Advice? Books? Words of encouragement? for a recent victimPosted on 07/18/10, 06:21 am
On June 22nd I was drugged and raped by someone at my university where I attend graduate school.
The day afterward I was still disoriented and sick feeling and trying very hard to figure out what happened, trying to collect the pieces amongst the blackouts. I managed to get to the local clinic for the morning after pill and then began the terrifying journey of trying to figure out what I do next, what I might have been exposed to and what I should do. Last week I finally went to the Student Health Center where I was taken care of by the nurses who were wonderful and an LCSW who was not so wonderful. Besides those people, I have only told one other person -- my best friend who lives in another state who has been incredibly encouraging but I'm sure she is at a loss for what she can do for me.
I feel lucky in that very very very soon I will be graduating this program. I will have a brief stay back in my parents house in my home city before I move to the the northeast to begin my PhD. As amazing as all of that is, I am scared to death. I cannot tell my parents and I don't want to tell them. I most definitely do not want to tell my new roommates with whom I have to share an apartment but I have a feeling I will have some strange behaviors to explain for. I am interested in finding counseling and have already found some out where services will be available to me in my new city. In the mean time I have a month of trying to hold it together. I have a month of trying to not to cry every night. Of trying to get through the nightmares and night sweats-- the ones that I have had every night in one form or another every night this past week. Of not waking up at 3 AM and turning on the light because "something" might be there, even if it is only in my imagination. Of not psyching myself out by the sheer terror that I could have HIV (my first test came back negative but I need to be again in October and the length of time between now and then and knowing and not knowing seems interminable). Of trying to figure out why I was a "target" or why I was "chosen" (as the LCSW told me I was). Of trying to figure out how at 25 years old something like this could happen to me and despite all the knowledge and strength I have accumulated in my life seems to have left me.
I journal. I have found Matt Atkinson's book which thus far is the only one I have been able to find that doesn't put me off with all sorts of Dr. Phil-like-BS. Is there anything else anyone can offer me to help me hold it together before I can get some real treatment? Books? Words of wisdom? Anything?
Reply #1 07/18/10 7:21am
Matt's book is one of my favorite's for much the same reason. it is the only one that didn't make a zillion assumptions about my rape or the way I was going to deal with it. It also didn't try to make the rape less bad.
As for other books - don't know. My tastes tend to run to more abstract, reflective materials that aren't directly related to rape but my mind finds ways to connect to different parts of my experience. I rather liked "Goddesses In Every Woman" by Jean Shinoda Bolen. She has some interesting takes on different sorts of feminine power that I found helpful.
Music is a big thing for me. I put together a list of songs that help me a lot on you tube. You are welcome to take a look: http://www.youtube.com/user/ifshecr... . There are also a lot of threads here at RAR on music that is empowering and healing. It is worth scanning some of the old discussions.
And just a comment about some of the questions that keep you awake:
Ugh! Target? Chosen? You were no more chosen than any other woman in the room. You just happened to strike up a conversation or be in the room or seated at the table or whatever next to the wrong person. Any number of other people could have done the same and ended up in your shoes.
Some rapists do target according to a profile, but even then it has nothing to do with the person who is being targeted. The woman just happens to be a good fit for that particular rapist's fantasies and modus operandi. Some other rapist, some other fantasy. I was raped sitting in a car late at night. He "chose" me because I happened to be there when he happened to want to act. It was that simple. Nothing I did or was made it happen. It was just his own horrible decisions.
Your knowledge and strength is still there and in time you will reconnect to it, but sometimes it takes time. What happened to you is so off the mark, so beyond what anyone would ever expect from life, that it takes some time to take it all in and refind your footing, but you will.
Welcome and hugs.
Reply #2 07/18/10 8:27am
I am truly sorry for what happened to you. I am glad that you found us. Welcome.
Reply #3 07/18/10 8:49am
After my rape, I chose not to tell anyone for all the usual reasons--guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear--- Fear was a really big one. I can so relate to your questions ....am I pregnant, what disease did he give me, why me????? I kept this secret for over twenty years. It never left. I managed on a day to day basis. Made up excuses for my behaviors that were pretty well accepted. Avoided contact with people outside of day to day professional needs. In general got along ok. Except it never goes away.....and sometimes it gets a lot worse. I finally started seeing someone a year ago when my symptoms,anxiety, and depression got out of control.
