Ask The Therapist: ‘My childhood friend raped me while I was going through a rough breakup’

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In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

About three months ago I had a rough breakup and honestly even though I should hate the guy, I still can’t. I miss him, every day. To make things worse, two weeks ago, my childhood friend assaulted me. He knew what I was going through yet scarred me even more. It was in my room. My parents were sleeping in the other room. I could’ve screamed. I could’ve saved myself. But I really don’t know what happened to me in that moment. I shook. Froze. I could not process that he could make a move on me. I said to him: “Pagal ho? No. You should leave.” I tried to stop him. I promise I did. But when he didn’t stop, I just kept quiet. I let it happen. Was I wrong? I just wanted it to be over. The saddest part is, I can’t tell anyone. His parents are friends with my parents, and I don’t know if telling anyone would help me or make things worse. In the moment when he was raping me, I couldn’t stop thinking about my ex. He was my safe place. I miss being safe again. I miss him a lot.

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I know that the loss of a relationship is extremely difficult, and while the idea of how one “should” feel is thrown around, it isn’t that simple sometimes. Relationships are complicated and
are far from polarized, and I hear you when you say that you miss him.

As for what you’re saying about what happened with your childhood friend, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, Anon, this shouldn’t have happened to you, and I admire your courage for speaking your truth in this message. I know that such experiences are difficult to talk about, and just know that you were not wrong. You responded in the best way you could in a situation, and I can hear how painful and terrifying it was for you. In the face of danger, there are many times our bodies just surrender/freeze because it feels like the only thing one can do in a scenario is to wait for the danger to pass. This is common in cases of sexual assault/rape. Be easy on yourself when all you were trying to do was keep yourself safe. This wasn’t your fault.

Speak to someone you trust: I know that there are many thoughts and feelings that might be experiencing, and while there is no pressure to make kind of decisions, it helps to speak to
someone who you trust – this could be another family member, a close friend, anyone who would be able to help you feel safe and held during this time.

Get support: If that isn’t something you feel ready for, you might even consider talking to a therapist about what’s happened – someone who is able to hold space for you, and be present for you as you say your truth. What I would recommend is speaking to someone who specializes in Trauma-Informed Therapy. You can contact the Trauma Release and Wellness Centre for a referral (@trwcentre); Contact: +923171188507.

Speaking your truth: I know that Pakistan comes with all kinds of complexities when it comes to cases of sexual assault and rape, and while I know the idea of telling people what happened might seem scary, I would say that your voice deserves to be heard and to do whatever helps you feel the safest right now. If the time comes, and you’re ready to hold the guy responsible and accountable, remember that you have every right to tell them what happened, and that it shouldn’t have happened.

Anon, with all that you’ve gone through, I can only imagine the kind of pain you’re carrying right now – with the break up and then experiencing something so horrible shortly after.

Remember that whatever you’re feeling is valid, and that if it gets too much, you can always reach out for support. Give yourself time to heal, and also that in order for healing to take place, the feelings must be let out. Don’t hold it in, you deserve more than that. We’re all here sending you a great deal of love and well wishes. Thank you for sharing your truth with us. Stay in your power, Anon. You got this.

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or therapy.

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