I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

PTSD

It surprised me the first time I heard sexual assault linked with the idea of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and yet it fit. Until then I'd associated PTSD with military veterans who continued to relive their horrible ordeal. When I was a kid, the experts used the terms shell shock or combat stress.

My connection began when I read an article about PTSD and learned about their having flashbacks and recurring dreams. I said aloud, "That describes many of us survivors."

In my first year of healing, those flashbacks occurred several times a week. I felt as if the abuse were happening all over again. At other times, especially when I faced an extremely emotional situation, I numbed out, which was also listed among the symptoms.

One man who wrote me privately told me about his PTSD and said, "When the flashbacks occurred, I dealt with them by drinking them away. I called it recreational drinking, but I was self-medicating."

It's not just the symptoms, but how we react. For some men, the effect is debilitating. I was fortunate because I'm a fulltime, freelance writer. For three months after I started my healing, I didn't work much and I was able to stall on projects. Because the pain and the memories were so new and invasive, I told friends I was just taking off a little time for myself—it lasted three months.

I wasn't cured, but during those three months, an almost nightly recurring dream stopped. The flashbacks came less often with lower intensity.

I'm still not fully healed, but I'm getting closer all the time.

2 comments:

Roger Mann said...

My sexual abuse was seldom if ever what I would call violent. Of course I am biased, but as I recall my first memories were scary, confusing and at times disturbing and uncomfortable yet mostly it was what I would call exciting and sometimes pleasant.

As I got older there was more confusion, anger and even rage and jealousy. In my twenties I got myself into some dangerous situations and some violence did occur a time or two.

Finally, there was my father's suicide directly after the murder of my mom. Now that was traumatic to say the least.

Even so the idea that I might be a victim of PTSD never ever occurred to me. Then one day I was working with a specialist and he suggested I take some tests. One was a sexual addiction test to see to what extent that might be an issue. The other was an evaluation for possible symptoms of PTSD.

I had met PTSD victims and while I admitted I shared and sympathized with some of their symptoms, it still never occurred to me to wonder about that. PTSD was for people who has survived plane crashes, wars, disasters or some act of violence. Certainly not me.

Wrong! If the test is to be believed I scored about 95-98%. I can't remember the exact number but it was in the high nineties and I was stunned.

I am still a bit uncomfortable with that title but the more I explored the subject, the more I had to admit I have way to many symptoms for it to be coincidence.

I am currently exploring the possibility of getting some intensive help for dealing with the symptoms because I do not want to go on living like this and feeling so out of control.

Thanks for bringing this up.

Mark Cooper said...

Several months ago I was sharing with my counselor my uncontrollable need to "feel" trauma. Any trauma.

She looked at me and said, "That's PTSD". Since then I've taken a test a rank high in the PTSD symptoms I deal with.

Today is a bad day. I've spent most of the day in bed, with the door closed. It's how I feel safe. Today