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The nightmares won't stop(66 Posts)
I ended a relationship a good while ago. For the last 2 years of it (which were off an on) he did a lot of stuff to me, including rape (not aggressive or violent, but just wouldn't take no for an answer) grabbing my arms when frustrated, pinning me down, biting me (which was so painful) and coming inside me when I made him promise not to (contraception not working). I eventually ended it for another reason, and I'm not sure I've ever really come to terms with the above stuff, despite counselling. Part of me still thinks a lot of it was not that bad/my own fault.
Recently I have had recurrent nightmares about all these things. In the dreams I am struggling and trying to scream but no sound comes. When I wake up I'm exhausted, and I've found random bruises and scratches on myself, so I think I've been flinging myself around during sleep. Often, I have dreams that I'm pregnant and don't want to be. The acts themselves are mostly not committed by him in the dream, but other men I know, which is quite distressing. My quality of sleep is shot to shit and the dreams make me feel uneasy for hours after I wake up.
I am feeling low now because it feels like even though I ended the relationship, the consequences of it will never go away. I am in a new relationship with a lovely man and sometimes when we are having sex I have what I think may be flashbacks - remembering something that he did. So it is buggering up my sex life as well. I can't tell him about it.
Does anyone have any advice on how I can stop these nightmares? Is there some sort of medication, perhaps? Thanks.
Gosh you have been through an awful lot.
I had similar issues with dreams about unresolved issues (massive house fire, and then 6 months of unsafe livingfollowing the fire). Once I got to a safe place physically, the dreams started.
When I finally figured out what was going on, I saw it as my sub conscious dealing with the near death experience, the horror, the fear etc I hadn't felt safe enough to deal with.
I felt physically wretched each morning and it lasted for a few months. Then it stopped. In hindsight I saw the dream therapy as a very positive thing and I trusted my body/mind was working well and looking after itself. lBut at the time it was freaky.
I would suggest some form of counselling will help you now.
I'm so sorry you had those terrible experiences. I think what you're describing sounds like PTSD... post traumatic stress disorder.. and you'd benefit from talking to your GP and asking if you could be referred for counselling. If your GP isn't helpful, you could also think about contacting Rape Crisis or the Womens Aid Charities.
BeCool, yes that does make sense. I am safe now really, but I don't feel safe.
Cogito, could it be PTSD? I thought people only got that after big accidents and war and things?
I was quite young when the relationship started, in my first year at uni, and it was my first 'proper' relationship. He was a lot older. He is/was the first man I ever loved, can't quite get my head around that yet.
It could be version of PTSD, yes. More commonly associated with big accidents etc but the symptoms can replicate in survivors of domestic abuse.
Happens to me , more that three years since my abusive H died I dream he's back; in the dream he's been abroad somewhere, and he's back trying to take control, the house, the DCs. The dreams are vivid and very real.
Think Cogito is on the right track
I used to wake up feeling very much like I'd been hit on the head with something hard. Pounding head, plus exhausted, like I wasn't sleeping. But I was - my mind was just working so very hard instead of resting.
You say you are safe now - even though you don't necessarily feel it, your sub conscious could recognise your new/comparative safety. If you haven't really dealt with the trauma you have suffered, and it does sound very traumatic, then it could be your mind is playing it all out now. I liked it to a mental defragmentation & rebuild.
I woke up to the house on fire when I was 21. It was old wooden house and it went up very quickly. I collapsed from the smoke, which came very suddenly and fast, and a bloke my flatmate had brought home from a night club (complete stranger) stood on me (he couldn't see me) and dragged me out to safety. Then (for various reasons) I lived in a caravan for 6 months in a very urban area. I was repeatedly burgled and felt very vulnerable most of the time though I just "tufted it out". When I moved back into the repaired house, the dreams started.
You have had two years living under extreme and dangerous conditions where you were constantly under attack/threat/disrespect and in your own home. Have you thought about getting referred for some counselling? As Cognito says it does sound like a form of PTSD. And your dreams are your body telling you there is work to be done for yourself.
BeCool, that's exactly how I feel in the morning. That fire sounds absolutely terrifying, I'm not surprised you had PTSD.
It wasn't a constant 2 years of pressure, very fortunately, and it wasn't in my own home. It started off slowly, with the less severe stuff. Well, the biting was quite bad and he refused to apologise. And the contraception thing, but at the time I didn't see how bad it was. About 4 months later I tried to end it for another reason but he was so upset I relented. 2 months later he wouldn't take no for answer to sex. I had nothing to compare it to because it was my first grown-up relationship (had a first relationship with another sixth-former when still at school, but that was it).
