Trigger warning for sexual violence.
According to the FBI, as of January 1, 2013, rape is defined as:
“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
354 — That’s how many times I’ve tried to complete the same jump in the motocross video game I have been playing today. And that’s not just how many times I’ve tried to completed it ever, but just this time. And this time I found out that the game has limits:
1. You have a maximum of 500 attempts at the same course before it fails you automatically.
2. You only have 30 minutes to complete each course before it fails you automatically.
I’ve been trying to write about this for over three weeks now. Last Friday, it came to a head and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder have been unrelenting since. I have a great job — I work from home, and I get paid well for the work that I do. I have an excellent benefits package. And, they haven’t fired me yet, even though I haven’t been to work since Friday.
I’m using dictation software to type out these words, which makes them feel clumsy, but I have to trick myself into writing them, at least for now. And thank god it’s a new fucking year.
Post traumatic stress disorder is difficult to define if you’ve never had it. I’ve spent the last year almost completely agoraphobic. People might interpret that as me being afraid to go outside because I might get hurt there. But the truth is that my adrenaline level has been so elevated that I’m afraid someone will touch me “wrong” with a kind gesture on the shoulder and I’ll react like I did when my friend tossed me a Ding Dong. His father had to pull me off of him before I choked him to death.
I don’t want to hurt anyone. Not anymore.
So, these days, when I walk outside with an 800 pound gorilla standing on top of my chest preventing me from breathing, I wear headphones. Playing music so loud that I cannot hear things around me that I do not expect; a serenity currently achieved with “Take Me to Church” by Hozier.
While at the grocery store, I told my friend (a war veteran who also suffers from PTSD) that everything was “too bright and looked like I was in a cartoon.” All the noises were melting together into one noise. And we were talking me off the ledge to remember that just because I’m broken doesn’t mean I’m insane.
My particular brand of PTSD doesn’t come from war. It comes from a childhood that for the most part, I can’t remember. I do know this:
- My parents broke my bones.
- I was raped repeatedly for four years.
- My official diagnosis is severe complex post traumatic stress disorder.
- I’ve been unmedicated for over 10 years and have, for the most part, been able to manage my symptoms with coping techniques such as meditation.
- I haven’t been able to stop crying since last Friday.
- As of last year, I no longer talk to anyone who is genetically related to me.
- I did not come out of my childhood innocent.
On Friday morning, I read the following report: “Controversial ‘rectal feeding’ technique used to control detainees’ behaviour”
Normally, as a writer I would go back and source the original quotes.
I had to go to the doctor on Monday. After testing me for pulmonary embolism, we both agreed that the physical symptoms I came in for (inability to breathe, racing heart, all nerves on end, insomnia, headache, etc.) were all due to PTSD. He prescribed me Xanax as a temporary fix.
I am a writer as Rilke defines it: one who is compelled to write.
Four days and several Xanax later, I am quoting the quoter. It’s sloppy as fuck, and the best I can do today. Maybe ever.
From that report:
“The CIA forced the nutrient enemas on two detainees who attempted hunger strikes, a third who ‘partially refus[ed] liquids’, a fourth ‘without a determination of medical need’, and a fifth whose case details are not divulged.
Agency operatives had explicitly considered other methods of force-feeding, the report shows, but opted to subject detainees to rectal infusions at least in part because its officers considered them ‘a means of behavior control’. One medical officer wrote that ‘[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal of ending the water refusal.’
An officer also wrote: “We used the largest Ewal [sic] tube we had.'”
CIA records showed at least one detainee, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, suffered from an anal fissure, chronic hemorrhoids and symptomatic rectal prolapse after a rectal infusion. The Senate report also found that CIA leadership was notified of allegations that rectal exams were conducted with ‘excessive force’.
The Senate report stresses that the CIA did not have detainees’ survival as its top priority when it administered the enemas. An unnamed person in the report said the enemas helped to ‘clear a person’s head’, suggesting detainees would be more amenable to cooperation afterward, and a chief of interrogation in characterized the procedure as a demonstration of ‘total control over the detainee’.”
I don’t want to debate the value of torture in extracting information. I don’t want to debate torture’s morality or immorality. I simply want to call things what they are.
I want to say that I was between the ages of five and nine years old when someone “conducted a rectal exam” “without a determination of medical need” “with excessive force.” It “made me more amenable to cooperation.” And it “demonstrated total control over me.”
Somedays, it still does.
I was raped.
They were too.