Matt's book can be a lifesaver. It helps so much with the guilt and explains that what I'm feeling is normal. Most importantly it has shown me that this terrible event, with all of its aftereffects, is something that I can deal with if I'm willing to confront it head on. I'm not saying that I've been the perfect "student" working through his book. There are days and weeks where I refuse to pick it up because it causes too much pain.
This is where having a good therapist is essential. You need someone to talk to. To guide you. To nudge when you don't want to move further. To ask questions that will lead you to understand it was not your fault. You need someone you can tell all of the messy details to who you're not afraid of hurting. You need someone to help you curb your negative feelings about yourself.
I'm glad that you are here. Use us whenever you need support or have questions.
Reply #4 07/18/10 4:32pm
I am so sorry for what has happened but am glad that you have found this group. I would HIGHLY recommend Matt's book as well, but also encourage you to actively participate in this website. I have turned to the wonderful people here several times since joining a few months ago as I try to work through certain issues. Things that no other people can understand you can discuss freely here.
I think I can comment as to your situation as I was assaulted in the 3rd year of my post-doc. I know that you are probably feeling that the stresses of your PhD program may be too much to handle at this time. You may be surprised to learn that you can find great comfort in your studies and in your interactions with others in academia. The work you perform will in fact reaffirm your strength and considerable knowledge. In addition, anyone who has been through as much schooling as you have completed possesses a determination that is above and beyond most people. Please know that your strength, knowledge, and determination will in fact get you beyond this low point and when you need help we will be here for you.
Let me also express my praise for your acceptance in a PhD program, you should be considerably proud of yourself and your accomplishments. These can NEVER be taken away from you, by ANYONE!
Reply #5 07/18/10 10:42pm
Just wanted to say thanks for all of your encouragement and I'm thankful for this site. I will definitely look into your recommendations. I know I need help and I know I need to speak to someone about all of this but right now I am not ready to tell the people I love. I feel like I need to have a better grasp on my own emotions before I allow anyone else to tell me how I should feel about it or what I should do (especially when I can't think of a single person who knows what I am going through). All I can do now is push forward and focus on the future, getting through school and relying on my studies as I often have to carry me through. My plan right now is to equip myself with as much information about what happened and what I can expect as I recover before I move 900 miles away. My second step, as soon as orientation for my program ends, to spend the remainder of that first free week to find a counselor and get some help. Again, I appreciate all of your support as I don't have anywhere else to get it right now. Truly, I'm very grateful.
Reply #6 07/18/10 11:09pm
Welcome to the group :)
I can't really add much else to what everyone else has added. I'm a student too and my uni has been very accommodating with regards to extra study help. It might be worth separate to them in advance so they can offer extra help.. dicta-phones (if not currently allowed) for when you zone in lectures. Maybe a few extra tuition sessions. Prepare for deadline extensions and special circumstances forms for assignments/exams etc.
I also get funding for a personal tutor next year that i missed out on this year. That will be so invaluable because if i slip mentally my studies are one of the first things to go.
We're here for you *gentle hugs*
Reply #7 07/18/10 11:11pm
okay i have bad typing dyslexia atm! Separate in 4th line = speaking
Reply #8 07/18/10 11:20pm
I am so sorry this happened. I was date raped and I did not tell anyone for two years and that caused alot of damage for me so I am really glad that you are finding a counselor ASAP. As for any tips I would say even if you do not tell anyone, surround yourself with people that love and support you, people that you are comfortable with. Also know that being raped has absolutely nothing to do with your intelligence. You sound like a very smart competent woman that had something horrible happen to. I hope you can find this site as a form of support.
Reply #9 07/19/10 12:50pm
Welcome I am very sorry for what happened. As you can see post tramatic like symptoms are par for course however there are ways to get to them earlier to help smooth your journey and I am glad you found this book and forum to begin.
Discussion, question-and-answer, general social support, and journal processing for progress-oriented rape survivors. No crisis, no damaging or triggering conflicts--this is for individuals who want to contribute to collective, cooperative action toward the goal of making actual PROGRESS through rape trauma. Much of this work is based on the book "Resurrection After Rape." Diversity of topics is expected and encouraged!