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Rape and Abuse If you or someone you know is being abused in any way and you need support or advice, don't hesitate to reach out to us here.

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Dream Offline
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Need help supporting friend - December 13th 2015, 02:32 AM

I have a friend who has recently opened up to me about an incident where she was physically and sexually assaulted by multiple guys when she was 15. She says that she repressed the memory of the event for over a decade and is now having traumatic flashbacks that show her pieces of what happened, but she still struggles to remember everything surrounding the event.

How common is it for rape and abuse to be repressed for many years like in her case? Like, is that what usually happens, and how do people usually cope with it?

More importantly, what can I do to be more supportive of her? I'm completely at a loss when it comes to this stuff since I never experienced it at all, and I'm worried that my ignorance might be doing her more harm than good. I would appreciate resources to become educated about it as well.

I'm really worried about her because she has been on the verge of suicide as a result of these flashbacks for quite awhile now.

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Re: Need help supporting friend - December 13th 2015, 07:03 AM


I'm sorry to hear your friend is going through this but I'm glad you want to support her.

In answer to your question, it is very common but it is not talked about often. One thing I have learned in therapy is that psychology students are often taught that memories of abuse can't be repressed when they really can. I was abused my several people but the worst of it began when I was three and ended by age eight. I did not begin to remember until age fourteen when I ran into that abuser. He assaulted me one last time and that brought everything else back. In incidents since then, I have blacked out early and have forgotten the event as it happened, only to remember it later.

Repressed memories are usually brought back later in life by a trigger, and it seems like something recently triggered these memories to come back for your friend. Your friend probably dissociated during the abuse, and the dissociation prevented the abuse memories from being stored correctly, causing the memory loss. Getting memories back can be intense because sometimes people relive them with a variation of all five of their senses.

Is counseling an option for her? If it is, encourage her to look into it. For right now, though, encourage her to get the memories out. Tell her to write them down, tell you about them, blog about them, whatever it takes. Just try to make sure she doesn't keep them inside because that could make her feel more suicidal. I think you should also talk to her about creating a safe place and discuss different grounding techniques for her to use. It can also help to just be there for her.

I don't know of any resources to help you but I do know a lot about repressed memories and abuse so you are more than welcome to PM me if you have any questions.

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Re: Need help supporting friend - December 16th 2015, 07:26 AM

Hello I'm sorry that your friend had to deal with so much

When it comes down to it, all that's important is to always remind her

1. That you'll always be around for her.
2. That she deserves better.
3. That it's in the past, and that the future is hers to control
4. It's a flashback, and nothing more.
5. Tell her that you'll never judge her for whatever she rants to you.... she deserves a friend who'll support her through thick and thin.

The more she can put it out of her mind, and the more she enriches herself with other experiences .. the better she'll be able to deal with those flashbacks. I suppose it's better if you introduced her to more activities where she'll meet better people, more caring people.. unlike those that introduced her to pain , grief and sadness.

It's a new chapter for your friend, and it's best to ensure that she starts it off on the right foot ! A brave new step into the future that leaves the negative, painful past behind! That will be the best move for her

I hope that I helped!

It's called a tunnel because there's ALWAYS a light at the end.

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As usual... pm me if you are ever having a tough day, and I'll respond immediately.

You guys deserve to be happy no matter what.. okay? You people are a bunch of lovelies ... and no matter what, you people deserve to be happy.
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