My fiancee of 4 years was raped and her personality completely changed. Should I postpone the wedding?

Back in 2008 my girlfriend of 3 years was assaulted by a neighbor during an argument. I wasn't there either as we weren't living together at the time. She wasn't sexually assaulted however he did attack her and it was traumatizing. After it happened she moved back in with her mother for a while. There was a definite period of adjustment for both of us after that and it lasted for a while, I'd say something to the order of 8 months to a year before I began to see signs of the old her reemerging. She never wanted to leave her parents house unless it was to come over to see me and when she did we never left my place. She was very listless unless she was experiencing one of her panic attacks which had become a regular occurrence. She had difficulty doing her job which was thankfully a work-from-home online administrator job, and our sexual relationship was essentially put on hold. I was alright with all of this and dedicated myself to giving her what she needed and being there for her, although I have to admit there were times when I didn't know what our future was going to look like.

I remember one day we had driven to the grocery store like we always did on sunday mornings to buy something to make for dinner that evening. We got out of the car and were in the parking lot walking to the store and she just froze. She was hyperventilating and all she could manage was to say she couldn't go inside. I asked her if she wanted me to get the groceries while she waited in the car, but she was I tears and begged me to take her home so I did. It was really intense. I felt horrible for her. Eventually she want to see her family doctor about the situation, and he prescribed her an antidepressant medication which I think helped her, if only to give her some relief from the mental stress she was under. She took the medication for 3 or 4 months until she decided she didn't feel like she needed to take it anymore and stopped. It wasn't long before she was interested in going out or seeing friends again. She experienced panic attacks less and less, she was able to perform at work and our sexual relationship resumed.

Looking back on it, she's described the entire experience to me as being very surreal and hazy, almost as though her memory of it isn't complete. Since then she decided she wanted to follow her real passion of getting a degree in science and is now working towards grad school in a very competitive field. We moved in together and got married. She's happy again and the whole thing is something that we don't feel the need to ruminate about, as we've worked these issues out over the years. She isn't the same person she used to be though. There are differences in her behavior that I notice have changed since the incident. She is a lot more cautious and a lot less carefree then she used to be, and she generally avoids being out late at night for any reason. It doesn't matter, all I care about is that she is happy and healthy.

My advice to you. Continue to stick by your SO, but you cannot do this alone. You need to try to get a sense from her as to whether or not this is something she feels she can do at the present moment. Weddings take a lot of planning and they are absolutely going to require effort and input from her to properly plan. Personally, I think moving the date of the wedding might be the best idea for you. She's experienced something horrifying and she has to take the necessary time to go through the healing/coping process. Unfortunately the one thing that tends to help most for victims in these situations is time. Deadlines and hefty responsibilities are going to be a drain on her already overburdened mind, and I'm sure you don't want the memories of your wedding to be married by this grief that you're both dealing with. Ultimately she needs to make this decision for herself, but you can make it easier on her by standing by her decision and allowing her to continue to properly process these issues. Hang in there man, I know it's so tough to help an SO who is going through something like this but I promise you that it isn't permanent. Do not forget to take care of yourself too. I constantly ripped myself to pieces dealing with the guilt and shame and sadness I felt after my wife was assaulted. You can't take care of her if you're a mess too. Take the time to get right with yourself.

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