Safety notice: If you have experienced any kind of trauma or sexual abuse flashbacks in the past, please take care while reading this page. Some examples may be triggering or confronting.
I was travelling along okay and then ‘BANG’, from nowhere, I was straight back there. It spun me out. I had no idea what was happening.”
Many men who have experienced sexual abuse are subjected to flashbacks. Flashbacks appear as memories or fragments of memories from recent or past events. They can be jarring, painful and disruptive. Flashbacks can last a few brief seconds or involve extensive memory recall. They can occur day or night, when you are awake or asleep and can take you completely by surprise. They can be in the first person (where it feels like you are right there, seeing and experiencing things through your eyes) or the third person (where it can be like you are watching a movie in which you are the central character). Sometimes flashbacks can replay events of which you were previously unaware or had long forgotten.
Flashbacks can take many forms:
- Visual Memories: Images, three dimensional technicolour images, black and white, foggy or clear.
- Auditory Memories: Sounds like music, breathing, doors shutting, footsteps.
- Emotional Memories: Feelings of distress, hopelessness, rage, terror, dread, danger or a complete lack of feelings (numbness).
- Body Memories: Physical sensations including pain, nausea, gagging sensation, difficulty swallowing, feeling restricted, difficulty breathing.
- Sensory Memories: Experiences such as particular smells or tastes.
When a flashback is occurring, the present moment often becomes confused with the past. You can feel out of control, like you are going crazy. In response to these distressing memories, people can develop breathing difficulties, experience dizziness, disorientation, muscle tension, pounding heart, shaking and an inability to concentrate. Flashbacks can leave you feeling fearful, confused and distressed. They can interfere with your life, in that they can encourage you to avoid situations, people, places and activities associated with them.
I know the abuse happened over 20 years ago, but it felt like I was in the room with her; the smell, the confusing mix of fear, panic and excitement. I just froze.”
Some problems men should be aware of
What can make flashbacks particularly difficult for men to acknowledge and deal with is the unrealistic idea that men should always be in control of their body and able to cope with anything. This can have men not only having to deal with uninvited flashbacks, but evaluating and being down on themselves for not managing better, seeing it as some sort of commentary on them as a man. The type of flashback that appears as an emotional response without any clear memory of an event in the past can be particularly troublesome in this regard.
What can help?
Many people work out their own way of coping with flashbacks, but here are some ideas that you may find useful:
- Find a safe quiet place where you can sit down.
- Tell yourself that you are having a flashback, that this is a memory from the past and that you can take care of yourself in the present.
- Remember that you can choose whether to remember and re-feel.
- You might want to say to yourself “I’ll let that memory pass by.”
- Breathe slowly and deeply. Learn to breathe from your diaphragm; put your hand there just below your navel and breathe so that your hand gets pushed up and down. Often when we are surprised or scared, we breathe more rapidly and reduce our oxygen intake. Lack of oxygen can enhance feelings of panic: it can result in pounding in the head, tightness, feeling faint, shakiness and dizziness. If you count slowly to five as you breathe out, it will help slow your breathing down and will calm you physiologically.
- Imagine that the images that you see are on a TV screen. Turn the sound down, turn it up again, then turn the TV off so that the images fade away.
- Actively ground yourself in the present:
- Stamp your feet; grind them around on the floor to remind yourself where you are now.
- Look around, notice what is going in your immediate vicinity: name the people, the place, the furniture, the lay of the land, colours, patterns, etc.
- Listen to the sounds around you: the traffic, voices, the washing machine, etc.
- Feel your body, notice how you are sitting, your clothes, feel the chair or floor supporting you.
- If flashbacks are particularly common, it can be a useful strategy to always wear items that did not exist back then, things that ground you in your current life, a watch, flash drive, coloured wrist band.
- Focus your attention on remembering something challenging, such as the lyrics to a particular song, friends birthdays or a favourite poem.
