sing your favorite song. Buy yourself a fancy coffee. Cry if you think it will help. But don't hole yourself up with the footage. It's not healthy and it's not necessary. Because we want you to take care of you. We want you to remain safe. And we want to help keep you that way.
If you find yourself looking for answers or resources, please consider reviewing some of these Band Back Together resource pages. And if you need to, reach out. We're here.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resources
Emotional Shock Resources
We, The Band, keep the people of Boston in our hearts today and in the coming days as they face the aftermath of these horrible events.
Most of us, well, we've been through some garbage in our lives - and we've given power to a lot of people who simply don't deserve it.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We here at Band Back Together are shining the spotlight on ALL survivors. Depression, Abuse, Trauma.
It's time to take back the power. Tell us how YOU have taken the power back in your life!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
As a survivor, April is the month I join with others to spread awareness and education. I firmly believe that not only do we need to teach our girls to be strong and show them the signs to recognize an unhealthy relationship, but we also need to raise our young men to treat everyone with respect. If we can do this, we can raise young people that have healthy relationships and who respect each other.
Last year, I wrote about my intimate partner rape. I also wrote about learning to be a survivor. These two stories are important pieces of me. Even more important is this story of how to survive.
Rape, in any form, leaves scars. Those scars will never go away, though with time they will fade. Like any trauma, rape can cause the survivor to struggle with PTSD. Triggers and flashbacks are a very real likelihood.
In the years right after I left my abuser, I had frequent flashbacks. It seemed everything was a trigger. A green semi truck on the road, men who walked or talked a certain way, a song on the radio, even certain foods or restaurants. I struggled each time something triggered me. It would take all my strength to stand my ground and not go running.
Over time, some of these triggers have faded. The flashbacks are less frequent. So infrequent, actually, that it takes me a few moments to recognize them for what they are.
Last week while napping with my fiance, something triggered me. Whether it was the feel of a rough sheet under my cheek or the way the air brushed my hair across my face, I don't know. All of a sudden, it was a different voice whispering “I love you” in my ear, it was a different hand that rested on my hip.
As the memory faded, and I could once again see the here and now, I was left near tears. My fiance held me as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. And as he rubbed my back, all of a sudden, it didn't matter. I realized those flashbacks only had power if I gave it to them.
I am a survivor.
I have overcome so much, surely I will not allow a bad memory to bring me to my knees. I have someone who truly loves me now, who will never hurt me. His love and understanding give me strength to stand up to those memories of my past and shove them away.
I have the power over how I allow my past to affect me. And I refuse to allow my abuser to have any place in my life, not even in my mind. He is nothing and he no longer has any power over me. This is part of my path of healing.
I am in charge of me. I've taken back the power.
In the course of the last four days, I have read every post on this site (thank you OCD). I was searching for resources regarding mental illness deriving from childhood sexual abuse and Google was kind enough to direct me here.
I've always thought that my issues were inconsequential. That I have had no worse experiences than any other soul on this earth. I've shared some of my experiences with a select few people, and the look on their faces has always puzzled me. This is my life, what is there to be shocked about?
Back on point. Spending these last four days reading about all of your joys, heartaches, pain and recovery has jostled a few memories of my own. Some things are always at the back of my mind, but others have been dredged from the depths.
Let's start with my diagnoses.
I've been diagnosed as Bipolar twice (but I contest it), Anxiety and OCD. The Bipolar was diagnosed during two full fledged breakdowns. The first was after a half-assed suicide attempt during a bad marriage at age 24 and the second during the first five minutes with the WORST PSYCHIATRIST EVER. Seriously. This guy grandly announced I was Bipolar after I mumbled it was a previous diagnosis.
But that's a story for another day.
I feel it's time to finally tell my story. I've avoided seeing this information in print for years. I've carried so much shame, self-blame and self-doubt that my soul is weary. While I'm not yet ready to delve deep into my experiences, this is a good place to start.
I was sexually abused by our 16 year old neighbor and his 15 year old sister somewhere between the ages of two and four.
