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Rape counselling - can counselling be helpful even if I don't want to talk about what happened?

(19 Posts)
beth12345 Thu 11-Oct-12 23:59:41

I was sexually abused on many occasions by my ex - this happened over 10 years ago but I am only recently starting to think about/accept what happened, having blocked a lot of it out.
Some of it is very upsetting to think about, and I am finding that I am not sleeping very well, feeling am generally more anxious than usual and am getting flashbacks.
I have spoken to someone at my local rape counselling centre and they suggested that counselling might be helpful to me. I hate talking about what happened to me - but she said that I would not have to talk about anything that I wasn't comfortable talking about. But thinking about what she said, if that is true, and I wouldn't have to talk about what happened - then what would I talk about? What would the point of counselling be?
DH also thinks counselling might be helpful for me, but I'm not sure?

mashedpotatohead Fri 12-Oct-12 14:37:14

Hi Beth, I'm so sorry to hear what you've been through. I am in training for a local rape crisis centre. They have been looking at a different kind of therapy called Human Givens, which is an alternative to talking therapies. From my understanding it tackles & eliminates the feelings of distress around the experience, hence reducing anxiety & other feelings related to it. Here's the website if you want to look into it

A fellow counsellor has been through the training & has been successfully using this type of therapy. I wish you lots of luck.

lobsterclaw Fri 12-Oct-12 14:42:39

Beth, it's entirely up to you. I was raped years ago but (and this is only personal to me) have never wanted to 'thrash it out', so to speak, with a counsellor. I just accepted that it had happened and moved on.

Having said that though, things like that can have a huge impact years later, so do it if it will help. Perhaps try it and if it doesn't help, then just leave it.

dysfunctionalme Sun 14-Oct-12 12:37:47

beth you talk about whatever you want to talk about and the counsellor has to listen. Not interrupt or tell you how they'd have done it better or their second cousin had a much worse experience or any of that annoying crap, they listen
There are different types of therapy you could research. But really it is your time to talk and discuss at a pace that is comfortable for you. Personally I go with whatever's bugging me at the time whether it is a parenting thing, a family thing etc and it all adds little bricks to the wall of recovery.

beth12345 Sun 14-Oct-12 22:03:11

Thanks for your messages.
Human Givens sounds interesting, although also perhaps too good to be true as the website suggests it only takes one or two sessions in many cases (I'm not meaning to sound critical - it just seems so surprising that it could work that fast and without talking about what actually happened).
lobsterclaw I was the same as you re just wanting to move on.
But then I kept feeling responsible for my ex if he was going on to rape other women, and I ended up very recently giving some information about how he treated me to the police (there will not be an investigation as I couldn't face that, I just provided some information as intelligence). Obviously I had to talk to them to some extent about what happened, and I think it was a very positive thing to do.
But it does seem to have 'taken me back' to thinking a lot about what my ex used to do. I would rather not think about it but can't seem to stop myself, especially in the middle of the night when I am awake feeding my baby. I end up feeling so angry with my ex, for all the humiliating things he did, but with no prospect of getting any kind of revenge (Which makes me sound bad I know, but I do feel outraged at what I let him do/what he did regardless of whether I was going to let him or not).
It also upsets me that this is now my mental health issue, when it is effectively all his fault and doing (another reason to be angry with him...!). Arghh!
I guess I probably should try counselling as I perhaps have nothing to lose, but I am afraid of talking about a lot of this as it makes me feel so uncomfortable/upset.

NanaNina Sun 14-Oct-12 22:29:10

Beth so very sorry that you are so distressed and with small wonder really. The thing about traumatic experiences (and especially sexual abuse) no matter how long ago, can emerge and you can be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. You did mention flashbacks, and that is one of the symptoms, as is nightmares and other unpleasant symptoms. I have a mental health problem which is why I am on this forum but nothing to do with past trauma. I have however a close friend who is suffering post traumatic stress from sexual abuse in her childhood, which she thought she had "got over" and of course it isn't that easy as you will know.

I don't know anything the "Human Givens" but will take a look at the website. I don't know if this is in any way related to EMDR therapy (sorry can't remember what all the letters stand for - the EM is eye movement - but you can google it) and this has been described on these threads from people suffering like yourself, as a very successful method of intervention, and I don't think it involves "talking" therapy.

It is also very understandable that you don't want to talk about it to a therapist, as it is probably very scarey still for you and would distress you. However as others have said, you go at your own pace and any good therapist will understand that you are not going to bounce into a room and spill it all out. IF you do go down the therapy route, I advise you go on the BACP website. This is a site for (British Association of Counsellors and Therapists) and no one can be registered on this list unless they are professionally qualified. You will be able to find some therapists in your area, and many of them state what is their particular area of expertise, although most of them cover the whole range of issues that cause people psychological distress.

