Question: My then husband was having a nightmare one night. He was 6’2″ and 240 lbs., I was 5’7″ and 135 lbs. As he lay sleeping on his stomach, I lay sleeping beside him on my back. I was awakened by his yelling as his hand reached over to grab me by my throat. I was unable to yell and knew I would soon pass out from lack of air. I was unable to awaken him, and my feeble attempts at hitting him with my hands were in vain. My last attempt was using my feet and toenails to dig into his leg.
He was finally awakened when I scratched deep gashes into his lower legs. When he woke up and I finally caught my breath, I explained what he had done. He didn’t remember what he did, but he said in his dream he was under attack and was trying to strangle his assailant while keeping from being stabbed.Both of the kids were always told by their father that the bruises they saw on me were an accident from his rolling over in bed and accidently elbowing me. He always denied that he had a serious sleeping problem until the night we were sleeping on our daughter’s sofa bed. It was just like so many other times when he had an episode. He had me by my throat and was trying to punch me as he yelled and cursed at the top of his lungs.Our daughter came into the room this time and tried to wake her dad by telling him to stop. When that didn’t work she put her hand on his shoulder to shake him. He turned his head and bit down on her thumb causing her thumb nail to pop off. She punched him reactively with her free hand. That was what actually woke him from his sleep.When I took her to the local hospital the E.R. staff called the authorities to report an assault, even though we both told them it was an accident from an unknown or documented sleep disorder. It was only after he was contacted by the police that he finally decided to seek medical help and admit that after 15 years he may have a problem.I spent years married to him before diagnosis. He refused to admit that he had a problem. I covered for him and his problem. The kids and I used to joke that when we heard him having an episode while we watched tv that he had Turettes in his sleep. They never knew how bad it really was until he bit our daughter.