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Why would someone block out memories of domestic abuse incidents?

(15 Posts)
user1475501383 Mon 17-Oct-16 23:02:10

Just preparing a schedule of DV/DA incidents of my ended marriage. Came across several of my journal/email writings referring to things I had blocked out, and even some writings referring to when I first came upon some of such writings (I hope this makes sense...)

How is it possible I had blocked those incidents out of my memory quite successfully, sometimes for years? There were also incidents I would have never even remembered if I hadn't found the writings from all those years ago...

Is this normal? I tried to google 'blocking out memories' or 'repression' which it quickly referred to but didn't find anything in particular related to domestic abuse. It appears to be a common phenomenon with childhood abuse but what does it mean when an adult has repressed it?

I know a fair bit of some branches of psychology (it somewhat relates to my profession) but my skills fail here so I would appreciate any kind of views or personal experience. This feels so strange...

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Mon 17-Oct-16 23:05:13

I found my divorce petition the other day. Similar thing happened. I think I 'forgot' because its too painful to think about. My mind has protected me. Also, when I am reminded, I think, 'why did I put up with that for so long'. I went into denial when I was experiencing it, in order that I didn't have to end the marriage I think.

IamSwitzerland Mon 17-Oct-16 23:24:01

I think sometimes things look different once the rose tinted glasses are off so an incident which you can see now was clearly abuse (with a victim and perpetrator) could at the time, to the victim, be minimised as a bad day or any of the other classic reasons put upon them by the perpetrator so it just did not register properly at the time.

Your new normal does not involve regularly being abused therefore you now see that abusive abnormal behaviour for what it is.

Gas lighting is powerful bad for messing with your head.

That is besides the fact that a healthy mind works on the onwards and upwards basis, dwelling on horrid happenings does not allow that so maybe brains auto-filter to keep us healthy.

Just my uneducated take on it.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Mon 17-Oct-16 23:25:31

Totally normal. I posted about this in chat yesterday, but should get it moved here maybe. It's your minds way of protecting you from the trauma.

futureolympianinmyhouse Mon 17-Oct-16 23:39:17

I also recently found my divorce petition too, It was a shock for me to see it in writing, as I had forgotten what had finally pushed me to get my divorce (it was 5 years ago now).

How bad it had got for me to finally realise that my marriage was over..and that I only recorded what I wanted a court to read/see is quiet scary..there was probably a lot worse going on.

So I think it's completely normal to blank out things that have happened...even when we had accepted how awful and wrong it was. It's our way dealing with what has happened, it wasn't the normal we don't need to remember.

harrypoooter Tue 18-Oct-16 00:00:25

It's very strange but normal. Mine is so extreme that I don't have any memories of my ex in our old house only the one before that. We lived there 9 months so surely I should be able to remember something. I have 1 memory- breaking up with him. X

LineyReborn Tue 18-Oct-16 00:03:04

Similar here.

BalthazarImpresario Tue 18-Oct-16 00:51:37

Defence mechanism.

ishouldcocoa Tue 18-Oct-16 00:57:07

I was so badly bullied at school, but I have almost no memory of it happening. Just a deeply emotional sad feeling deep down. I don't think I'll ever shake it off, and it was over 30 years ago.

bibliomania Tue 18-Oct-16 10:57:48

It can be a physiological thing - if cortisol (stress hormone) and noradrenalin are flooding your system, you are not laying down memories in the usual way (explanation in the context of PTSD here ).

user1475501383 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:51:22

Thanks a lot for your views.

It's reassuring to hear it's normal. I'm still somewhat surprised that I didn't find anything about this online.

Ishouldcocoa, I was also bullied and blocked the memories for years afterwards, they only came back to me when I was in my 20s and at university and people were treating each other nicely. It sort of brought it all back, the contrast of it. Bullying is a terrible thing. I hope you get counselling/help with it. flowers

Guiltypleasures001 Tue 18-Oct-16 17:42:59

Hi user

Look up disassociation and trauma, as someone said up thread is a kind of defence mechanism
One which you have no actual conscious control over.

BertieBotts Tue 18-Oct-16 18:04:03

It's because it was traumatic. Missing traumatic memories can occur from any kind of trauma, my husband doesn't remember most of his time at primary school, he was badly bullied there.

It's really strange and I find it kind of unsettling, the thought that we might have memories we don't know about. But I think it's correct that it happens to protect us.

rememberthetime Tue 18-Oct-16 20:14:13

A skilled counsellor would be able to help you to find those memories and deal with them properly. this can allow you to move on from feelings that you can't relate to specific events, such as panic attacks for no real reason.they could be happening because of your subconscious. PTSD works like this.

jaykay34 Tue 18-Oct-16 21:46:34

I also experience this, and have been a bit worried about my memory. This thread has reassured me that it's quite common.

It's not just bad memories that I can't recall, it's other stuff like the kids birthdays, day trips and christmasses. I can remember other details like what presents the kids got, their little beaming faces, friends who attended their parties and places we have been but I have no recollection of my ex being there or what he did or said that day. Yet I know he was there - I just can't picture him. It's almost as if he didn't exist in my life atall.

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