- Actively bring your awareness into the present by gently ‘pinging’ a band on your wrist, by splashing water on your face, by wrapping yourself in something warm – the physical sensations that are evoked are from the present, the content of the flashback is from the past.
It might be useful to let people around you know about the flashbacks and how they can work, so that you can receive support. Friends can help you to slow your breathing, to talk to you, to get you a warm drink. The purpose is to help reconnect with the present in a safe and supportive way.
Be kind to yourself
After experiencing a flashback you might want to rest or distract yourself for a while, have a sleep, a warm drink, relax and listen to some music, watch TV, play a computer game, do some gardening or just take some quiet time for you. Words of support and encouragement to yourself are more likely to help you deal with flashbacks than questioning and evaluating yourself.
Note: Although flashbacks can often be very unwelcome visitors in your life, sometimes they can bring forth information and feelings that fill in gaps that existed in your memory. Some men have described how they provided the ‘piece in the jigsaw’ that helped them make better sense of what happened. Finding a trained counsellor who can provide support and work with you in relation to the flashbacks and getting on with your life is worth considering.
Putting persistent flashbacks in their place
If a memory is known and accepted as part of your life experience it is less likely to bother you in the present, even if the event was upsetting and you wish it had never happened. What can make flashbacks particularly difficult is that they can surprise you, appear apparently out of nowhere as a partial memory or as flashes of an event of which you previously had limited recollection. If these memories keep reappearing and are getting in the way of you living your life, it can be useful to work out how come you are having flashbacks about these particular events or these people right now?
An awareness of the ‘trigger/s’ that stimulate these flashbacks can be useful, in that it makes the appearance of the memory understandable – “You’re not going crazy.”
When you are feeling safe, supported and relaxed, you might find it useful to consider or write down
- What was happening when the memory appeared?
- Where were you? Who was around? What were you feeling/thinking, smelling/hearing/seeing/sensing?
- Does this relate to an event in your past?
Sometime what has triggered a flashback can be immediately visible (like driving past your old school, having sex). However, some uncomfortable memories can be triggered by larger changes in circumstances (starting a relationship, getting married or a partner becoming a parent). They can also be associated with a particular feeling like fear or panic. By noticing the possible triggers and how they might be related to a previous event in your life the associated memory becomes understandable. If then the same flashback appears again you do not need to spend time with it beyond registering its presence – you know it and what it refers to – now you can focus on taking care of yourself in the present.
Put energy into your life in the present
As indicated earlier, often the best thing you can do when a flashback occurs is to note its appearance, calm and relax yourself, and then put your energy into doing what is important to you – living your life in the present. Below are some practical questions that can help diminish the influence of flashbacks by maintaining a focus on the present:
- How am I different now from the person who was abused or assaulted?
- How old am I now? Where do I live/work now?
- What options do I have now that I didn’t have then?
- Who can I ask for support and encouragement?
- How do I like to spend my time?
- Where do I want to put my energy now?
Please consider that if flashbacks are persisting to interrupt your life, it may be worth locating a trained counsellor who will provide personalised information, support and encouragement to you.
Help is available. You do not need to go through this alone.
Acknowledgement: Created with reference to Brisbane Sexual Assault Service Handout ‘Managing Flashbacks’ and Ontario Association of Male Survivor Services Educational Materials MANAGING FLASHBACKS developed by Rick Goodwin, MSW RSW of The Men’s Project, 2004.
Comment by andy
andy December 11, 2015 at 4:07 am
I liked this very much .
The bullet points helped .
I would like to hear someone talking in a little film clip .or a display moving
Comment by Angela Schmidt
Angela Schmidt December 16, 2015 at 3:53 am
This was very helpful to share with clients.
Comment by Aly bird
Aly bird January 11, 2016 at 11:02 am
This reading was very well done and put together. But reading it was hard. Reading it brought the flashback on amd it side blinded me. I got very angry that something like this could still have a hold over me. Anyone reading this ever have this happen. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Comment by Natasha
Natasha January 19, 2016 at 9:46 pm
Very well written and presented piece of writing. Really insightful; thank you.
