I'd like to say I have the answer to flashbacks, but I had them rarely and not much trouble with them. I have suspicions about
what made the difference.
First is the threat--after sucking me in part way, mine was that HE would tell my mother how bad I was and she would send me away. Well, heck, I was only 9 and that worked.
I think the threat is very important to how a person emotionally handles the abuse in later life. I'm sure from talking to lots of people about
abuse that there is a correlation between threat and adult responses, but I haven't figured it out yet.
You may notice by that last line that I've taken a sort of scholarly position about
my and other abuses--I talk and investigate other's abuses--look for patterns. I think that works for and relates to FOOL ME ONCE (about
mom), shame on me--so for me the SHAME is about
having been fooled, and the more I learn the less chance you or anyone has of fooling me twice.
I don't think "scholarly" works for someone who was threatened with their own death, their parents death, or violence. I don't think it works where there were rewards instead of threats (one lady I knew could only have soda pop after proforming oral sex at age 6). I would be interested in learning how people with the other threats/rewards learned to live well.
I'm also a firm believer in not stuffing memories, so I've purposely remembered as much as I can. Nowadays even with concentrated effort to remember, things are fading and I remember fewer specifics--just some key ones, that I don't expect to forget without the help of alzheimers or dementia. I guess I'm telling you that forgetting most is an eventual outcome, but forgetting all isn't likely.
I began talking about
my abuse when I was 16 to at least one girlfriend. I talked about
it when I was in my twenties to a variety of people. Eventually, I could recognize people who had been abused--and mostly I only talked to victims after that. In my 40's I went to Parents United (for children and adult children of abuse). Without a doubt that was the best thing I ever did for myself.
I was there for two 12 week sessions--one mixed with perpetrators and victims, one with just victims. I had been in 2 years of counseling and alanon then--and they misperceived my "toughness" for being better emotionally than I was. So, I was put in the mixed group--where I machine gunned every perp, everytime they tried to lay the blame elsewhere or make excuses or profess their sorrow. Well, the leaders didn't like that so they put me in a room with all victims next (instead of first like it usually is). Well it worked for me. I swore off ever being any kind of victim, ever again--and that made all the difference.
Then in my 50's I told a teacher friend I could spot kids who were being abused, just by watching them. She ran a test--I was to go to the door of her room and observe--and tell her which one was being abused (she was guessing). I couldn't tell which one she had in mind. There were 3 in her class. By the end of the year, all three were proven. After that she wanted to learn to see as I saw. I told her some. She asked questions. I answered every question--some of those answers involved my own deepest darkest secrets. She apologized every step of the way, and I kept telling her--seeing like I see is a lot harder than answering her questions. She found out it was harder to see and retired two years later--she couldn't stand it.
My relationship with her was one of immense trust--or I would never have told some things--things I've never told another; things I won't tell here even under the cloak of anonymity. I think her interest and her wanting to see as I saw (who is being or had been abused) made it incombent on me to tell all. It wasn't done as a cleansing. It was to give a teacher the eyes, so she could help her students.
I mention this, because it is after I gave up my deepest secrets to her that I began to forget details. So that may be part of it.
Like I said in the beginning, I don't have answers but I've tried to tell you what the answers might be for someone with a threat like mine (I'll tell your mom how bad you are and she will send you away). They are: remember all that you can, talk, get in a group, and help the non-initiated to understand to help others, not to cleanse your mind of memories.
Post Edited (bevhea) : 1/2/2006 6:22:44 PM (GMT-7)