Flashbacks and the resulting spiraling down...

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Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 217
   Posted 1/2/2006 9:30 AM (GMT -6)   
I've been having trouble with recurring violence and sexual abuse flashbacks and the worsening of depression they bring with them. Once they pop up it is hard to get rid of them and hard to focus on much of anything even after I can chase them away. I know it will get better because it does; but lately I feel bad for days and seem to have a harder time shaking it and getting back to normal (yeah, I know--whatever THAT is..). I want to turn them into memories like any other memory;  a flash of rememberance, a reminder, and then let it fall away so I can move on.
Anyone with suggestions? I'd very much appreciate them.

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Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 3036
   Posted 1/2/2006 10:08 AM (GMT -6)   
The flashbacks are so hard to deal with. Something sets them off,a smell,a sound or a person that you don't know.
I am hoping someone has a good suggestion too as I need help with this matter also.
Don't worry about the world ending,it's already tomorrow in Australia!

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 240
   Posted 1/2/2006 2:13 PM (GMT -6)   
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)

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 344
   Posted 2/13/2006 9:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nanse-

I also suffer from flashbacks. Luckily, I only have to deal with them around this time of year - it's the anniversary of the event that I place the most significance on. The first thing I do to bring myself out of a flashback is to evaluate my surroundings. I do this to assure myself that I am safe. I also reassure myself that the visions may seem real, but it is something that has happened in the past. I tell myself that he can no longer hurt me. He has no power over me anymore. I am in control now.

When the flashback fades I reassure myself that the man who abused me no longer has control over me. I also remind myself that not all men are bad. I am fortunate to have a boyfriend who is understanding, loving, and caring. So, I remind myself that my boyfriend would never hurt me and that he is not the person who abused me.

Hope it helps.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 3036
   Posted 2/14/2006 9:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I wanted to add here that my flashbacks sometimes put a toll on my relationships. I have found that I can go into "flashback zone" and then pull away from my kids or my b/f. I hate that but have not been able to find a way to get past it.
My kids tell me that sometimes when they come up to me and touch me I jump 10 feet in the air,and my whole body is tense. Something I do not even realize.

Chronic Depression, Panic Attacks,Anxiety Attacks,Anorexia

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 2/14/2006 10:28 AM (GMT -6)   
I have also had a problem with flashbacks for many years.  My abuse started when I was 3yrs old, sexual and physical by my stepfather and continued for many years.  It does take a toll on relationships and your personal outlook for the rest of your life.
Flashbacks are actually called Disassociating in the psychology sense.  Through a lot of counseling I have been able to forgive myself a lot of my abuse issues and when I did most of the flashbacks stopped.  Not all but most.  Sadsong I have to agree with totally - I know that he cant hurt me anymore.........

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 398
   Posted 2/14/2006 11:46 AM (GMT -6)   
No advice my good friend other than stay in touch with those of us who care. I don't have any personal experience with flashbacks but I can't imagine being alone with your thoughts is too helpful.You haven't been around and I have left you alone but you know where to find me . . .

Peace and hugs . . .
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