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#25109 - 02/18/04 08:56 PM How long do the flashbacks last?
uselesstheories Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 23
Loc: USA
Hi guys, new here, new to this... whole thing... I just somehow allowed myself to reveal to myself a few months ago that this form of abuse did in fact happen to me (female parent was the perp). It appeared in the form of flashbacks right from the beginning - fleeting images of these weird little moments that seemed completely out of my reality barometer but the pictures just seemed SO REAL.

Over the course of a few months, more and more images appeared, as well as the occasional crystal clear thought of just what each moment was in it's proper context; the moment it finally became real, I was bending over to tie my shoe when a complete thought popped into my head: "I remember why it stopped." Until that moment, it was never a clear-cut reality, merely the remaining memories of a boy from 2-6 years of age.

On to my question: I have only had sexual relations with a woman a few times since the self acknowledged this prior issue (which clarifies a lot of internal issues mind you). Having these images and flashbacks are one thing, but the last time we were physical, an image, a horrible image, of this trauma surfaced during the act, immediately causing me to pull away, not wanting to be touched, but desperately not wanting "that image" stuck in my head as my last sexual encounter.

Are flashbacks common? Do they repeatedly appear, or are they merely the same type of triggers as the others in my past; present long enough and clear enough for me to fully acknowledge the images for what they are: childhood reflections of reality. Will I be having such flashbacks for the rest of my life?

Life is pain your Highness; anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
- William Goldman

#25110 - 02/18/04 10:12 PM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
Bill_1965 Offline
Chat Mod Emeritus

Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 1986
Loc: Flint, Michigan
Welcome theories, (because you are not useless)

Welcome to MS, sorry that you have the need to join us, but glad you are seeking the help you need.

Are flashbacks common? Do they repeatedly appear, or are they merely the same type of triggers as the others in my past; present long enough and clear enough for me to fully acknowledge the images for what they are: childhood reflections of reality. Will I be having such flashbacks for the rest of my life?
Great questions. I don't know the answers to your questions, so I'll go with my gut on this. One at a time.

Are flashbacks common? They are in me. The way of the subconcious to bring it forward to the concious level in a level that you can handle.

Do they repeatedly appear, or are they merely the same type of triggers as the others in my past; present long enough and clear enough for me to fully acknowledge the images for what they are: childhood reflections of reality. Uh, yes? Mine keep appearing until I understand what it is my mind is trying to tell and show me. Then that one is gone. As I get through it another one will come along when triggered. I recently had a 4 day long flashback that took me that long to figure out what it was telling me, at least a part of it.

Will I be having such flashbacks for the rest of my life? I don't think they will be flashbacks per se. You will have memories of it, and they will be revisited. But without the intrusiveness and feelings associated with a flashback.


Pain is Temporary; Quitting lasts Forever. - Lance Armstrong

#25111 - 02/18/04 10:16 PM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
survive75 Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 304
Loc: Massachusetts
Hey there... I've had extremely similar experiences with my memories and flashbacks. The few people that I have met here that were young (under 8) when the SA happened also describe similar fleeting images as their only memories.

My abuse happened between the ages of 4 and 8. I went for years with just a few images and a thought that maybe something had happened. A few flashbacks came up in therapy that were intense and strong, but still gave no real pictures. I was in the middle of sex when three vivid flashbacks decided to surface... and pushed me to where you described (not wanting to be touched, etc.) and led to a suicide attempt later on that night.

I have struggled with the content of those and other newly found memories since November. In two words, flashbacks suck.

But I have gotten through them. Especially with the support of the people here. Facing them, dealing with them, writing about them... it is helping to bring them out of the dark. I know for me the frustration lies in the fact that they were there the whole time - locked in my head.

I wish I had better advice for you on how to deal with them. But hopefully it helps to know that I have been where you are. PM me if you need to.



"Even though I know/I don’t want to know/Yeah I guess I know/I just hate how it sounds"

#25112 - 02/19/04 12:16 AM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
RICK57 Offline

Registered: 12/31/03
Posts: 1611
Theories -

flashbacks do happen - in my case, once I start to deal with them and what they mean, I can begin to reduce the significance (power) of them. They do return, but I know what they are and can now tell them to **** off if I don't want to experience the full power of them (takes a lot of practice)...sometimes I ride out the experience/feeling (can be painful) as I thinks this allows me to eradicate them in the longer term.

