We Need To Start Talking About Dissociative PTSD In Rape Victims

Trigger warning: This article contains sensitive content involving rape and sexual assault.
woman looking away
Anh Le

I was trapped; fully and completely helpless. He held me down underneath him, arms pinned against the ground, until he was satisfied. I felt frozen in time, with each passing second seeming more like an hour. Silent tears rolled down my cheeks as he thrust himself inside of me again and again. Still, I continued begging him to stop despite the fact that, at this point, my voice had diminished to a barely audible whisper.

My body felt numb; detached. As my mind drifted further from reality, I thought maybe I was dreaming or drunk. That I was probably just hallucinating. In that moment, and to this day, these excuses cloud my thoughts and plague my memories with feelings of doubt and skepticism. I find myself wondering if I led him on that night in some way; then I recall my countless pleads with him to stop. I question whether or not I truly was as sober as I thought…maybe I had a few too many drinks and none of it actually happened. Until I have a flashback; reliving the physical pain and fear that consumed me while my body was forcefully violated. As if none of it mattered; like I wasn’t even human.

The perception of hopelessness is as powerful as it is all-consuming. He raped me, the girl who trusted and cared about him. The girl who loved him. But in that moment, I was none of those things; merely an object with which he could use and handle as he pleased.

One specific recurring flashback illustrates this understanding particularly well:

He was lying on top of me, pressing both of my wrists firmly to the floor. At this point, fear had just begun to set in as I finally comprehended what was happening to me. I felt weak; defenseless. As a last ditch effort, I attempted to make eye contact with the hope that maybe I’d be able to simply snap him out of this ‘trance.’ Instead, my heart began to sink, as my pleading was met with a cold, empty, and unfamiliar gaze. The few slivers of hope that remained were shattered, and I continued to slide deeper and deeper into dissociation.

And I didn’t even know it was happening. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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