Back in 1996, I was involved in an unhealthy relationship. Each day, I was beaten, berated, raped. When I contacted the police (on many occasions), I would be told that what he was doing to me was legal. From his behaviour, I am guessing that he knew it, too. Each time I would threaten to leave, his reaction would be the same – laughter, followed by him telling me that nobody else would have me. I had lived in this “prison” for six years. It was not until my abuser almost killed our 2 week old son that I found the strength to leave.
At the start of 1996, I survived an elevator accident which damaged my spine and caused miscarriage. The elevator had fallen 10 floors (from the 26th floor). I no longer use elevators, especially with the large spate of elevator deaths (and graphic pictures) which are making it into the news these days – 20 years after my own accident.
With both things going on at the same time – domestic violence and the elevator accident – I developed so many symptoms that were overwhelming. I would find myself walking down the hallway while still living with my abuser, and suddenly find myself absolutely overwhelmed with terror. My lungs would stop working. I could not breathe in or out and my feet would not move, regardless that my brain was demanding that I run for my life if I wanted to survive. Yes, my very first panic attack is still fresh in my mind, even today.
When the panic attacks continued, they became more and more unexplainable and I could not predict when they would happen. Sometimes, in a supermarket or a car park, I would be hit by another one, and then another. Even after I had left my abuser, they became worse until they were crippling me.
I had to move to a new address each time my former abuser found out where I lived, just to try and gain some sense of being able to breathe. While I lived in fear constantly, however, the panic attacks continued to overwhelm me to the stage where I was too scared to leave the house. I was afraid of having panic attacks in front of other people. But I still had to keep changing address, due to the fact that he would keep finding me. I never knew how.
After his final attack in 2007 – the last time he found me – I am left profoundly Deaf and legally blind. The damage he did to me that day cannot be reversed. The nightmares continue, and for the second time in my life, I am housebound. I ended up writing a book about how we met, how I became his prisoner, his boxing bag, and the joke of the Logan Police in Queensland.
For a very long time, it plagued me. How did my abuser keep finding me? Even after I had changed my name so many times, how did he do it? I already knew that he had friends in high places, but how could those friends know what name I was using on any given day? I could count the amount of friends I had on one hand… TWICE!
I today discovered exactly how, and I am reeling from that knowledge. When I confronted one of my two loyal and loving friends, she did not deny it. I am numb.
When I first became housebound in 1999, having left my friends and family behind, changed my name, used over a dozen different aliases, I was finally diagnosed with Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder, yet the symptoms are identical to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Now I need to find out what is keeping me from opening my front door a second time, now that I live in a different country under yet another different name. Is it PTSD or is it Agoraphobia? As a Deaf/blind author who lives her entire life indoors, I will shortly be releasing my findings the only way I know how. Here is a preview of the cover:
With yet another doctor helping me next Monday with the task of being able to open the front door and feel safe again, I will hopefully be able to see a rainbow instead of dark skies ahead.
It will be interesting to find out what is wrong inside my head. Every other year, I have frolicked and danced in the snow, loving my surroundings. But this year, watching the snow through the window before I cower away… I am determined to find out.
Watch this space!
– Rosie xx