When I learned that I was pregnant with my second child, you could say I was happy. She was seven weeks inside my womb, and I also have this beautiful four-year-old girl who filled my heart every single day. It was a surprise for my husband and me to have another baby, but you could say that financially we were ready. Physically, my body was okay. I was 27 at that time when I felt my heart squeezing from inside of me. But our family doctor told me months on a routine checkup that there’s nothing wrong. I was physically healthy. What I failed to do was a consultation with a therapist. I didn’t know that I was battling mental health issues at that time, since before I got pregnant with my second baby because I kept a secret.
“One thing that often gets overlooked in the mad dash to motherhood is more important than any outfit or accessory: mental health,” writes Kristen Scarlett, LMHC.
If I told my husband that I was having problems with a co-worker, he would tell me to stop working. We always talk about this – me working when I don’t have to – he doesn’t like the idea, but he lets me do it. He can provide for me and our family. He even gives me my allowance, but you know, as a working woman, I’m used to providing for myself.
Since college, I earned my keep, paid my bills and bought my things. Even my parents would insist that they gave me money, but I would not accept it. I never leaned on a man, until I got married, because I can take care of myself, but he wanted to take care of me. It was a rough transition at first, him paying for everything and giving me money, but I bargained for my work. And I won on that matter. It’s just that, when this problem arose with my co-worker, I didn’t want him to know. I didn’t want him to find out. I kept it a secret from him because I didn’t want him to say, “I told you so.”
The problem started last year with this guy co-worker of mine. I never showed interest, but as my supervisor told me, “You’re such a friendly person, Laura.” Friendly doesn’t mean flirty, and to that co-worker, he thought, I was flirting.
The traumatic event happened during our Christmas Party. On the way to the comfort room, I didn’t know that he followed me. He was drunk as hell, and well, I was on the tipsy side after three glasses of red wine. He got me from behind, pushed me on top of the sink, spread my legs while he positioned himself, hugged me tightly by my waist and kissed me torridly. I froze for a few seconds, and I literally didn’t move, but when my senses hit me, I backed away, pushed him with all my might and shouted, STOP IT, LET ME GO.
“Often recipients of sexual harassment are very embarrassed and don’t want to talk about it to anyone,” writes Audrey Nelson Ph.D.
It was such a blessing that one of our bosses was entering the CR at that time and she witnessed what happened. In short, he got fired, and I was retained. The CCTV also validated my statement of him assaulting me and to avoid embarrassment; I was transferred to another department upon my request. I also asked everyone who knew about the incident (people who were on the disciplinary board) to keep mum about what happened, as I didn’t want people in the office to talk about me.
They told me to see a therapist, but I declined to say that all is fine. Well, all wasn’t fine. For months, I have struggled with sleeping, and when I see that comfort room, I freeze. Everything goes back to that night. I can’t breathe. Sometimes, I can’t sleep well. In some days, I shake with fear, and it continued when I got pregnant.
“Sexual assault is traumatic. Similar to other traumatic experiences, it is normal for a person to experience trauma-reaction symptoms in the weeks following an assault,” writes Elyssa Barbash Ph.D.
The episodes were intense, and this made my husband worried for me. He brought me to his cousin who also happened to be a psychologist. I had to let it all out. My husband was so angry at him and a bit towards me for not telling him right away. He hugged me and told me that he loves me so much and wants the world for me, but I shouldn’t have kept it a secret. I shouldn’t have shut him out. And because of that, I suffered. I developed PTSD and prenatal depression, according to the psychologist. For now, I am still coping with these issues through the help of a specialist and the love of my husband and child.
If you’ve been assaulted, don’t keep it a secret. Tell your loved one right away so that they can assist you in finding the right mental health help, and support you throughout your journey to betterment.