I do hope that you are able to access one of these "non talking therapies" or the more conventional type of therapy. Presumably you can afford to pay, as most therapists (dependent upon where you live) tend to charge around £40 - £50 pounds per hour.

beth12345 Mon 15-Oct-12 14:11:04

Thank you nananina. The money side is sort of an issue here as I am trying to avoid spending money on this as we are on a tight budget. We could afford it if we really had to but I guess I am reluctant to spend money on something like this that is effectively just for me as my husband doesn't get to spend money on himself much at the moment.
I don't really speak to him about it as much as I perhaps should because I worry it will upset him. One of the things I have realized through contact with the police is that I was raped more times than I had thought - due to me having a slightly different idea as to what would count as rape - but obviously it is really hard to talk to DH about that and how it is affecting me.
I suppose I will have to though. Although he has said counselling would be a good idea I don't know whether he would really think that if he knew what it costs. But I guess I am trying to play down how I feel as I don't want him to be upset by knowing exactly what happened to me.

NanaNina Mon 15-Oct-12 16:44:57

Hmm - I think it might be hard for your DH to hear about the detail of what happened to you, but I do think he needs to know how much you are being affected and that this it is very normal for women who have been sexually abused.
YOu might be able to get therapy on the NHS, but it is usually CBT (a therapy about the "here and now" and how to stop negative thoughts spiralling out of control, whereas I think you need to be unravelling the past at your own pace. There is a web site specifically for women who have been sexually abused and they offer free counselling I think, but I can't just remember what it's called. I'll trawl through my history and see if I can find it.

NanaNina Mon 15-Oct-12 17:10:29

I have just typed "counselling for Women who have been sexually abused" into google and lots of websites came up. Mind apparently offer a service to women suffering as you are. Many areas seem to have their own rape crisis counselling centres, so it depends where you live.

I have just read your first post again and note that you have already spoken to your local Rape Crisis Centre and they thought counseling was a good idea for you, which it certainly is. Do they offer this service themselves? If so I think the best idea is to contact them again and say you would like counselling. It may well be free, as most of them are on the websites I looked at just now.

You need to believe that there is an uderstanding amongst therapists that the victim is going to be very afraid of talking about their experiences, and so there is absolutely no expectation that you start to give details that make you feel uncomfortable. You ask what you would talk about if you didn't talk about the abuse, but you can start talking about the way you are affected and how the past trauma manifests itself. You will probably find that the hour goes so quckly and there was a lot more you could have said. Therapy does not offer a "quick fix" although some of them claim to I know. Over time if you feel comfortable with the therapist you may feel able to talk about things from the past, but that is entirely up to you.

How about googling yourself and see what you can find, but if you have a local Rape Crisis Centre, it seems the obvious place to start.

beth12345 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:21:58

Thanks, I see what you are saying about how a counsellor would not expect me to sit down and immediately talk freely - that is reassuring.
Yes I have already been to see my local rape crisis centre. They helped mediate my contact with the police, I didn't originally go to them with counseling in mind. But they did offer so yes I probably should go back there. The counseling they offer is subsidised. I guess I have to stop seeing it as an unnecessary expense - it feels as though I should be able to manage!

PrincessSymbian Mon 15-Oct-12 20:49:05

It is not an unnecessary expense. This is effecting your quality of life and needs to be dealt with. If you had a broken leg and had to pay for treatment, you'd find the money somehow, wouldn't you?
Just because this is on the inside where no-one can see it, does not make it any less in need of care.

beth12345 Mon 15-Oct-12 21:06:48

Princess - I probably used the wrong words, not an unnecessary expense exactly but it does make me feel a bit weak now considering I coped without any support at the time of the abuse and it must have been worse then.

PrincessSymbian Mon 15-Oct-12 21:56:50

When we are going through stuff like that, we go into survival mode, our brains shove it all somewhere to be dealt with later. So when it does come out years later, it can feel just as painful and raw, because having not processed it, it is still fresh. And it starts coming put when you are feeling secure because you no longer have to be in 'survival' mode.

NanaNina Mon 15-Oct-12 23:22:07

Beth I think Princess S is right and you had no option but to "cope" with it at the time - if there was something you could have done to stop the abuse you would have done it. Also women who are subjected to sexual abuse or domestic violence very often feel powerless and the perpetrator has made them feel this way, and taken away any emotional strength that they may have had.

I think you must give yourself "permission" to get help and to pay if that is necessary. I don't think the Rape Crisis Centre will cost any where near as much as private therapists. You really must believe that there are many MNs who are struggling with post traumatic stress following sexual abuse, and it it is to be expected - so you are by no means unusual in needing counselling for the horrific abuse you suffered. There is NO reason why you should just have to "manage" - this is unrealistic and when awful things happen to us we can't just shrug it off - the memories/flashbacks come and hit us on the back of the head when we're not looking. Sorry I think I said I had depression rather than post trauma stress but I have a close friend who is suffering from childhood sexual abuse and she has plucked up courage to have counselling.