Note to Aly Bird: I am sorry to read that you too still suffer. As for the feelings of anger, I believe that to be a natural response; it plagues my life more than I like to admit. My triggers change as my recovery and processing of my trauma does. Things that never were a recognised trigger for me, like the sensation of sitting on my bed with the bare carpet under my feet, surface, while things that I felt physically intolerant of, like wearing scarves, no longer affect me in the same way. I have so much more work to do still, but am happy to reach out again if I can be of any help. :) Wishing you peace and lasting wholeness.
Comment by Kris
Kris March 5, 2016 at 5:07 am
I think the anger you feel is completely understandable. And flashbacks never make an appointment with you beforehand, that’s for sure! You’re so right about being side-blinded. The shock sometimes takes my breath away. In my own case, my flashbacks have been like different pieces or fragments of the abuse coming together to form a fuller picture. I think that may be why it’s possible to feel upset and angry that it still has a hold on us, because the memories can’t always be dealt with in one Perhaps (I’m only offering a suggestion) the flashbacks still surface because you’re still “processing” certain parts of your memories and/or emotions associated with the abuse. You must be compassionate with yourself. There is absolutely no weakness in our feelings, our fear, terror. We have gone tgrough so much and are strong and brave to face it. All best wishes.
Comment by cb
cb March 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm
I’m 37 and male.
Been dealing with these things at varying intensity for around 27 years. The worst are when I’m lying in bed. They can feel so real at times and I often react as if it’s happening now. I feel so crazy because I know I’m fighting a phantom, but I still end up feeling so violated when the episode ends.
At some point, whether it’s a few seconds or more, I’m eventually able to scream out something like “You’re not real” or “it’s 2016, not 1988.” I live alone so I’m not disturbing anyone when this happens, but then I realize I’m alone because I’m disturbed.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] March 14, 2016 at 9:58 am
Thanks for coming forward and sharing your story. I know that isn’t easy.
It’s awesome that you’re seeking information, and sharing some strategies that works for you. I think our page on grounding exercises might also be helpful for dealing with flashbacks and bringing you back to the present moment.
I think though that when you’ve been through something as traumatic as sexual abuse, it is the situation that is disturbing / disturbed, not you.
I’d like to invite you to check out our partners in the USA: https://1in6.org/. They’ll have more support and info relevant to you.
Best of luck in your journey.
Comment by grader
grader May 9, 2016 at 8:48 pm
Hi there !! please can anyone help me. i am getting flashbacks whenever i see a dog!! dogs are everywhere.. when i was in grade 9 … i changed school branches (but same school ) … and i earned a nickname dog . so in grade 9 for 5-6 months it was worse. i feard if my friend would tell that nickname to others… i got support from a friend in grade 10 but he didntknew that i had that horrible nickname. in grade 10 section changed but the kid who gave me nickname was stiillin the sameclass .. although there was support from that friend i feared if the kid would spreadmynickname all over…. so life was distressing for those nearlt two years… my grade was affected… i think… i was mostly victim of verbal bullying but not of physical … so yeah can anyone help me .. how to cope with it….. i would thank u somuch for givingme any suggestion… so yeah now i have nearly finished my grade 12 but still those 2 years of nickname calling flashbacks me …..
Comment by sam
sam February 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm
I’m 33 and male.
I can really relate to whats happening with you , its real bad and staying alone is also no good but its comforting in dark hours. I would suggest that keep yourself involved in activities that brightens your soul. Dont torture yourself any more, the perpetrators needs to feel sorry.
I would like to see u more happy, mental and physical stronger and more happening. We dont know what happens afterlife , dont burn in old memories , u dont know whether human life gifted to you will be awarded again or not. Take it as phase of life and love your gift of life.
