Day After- A Survivors Tell All
I will share my story soon. I have not decided if I want to do it in written form, a video, or both.
However, I want to highlight an aspect of being physically abused that no one talks about.
Your mental health after such a traumatic event.
Yesterday, you were just in a fight for your life- literally. You just had to fend off someone you love and/or know. A singular moment in time, just flipped your life upside down, and all you can do is think: 'what just happened?! How the f* did this just happen to me?'
Whatever the case may be, a fight started and then in a blink of an eye you were hit.
It was like an IED went off leaving you confused, in pain, and trying to figure out what to do next. Where is a safe place I can get to, could I make it out the door and scream for help?
You fight, you hit back, you dodge the punches, curl in a ball, pled for your life, you try and get away. None of it works and you are just laying there defeated. If you are one of the lucky ones reading this- you survived. Kinda.
In that moment, and all of the following after, you no longer feel safe. Your sense of security is gone and there is no bringing it back. Despite what just happened, you still love/care for the person. It is not a switch that flips off after an event like this. I wish it were the case, but you still care for them. So on top of everything, you now have a broken heart. What just happened, changed everything, and now you realize there is no going back to normal. There is no way to work this out with him/her. This is something you cant come back from.
Everything that you had, was beaten out of you. This is the end of 'us.'
Physically you are exhausted, you felt like you were just hit by a train. Your entire body is screaming in pain and your soul is too.
So now, physically you are injured.
Mentally you are scared, confused, and unfortunately still care about this monster.
But the fear does not leave you. It follows you around like Eeyore's rain cloud. This person knows everything about you. Where you work, where you sleep, where windows/doors are, they know your loved ones home too. There is not one single place they do not know. You have nowhere to run and hide to save what little security you may have left..
So what little you had, is now gone. They took EVERYTHING from you.
I was left in bed the next day. With a head injury, my arm was tore up, thumb hyperextended. My ribs, hips were bruised to the bone. I hurt. My cries were gut-wrenching. I kept looking at my door and windows, scared that he would bust through it again (my abuser kicked in a door that was double locked). I loved him, but after this, I could never been with him again. The family and future we talked about was gone the minute his foot hit that door. I grieved for what I thought I wanted with him.
I had a few friends I could talk to about this, but none went through this, so they didn't get it. When it came to my family- I was met with tough love. The kind that says: "put your big girl panties on and move on."
I had no one to turn to and talk through all of these emotions. I tried to go to work after this, but every time I got there, I would be hit with nausea, fear, chest pain on top of healing from the beatdown I just survived. The thing was, I had no idea I was experiencing was panic attacks and flashbacks. I worked at Dillards and the room I worked in had no windows, one door to go in/out. He knew where I worked and if he showed up- I was trapped. I had a lady boss at this time, and I explained everything to her. She stated: "You see that girl right there, she is battling cancer, yet she is still here working. You went through a break up that got physical- you'll be fine." Needless to say, that added to my panic and I ended up getting fired.
So at this point, I was more alone than I ever felt. The man I loved was gone forever, I had friends who would let me talk, but they did not understand a damn thing I was feeling. I was stuck, I didn't want to date or meet another an to 'get over it.' My family was giving me tough love and mental illness was not well known then. Now, I was just fired, because I wasn't coping the right way (I returned to work two days after).
I now had nothing. I stayed in bed and cried. I tried to sleep, but when I did I would relive that night. I could not eat. So I laid there, broken, staring at the television numb. Days turned into weeks and before I even noticed a month has gone by. I lost twenty pounds and still cried daily at this point. My stomach was still killing me, so one day I decided to run to a local pharmacy to get some tums. As I walked in, I was hit with nausea, sweating, shaking, felt like I was going to pass out, and like an elephant was sitting on my chest- I could not breathe. I jolted out of there and went straight back to my bedroom.
I tired to go back, several times, but I couldn't stay in the store long enough to check out. I tried to go for a drive, but if I got to that five mile mark I would get all the same symptoms. So I stayed in my room from this point on. This is when my grandfather Grady told my mom:"Stephanie needs true help by a doctor."
So my mom made me an appointment with a GI doctor. After several tests he stated that 'it was in my head.' This is when we both learned about mental illness.
I had developed PTSD, a Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia.
When I started looking up each diagnosis- everything finally made sense. My trauma was so bad, that my brain betrayed me. I tried prescription after prescription with the craziest of side effects (suicidal thoughts, to thinking my dog was trying to kill me). It took me years to get through this, and this is what lead me to get my degree in psychology.
So if you went through this and/or are going through this- I promise it does get better. I will write everything I did to get better. Seek a therapist the day after- I wish I knew to do this. I feel like I wasted so many years, simply because I had no idea what your brain can do in situations like this. It is okay to feel everything you do, even if you still have love for your abuser. I did. But find someone to help you walk though this next chapter of your life. You will need help navigating all of these emotions.
You are NOT crazy! You were almost killed by someone you love. It is a trauma that hits every aspect of your life. Whatever you do, just don't give up. I promise that you will be okay. You will rebuild your life. You will find security again. You will survive and you will thrive!
Give yourself grace, healing takes time and everyone's time table is different. You got this darling!