Close your eyes.
Wait, no, don't close your eyes. Read first, then close your eyes.
Imagine a cold, damp, dark room. You're sitting on the floor. You've been waiting for hours alone, in the dark, not knowing what comes next. They came for you, they didn't tell you who they were, they didn't even talk to you. They took away everything you wore, everything, threw you into that room, and locked the door. And you've been waiting. Frozen. For hours.
You wonder if you should yell, attract attention, but in the end you remain silent. You wait. Scrunched up in a corner of the room, so maybe they'll forget about you, or they won't see you when they come in. You're tired but you can't fall asleep. Because it's cold, because you can't tear your eyes away from the door, and you wonder when they're coming back. And because of the screams. Which come from some other room. And you don't understand all the words, but you don't need to. Your heart beats faster than ever before, your tongue is heavy, your throat is so dry you don't think you could scream. And you wait.
When they come for you, you babble, you can't help it. Who are they, what do they want, what are they going to do with you? They don't tell you. They just drag you out to another room. There are... things, in the room. You babble louder, because you can't think of something worse than the silence. They don't even look at you. You want to cry. You can't help it. It's terror, unadulterated. You're crying. And you're begging. But they don't listen to you. They tie you down. You're exposed, and restrained, and now they stare at you, and you're sobbing, because the fear is like nothing you've ever experienced before, and the flight response is burning a hole through your stomach, around your wrists, and the humiliation... you didn't know what that was until now.
When the pain comes, you get to see it approaching. And you scream, and beg, and cry, and all three at once, because there is nothing, nothing you wouldn't do to get away, just get away, but instead you get to see it come closer, closer, until it finds you. And from that point on it'll define your world.
That's reality for you. Starting now. Pain or Absence of Pain.
It comes and goes with no rhyme or reason, and you have absolutely No. Control. Over. It. When they take you back to your cell, the torture continues because you get to wait. Some more. Shaking, hurt, no comfort to be found anywhere. No one who cares. And you know. You get to understand with a new depth of certitude that they'll come back for you, that the pain will find you again, and that there is not a single thing in your power that can prevent it. Absolutely nothing. You control nothing. You have power over nothing. You are nothing. And your body isn't even yours anymore. You pray that your heart will give out, but it doesn't. They are careful. They're even nice to you, sometimes. But when they talk to you, they don't use your name. They have names for you, but none of them are yours.
If you're lucky, they let you sleep. But probably not. They tell you that they are doing the same thing to your daughter, right now. After a while, you forget that there was ever a world outside of this one. You even forget your name.
It doesn't matter if it happened to you in the past. This is not something you will ever be prepared for. And when you make it out, when they let you go, they still haven't let you go. Because the world is not The World anymore. It is just Absence of Pain.
There are nightmares, most every night. Cold, damp places send you into a panic. You can't breathe and you feel like you're dying. You can't leave the house. Sudden noises startle you, you can't even bear the touch of your own children. Ghost pain, real pain, in your limbs, in your spine. There are scars. They marked you all over, in places that used to be only yours, that only a lover had touched. Your own skin doesn't feel real anymore. The doctor said your heart would never be the same. It's hard to concentrate, and sometimes... sometimes you're back, back in the cell, and no one can follow you there. Not even the people who love you. You're still alone.
You are altered, and you will never be as you once were. They took that from you, and some day you might recover, but you won't ever regain that which you lost, because you know, for now and forever, that there are people out there who can take everything you have, everything you are away from you. Strip you bare. Make you scream until no more sounds come out of your throat. Make you less than human. At any time. You won't see it coming.
And you can't stop them.