I'm glad you have realised that no one is going to expect you to sit down and tell the whole story. They will be experienced and will know how women find this so difficult and you need to just go at your own pace.

My friend started writing about things and wouldn't write what had happened - that was too painful, but she just wrote about her feelings, and it helped a bit as it got it our of her head.
It wasn't for anyone else to read, just herself. Don't know if this might help. I keep a journal and it's just for me and I can write anything because I know no one else is going to see it. Don't know if it might help you.
Really hope you can summon up the courage to go back to the Rape Crisis Cntre though as that is the best place to start the journey towards some kind of resolution. We don't really ever "get over" painful things in our past but the aim is to make the pain more manageable so that it doesn't come and knock you sideways, if you see what I mean.

Sending warm wishes.

beth12345 Fri 19-Oct-12 23:32:36

Thanks for the messages. I have today emailed rape crisis again and said that I have changed my mind and I would like to go on their waiting list for counselling and try that after all.
I haven't spoken to DH yet and explained why I changed my mind. I think rape crisis said it was a 3 month waiting list so I have a while to think about how to explain it to DH. Although he initially thought counselling might be good, I tried to minimise my feelings about the abuse as I don't want to upset him, so I'm not sure what I will say re why I now want to try counselling after all.
I also don't want DH to worry that I am getting flashbacks when I am in bed with him, although if I am honest I have and I just carry on. But I realise that cannot be good sad

beth12345 Sat 20-Oct-12 08:19:56

Can I ask something else, can it be helpful to have counselling but just talk about the parts of the abuse that are easiest to discuss and never mention the things that are not? For me, rape itself is easier to talk about than another sexually abusive thing he did. I only told the police about the rape too.

GreeenFingers Sat 20-Oct-12 08:29:04

I expect you've spoken to your GP. They should refer you for free trestmrnt. I've not experienced what you've been through and I cannot imagine to begin how awfull it must be. I had CBT a couple of years ago adn I must say it was the best thing I ever did. It's not about " talking" it's about working out a way to rationalise your feelng and putting them into perspective. Try it, it worked for me. A few months after my sessions with the therapist I and many others were invited to meet up and discuss our thoughts on the treatment. A resounding 100% said it was the best therapy they had ever received.

itsthequietones Mon 22-Oct-12 18:05:27

Hi Beth, so sorry this has happened to you.

I was raped by my bf at the time 19 years ago and managed to put it out of my mind completely. The memories came back mid-June this year and I've been having flashbacks, symptoms of ptsd etc.

PrincessS said it perfectly for me - it felt raw and fresh when the memories came up, I couldn't cope with the sheer intensity of them.

I started counselling within a couple of weeks of it all coming back and it has helped greatly.

I really couldn't function to begin with and I can now. My counsellor doesn't press me for details, stops when I want to and has given me the tools to deal with flashbacks, intrusive images and all the other awful stuff associated with it. It's taken me time to trust her and to be able to open up. If I don't want to discuss anything then I don't.

What has shocked me has been how much the rape affected my way of reacting and dealing with other issues. It's hard to explain, but, for example, when dp and I argue I can completely dissociate (as I did when ex-bf used to rape me), or will verbally attack him until he backs down (which I learned to do with ex-bf in order to prevent rape). I didn't know why I did these things previously, now I understand and I'm trying to learn different ways of reacting.

I've gone through stages of minimising it, but, to be honest, it always comes back, even after a couple of 'good' days. Also, the flashbacks and ptsd are reactions to trauma, not something that was nothing or didn't matter, I've come to realise that I'm not over-reacting to it - it's taken a while though.

The first couple of sessions were very difficult, lots of emotions were brought up and I really didn't want to talk much. It has got easier though and I know it helps me so it's less scary to mention things now.

It may not feel like it now, but things can get better. Take care x

beth12345 Wed 24-Oct-12 20:40:49

itsthequietones thank you for your reply - it is so reassuring to hear that taking it at your own pace is fine and does work - I really do not want to feel pressurised in any way as I find it all so hard to talk about. It is interesting what you say about dissociating as I am also good at that.

It seems so upsetting when an abuser is a partner. I had chosen to remember the relationship in a particular way (painting him mostly in a good light, although acknowledging that he did force me to have sex a couple of times). But when speaking to the police it became apparent that actually I let him get away with doing a lot of other things that I should not have done, and the relationship was much more toxic than I realised at the time. So it has led to me blaming myself more for how I feel now and how things turned out, as I know that I should have left him but didn't (tried but ultimately didn't leave on many occasions). So I guess I just have to accept the reality of what the relationship was rather than try to see it through rose tinted glasses to make myself feel better.

But I am on a waiting list for counselling but it won't be until the new year that I have my first appointment. Hopefully by then I will be feeling a bit better about things by then anyway. I know it will get better as I was fine before all these memories and feelings came flooding back.

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