When children are severely physically or sexually abused, they often cope with the abuse through some form of dissociation. Dissociation is on a continuum, from temporarily leaving the body to fragmentation into different parts.
Dissociation allows the child to separate out from the experience in order to tolerate it. Dissociation causes the abusive event becomes repressed, which means that it becomes unconscious. It will likely remain repressed until the child aspect, who has the memory, feels safe enough to bring it to consciousness.
This often occurs when people are in a safe therapeutic environment, or start to practice Inner Bonding and begin creating a loving Adult. At some point in the healing process, the memory may emerge in dreams, in drawings, or in body feelings - called body memories. Occasionally, there may be an "abreaction," which is when the person relives the abusive event as if it is happening in the moment. The person might swell up from bruises, or have intense internal or external physical pain. The person in the abreactive state may or may not remember having been in the state after returning to normal consciousness. Often, the abreaction is a way that the inner child who received the abuse lets the therapist know what happened.
If you are starting to remember severe abuse as a result of your Inner Bonding work, what is the best way to handle this?
First, I highly recommend that you seek therapeutic help if that is at all possible. You were alone with no one to help you when the abuse occurred, and it is best to not be alone when you remember it. It is best to be with a warm, caring person who can help you feel safe during the memory process.
However, this isn't always possible. If you need to deal with your memories alone, there are some things you can do to help yourself through this process.
1. I highly recommend that you learn the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to help release both physical and emotional feelings from your body, as well as old false beliefs. You can learn this technique by going to emofree.com.
2. Practice a process called "revivification." This is technique of watching the abuse on a screen, as if you are watching a movie. Instead of having to relive all the pain of the abuse, you can see what happened and what shame and beliefs you absorbed at the time of the abuse. You can then visualize giving the darkness of the shame back to the abuser, and work with your Guidance on letting go of the false beliefs.
3. Inner Bonding is a powerful process for healing abuse. By continually going through the 6 Steps of Inner Bonding whenever a memory comes up, you discover the false beliefs, move into truth from Guidance, and bring love and nurturing to your wounded children.
4. Trust the memories. Realize that dissociated memories will always appear dream-like. It may feel as if you are making them up, but if you do not trust your inner children who have the memories, you will do more damage. These parts of you need to be heard and believed by you in order to heal. Unless you never repressed the memories, they will not experienced in the same way conscious memories are experienced, but this does not mean that they are not real.
While it is not ideal to go through abuse memories alone, it can successfully be done, and has been accomplished by others doing Inner Bonding. By learning to be a loving Adult for your wounded parts, you CAN heal the past.