"It didn't end with the kidnapping"
APRN, Psychiatric & Mental Health
At 33 years old, I found myself in a state of confusion about a relationship I was in. At times I felt I was in love and at other times, I felt I was being abused. I went to a friend of mine, a psychotherapist. He asked me if I had ever felt this way before. I had, fifteen years earlier, and I told him my story.
It was the summer after my senior year of high school. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, my first love. That night I was out with friends. I had just hopped into a truck when two arms reached for me out of the darkness and grabbed me.
It was my ex-boyfriend. He pulled me out of the truck and dragged me to a car, screaming obscenities at me and slapping me across the face. He pushed me into the car and drove off.
I asked him where he was going and he just laughed, telling me it would
be the longest night of my life. I was terrified.
His car passed the road my parent's lived on. I pleaded for him to let me out. He continued to laugh and threaten me.
My nightmare continued as I pleaded to be let out. I tried to open my door but he held his arms across my body. I repeatedly asked him to stop and let me out. His eyes looked different, almost mad and he had veins bulging from his face and neck.
Once he let go of me I realized he was driving out of the city and I went into survival mode. I realized that trying to reason with him would not work. I jumped into the back seat of the car. The homes were becoming less and less frequent.
I would remember the last home we went by and where is was in relation to the car until we came upon the next home. He eventually drove his car into the woods. Once he stopped, he pulled me out of the car,continuing his threats, and tried to throw me to the ground. He did not succeed. When he let go of me to get a better grip, I knew exactly where the closest home was and I ran as fast as I could through the woods right to the front door. It was a trailer. A woman and several children were there. She let me in, took out her gun and assured me she would protect me. I called my Dad and began to cry.
For the next four years I was stalked and there were other kidnapping attempts by the same man. It was confusing because of the combination of fear feelings with the previous love feelings. Still, the fear from his continued pursuit did not leave me.
Fifteen years later, my psychotherapist friend told me he believed I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I didn't believe it. The kidnapping had always been something I was ashamed of, thinking it was somehow my fault. I had only told a few people at the time it happened. It wasn't something I shared. Over the years I had buried it and almost forgotten about it. I tried to get as far away from it as I could.
Now when I think back to different things in my life and my strong reaction to them I understand that I was indeed experiencing a PTSD response. One example is when I was working as a nurse in an ICU. One of the physicians yelled at me. His veins were bulging in his face and neck. He later apologized, but that didn't change the two months of shaking and discomfort I felt after the incident. I knew he overreacted and that it was his problem, yet it scared me on a level I could not comprehend.
That experience of being kidnapped by someone I had loved, as deeply as one can love at eighteen years old, created an almost impenetrable wall for any future love. Fifteen years after the initial incident it was time for me to try.
The pain of going through the trauma was some of the most severe I have experienced in my life. For fifteen years this "hidden" trauma determined my actions when it came to intimacy.
It has been a long and interesting journey—one I suspect will continue always. I now feel blessed to be on the journey rather than simply reacting in fear as I had for so long. On a spiritual level I believe that I had this experience for the compassion and understanding it allows me in my work. I have been there. I know a path to healing.
As a result of my recovery I am no longer hiding. I am no longer afraid. I am now able to tell my story.
The telling of this story was inspired by a conversation that I had with Jennifer Skiff, author of the book "God Stories: Inspiring Encounters with the Divine."