Name: I don't feel entirely comfortable saying my actual name, but I go by a nickname: Lepetke. It means butterfly.
Location: Illinois, United States of America
General Reason for Being Here: I was sexually abused by my father throughout most of my childhood. It started when I was two years old, until I was thirteen. Because of this, it's hard for me to open up to anyone, especially males. I find myself tensing up when an older male even walks down the hallway at school. I understand that it isn't fair to judge men as dangerous people, but when I see them, my instincts tell me I need to constantly be on the defensive. I also am very uncomfortable at any sort of physical contact because of the childhood rape. I even find it hard to shake hands with people in church, or hug friends. I've never even kissed a boy. I sometimes get flashbacks of it, and it gives me anxiety attacks where I can't breathe and my heart starts racing, and I eventually pass out.
My mom and dad divorced when I was a year old. The actual divorce doesn't bother me; all I've ever known is single parents. What does bother me about it though were the constant mind games my father tried playing on me in order to get me on "his side." He would always try to convince me that my mother was this evil woman who was out to get everyone and didn't care about anyone but herself. My mother also said things along these lines about him, but I know from personal experience that it's all true, about him.
Everything that happened has made me very self-sufficient, a trait I am proud of for not having to rely on others in life, but it has me afraid for my future. With my uneasiness with physical contact, of virtually any kind, finding love when I'm older is going to be difficult. Not to mention that if I did, I would have no idea what to do, since I've never had an example set up of how a proper family works. I'm afraid that when I'm older I'm either going to end up alone, or with a broken family and children like me.
And then when I think about one of these things, my brain starts this cycle to where it panics over the rest, and it all just spirals downwards and I have an anxiety attack, and pass out.
The final reason for being here is that even though it feels like I'm alone in all of this, and that there's no one I can talk to about it, there are people here who know what I am going through, and together we can overcome it.
How have you come to cope with it?: Overall, I haven't yet. There was no one that I felt I could open up to like this before, so I guess you could say that this community will hopefully help me cope with things, and understand my feelings better.
One thing that helped a little has been a club at my school, PRISM. It's not a club that is for these types of things, and no one there except my two best friends knows my situation. It's a Gay-Straight Alliance club; I am straight and I support gays, but to me this club means being yourself and not letting people bring you down, that you and you alone are in charge of your life, and the people there and the stories they share are inspiring.
Another thing that doesn't really help the situation, but I've subconsciously done in response (I consider it my minds way of coping, even though it really doesn't help) to everything is that I drab myself down a little when going to any public place, so men won't feel sexually attracted to me, so I don't have to deal with any anxiety. Like for instance, when I go to school or out with friends, I wear typical jeans and a shirt, sometimes a nice shirt and sometimes a tee-shirt, no make-up, never do anything to my hair besides comb and sometimes straighten it, etc. so that guys will not be attracted to me, but when I'm home, I wear dresses and make myself look and feel pretty, for my own benefit and satisfaction.
Another of my mind's way of coping is to be very self-reliant. I hardly ever ask for help with anything. I keep problems to myself, and deal with everything on my own. I'm open to talking/ hanging out with friends, but when it comes to having any problems I seclude myself from anyone else and deal with it by myself. However, I've become tired of doing this so I'm trying to change that, my first step being getting help here.
I put up a strong face to my peers so I am perceived as a strong person, and in some ways, I believe I am strong. I just wish I could fully put everything behind me, like how I act I do.
One more thing, it's kind of silly, but I've found a role model in a character in a manga that I'm reading. The character went through struggles throughout her life; different than mine but also terrible. What inspires me is her strong will and her determination to rise above all her struggles and become stronger so that they don't bother her. It's very uplifting for me.
Specific Triggers?: Physical contact is a big one for me. I break down when someone touches me. People very close to me are an exception, like my mother, brother, and some friends, but other than that I'll likely have an anxiety attack. Another is flirting. When people flirt with me I go into that defensive mode again and lock up. I automatically assume in the back of my mind, this man is going to hurt me. Hearing other people's stories has a big impact on me.
I still do have to see my father sometimes; apparently there's some law that I have to see him until I turn eighteen. Right now he's working in Afghanistan, in the war. Really, my whole family breathes a sigh of relief when he goes on extended leave like this, my mother even goes as far to say that she hopes he doesn't come back. When he is back home, I have to see him once a week, and while it's supposed to be from six until nine, it's usually earlier than that, but much to my relief he drops me off back home within an hour or two. Nothing happens anymore, I'm not exactly sure why, either, but just seeing his face makes me scared, angry, and hateful all at the same time. But I suck it up and deal with it for an hour, and then go home. I often have panic attacks after he drops me off.