I have had a gun held to my head with a bullet in the chamber and finger on the trigger more than a handful of times. I have been choked multiple times. I have been held down by a larger and stronger body. I have been blocked so I could not leave a room. I have had multiple bruises all over my body. I have been called things I am not. I have been accused of doing things I did not do. I have had things I love taken away from me and held for ransom. I have been in the passenger seat of a car while the driver went 135 miles per hour swerving and yelling that we were both going to die. I have had my car taken. I have been told I would never see my kids again. I have been told the only way out was death. I have had to cover up marks on my face. I have been lied to. I have seen a gun held to someone’s head threatening killing themselves on multiple occasions. I have been cheated on over and over again. I have had money withheld from me. I have had to keep secrets. I have done things that I am not proud of out of fear. I have not been able to choose my own friends. I have had very little if no contact with my family. I have lost my best friend. I have had my privacy invaded. I have had someone question my clothes. I have had someone question the smell of my body. I have been told I was loose down there. I have been told I was never beaten because that is the only thing considered abuse. I have been bitten on my leg. I have been blamed for injuring my attacker when all I was doing was protecting myself.
One of the most difficult symptoms of betrayal P.T.S.D. and trauma are the triggers. Triggers can be physical or mental and can wreck havoc on your health. For a long time I had difficulty explaining what it was like having triggers day-in and day-out. Below is the best way I could describe it.
You can start by imagining yourself as a small lake, the beautiful sandy shores are the barrier you built to protect yourself. You have existed for a long time with nothing disturbing your waters and the shores, but the occasional wind and rain (kids, family, work, etc.) until the unexpected happened. A rare category 4 hurricane named Betrayal barreled through your waters and damaged your shoreline. Not only did Hurricane Betrayal spend a good amount of time breaking down your shores, it also broke down a rocky ledge 1000 ft above you. Within a day this ledge starts to crumble. The very first piece to fall from the ledge is a boulder the size of a Semi-Truck. This boulder disturbs your peace and safety over a period of a few days reminding you of the hurricane. The next boulder that falls into your water is the size of a pick-up truck. This boulder disturbs you for a day. The next boulder is the size of a compact car, you are disturbed a little less than the previous boulders but dislike how it reminds you of Hurricane Betrayal. You have these boulders sporadically crashing down for a few months. They vary in size. Every day you are unsure what type of rock is going to be falling into your water and what memories it will stir up. It could be any size at any given moment. This makes you worried, edgy, panicked, and nervous every minute of every single day. Every single pebble that comes down from that ledge reminds you of Hurricane Betrayal.
After 6 months of large boulders, rocks and pebbles disturbing your waters, you no longer identify as a lake, you are unsure what you are. You become highly sensitive to anything that touches your water or shoreline. The wind and rain (children, family, friends, finances, work) pick away at your shores little by little even if just a minuscule amount. Everything that touches your water leaves its mark on you. You are in constant fear of no longer being a lake, of a boulder completely crashing down into your water destroying all the shoreline you have left after Betrayal hit.
Years goes by, you are exposed to the wind and rain. The ledge letting boulders, rocks and pebbles go is something you accept being there. You are still a lake, like before. You have weathered through it all. You even made it through another hurricane. Some days you would have a boulder and tiny rocks land in your water. On other days the ledge would drop pebbles all day long. Gradually over time the ledge stopped dropping the boulders and only dropped pebbles and an occasional stone. Sometimes the stones would be significant and sometimes not. There was a week where you didn’t have anything fall into your water. The ledge you kept constant eye on no longer looks like a ledge. You can barely see where it was. You will always remember what that ledge looked like right after Hurricane Betrayal hit. You will not forget the damage Betrayal and that ledge did to you, but you might appreciate what it made you become.