Best wishes ...Rik

*Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up.
*I was seeking a way of expressing my anger - I found hope!
*There are many battles before the war is won! It can be won!

#25113 - 02/19/04 10:35 AM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
Leosha Offline

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
Welcome here, I hope you find this site to be useful for advice and support and understanding.

I know that flashbacks are to much common in me. I have them as mental thoughts, but also as physical occurences also. I see, hear and even feel things in my body that are memories of things that have happened before, and it makes me feel quite insane.

I am not sure how long they last, other then I am sure it is different for everyone. But I do believe that they do not last forever. As we deal with all this, it all loses it's power to control and scare us, so I am sure the same is truth for the flashbacks. It is all a matter of healing process.


Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

#25114 - 02/19/04 08:19 PM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
FlyWM Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Michigan
FIrst of all, welcome to this site, I am sorry you need it, but I am glad you have found it, you can recieve some great advice and support here.

I believe the frequency and intensity and length of flashbacks ar all individual, I know I have them quite often, and they can last awhile. FOr me a flashback can be just an image in my head, but often it is like experiencing the thing over again, I can see it hear it smell it taste it and even feel it. I hope that your fashbacks become less and not as overwhelming for you.


Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible in not a declaration, it's a dare.


#25115 - 02/19/04 09:18 PM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
outis Offline

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2261
Loc: Maryland USA

First, I like Bill's take on your name over "UT" now. If you don't mind, I'll follow his lead on this from now on.

I think the guys are right on how individualized the flashback experiences are. I'd like to share a couple ideas that have worked for me in dealing with them.

If at all possible, when a flashback comes, move! Prove to yourself, to your body and to your mind, that the powerlessness that existed during the abuse does not exist now. Now you have control over your body.

Try to keep somethings nearby that can help you remember when and where you are. I have a few small items that I keep with me. They remind me of this site and people I've met through MaleSurvivor and SIA. Sometimes just touching them or looking at them is enough to take some of the edge off the panic associated with some flashbacks. I can recognize that I am in a new place, with supportive friends.

Those are things that have been helpful to me when I use them. I hope they help you devise some strategies that can help you.



"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

#25116 - 02/19/04 11:49 PM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
MrEdd Offline

Registered: 01/24/03
Posts: 341
Loc: Texas
Hey Theories,

My flashbacks are the full sight/smell/sound/taste/touch kind. I have periods where they are constant, but as I process them they get more under control (until new ones come out). I have been dealling with them for something over a year now, but my abuse occured 2 and 3 times a week from the time I was 5 until I was 11 - so I have no idea how much of my so-called childhood I will have to vomit back up in this fasion. I do have to say that my therapy group has helped immensely and I urge you to find real live people who deal with this to help. The Bergen county, NJ. rape crisis center helped me find help in my area. Take care of yourself as best you can and come here for support as much as you need.


Some Things are not problems to be solved, rather, they are facts which must be coped with over time.

#25117 - 02/20/04 01:47 AM Re: How long do the flashbacks last?
crisispoint Offline

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 2154
Loc: Massachusetts
Hey, UseFul Theories (I like this much better! \:D ),

Sadly, I must concur with the other brothers. Flashbacks are VERY common and they can be VERY frightening (They sure were when I started getting my memories back).

Now, My therapist (I've been mentioning her a lot. It was therapy night) tells me that, in time, they lessen, get less intense, and don't hurt as much. While mine HAVE gotten less intense (not much in the way of horrifying left, I hope), the ones that come back disturb me more, probably because they involve the "normalicy" that my childhood perp installed in our "relationship." And don't get me started about my adult rape.

The point is that they do get less intense over time, and they are a price we pay in getting our lives back. I don't celebrate them, believe me, but I'm grateful for what I've gained along with them: a part of me restored.

I hope this helps some, UT. I'm glad you found us, although I'm sorry for what happened to you. Remember, there's a lot of wisdom and support here.

I love you, my brother. No strings attached, and nothing in return.



There are reasons I'm taking medication. They're called "other people." - Me, displaying my anti-social tendancies


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