Dear Dr. Archer,
In 1967 I was in the US Army. I was pursued and raped by a group of men; I don't know how many because I was blindfolded. Rather than face this for the next ten months until I got out of the service, I made a deal with the sergeant who abducted me to have man-to-man sex with him only for the next ten months.
I was threatened with being given a dishonorable discharge if I didn't participate with the group, but then he decided to let me off and keep me for himself. I did as I was told until I was put in the hospital and later given an honorable discharge.
I came home and I thought I had put all that happened behind me. Years later those memories started haunting me in my nightmares and bad dreams. I cannot face a day without these thoughts being on my mind. I've been in therapy with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but I get no relief.
I've tried suicide many times and will probably keep at it until I get it right. I have no plans at this time, but it seems to come and go. I'm on plenty of medication.
Is this all I can do to try and deal with it until I no longer am able? Am I hopeless? This seems cold, and I've left out many of the details of both the abuse and my feelings. Is it best to stay with my current doctor or get another? Thank you.
Suicide is not the answer. You were brutally raped, and you're starting the healing process years later. I know the nightmares and bad dreams are painful, but they can actually be a huge part of healing.
You cannot go back to change what happened, but you can go forward and become better and stronger, knowing you survived such a horrific experience.
Essentially you have kept this bottled up for years and it is now coming out, first in your subconscious and dreams, and now in your conscious mind. This is your mind's way of gradually dealing with the problem.
Stay with your doctors IF you're happy with them and trust them. You absolutely need therapy, but you need to trust and feel totally comfortable with your therapist. If you do not trust him, then look for another.
Same with your psychiatrist. If you have a family member or friend who knows what you went through, or whom you would feel comfortable sharing your past with, that could help as well.
Start trying to take charge of your dreams, George. Try your best to change the outcome, to be in control and to be able to say whatever it is you want to say.
In other words, fight back in your dream. Whenever you think of these dreams during the day, say the things you want to say and take control of the situation.
Before going to sleep, think of being in control of yourself at all times to help you in your dreams. Learning to control your dreams will help you overcome the horror you suffered. That’s right, you do have some control over your dreams.
Male rape is typically committed by heterosexual men and 66 percent of gang rapes on men are by heterosexuals. It is also most common in male institutions, such as the military and prison. Disturbing statistics estimate about 360,000 men are raped in prison each year, and over two thirds of those are gang raped daily.
Also read The Psychological Effects Of Male Rape. Understanding what you endured, and that you're not alone in what you experienced, may help you face your fears and your past, in order to finally put it to rest.
Again, I want to tell you that you can overcome this, with time and effort. Suicide is NOT an option. You have much to offer others, and it is possible for you to start enjoying life again.
If you do feel like you're going to try and take your own life, please go to your nearest hospital and admit yourself into the ER. However, I have a feeling you're going to find yourself again.
I think you're a survivor, George, and you can overcome this. Take care.