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Found out that something horrific happened to a friend...

(38 Posts)
yolofish Wed 27-Jan-16 12:53:26

I cant go into details, because it would make her pretty much identifiable, but think kidnap, rape and very extreme torture. It was a long time ago, and I just asked her how she was and it all came spilling out. She's actually 'fine' but had PTSD flashbacks due to a medical procedure her DS was having. I just cannot get what happened to her out of my head... she doesn't want sympathy, she feels 'better' for having told me she says. Not sure why I am posting really...

UptownFunk00 Wed 27-Jan-16 13:00:32

Your poor friend.

I'm not surprised she has PTSD. I don't really know what to say either other than if you feel comfortable be there for her to talk to; I say this as sometimes being told such extreme details can be very traumatic for the listener too.

Speak to her about perhaps going to a counsellor about it? If she feels strange about that perjaps call Rape Crisis or similar anonymously to speak to someone.

If she doesn't want to talk at all but feels pent up maybe advise her to write down what happened and/or how she feels and then burn it/screw it up. Just knowing its out there and metaphorically can be damaged can be very therapeutic.

Best wishes to you and your friend :F

annnnonnniee Wed 27-Jan-16 13:06:03

I've name changed for this. The answer to the question "why you are posting" is your previous statement " just cannot get what happened to her out of my head"

When I was young (too young for the bf I had!) I had a bf who was a lot older than me. He told me in quite a lot of detail how he had been sexually abused as a child over many years by a male relative - including very detailed descriptions of what had been done to him. I was young, had a sheltered life and really didn't know what had hit me. A worse feature of it was that almost as soon as he'd told me all of this, he dumped me and cut off all contact. I regarded as completely private to him so never (and to this day have still never) told anyone about it. I couldn't stop thinking about what he had told me, the effect on him, why he had told me, visual images of a faceless man abusing him etc.

I was very much in love with him and found the whole thing devastating but had no emotional support or anyone to turn to to discuss it because I felt it was so private to him.

I haven't thought about this for a long long time tbh - but I also felt guilt at feeling upset about it because "it didn't happen to me."

Once I'd got over it, I really really resented him for telling me all about it in such detail when he knew he was going to dump me. It is obviously traumatic information and to just land all of that on a young girl/woman without any prior warning is pretty disgraceful in my view.

I think just being told this kind of thing generally (but especially about someone you care about) can have a severe emotional impact (may even cause something approaching PTSD) and you shouldn't underestimate it's effect on you.

annnnonnniee Wed 27-Jan-16 13:10:19

PS: If I could go back in time to my teenage self, I would advise her to go and have at least one session with a counsellor to talk about it to someone in absolute confidence, the effect on me, how to manage the effect on me and (if applicable - didn't apply to me as bf had gone no contact) what I could do to help the person who had suffered the traumatic event/abuse.

yolofish Wed 27-Jan-16 13:22:32

thank you both, I will see what she says next. at the moment its just like she's told me, received affirmation that it was truly terrible and so she is relieved. she is an amazing woman, and her life after this 'event' has not been, and continues to not be, at all easy, but she has the biggest heart I've ever come across.

CottonFrock Wed 27-Jan-16 13:22:49

Suggest she has a few targeted sessions with a therapist who specialises in PSTD or abuse? I was abused as a child - nothing bad, by the standards of many people's experiences, and I thought I had long ago comes to terms with it - but the medical side of being pregnant gave me flashbacks for the first time in about 20 years, and, looking back now, I should have seen a professional.

ricketytickety Wed 27-Jan-16 13:31:14

Be careful - you are not a professional (I presume) and may find this sort of info hard to handle. Who can you discuss it with? I don't mean tell her not to talk, it's just you then have to work out what you do with that info.

MerryMarigold Wed 27-Jan-16 13:32:05

Something very similar happened to a friend of mine, but it must be a different friend as she has no kids. It was horrific and although it was 20 years ago or more, she has severe health issues in her genital area to remind her of it everyday. I think mostly listening helps, whenever she wants to talk about it, but my friend has also had years and years and years of therapy. She tried to take him to court recently (and all the associated trauma of countless police interviews etc), but she didn't win, no evidence it was him except her word, plenty of evidence of her injuries as she had to go to GP when wouldn't stop bleeding for days. It's horrific that this man is roaming free after what he did, but I was so proud of her for bringing it into the open so that he will never consider doing anything even vaguely like this again because it's all on record now.

ImperialBlether Wed 27-Jan-16 13:34:22

annnnonnniee, do you think he left you because he'd told you? If he'd kept it bottled up and then told you, he might not have been able to cope with that.

annnnonnniee Wed 27-Jan-16 14:00:54

annnnonnniee, do you think he left you because he'd told you?

Imperial - no, he left me for another woman the same age as him. The two were so proximate that it wasn't a cause/effect issue of him telling me.
He'd already decided - which is why when I'd grown up a bit and calmed down, I was so disgusted by his decision to unload all of this on me. It served no purpose at all and just traumatised me - and as I said I was both young in years and young in an immature emotionally sense.

It wasn't a kind thing to do.

pocketsaviour Wed 27-Jan-16 14:11:37

Yolo, the feelings you're experienced are sometimes described as being a "secondary survivor" - something traumatic happened to someone you love, and even though it didn't directly affect you, it's very hard to come to terms with, and you may find it hard to cope with the images and thoughts that even hearing about it second-hand may bring up.

