I Married My Rapist
The Consequences of an Abusive Childhood and Dissociative Coping Mechanisms.
It was painful, very painful, at first. I screamed, I asked him to stop, I tried to fight him off. When it became obvious he was not going to, I felt my body becoming numb, my brain slowing down, and my vision becoming darker, as if someone was slowly turning down the contrast and the quality of the visuals my brain was receiving. My last thought was I should have listened to my parents.
A derealization/depersonalization episode took over. It felt like almost losing consciousness while still being aware of what’s happening. As if the person that is ‘me’ that usually drives my body and mind, and makes all the decisions hides in some darkness in my psych and allows a timid autopilot to take over.
I am not sure when I have had my first derealization/depersonalization episode but, I am sure it occurred at some point during my early childhood. I have flashbacks of my father strangling me, standing over my stomach, and kicking me, as I lay helplessly on the ground, I remember feeling nothing, as if I was given anesthesia. When this happens, I feel drugged in a dream-like state, but I remain functional somehow, despite feeling like I have no control whatsoever over my body. It is almost like having my entire being hijacked by something or someone else, they talk and walk for me, fulfil my duties, but without consulting me.
When my rapist finished I did not confront him. I did not ask him why he raped me. I did not say that I don’t want to see him again. I just lit a cigarette, and nodded to whatever he said after.
Later on the way home, I wondered whether I am to blame for what has happened, and decided that yes, I was definitely to blame. How many times was I told that men want only one thing. How many times have I been told that there are reasons why Allah decreed that men and women should be separated. How many times have I heard my dad say that only ‘Sharameet’ (whores) talk to boys.
I should have listened. By the time I reached home, I decided that everything that happened to me was natural, and the effect of my actions. The man who raped me, did only what was expected. I was to blame for being in his room. When I got home, I hid in the guest room balcony and took his phone call. He told me about how much he loved me, and I believed him.
I felt so empty. I could not feel pain, I would smash my head against the wall and feel nothing, I felt like I was sleepwalking through life. I needed to feel something. When I went to university the next day, I tried to say what happened to my friends, but I failed, and embarrassed myself further. I felt more alienated than I already had, like there were millions of miles between me and everyone in proximity.
People asked me if I were on drugs, and a week later my Ethics professor asked if I needed help. She said that she would not judge me, even if I were on heroin. I was not doing drugs at this point, but the fact that a great number of people thought I was made me think that I might as well start taking drugs, after all, it might relieve the pain.
I felt painfully lonely, as if everybody else were human and I was not. I felt like scum. Like ‘damaged goods,’ after all, that was what I was taught women who lose their virginity are. Self doubt clouded my mind, when I’d speak I would stutter. When I would walk I would feel the weight of countless eyes staring at me, and judging me. At home, I felt my parents knew that I had disgraced them, and so I started cutting myself. My dad then beat me for doing that. He said as he beat me with his slippers “looks like you are looking for attention, so here you go, stupid girl.”
Feeling like no one will understand me, I went back to my rapist’s dark dirty room where he held me tight. We spooned on his smelly bed and he told me how much he loved me. After professing his love to me, he put his entire weight over mine, and forced his massive tongue inside my small mouth. He then used my body like it was a vacant vessel. Without asking he grabbed me by the hair, slapped me, spat on me, used me like a filthy inanimate object, degraded me in ways that I never thought possible.
I kept going back, and he kept finding new ways to torture me. I kept dissociating and leaving my body for his pleasure. But every time he used me, a part of me died.
With time, I lost all my friends, because I became too anxious to be around people. The only person that I did not feel like a fake around was my rapist. I longed for his presence. I saw the violence and pain he inflicted of me as a natural part of our relationship. I paid for his love with my body.
At home, my dad still beat me as he had since I was a child. My rapist who convinced me that he loved me, helped me make peace with my father’s violence because I was able to rationalize it. I allowed my father to beat me. I could see that he was getting off on it, relieving whatever stress he went through at work on my helpless body. I thought that I had to give my body to earn my keep with both my rapist and my father.
My rapist decided that I could no longer be in touch with any other boys, I complied and erased all males including my cousins from my social media accounts, which he also had access to. He then said that the rest of my friends were bad influences, so I stopped seeing them. He then took my phone and erased the information that he did not approve of.
Years passed, I graduated and got a job, he made me buy him a new phone, and I started giving him money whenever he’d ask. It made me feel important.
I got better at my job, and people started showing me appreciation, so I slowly started doubting that the way my rapist was treating was all I deserved.
My rapist had already become my fiance by then, for he asked my father for my hand years before, my dad agreed without consulting me, I was seventeen years old on the day of ‘Erayet Al-Fatiha’ (an Islamic ceremony, much like an engagement party).
