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katgrl2003

PTSD

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I'm still kinda new to emtcity, so everyone please bear with me.

I've had a few experiences over the last few months that are still getting to me. My partner has become my lifesaver, but I feel like I'm putting too much onto him. I want to get my life back.

Almost three months ago, I was sexually assaulted twice in one week. Both people worked in the ems field, one in my company. One of the reasons it's still hitting me so hard is that its happened before, approximately five years ago. I didn't start talking about the first incident until a year ago, and I waited a week to tell anyone about the other two.

I've pissed off some people by telling them I'm used to being treated this way. I know I shouldn't. I know I should be pissed at guys for treating me this way. I just can't. Other than my family (and yes, that includes my ems family), and one ex, I've been treated like this from most of the guys I know. It's almost like I'm there to make them happy, and I'm just an afterthought.

I know some of the responses I'm going to get are counselling, things of that nature. I'm just wondering if there is anything I can do short of that? I've been talking with people, especially my partner. For a space of about a month, he and my dad were the only two males I trusted. While on shift, he never left my sight.

I'm still having nightmares, but they are down to about one every two or three days. People that know are making me talk, which is probably why I'm getting better. I just wonder if its ever gonna go away. I wonder if I'm ever truly going to feel comfortable around guys again. I wonder if life is ever going to go back to normal.

Thank you all for letting me rant. :)

-Kat

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What an unpleasant experience for you!

I really can’t offer any advice. Maybe you need to make it clearer that you will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment. Have you reported any of these situations? It’s great that you’re talking about it. Have you seeked any professional help? Nightmares could warrant a session or 2 with a psychologist.

Life is what you make it, putting these things behind you will make all the difference. The only problem is finding something that will help you. Its most like you will never actually forget the ordeals buts it’s important to manage it. You may need to sit down and devise some form of plan that may aid in setting your confidence back with guys.

In these situations confidence is often damage, as in your case. So maybe working on building it up again. Often talking to people who have experienced the same as you helps immensely.

Unfortunately these types of things tend to linger round - time is the best cure.

I’m sure you’ll be fine! Keep your head up! Take care. :)

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Kat, with all due respect and sensitivity to your situation, I'm just a little puzzled. Let me get this straight, you were sexually assaulted, then again at your workplace and now, you're still working there? I'm kinda scratching my head here. My recommendation would be to stop working there, first off, then, take a big long break from doing EMS period. EMS takes a mental toll on even the strongest of psyches. Don't worry about other people and worry about yourself right now.

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I know some of the responses I'm going to get are counselling, things of that nature. I'm just wondering if there is anything I can do short of that? I've been talking with people, especially my partner. For a space of about a month, he and my dad were the only two males I trusted. While on shift, he never left my sight.

If it is the stigma associated with it that is preventing you from seeing a psychologist, my advice would be to swallow your pride and just do it. I know that this is easier said than done, but what you have gone through seems to warrant proper professional help.

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If you really want help, and apparently you do then go to professional counseling. You would not send a diabetic to a medic to get counseling on diabetes, the same is true on your problem. It is beyond their scope and probably too close to give objective opinions.

As well, you describe this as an on-going problem, with the same problems as in the past. Past behaviors are a pattern, and again one needs to seek an answer. Professional counseling is the only sound and true medical advice that should be given and taken.

R/r 911

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I agree with Asys, why are you still working there if you were raped while at work? Sexual assualt = rape in my book, and shouldn't be tolerated. It happened to me (not at work, but in high school) about 10 years ago and I have a child from it. It never goes away (for me anyhow). I've done counseling and all, and use my story to educate others. I guess doing that (and raising a child) are my ways of turning something horrid/negative into something positive that others can benefit from.

I agree, it is hard to just open up and discuss this stuff right away (it took me about 10 months to tell anyone). And when you go to see the psychologist/psychiatrist you're going to relive it a few times which also sucks. In the long run it'll make you feel better.

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I think the big questions are as follows... why remain in this environment where you don't feel safe? The working environment should never make you feel uneasy or like there's only one or two people you can trust. I know it may be difficult to do, but perhaps you might consider reporting this to your employer, as well as the employer of the other individual. If they're going to do this to you, who else might they hurt? If you can't bring yourself to do it in person, a letter or an email would be good to start with. If not for yourself at this point, for the protection of someone else. You don't want another female to be hurt by these guys.

It sounds like you have a great friend in your partner, and I'm very glad you have someone you can trust. Let him support you... but don't rely on him or your father as your sole source of emotional/cognitive support right now. Because you've had a trauma in the past that's been repeated, you're not only dealing with the emotions from *now*, but you're also reliving the emotions from *then*, especially if you didn't get a chance to fully process the previous event or seek psychological help at that point. That's too much weight for you, or you and your partner to bear alone. Let someone with that professional distance help carry that with you.

I know it may be difficult to bring yourself to a counselor or psychologist's office. I know many people (including myself at one point) feel as though "I'm a freak... there's something wrong with me... I deserve to be treated this way, (whatever that may mean), if I was smarter I could just figure this out and get through it, I just need to tough this out, it'll go away soon..." when they first think about going to get professional help, or when someone brings it up.

The fact of the matter is that emotional trauma and all of the physical and psychological things that go along with it is an illness just like many of the things we treat on a daily basis. Look at Rid's example of a diabetic... many diabetics are ashamed that they have to inject themselves every day to be "normal". Many asthmatics have to carry medications and suffer the humiliation of not being able to keep up with their friends, or have to take time off of work due to the illness, which feels HORRIBLE. But you can't treat diabetes or asthma with "toughing it out," because it will kill you or severely damage you in the end and make things harder.