Be very careful about offering your support to your friend if you don't feel you can cope with hearing details. It's much, much better for your friend if you are able to say "I love you and I want to support you and I'm happy to talk about how you're feeling, but unfortunately I don't feel able to hear in detail about the awful things you went through - I'm not a professional and I can't be objective or unaffected in the way that you need."

I'm saying this as a survivor myself of serious repeated sexual abuse.

yolofish Wed 27-Jan-16 14:29:41

I dont think she wants to tell me the details, its enough that she gave me some historical info for me to know what happened in terms of media level of detail (which is more than enough), and I think at the moment enough for her to have some validation. she's never even told her family.... it's a shock though - we are talking maybe 35 years ago, and I never had a clue. I knew she was where she was, but nothing else if that makes sense.

MerryMarigold Wed 27-Jan-16 19:25:42

yolo, I am surprised she didn't have a lot of therapy if it was media worthy. She should really have been offered this, and if not then, it is not too late, if she wants to. If she wanted to tell you, maybe this is a sign that she is ready to do this.

amarmai Wed 27-Jan-16 19:31:35

your friend shd have told this to a therapist not you. IMO she def needs prof help and you need to talk to a counsellor. You need to tell her this and hope she does not tell you any more.

Yseulte Wed 27-Jan-16 21:29:06

A friend of mine was kidnapped and raped, but not tortured, around 25 years ago.

I don't agree that it's something that she should only tell a professional.

It was very important for my friend for her friends to know this about her, and accept her, despite the fact that it made her feel disgusting, terrified and ashamed. She had PTSD for a long time and she later got anorexia, it also messed up her relationships with men for a very long time.

I totally agree that you may need support yourself to deal with it. Take strength from your friend's extraordinary courage.

yolofish Wed 27-Jan-16 23:06:05

thank you again. I have told another (mutual) friend in complete confidence, but not the same level of info that first friend gave me. She says she has had some counselling (it may have been back when it happened, which was 25 not 35 years ago), but "they are all a bit crap about PTSD". she is currently trying to write down what happened to her but I think it is very difficult... we have agreed that the fact that she is living a happy life with 2 gorgeous DC is the ultimate fuck you to the people who did what they did. and I told her I love her. still shocked though and my heart is really hurting for her.

pocketsaviour Thu 28-Jan-16 14:42:08

Treatment for PTSD has come a long way in recent years - your friend may want to check into a new therapy method called EMDR. I have heard a lot of success stories with it, even with very long-standing PTSD. Got to be worth a go if her symptoms have resurfaced now.

DangerMouth Thu 28-Jan-16 14:47:23

I don't think you should have discussed this with a mutual friend.

sonjadog Thu 28-Jan-16 20:14:39

Why are you telling other people about this? You must not betray your friend by telling other people her secrets.

Onamissionfor2015 Thu 28-Jan-16 20:38:01

Really don't think you should have passed this info on confused

I hope to god this person can keep a secret (unlike you) or who knows what new can of worms you could have opened

MoominPie22 Thu 28-Jan-16 20:49:04

Did your friend´s family get the police involved and was the perpetrator prosecuted? Presuming she was a minor when this incident occured.....

She´s done remarkably well in getting on and having a normal relationship with a man and kids too. That´s a fantastic reflection of courage and strength of character.

My best mate suffered sexual abuse as a child and has had severe mental health issues her whole life. She´s in her 40s and never had a proper relationship with a man, medicated for all of her adult life so now reliant on meds etc....It really reminds you of the remarkable fortitude of the human spirit but also that everybody has different coping mechanisms.

Some can go on to have successful relationships with kids and hold down careers, others end up in the Mental Health system their whole lives and are on the sick for the duration of their ¨working¨ years, being deprived of the chance to enjoy marriage and kids like their peers, never realising their true potential...

My friend is the latter, it´s tragic but she doesn´t pity herself. It´s just the different paths that people´s lives take, I guess. I feel such anger that her abuser was never brought to justice but I can´t imagine how tough an ordeal it would be to go to the police after 25yrs to start the ball rolling with prosecuting the perpetrator. I think that could finish off an already damaged and vulnerable victim, and all those years of therapy would just unravel due to the trauma of having to go through all the questions and cross-examinations.

But I understand why adults who were abused as kids need that closure. Especially if you were being scared into not telling anyone about it at the time, as a young child. How is that meant to effect someone years down the line? It´s bound to manifest in all sorts of negative ways.

yolofish Thu 28-Jan-16 22:15:15

oh fuck off with the "shouldnt have told anyone" and implication that I am a blabbermouth! that makes me so cross. Friend A chose me to disclose something to; I am supporting friend B through different but equally truly appalling circs; I trust both of them implicitly - and they trust each other implicitly too. B will never ever raise it with A, she has enough shit in her own life. I've also told my mum, does that count as blabbing? I am trying to support A as best I can, but what she has told me is more appalling (if that is poss) than probably any of us can imagine. Not domestic, not a case of getting police or SS involved. I dont want to say more than that, because then I would be blabbing. pocketsaviour I will look into EMDR, thank you for that.

bibbitybobbityyhat Thu 28-Jan-16 22:22:46

Well ... you've told two other people and started a thread about it on the internet. Why?

LaContessaDiPlump Thu 28-Jan-16 22:30:04

Yes it does count as blabbing!!

Bloody hell woman. A bunch of anonymous strangers who couldn't find you if we wanted to? Fine. Two people that your friend may have to look in the eye again? NOT FINE!

lunar1 Thu 28-Jan-16 22:30:07

Maybe you need to look at a few therapy sessions to process this, you have already told two people a secret she has kept for 25 years. You need to find a way to deal with what she has told you.

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