I'm new to the forums and just happened to stumble upon this site yesterday. I'm extremely desperate for some feedback and input and would be thankful for any sort of response. I don't know where exactly to start with my explanation of matters, it seems that there's so much to say and I'm sorry in advance for gushing out and I realize this is an extremely long and tedious post to read, but here goes.
My girlfriend and I are both 20, we attended the same high school (although we didn't know each other back then) and go to the same college now. We've been good friends for about 2 years now, and have been boyfriend-girlfriend for about the past 5 months.
When she was 18 she was violently raped by a family friend during a summer vacation. She was a virgin and that was her first sexual encounter; she had never done anything sexual prior. Just to add in extra info, she didn't pursue charges against the rapist until much later on, so he was never busted and is still out there, although she has a restraining order against him, he's not in jail and is still living his life. She was also impregnated during the rape, but ended up having a stillbirth. The issues pertaining to her rape and her day-to-day struggles to heal and survive are directly impacting our relationship, and I am at my wit's end regarding what to do.
I love this girl very much, with all my heart, and even though we haven't been together as a couple at that long yet, we have a phenomenal connection that I cherish and want to preserve dearly; she means the world to me. She's very sweet and kind, intelligent and beautiful, and we really do just connect and click well with one another, for the most part. She feels the same about me, and loves me very much as well.
When we were just friends, I had already been aware that she was raped as she had confided in me about it, mentioned it briefly, but never went into any depth or details about it. When we started talking about getting into a relationship, my main concern was if she was truly ready for one, knowing what had happened to her just 2 years ago. She assured me that she was, saying that she trusted me immensely as she has never ever felt safe or secure around any male since the incident (aside from her dad and brother), except for me, so of course I trusted her judgement and placed my faith in her.
Initially I thought I could overcome this with her, that we could work together and I could be her rock, her strength whenever to pull her through whatever it is that she would face. I knew it wouldn't be easy at all, that there would be a lot of difficult times, but I believed she was worth it all and we could persevere and I could help save her so to speak. After a while of being together, she began to open up about the incident and tell me everything that was on her mind. She told me all the details about the rape, every sexual position he performed on her, every sexual act he forced her to do, his smell, his taste, the pain she felt, the blood, every thought that crossed her mind, every feeling she experienced, how degraded and dehumanized she felt, how the rapist laughed at her and called her names and hit her. Everything. It broke my heart hearing all that, and it absolutely killed me thinking about how my girlfriend was violated like that. I was furious, enraged, upset, destroyed, sick to the pit of my stomach, I cried, very emotional. I broke down.
The thing is, on the outside, my girlfriend seems like a perfectly normal, functional person. By being around her and talking to her, you'd never be able to tell anything is wrong. But when it's just the two of us, she always tells me everything she feels about the rape, always brings up the memories and thoughts. I try to be as supportive as possible, and I'm glad to listen since it helps her, but it kills and destroys me every single time. She has flashbacks often. In the beginning I couldnt even put my hand on her back without a flashback occurring. Flashbacks still occur just as frequently, almost every day, but she's a lot more comfortable with my touching her or having physical contact with me. Most things that used to cause flashbacks don't anymore, but the frequency is still the same.
The rape is always on her mind, whether she's awake or not. She has nightmares every time she tries to sleep, about the rape. About random guys raping her, about me raping her, beating her up, etc. They're extremely morbid, sometimes the rapist and I take turns raping her in the nightmares, sometimes she gets gang raped in them, sometimes she gets stabbed in them, etc. She tells me she feels all of this happening to her, as if it were happening to her in real life, as if she feels herself getting raped again as it's happening. Because of this she's extremely frightened to sleep, most nights she doesn't, sometimes she goes for days on end with no sleep. Her flashbacks are just as bad, as I think she's still suffering from PTSD, whenever they occur it's as if experiencing them a if they were happening to her in that moment. She's always tired and exhausted, who wouldn't be, and breaks down a lot, but only around me.
I just love this girl and support her, and Iím entirely okay with doing nothing sexual, but she wants to and insists that we do. She tells me itís important to her not only because itís between us, but by doing do it helps to erase the past and give her new memories about being sexual, ones that donít involve the rapist or pain or feeling dirty. Iím a virgin by the way, and she and I have never had sex, though we both want to. We attempted once, and she had a horrible flashback before I could even go inside of her, so we stopped. We do everything else though, upon her insistence, and flashbacks still occur often, but a lot less than when we first started. When they do itís like sheís back in the moment, and she doesnít even see me or hear me or know im there. All she sees is the rapist and she feels him raping her again and again.
Iím greatly concerned for her health, as I really think she could end up dead if this continues on this way. She barely sleeps, hardly eats, is off school this term, but works, sheís always depressed and breaks down every day. Sheís always mopes around and doesnít function productively. Iím the only who knows and sees everything about this, she hides it from her friends, and though her family knows she was raped, she masks whats going on with her so they donít worry. She only lets everything out with me. She only feels comfortable and secure when sheís around me, any other time sheís scared and fearful about being raped and about other men in public. Sheís afraid to be home alone, canít even sleep in her own room at night even though her parents are in the room next door. She makes me stay on webcam with her with the lights on the entire night. Sheís admitted to me that she contemplates suicide a lot, even though she promises she could never do it.
