Trying to bring back repressed memories... Thoughts please

Liz - posted on 05/14/2012 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I will apologize in advance for the long post here.

A very close friend of mine has some anger issues. She has been counseling with her husband's friend (who is a Christian psychologist) about how to deal with this anger. He thinks that she was sexually abused as a child, but she doesn't remember anything. Personally, I am very skeptical of this man and don't agree with some of the things he's been saying.
He says she needs to remember what happened to her, then she needs to confront the people who abused her in order to get through the anger that she has. He has been having her write with her left hand (non-dominant hand) memories from her childhood. Any memories. Apparently, he says, important things in her memories will stand out and be more legible than everything else she writes. He has been trying to "help" her remember for several months now. Her anger has been worse at times during this process, and she is now even on anti-anxiety medication.
This man went so far as to tell her that God told him that the baby she miscarried at 17 years of age was fathered by her own father! She, however, does not remember any actual abuse, but is now questioning her father's integrity!
I have another friend who WAS sexually abused as a child and she only remembers bits and pieces - enough to know that it happened. She believes that God is protecting her mind from those memories, and that there is no reason to bring them back in full force. I feel that she is right. What would be the point of bringing back those memories? Once you remember them, you will never forget them, and you will be faced with the pain and hurt over what happened for the rest of your life. And what is the point in confronting the person who abused you? What if that person is dead and you CAN'T confront them?
Please share your thoughts, and if I have been unclear anywhere in this post, let me know. Thanks in advance!

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Hayden - posted on 01/01/2013

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I think if she wants them back that means its right. I mean how do you think it feels to not know what happened in your own life and feel like something is missing everyday your awake. Just because they dont remember doesnt mean they are stupid. She is obviously acting out for some reason and she isn't very happy. The man sounds right.

Angela - posted on 05/21/2012

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Good post Rebekah but Liz's friend - the "subject" of this counselling - does not recall sexual abuse from anyone! The counsellor she's seeing is putting it to her and urging her to "remember". He's a friend of her husband which surely crosses professional boundaries? I felt she was being manipulated.

This all came about because of anger issues. A person can be angry for many, many different reasons. There is no premise to assume that sexual abuse was any part of the history.

I'm pleased that your experience with Cleansing Streams was so positive for you though.

Rebekah - posted on 05/21/2012

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Repressed memories always come back up. Think about it this way, take a bowl of water and then put an entire bag of ping pong balls in it, try and push them all down into the water, you'll eventually find that ping pong balls pop back up. This is exactly what happens with repressed memories. I do agree people need to deal with the repressed memories, but I truly believe they should be dealt with in God's timing. God will not give you more than you can handle. And I truly believe repressed memories are buried because we don't want to remember the "trauma" it caused to us. If repressed memories aren't dealt with though, you will find that a person will act out or respond in different ways to a "trigger" that made a memory pop up... thus the person is never really free, because they never dealt with it.

As a person that has been sexually abused, I have memories of many things that happened and then I had no memory of other things. But I got tired of the emotional rollercoaster and the problems in my marriage, so we went to counseling and I dealt with those repressed memories. It was the MOST freeing experience I ever had. But my counseling wasn't what you described at all, actually, we were advised to go through Cleansing Streams and God dealt with my repressed memories and God encourage me and God gave me the strength to forgive.

Forgiveness to me is one thing where every person has to have a STAND IN, and Jesus is the only one that can be that stand in.

Carla - posted on 05/20/2012

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Yay, Liz! We are so thrilled! The God we serve sees all, knows all. Help your friend wrap herself in Him, and spill her anger to Him. He will help her deal with it.

God bless, darling!

Angela - posted on 05/20/2012

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I'm really glad your friend is seeing sense and I hope she is going to put an end to her sessions with this dodgy counsellor. Most people with anger issues are suffering as a result of CURRENT stuff, not stuff that happened years ago!

The counsellor needs putting in his place politely and she must also be assertive with her husband - if he is the one insisting she goes through this "guidance".

You've been a great friend to her Liz!

Liz - posted on 05/19/2012

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Well, ladies, I expressed my deep concerns to my friend a few days ago, and it was received very well! She thanked me for my input, and she said that the things I was saying made a lot of sense. She really sees no point in trying to remember something that may or may not have happened. She admits that her anger has gotten worse since she started this whole process, and she regrets that. I have told her that I believe she needs to learn how to deal with her current stressors in order to help with her anger, instead of trying to dig up the past. Thank you very much for your prayers and advice!

Angela - posted on 05/16/2012

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Darn right, Carla!

Cover your back Liz! Something about all of this just stinks! Go very carefully and pray hard.

Good wishes and prayers for a positive outcome go out to your friend.

Carla - posted on 05/16/2012

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Oh, I definitely feel she's been manipulated here, Angela. But I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that her husband, who is her pastor, would be going along with the shenanigans of this huckster. This is for our ears only, of course, Liz, but it seems like you just might have stumbled into a hornet's nest. Make sure you keep your own back covered. You don't know where this is going to explode--and who will get hurt.

This almost seems like a smear campaign of her family Are there church politics going on involving her family? I went back and re-read your original post--I had missed the part about her father fathering the child completely. I am horrified that a Christian counselor and a Christian pastor would come up with this stuff! Walk carefully and prayerfully, Liz, our prayers are behind you.

