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How to sort my head out 15 years after DV....

(8 Posts)
ImASurvivor Wed 20-Jul-11 10:39:27

I'm hoping somebody can help me - have namechanged BTW.

15 years ago I escaped a long hideous relationship involving physical and mental DV. I was lucky enough to have family and friends who rallied to help me keep away and work through everything - despite me having lived like a hermit for years because of ex. Literally within a few weeks of leaving it was as if the sun had come out for the first time - I got a new job, completely cut myself off from ex and anyone/anything associated with him, and rebuilt my life.

15 years on I have a career, a lovely home, a lovely lovely DH and DC. I never think about ex and it really isn't an issue for me.

Which is why I don't understand why every few weeks I will go nights on end having hideous nightmares about ex and what happened. I am always trying to escape him in some form or other and wake up crying or shouting and feeling like I can't breathe. It is so disturbing at the time and I usually can't get back to sleep.

Is there anything I can do to stop this? I never had counselling at the time and didn't feel I needed it because I talked it all over and over with my family and friends at the time. I also really wouldn't want to start raking it all up now.

So what can I do? It depresses me that this is interfering with my otherwise very happy life - as if he's still getting at me, which I know sounds a bit mad.

ImASurvivor Wed 20-Jul-11 10:43:20

Not sure if I've posted this in the right place BTW...

MOSP Wed 20-Jul-11 10:47:50

Hello ImASurvivor smile

I think I know what you mean. I escaped my abusive ex 8 years ago, and it was so beautiful being free. It is still. But traumatic memories have a way of coming back to haunt. In my case, I have only just (well, during the course of the last year) asked for help. My ptsd came back and knocked me over.

Your description sounds like you might be suffering from ptsd. Whatever it is, you should ask for help because it won't go away on its own. Even if it seems to for years, you might get another trigger that paralyses you.

Sorry if I'm projecting my situation onto you, but your story seemed quite similar.

I went to my gp to start with. Now I'm seeing a Consultant Psychiatrist, awaiting therapy (they have to wait until I'm stable enough).

Wishing you all the best. x

ImASurvivor Wed 20-Jul-11 10:55:33

That's interesting MOSP. I hadn't thought about PTSD - to be honest I thought you had to go through one big 'event' like being in armed conflict or a hideous accident for that to be a possibility.

The thought of going through therapy and putting all that 'focus' on what happened, and therefore giving all that time to thinking about my ex depresses me TBH. I just want it gone! I know it's not that simple though sad.

I don't understand why talking it over and over closer to when it happened didn't get it out of my head....

MOSP Wed 20-Jul-11 11:05:14

I thought just the same as you! Look up the definition of ptsd. It can be caused by domestic (or longterm) abuse. Not everyone gets it, but some do. Mine was actually caused by another event before I met my ex, but the years I spent with him served to mess me up more.

Also, like you I felt (well, actually still do), that I just wanted it to go away. I have been a complete mess for a year now.

barbiegrows Wed 20-Jul-11 23:31:12

Hi - sorry to hear that you are still suffering. How men can do this to us is just beyond me. Makes me so angry. There have been some discussions about nightmares/dreams on the emotional abuse thread (under relationships). Not sure if that will be helpful to you.

As a complete novice, this does sound like ptsd. I wish you well.

OverweightandUnderpaid Thu 21-Jul-11 09:01:20


I sympathise with what you're going through.
I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship too (for 7 years), and although i left in 2007, it still continued (the abuse) as i was so scared of him and his threats that i tried to be 'friends' and keep him on side by placating him. Ho hum, what an idiot i was.

Things got worse when i met my partner, as the ex stepped up the stalking and harrassment, criminal damage, threats etc. I became pregnant, and whilst pregnant the ex paid 2 men to turn up at the flat and beat up my partner. Terrifying. The police have been absolutely useless. We have moved twice to get away from him, and are finally in a place where my partner is confident he can't find us. I am less confident about this. I think i'll always be looking over my shoulder.

I have nightmares too, terribly low self esteem, anger issues, mood swings...It has caused huge problems with my partner. Almost 5 months ago, i gave birth to our baby and realised then that i needed help. I don't want her growing up in an environment where i'm so angry and bitter and resentful, and pushing my partner away. I went to the GP and was referred for counselling. Yesterday i had the telephone assessment for counselling where they went through questionnaires and evaluation forms with me about my thoughts and my feelings. From my scores, they have said that they are referring me for psychological therapy for post traumatic stress disorder.

I thought it was something that i could cope with myself, but it's been years and although there are often good days, there are still the black days, and i do think that in order to move on for myself and my family, i need to learn how to accept what happened and how to cope with it.

Good luck. x

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 21-Jul-11 09:23:19

Hi fellow Survivor.

I'm working through my complex post-traumatic stress disorder in the immediate aftermath of leaving my abusive stbxh. I've had dreams of him coming in my room at night to strangle me, and being unable to move or scream. I empathise.

I understand that confronting the issues in your past head on will feel like reliving them, something you are understandably eager to avoid. Yet I would, like other posters above, recommend counseling. Yes, it is possible that re-opening the locked boxes of your memory will throw you for a while. The process may not be pleasant. But I believe it is essential to confront these issues head on in order to be able to move beyond them.

Therapy sessions with a trained counsellor are a very safe place to do this in. The counsellor will never push you further than you feel able to go, and their non-judgemental presence and line of questioning will actually validate your emotions, so you can accept rather than repress them. Repressing something will only make it pop up somewhere else in a way you can't control! (ie. in your dreams). Lance that boil, whenever you feel ready.

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