Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Trauma Focused CBT: Session Nine

(TRIGGER WARNING: Abortion details, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, mental health stigma)

"Double Trauma"

I'd been in quite a good mood; leading up to this latest session. At baseline, my moods have been stable and rarely very low. I'd even had some days where I could say I felt happy, or at least calm. I'd not reacted so severely to things that usually upset or anger me either. Generally, I think I'd been coping well.

I've been feeling that I'm coping with people's attitudes to abortion because I finally believe I made the right decision at the time. The thing I've been struggling most with is the physical side of things. The blood, tissue etc, distressed me because they were so graphic and result in such vivid flashbacks.

At this latest session, I explained all of this, and my therapist was pleased. She left it up to me to talk about what I wanted to, and the abortion appointments cropped up in conversation. She asked me some in depth questions, in order to gently expose me to my most feared memories. I coped, but I did get very worked up and shaky as I explained everything.

When asking about support from friends etc, my abusive ex partner came up in conversation. He appeared to be supportive and gentlemanly at first, but only when I was doing what he wanted/agreeing with him.

When things didn't go his way, he would be very cold and controlling. He made everything about him, rather than considering my feelings. He made digs in conversations and arguments. He also forced and tricked me into doing things he wanted sexually. I found that he expected me to do what he wanted because he was the virgin and I was experienced; so it was (in his eyes) my "duty" to teach him and let him experience new things with me.

I described a time he tricked me into doing something I didn't want to do, then carried on as if nothing had happened. I felt violated and confused. Did I let him? Was it my fault or his? Was this normal or abusive?

I got quite distressed when describing this relationship, and my therapist said it seems like being in the abusive relationship straight after the abortion made this a double trauma for me.

I thought about it a bit, then agreed. I thought I'd moved on from it, but it still affects me now and I'd buried it for a while.

Overall, I've been coping with my trauma from the abortion, but I have not really dealt with the trauma from the abusive relationship. I did feel I had to hide it from people for a while, in case I wasn't believed. My ex partner made sure lots of people thought I was "crazy" when we broke up. He called me many different names and turned people against me. Even when we broke up, he wanted to control some of my life.

The friends that stayed by my side were invaluable though. They defended me, and made sure I was ok. I thought I was at the time, but years on I realise how it has affected my trust in men especially. I feel scared to disagree or say I'm not comfortable doing certain things. Hopefully, in time, I will be able to be more assertive and be part of a more equal partnership.

Thankfully he's also halfway across the world from me now. I just wish I could move on from this, but I know it will take time.

I was hoping to finish my Trauma Focused CBT sessions very soon, but I think I will need a few more with a focus on this.

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