Sexual Abuse and Memory

Sexual Abuse and Memory
Saturday May 12, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,

I am delighted to find this website. It has made me less afraid. I am 40 yrs. old and have suffered one anxiety disorder after another all of my life. I finally ended up with OCD and was very obsessed about organizing and cleaning things. This one went on for several years and I became too tired to keep up and the memories started coming. I have a very good psychologist who has been helping me since the autumn of 2005, but I have so much trauma. It is difficult. Of course, it all started with a terribly abusive childhood. My father is dead. I have put my mother out of my life. I do not love them. They have never loved me and it is over. I don’t miss them anymore. I have listened to my body and you are right. It does not lie. I have just enough memories and very profound and obvious clues to know, that aside from all the other abuse that I remember more clearly, my father also molested me sometime before the age of six. He used to threaten to kill me and I truly believed that he would. I think he did this because he was afraid I would tell. I KNOW he did this to me and probably also to my aunt who has my same problems. We were very close and he had access to her as well. I think the reason that I still have anxiety attacks is because I KNOW, but I do not yet have clear memories of the actual act or acts of the sexual aspect of the abuse. I don’t know if I will remember or not and I’m starting to feel like maybe I might not get all the way well. I hope I will. I don’t like to have flashbacks and panic attacks and insomnia. I told my aunt about the violence. Perhaps she will remember the sexual abuse as she is five years older than I. I cannot ask her as she is not stable and does not have a therapist. I fear that asking her directly might trigger terrible consequences and I do not want to feel responsible should something bad happen to her. I wonder if it is possible to get well if there is no way to remember. I worry that some or all of the sexual abuse may have occurred before my brain was developed enough to store memories that are able to be expressed explicitly. My body knows. So do my dreams. My body and my dreams have known the truth since my early teenage years. I have only recently learned how to listen. I do not yet remember everything, of this I am sure.


AM: The knowledge of your body and your dreams ARE your memories. They should allow you to feel the rage about the terrible abuse. And it is this rage that will set you free.