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I hallucinated my ex as my abuser and I’m not sure where to go from here


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I originally blamed the pandemic for his decision to leave. Everything was going wrong for me and I thought we just didn’t have the energy to deal with it on top of what was going on. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered what really happened and it feels like my world is caving in on itself. The past few days have been especially hard.

 

Back in 2018, I was raped by someone I really trusted. He stressed how important consent was to him before ever coming to my house and made me believe afterwards that we didn’t even have sex. My whole family was home while it was happening, and he cooked them dinner that night. For the last two years I’ve refused to call it for what it is; I didn’t believe I had the right when I barely fought him off. I just froze and laid there and let him use me until he decided it wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

 

I repressed it and thought I was over it because I could talk about it without feeling ty about myself and even joke and laugh about it. I didn’t even really think it was that big of a deal and justified it as “I didn’t want it then, but I would’ve wanted it later.” I thought I had closed that chapter in my life until late February/early March. It’s hard to remember when it happened exactly, but I can be sure that it was at least 3-4 weeks before the lockdown and definitely before the pandemic had been officially declared. He wanted to have sex and I wasn’t feeling up to it, but I decided to do it anyways. I want to stress that I had done this before and always found myself enjoying it as we carried on and had no issue with this personally, he did not do anything wrong. In hindsight, I can say that I really didn’t want to have sex that night and would go as far as saying I was uncomfortable with it, but felt like I couldn’t say no. Again, I want to make clear that is not his fault. We’ve never really had that conversation before, I had never not wanted it like that before, and I’ve been conditioned with the belief that relationships will fizzle out if you start not having sex so I just powered through it. I verbalised full consent.

 

He got on top of me and I thought about how similar it physically felt to my rape for a split second. Not too long, but long enough to plant the seed. I started panicking and tried to look up at him to reassure myself that it wasn’t him, it was my boyfriend, he loves me and I don’t need to be scared. Nothing. The room was dark and all I could see was a massive shadowy black figure looming over me. All I could feel was the weight of his body over mine, his breath on my face, and him using my body for his own gratification. I froze again and was back to where I was two years ago, I couldn’t tell him to stop or give any indication anything was even wrong.

 

I accepted what was going to happen and cried silently while I waited. He noticed something was wrong (I’m assuming by how still I was being) and I will always love him for that. He asked me what was going on and all I could manage to do was ask for his name. Hearing him say it felt like someone was strangling me and it just kind of hung in the air while I broke down and he held me as close as he could. There was no room for words in that moment. I told him I was sorry and named my rapist, and told him not to feel like it was his fault. This was the most we ever spoke about it. I think it was hard for the both of us to bring up again for different reasons, and I truly wanted to believe that it wasn’t a big deal at all. It happened, it was over, it doesn’t matter anymore. We don’t need to talk about it because it didn’t affect me when it happened the first time and it doesn’t affect me now.

 

I have never in my life been so wrong. I had already now unknowingly associated my boyfriend with that feeling, that event, and that person in general. I subconsciously resented him, hated him even. I had gone back to the familiar headspace I succumbed to after it had originally happened to me. For the first time since it happened, I was suicidal. I was severely self harming and contacting people I didn’t know trying to put a hit on myself (he doesn’t know any of this). It triggered a massive body dysmorphic episode that was by far the worst one he had witnessed from me. I would look in the mirror and see a bunch of interchangeable parts for other people to pick and choose from. Not recognising my own body was normal, but recognising it as a vessel for someone else’s satisfaction was something I still wasn’t used to. Some wanted me for my ass, some for my face, some for my legs, etc. but I was merely just a body carelessly put together and released into the world.

 

I began having paranoid thoughts about him talking to other girls (something my abuser did frequently) and him using me for sex, neither of which had ever once been a concern for me throughout our entire relationship. I went as far as accusing him of both of these things frequently, with literally no evidence or reason besides emotions that I couldn’t trust. I called him selfish, lazy, an . I threw every problem we had back onto him because I was too scared to face the realisation that I was actually really hurting him. I loved him, I wouldn’t do that. And I did love HIM, but I didn’t know who HE was anymore. Our relationship was no longer ours and I didn’t recognise either of us.

