Although there are similarities in the ways survivors remember, remembering is ultimately an individual experience. Some memories are indistinct and even blurry; others sharp and clear. They may or may not be accompanied by feelings.
You will not necessarily remember visual images, which can be frustrating. It doesn't mean the abuse didn't happen, but it may make it harder to believe the abuse happened.
You may have kept your eyes closed. Or it may have been dark. Or the perpetrator put a blinder or pillow over your eyes.
Perhaps you remember only the feelings – terror, shame, pain, humiliation, rage, bewilderment, abandonment, sexual excitement. Survivors speak of any one or a combination of feelings such as these.
A word on 'sexual excitement'. Your body did what bodies do when sexualized: it got turned on. Which does not mean you 'asked for it' or 'enjoyed it.' You simply responded physiologically, a normal response. What was wrong was you had no choice to say yes or no.
Sometimes the memory comes first, followed by the feelings. This delayed reaction can take a week or more, especially if you used drugs, alcohol or tobacco as coping skills and recently quit.
While the memory is slowly making itself known, you may feel:
- out of sorts
- crazy (you're not)
REMINDER: While you're going through the process of remembering BE KIND TO YOURSELF.