"PTSD & Me"

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My parents had just gotten divorced and I was heavily into escaping it all by playing computer games late into the night and sometimes until 2:00 am in the morning. One particular weekend I had opted to stay home with my elderly grandfather who had the beginnings of dementia, instead of going away to the city with my mother. I remember my mother asking the next door neighbours to keep an eye on the place before she pulled out of the driveway. 

Before going to bed that night I walked out of my room and pottered around the house, finishing up a couple of chores. I had a strange feeling that someone was in the house even then, but brushed it off, thinking that I'd just heard my grandfather get up.

I went back to my room and thought I might stay up just a bit later and sing. Maybe record a Youtube video? The song that came to mind for some reason was an old hymn I'd heard back in my parent's old church. Some lyrics in this song kept circling in my mind, "God in the three person, blessed Trinity." I thought nothing of it, and decided not to record a video but to go to sleep instead. 

I switched off the light and was just about asleep when I heard a knock on my bedroom door. Assuming it was my grandfather, I said, "Oh I'm going to sleep now Pop". The knocking didn't let up after that and I said, "I'm off to sleep now". The voice at the door suddenly said, "Let me in".

I sat up slowly and I could feel the adrenaline starting to kick in and the hairs on the back of my neck were raised. Just to clarify the next move I should make after that, I asked him the simple question, "Why?".

There was no response from him. 

I knew for certain now to trust my instincts and that it wasn't my grandfather asking to come in and for some reason, just like Trinity in the Matrix when she ran away from the bad guys and fell down into a big warehouse. I told myself, "Get up, get up now!".

Full of adrenaline I had to quickly and very quietly make my way to the bedroom door. I couldn't just stay on my bed, assuming that the door was locked. I'd just gotten up in time and the bedroom door was no more than four meters away, but it seemed far. My door was unlocked and just as he was opening it a couple of inches, I threw myself against it as much as I could being only forty-five kilograms at the time. I swore and yelled at the man to go away several times. I didn't know it, but he had tools trying to remove the door handle. 

My grandfather stirred and called out from his bed down the hallway, this must have disturbed things and the man walked out of the house quite slowly. I still didn't stop pushing against my bedroom door. I heard the man's footsteps out on the front deck but was too afraid to look out of my window. My grandfather came to check on me but I stayed in my room and screamed and swore at him. I was so confused and shocked.

When I phoned my dad at 1:00 am that morning, I wasn't even going to call the police because in my mind, nothing had happened, but my dad urged me to call and a police officer came and questioned me. 

Later that morning when detectives came around to take photos, they had discovered that every lock in the house had been wrecked. It was then that I saw the tools sitting outside my bedroom door.

As the case was coming together, police broke it to me that the fingerprints and the rest of the evidence was pointing towards my next door neighbour (who we later found out had a history of assaulting girls).

When I finally received help from a Social Worker specialising in trauma, she told me that I chose to fight in my situation because of the trauma I had already experienced trauma as a child, I only have broken memories of these events. What was about to happen that night could not happen, I wouldn't let it. 

Em

Years later, I still have triggers from time to time and I avoid watching the news. I can't talk about rape without it angering me, and so it should.

The close call as a twenty-one-year-old, though terrifying as it was, has made me more sensitive to injustice and I want to do my part to stand up against it.

I now strive to do little things in life that make a large impact in the world to end poverty and other injustices.

-Em

You can follow Em on Instagram here

 
 

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