It was 1993 and I was still having problems – flashbacks, nightmares and being triggered by similar situations. Most of the work I had done to heal myself of being raped when I was seven and made outcast from my community, I had done alone. My mother, bless her, had ascribed to the view that if I was treated as if I were normal, I would be normal, as if by sheer force of will she could take the event away from me. And she was very nearly right. She saved me from the label of victim and the trauma of telling the story over and over and amplifying the damage.
But the silence and lack of acknowledgement did a lot of damage too. Everyone knew. It was like the elephant in the room everywhere I went, but I knew that she believed me. I had heard her scream with rage at the neighbours who labelled me a liar before my dad tossed them out of our house. It nurtured me through the years following even though they had not meant me to hear and believed me to be in bed and fast asleep.
I was left to think and wonder and work it out for myself. I made the errors in logic that children do when left to their own musings. I had asked to go on the sleepover, everyone loves him and ‘it’s all my fault’. I had no context for the sexual interaction that had occurred, no way to know it was wrong, but somehow I did know it was wrong. The dissonance took my voice and gave me convulsions. I was mute and terrified in my first encounters with boys.
Healing began with the boundless love of my teenage sweetheart but that was a long time in the past. Occasionally, as I grew older and the nightmares got worse, I reached out for professional help. I was mostly rebuffed, or found that those helping had ulterior motives. I was definitely on my own.
And then a new psychologist joined the company I was working for and we struck up a friendship. Her particular passion was hypnosis. She was new to it and proud of her skills. I shared my story. “We can fix those symptoms really fast” she said, and invited me to her rooms.