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Haunted by Memories of Childhood Abuse

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From Canada: I’m in my 50s and was sexually abused by a family member as a child. I told no one about it until I was in my early 20’s. Some of my memories of the abuse are vivid and clear. Some of them are disjointed. When I was about 10 years old, I had a dream. In the dream, my abuser was raping me, and in the weird way dreams are, I was my abuser’s wife, only I knew it was me he was raping.

I was VERY sheltered and overprotected as a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Other than the actual abuse as it occurred, I had absolutely no possible way of knowing anything at all about sex or rape, as it wasn’t on TV back in those days and I was not around other people who would teach me things like that.

The very next morning after that dream, when I went into the living room my Mom told me to come sit on her lap. She then told me about “the birds and the bees.” I had just dreamed it! In the conscious waking state all I can recall about my past abuse is molestation and not actual intercourse. How else can that dream be explained if I wasn’t actually raped by my abuser?

Is it possible for a child to dream about something so detailed without literal knowledge of that subject, or is that dream confirmation of the most awful violation I could imagine and have trouble acknowledging?

I need to be reassured or validated about this event. It haunts me to this day. I really hope someone can answer this for me and explain it so I can make sense of it. Thank you for any of your help and guidance.

Haunted by Memories of Childhood Abuse

Answered by on -

A.

The simple answer is that a child’s dream could be the result of molestation, or it could be a consequence of hearing or overhearing about sex from someone and trying to make sense of it. Often people’s dreams are a reflection of the unconscious mind trying to understand something. You may have been sorting out the natural confusion of any child on first learning something about sex.

On the other hand, something seriously wrong may have happened. Your mother may have been trying to help you understand how to protect yourself without being explicit about it. It may have been the best she could do at the time.

It’s completely understandable that this has been a cause of anxiety and distress. I think you owe it to yourself to learn more. Please consider seeing a therapist who can hear your entire story and who can give you the validation you seek. Therapy can help you resolve your questions and the upsetting feelings that go with them.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Haunted by Memories of Childhood Abuse

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Haunted by Memories of Childhood Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/02/18/haunted-by-memories-of-childhood-abuse/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.