My parents separated for work for six months and I witnessed my mother's breakdown when I was eight.
When I was fourteen, I had my first suicide attempt which was, thankfully, a rather pathetic one. When I was fifteen I had my first attempt at therapy but I did not say one word for the entire six sessions.
At seventeen I was raped for the first time at gunpoint by a "friend." The same year, one of my best friends committed suicide. I was the last person to speak with him. He told me that he was going to do it, but I did not take him seriously.
I made a second suicide attempt at age nineteen. Swallowed over 400 aspirin and ended up in the ICU for four days. There was some limited therapy to follow but I don't remember much about that. I told my parents at this point about the sexual abuse. It was the worst thing I have ever had to do in my life and 20 years later my mom still cries. It kills me.
When I was 24 I got married for the first time, and at 25 I had my first affair. I also tried to commit suicide for the third time. I was driving my car over 100 MPH on curvy back roads and attempting to run it into something. This landed me in a psychiatric ward for two weeks, with a Bipolar diagnosis. My marriage ended two years later.
At age 28 I was raped a second time by two men while I was drunk and in a foreign country.
When I was 29, I found out I was pregnant and had an abortion. The man that I assumed to be the father threatened to kill me if I even thought about having a baby while the man I am dating tells me that he will leave me if I have this baby. I was wrong. About it all.
I got married for a second time when I was 32, and it took all of three days for it to go to hell. Three years later I began having daily panic attacks, and within two months I am unable to leave the house. I developed paranoia and severe depression. I started seeing the WORST PSYCHIATRIST IN THE WORLD. Because of this man, I lost my job.
Shortly after losing my job, my husband told me that he really never loved me and that he just used me to get our house and the money I made. This does not assist with my recovery. He raped me. I moved back in with my parents.
After three more years, I was finally free of that man. I was broke as hell, and my credit was ruined but I was extremely happy.
Now at age 39, I have been out of work for two months with an injury. I am thankful that I have support, but the depression that started last April has blown up. I feel lost.
There is more, if I only could remember.
Thank you, all of you, for inspiring me to start this.
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I'm 18 years old. My step-dad raped me multiple times before I even started kindergarten. In fact, I was still going to play school.
It's blurry and fuzzy but I remember crying when my mom would leave for work and I knew I would have to stay home alone with this monster while my older brothers went to school.
I never realized what he did was wrong, not until I got older. He was gone by then.
I remember how it would start, then I don't remember anymore. I know for a fact he raped me, though. Maybe it was so bad God blocked the image and feeling out of my memory. I just remember he would lay me on my mom's bed and I would have to put a pillow on my head and he would do whatever he did. I could never look at him.
I was embarrassed but I didn't know it was wrong! It's so hard to try to explain but I hope you guys could relate in some way.
He was also very mean to me, he always hit me and yelled at me when my mom was around. But the minute she left, he was nice and caring. He was a sick joke!
I have dreams of finding him and killing him. He took something away from me, as a child and a teenager.
I have the lowest self esteem you can imagine. I can't let myself get close to guys because I'm scared of getting hurt or being rejected. Ever since being a child, I've never done anything sexual with anyone and I'm 18, almost 19. The farthest I've gone is to make out, and I can only make out with guys when I'm drunk.
It's horrible that I block myself from guys. Even my guy friends - I won't approach them unless they come to me and the whole time they're talking to me I smile and laugh and joke around but I'm always out of my comfort zone. I just can't be close to any guy. It's weird. He messed up my life and I know he will burn in hell.
I read about rape trauma symptoms and I have almost all of them. I cried reading them.
I don't have a close relationship to my mom. When I told her about the abuse, she didn't believe me. She said she thinks maybe I watched a movie and for some reason I got it stuck in my head that it happened to me...
Now that I'm older I can only yell at her when I'm intoxicated. She has said she's sorry and there's nothing she can do about it now. I have so much hate towards her and she wonders why!
What's wrong with me? I feel like I'll be forever alone because I cannot leave the bubble I have created around myself.
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