Blocked memories of abuse


Blocked memories of abuse


your avatar   Jezzo, 47-year-old woman

Hi there. I wonder most days if I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. A neighbor of ours used to look at me in a way that made me uncomfortable and sing "Jenny with the light brown hair" when I went by (I can't remember my age but under 10 I think). I have a memory of being in his and his wife's bedroom on the bed and him sitting on the end looking at me with what I now realize was a lustful look. That is all I remember really, in the memory I get off the bed and nothing happens and that could well be true. I also remember however being very sexual with my friends.

I don't come from a family that is rude, and I was never exposed to anything rude on TV or in books by my family to have gotten these ideas from. As an adult I am very popular with friends and a people-person. I am very insecure though and live my life to please others. I often talk in a baby voice to my husband which I can tell he sometimes finds a bit weird - understandably! I am very inconsistent in life and seem to jeopardize everything good that I do or happens to me, never completing much.

I always hate it when people want to talk to me, and I hate to be confined or restricted in any way. All these things could just be normal personality traits, I know, but also may not. I have a serious weight problem, and when I was young I was a terrible liar. I still struggle now not to represent myself and what I say as better than it is. I block out anything painful or traumatic to an embarrassing extent, I detest confrontation and will forget the details of arguments straight afterwards.

Having said all that, I am an optimistic and happy person; a bit unusual but fairly normal. I would like to not have such a chaotic personality and to be able to relax and finish things. Do you think it sounds like I may have been interfered with? If so, do you suggest I go to speak to the man in question? He is old but still alive I think. Also, do you think counseling would help or just open a can of worms best left sealed? Many thanks.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Jezzo, you are more intelligent than you think. Your letter presents a perfect picture of a woman who was probably sexually abused in childhood, and has repressed it. Sexualized play is not natural in young children. If you did it, someone taught it to you.

Your memories with that man are incomplete because as a little girl, you found the situation horrifying at the same time as it may have given you pleasure, and I have no doubt he manipulated you to think you could not escape, and could not tell anyone. That's the situation when people "dissociate:" their consciousness shuts down, or goes somewhere else to escape the horror, because there is just no physical way to cope.

You are now overweight because being attractive is dangerous. At some level, you believe that if you got rid of the weight, predators would focus in on you. As for telling lies, he trained you to hide behind untruths. That is often part of the pattern. So is the difficulty with relationships. You are popular because your basic personality is attractive, but your inner view of yourself was shaped by what happened to you as a little girl. So what to do about it?

You're lucky where you live - you have free access to help. Somewhere between 5 and 30 sessions with a good psychologist may transform your life. If you came to me, I'd use hypnosis to help you to recover your repressed memories, and do "exposure therapy" on them. Read up on what that means. It sounds scary, but in fact is very powerful, and when you've done it you'll feel liberated.

You may want to talk to a lawyer about whether it is worthwhile to have this man charged. If you do go to talk with him, make sure you are physically safe from him.

This is the start of the rest of your life. Make it great!


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


Make a list of your accomplishments. Refer to it whenever you need a boost.
"Sometimes you have to just hang on and trust that life's storms are carrying you to better shores."
Jane Lee Logan
Remember, what's considered perfect or beautiful is highly subjective.