I’m sure you can easily work out that the story nearly did not end in the way that it did after my suicide attempt. After that night, it was only a day or two later that I was driving to work and felt I was going to black out. I pulled over and called in sick then went to the doctor. She diagnosed and treated me for mild depression which would have been because I left out half the facts. I tried to make it easier on the doctor. For goodness sake. Older self says if you’re ever in this situation, take a deep breath and say “I have been badly abused, and I am going to need to take this very steady. I need you to listen to me very carefully. Is there anyone here trained in violence / sexual assault I can speak to who can help me?”
2 weeks of beta blockers and 6 months of antidepressants was the prescription. I slept on my Mum’s sofa for 2 weeks solid and only got up to put some music on. It was all Country or Elvis! (That’s ok, Elvis is healing). But I didn’t get help for the emotional damage I’ve been carrying until 2014 when I finally self-referred for counselling. I didn’t get help for being a victim of rape, physical assault, emotional and psychological abuse. I learnt to ‘get over it’ and to find little things to smile about again. From 2001 I developed multiple food intolerances, IBS, ongoing anxiety attacks, back pain, all sorts of physical problems as a result. At no point did I ever say this all might be related. Just battled on – and I won’t lie, sometimes it has been a battle.
As for work, I just resigned and quietly slipped away. The Senior Partner who’d originally hired me was so kind to me. He arranged me interviews with all his pals all over town. I could have walked into any job because he said so. But I was too terrified to tolerate that corporate environment anymore. I was frightened of my own shadow.
I thought all men were to be mistrusted in every capacity. Honestly, I occasionally get palpitations if I see a man in a suit (seriously! and this is from someone who owns a business!). I was petrified that everyone was the same. You see he didn’t just screw up my ability to have a normal relationship, it took me a long time to get into my own groove of who I am at work as well. The abuse was constant and it happened at work places and on work time. It was all so messed up, it’s taken many years of silence and then a lot of recent processing to get over it.
The Partner knew that something was seriously wrong with what had happened with me and that rapist but without me saying anything, no one could help me. The HR Manager tried at my exit interview to question me. She even asked me outright “Would you be leaving the firm if it wasn’t for him?” I said yes, I had my heart set on being a teacher.
Which was code for I had my heart set on escaping a world where I didn’t trust anyone and saw public sector work as a more trustworthy haven. Whether they could have helped me or not cannot now be known. It was such a dire situation that if I had been questioned about it (and I would have been, intensely), I would have crumbled. Not only crumbled, I was already close to removing myself from the world.
So really my long silence was self-preservation, a survival instinct.