Thursday, March 14, 2013


When you run a private members group for incest survivors, if there's one thing you hear time and again, it's "I wish these flashbacks/memories would stop!"

Sadly, so many people, including the victim's own family, just don't understand and offer little sympathy or help to the victim who may be suffering terribly. They tell them, unfeelingly, to "just get over it and get on with your life!" Really? Just get over a father, brother, uncle or adult male who rammed his swollen penis into a little child of 5 or even younger? Just get over how awful you felt about something you didn't understand, something you didn't ask for and most definitely something you didn't deserve? You don't just get over it! And even if your conscious mind has blocked it out over the intervening years, your subconscious hasn't. It has the uncanny knack of remembering everything.

Ever lost or misplaced something and simply can't find it, can't remember where you put it? I do it all the time, and now, at the very ripe old age of 67, my ability to remember where I put things is getting worse and worse. So, after I've spent an hour searching, I stop looking and get busy doing something else. Without fail, maybe an hour or even a day later, suddenly it hits me where I put that lost item. I didn't remember, but my subconscious did!

And so it is with flashbacks to horrid, awful, traumatic events in our lives, regardless of what age we were when they happened. We can put them away, hide them from our conscious mind, and get on with other things. But every so often, the horror suddenly resurfaces and for a while, shakes up our minds, hearts and souls all over again. We relive the painful thrusts of that penis; we feel the bash to our heads or ears; we hear the angry voice telling us to be quiet or threatening to kill us if we tell. We sense again how dirty, soiled and tainted we felt. We feel the shame; we feel like everyone who looks at us knows what we allowed that abuser to do and we blame ourselves. We feel it was all our fault. We want to run; we want close our minds, shut out the images, block the voices, theirs and ours, then and now. And sometimes, as hard as we try, we cannot stop the flashback nor shorten it when it occurs. We have to wait till it passes so we can "just get on with" our lives again.

My heart aches for those in my private group at SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER INCEST on Facebook when I hear them begging for some advice to stop the flashbacks. Or when they ask if others in the group get them, or if we're well along in our healing, do we have them less often. There is little advice any of us can give other than the consolation of  "Yes, we all still have them and yes, they do become less frequent or less earth-shattering with time." But they never completely stop. Read my poem on the urn in the photo above: I don't know what prompted that outpouring recently ... most likely it was listening and feeling to my members' pain ... but suddenly, after all this time, there I was flashing back again in the wee hours of the morning, and my father, my abuser, has been dead for  13 years. You'd think I'd be over it all by now, especially at my age, wouldn't you.

"You know what daddy? It wasn't alright
And I still don't sleep very well at night". 

Please, if  you know or love a victim of abuse, any kind of abuse, don't tell them to "just get over it" and get on with their lives. People have committed suicide for far less reasons than some of them have.