Many of us grew up in homes where Satan’s influences were more prevalent than Christ’s. All forms of abuse took place and for those who have experienced abuse, particularly sexual abuse, coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms can take place within the victim.
In the case of sexual abuse the victim can repress those memories so deeply that as an adult she/he may “forget” the abuse occurred. But it isn’t that easy because our brains don’t forget. Like a computer, even though we delete something, it’s still hidden somewhere in the hard drive. It will come up at sometime with the right buttons pushed!
The victim may eventually go for counseling for depression or anger issues or any number of reasons. One in particular is feelings that “something happened” or flash backs of abuse begin to occur. Others may know they were abused but can’t recall everything and the family members deny vehemently that nothing happened and “you’re making it up.” Which places the victim in a dilemma of “am I making this up or did it really happen?”
In my case I had to sit down and think back over the years I could remember. Yes, I had definite memories of places, approximate ages, and was having dreams that brought out a few incidents, plus the fact that a sister was also abused even though my mother was denying that I was abused. I went through the stages of “he wouldn’t do that, it didn’t happen, I have to be making this up.” Yet I couldn’t deny that what memories I had were in fact real and not just figments of my imagination.
There are some guidelines that I found useful in discerning the truth.
1. Who brought up sexual abuse in the therapy session? Did you tell the counselor you had vague memories of abuse? Or did you seek counseling for some problem area and found the counselor “suggesting” sexual abuse as an answer? If your heart reveals thoughts, memories, inklings of an abusive background, follow your heart. I found that when a memory surfaced, it felt right, or it felt wrong. It explained a dream I never understood or a vague inkling of something I couldn’t pin down. If your counselor insists you were abused and that just doesn’t resonate with your heart, mind, and soul, pray about it. God will show you the truth. Consider seeking another counselor if this one continues to insist on abuse.
2. Think back over the early years. Has someone else in your family talked about, or hinted at abuse directed at them. Did a sister reveal that “Daddy was hurting her.?” Is there a tangible friction between your mother and you that you can’t explain as normal friction? In my case there seemed to be a “wall” between my mother and I that I didn’t understand. I know now it was because she knew of the abuse and turned a blind eye to it. Even though I had buried the memories somewhere in my brain I knew she knew. I’m not suggesting that if you and Mom don’t see eye to eye that you were abused and she knew and did nothing to protect you. I’m suggesting you seek God’s truth and He will reveal the reasons why you and Mom don’t see eye to eye. Unforgiveness for other hurts can be a reason. Another indicator can be that you don’t want to be alone with a particular person, especially someone you trusted, find out why.
3. Confrontation isn’t a good idea until you are absolutely certain of abuse. If through therapy exact memories of places and events have been revealed by you, not a therapist telling you they took place even though you don’t recall them, then and only then is confrontation a possibility. That is up to you. Don’t expect an apology or even confirmation of the abuse and do it only with the Lord’s guidance.
It is very difficult to admit that someone we trusted and loved has betrayed that trust and love. As adults we waiver between admitting the truth to ourselves and others. When we have come to face the horrors of the past it’s still very difficult to seek counseling or tell others of the abuse. To have to face the truth about the past destroys the image we have put in place of a “happy home” or “I had wonderful parents.” It is having to face betrayal of the worst kind and that isn’t easy.
False Memory Syndrome is very dangerous to those of us who lived, survived, real – not imagined -sexual abuse. Ask Christ to reveal His truths and you will know within your heart, Is this false? Is this truth? Don’t allow others to convince you it did not happen when in reality it did. And, don’t allow a counselor, or anyone, to convince you it did happen when in reality it did not. Lives can be destroyed by a false memory.
My Dad finally admitted what he did yet my mother was still in denial right up to her death.
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Blessings to you.