PTSD, & Anger – The Treatment of Women

Warning: There is explicit details in this essay. IF your stomach is queasy then do not go here. If rape is a touchy subject for you, do not go here.

Well, a new thought to share with my therapist. Can my own intense anger over one thing be a trigger for what is certainly a PTSD related trauma – and also a totally unrelated issue that I lived through years ago? And with that question, I have to say, I was unaware that I was still this intensely angry after all these years.

You know, being kicked from the historical society as I was, has left me intensely angry. The people who did the ‘dirty work’ made up reasons to justify asking me to step down. The truth is, I think, is that I began to realize that I was seeing unethical behavior and was saying something.
I was becoming a whistle blower and they had to see it coming. Yesterday, one of those people contacted my significant other (2nd husband) and asked him via text for information. He had to ask me for it which he waited until bedtime to ask for. Which of course, triggered the anger at bedtime. A time when we are supposed to be settling down, and trying to sleep. To them I say: I am not going to share any information with you, ever, period.

So, getting kicked to the curb for no good reason is one reason to be really really hurt and angry. But why for heavens sake would it remind me of my ex husband and his stupidity? I really have no clue unless – the intense anger is something that was produced from both situations.

When my ex and I were first married in the early 80’s…newlyweds, and that is no stretch, he came to me over a series of days and had me do certain things and told me certain things. For some reason I was to dress a certain way so that he could parade me around down town Cincinnati. I never quite understood that one. I did not like it in the least. I was embarrassed because at that point in my life, I was very, VERY modest. He came home from work (as a security guard) from the Cincinnati Enquirer and let me know that someone there thought I was a beautiful woman and wanted to take nudes of me. He wanted me to do it. I did not want to. Eventually, he didn’t want me to, and turned the guy down. To this day, I am not sure why the ex had the change of heart, but I have wondered since if he were not just plain full of shit. Maybe there really was no such person? During this time period, ex also came home from work, from the Cincinnati Enquirer and asked me to sleep with another couple with him. He wanted to ‘wife swap.’ I said no, and there was some intense pressuring. I did not even know in those days that that sort of thing went on. I was really that naive. So, part of the answer to the problem was that he started buying Forum magazines so I could read them and see what other people do. I guess, he thought it was time to educate me. It was also during this same time period though, I do not remember why it happened back then, that he first uses the technique of sleep deprivation to get what he wanted from me. If I said no, he just kept me up all night, rattling on and on about why he or we should do something, until I said yes. Back in those days, before the birth of children, and being young — he could have kept me up for a week, and I’d still said no. But, the abuse had begun. Even though I had no clue that it was abuse at the time. This was the phase in my marriage where I lived with objects being stuck up inside of me for his personal delight, and to my pain. The most memorable was of the night of the coke bottle. A coke bottle is no dildo if you get my drift. I said ok because I had no clue that I could say no. In those days, in my reality, man and a wife, alone, the wife gave it her all and stayed in that miserable place for the rest of her life. The bottle was very, very painful, and it brought tears to my eyes, and I tried my damndest to suck it up and stay silent, but complete silence did not come. It killed me when he asked me if it hurt, and through my tears (not so silent) I answered no–and he was so callous as to not see or hear through my denial. I was a very good wife, I suffered on for YEARS! Nearly 20 of them.

Fast forward about 14 of those years. I have either filed for divorce or about to and he knows it. I encourage him to date and move on, all the while staying and trying to work it out. Letting him go about his business is part of how at the time I was trying to help him not feel so hampered and controlled. After all those years, I agreed to an open marriage. While I agreed in principle, I never thought about a spouse swap. For me it just was not in the cards. In my mind we’d each just date who we wanted, and I had not realized the jealousy that would come into play. But he came to me, and told me he met a couple and she was HOT, and he wanted her, and he wanted me to sleep with the husband so that he (my husband) could sleep with her. I said no. I said no because while I knew them to, and thought she was gorgeous, he on the other hand gave me the creeps, and I wanted nothing to do with him. I could not have been clearer why I was saying no.

If I recall right this was one of those issues where he wanted what he wanted and he kept me up all night telling me all the reasons why we should. Now, I had an 8 year old, and a 3 year old. I was working night shift, and I was packing and getting ready to move 2000 miles to the east. At 4 am. I finally said yes, so that he’d leave me alone and let me sleep.

I did not know it at the time but, he must have that day or the next, or at least soon thereafter, approached the husband and tried to convince him to swap wives with him.

Now, husband in the couple did have a female African Senegal that appeared to be in great shape, but lonely. She kept laying eggs. I had a male, who had been obviously lonely for his own kind. He literally cried the most mournful cries. Knowing I could not take him when we moved, I’d been on the look out for a home. I gave the bird to them, in hopes that it would be happier there than with us. The husband of the couple called me and asked me to come over and look at the birds. They had laid an egg together and he wanted me to see. It was the middle of the day, I had no clue the man was alone at home, I packed up my 3 year old and around the corner we walked.

He answered the door and invited me in. He took me to the room where the birds were and showed my 3 year old the backyard where he could play. Once the boy was just outside the open sliding glass door the man informed me of what my husband had come to him, and what he had proposed, and how he felt about it. I’ll never EVER forget what he said. “He is not going to have my wife, but I am going to have you.” And it started.

My child was now on the patio, still close too the house, and so I would not scream or make noise because I did not want to alarm the child. I said no, I tried to fend him off physically, but I would not scream. When he could not take my clothes down to the level he wanted he grabbed my hair and forced my face into his crouch and demanded that I perform orally. I wish today, I had thought to bite him. But, even if I had thought of it, I probably wouldn’t. I had no interest in my son seeing or hearing a thing. I did not want him to be affected by this ugly scene.

