PTSD Redux

Let me first inform you that you almost never find me sitting in a public place –restaurant, bar, hotel room–with my back to the door.  I will already have made note of all the signs that say “exit” and memorized their locations, against the need of a discreet back door disappearance:  my friend in so many tight situations.

If you should find me comfortably seated with my back to the door, you will inevitably find that I am facing a mirror, perhaps the one behind the bar, or a TV screen that reflects what lies behind me.  I have been trapped too many times to allow that to happen on my shift again, at least not without maximum preventive measures.

I am the queen of the quiet back door disappearance.  Situation getting tense?  I don’t like tension.  Loud voices cause me to panic.  They’re associated with soul-crushing punishment.  So I take the back door out.

Where to?  What, you expect me to actually tell you that?  Fat chance.  I don’t want to be found.  I’m out of here.  You might see me when things chill out.  Or not.  I’ve got nothing to lose, remember?  “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”  I just don’t want to get raped any more, or trapped for any man’s pleasure.  I’m already full up with that kind of shit.

If there ain’t a physical back door exit, my brain creates one, real quick, before I even know it’s happening.  I havea suspicion that it’s always there, on standby, in case my beaten, punished brain thinks it’s needed.  In that case, all that’s needed is the proper trigger and poof, I’m gone, nobody home for days, complete amnesia for the intervening time.

Why does my brain do this?  It goes back to childhood issues, which I might go into on another, anonymous blog.  I’ll let you know.  But I’ll give you an example here.


1971.  I was 17 years old and had returned from a year on the street in California and New Mexico.  I was pretty numb from the whole thing but still desperately hoping to find somebody to trust.

I was at an antiwar rally on Boston Common.  There was a network of medic stations set up and I was allegedly attached to one of them as a volunteer.  As things started heating up at the rally–tear gas, water cannons, pigs with riot gear– I started getting stomach pains.  I had been stuck in the middle of the Isla Vista riots the year before, which you will have the opportunity to read about in my new blog coming up, and my body was not happy about this revisitation of riot conditions.

I mentioned my discomfort to a young man in my medic unit, who claimed to be an intern at one of the local hospitals–might have been, probably was.  He told me he lived a block away from where we were, we could go to his place and get out of the scene, and he could check me out medically and make sure everything was ok.

Like the innocent I was, I followed him there.  He led me straight to a bedroom and told me to undress and lie on the bed.

“Just don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt,” he hissed.  How many times had I heard that already?  My soul left my body and went up to hover around the ceiling.

She (my soul) watched him take a doctor’s pen light from his pocket and rape me with it, then climb on top of my naked body, himself fully clothed, and hump me till he came in his pants.  My body remembers the discomfort of all the junk in his pocket protector rubbing against my breast.

When he finished, still breathing hard, he ordered me to get dressed again and lead me, numb and dissociated, back into the riot scene.

I felt very ill, so I slipped away from the demonstration/riot and went to a nearby hospital emergency room.  When the male doctor came to see me, all I could say was “I don’t feel well.”  I couldn’t say, “Help, I’ve just been abducted and raped with an object by a person who called himself a physician!”  So I was sent away with a lecture about misusing valuable medical resources.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

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  1. I can identify on so many levels… Always being aware of what’s going on around me, be it in a room or on the streets. Never sit with my back to a door, or even the room. The need to feel the wall behind me and know where the exits are. Loud sudden noises make me jump clear out of my skin. Loud angry voices make me cringe and want to run. Coming into a room filled with people, regardless of if I know them or not, I scrutinize them, looking for the one that could be the potential threat. Try not to make eye-contact with anyone, as that could mean they would come over to where I am, perhaps just to talk but perhaps also…. Trust no one…. It’s lonely but it’s safe and safe is all I want….

  2. I too prefer not to sit with my back to a door, and I can very quickly scan for exits, though I doubt this is to do with mental health issues, as I’ve never been trapped somewhere…maybe I missed my vocation and was born to be a spy lol. Your blog is – well, I’m not going to say “interesting” or “cool” or “fun to read” as I usually would – if anything, it is hard to read about an innocent person having to go through stuff like that over and over again, with no connections between any of the perpertrators, you seem so strong that you can write about it, and I admire that, and also feel sorry for you -(not pity – I don’t pity you, just feel that you didn’t deserve that shit). Your blog is riveting, and it is very informative about bipolar disorder and other issues. I agree with the comments on another post, you should write a book. At least make money off of that shit. And educate people a little more. I get SOOOO pissed when people equate rape to theft of a commodity, like saying it’s the girl’s fault or “if the goods aren’t for sale don’t show them” and “don’t get too drunk/dress tarty/go out late or you’ll get raped” – it’s all nonsense, people get raped when they’re sober, in their own beds, or wearing a burkha. And a man who HAS to RAPE because a woman is wearing a low-cut top is an ANIMAL. Not that it’s even about sex, anyway! It’s a power thing.


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