FLY HIGH AND REJOICE
Comment by Ambz
Ambz April 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm
This was helpful. I used to get flashbacks a lot but when I came out about what happened, they gradually stopped. I was caught off gaurd just now (years later) and I didnt know what to do. I was having a physical and emotional flashback. This page helped me understand that these flashbacks are normal even though they arent visual. I was also able to explain this to my partner easily so he understood how to help me. Thank you.
One thing though. While reading the examples for the typesof flashbacks, I was triggered more. I think they are important but maybe put a warning or have it so that you click a button to view them. They did help me feel like Im not alone with what I feel.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] April 29, 2016 at 10:12 am
Thanks so much Ambz for your feedback. We’re always totally open to it. I’ve added a content warning and altered some of the language a bit.
Comment by Erika
Erika November 28, 2016 at 2:51 am
I have flashbacks every time I hear the r word after going through a horrible assultwhen I was 19 and in college. Even when I hear his name. I am now 31 and trying to get over this chapter in my life is so hard to do. I was beaten and drugged during this abusive relationship to, any advice on how to get over this would be greatly appreciated
Comment by Erika
Erika November 28, 2016 at 2:55 am
I experienced the assault when I was 19
Comment by James Smith
James Smith June 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm
I suffer from flashbacks a lot. I’ve been dealing with them through my psychologist, however things still trigger me, like slamming doors, smell of the classroom, smell of books. People coming up and touching me from behind just on the shoulder will trigger me, people invading my space or being startled while sleeping. I think being startled while sleeping is the worst one ever. You should be safe, and feel safe while sleeping, but when you get startled by a slamming door, or any other thing that can wake you, it takes me hours to get back to sleep.
I’ve tried a lot of things over the years but very little helps stop my flashbacks. There are four of us being abused at the same time, very violent, very sexual and very verbally abused. The only thing I can do is remind the child in me that nobody will ever hurt him again. that I do believe is the best advice my psychologist has ever given me. I find it works the best to calm myself down and get over a flashback quicker.
It took me a long time, over 20 years to be exact; it was 27 years before I was willing to deal with it. I know there are videos of the abuse happening. I’ll never be able to get rid of them.
I was given the opportunity to get help at no cost from my group here in Calgary Alberta. I am so thankful and grateful that that group is able to help men deal with childhood sexual assault. This is the first time I personally talked about this to anybody other than my psychologist. The group I am involved with is cc4ms (Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse). You can get help, all you need to do is ask.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] June 10, 2016 at 10:24 am
Thanks James for sharing your story with us. It is a powerful one, and it seems that you are able to share some very wise words here as a result:
We believe that to be true as well.. and actually you have kind of proven it to be true by sharing some of your experiences with us, including a quite helpful strategy for getting through flashbacks.
Care for your inner child. Tell him the things you know he needed to hear all those years ago. You can be there for him now.
Best of luck on your continuing journey, James.
Comment by Tana
Tana July 4, 2016 at 2:24 am
I recently started having flashbacks of sexual assault. It truly took me off guard while I was driving down the road, I don’t even know why or what triggered them, but I had to pull over and throw up. The whole rest of the night I couldn’t sleep because every time I closed my eyes more memories would come flooding back and I would feel as if I can’t breathe.
I tried to keep myself as busy as possible for a few days but they flood my mind all the time. I have questioned my mom on a few details (but haven’t told her) and she has confirmed that details of certain things in my flashbacks are indeed real, which scares me even more.
This is all so new to me and I hoping some of these tips help me get my emotions and life back.
Comment by Kymmie
Kymmie July 12, 2016 at 11:13 pm
As difficult as these articles are to read they are real eye openers into my coping mechanisms and behaviours. I have quite a few different flashbacks that occur as I was abused for about 4 years as a child, maybe more but I don’t remember. I then have a memory as a 12 yr old getting attacked again by the same person but thankfully being strong enough to say no. He commented on my boobs so I have a huge problem with them during intimacy. Mostly my flashbacks occur during sex or foreplay more so foreplay. I have adopted the technique of running my hands through my husbands hair and feeling his ears etc when these traumatic memories strike. My husband knows I do this and knows that I’m just trying to bring myself back to feeling safe knowing that its him. He also knows that there are particular things and words during sex and forplay that can trigger memories so he stares clear of those.