The man’s penis had something on it. To this day I don’t know if it was moles, or warts, or just what kind of growth it was. But it was gross. The sight and situation made me nauseous. Actually, it still does, and to this day, I can not get that image out of my mind. So obviously, I do not want to think about it and I have been running from it. At least until this morning, I was still actively pushing this scene away—25 years later. These moments are from 1994. (2019-1994=25! I just checked with the calculator)

So, the bottom line, I am not sure if it was rape in that there was no penetration to my private parts, but I can tell you, it most definitely was forced and unwanted, and fought. When it was over, and I was released, I scooped up my little boy and walked back around the corner to the home where we were staying. It was the home of his Uncle and Aunt who lived on Glenwood Street in Fremont. They may have been understanding had I confided. But, we will never know. I was a master of keeping these things to myself. But to this day, I associated that rape or attempted rape, with the all night torture ritual of keeping me awake until he got permission for what he wanted. I told my soon to be ex about it. Nothing happened. There was no offer of reprisal of any kind. It was after I was long gone that the two men met up at our daughters former elementary school, and dear ex husband claimed that they shook hands and he squeezed the offenders hand very hard so that he was aware that ex was aware and angry. According to the ex, the offender turned tail and ran. If the husband from the couple did turn tail and run it was probably because he didn’t want his wife to know what was going on.

It was the end of a marriage, and there were head games, and harassment. My intelligence was insulted over and over again. In order to make up, one of the things I wanted was for my ex to take responsibility for his behavior. I had known he’d cheated on me years before. I had finally just realized that it was indeed stepping out, and that he’d brought home an STD to me. That is what had happened. All he had to do was admit it, and apologize, and offer to try to not go down that road again. And he had to do that, without laying the blame on me. Instead, he said he’d talked to his mom, and his mom told him to never admit it. I knew that was an admission, but the lack of taking responsibility for his actions was in my mind an insult to my intelligence, and I was not going to stay where those types of head games were still going on.

While living in the home of the aunt and uncle it became clear to me that head games were part and parcel of his family of origins dirty laundry. His uncle was relentless with the headgames, and so was his cousin. The whole situation was demoralizing, and crazy making. His aunt (who was the blood relative from family of origin) was an angel, and very, very kind. But, she was also aloof working hours a day, and coming home and pretty quickly retreating to her bedroom. Though, she treated me with the utmost of kindness. I had already been told that there was marital problems between said aunt/uncle. And cousin was addicted to drugs and a thief. She stole a quilt that I had hand embroidered and put together for my son, shortly after I showed it to her. She stole a brand new rag doll that I had bought myself as a special present to myself for my efforts in life. No doubt they were traded for drugs. The disrespect and crazy making for the most part was suffocating. The sad part, is that, my sister and mother were less than 10 miles away. That whole situation in my own family of origin was so sick, that I could not call them for help or support.

My family of origin is quite dysfunctional. Hence, I married into the familiar-and tried to stay in the marriage until ‘death do us apart’.

This is what came flooding into my mind this morning while in the midst of being intensely angry about the historical society. Did the anger over the historical society trigger the memories? I would have to answer that one in the affirmative. I just find it hard to make the connection.

I have known that I was angry about the deafening disrespect shown to me by my ex. Over the years it built up to where if I had been a snake I would have bit him. IF I were a snake, I’d chosen to be a Cobra and I’d spat in his face—aiming for the eyes. I was angry. Yes, Yes, Yes…

I am not sure I ever felt any anger over the rape until possibly this morning as the memory came rushing back. In order to protect my son at the time, my automatic reaction was to keep quiet and hold any feelings in. It was most certainly, survival mode that I was in at the time. When I told my ex about it, there were no tears– it was just the facts. I was 1001% disconnected from my insides.

So obviously, even if we decide that we are NOT going to be angry person, and not take it out on those around us, and not let it affect our hearts, there is more than a conscious mind at play, and we are not in 100% control of what we do and how it affects us. 25 years later, I am just now feeling the real and intense anger in such a way that I can identify where it comes from and why.

I never got an apology from anyone. I pretty much lost my mind for awhile after that scene. No one knew why. They still do not know why.
And yet, I am the one that was “no angel” — I am the one in the wrong. I did the rejecting, I filed for divorce.

Over the years he brought home STDs, and filled my body and mind full of things that were just obscene. He expected me to perform acts that I had no interest in, and very often led me to tears. I lived through cracked and broken teeth created by being hit on the face and bruises from being hit elsewhere. Before it was all over, I was fairly sure he’d sexually assaulted his sister before we met or were married. I had lost all respect, if there was ever any to begin with.

Again – I get to make a point, that until we walk in the other person’s shoes we know not what their experience may have been, or what they have lived through.

The disconnect between the perpetrator and his feelings of shame must be something the size of the Grand Canyon. The disconnect the perpetrator causes in their victim and her shame while it may seem to not exist, is real, and life threatening. I was suicidal and was 51-50’d at this time. I thought it was because I had filed for divorce that I was suicidal. That is what I told the doctors. The truth is, that it was probably more over the rape, and the headgames, and the shear years of piled on disrespect and disconnection.

In these days of #MeToo, women are looking for acknowledgement, apologies, respect, and probably some retribution. I get it. I am a textbook case of a person assaulted as a child and that situation setting me up for assault after assault after assault my entire adult life. It is typical history for a woman in modern America. Peace even when it comes, still has the pain and memory of the violence from the past.

And the fallout keeps coming. My son has a pretty bad case of PTSD. How much of that came from that day 25 years ago….where he probably heard and saw the unbearable and what should have been unseeable and unhearable. A mother’s secret is about to become known…


About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
This entry was posted in Health, History, Mental Illnesses, Parent/Child Relationships, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized, Women's Rights. Bookmark the permalink.

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