In the book Secret Survivors, Blume describes how a previous victim of incest, will unconsciously create ways that will prevent him or her from remembering the incest. Blume says the previous victim will eventually grow into this personality and it becomes routine:
“Incest becomes the secret she keeps even from herself.”
But this system only lasts so long, and one day, the victimized child inside of us, demands to heal and might even try to re-create trauma to get our attention. Whether or not we listen, becomes our choice.
The subconscious mind is where trauma is stored, as well as any emotional energy not yet dealt with in the conscious mind, or any emotional energy not fully healed.
As Charles Whitfield points out, those who experience somatic memories are actually trying to discharge the emotional energy stored up from the childhood abuse that society and their families never allowed them to express. This is exactly what my body was doing for almost two decades.
There is a theory called State Dependant Memory, and it means a person needs to be in the altered state of consciousness they were originally in during the trauma, in order to be able to remember it clearly, and to heal it effectively. This is what is done with age-regression therapy.
Someone recently wrote on my Blog about being re-traumatized by things they read here.
People do not understand that this is their subconscious mind trying to heal itself. The soul (the subconscious mind) wants to be heard, it wants to heal, and it will drive a previous victim to read things on the Internet, go to a place of business, take a car ride, or to watch a film that will put them in a situation where they experience or see trauma.
How many times have survivors of child sexual abuse sat down to watch a film or TV show they think is going to be a pleasant experience, or a good movie to escape in, only to find there is a scene in the film they did not expect and it causes them a profound physical reaction that night, or the next day? Or they go through a panic attack in the moment of the scene? I know this happened to me countless times. Even just channel surfing can often draw a clip of a movie or a news broadcast that depicts a situation which disturbs the survivor very much. This is the subconscious mind making these decisions for us. The subconscious chooses the film or TV show, and the subconscious knows exactly when to channel surf for the person to see the traumatic or emotionally painful scene.
The subconscious mind knows everything.
A person who has been sexually abused and traumatized as a child can run, hide, get divorced, quit their job, stop reading a Blog site, or avoid a certain film or TV show…. but until they heal their trauma, their subconscious mind will get them involved in the same kind of relationship, or cause them to find a job with a boss or other employee with the same kind of behavior as their old boss (behavior that brought up their trauma). The subconscious mind will get us to rent or watch a DVD that will have the exact trauma, betrayal, or sexual scene we need to face.
My therapist said to me once, “if you do not deal with the subconscious mind, it deals with you.” I learned the hard way how true that statement is. I wrote about it in my forthcoming book, but for now, I will provide a good example of what a victim can, and will do, to get themselves to seek help and heal.
In the movie, Little Girl Fly Away, which is based on a true story, Mare Winningham’s character needed to re-create the fear of what happened to her as a child by sending herself threatening letters. She wrote them and sent them to herself, but she totally dissociated from the fact that she did this. When the letters arrived in the mail, the woman became truly terrified.
The woman truly believed the letters were sent to her by a threatening stalker, but she had completely blocked out that she was the person who wrote and mailed them.
A police officer began to suspect what was going on, and followed her. When he caught the woman sending herself the letters, he helped her by getting her into therapy, where she subsequently remembered being sexually abused as a child by friends of the family.
In the end of the movie, the woman confronted her mother, and her mother told her “let it go, that was a long time ago.”
It is essential that families, society, mental health experts, people in the legal system, and the general public grasp the fact that there is no space or time in the subconscious mind –so until the victim heals, it was not “a long time ago.” Until the trauma is fully healed at the subconscious level, the rapes, incest, betrayal, abandonment and shame are not long gone with time…to the previous victim, the abuse is still happening right now.
In the film, Mare Winningham’s character told her mother it was like trying to create a jigsaw puzzle with no picture and that she needed to know the truth. Her soul was searching for the truth because it needed to heal, and we cannot fully heal without the truth.
In her therapy sessions, the woman rescues her inner child and tells her she will never be alone again, and that it wasn’t her fault.
This shows what the mind will create in order to face what it has to, and goes back to the theory that the person must be in the same state of mind they were in when the original trauma happened in order to remember it, face it, and eventually heal it.
Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and it’s Aftereffects in Women, E. Sue Blume, Ballantine Books, paperback, page 67
Dissociation, Repression, and Reality Testing in the Countertransference, Jody Messler Davies, Memories of Sexual Betrayal: Truth, Fantasy, Repression, and Dissociation, Jason Aronson Inc., Edited by Richard Gartner, Ph.D, pages 60-61
Memory and Abuse: Remmebering and Healing the Effects of Trauma, Charles L. Whitfield M.D., Health Communications Inc., 1995 page 99-102