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It's been 9 years since my sexual assault and diagnosis and it still haunts me

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Hi everyone, this is my first post here so I hope I'm doing this right :)


It's been awhile since I shared my story and since I haven't had to tell anyone new in awhile, I haven't brought it up. Though just because I haven't talked about it, doesn't mean it's gone. It still haunts me regularly. I thought I might share it here for a little support since I'm going through a difficult time.


In 2009, I went to a party at a friend's house. The party was at my "friend" C's house. C and I were close, very good friends, and hung out frequently. Needless to say we got drunk at his house and I ended up sleeping over since I couldn't drive. That was the night that changed everything forever. He had raped me and given me herpes. Of course, the herpes came weeks later...


The morning after this horrific experience, I told my parents immediately. They got involved, but that didn't help me from being bullied, tormented and even threatened physically by C's friends who said I was lying about everything. We got the University involved, but since it had not happened on campus, they had limited control over the situation. (I'm pretty sure they did a few illegal things by not calling campus police and some other interpersonal things, but this was so long ago and I wasn't in my right mind then with all of the confusion. I just wanted it all to be over.)


Within a couple of weeks, I noticed the painful, itchy bumps down near my genitalia. I went to the doctor and was told I had contracted HSV-1, oral herpes though it was down there. I was a wreck. Not only had everything been taken from me, but I was now given a humiliating and horrible disease for the rest of my life. My therapist at the time diagnosed me with PTSD, exhaustion and anxiety. Because of the bullying, the painful herpes (and missing so much school), as well as my mental health, I dropped out of school halfway through the semester while C carried on as if nothing had happened. This was truly the worst point in my entire life.


Fast forward almost a decade later. I have since traveled abroad, gotten married, and work as a travel writer. Life managed to carry on and I was able to move forward. Every year on the anniversary of my assault is a hard time, but most of the time I am fine. Hell, I'm actually pretty good! My HSV-1 now only pops up on my lip every so often, maybe 3-4 times a year. But when it DOES flare up, the stigma paired with remembering the trauma usually makes me stay in the house for weeks and cry. Those moments are the only times I'm not fine with my assault and the herpes.


But I'm here today because I am at another low point. Due to reasons unrelated to this, I am having trouble with my marriage and my job. My work feels unfulfilling because of the politics and little pay. My husband is going through severe depression and we are temporarily taking a break. This stress and transition has caused the worst outbreak I've ever had ON MY FACE. I quite literally look like a monster with third degree burns inbetween my nostrils and lips. Everything from leaving the house to talking with my husband causes panic attacks and I just sit at home, watching TV, hoping I'll get my brain to stop constantly going and going and going.


I can't go to the grocery store, I can't go to the gym, I can barely leave my home. All I can think about is what a disgusting freak I look like and the panic sets in. Granted, there is a lot going on here. But I feel like I'm in quicksand. Every time I make a move to be better or healthier, I sink further and further down.


I don't really know what I'm asking for here. Support, maybe some shared advice for people who have been assaulted. Or maybe just friendship in general. It's been almost 10 years and I still can't escape the shame of both my physical trauma and the stigma of herpes. I feel like damaged goods, I feel like I am less than.

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Hey Stronger24,


I'm sorry to hear that you're going through all this. It's good that you have reached out on this site though. You're surrounded by people who know what it's like with the stigma and the painful episodes that herpes can bring.


Can I ask, are you seeing a counsellor or therapist? It sounds like you still have the trauma from the assault. And the herpes is a physical reminder of that event. Especially since you're in a stressful time in your life, then it is important to keep going and keep working on getting through this day by day. Only you can make decisions about your marriage and work, but maybe there are little things that can help with the herpes. For example, not sure if you're taking antivirals currently for the outbreak, but once the current outbreak is over perhaps look into taking them as suppressive therapy until things are better in your life? I would also suggest downloading a meditation app - I use insight timer. Meditation has helped me improve my self esteem and got me through difficult periods. I would also encourage eating healthy and doing some exercise. If you don't want to leave the house there are a few high intensity training you can do at home that are only half an hour. I do this a lot if I don't want to go to the gym.


Also, please keep posting on here if you feel like you're not coping. You can always message me privately as well if you want to vent to someone specific rather than a general post. I hate seeing people having such hard times. I've been there with feelings of depression and worthlessness, and anything I can do to help someone, even if it's just listening, I'm happy to do so. Please hang in there. Life can suck, can be so unfair, but but it can get better. Best of luck!

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