The Real Deal With Repressed Memories

The idea of repressed memories is haunting, yet it’s the foundation of all therapy; To help anyone who has experienced something traumatic better cope with their past experiences and future development.

Often people are skeptical when told of repressed memories of sexual abuse or childhood trauma. Those who are skeptical may ask if such an event is so traumatic, wouldn’t it be more difficult to forget?

Many people are skeptical, and believe that a psychiatrist or an authority figure must have planted the idea. However, researchers and professionals believe that these memories may not be completely repressed and that the memory itself is almost hidden in an attempt to avoid the pain of coping.

Long-Repressed memories of sexual abuse are increasingly used as evidence, and with highly publicized results. For those who have experience flashbacks, the social support is a great relief.

repressed memories

What are Repressed Memories?

Stressful events in childhood can be too much for a developing mind to bear when building the important ideas of self, boundaries and social structure that will guide them through life.

The stress can be a singular or repeated event, and while it’s impossible to qualify the trauma caused by different experiences, repressed memories typically revolve around instances of violence or sexual abuse.

A developing child may be incapable of dealing with acts of violence or sexual molestation; to cope, their psyche may skip over an experience, effectively disassociating from something too painful.

Just because the victim does not always remember past molestation, doesn’t make what happened to them any less frightening. When Harvard researchers interviewed victims of childhood sexual abuse, they found that the majority of them consciously tried not to think about the molestation because they didn’t know how to handle it. Many knew that what was going on was wrong, but mistakenly thought it was their fault. Others described the memories as “unpleasant” or “distressful” but knew they couldn’t tell their parents.

repressed memories

Repressed Memories Are Real

Acknowledging those memories can be devastatingly painful and even incapacitating, however. The brain pushes back, or represses, these memories, until the child can deal with them; they may not resurface until the teenage years or well into adulthood. These resurfaced memories may be fuzzy, or may not even be fully complete, causing many loved ones to react skeptically.

If you have been a victim of childhood sexual abuse or know someone who has, it is important to understand that childhood repressed memories are very real. It is also important to seek help if you believe you have been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. There are numerous psychiatrists, counselors, and doctors who can help you understand what happened to you and learn to heal.

At Keep Kids Safe from Sex Abuse, we believe that all children should be safe from dangerous sexual predators. We also believe that this is best achieved through extensive education and by getting involved. To learn more about our not-profit organization and how you can keep kids safe from sex abuse, call us at 408-915-5400 or 858-926-5800.