I have lived with the after-effects of male violence for most of my life . I wish to write about what it is like.
The way I see trauma is that it is an outside force pouring poison into the “victim”. I say this because I feel that it is no accident to have trauma. It is not a mental disease, although it does affect mental welfare.
When the outside force is male violence , then trauma is a natural reaction to such hatred.
When living with male violence, I felt nothing. I thought I was hard. Thought if I did not feel, then nothing would matter.
I was not living, I was just breathing.
It was a time that I refused to see. I was in a place where I could not see an exit, so I pretended I did not care.
Now, it is another life time ago, I can let myself feel.
For me, this begun by finding that I was believed.
I had always thought that my reality could not be spoken about. I could not believe my own reality – why would anyone else. I could not understand why I live with so much violence – and not be dead.
It made no sense.
But, I got to the point of collapse after a rape too many. I lost the energy to keep my silence.
When I saw I was believed, words would not stop. I spoke for three years. I cannot remember what I said. All I know was I could feel the ice breaking in my body.
It was then I had body memories. For me, this is the hardest part of trauma. I get and have terrible pains thoughout my body. When I see a doctor, there is only minor things physically wrong with me.
It is all in the mind.
The pain I get is all down the left side of my body, especially my leg, arm and ear. I get many pains in the parts of my body where I was abused. But, as I was abused in almost every part of my body, I cannot predict where the pain will come from.
I have found the pain is not a bad thing. It reminds to remember my truth. I often get pain when I running away from my life. Pain slows me down, and helps me reflect. Pain makes me write to express reality, not the fantasy others may have of my life.
As I slowly uncovered my reality, I am getting space for becoming the person I can be. I have found that I enjoy relaxing. This I never known.
When I lived with male violence, I never stop being on alert. I live tense. I was used to catnapping, never allowing myself to be so vulnerable as to sleep. I thought it was normal to be on guard.
Now, if someone said I am laid back, I see that as a massive compliment.
I let myself enjoy my pleasures without wanting to keep others happy, or to stop them being angry. I do not feel a need to have to pleased others if I do not trust them.
This is important, for I have learnt to know I have an instinct for violent men. That was always there in me, but when I lived with male violence, I made myself ignored my gut reaction.
I remember the first time I meet my stepdad, I hated him, and had a strange feeling of fear. But, being a good girl who like to please, I smiled at him. This is how I was for too much of my life. If I was not being polite, I was silent.
Now, I feel if I don’t trust and like men it does not matter. For, I will not give the benefit of the doubt, to have it smashed over my head.
What I never know would happen is by being more selective about who I will trust, have made me a lot closer to my male relatives who are trustworthy. As I defreeze, I have my Dad and my brothers back in my life. This gives me so much.
As I see clearer, I see my abusers as sadistic criminals. They had no pity for me, so I will have no pity for them. I will write, speak and remember them for who they were -not as they forced me to see them. I know that their violence was planned. I know I was abused because I was a girl or woman who happen to be in their eye-line. It could of been any girl or woman.
I was never the cause. The men who went out of their way to destroy my life hated all women and girls.
As I grow into PTSD, I have found that I can feel grief.
This feels like a victory. I have always been so hard on myself. Always punishing myself for “letting” the violence happened to me. When I feel grief, I feel pity and compassion for who I had to be. I can see my past self, and do not want to shout at her – but, instead I want to hug her and give her hot chocolate. I know she may hit out at me – but I can hang on in there.
I think I have said enough for now, I am sure I will write again about trauma. It is not the whole of me, but it is a part I no longer run away from.