I haven’t been completely transparent with my husband though. I do have serious communication and intimacy issues that still need work but I’m glad I found this website. Even though its based around men being abused 95% of it all is relating to me.
Comment by Joseph Leonard
Joseph Leonard July 31, 2016 at 10:00 pm
i still have flashbacks up till this moment, but i can’t explain or find how to deal with it. mine isnt like a flash back, sometimes i feel i have seen the present before. for example there are incidents that happen in the present and i have seen them in my past, or had flashbacks of them… the truth is sometimes i don’t really understand what it means… my imagination drives me crazy.
Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]
Jess [Living Well Staff] August 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
The difficulty with flashbacks is that they can leave you profoundly disoriented. Flashbacks are a really individual experience, they can be quite different for everyone, and one person can experience different types of flashback.
A feature of flashbacks is that they mess with your sense of time, so that you can be in present and experience a rush of thoughts, sights, sounds, tastes and feelings that may be related in some way to the past, or a series of events that have happened at different times in your life. This is inherently unsettling and confusing and can be so difficult to make sense of.
Flashbacks might be like you describe, where you are experiencing something in the present and have a sense that you have experienced this before. This is sometimes known as a sense of ‘déjà vu’, which translates from the French as ‘already seen’.
Although there seems to be a kind of invitation to spend time with these flashbacks and try and work out what they mean or what they relate to, the best thing to do at the time is to reconnect to your present surroundings. A grounding exercise of some kind can be really useful for bringing yourself back to the present moment. So can certain mindfulness exercises, like paying close attention to something in your immediate environment. An example is to stop, slow down, and notice what’s happening around you. What can you see, touch, or hear? Pick out one thing, like the ticking of a clock, or the traffic going by. Zoom all of your attention in on that sound and really pay attention to it. Whenever your thoughts or something else distracts you, just pull your attention back to that one thing.
If the flashbacks persist, or are causing you stress, we would recommend seeing a counsellor who understands how to address trauma. Check out our list of worldwide online services.
Take care Joseph.
Comment by Amy Lootens
Amy Lootens October 12, 2016 at 12:40 am
Jess, The problem with the flashbacks that feel like present that you are now experiencing is when it was other people telling you what would happen to you later and they were right. Grassroots terrorism.
Comment by wendy
wendy November 11, 2016 at 10:27 am
This is very useful for females as well thanks ;) I started having intense flashbacks about sexual assaults I experienced when i was 10, i’m now 46. I am beginning to realise a big trigger for me is going to my daughters primary school – it smells like my old primary school, feels like it, and i was in year 5 and 6 when the assaults occurred. thanks for the article – very helpful :)
Comment by elontra
elontra December 2, 2016 at 2:47 pm
i was sexual abused from a family member and it was last year right before Christmas, and then I tried to kill my self. now that time of year is coming around again. I am having sever flash back and crying eposides.
Comment by Brenton [Living Well Staff]
Brenton [Living Well Staff] January 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm
Thank you for your comment and reaching out for help.
Anniversaries and the surrounding time of traumatic events can be tough. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure your safety.
Plan ahead for the traumatic period. Since for you it occurred around Christmas, you might consider whether you find work a distraction or a burden. Some people find work allows them to keep busy and not focus too much on the memories, whilst some people prefer to take time off and reduce external stressors.
On planning you might link in with a therapist earlier in the year and work on a plan for what to do when Christmas rolls around. Another option is to find a therapist who specialises in sexual abuse and begin working on addressing some of the issues.
