Forgotten rape resurfaces years later
I was raped by two men in my home at the age of 15 and woke up that morning looking for the ghosts. I didn't remember it happening to me until it was 15 years later and boy oh boy, am I a mess. My main question is why I feel so alone. I am a loving and caring person who lives with my mom and dad now to take care of them. My dad is a double amputee and my mother doesn't drive. I love my dad and do not want him to go to a nursing home. I have a fiancé of 7 years who lives with us also. I'm also divorced but have three lovely children. I have had no counseling of any kind. I have held jobs of great responsibility, such as a respiratory therapist at a children's hospital in a major city, but I lost it due to a drug addiction to speed. I quit my drug addiction by myself without anyone really knowing my problems and have been clean for 7 years.
I do something really strange all the time: I play with the corner of a sheet, and also suck my thumb. Just writing these things down scares me. I just feel like I am so alone and wonder why and how my mind blocked out such a traumatic thing for so long. I closed my eyes during that act and still don't remember the actual rape. I was planning to play the Virgin Mary in the church play at the time of the rape and did play it since I truly believed I was a virgin - except a part of me was saying I might be pregnant. I don't understand why people react to trauma this way. Where should I go from here? I have a fear of not being believed but of course I will never tell everyone. Why should I?
You've written an excellent letter and I want to answer your questions as well as I can. I'll take them one at a time:
You said: "My main question is that I feel so alone. I have had no counseling of any kind."
I want you to know that anyone who has been raped or sexually abused feels very alone until they get the help they need. You don't say why you have had no counseling, but it is clear that you need to find a good therapist to help you. If money is a problem, all you need to do is call the nearest Family Service Agency (in larger cities) or the Mental Health Department in your area. Tell them you need to see a therapist because you were raped at age fifteen. They will take it from there. If you have good insurance or if you can pay on your own you can still call these agencies to get a referral, or you can contact any therapist you've heard good things about and ask them if they can help or if they will refer you to someone who can. Since you have worked in a large hospital you probably know what's available in your community. Once you see a therapist, remember that it's OK to "shop" for a good therapist. If the first therapist you see isn't a good match for you, see another one, etc.
You said: "I wonder why and how my mind blocked out such a traumatic thing for so long."
What you went through was truly "overwhelming." I'm sure that during the rape you had the feeling that it was "just too much to handle" and you probably feared that you would die from the trauma alone (regardless of whether you were threatened by the men involved). Your mind blocked this out for 15 years because you weren't strong enough to handle it yet. You actually started remembering it because you are now strong enough to handle it. So even though you are hurting badly now from remembering this, you can be very proud of yourself for becoming so capable. Overcoming your drug addiction and finding people who care about you (your fiance and others) probably helped you to gather a lot of strength. Congratulations on overcoming the addiction and on learning to share your love with your fiance! Those are *major* accomplishments.
You said: "Why do people react to trauma in this way and where do I go from here?"
I actually answered these two questions above, but I also want to refer you to my web site where there are some articles about sexual abuse and about how to get help. Just click on "topics" and read the topics under "Sexual Abuse in Childhood" (near the bottom of the list). Also look for the topic: "Are You Considering Therapy?" for ideas about finding a good therapist.
You said: "I have a fear of not being believed, but of course I will never tell everyone. Why should I?"
I don't know who you are talking about here when you say you are afraid of not being believed. Any good therapist will certainly believe you. (Unfortunately, we have all known many people who have experienced such horrors...) You do not have to tell anyone else, and the therapist is obliged to keep what you tell them confidential. It's fine that you don't want to tell anyone right now. You might change your mind later or you might not. It just doesn't matter much right now. What matters is that you get help while you are remembering all this!
I want you to know that you have much to be proud of. One thing to keep in mind is this: Although it is very painful to remember the rape, you have already done the hardest part. You have survived. Surviving the actual rape was much harder than what you have left to do: overcoming the pain of the memories.
Congratulations on all you've done so far. Congratulations also for writing this letter to Queendom. You may look back on this letter as a very important first step in your healing.
Tony Schirtzinger, ACSW