I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Flashbacks (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several posts. He also shares his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

I was young when it happened and it happened repeatedly. The perpetrators were close to me. I had no memory of the sexual abuse itself, but I grew up with a sense of deep terror and anger toward the perpetrators.

Years later, I began having flashbacks. They started slowly and increased in duration and intensity. Finally, they came in like a flood. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and experiencing. I thought I was going crazy.

These flashbacks were intense, just like I was there and it was happening all over again. It was unnerving, confusing, terrifying, and exhausting. They continued over a period of two years.

If it hadn't been for my wife, a counselor, and a few trustworthy friends, I don't know what I would have done. I knew I couldn't handle it alone. I also sensed that isolation was my worst enemy. I had to share, to talk, and to stay connected with those I knew loved me.

After two years, the flashbacks dissipated and my health began to deteriorate. At random times my adrenaline went crazy. The anxiety was terrible. I felt like a deer being chased by a tiger. My life felt small and dark. Those “flashback aftershocks,” as I called them, continued for another few years.

To say that I'm grateful now may sound inadequate, but I am grateful for the flashbacks and their aftershocks. I'm relieved to finally know what happened. My life makes sense now. I understand why things were the way they were and why I felt and thought the way I did.

I had to endure those flashbacks. Denial was survival in my childhood, but denial no longer served me well. It shackled me. I had to go back and see what happened so that I could heal. I really am grateful. Now I can grow.

1 comment:

Heather Marsten said...

Gary, your posts are a blessing. I too faced flashbacks in my healing process. A look, gesture, or touch could send me back to being that little girl abused by her father. Also, sometimes my dreams were so vivid that I would wake up and feel as if my father (who is dead) was sitting on my bed next to me. I walked around for years, pulled deep within myself, to try and block the pull of the memories. It took going to Jesus and with His help facing them and forgiving the abusers, that brought lasting healing. Thank you for sharing from your heart. God bless you. Heather