Her issues are directly affecting me as well. I feel overwhelmed and on the edge of a nervous breakdown frequently. I have broken down several times myself. I stay up late every night comforting her, sometimes until 3, 4, or 5 am, even though I have to be up at like 6 or 7am for my morning classes. Iíve havenít been able to eat properly anymore either, and Iíve dropped 15 lbs since being together with her. Iím constantly stressed out and exhausted, physically and emotionally. I feel like I canít handle this. I used to go to the gym and work out 5 days a week, now Iím hardly ever able to go. I canít do everything I need to throughout the day because sheís very clingy and needy, and texts or calls me all the time, even if she knows what Iím up to or that Iím busy. Iím very family oriented and I havenít been able to spend much time with my family, and I havenít hung out with any of my friends since being with her, because I give her any amount of free time that I have. I feel as though my life is no longer mine, but belongs to her.
I keep insisting that she go and attend therapy or talk to a counselor, and that I will go with her and be there for her every step of the way, Iíll support her and I wonít abandon her and weíll work through it together, but sheís completely against it. She said that she attended counseling before we were together and it didnít help, though personally I think she left pre-maturely as she wasnít there for even a year. She feels that by going to therapy it would be admitting defeat, and taking a step back, even though I assure her that allowing yourself to get help is a huge step forward and one of the best things she could be doing. I realize though that I canít force her to do something she doesnít want, I can only offer the help. It kills me though that she refuses.
She also makes me promise not to talk to her friends or family about whatever she tells me. She said friends of hers have done that before and she felt so betrayed and that she was stripped of her sense of control.
To make matters worse, we get into constant arguments almost all the time. I feel as though the arguments are uncalled for and that she starts them with me. I know Iím not perfect, but I really do bend over backward to be supportive, and even though this may seem mean I feel as though my girlfriend is unstable and erratic most of the time. Some days sheíll be very sweet and affectionate and it feels like Iím having a great time with my girlfriend. The next day sheís randomly cold, mean, distant, and wonít even talk to me, as if we were strangers. It's like I have to win her back and get her to warm up to me again every time i see her. When she gets frustrated she calls me names and makes me feel belittled and labels me as close-minded and that I donít listen to her, and sheís really mean to me. Iím no pushover though, and whenever I try to bring this up with her, and call her out about it, that it hurts me to hear her say that stuff to me when Iím only trying to help, she says Iím being too sensitive. Iím very frustrated with her behavior though, and I tell her not to act that way towards me, because it makes me angry and I donít want to yell (she hates being yelled at). She then ends up yelling at me, and if I raise my voice back she starts sobbing and accuses me of enjoying hurting her and that I like to cause her pain and make her upset. Then she tells me im just too sensitive, and that she cant even tell me what she wants to because she always has to think about if it will make me angry or not. She tells me Iím always starting trouble with her, even though I honestly donít believe that I am. I can admit if Iím being stubborn or hard-headed, but I really feel as if Iím just trying to be supportive and non-argumentative. She tells me Iím impatient and not understanding or caring enough of her situation, and that I should cut her more slack. I know sheís got it so much harder than me, but Iím suffering too, and I just really wish she would realize that although sheís got it the worst, Iím going through a lot also.
Sometimes sheís very sweet, and tells me I donít deserve to be in a relationship with a girl as broken as her, that she thinks I should leave her and have a normal life. Other times she cries and begs me to stay with her, to please donít leave her and that sheíll try harder. Sheís very moody and her disposition and behavior towards me fluctuates on the drop of a dime.
I forgot to mention that in addition to the rape when she was 18, when she was 14 or 15 she was violently beat up along with a female friend while they were walking home from school, so she is extremely paranoid of being harmed at all times.
I know my life would be so much easier without her, but I really do love this girl with all my heart. I donít want to leave her or give up on her or abandon this relationship, but Iím also not naÔve. I realize that this is extremely unhealthy and toxic and I wonít be able to handle it much longer, that I have to protect myself and look out for my own sanity as well. Itís one thing if she was more open to getting therapy and actually proactive to counseling, but sheís not and refuses to do so. I feel like thereís nothing else more I can do to help her. Iím giving her everything I have, and she tells me sheís trying her hardest too. Some days she tells me I make her so happy, that I heal the hurt and make her feel whole again. Other days she talks about how hollow and empty she is, how broken she feels, how something inside her died and sheís giving me whatís left of herself, that she has nothing more to give and I canít expect any more from her. She'll tell me I make things harder for her because I always start arguments with her and that i'm mean to her, then she'll say i'm perfect to her and i'm the only thing keeping her fighting and alive.
She told me the other day that this is not a normal relationship and she is not a normal girl (which i of course realize), and that I canít expect normal reactions from her. That sometimes she herself doesnít understand her own reactions and feelings. Oftentimes when I try to talk things out with her she becomes furious and tells me if I canít handle her baggage I should just leave. Thatís the biggest slap in the face for me, because Iím giving everything Iíve got to be here for her, and at other times she begs me not to leave her. I love this girl with all my heart, but she drives me crazy. I feel like Iím stuck in an impossible situation, and thereís no better alternative to fix things.
I donít even know how I got into this position. I feel like her sense of lack of control over her life is now controlling mine, and Iíve always been the type of person not to tolerate disrespectful or negative influences from any person, but I think I let things slide with her because sheís going through so much. I realize sheís under immense stress and pain, but I am now as well, and she doesnít make things any easier on me. Itís hard enough facing this situation when weíre on the same page, how much more when we argue and arenít united?
Iím really at a loss on what to do. I really donít want to break things off with her, I truly love this girl as much as I possibly can, but I feel that ending our relationship is the only thing thatís left to do. I can't handle her erratic behavior, I need some consistency and stability. The good times between us are really great, some of the best times of my life so far; they're what keep me hanging on. But they're scarce and seldom, and there are so many more bad times with her. What do you think? Is she beyond help? Any sort of feedback or input would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much.