I'm not traumatized... Am I? (Sexual assault recovery)
June 1, 2013 7:40 PM Subscribe
I was sexually assaulted a few times and stalked/harrassed by an abusive, predatory and highly manipulative man who was in a position of trust to me. (We weren't in a relationship; he is nearly three times my age.) I am confused about where I should "be" or where I amin terms of getting over the events.
Counselors and websites are quick to point out things like PTSD and rape trauma syndrome; they are suggesting things like EMDR and strongly hinting that I'm traumatized. I'm not convinced. Is it possible to actually be traumatized and not realize/recognize it? Is a "trauma response"... with panic attacks, flashbacks, and such... the only possible response to rape and harassment? Secondly: Is therapy always necessary to deal with this sort of thing? Or is it possible that I have/will get over it by myself? I don't want to pathologize myself. I don't want to create new problems for myself by going to therapy that I might not actually need. I wanted to ask metafilter because the counselors I speak to are obviously going to be somewhat biased in telling me that I am "traumatized".
posted by gemutlichkeit to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This was a reasonably recent incident. I dismissed/buried it for a month, and then I briefly had a very physiological anxiety response. Now I no longer have panic attacks and eating/sleep disturbances-- rather, I am having a harder time cognitively / emotionally making sense of the fact that there are people who would take such bad advantage of me. This is not so much an anxiety/panic response as much as it is a sort of preoccupation, which makes me wonder if I'm even traumatized (what does trauma even mean?). I keep thinking about whether the man understood that what he was doing to me was wrong, whether he has done this to other women (he has basically told me that he has), what characteristics about me made him want to target me, how I wish I could tell him to his face how badly he has hurt me and to demand an apology (completely unrealistic, I know). These thoughts are fairly repetitive and I feel the need to get reassurance from older adults, social science research literature, etc... that it wasn't my fault. Is this also part of a normal "trauma" response or is it something else? I know that I don't have to label everything I feel, but I am at a point where I want reassurance that my emotions are valid and sometimes that can come in the form of a label.
The other so-called symptoms I currently have are nightmares that are symbolic of the incidents, a general lack of interest in sex (although I was not very interested even before the incidents), some crying spells, and a general sense of isolation, disillusionment, and unhappiness. But I'm high-functioning overall-- my grades remained good and people can't tell that anything about me has really changed. Would I benefit from therapy, and if so, what kind?
Feel free to message me as well.