Today I am triggered, badly. The reason; my period.
I had my first period when I was 11 years old and have been having them ever since. They have never triggered me before. However this one is particularly bad. I am bleeding heavily and in a lot of pain. Unexpected considering my last few have been fairly mild. This one has triggered me severely. Why? Because it brings back the memories of my late teens and early twenties. During that time I bled constantly nearly every day.
I cannot remember the exact age it started but I think I was around 16 or 17 years old. I started to bleed and thought I was having a period except this time, a week later, I was still bleeding. It didn’t stop like it normally would.
At first I thought it was stress. I suspected the real cause but I didn’t want to think about that because then it would become real. You see what I suspected was the cause was him; my abuser.
He had been raping me so violently as I became older that I had no doubt in my mind that he was the reason I was bleeding. I was just too scared to admit it. Instead I would just pretend it wasn’t happening.
I knew I couldn’t go to my mother. She didn’t believe me about the abuse and had already turned me away so how could I tell her about this. Instead I accepted it and just got on with day to day life.
I worked my life around it. For several years I carried on bleeding on and off. Sometimes I could go a week or so with no bleeding. It was these times that I would cross my fingers and secretly hope that it had finally stopped but then it would start again. I would be bleeding for days, weeks even months at a time.
What didn’t help is that during all this time he was still raping me whenever he could. He didn’t care if I was bleeding or not as long as he got what he wanted.
Eventually I started to become increasingly tired and would get random pains in my tummy. I could go for days without eating which would then cause me to become even more exhausted.
In my early twenties by now and in full time work, I became scared. I knew how I was feeling wasn’t right and it was affecting my work. So I saw my doctor. I nervously confided in them about the abuse and bleeding and was quickly referred to a gynaecologist.
After confiding in her too and after numerous appointments and internal scans I was finally told I would need to have an exploratory operation to try and find the cause of the bleeding. I was also advised to have a coil fitted at the same time to try and either stop or at least reduce the bleeding.
A few months later I went for my operation. I was put to sleep to keep me more comfortable due to being too afraid of people touching my body and then I was taken down to theatre.
When I woke afterwards my gynaecologist was there waiting. She told me that during the operation she had found a small tear that she suspected was the cause of the bleeding. She said she had fitted a coil in the hope that it would stop the bleeding and give the tear time to heal.
I asked her the question I didn’t really want to know the answer to; did what he do to me cause the tear? She said she couldn’t be certain but that it was very likely due to the young age I was when he started raping me and the fact he had raped me so many times. My heart sank as I realised that he had physically hurt me even more than I thought possible.
After several months the bleeding finally settled. After five years I was finally able to have the coil removed. I do not know whether the tear has healed completely, I guess I will never really know, but the bleeding settled and my periods became regular. For that I was grateful.
Never have my periods triggered me before. Not until today. Today I am in pain and uncomfortable.
Today I remember the feeling of him on top of me, crushing me, raping me so violently that I would bleed. Only then would he stop. Not because I was in pain, but because I was bleeding and he didn’t want to clear up the mess.
Today I remember the fear I felt as he watched the others rape me. I remember the pain I felt afterwards, in my vagina and in my tummy. Today I can feel that pain, physically feel it.
Today I remember how I was too afraid to ask my own mother for help knowing she had betrayed me and stood by him.
Today I have been triggered by something so simple. Something that happens every month. Something that is natural and has never triggered me before.
I am confused. I am ashamed and I am scared. I am sad. I am remembering things and I am feeling everything and I cannot make it stop. How I wish I could make it stop.
Today I am triggered by my period in a way that I have never been triggered before and all I can think is will this happen again next month or the month after that or the month after that?
Today I am triggered by my period. The simplest of things.
I live my life in fear never knowing when or how I will be triggered. That is what it is like for victims of abuse, we never know when, or how, we will be triggered but we know we will be at some point.
We live our lives in fear, knowing that another trigger could be just around the corner. The simplest of things can trigger us; things that may never have triggered us in the past can sneak up on us and catch us unexpectedly.
Triggers are everywhere and triggers are nowhere.
Like a gun going off, once they start you cannot stop them.
They never stop.
The pain they cause never stops.
Thanks for reading
**Image courtesy of Google Images**