Dealing with Assault

Fortunately most of you reading this post will have never gone through this ordeal in any shape or form and the bubble you live in is still perfectly intact. However there are a few people who have been assaulted in the past, myself included. 

I want you to imagine how you would feel or react if someone assaulted you and then times that feeling by a hundred. It's horrific. Even writing this post now is upsetting me immensely and I've been working on this for a week so far. Whatever emotion you encounter when it happens, it never leaves you. It resurfaces in nightmares, flashbacks, anecdotes and worst of all in everyday life.

Assault leaves you feeling vulnerable long after it's happened. Your perception of what is right and wrong is blurred which leads you to accept other forms of assault without realisation that it's wrong. I'm a stubborn being at the best of times so I never opened up about the emotional damage I suffered from my assault, for that reason no one fully understood what had happened to me. A lot of people who witnessed my panic attack and breakdown after I'd been attacked, thought I had completely overreacted. I hadn't. I just didn't make a big habit of showing people how vulnerable and broken I really was after that.

Although I was offered therapy I refused. Like I said I'm stubborn. I pretty much shut myself down in concerns with the assault. The next day I sucked it up and dragged myself back to sixth form, deliberately turning up late so I wouldn't have to face talking to friends before class. To my surprise, not one person mentioned my attack and in fact, I don't think many people even knew it had happened, which was fine by me. 

I finally got the nerve to sit down with my family a while after it had happened and discuss it openly without the police being there or having to robotically answer routine questions. In truth, I hated opening up and analysing every detail of what happened. It very nearly killed me having to look my parents in the eye and tell that story. When it was over, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I almost felt at peace. I will never be able to forgive or forget what happened but I managed to accept it was in the past and I'd moved forward. 

I would give anything to have been able to talk like that to anyone after it had happened because I was so royally screwed up after the attack. It was over a month before I managed to snap out of the numbness and take my life back. 

The day of the attack was a blur to me. I got in the way of someone walking past and being already agitated by a phone call, they lashed out on the nearest thing to them which was me. They tried to grab me but I shoved them off and ran to my school which was thankfully was only five minutes away from where I was. I still cringe at what could have happened if I hadn't escaped. I got to sixth form with every intention of not telling anyone and just pretending it didn't happen. 
      Seeing my friends upset me more than I was prepared for. I took my friend Hope to one side and just broke down. I don't even know how I managed it but after that I was hauled to the medical room and an ice pack was soothing the shooting pains in my jaw. Hope if you're reading this you're absolutely amazing for keeping sane and for sitting with me for over an hour whilst I cried hysterically. I'll never forget the moment when a teacher walked in to check on me and the gasp when my ice pack was removed. 
     My dad eventually picked me up and I don't think I said anything to him. I just sat in the car completely numb. I was so worn out from the panic attack and stress that I didn't want to call the police. In the end, I was sat in my living room later that night with the police asking me the same questions I'd been asked about four times that day. The police searched for my attacker but he was never found so no justice for me. Although at the time I was so glad they didn't find them. I didn't want to face them again and have to relive the experience. It was too painful.

The way you think people deal with assault is completely false. Yes, some people go into depression and some shut themselves off but not everyone has that same coping mechanism. I hated the idea of getting more attention that I was used to so I refused to take a day off, I refused to go in looking timid and broken. I just acted like normal and my friends treated me like nothing had happened which I was so unbelievably grateful for. A lot of people said I hadn't been attacked because of the face I put on everyday before sixth form and the rumours they thought they were entitled to spread we're excruciating to deal with on top of the trauma I was already going through. It was completely selfish and immature for them to deal with my issues in that way and I want them to know they made my healing process longer and more difficult.

Dealing with an assault is so different to dealing with stress or anxiety. It's completely unexpected and it's something you'll never see coming. You reach the height of the impact of assault almost straight away and after that you're completely damaged. Nothing's going to change that. 

My advice in dealing with the aftermath is to face it sooner rather than later. Talk about it. Go the therapy. Ask someone to help you through it. You have to face the fact that it's happened and you're only step now is to move on. Don't let it consume you because you're giving your attacker that power over you. 

I also want to state that it doesn't matter if you know the person or not, the fact is - you don't deserve it. Any of it. I don't care if you ran over their favourite pet, no one has the right to justify that with violence. 

I've still benefited from this though. I've learnt that it's not okay to live in your own world and think everything is perfect. Perfection unfortunately doesn't exist in this world. I feel more aware and prepared for what happens next. I'm not saying to be wary of every stranger on your street, but have the common sense to identify a dangerous situation when you're approaching or are in one. 

I hope this has either helped you deal with your own assault or been an insight into what people go through and how they deal with the aftermath. 

And also a huge thank you to the people who were and are still my rocks even today. You know who you are and you're amazing! 

Emma x



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