On this page, our former clients speak to you about their experience.
Picture a metaphorical box, a box of men who rape, sexually assault, abuse. But which men
should be in that box? Who can we afford to take out of there?
Previously, I didn't have a box.
But when I was attacked, it all changed. I wasn't able to leave my home, couldn't work. I made myself sick, not eating, to be invisible, shapeless. And when I couldn't make myself sick anymore, I self-harmed. It also took my trust away. For how could I know which "other man" might rape me?
My attacker has never been caught. He is still out there somewhere, and even to this day I am scared I won't be able to recognise him. And because of that, for quite some time, that "one man", my attacker, became "all men". After all, how could "he" not? What if it happened again? How could I know it wouldn't happen again?
PTSD isn't clear thinking.
Which "other man" might do the same thing? And so yes, that "one man" became "all men".
"All men" including my own husband. That really upset me: that for a while, I needed to put my own husband who I love dearly in that box. It took a lot of time and effort on both of us, and a lot of talking through and tears, and emotions and understanding of how PTSD works, before I finally felt able to take my husband out of that box and he has remained out of that box ever since.
Eventually though, the box was full. I needed another box and then another. And I suddenly
found myself feeling overwhelmed with boxes.
Heightened anxiety went everywhere I did. I flinched, jumped, startled at the smallest thing and, when that happens, that's not good. I knew if I remained in that state, I might not be able to find my way back, that I wouldn't be able to identify a new real threat and what wasn't. That, in itself, is dangerous.
I needed to change this, to be able to differentiate, to be able to take some men out of that
My trauma recovery has included some "out-of-the-box" things, like learning to scuba-dive: for re-learning how to breathe, facing the fear of feeling restricted. It's also amazingly effective at reclaiming being able to make eye contact with someone, as under the water, that's the way you communicate along with signalling.
And then "OCI" came along, in a conversation I had with an instructor who was teaching me
self-defence as part of my recovery. He just so happened to be a man, but that conversation
became one of the most valuable conversations I've had. For if I go anywhere now, I remember OCI. I run through it in my head, a risk assessment. Is there the "Opportunity", the "Capability", the "Intention" for me to be caused harm? And it has allowed me to finally be able to view things more clearly, to take ownership of my own personal safety.
If there is no opportunity, if they aren't capable, if they don't intend, to cause me harm, then the risk is lower. There will always be that exception to the rule, but, generally, it works. It's
something I can monitor, I can try to influence.
It's not overthinking. If you've ever experienced the all-over-the-place thinking of PTSD, this is so much better. OCI has enabled me to take "all" men out of the box. It allows me to not just survive, but to live again. The box is now much smaller, shoebox-size. I'm no longer tripping over it all the time. I've reclaimed it and made it my own. It has transformed into something really rather beautiful.