Some other questions to consider include, do you have any friends or family you feel safe around? If so you might let them know you struggle around this time of year, and invite them to touch base with you over this period. It can be helpful to have a list of activities you can engage in to self sooth.
Please take care of yourself, Elontra.
Comment by Jayne Mills
Jayne Mills December 4, 2016 at 8:46 pm
I have flashbacks once I’ve fallen asleep and although once I’m awake I eventually manage to ground myself , I now fear sleep as that is when I tend to have the flashbacks. Can you suggest anything I can do before I go to sleep that might avert the flashbacks ? It’s difficult to control them if I’m asleep when they happen, I find them easier to deal with when Im awake..
Comment by Moe
Moe January 22, 2017 at 7:01 am
Thank you very much for this write up. I’ve learned some pretty good ways of dealing with my flashbacks. I like sitting in the bathroom sometimes and just sitting on the toilet doing nothing. In the dark. It really helps me as the flashback comes and then goes.
IDKY, something about the cold and being in a small room.
Comment by FrAnk
FrAnk March 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm
I have this girl I hate so much..because she neglected me because of her boyfriend I hate her as much as I like her …I stopped talk to her for a while and i spoke to her yesterday hope the hatred and angry would leave me me..but I still became more angry I keep having flashbacks and rembering every word I said to her and how weak I sounded..although she apologized for what she did to me…but I felt she wasn’t sorry because she said she’s sorry for what she put me through because I felt saying sorry was right for that particular context or moment…i keep trying to imagine ..how better it would feel if I didn’t talk to her yesterday..I feel i opened my self too much to her ..and she knows more about me than I know about her ..at this point I regret meeting her in the first place..am still angry and uncomfortable..she might think everything is cool because she has apologized but I am sure that if I see her I will walk past her and not say a word…because right now as I can type this I can still remember the pain she put me through the exact feeling everything..like I am reliving it each passing day..I nev wan think about it but I just sit and get flashbacks about it and the worst is I don’t have control over my tots…the take control of me and rule me ..
Comment by londy
londy April 15, 2017 at 5:50 am
I think this sounds crazy, I was raped 7 years ago but sometimes I have rape memories (flashbacks), it happened long time ago but I still suffer.
Comment by MC
MC June 8, 2017 at 1:24 am
I just experienced an intense flashback that brought me back to a room where something happened and my fear made me over-react I think. It made me very confused. Like it made me feel exactly how I felt that day.
Thank You. 35 Male
Comment by PJ
PJ July 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm
I am in a new relationship with a woman and she was severely abused in ways I couldn’t imagine could happen. It is helpful to hear other people’s story and I can see similarities to her experience.
Thanks for the tips! I will discuss them with her and see if I can help her when she gets triggered. It also helps me understand somewhat her horrific experiences
Comment by Angie
Angie July 30, 2017 at 4:03 am
I was raped 30 years ago and it still comes back to haunt me. I’ve stared counselling again after 10 years of feeling fine! The biggest thing I have learnt so far after 4 sessions is the power of breathing. Breathe from your abdomen and do it 3 or 4 times an hour , in through the nose and out through the mouth……. when you do it well it relaxes you, aids sleep, makes the flashbacks less powerful and in my case controls my comfort eating – just through slow deep breathing! And it’s completely free!
Comment by Sam
Sam September 15, 2017 at 8:34 am
This was helpful but hard to read all at once for me personally. Although this has warnings the flashbacks triggered it’s my own fault for reading on but I felt like it’s something I needed to read. I have a therapist now and we are slowly making progress but I can’t reveal the full details to her and I won’t be giving too much detail on this but nothing can stop the flash backs, the feeling trapped, scared, feeling as though i am anything from 7-14 years old depending on the flashback, the heavy breathing, feeling crazy then the anger, feeling I am nothing as the words they were one of the main this that was said to me back then. I have I’ve had 14 years of them now I’m 28 and people say it will get better and you hear these stories of people being like they are cured are bullshit to me and I’m sorry but this is how I feel and for me you may be able to learn to deal and cope with them by understanding and accepting them but I understand them and I accept it happened but it still hurts like fuuuuuck and I can’t cope with the severity and volume I have to experience I just wish I could erase my memories from that age so I’d never know it happened and then I could be normal..sorry didn’t plan on saying all this it just kind of came out
Comment by Rosie
Rosie November 1, 2017 at 4:10 pm
I am 13 and I am a girl. About last year I had a flashback. I didn’t think much of it, thinking maybe it was just some type of hormone, but I was wrong. When I was 4 I was molested or raped I’m not quite sure.
