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Rape and Abuse If you or someone you know is being abused in any way and you need support or advice, don't hesitate to reach out to us here.

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CheekyMonkey98 Offline
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Panic attacks and flashbacks - what's wrong with me? - March 7th 2016, 07:08 PM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of rape or abuse, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

Okay, here it goes.
I'm in a relationship with a lovely guy, let's call him "C"
When I was fifteen, I was in a relationship with a fifteen year old guy called "L".

I was a very naive, innocent fifteen year old. I was excited to be in a relationship - I thought it would be dates, cute gifts and kissing. But L was very controlling. I honestly felt like he was in complete control of me and my body. He would grope me in public, even if I didn't like it, yank me by the collar if he wanted to kiss me, even if I was trying to push away, but I accepted it because I thought that it was 'normal' and expected of me as a girlfriend.

When I visited his house, in the beginning we just acted sweet and then progressed to making out which I was happy and comfortable with but soon he would drag me to his bedroom, push me down and very roughly kiss me and take off my clothes. I felt like I had no control, and I didn't know how to say 'no' so I stayed very quiet and carried out what he wanted me to so he'd leave me be for a few hours. I felt obliged to give him oral sex (and to let him touch me) when I wanted to stop because I was scared and shaking, he would force me to continue by holding my head down, even though he could see that I was clearly distressed. Every time, I felt more and more afraid and in less control of my body. I was too scared to leave, he made me feel that nobody else would love me.

We could be watching a movie or eating dinner and he would suddenly be on top of me, stripping me, and I was terrified. Watching a movie, I remember how tears were streaming down my face as he would finger me even though I was turned away from him and shaking like a leaf. He would never ask if I liked it, if I was okay, if I wanted him to stop. It sounds stupid, but I was so afraid that I couldn't speak.

I didn't really consent to it but one time I was lying on my stomach, reading something, he was being okay, and then suddenly his penis was in my butt. I felt very confused because the physical sensation was nice but I didn't want to do it with him, I didn't feel ready, so I panicked and he had stopped because his parents came home. But I remember feeling like a puppet as he would always move my body, angle me so he could do things to me better or make me do things to him better and I was so afraid and felt so powerless, like I had to carry it all out.

We broke up, and I soon started dating C. C has treated me so well, but he knew nothing about what had happened. When we first started getting intimate, I would freeze up and stare up at the ceiling, not reacting, but he has helped me get more comfortable with it. We progressed to having sex after almost a year but then he found out about my past as my ex had a very loud mouth, so I had to explain in very little detail what had happened. Since telling him, I have flashbacks, nightmares, I have to avoid certain films and scents. I have angry outbursts, and I have panic attacks before and during sex, so we have to stop. I feel awful, and I can't explain to him because I know it makes him angry and hurt as he thought we were doing this together for the first time. Sometimes, when we have sex, I will start crying and he will hold me and comfort me but I feel awful and like a freak.
I know some memories are repressed, I can't remember everything, I don't know if I actually lost my virginity happily to my boyfriend or confusingly and scarily to my ex.

Nobody knows, because I am ashamed and I don't know how to categorise what happened, but I know it messed with my head.

Please help me.
   
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Re: Panic attacks and flashbacks - what's wrong with me? - March 8th 2016, 09:00 PM

It doesn't sound stupid at all. People react differently when they're forced into sexual things. Some fight, some try to leave, and others completely freeze. There's no wrong reaction, that's just kind of what happens in that moment. A lot of people become too scared to speak up but remember that not saying "no" doesn't mean you said "yes" either.

I'm glad you told your boyfriend, even if it brought back some uncomfortable things. You're going to eventually need to process these things with a professional so you can begin to heal from what you've been through. My advice is to find things that help you cope with panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares. Don't try to prevent flashbacks; let yourself have them because preventing them still keeps them locked inside your mind. Try to keep yourself comfortable during them. Sit with your boyfriend, wrap yourself in a blanket or a robe to feel safe, or hug a stuffed animal. When it's over, remind yourself of where you are, what room you're in or the date it is. Let yourself know that you're in the present and you're safe now. For nightmares, you can try to do safe things before you go to bed like listen to calming music, read a book, color (coloring is particularly calming) or try breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are great for panic attacks as well; as is putting your hand on your stomach and feeling it rise and fall.

Anger and other feelings surrounding what you went through can be really difficult to cope with. Anger does sometimes bring out thoughts of suicide in people, so do try to cope with it when you can. Maybe write an angry letter to your ex-boyfriend and destroy it, or scream into a pillow to see if that helps. Definitely express how you're feeling because keeping it inside can make you feel a lot worse.

I think you should write down all the memories of the abuse you do have for future reference. They will be nice to have for yourself, or therapy in the future if you decide to seek help. Keep record of them and add to them if you get any new ones back. They'll come back to you when your mind and body is ready for you to see them. It can be hard, but you're probably not ready to see them yet.

Consider telling your parents about what you went through. It is challenging to tell people, especially your parents, but they might be able to help you get the help you deserve and you could use their extra support.


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Re: Panic attacks and flashbacks - what's wrong with me? - March 13th 2016, 08:48 PM

Hey there,

Iím so sorry to hear about your first relationship. ĎLí definitely sounds controlling and abusive as he shouldíve listened to you, respected you and asked for your consent. Itís quite common to not realise the abusive behaviour, especially when you are young and this was your first relationship.

As Cassie said, people respond to abusive situations differently. Whilst some people might resist, or try to escape (fight vs flight) another common response is to Ďfreezeí. When this happens, your brain tries to protect you. Unfortunately, this can sometimes make things feel muddled up and can sometimes affect you in other sexual situations. Itís natural to feel scared and to not say Ďnoí or speak at the time, but it still counts as abuse because you didnít say Ďyesí.

When we encounter intimate situations after being abused, we can repeat the same patterns of Ďfreezingí because our brain thinks that we are going to get hurt again. Itís really good that you and ĎCí have taken things slowly and that you felt more comfortable. Itís also good that you were able to tell ĎCí what you had been through, even if it hadnít been in the best of situations. Sometimes, when we explore things that we had previously tried to block out, it can come back to us in the form flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, and sex can trigger us into angry outbursts and panic attacks. But remember that itís not your fault. You have nothing to be ashamed of when you feel this way. I think it might be helpful to explain to your boyfriend what it feels like for you. Even if he canít fully understand what itís like for you, it can help to know that thereís no pressure on you. Itís also good to only do what you feel comfortable doing. Even if you were comfortable doing something before, but find yourself getting upset about it now, it can help to take a break from that activity and do something else.

It sounds like you could do with some support. I like Cassieís idea of telling your parents, or someone else you trust. And if you feel comfortable, you could also seek therapy too. We are also here for you too!


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