 

I treated him so badly and drove him mad. Quarantine was the worst timing in the world and the physical distance allowed me to emotionally detach from him even further. I understand people’s opinions about quarantine bringing out the “truth” in people, but I’m going to reiterate for people who might comment this that these issues began before the pandemic had even been declared, the isolation simply heightened what I was experiencing and allowed me an easier avenue to cope with it in the most unhealthy way I could have. I stopped telling him how I was feeling, I stopped telling him things that were going on in my life, I started getting more annoyed and angry at things I never would have previously, I couldn’t physically see him so all of these angry feelings for my abuser were so much easier to project onto him, and he started changing his behavior to keep me from getting upset. I never wanted him to change for me, or change to “deal” with me. One of our favorite things about our relationship was how easy it was for us to be ourselves, tell each other off for doing something hurtful, and talk about anything. I made him feel like it was no longer a safe space to do those things.

 

I don’t blame him for leaving. I don’t blame him for growing to resent me. He put in so much effort to be the best he could for me at the time and help me with whatever I was going through, even when he had no insight at all into what was going on 99% of the time and was dealing with his own life in the midst of a global pandemic on top of it. Three months of someones toxic behavior after knowing them as an entirely different person for a year and a half prior to that is hard. I even struggled staying with him for that three months because I PERCEIVED him as treating me unfairly, so I can only imagine how he was feeling about the person who was ACTUALLY treating him unfairly. I’m unbelievably proud of him for having the balls to walk away from someone who was treating him like that.

 

Since I’ve had this realisation, I’ve accepted that the rape did have an effect on me and that I deserved help for it. I’m now on a waiting list at a sexual abuse counselling center, I’m having regular phone appointments with a psychologist in the meantime, I’m actively trying to move out, and I feel better than ever about myself and my life than I have in a very long time. All besides the fact that he’s no longer in it at all and the fact that I treated him like an emotionless predator. The man who had flowers delivered to my house while I called him selfish, who hand-delivered me notes and bed socks to my house while I called him lazy, who told me he loved me every night while I stayed silent. It disgusts me.

 

I want to reach out, and everyone has told me to so far. It’s been three weeks since we last spoke, over a month since we broke up. I’m scared he’ll tell me he doesn’t love me. I’m scared he’ll say he doesn’t want to hear from me anymore. I’m scared he thinks that I was “showing my true colors”, when that is the furthest I have been from myself in years. I want to explain what happened now that I’m aware of the impact it had on me, and above all I want to apologise for the way that I treated him. He never deserved that and none of what I was going through justified the way I acted. I didn’t understand what was going on and couldn’t comprehend the way I was actually hurting him, but I will refuse to use that as an excuse because no one deserves to be the victim of someone else’s life.

 

I want to close this by acknowledging that a relationship, as well as a breakup, takes two. I know that I wasn’t entirely in the wrong in this situation, but I have to take responsibility for the majority of it because he genuinely did try really hard and I took complete advantage of him. I’m not a bad person and want to stress that this was not normal behavior for me and was not a normal part of our relationship, I had a breakdown and handled it extremely poorly. In a sense, the breakup was needed so that I could take a step back and realise how toxic I was being and get myself the help I needed, but I don’t want to lose him for good. Especially not to the loser that decided my body was nothing more than a hole.

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How long were you dating? Did you live together? Do you want to get back together and does he?

 

How old is he? Are you working or going to school? How old were you when the event happened? Was it a bf or a relative?

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While you were in this relationship. your mind was not coping well at all. You have hid some serious trauma, and instead of getting the help you needed desperately, you decided to date instead.

 

The problem with that is, you are still traumatized, needing help. You weren't ready to be dating...you're still not ready now.

Your mind did what it did, as a way to purposely push him out of your life, so you could get the help you needed and didn't have to deal with what you couldn't emotionally and mentally handle.

Will you ever be able to emotionally and mentally handle being in a relationship again? Yes, but now is not the time at all. You would only be causing yourself more damage and damage to whomever you decided to bring into your life.

 

I don't think it's the right time to be getting a hold of this man. You're still not in the right place mentally, for it.

You need to actually start proper therapy, and be receiving therapy for months, before you start to heal like you need to.

Once you actually heal, only then would it make sense to write him a letter explaining the situation and telling him what you actually went through.

But now is not the time.

 

All you will be doing is dragging him back into a situation where you can't offer any kind of changes or fixes, and as well, bringing yourself more guilt, upset and heartache over not being able to function well enough to have any kind of reunion with him. (should he even consider that).

It will bring up a whole bunch of emotions for you both, and the truly is the last thing you need right now.

 

Those telling you to contact him, obviously don't realize how much trauma you've gone through and still seriously need to heal from.

You are a very long ways from being okay.