My second flashback was being caught watching inappropriate content on the TV in the living room. I just remember hearing footsteps approach as I hid under my blanket. I remember the house being so quiet, no one else there except me and him.
My third flashback was nothing, but I have figured it out now. He made me pass out, and he did something to me when I was passed out, I know he did.
My fourth flashback was waking up naked under my blanket. I remember I felt sweaty yet cold at the same time. I just saw myself like I was in a movie, putting my clothes back on super fast, the 4 year old girl not knowing why she was naked. I know why though, her Grandfather had done something to her.
My last flashback was about a month ago and this was at the same time I had my mental breakdown. It was the most painful and I didn’t want to believe it, and I still don’t. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my uncle Ricky, no sign of him in the house. This pain shot throughout my lower crotch\stomach area. I now know why there was pain, he, my own grandfather! He hurt me in a way that can never be fixed. He is the one who molested me, but when I was 6yrs old I told my mom that my father was the one who touched me. I’m so stupid, I lied and now he gets to live a life without suffering. He knows what he did! I don’t have the courage to speak the truth to my mother, therefore I’m putting my story in public. Hoping I will some day have the courage to tell my mum the truth.
Comment by Daryl
Daryl February 26, 2018 at 3:20 am
Hi Rosie, I’m Daryl, and I’m a 55 year old male/man, and a survivor of sexual abuse
SPOILER ALERT: I’m a bit of a wreck, (yep, my own flashback episode recently, so I haven’t slept for a few nights, sooooooo tired and still haven’t found my quiet and calm space…yet. It’s close.
Rosie, you daaarling, here is the truth:
— You are NOT stupid! Ok? Absolutely definitely positively NOT stupid!
God, the way you write about your flashbacks and the way you use your words to convey SO WELL what it is you’ve experienced… Rosie, I see you as a brave and intelligent person, using her analytical skills with strength and courage. I think you maybe don’t realise the talents you possess.
And, dearheart, …[sending you a safe, non-threatening hug here] what you told your mom when you were 6, was what you believed then. You didn’t lie. Nup, not one bit. A lie is a deliberate choice. you choose to tell a lie, so to deceive someone. You were trying to understand what the flashbacks were revealing, hoping to maybe have a complete answer?
I just chuckled then, cos I’ve lost count of the times my own story has changed as I’ve become used to the things my mind showed. me. I need to shut myself away from the world for a few days (I live on my own, so that’s something I can do. It works fir me and my wreck of a brain! It’s the only time I feel safe; when I’m alone.)
Flashbacks don’t come like a DVD box set, with episodes in the correct order, telling the story from the beginning to the end without interruption. LOL, I wish it rally could be that simple! It’d be less horrid and suffocating and shit-scary if they did come out of our brain like episodes of the Big Bang Theory (except when episodes are repeated, and then the programmers prolly cant be arsed to sort them out properly.)
They’re like a few pieces of a 10,000 piece mega huge jigsaw puzzle, and your brain kinda spews out a few pieces. Except, as you and I both know TOO BLOODY WELL, we want to get the flashback jigsaw puzzle finished RIGHT. NOW! But it never so easy and tidy to finish.