It was only after I finally ended it that I began to see the truth. Putting myself back together is painful.
Ugh, not looking forward to going to bed tonight. Anyone got anything comforting to say? I haven't told any of my friends about this, because I found it too awkward to tell them about all the stuff he did when it was actually going on... so no one to talk to irl about this.
I really do recommend getting in touch with Rape Crisis or similar. Your story is unfortunately not an isolated example and I believe they're very good. In time, if you can find it in you to tell one RL friend that you trust, I think that would also help. You've started the ball rolling just by being here. Sometimes, all you need is for someone to say 'we believe you' and validate your feelings.
I have nightmares about SA too. Try to relax tonight and I think other posters are right, these dreams are surfacing now you are in a safer place. Remember that dreams are just that. After I was raped I used to go round the house touching things, solid things, to remind myself life was still solid and real, people around me were trustworthy, there was a good, solid reality around me. You can get therapy to deal with this in waking life. What happened to you was undeserved and wrong. Good luck
I agree ring rape crisis, they are bloody amazing.
I'd feel like a fraud contacting Rape Crisis. I'd worry about using up their time and resources when they could be helping someone really desperate. I am lucky really, I think, it was only once and there was no violence really. I put myself in that position by having a relationship I shouldn't have been having, because he was married.
I used to have terrible nightmares - wont go into detail, but along similar lines as u have experienced. I found in the end my dream self found an answer. My subconscious finally had enough and I had a 'breakthrough' dream where I shouted and screamed and told the man to fuck off. He did. Didn't dream about him for a long time. Eventually returned, but much more mild and less painful. Give yourself time. And do contact rape crisis. Give yourself a chance.
I know the dreams are horrible, but would it help to think of them as a positive cathartic process? (probably not). Ultimately for me it was a positive, though confusing process. Maybe positive affirmations, pre bed time, telling yourself its ok, you are safe, you have removed yourself from harms way and they are only dreams. I did come through the other side - they stopped just as they had started and eventually life went back to 'normal'.
I think if you went into counselling, and started dealing with this in "real life" the dreams might diminish. I don't know - I'm not a therapist. I have successfully used hypnotherapy for relaxation in the past.
It sounds like you have minimised what happened to you - this is not uncommon. I did the same in my situation with the fire (and with other stuff subsequently). It wasn't until 10 years later, when I was indirectly involved in another house fire (in the flat above me) that it all come flooding back and I even acknowledged how close I had come to dying. And the whole time I was vulnerable to burglars, with precious things stolen from me like my Nan's ring, I just blocked it all out. What kind of low life would steal from someone who had very clearly lost pretty much everything in a fire??
All this happened to me 24 years ago - but I remember the dreaming process and bad mornings very clearly.
You may not be desperate but (with respect to other MN-ers) I think you need to talk to someone who knows what they're doing and is used to counselling rape victims. You're as worthy as anyone else of help You may have chosen to be in that relationship initially but you were almost certainly manipulated into staying in it and you definitely didn't choose to be abused.
Actually it was 25 years ago next week - as I recall it was a few days after my birthday.
Don't worry about using up Rape Crisis' s time and resources. The crap with the contraception sounds horrific.
I am currently having counselling with them in relation to something similar and they have been very good.
dreams what you wrote in your OP sounds violent menacing and aggressive to me. It was intended to frighten and intimidate you.
I've never thought of the dreams before as a symptom of PTSD but perhaps they were? I feel like I'm done and dusted with it now thankfully.
Matilda, the contraception thing was basically that I had just had a new form of contraception fitted, and wanted to give it a while to settle in but he really wanted sex. So I said, OK, but don't come inside me because I'm not sure it's working yet. He did anyway and then pretended I hadn't said it. When I insisted I had he said it would be fine anyway so not to worry. I didn't get pregnant so that justified it.
I am looking up RC now.
Cogito, I wanted the relationship to stop ages before because I felt guilty. But he kept saying it was fine, and that I was the only thing that made him happy, they didn't have sex, the usual shit. I suppose no one else had ever told me that I made them happy. He had had affairs before. Eventually I managed to end it without anyone finding out (I was single at the time).
re the contraception manipulations, that is called gaslighting
It's bad enough to give you nightmares. It was sexual assault, physical assault (biting etc) and a manipulative/abusive/controlling relationship between a very young woman and a much older man. You don't mention it but he wasn't one of the lecturers was he?
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