Denial – Grief



Denial takes many forms and it is mentioned regularly throughout these web pages. In it’s strongest form it is called repression – the person has no conscious recall of the event. The event stays in the victims unconscious and has an effect on him, but he does not realise it.

A less powerful form of denial is suppression: the person who was abused has some memory of the abuse but seeks to ignore the meaning of the information. Although the thoughts are available to the victim they try to block them out, build a wall or barrier to prevent those memories from entering from the subconscious into the person’s consciousness. sometimes they do become clearer but the person becomes adept at controlling the thoughts and suppressing them back into the subconscious.

Eventually, and with a lot of hard work, survivors of abuse will be able to bring more of these memories into there conscious mind and start to believe they happened. This will only happen if the survivor feels they are in a safe enough environment to allow these memories out. Usually the longer the abuse has been suppressed the harder and longer it takes for the denial phase to end.

Staying in the denial stage is costly. It stifles creativity; the victim cannot think spontaneously because he is censoring himself to avoid recalling abuse memories. Keeping a secret requires a lot of energy; even more energy is required to keep that secret from yourself!. Recovery frees this energy for other uses.

Other costs of denial include vague fears of loss of control; specific but irrational fears of loss of control, such as suddenly vomiting in public or wetting your pants; a decreased ability to be empathetic with adults, babies, or pets that are in pain; or a desire to punish or hurt those who are vulnerable. In order to deny your own experience you will probably want to avoid seeing others’ pain and vulnerability.

A helpful technique throughout all stages of recovery is writing letters that you never send. Writing helps you to slow down your thoughts and start to become more aware of your emotions. It’s important to feel your feelings as well as think them. Some people express themselves more freely through art. Perhaps you could try clay, or making a picture book of your life. Try drawing a picture of anger, or of fear. You’ll be surprised what comes up.

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