Lois P. (lotus82) wrote in _survivors_,
Lois P.

I have a friend who tends to do something that triggers me. She is quite a new friend (only a few months) and though I'm fairly open at this stage of my recovery about having been raped and assaulted, the topic hasn't come up with her yet. I actually planned to not bring it up, if possible, ever - not because I don't trust her with that information, but because I wanted to see how long can a friendship go without involving that information, since it bothers me that those past experiences continue to be involved in every little bit of my life. However, because she was doing something that triggered me, I decided that I needed to tell her to stop, and that had to be done with a good explanation, as she is highly sensitive. So I wrote her an email.

Dear ****,

I'm writing you this because I wanted to ask you something and I'm finding it hard to say it. I've always been better at expressing myself in writing than in speech.

First of all, I love getting SMS messages, as I've already told you. Second, I like keeping in touch with you, as I've already made clear as well. There's just one problem, though - I am quite incomfortable by you sending me messages saying "Where are you [now]?" and "What are you doing?" and serving as conversation openers. Let me tell you why this makes me uncomfortable.

Ten years ago I was stalked by a strange man who exposed himself to me and, as I understood through his actions, intended to rape me. This went on for about three months, I kept managing to escape, and I guess eventually he got tired, because I wasn't an easy victim. I was 14 at the time and got extremely traumatized by the experience. I got clinically depressed and later was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I still have a problem with flashbacks, which means that certain things may remind me of that experience of being stalked and being terrified of the possibility of being raped, and then I feel as though I am back in that experience again. Needless to say, it makes me feel awful.

I do want to make it clear that most of the triggers for my flashbacks are triggers because that's the way I perceive them, and not because their source meant to make them triggering or to make me feel bad. For example, certain songs cause a flashback, simply because I used to listen to them a lot during that time - not because they talk about stalking or rape. However, anything that is related to me and may be interpreted as somehow related to stalking is triggering to me. For example, if I am walking down the street and I see somebody walking behind me for longer than a minute or so, I become panicky, because it reminds me of that experience ten years ago - even though logically I know that person is not stalking me, they are just going in the same direction as I am. You can see that there isn't much of a logical response here, it's purely emotional, and ths is why I'm writing this long email.

And here I am getting to my point - SMS's such as "Where are you [now]?" etc., which serve as conversation starters, trigger me. For some reason, I don't mind such questions when they come in the middle of a conversation, but when they come as the first sentence, they disturb me. Again, I'd like to emphasize that it is not your fault - it is really not what you said but the way I perceive it. And this is why I never respond to such SMS's - they make me feel really uncomfortable.

I hope I haven't offended you, either by my failure to respond to your messages or by this email. I also hope you can understand where I am coming from and we can continue being friends.



I really hope she'll understand, stop doing what she was doing, and we can still be friends. I also hope I made myself clear!
Tags: friendships, stalking, telling others
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