Angela - posted on 05/16/2012

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Reading between the lines, if she genuinely can't remember how she got pregnant or who she got pregnant to (and all perfectly possible if she was spiked with drugs or even took them voluntarily), I'm somehow wondering if her Pastor husband is the one that is having issues coming to terms with this? Only married 3 years or so? The "counsellor" is a friend of his?

I'm just feeling that the husband may be forcing this issue about the miscarriage she had.

Any counsellor, therapist or specialist in Anger Management she is seeing should be properly qualified with the appropriate clinical qualifications recognised by State approved governing bodies. This will cut out a lot of "Christian" counsellors. And she should be seeing someone who is NOT a friend of her husband (and not reporting information back to her husband - how TRULY confidential is this person she's currently seeing?)

I would put this guy to the test and invent some absolutely outrageous story of how she got pregnant, casually remind the "counsellor" of his responsibility to confidentiality and sit back and see what happens!

I just feel she's being manipulated here.

Carla - posted on 05/15/2012

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I can, Liz, unfortunately ;) During my drinking/druggie days, I would wake up with guys I had no clue how I got there, and was shown pictures of our office party, and had no recollection. (Thank God He has cleansed me of THOSE days).

She very well may have been given the date rape drug--don't know if she was a drinker or druggie during those days. If her life was dysfunctional, this is probably how she coped--I know I did.

Pray hard, Liz. This may be a long process.

God bless

Sarah - posted on 05/15/2012

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Sadly women and girls are sometimes drugged so they will sleep with someone and will then have no recollection of it. I'm not saying that this is the case with your friend, but it happens.

She definitely needs to see a neutral counsellor.

Liz - posted on 05/15/2012

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Thank you ladies for your responses!
I have been talking to her about my concerns with this "counselor" and she has agreed that some of the things are not right. She told me to let her know if she tells me something that just doesn't sound right. Sometimes it's ok for me to actually do this, and other times it just gets her frustrated.
She has been married to her husband for nearly 3 years now, and he is a pastor, but does not know how to deal with this as it's his wife. He can counsel someone else on anger, but he doesn't have to live with that person! He can send them home afterwards - but he can't send his own wife away from him! I do believe that her anger stems from her childhood (it was a bit on the "dysfunctional" side), but she cannot remember any specific details of sexual abuse.
One odd thing, however, is that she does NOT remember getting pregnant. She knows she had a boyfriend at the time, but doesn't remember her first sexual encounter. I just cannot fathom how one could be pregnant and not remember the circumstances surrounding it!
I do agree that she should not be seeing a counselor that is also a family friend. I think I will bring this up to her next time the subject comes up.
Thanks again, ladies!

Carla - posted on 05/15/2012

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Sorry, Liz, have to agree with the ladies here. This sounds like the charlatans of old that used to do 'surgery' without cutting on a body, then pulling out the 'bad' stuff--which was chicken organs they had up their sleeve. Tell her to run!

We had a pastor that told my brother that my mother used to do sacrifices to Satan under our front porch. It really freaked him out. The pastor 'saw' this in a vision, we didn't know her at the time.

Anger from the past is difficult--especially if she doesn't remember WHY she is angry. But I can tell you right now that confronting the person who allegedly hurt her is not the answer. Especially if they have not repented.

My advice is for the two of you, as you seem to be a level-headed faithful Christian woman, or if she wants someone neutral, then someone your pastor has recommended, to pray with her for her anger. If I dwell on the past, my anger rears it's ugly head and I am as angry as I was all those years ago. Satan uses your past to stunt your spiritual growth. Being a Christian means we turn over to the Lord ALL our hurts, and He, through the Holy Spirit, clears out our heart and soul. Did you read 'The Shack'? It centered around a terrible tragedy, and how the father learned forgiveness. It wasn't easy, and it certainly didn't happen overnight, but that's okay. As long as we are looking forward instead of backward, we will get there eventually.

You are going to have to play this low-key, though, as the counselor is a friend of her husband's, but I can't tell you strongly enough to get her out of his clutches! Pray, pray, pray, honey!

Keep us informed, God bless

Louise - posted on 05/15/2012

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I think this man is a con artist that is just making matters worse. She needs to see an anger management consultant not a person that is going to blame her behaviour on something that could of happend years ago. She needs to look to the future and not dwell on the past. She is on very dangerous grounds here. Talk to your friend and ask her if she thinks he is helping and then gently guide her to look into other options.

She must know who the father of her baby was? If there is any doubt and it was her own father surely she would know. It is not something the mind is capable of blocking out. There are many issues to this post. She has to decide whether she was an abused child or not before she can confront anything. If she has to think hard about it then no she was not! Get her away from this man and into relaxation and anger management classes to restore your friend to who she once was.

Angela - posted on 05/15/2012

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This is known as False Memory Syndrome and has caused a lot of grief for various people. Check out these two links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memor...

http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/falsem...

If she was pregnant at 17, I'm pretty sure she'll KNOW who got her pregnant!

This "therapist" she's seeing is a charlatan. She should NOT be giving him any more of her time or her money. Furthermore, the fact he's her husband's "friend" rings alarm bells for me. Any clinical psychologist should NOT be treating someone they know in personal life - that's unprofessional.

In my unqualified opinion, anger issues can be caused by lots of things. Chances are it's some kind of concern with her husband or her marriage. But if the psychologist is her husband's friend, he'll want to steer her away from that!

Of course, it may well be something from her childhood or her relationship with her parents - but not necessarily sexual abuse. I'd say that's very unlikely! And for the psychologist to actually put the idea to her is totally unprofessional!

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