What is Traumatic Amnesia?

Traumatic Amnesia is usually contributed to child sexual abuse. When a child is being abused, oftentimes, they have not a clue what is happening to them. It’s horrifying and all you want to do is escape. We have the ability to do just that—our minds takes us away to a better place until the act is over. When we “come back” we have no recollection of the abuse. Although, the damage is still on-going in our minds and bodies. Everyone believed me to be very shy, but it was fear they were witnessing. If there was someone strange around, I would hide behind someone because they couldn’t see me, thus, they couldn’t get me.

I have personally suffered from traumatic amnesia and kept my abuse buried deep within me until I was 41 years old. My abuse began when I was 4 or 5 years old and continued until I started my menstrual cycle at age twelve. It was a very long time to suffer every type of abuse that exists. The length of time was so long because mine was a case of incest. I had two completely different relationships with my father. There was the abusive relationship and my family relationship with him. I was the youngest of three daughters and my father favored me; which caused major problems with my middle sister. It was a very dysfunctional family and I’m awed I survived at all.

A pedophile can have as many as 260 victims in their lifetime. The chances my sisters were not abused is extremely thin. However, at the time of my “recovered memories” both of them had no recollection of any sexual abuse. My middle sister has since passed, and my older sister has never had any recovered memories. However, she validated my memories and told me she tried to protect me. She wasn’t sure what she was protecting me from (other than the obvious), but could feel she needed to do so. She certainly recalls the physical and emotional abuse; along with the neglect we suffered.

I was not suddenly bombarded with all these memories of abuse. The first memory I had come about through a conversation with my son about rattlesnakes. He was living out west and had the opportunity to eat rattlesnake. He had mailed me a snake’s rattle and when I opened it I just about flipped out. I had a terrifying phobia of snakes my entire life. My son mentioned to me he had a much larger rattle; I said to him over the phone, “keep it away from me.” When I said that, I saw a flash of my father in my mind’s eye and knew he had abused me. He would refer to his penis as his snake. And I would scream, “keep it away from me!”

By this point in my life, I was already in therapy for severe chronic depression. My son’s moving 2500 miles away was the catalyst for the memories to resurface. I already had a problem with depression, but now I found myself suicidal over his absence in my life. It was over months that I recalled my abusive past, and I have been working to overcome it since.