Originally Posted by slightlyawkward
Trigger warning - PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic, sexual assault/rape.
Just over two years ago now, I went through a trauma (was raped) and the police did not take me seriously at all (partially because the man that assaulted me was a friend at the time). They told me it was half my fault, that I provoked him, and basically said that boys will be boys and that I should just "be more careful" in the future and should never hang out with a man alone ever again (which is just ridiculous). I have PTSD from the incident.
I have not properly tried to heal from it all until recently, which has caused my symptoms to grow so much worse. My panic attacks have gotten to the point where I will fly into a rage and start shaking, screaming, and crying uncontrollably. It is absolutely terrifying. I often don't even feel in control of my own body and sometimes don't even remember all of the panic attack, as though I've blacked out for small portions of time. I've tried the grounding techniques that I know (listing off five colors, scents, sounds etc. that I see in the room) but the panic attacks are so much worse than anything I've ever experienced that these techniques simply don't help. I feel I have no way if stopping them and have to just wait it out, and then can last hours at a time.
Does anyone have any tips to help?
Hi, I'm really sorry you went through all that, both the assault and the police non-response. I think it would be really, really good if you could go to a therapist who specializes in treating sexual assault, as they know how to deal with trauma - not all therapists do. One thing about PTSD is that it is much easier to treat sooner rather than later.
I am from a violent household, and cured the PTSD somewhat myself (most of the hallucinations and overt stuff like that) by talking to myself about "this isn't real," and comforting myself. I did this over and over as the symptoms came up. Then I went to 2 therapists who helped me see that when I tried to stand up for myself in conflict situations, I was still having PTSD symptoms that I didn't recognize as PTSD. I went to a therapist who had me re-imagine the worst incidences, but by then the incidences were over 20 years ago, and I couldn't shift them.
But I have managed to totally recover from PTSD just through one basic idea which is that many thoughts are not true, and I am not going to buy into them. I will look at each thought or sound or picture and see if it is true in the present. Am I still being attacked? No, so pictures of being attacked are no longer true in the present (just in the past, which is over)- now I am going to comfort myself by relaxing all my muscles and doing deep breathing or some other healthy way of letting go of the stress that gets stored in my musculature. Sometimes if I have processed a particular thought a bunch of times, I can do a shortcut mantra of "not real, not real" to myself so I remember not to hold on to that thought.
I have had panic attacks, as well, and you can not have a panic attack and be deep breathing at the same time - many panic attacks rely on shallow breathing or holding one's breath and not exhaling fully. So be sure to do the full long exhale so you can take a good inhale again. Be sure to be very kind to yourself if you do have a panic attack. You need to learn to be your best ally and dearest friend when learning to let go of fear.
Another thing I did when I was more stable emotionally is to take a Model Mugging class - in your case, be sure to get a teacher who is known to be sensitive to people who have been sexually assaulted. I did this and it is great. I can now knock out an assailant and know how to break several bones if needed, and I can stand up to people being verbally gross. If this seems like too much, women's self defense classes are really good, too. Actually I took one of these first.
I wish I could help more. Please take extra good care of yourself!!!!