Sunday, November 17, 2013

Triggers



As I was headed to my bi-weekly support group meeting (for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse), I reflected over my life and pondered about the times I’ve felt entirely safe, secure, protected, unafraid and completely loved unconditionally.  I can only recall two times in my 41 years of living (at the time). The first time being when I gave my life over to the Lord. I encountered a peace I had never before experienced. Immediately I was filled with such an abundance of pure joy and happiness. The second time in my life was when I made the decision to 'be silent no more'. I made the decision to speak out against and advocate for Military Sexual Abuse (MST) Survivors, and sexual and domestic abuse survivors. What brought on this train of thought you ask?  I was enjoying my Saturday afternoon. I’d just finished cleaning my home and decided to go and vacuum out my car and run some errands.   I got in my car and off I went. I turned on the radio and began singing along to the music, happy as happy can be.

I pulled into a local car wash and began vacuuming out my car. As I was finishing up I turned to see a man walking towards me. I’m very alert of my surroundings. Many individuals who have suffered any trauma are hyper vigilant about their surroundings.  The man’s appearance was nothing that caused any immediate alarm. He explained that he was homeless and needed some money for food. I normally give the homeless money or buy them food.  For some reason I did not do this. I attribute this to the inner-radar we all have  (and sometimes neglect to take heed of ).  He went on to say that he wasn’t really homeless, but that he wanted to tell me that he thought I was the most beautiful woman he’d seen and inquired about my martial status. He introduced himself as “Billy Porter”.  He immediately began to share his status. He stated that he was no longer married, was well off financially, recently relocated back to the Hampton Roads area and was looking for a woman.  I didn’t respond.  He then asked if I was married. I said no and I’m not looking. Mr. Porter edged closer to my car as I got in. He asked if he could kiss me to which I responded no. (My inner-radar was sending off urgent sounds of alarm within). He was very persistent in attempting to get me to take him across the street to have a drink with him; stating his Ranger Rover was being serviced just next door and he wanted to get to know me. I politely declined.  He then commented on my license plate that said “God Reigns”. He said I like God too. I said I love God – not just like Him.  He asked if I had a man. I responded with my man is Jesus and I’m not looking for another.  He then said I can’t give up and allow the next man to come along without a fight. Can you pray for me? Can I get your number? Can I give you mine? All to which I responded no, no and no.  I attempted to end the conversation by saying it was nice to meet you Mr. Porter. I’m leaving now.  I have errands to run. By this time I had gotten into my car. I attempted to put my car in drive and pull off. He leaned his head in the driver's side of my window and persisted in requesting my number and attempting to get me to take him across the street. 

I know the question running through your mind is how does this tie into the title ‘Triggers’? Again, anyone who has experienced any form of trauma; certain things can cause memories or emotions from that trauma to surface. This encounter was a trigger. I grew very irritated because he made me feel vulnerable, unsafe, unprotected and angry at the audacity he had to invade my personal space. I repeatedly said no to his outrageous requests and advances. I began to think about what I could use as weapon if he continued to badger me, violating my personal space.  This encounter took me back to a place where I was at the whim and mercy of the unwanted advances and desires of a man who had taken advantage of me.  I again stated that I was leaving and asked him to move so I wouldn’t hit him with my car. Immediately a boiling, angry knot of rage collected in my stomach and began to radiate throughout my body.  I felt traumatized all over again.  At that point I wondered how many other women he had approached in that manner and what the outcome was. You see, being a survivor you can be going through life thinking you’ve dealt with the things surrounding your original trauma. Then something happens and BAM! You’re right back in that place.  Your mind begins wandering; you’re thinking when will I ever be healed completely? When will I ever be able to trust others completely? When will I be able to let my guard down completely? There are no immediate answers to those questions. 
The journey to healing and wholeness; to learning to trust again, learning to establish and maintain healthy boundaries is a lifelong one. There will be set-backs. Expect that. However, with a solid support group, with counseling, and with a determination to reclaim what was stolen, it is rewarding.  Are you ready to begin your journey?  Here are a few resources you can reach out to. They will assist you with finding organizations near you:

www.rainn.org 
www.dancinginthedarkness.com 
www.safehorizon.org

Take care and be well.

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