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Heathen Offline
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How long does it take? - April 19th 2017, 01:53 AM

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.

How long does it take to heal from sexual assault? I'm really struggling right now. It's been four months and one day since I was raped. I don't even know where to start. I fell apart for two months and then I went to treatment to try and get better. I did well and I thought I was over it but I got so focused on treating my eating disorder that I just suppressed everything that happened and now that I'm in a place to work on trauma it's worse than ever. The flashbacks I experience are as frequent and as vivid as they were when it first happened. I have dissociative episodes daily, sometimes for a couple of hours at a time. I'm trying to process everything but I can't get past the flashbacks. I'm beginning to worry I have some form of PTSD. That sounds super dramatic but I really don't know what else to characterize this as.

I don't want this to carry on. I've already been assaulted previously in my life, starting as young as when I was eight years old, and my therapist thinks I need to go back that far to process. I can not even get over this latest assault; how am I supposed to find a way to process the trauma from almost twenty years ago?

I just want it to stop, and I keep invalidating my own pain. Okay, I say to myself. That's enough. It's time to move on. But I can't move on. So I start invalidating my own pain. I compare it to other people's experiences, people who were raped by loved ones, or who were raped repeatedly. Compared to them you just had a really crappy ten minutes, I tell myself. I know it's bad to do that but I have a hard time controlling myself.

So, how long does it take? How long should it take, to get over a stranger raping you? Does anyone have any advice for how to deal with flashbacks and dissociative episodes in the mean time?

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Re: How long does it take? - April 21st 2017, 08:40 PM

I wish I could give you answer as to how long it will take to heal. It's an individual process but I'm hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel. As for PTSD, it's not dramatic at all, and could be a possibility, especially if you have past trauma as well.

I can't imagine how confusing it must be trying to process the rape as well as past assault. Personally, I think it can help to work on whatever you want or feel the need to work on first. Even if it's just a load of memories and emotions jumbled up, I think it can help just to try to process them as they come. I don't believe there is right or wrong way to heal from the trauma, only what works for you matters the most.

I think it's common to invalidate your experiences. It's not good but it can be a way of trying to cope thinking that you have some control over the situation or how you deal with difficulties in the present. But it is good that you realise that you invalidate yourself as you can try to be gentler on yourself when you realise that those things aren't true and it's just invalidation.

I'm not entirely sure how to deal with flashbacks and dissociation, but what helps me is either to run cold water on my hands or warm my feet on something, and to cuddle up in blankets.

Keep hanging in there <3

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Re: How long does it take? - April 22nd 2017, 02:36 AM

Since I'm still hurting from this, I can't really give much information. However, it does take a while to come to terms with it, and sometimes, you can't ever 'get over it'.

I've been raped/sexually assaulted more than I would like to say, and I'm still not over the ones that happened a few years ago, especially the first one, which happened while I was still a virgin.

I have PTSD from my past abuse, and it's nothing to be ashamed over. You're not alone.

You know where to find me if you need me. Stay strong <3

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Re: How long does it take? - April 22nd 2017, 05:42 AM

How long it takes differs for everyone. Sometimes some people will never get over it, but that doesn't mean you won't ever be ok. It takes time to process things, so you should never feel like you have to rush. I'm still struggling with it but with support from others I know both you and I can get past this.
It's perfectly reasonable for you to feel like you have PTSD. It was a traumatic event so it would make sense that you have some serious trauma over it.
As for the dissociation, my psychiatrist said there's no real remedy for that except therapy. I know I struggle with that. I recommend you try out therapy if you can or if you're already in therapy try bringing it up if you can.


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Re: How long does it take? - April 22nd 2017, 09:26 AM

I don't know about rape and PTSD, but I know it takes a year for the brain to fully recover from other types of trauma. e.g. one needs to be clean for a year to be considered recovered from a drug addiction. My own experience recovering from clinical depression is it takes a year. And I've read in a book on brain neuroplasticity that it takes a year, though that appears to just be an empirical observation.

Ways to treat PTSD are to: tell someone your story and have them accept that it happened and still accept you. When we recall a memory the memory gets rewritten. The objective is to rewrite the memory with less emotional significance attached. So getting in a calm state, and then recalling the story, helps rewrite the memory with less emotional significance attached.

Another way is the meditation way. Instead of fighting the feeling and pushing away from it, try the opposite, scan your body from head to toe, focus on how it feels to be traumatized. What does it really feel like? Where in the body is it felt? Just observe and notice. Don't try to change it or fix it, just scan and notice and be mindful.

Another way is to not think about it. Think a thought strengthens and reinforces the thought. If you can distract your thoughts with something else every time the memory comes up, the brain may eventually be tricked into believing this must not be an important memory because there's more important things to think about, so I'm going to commandeer that part of the brain used to store that memory and emotion and use that brain real estate for something else more important. (This supposedly works for chronic pain. I don't know about PTSD. Sounds hard to do.)

Oh and the meditation way is also not to berate yourself for not being healed, instead just accept that you are not healed, and notice and acknowledge that you are not healed. (This worked for me once when I was really upset about something, and I went to my meditation group, and I sat there and scanned my body to find what it felt like to be upset, and where did I feel it, and I realized I didn't have a location in my body where I felt it, it was a thought, but it didn't have a location, so it really wasn't there, at least not in my body, and instead of trying to "fix" it, as in "meditation will fix this!", I just allowed it to be, and, somewhat annoyingly, it went away, when I stopped trying to get rid of it. I know, weird.)

Another thing I've noticed with myself is when I'm depressed, every negative thing that ever happened to me returns to my mind, which really isn't helpful at all. I'm guessing this is how the brain works. I'm depressed, so let's recall every time in the past I felt this way and see what did we do about this in the past, maybe there's a solution there. So just being depressed may bring back these traumatic memories of past trauma, and this will all go away when the depression gets treated and lifts, then the brain feels fine again, and there's no longer any reason to recall past trauma anymore.

One way to treat it is the Western way with medication. The other way to treat it is the Eastern way with mindfulness exercises, using the brain to heal the brain. (Personally, I like medication first. Then once I'm well I can apply the Eastern meditation / yoga / qi-gong / tai-chi stuff to help keep me well.)

Sorry about the rape. I am so shocked to find how frequent this appears to be!

(The "Headspace" meditation app is something that might be worth a try.)
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Re: How long does it take? - April 22nd 2017, 04:02 PM

Like everyone has said, it's different for everyone. There is no set time and it's important for someone to cope at their own pace. It's natural to invalidate yourself, but something to consider is that you can't fairly compare yourself to anyone else because everyone is so different and everyone is impacted by things differently. Your experiences are just as important as everyone else's are.

Flashbacks and dissociation can be really difficult to manage, especially because dissociation becomes your mind's coping skill for things post trauma. Have you tried stimulating your five senses to see if that helps? Some people have a sense that they can work with and they benefit from it more than others. For instance, you can stimulate your sense of smell by trying a new perfume or body wash. You can stimulate your feeling by wrapping yourself securely in a blanket or putting a heating pad on yourself.

Techniques to help flashbacks and dissociation can help a little bit, but they won't make it go away completely unfortunately. Sometimes the temporary relief is enough to keep pushing forward, though.

Take care of yourself.

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