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.

Memories and Flashbacks

(By Cecil Murphey)

Some of us struggle more with memories of the past than others do. They come back as quick, spurts of something in the past and they're gone. Or they torment us, often for days.

During those in-an-instant experiences, we relive our molestation. Despite their brevity, often they’re so intense it feels as if the abuse is happen­ing a second time. "I felt like my priest was molesting me again," one man said. "It was horrible."

Who wants to re-experience such terrible moments? It's natural to want to deny them or medicate ourselves so that we don’t hurt again.

But what if we valued flashbacks? What if re-experiencing is a required step toward wholeness? What if they’re signals for us to pay attention because they aid us in our healing?

I hated it when memories haunted me—until I figured out something. I need them. Only by bringing them to the surface once again can I free myself from them.

At least four years have passed since I've had any in-a-flash memories of my childhood abuse. Their absence says enough healing has taken place that I no longer need them.

I need to face the past
to heal the pain of the present.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)


stanw said...

I have never really had any flashbacks. I know a hired man molested me when I was around 12 but the memory is very sketchy. The other day I travelled to my brothers place and as his daughter and I went through old photos I ran across a picture of the guy who molested me. It bothered me when I saw the picture but stuck it in my pocket anyway and the last few days have looked at it, trying to figure out what happened back there. It has always brought emotional pain to me when I recall the afore mentioned molestation and hear of anyone else who has experienced sexual abuse. I often wonder why I can't remember what occurred there as a kid. I know it affected me drastically. Have prayed so much about that.

Cec Murphey said...

Stan, not everyone has flashbacks. I've had only a few.

You expressed concern about not remembering details. We've learned that we don't retain memory 100% and, therefore, we can't pull them out whole.

Most of us remember only portions of any event or encounter. And one of the built-in protective devices of the human brain is to "forget" the things we can't handle.

To me, flashbacks mean either (a) I'm now ready to cope with those things or (b) The events were so painful, I was unable to forget them, so they stay with me.