I cannot move. Their faces are all staring at my small, naked body. Laughing, smoking, drinking. Maybe three of them, possibly four – my mind a little hazy – all egging on the man on top of me. My stepfather crushes me with his weight as he begins to rape me.
I try to struggle, move my head from side to side in protest to avoid his lips meeting mine. But he is too strong. His weight bearing down on my small body. I try to move my arms but can’t. In a panic I try to close my legs but can’t. I suddenly realise that my wrists and ankles are tied. One to each corner of the bed.
I am cold as I realise we are not in a house but in the camper van. The van shakes slightly and squeaks as he begins to rape me harder. He kisses my neck and I shudder, willing him to stop but knowing that he won’t. Smiling, when finished, he climbs off of me, leaving my small body ready for one of the others. I am sore and bleeding but they do not care, for they are used to it and will just make me shower away any trace of them once they are done.
Knowing they are each about to take their turn with me once again, I force myself to try to wake up. I try to catch my breath, my eyes darting around the room, trying to adjust to the darkness. I struggle to move. Overwhelmed by fear, sleep paralysis keeps me pretty much frozen.
Not understanding that I am in fact safe next to my sleeping husband and somehow believing I have been able to free a hand, I reach for my phone. Cautiously I type, making sure no-one can see.
“Help me, he’s back!” I type in my blurry eyed state. I press send, willing my friend to be awake, willing her to help me. Almost immediately I get the reply; “I am here, you are safe, I am with you”
“No! You must leave” I send her back “You will get hurt”.
“They cannot hurt me” she replies “I am safe. So are you. This isn’t happening now. He isn’t with you. The police know. You are safe now”
Gradually she calms me down and I begin to come round a little. 3am. Slowly I begin to realise that I have once again woken from a nightmare.
I open my eyes; darkness. Sweat runs down my forehead and across my back. My hands are clammy and my fingers numb. For a moment I forget where I am. My wrists are sore. Subconsciously I have been scratching at them, trying to free myself from the rope that isn’t really there anymore. My nails digging in and tearing at the skin. I am bleeding but I am not really aware.
I try to breathe once more. My increasing heart rate making it hard to do so. I am quiet but I am screaming inside. Wondering, fearing, doubting. Peering deep into the darkness, I wish I could be safe for just one night.
Gradually I feel my eyes begin to close once more but I force myself to stay awake, too afraid of what will happen in my sleep. Terror and memories of the places he took me running through my head; my bedroom, the car, the lorry, his mums house, on holiday. Rape. Torture. Pain. Bleeding. Fear. I must not sleep. My monsters are not under my bed, they are in my head.
My monsters never leave. I try to drag myself out of living but there is no relief in sleeping. Each morning I drag myself out of nightmares but there is no relief in waking. Look closely and you will see the chaos and torture in my eyes. My history is a nightmare from which I spend forever trying to wake.
I relive my trauma every day be it when awake and getting flashbacks or being asleep and getting nightmares. It never ends. The threat to my survival feels very real. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD nightmares are not just a replay of the trauma. They are the emotions we felt at the time; helplessness, sadness, fear. The worst place to be is in our head because that is where the trauma never ends. Our torture doesn’t stop when the trauma ends. It carries on and lives in us through our triggers and memories and feelings. Forgetting is difficult. Remembering is worse.
My pain didn’t stop the day he stopped raping me. It continues every day. I have to relive my trauma to overcome it. My nightmares are not of monsters in my cupboard or under my bed. They are the memories and pain of my childhood.
My journey to healing has only just begun and the torture of my past is unbearable.
How I wish for a fairy tale and sweet dreams in a world full of nightmares.
Instead my world is the nightmare of reality.
I just hope I am strong enough to keep waking up.
Thanks for reading.
** Image courtesy of Google Images **