 

Please rest, give yourself time. Wait until you actually start proper therapy and have had months of help, before you start considering contacting this man at all.

You need to be more concerned with your mental well being than to bring more drama and upset to yourself.

Because just say for instance, he did give you a bad reaction. That's not going to help anything right now. And neither of you need that upset.

Let it rest for now, concentrate more on healing yourself and getting the help you need.

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I feel better than ever about myself and my life than I have in a very long time

 

It’s been three weeks since we last spoke

 

It's been nowhere near long enough.

This is not a quick fix. A few phone calls with a psych, is literally only a drop in the bucket. You haven't even had a session with a sexual abuse counsellor yet.

 

Consider how long you've held onto this trauma, add in how many months you dealt with mixed up and confused emotions towards your boyfriend due to this trauma, and then times that by three...that's about how long you will need to be in therapy before you start to actually heal from this.

 

Right now you are rushing, and this can't be rushed. You need to slow down, give yourself time. Let it go right now with that's going on with this man.

You can't fix anything with him right now as you've not received enough therapy to even help yourself.

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Continue working on yourself and healing, working through those triggers. Do you have an idea how soon you can get into counselling (how long is the waitlist)? Have you received any help or suggestions or been given any other resources in the meantime?

 

You seem to have a pervasive idea that it's ok to have sex even though you're not feeling up to it. Where does this idea come from? Can you figure out the origin of this mindset or behaviour? Was it from your childhood seeing or witnessing emotionless sex in order to placate the other party? Is it cultural?

 

Sometimes finding the right words verbally in the moment is hard and shock can cause us to freeze. How has your voice, as a person and also as a woman, been stifled? Do you find that women don't have much of a say in the way you were raised?

 

The person who raped you was wrong. What relationship did you have with this person - was it a family relative or a friend of a relative? Was there trust established prior?

 

Has anyone suggested exploring the issue of powerlessness and voicelessness? I think you need tremendous amounts of healing, love and self-empowerment - a total overhaul in the way you see yourself in relation to others and what is acceptable in relationships. Take a closer look also at the types of relationships you're having with the opposite sex and learn to create boundaries for yourself when it comes to manipulation, aggression or any form of intimidation, harassment or abuse.

 

I think what you're missing is the friend in your ex, the person who was good to you, kind and loving. You've also come some way in recognizing and restoring him to an example of love and kindness. This is why you feel you're strong enough to reach out now and say something.

 

How did the relationship end? Did he completely close the door or did he suggest that it was ok to contact him if you wanted to talk?

 

People live with abuse and carry on to have fulfilling relationships from supportive partners. This is really between him and you. You seem to have a lot of work to do with your counseling and the real danger of dropping out of counseling to rekindle a romance is tempting. Ie. why see a counselor if you have your partner back? It may give you a false sense of confidence. I agree with SherrySher that you need more time. If you were, for example, both open to couples' therapy or counseling together in how to navigate a relationship where one person has been abused and the other emotionally abused by the partner, it may work but he may not want that. The problem is that those issues you've had have damaged him too and he either needs time to rehabilitate himself or counseling also.

Edited by Rose Mosse
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People live with abuse and carry on to have fulfilling relationships from supportive partners.

 

Agree, although this is normally after months, if not years of therapy. You as a couple have been separated for not even 3 weeks after months of mass confusion, upset and not getting on at all.

 

It's far too soon. To even consider talking right now, (nevermind anything else), there will be a good chance of falling back into the same patterns as you've not received hardly any help yet.

 

But Rose has a lot of good questions, that hopefully you can consider and try to work out the answers too.

 

Keep in mind too, that your ex has had a lot of upset. He needs time to be on his own and to recover. (I am not trying to make you feel bad at all. But this is the reality of the situation).

He has been treated badly too now due to this trauma.

He deserves time to heal and have his own time right now.

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Are you going to press charge, since it was recent enough to do so? You can go to any type of counselor, therapist, social worker, doctor etc. it doesn't have to be a rape counselor.

Back in 2018, I was raped by someone I really trusted.

 

I’m now on a waiting list at a sexual abuse counselling center, I’m having regular phone appointments with a psychologist in the meantime,

 

I’m actively trying to move out.

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Are you going to press charge

 

I think that would be tough to do as there is no evidence, it would be her word against his, plus they would wonder why she took so long in coming forward.

 

I agree that this man deserves jail time, no doubt about it. But it would be so difficult all this time later and might expose OP to going through even more trauma telling her story in front of a court room and not having the outcome she hopes for.

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