Until this happened, I had been a divorced, middle class special education teacher and mother. Nothing exciting. I had worked with students in gangs but had never even heard of MS13. R stripped me of my identity, I was apologizing, working on being more submissive, trying harder to please him, trying to avoid “trouble.” My ex husband knew something was wrong and was working with his parole officer. No contact orders were put in place between him and me and him and my daughter. They are in place now as part of his release from prison, but I made sure he knows I didn’t ask for them. I have been treated for PTSD and symptoms of Stockholm syndrome along with my depression. I have sought treatment multiple times inpatient, 4 times partial patient and intensive out patient, personal therapy, psychiatrist, medication, PTSD program daily for about 5 or 6 months, some meditation and aromatherapy, breathing techniques, some DBT skills, yoga… but the facts still stand… I miss my daughter so much it hurts, she wants to be with me also…. she is not close to her father… I am angry my rapist is getting away with what he did because of who his is… I would have brought charges against anyone else…I can’t seem to find any trace of myself, not for a lack of trying. I avoid gatherings because I can’t make small talk. Men are too unpredictable… a gesture, tone, tattoo, comment or joke, piece of clothing, mannerism, gaming on x box or PlayStation … list goes on… I’m surrounded by people who love me but feel alone in this. They say he’s gone. He’s moved on and I’m safe. But he’s a part of me somehow. He’s the reason I wake up in fight or flight, and have to practice controlled breathing and distraction to fall asleep. The reason I’m triggered countless times a day, and the reason I have to fight to lead a ” normal” life whatever that feels like. I force myself to keep the curtains a open, that wasn’t him or a friend of his driving by I tell myself. Put the pepper spray away. All guys in hoodies or with tattoos or with red hair or wearing gloves or white tennis shoes or with muscular builds are him. Stop watching prison or jail or MS13 related tv. I won’t understand why he did what he did to me any more than I do already. Slow down and breath, it was just a loud noise. Relax, that guy just said hi, he’s not following me. He’s not going to rape me. I’m ok. Count. Breath. I’m crying. Why? Billboards, signs, ads, tv, radio, triggers are a part of life but I want to live! I just need to connect I have realized! There have to be other women out there who have gone through similar experiences! I can now say This Was Not My Fault!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just need help healing from what my rapist did to me. I need to find my strength and sense of self, sense of purpose. I lost a lot but I am still here!