Dealing With Flashbacks From Child Sex Abuse
Most molestation victims that suffer with the effects of child sexual abuse have flashbacks. This happens at anytime. Through the day, and at night, and it doesn't matter what they are doing when images pop into their head. They don't have to have an apparent trigger.
This also happens at times when they are having sex with their partner. Whilst sex could start out quite well, it can soon become a nightmare. One minute they are enjoying themselves sexually, then all of a sudden images will flash into their head of the abuser or what the abuser did to them.
This could be triggered by an act or touch by their partner, that immediately transported them back to a similar act by their abuser. Then again it might have no apparent trigger at all.
The more they try to disperse these images, the more they are plagued by them. There is a technique at the end of this article which can help with this, over time.
Flashbacks are not only images and thoughts that are remembered, but memories they had forgotten which are suddenly emerging.
These forgotten memories can keep emerging for years.
Sex and Flashbacks
If you are not the victim experiencing this, then you may be the partner who suddenly has a lover who has turned from hot to cold. The victim needs your love and assurance at this time as well as your understanding, as difficult as it might be.
These flashbacks cause the sex abuse sufferer to see images of their abuser and the acts performed. Things that you may be doing sexually could trigger reminders of what was done to them. They no longer see you, they see their abuser whilst you're having sex. (As they go through recovery they will eventually learn to push them out of their mind.)
Of course this is going to stop the sex act in its tracks in most cases.
There are some who have learned to get past it, and continue on. There are others who will not have sex anymore with their partners.
This is detrimental to any relationship as sex is necessary to keep a healthy intimate relationship going. This is why it is imperative that you get your loved one to talk about their feelings, emotions and discuss the act itself that is causing distress. The victim may not want to speak about it and you need to coax. Be patient.
Whilst this is hard on both of you, it will help in the long run. The recovery process could take weeks, months, years before these flashbacks no longer affect the victim. It depends on the severity of the trauma. If you feel your partner needs professional help, then get it.
This could lead to a sexless marriage if unaddressed.
Sexless Marriage or Relationship
Some are dealing with trauma so severe they will not go near their partner sexually, even if they are newly married. To find yourself in a sexless marriage, from the start is traumatic in itself.
These are severe cases, however it is not rare. If this is you, the problem needs to be addressed. These effects will affect males and females alike. It is particularly difficult for incest victims and males who have been abused by males.
If you are the partner of someone who is dealing with these problems then it will be extremely hard on you. Don't take it personally, you are not the cause. However you may need to talk to someone yourself in order to keep your sanity.
You may also find your partner crying. This could be for several reasons, 1. They are frustrated with themselves, 2. The images are traumatic in themselves, 3. They know they are upsetting you, 4. more emotions come into play. They may cry after sex and they don't know why.
Sometimes they will cry for no apparent reason. This can happen at any time of the day or night. Talk to them, get them to tell you what they are feeling right at that moment and don't give up. If they are allowed to continually be in this mental state, their emotional wellbeing could deteriorate to a deep depression or worse.
Communication Is A Must
If you can get your partner to talk about, not only the molestation effects they are dealing with, but the issue of no sex or very little sex in your relationship, it would be healthier. You will both be better off. Talking does help a great deal as it diminishes the intensity they are feeling. It also helps you understand what they are going through a little better.
As well it gets your feelings out in the open, and at the same time lets your partner know you are being supportive. Do push them, gently, and be persistent. During all the time that they were being molested, they were instructed to be quiet and have learned to clam up as a defense. You will need love and patience to overcome this.
Gently and lovingly push and keep doing so to show that you are willing to persist in keeping the communication open and healthy. Be gentle and supportive. If this doesn't work you both need to see someone who can help the victim and you through this.
It really is worth persisting in, even if at times it doesn't seem worth the effort. A marriage will not last long under these conditions.
Technique to Diminish Flashbacks
If you are the victim and you do this, with time the flashbacks will diminish. Why? Because your thoughts and feelings have less control over you the more you discuss them.
By continually trying to force the images and thoughts back down as soon as they surface, you are actually making it worse in the immediate and long term.
Let your thoughts come up. As they do talk to them. Say to yourself "ok that's enough now, off you go" or "you can go away now, you've had your fun". Talking to your thoughts may sound stupid, but it works. Whilst it may take months or years of doing this, if you keep at it, making light of your thoughts (as horrid as they may be), their effect on you will diminish.
They won't have as much power over you, but they'll eventually not bug you less and less. (I know its hard, but well worth the effort) Even though this may take months or even years, you don't have anything to lose, and everything to gain. The problem is affecting you anyway, its not going away any time soon without help.
If you find you need to talk to a professional therapist than you need to find a good one.