I have nightmares. I hear his voice, the man who was in charge, no not Rainiere, someone else. The man who stayed when Rainiere left me in his control, he was violent and vicious and everything definitive of the word “evil.”

He did things to my body that no human could have come up with on their own, and so sometimes I get nightmares, and last night, and this morning really, the nightmares are very fresh in my mind. They aren’t about what happened, but what might happen when he gets out of prison for the final time. And he will get out of prison, eventually, because that’s my luck.

There are other women he raped, other girls, they got justice. I got committed, and I am genuinely bitter about that fact. I have every right to be bitter. There are people in this world who think they understand, but they have absolutely no clue.

People always want to say they understand, especially people who have been through abuse, but they really have no idea, they can’t. Because abuse is so personal, it’s not just physical, it rips your soul away and strips you of everything you absolutely know to be true.

It taints future relationships and shifts you from being someone people genuinely love, to someone people think they love, because they see shadows of the person they remember. That person doesn’t exist anymore, she was killed when she was violated by abuse and trauma. She’s dead now, and in her place something or someone knew, who is just trying to figure out how to get out of survival mode, in a world that has taught her she is not safe.

I am terrified of the idea of having children, because I am afraid that I have that evil inside of me. I am terrified to let anyone get too close, because I never want to have to explain that I am irrevocably damaged, broken, by what was done to me, even though it wasn’t a choice.

They say – hell I’ve said – that at a certain point you are responsible for your behavior, but what if sometimes you just can’t contain yourself? What if you don’t have that special skill that allows you to have self control when you are triggered by a dream or a nightmare? What if when you first wake up in the morning, it takes a few hours to remember that there are people who have a vested interest in you being safe?

What happens when you feel like you’re blocked behind a wall with no escape, and no matter how many times people try to prove to you that you’re not, you just can’t see an exist? Because that’s where I am at today, and I know that this won’t last forever. I know that tomorrow will be better, and I’ll jump out of bed ready to face the world, but today I just don’t have it in me.

I can’t keep pretending that everything is okay, that I am not triggered by every therapy session I have. Especially because it’s group therapy, so there is no real opportunity for me to express how I am feeling or what I am going through, knowing that my story will trigger others.

I am learning that people in group code their language precisely for this reason, and all I want to do is go into the middle of the woods and scream it out until I feel better.

For a lot of reasons that’s not possible right now, so I measure my behavior. I keep a lid on it all, and then sometimes the lid comes off and I lash out, because the therapy that I am receiving is not working.

The answer is obviously find another kind of therapy, but unfortunately that answer doesn’t work for me. I can only take what is available, and what’s available does not exactly attack the root of the problem, which is fear.

I am afraid all the time. I am afraid that he will come back, I am afraid that he will bring others, I am afraid of all the things that could or would happen, and sometimes that fear overwhelms the reality that I am actually facing.

There are tips and tricks to get past the fear of course – counting, taking a shower, distracting your mind helps sometimes, but sometimes it just takes time for the coffee to kick in, and for the real Devon to make an appearance.

Sometimes it just takes sitting in your misery and letting the tears out until you can sit down and pen a letter to your future self so that she never forgets that it can get better, but it can also get really, really bad.

A few months back I saw a tweet that said “it never gets better, you just learn to deal with it,” that reality terrifies me. I want it to get better, I want it to get easier, I want it to become so normal that I don’t have to deal with the pain anymore.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living in fear, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life keeping people at an arms distance so that they don’t get hurt by the damage caused by the men who abused me. I just don’t see that in my future.

I see more violence, and eventual death, because statistically speaking, that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. I don’t want to be a statistic, I just don’t know how to avoid that eventuality.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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