I tried to leave my rapist before he became my husband. He blackmailed me. He had nude pictures of me that he said he would send to my father. I was stuck, but I somehow convinced myself that it was great to have someone who loved me enough to commit such degenerate acts for me.
I told my mother days before my wedding, that I did not want to get married. She ignored me. I told my father, he also ignored me. I stayed silent.
He raped me every night. I stayed silent. He let me clean, and work as he did nothing, I lied to my family, and said that he was providing for the family. I never admitted that anything was wrong, until years later.
I lied because I was taught that a good wife keeps less than perfect details about her marriage away from outsiders eyes including her parents. I was afraid that talking about how much of a failure my husband was would reflect badly on me. After all, it was my fault I was stuck with him.
Writing this was extremely difficult for me. I did almost all of the writing while having a depersonalization/derealization episode. I will try to describe it because I know that there are many people out there who experience these confusing symptoms and perhaps my words could help somehow.
My head feels completely numb, I have punched it to check if I can feel anything, but I can’t, the only sensation in my head is a dull headache, localized at the back of my head. I feel nothing all over my body apart from aching veins or blood vessels (I am not sure). My vision is a little blurry, a little pixelated, things around me seem not real. It feels like if I reach out my hand to touch the computer monitor my hand will pass through, like it would if the monitor was a hallucination. My fingertips feel numb, and every press on my keyboard makes a sound that to me feels like a loud stupefying missile, exploding in my head. I have no explanation of how I am able to type, the words are somehow pouring directly from a train of thought. If I have not had so many such experiences, I would think that I am typing nonsense, and I would be terrified to be seen in that state, as it really feels like I am brain dead without any self awareness.
I feel like I want to cry, while at the same time, I feel as if I am trapped within my mind crying, already. It is as if there are two of me. The main person, who is currently hiding, and the one who has been facing the traumas that has happened to us over the years. I am not sure why, but I am positively terrified.
This split has been causing me distress for so long, because it doesn’t only occur when I am in danger. I avoid people, because I feel like when I am in this state I am not truly myself and I cannot control my actions, and what is worse is that I often experience blackouts, and so I end up having only partial recollections of many interactions. I am also terrified of going out because I feel like this state might take over at any moment, and lead me to do something inappropriate or dangerous, like just stepping in front of a speeding car, or accidentally forgetting to pay at a shop, or getting taken advantage of, because in this state, I am very easily swayed, and I find it almost impossible to say no.
Luckily, I have found help, and I think that I am slowly recovering. I believe that there is a way to live free from dissociation, and from the other debilitating shackles of C-PTSD. I am determined to find my way to recovery, and I wish I could take as many survivors along with me, because it pains me to know that others feel that way too.
Currently, I am reading Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD from surviving to thriving. I feel like so far, I have been benefiting a lot from reading his book, and from what I understand, I think that the symptoms that my psychiatrist calls derealization/depersonalization, are referred to by Pete as ‘Freeze’ type defenses.
Speaking of Pete Walker, reading his book is one thing that motivated me to try and write in a blog. Before reading the book, I was under the impression that recalling the awful things that had happened to me could only have harmful consequences, but according to Pete we must face our traumas and de-minimize the horrible things that happened to us. I have tried doing that, and while it hurts like hell to think about what I have been through, I am starting to learn to value myself, one step at a time. One of my biggest problems has been my inability to be assertive, and after reviewing what I have been through. I have realized that one of the reasons, I can’t stand up for myself is because I feel like everybody else is more important than me, and that to survive I need to keep giving, even if that hurts me.
Also, because I have begun to change the way I see myself, I have been much kinder to myself and as a result, I have been happier, and unexpectedly more productive, because for the first time in forever, I feel like my life belongs to me, so I want to make it better.
I hope that what I have written is not triggering to any person who reads it. My intention when I started writing was to shed some light on some confusing symptoms that have caused me to feel alone for so many years, and to try to explain how my somewhat destructive coping mechanism came to be, and the effect it had on my life, and how I am fighting it. I do hope that my post helped you feel less alone, and more ready to put on a brave face, and start the journey towards reclaiming yourself, and developing healthier coping mechanisms. I believe that you can do that, just like I can. The first step is to understand that what happened to you, was not because of you. The people who hurt you are at fault.
If like me, you are guilty of saying something along the lines of “I am stupid for letting this happen to me.” Then, stop now. What happened to you is not on you. YOU DID NOT LET IT HAPPEN. It happened to you. Yes, you were the victim, and it is okay to admit that, because the past does not dictate the future, and you can and will heal, it just takes a little bit of work.