- If you panic in a public place – providing you’re not in real danger – try not to run away. Breathe, reassure yourself and ride out the feeling. If you escape from the situation it can be hard to go back later.
Sometimes memories of your abuse can pop into your head all of a sudden. There’s nearly always a trigger. Often the trigger is sex or touch.
You might get pictures in your head of what happened to you. People or things in the picture might seem frozen in time. Usually, you are aware it’s a memory. It’s still scary, but you know that it isn’t something that’s happening to you now.
Consider the advice under ‘Self-help for Panic and Sudden Distress.’ In addition :
- If you don’t want to experience the memory now, you could try saying ‘STOP’ to yourself very firmly. That may cut into the way the trigger causes the memory. This may not work because the memories happen quickly. Also, it may not always be advisable to stop the memory. Though distressing, it is a part of recovery and dealing with the abuse.
- Afterwards try to write about the memory. If you don’t want to write you could draw a picture representing it, or mould something from plasticine. Try to share this with someone from your Support Team. Memories demand to be heard. The more they are heard, the more likely they are to fade over time.
- Memories may be connected in your mind to feelings of shame and blame about the abuse. This is why it’s so important to share them with a trusted member of your Support Team. This breaks the secrecy and gets you support from someone who sees the truth – that you were not to blame and the fault for the abuse lies with the abuser.
- Sudden memories can leave you shaky and scared. Always try to balance out the experience by looking after yourself afterwards and by giving yourself special treats. You’ve had to experience pain, you should also have some pleasure.
A flashback is a sudden memory of abuse that is so strong it actually seems that it’s happening now. Something usually triggers the flashback and it’s often touch or sex.
Again you can get pictures in your head. But they seem much more real. You may experience the actual sounds, smells, tastes, emotions that you did at the time of the abuse. You may feel terrified, shocked, numb, in a rage or filled with disgust – depending what you felt then. You may get the same physical sensations in your body. These sensations are sometimes in your genitals or bum. It’s like you’re back being abused again as a boy.
It all seems so real it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually happening in the real world. You may feel completely out of control.