This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
Gaslighting. It’s one of those terms.
The first time you hear it, you have no idea what it means. But as soon as someone explains it to you, you realise you’ve more than likely been a victim yourself.
But have you ever heard of self gaslighting? I hadn’t either.
But when I fully understood what gaslighting was, I realised it was something I’d been doing to myself for almost two decades.
When I was 16, I was raped.
Only, at the time, I wouldn’t have described it that way.
I would have said, my violent ex boyfriend who I had attempted to break up with had sex with me. That “sex” just so happened to be in the middle of a physical assault – and I was too scared to move.
Sounds super romantic and consensual right?
I didn’t tell a soul, not one single person for at least three years.
I look back now at my time at college in the years that followed and remember feeling desperately lonely and sad. But I don’t ever remember putting the two things together.
In my first year of university, with a new boyfriend, I suffered vaginismus. Didn’t connect it. I drank heavily and recklessly. I was just a typical student right?
When I eventually did confide in a friend, it was about the violent assault I had suffered that day. About the black eye I’d received, which made me too frightened and embarrassed to leave my house for two weeks.
Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continued after video.
I did not speak of sexual assault. I wasn’t even sure that was something that had happened to me. In my mid and late 20s, I suffered depression. I went to therapy.
I told the therapist about my nan dying, about a friend passing away, about the termination I’d had. About how I just felt really sad sometimes. The thing that happened that day? Didn’t mention it.
The real reason I was there was like an elephant in the room only I could see. As my last session with the therapist ended, I turned to leave.