No one here can tell you what to do, and you shouldn't feel obligated to do anything. But out of concern, many of us are giving the best advice we feel we can to you. My personal suggestion would be to seek out psychological help, because the nature of the illness warrants that as a treatment. If you feel too uncomfortable going alone, you could ask your partner or your father to go with you. I would also suggest reporting the incidents to the perpetrators' employers, so that you get some closure and so that others may be protected from their attacks. I also think you might want to consult with your boss, and perhaps take a temporary medical leave of absence.

You don't have to live with this, and you don't have to struggle through it alone. It doesn't always have to be this way. If you don't get help, you will never learn that you are valuable enough to not be treated poorly or assaulted by men, and you may compromise your ability to do your job. What will happen the next time you and your partner run on a sexual assault patient? What will that bring up for you?

Please, see someone professional. For your sake, for the sake of your partner and your father, and for the sake of your future patients. You have an illness- not a defect, and it can be helped! :)

And there is no shame in seeing a psychologist. I freely admit that I have seen a psychologist before to help me process some difficult and painful things that happened in my life. I'm not crazy, and seeing a psychologist hasn't labeled me as such.

Feel free to PM me if you just need someone to vent to, or someone to bounce things off of. Good luck with whatever you decide, and thank you for opening up with something so painful and reaching out for help.

Wendy

CO EMT-B

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In response to what a few of you have said, I reported both of the people to their respective bosses. The one at my company works days and I work nights, so I never see him. Since it didn't actually happen at work, though, my bosses said there wasn't much they could do. The other one works at a fire station, and is on probation for a year, has to go back through rookie school, and has been suspended for 240 hours.

The thing is, taking time off makes it worse. When I'm working, I can forget. I forget about what happened, I forget about my feelings, I forget everything but the patient, and how I can help them. We've had one sexual assault since then, actually two weeks after everything happened. The patient requested me in the back, and I was ok with it. Surprising me especially, considering it was a guy. Yeah, it brought back memories, but what doesn't at this stage?

I'm just trying to stay away from counselling. Yes, I know it would probably help, but to tell the truth, I don't trust people in that field. I've gone before, when I was a kid and about six months ago, but they didn't help. Both times, all they seemed to want to do is say, "Anti-depressant! Everything's fixed!"

On my night shift, I am one of 2 or 3 girls, with about 10 guys. Most of them know what happened. Kinda hard not to explain when one week, I'm the one hanging out and talking to everyone, then the next week suddenly go into a 'I'm scared of everyone' mode. So most of them know, and they're supportive. They've learned when to push me, get me to talk, and when to back off. They've learned when they can come up and hug or step back and give me space. Almost every one of them has told me I can call, day or night if I need to talk. And I have taken them up on that offer.

I think I've tried everything short of counselling again (Yuck!), and I'm still trying not to have to go. I've just had bad experiences with it, and I'm trying to avoid it at all costs.

-Kat

Oh, note to Asys: I can't quit where I work. I love the place, I love the people, some of the equipment, not so much. I just had problems with one person, and we are on opposite shifts. Right now, working with people I know and trust is alot easier on me than going to a new company, and trying to create new friendships. Besides, I just got my medic trained. Why would I want to expose another one to my quirks? :)

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Although you may have had bad experiences with counselors, you have to realize that not every counselor is bad or a pill pusher. It may take some time to find the one that's right for you and that works well with your personality. It's just like any other doctor... if the communication isn't there, it isn't going to work.

Don't give up on the counseling field as a whole... try to find someone who you work well with and who is leery of throwing antidepressants or other drugs at problems. They exist.

Good luck!

Wendy

CO EMT-B

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In response to what a few of you have said, I reported both of the people to their respective bosses. The one at my company works days and I work nights, so I never see him. Since it didn't actually happen at work, though, my bosses said there wasn't much they could do. The other one works at a fire station, and is on probation for a year, has to go back through rookie school, and has been suspended for 240 hours.

A couple of things. First, your boss is wrong. Federal EEO law extends its jurisdiction to not only the formal workplace, but anyplace co-workers congregate. Its kind of odd, but it is true. For instance, say me and Dustdevil and Rid and everyone all work together at XYZ Ambulance service. Afterwards we go out and have a few beers, and I call Dustdevil a "low down, good for nothing, <insert appropriate racial slur here>". He can then go complain to the Federal EEO commission and have charges filed. I'm not sure how EEO looks on out and out sexual assault, but I'm sure its not very highly. As for the fire guy, again, I'm a bit puzzled, as I know what happens to any of our civil service members if even the mere allegations of sexual misconduct are levied against them, and believe me, its not going through probie school again.

I think the real problem is that you are protecting your attackers by not following these events up to the fullest. I understand your work is important to you but by letting this go and trying to maintain the buddy buddyness of the station, you are doing not only doing yourself a disservice by downplaying the seriousness of these events, but also to the members of your community by letting these two operate in a position of trust. If you really want to help your patients, get these guys off of the street.

Sexual assault is not a drunken fistfight with your colleagues, its not keying your car or stuffing someone in a locker, or shredding their uniforms. Heck, its not even running over someone's dog on purpose, its just about the worse thing a human being can do, and it needs to be recognized and treated as such.

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