Survivors sometimes speak of how they got through the trauma by pretending that their mind and spirit had gone to a safer place, leaving the body behind to endure the abuse. I know that I did that for sure. There were times when I was thinking of a painful memory and could see it happening from above. I know its a strange concept for people who have not suffered abuse but ask any survivor and I bet they know exactly what I mean.
Abused children often abandon reality, they might use the imagination that all kids have. Its by this dissociating from what frightening thing is happening that children can imagine they are some place else like a park or the movies etc. Even a relatively minor trauma can provoke dissociation until a person is later able to integrate the experience. “Later”, in the case of chronic abuse, these children have little to no support. It may mean years later. Sadly most children grow into adulthood with those memory’s somewhere in the back of their minds until such day that the brain begins to release these memory’s. Then it demands our attention.
Sometimes the actual memory of the abuse goes into deep freeze. An incident in the present may trigger strong feelings that really belong to an incident in the past .Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. My abuse went on for years without any support available to me. We survivors may become, devastated when others are momentarily sad, panicked when others are just worried.
Sometimes only the feelings get blocked. Some survivors have perfect, excruciating detailed recall of the abuse itself, but are numb to their feelings. This is so true for me. I had no problem stating the facts of what happened but my feelings were just not connected.
Many survivors ask, “If I don’t remember the trauma, or if I don’t have strong feelings about it, isn’t that better?” Dissociation eventually takes more effort than it is worth. The more we try not to, the more feelings and thoughts assert themselves, unconsciously demanding attention. .In my therapy with EMDR(eye movement desentization and reprocessing.), I am being told that all that trauma is stored as body memory. Its at the cellular level. In other words the trauma gets into every cell of our bodies. It is so important to release this because if we don’t it zapps our energy for today. So trauma is energy that needs release for the body as a hole to function better in our lives today.