Can You Heal After Childhood Sexual Abuse - Part 1
The healing process after child sexual abuse can be long and arduous if help is not sought. Once adult life is reached the effects and trauma experienced by many victims becomes unbearable. Each person will cope, or not, in their own way which we will explore through these 3 parts.
The Trauma of The Abuse
There are some victims of child molestation who had forgotten their abuse. Buried memories are not an isolated event after this type of abuse. They are a safeguard for those who buried these memories, as there are times when the trauma is too great for the victim to cope with.
Some have found later in life that memories start emerging, and this can be part of the healing process.
Buried Memories, How Is That Possible
It is hard for some to understand how anyone could forget being molested as a child, and this also can raise questions in others minds as to whether the event is fabricated. You need however to consider what a child who is being sexually abused (sometimes daily) has to endure. Not only is the child helpless against their molester, if the child is abused by someone in a trusted position, particularly a parent, they have no idea what to do.
They are powerless not only in a physical way, but they are told if they scream they will get into trouble or violence may be inflicted on them. Where can a child run even in they wanted to, if they told anyone would they be believed? Many times, especially in incest cases, they are not believed, for reasons discussed on this site.
They have to continue on everyday as if nothing is wrong. Keeping a secret that is hurting them beyond belief. A child has to live with trauma every day, without telling anyone, even an adult would find this hard. So escape is sort, some escaping through imagination, through books, and other things that help them cope with the effects of molestation. Others pretend it didn't happen, or its happening to someone else. They escape in the only way available to them, mentally.
Some may go through their whole life never remembering. With other victims, memories may slowly start to emerge which will cause them great pain and anger as well as shame. Many other emotions will wash over them as time goes on and more memories emerge. Some with recall the abuse and not the feelings. Healing can not start until a victim acknowledges what has happened to them.
There was one case where a young child who was continually being abused by her father, recalled him carrying her to his bed. She remembers nothing else until she woke up in her bed. There are many such examples of victims having the same experience.
There are those who have visited a therapist for whatever reason. They may find the therapist questioning them, on things they have no knowledge, asking questions about child sexual abuse. If these questions are leading, it can cause unwarranted emotional damage, as memories which are not real will be built on. The seeds will have been planted, and will now grow even though unsubstantiated. This type of therapist we have warned constantly about, and should be avoided.
If there are buried memories, then no leading questions need be asked, the memories will emerge on their own when the person is ready to begin recovery.
It is not unusual for humans to block memories and events too painful to deal with out of their minds. There are people who change events in their own minds choosing to remember a version they are more comfortable with. These ones have not been molested. So it is no surprise that sexual abuse can cause buried memories.
You may wonder if it isn't better that these memories stay buried. A person can not heal until their mind remembers the abuse. However this is a question for another discussion and will be dealt with in Part 2.