My domestic abuse at the hands of my now, ex-husband, was so many years ago, I can’t remember exactly how many. Maybe 8. Maybe 9. Possibly 10.
I’ve built a happy, successful, wonderful life. I’m married to this amazing man who is a great husband; we made what I, with full bias, know is an incredible child. I am surrounded by friends, family and have a fulfilling job. I have ‘it all’.
Part of my life bundle is PTSD.
I escaped my abuser a long time ago but I still haven’t escaped the trauma. That, may, last a lifetime.
I mentor women, young and old, in how to survive abuse. I talk about safety plans, protecting yourself and your children, the court and legal system in the U.S., and how to find the right kind of therapy. Because, sadly and unfortunately abuse doesn’t end when you leave your abuser.
I coach women through life after abuse. I’m experienced in it. I suppose you could say I’m a subject matter expert.
As I lay awake at 1, going on 2am, my heart is still racing. My breathing, hard yet fragile at the same time. I’ve found my outlet to make myself calm; I write.
Fifteen minutes ago I was curled up in the fetal position, shaking, my husband’s protective arms wrapped around me for safety as I brought my breathing back down from extreme panic levels.
Sixteen minutes ago I was fully entrenched in a horrific nightmare or night terror. Crying in my sleep. Screaming in my sleep. Shaking in my sleep. Sometimes all.
This is an occurrence he knows only too well.
He’s woken to me in tears, other nights screaming for help or begging my night terror visitor to leave me alone. Tonight, it was me gasping for air.
This is how, together we have learned to handle night terrors.
Trauma after domestic abuse is a major part of what survivors deal with. Just because someone leaves, it doesn’t mean their ordeal is over.
Night terrors are just one aspect of PTSD.
However many years beyond the abuse I survived, however many therapy sessions I’ve taken, however much I mentor and coach other survivors, I still carry this memory and this trauma. I carry this burden. I am not alone.
Please help victims of abuse. Please recognise abuse. Please stand up to abusers.
Please don’t give up on supporting someone just because they have left their abuser.
Life goes on. Trauma goes on.
If you, or someone you know needs help please contact the domestic abuse hotline (US) for guidance, contacts and safety plans on 1-800-799-7233 or 0800-2000-247 in the UK
Don’t hesitate to call 911/999 in an emergency – know that is always better to be safe and protected.
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