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BEFORE you do anything else.....remember to breathe....in and out....in and out....

In almost any situation, trying to come to terms with your abusive history may leave you suffering from what is known as flashbacks.

These occur as conscious or unconscious images and thoughts, resulting from part of the central core of your memory of the abuse.

They can appear as vague recurrent body sensations for which you may have no conscious memory, and the sensations and memories occur when triggered by either internal or external circumstances, evoking the original trauma.

Example: A survivor whose abuse included posing for pornographic pictures may experience a flashback by the appearance of a camera.

A survivor left alone for long periods of time after being abused may flashback to when they feel isolated or lonely.

In many cases, the more often a trauma has been repeated, the more intrusive its nature, the deeper and stronger the survivor's memory of the event.

If a trigger occurs recalling previous abusive events, a chain of associations occurs, often unconsciously and you re-experience the abusive incidents.

This re-experience creates a blurring between past and present; in that you unconsciously withdraw from the present, projecting past memories and feelings onto the "here-and-now".

Repressed memories also return as flashbacks; emerging in the form of nightmares, and you have dreams that explicitly recall your abuse or recurrent nightmares of being pursued that symbolically evoke themes of abuse.

So, after all that crap...here’s a well tried, successful version on how to tackle those flashbacks, and regain control of your life, please give it a try.

KEEP BREATHING....in and out....in and out....

Start off by:-

Describing what you are experiencing.

When have you felt this way before?
What situation where you in the last time you felt this way?"

"In what ways are this current situation and your past situation similar? For example, is the setting, time of year, sights, sounds, sensations in any way similar to the past situation where you felt this way?

If another person is involved, is it because they are similar to a person from the past who provoked similar feelings?"

"How is your current situation different from the situation in which you felt similar feelings in the past?

What is different about you, your sensory experience, your current life circumstances, and personal resources now?

What is different about this current setting?
If another person(s)are involved, what is different about them compared to the person(s) in the past situation?"

"What action, if any, do you want to take now to feel better in the present?"
For example, a flashback may indicate that a person is once again in a situation that is in some way unsafe.

If this is the case, self-protective actions should be taken to alter the current situation.

Sometimes, a flashback may simply mean that an old memory has been triggered by an sensation or feeling that resembles the past, such as a colour, smell, sound

In such cases, corrective messages of reassurance and comfort need to be given to the self to counteract old traumatic memories. Cues for comfort and security are useful for this purpose.

It may help you to remember that whatever is happening is just a flashback, and that it is nothing more than a memory, and is something that you survived as a child, and overcame, and therefore you can overcome this now! Some intervention to ground you in the "Here And Now" as opposed to the "There And Then".
"Here and Now" (Today) "There and Then" (The past)

This intervention uses your already highly charged hyperviligence, which will help you to relax and become centred in your present environment.

KEEP BREATHING....in and out....in and out....

If you begin to feel dissociated, or just want to induce physical relaxation, try these simple instructions:

* Name 5 things you can see.

* Name 5 things you can hear.

* Name 5 things you can feel.

* Name 4 things that you see.

* Name 4 things you can hear.

* Name 4 things you can feel.

* Name 3 things you can see

* Name 2 things you can see.

* Name 1 thing you can see...

Each time you identify something that you see, hear or feel, say "I see …, I see ..., I see ..., I see ..., I see ..., I hear ..., I hear ..., I hear …

This rhythmic repetition is very relaxing and calming.

The same object, sound or feeling can be named constantly until you feel relaxed enough to rest a while.

This can be done in silence or said aloud. It can be repeated as often as necessary. If you lose your place in the exercise; just begin again where you think you left off.

This technique works best if you are sitting down or stationary, though you can also do at work, home or when outside. It can also be done in busy or quiet surroundings.

It should not be done while driving a vehicle!!!

As I said, short and simple. but it grounds you into the "here and now".

A more detailed version on life scripts is set out below, and involves you taking on a task that needs you to work at it, e.g. not an easy solution to what is a difficult challenge – No pain? No gain!

KEEP BREATHING....in and out....in and out....

Ways to move on from victim to Survivor.

Try to revisit the events of childhood with an adult's eye by creating a "life book". Ensure the book is good quality to reinforce the importance of its contents.
N.B. Invest in a hardcover notebook.

Assign each page a year, starting with the year of your birth, working up to the present. For each year, write stories or make notes about yourself at that time.

The focus is always you, not just other people involved - if traumatic events happened to others around you write about these events as they affected you.

Leave space at the bottom of the page or in the margin so that you can add later comments to the life story.

The life book is an active and concrete task that provides a way to organise flashbacks and memories in a non-threatening manner.

It clearly indicates time periods in which memories are blocked or repressed.

It can also help you recognise your own survival strengths and it can open the door for reflection on your life experience.

Try to be as imaginative as you can be in how they create and use your life books.

A shorter version of the Life Story follows;

A similar, but shorter, exercise is by actually telling your life story. This needs to be done in a therapy or group work session, to enable you to gain support when you have finished talking.

It is also helpful to ensure that you remain in control of the process, as storytelling needs to be a healing experience, not another traumatising one.

You can begin by telling about your family by drawing a "genogram" or by bringing in pictures of family members.

Symbolic objects, such as rocks or stones, can be used to represent family members.

As you start to tell your personal history, ask someone, if you can, to help you to identify the ways that you learned to survive your abuse and to look for themes and patterns in your life.

There will be more to follow, but in the meantime, take extreme care, and remain in control at all times.

If under any doubt, you are now in control of your life, even if it feels nothing like that, but you are.

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