Flying Above The Devastation: Dissociation During Abuse

in steempress •  15 days ago
When someone is being abused, what is happening to them is often too horrific and overwhelming for them to handle, so they mentally "leave" the situation.

Imagine a seven-year-old girl who is being raped by her father. She has no physical means of escape. He is far stronger than her and, even if she was able to escape, he controls every aspect of her existence. She is trapped, living for years with a monster who plays the perfect daddy during the day but becomes an abusive nightmare at night. How can she survive this? She can't physically escape, but she can escape mentally. This is called dissociation. This little girl might feel as if she's on the ceiling, watching the abuse but not experiencing it. She might look out the window and see birds, and feel as though she is flying away with them. She might see a painting of a teddy bear and imagine herself safe in the teddy bear's arms.


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Many people don't believe that these out-of-body experiences are even real, but the testimony of many abuse survivors speaks differently. While this phenomenon may seem unrealistic, think about that little girl, trapped with a rapist for a father. How could she possibly handle what's happening to her? The answer: she can't. No child would be able to. In fact, no adult in a severely abusive situation would be able to. Dealing with childhood abuse alone as a child would be so incredibly overwhelming that it would cause a complete meltdown for that child. Dissociation is a miracle as it keeps the survivor from really feeling the abuse until a time later on when he feels ready to deal with it.

Many mental health professionals see dissociation as a psychological problem. And, sometimes, it is. At times, someone who dissociated often as a child continues dissociating when she gets overwhelmed as an adult. This is a legitimate problem, and a simple manifestation of her abuse. In the most extreme cases, dissociation can lead to DID, or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Those with DID have literally mentally split into different personalities, often because they're so unable to handle their abuse that their mind created someone else to deal with it.

Dissociative disorders are a legitimate, psychological problem. However, dissociation serves as an amazing savior to abuse survivors. Instead of feeling your father's bat smashing into you, you could feel like you're sitting in the corner of the room, safely watching the whole scene. Like anything else, dissociation in an extreme is a problem. But, in general, dissociation is a lifesaver for innocent people being abused.

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