We must be gentle with ourselves, this is REALLY HARD WORK we are doing. This journey of revelation and discovery that we are on, as victims of the hideousness of our abusers, it needs us to find patience to let it happen at its own pace. And to forgive ourselves if the story revealed isn’t what we expected, and so we have to say to people we’ve shared this info with, “You remember I said to you it meant that …blah blah? Well, here’s an update….” Rosie, the full story and details might end up vey different from what we guessed-imagined might hav happened back when we were 4 (for example). Each step we achieve as we encounter our hidden selves is us as ‘victim’ transforming into ‘survivor.’….it’s not one that comes with the Google Maps app. There’s a lot of walking with the blindfold very slowly and gradually falling away.
Thats me finished blurting this out to you. I hope that, even if I’ve left words out cos it’s 1:15am, that you might understand my intentions behind the garbled words.
Email me if you want to, but don’t feel like you need to write to me if you’re feeling in a better place now, k? No pressure, darl, none at all.
Wow, you are indeed a remarkable young woman!
Big hug, Daryl (Perth WA)
(PS. I didn’t check for errors or words i didn’t mean to leave out. Couldn’t be arsed xx)
Comment by aufau
aufau March 11, 2019 at 2:58 am
I was 13 when i was sexually assaulted. I was recovering from an ankle injury and I was on a run on my way home. Two guys jumped me from behind and assaulted me. I never knew how to handle it and I stayed quiet about it for 3 years until my parents found out. They helped me through it but I still deal with flashbacks and severe depression. I just try to focus on all the positives in my life and focus on the exact moment I am in versus going backwards and letting what happened to me drag me down. Journaling also really helps.
Comment by AGdC
AGdC July 10, 2020 at 11:18 am
I was wondering if there was any advice for dealing, in the moment, with pain flashbacks. I can feel the event, feel him, and the pain is excruciating. How can I get the pelvic pain to ease during a flashback?
Comment by Tanser
Tanser December 31, 2020 at 3:10 am
Sometimes the best way to deal with it is run, run, run move away from it physically, psychologically and emotionally – at least that is what I thought I was doing. Get a good job, get married, have kids and all would be good. I tried to bury it deep but during parts of my life it would resurface. But in some ways I felt like a fraud my whole life.
I had a traumatic experience 12 years ago when a botched surgery left me in extended genital pain.
At around the same time the man responsible for a lot of my ‘running’ was charged ( not because of me because I never told anyone).
I remember telling my wife about how I knew he wasn’t a good man and about a specific incident I saw – but I stopped short of details – I didn’t tell her the ones I experienced either.
I was only 10 when I caught him molesting a girl a little older than me. That’s how I became his victim.
He sent her back downstairs and then followed me to the washroom and stimulated me and then explained how I was a homosexual or at least on that path but he would keep my ‘secret’ aka not tell my parents as he knew them well. Sadly I was most terrified that he would tell my parents and friends that I was a homosexual. He would tease me when we were alone sometimes for brief moments, asking if I liked girls yet.
Due to his position he was able to see me sometimes and manipulated to get me alone to check/reinforce that I was a homosexual but wouldn’t tell anyone all the while I knew that he was continuing to molest girls in the same way ( meaning I knew how he was getting access to them).
Sometimes the girls would say to me ‘why are you here?’ Once I started tearing up and looked down and the girl sitting beside me put her hand on my hand for a second. They all generally knew what he was doing – but it was the unspoken. The girls were all 1,2&3 years older than me.
I felt like other kids knew something about me because it was harder and harder for me to make and keep friends although I was really athletic – kids wouldn’t let me play. The older boys wanted to fight me all the time – it was a daily chore.
Most of my flashbacks are like pictures that are talking.
After he was charged things got worse for me – I felt uncontrollably scared at times and developed some very bad vices that I hid from my spouse. I felt immensely insecure, ashamed and a coward for not outrightly telling someone when it was happening.
It was hard because he was often around and made his presence known. He knew how to get into the good graces of adults but I too often had seen his evil side.