Veronika is from Sacramento, CA and she is into anime and cartoons. She said, “I’ve started cosplaying more frequently.” She is also fond of hiking, looking for mushrooms and flowers. Veronika is interested in taxidermy and entomology.  She hopes to finish college with most A’s in psychology. Veronika said, “In five years from now I hope to already have my masters and be on my way to getting my PhD.  I hope to be teaching or still working for the county/state, and living with my current partner (hopefully married) with lots of dogs.”

She was diagnosed and still battles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. Veronika said, “Before I started therapy I was sure that the cause for my PTSD and anxiety was due to being raped by a group of boys in high school while also being in a long term abusive relationship with another (unrelated) boy. This relationship was so abusive my therapist told me the feelings and thoughts I was describing sound very close to Stockholm syndrome. After being in therapy for over a year I realized that the anxiety I suffer has been due to lifelong stress, because literally every household I have lived in was physically and/or emotionally abusive.”

Veronika had flashbacks due to triggers and dreams. She also had hypervigilance of her surroundings and safety. She would get anxiety attacks daily, but thankfully it has decreased. Veronika said, “closer to the time of my trauma I was genuinely afraid to leave the house. Nowadays I can, but I still feel better when someone accompanies me.” Because of this she became suicidal and practiced self-destructive behaviors like cutting and over drinking. Veronika was way too skittish, to the point that if anyone flirted with her or did something she considered to be to be a red flag, she would go home and hide. She said, “A few years after my trauma I suffered frequent of anxiety attacks, anger and depression issues, and a huge sense of loss over my own life. If I were triggered I would have to call out of work and it would take me hours to get a hold of myself again.”

She also said, “I did attempt suicide a few times, however my ex had such a strong control over me he could order me not to commit suicide and I would obey.  I did cut myself frequently until my ex ordered me to stop that as well.” Since Veronika ended up with no outlet, she would occasionally burst out in anger. She said, “I would take it out on inanimate objects or scream at strangers who didn’t deserve it, like phone representatives or servers.” Not only that, but her relationships became affected. Veronika was obsessively devoted to her ex, and he encouraged her to push people away. She ended up alone, with only the friends her ex approved of, which were his friends. Thankfully her brother helped her, she said, “The only exception was my brother, who will always be my best friend. He was consistently patient with me throughout the whole ordeal. He never told me what to do, only that he wished the best for me. I really think it was due to his patience and support that I was able to hang onto a reality that my ex didn’t create.”

Veronika felt mad and trapped. She said, “I felt incredibly guilty about being gang raped because I truly felt it was my fault. I felt myself constantly daydreaming about having a time machine so I could go back and change everything.” The only comfort available to Veronika was to obey her ex because he had convinced her that he was the only person who had her best interests at heart. Her turning point was when she started hanging out with her current partner. She said, “I was having a panic attack and essentially cried and yelled out my entire life story to him. He is the first person I have ever told that story to who said, “I don’t know how to help you.” And he suggested I seek out therapy, he was also willing to offer emotional support too.”

She now practices the grounding methods her therapist shows her in therapy, and she also meditates daily now. Veronika is thankful for cognitive behavioral therapy, because it’s teaching her how to react to stressful and scary thoughts or memories with a healthier reaction than the ones she had developed over her life. Veronika surrounded herself with supportive people, such as her brother and her partner’s friends. They understand when she is triggered, and don’t ask for an explanation. She doesn’t know if this experience changed her life, but knows she want to help others. She said, “I want to help those who have been through abuse too. I want to talk to teens who don’t feel wanted, and lead people like me towards help. I want to be a kind and compassionate person despite what I’ve been through. I feel like if I keep healing and assisting those around me in positive ways, it would almost be like revenge against my past.”

This is her advice for anyone out there who have been through similar situations:

“Honestly cognitive behavioral therapy is the best thing ever and they should check it out.  It’s not easy, since you’re literally training your brain to change its knee-jerk reactions. But it is worth it. If your job is giving you anxiety? Get a different job. If your family is making you feel panicked? Choose a new accepting family. The things in life that do not allow you to grow are not as important as they claim to be.”

Veronika has been though hell and back. Her motivation for helping others with allow her to heal in time. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.

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