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Suggestions for coping with flashbacks

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#1 scardycat

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 03:05 PM

Hi (((((everyone)))))

I got this from my local R*pe crisis centre, and I though that people may find this helpful in dealing with flashbacks and body memories.  I've spoilered any words which might trigger, hope it helps.  PLease forgive any typos

1. Tell yourself that you are having a flashback and that this is ok and very normal for people who have been traumatised as children or adults.

2. Remind yourself that the worst is over- it is not happening now.  The child or adult inside you who was a*used is giving you these memories to use in your healing, and however terrible you feel, you survived the awfulness then, which means you can survive and get through what you are feeling now.

3. Call on the adult part of yourself to tell that traumatised part of you (your “child”) that they are not alone, and that you will help them through this.  Let that vulnerable part of you know that its ok to remember and to feel what they feel and that this will help them in healing.  However hard it is for you, your “child” is communicating the only way she or he can.

4. Imagine that the images you se are on a TV screen.  Turn the sound down, turn it up again, then turn off the TV so that the images fade away.  

5. Try some of these ways of grounding yourself and becoming more aware of the present:
- stamp your feet: grind them into the floor to remind yourself where you are now
- look around the room, noticing the colours, the people, the shapes of things
- listen to the sounds around you:  the traffic, voices, washing machine etc
- feel your body, the boundary of your skin, your clothes, the chair, the floor supporting you
- have an elastic band to hand (or on your wrist)- you can “ping” it against your wrist and feel it on your skin-that feeling is in the now, the things you are re-experiencing are in the past

6. Take care of your breathing: breathe deeply down to your diaphragm: put your hand there just above your navel and breathe so that your hand gets pushed up and down.  You can also count –to five- as you breathe in and out.  When your body gets scared we breathe too quickly and shallowly and our body begins to panic because we’re not getting enough oxygen.  This causes dizziness, shakiness and more panic.  Breathing slowly and deeply will stop the panic.

7. If you have lost a sense of where you end and the rest of the world begins, rub your body so you can feel its edges, the boundary of you.  Wrap yourself in a blanket, feel it around you.

8. Get support if you would like it.  Let people close to you know about flashbacks so they can help if you want them to.  That might mean holding you, talking to you, helping you to reconnect with the present, to remember you are safe and cared for now.

9. Flashbacks are powerful experiences, which drain your energy.  Take time to look after yourself when you have had a flashback.  You could have a warm bath or a sleep, a warm drink, play some soothing music or just take some quiet time for yourself.  You and your “child” deserve to be taken care of, given all that you have survived.

10. When you feel ready, write down all you remember about the flashback, and how you got through it.  This will help you to remember information for your healing and to remind you that you did get through this and can again.

11. Remember you are not crazy- flashbacks are normal and you are healing.

#2 WingedVictory.

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 12:47 AM


Thank you this is awesome information


#3 Louise

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 04:55 AM

Thankyou, Paula - this kicks ass. I especially relate to tip 4 - assuring the frightened part of me that it is not alone.

In a couple of days, I reckon it should go into "wonderful threads"  :)


Lou xxxxx

#4 Guest__*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 10:38 AM

so technically I know these things.  have tried to practice them and yet...  It does help to read through the list re-concrete it in my mind.  I will use them next time.


#5 babycakes

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 04:38 PM

I think that those are great suggestions.  I think that something similar has already been suggested, but when it happens to me I focus on something solid in the room (a wall, curtains, a wardrobe) and tap my foot, and say aloud 'I'm here, it's ok, I'm going to be ok because I'm here and nothing can hurt me' etc.  If my boyfriend is with me, he chimes in and holds me or strokes my head if I want, and agrees with and repeats what I say.  It helps.

#6 Guest__*

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 05:06 PM

babycakes-you are so lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend.

#7 sickandtired

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:46 PM

do the flasbacks ever slow down or stop, i mean i'm new to this whole thing. idk i guess i'd just like to know its going to be alright and i will be able to sleep in my bed at some point in the future.

#8 lilyvanilla

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:18 PM

thank you, I like this a lot. v. informative and helpful.

#9 janiedeland

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 03:26 PM

Thanks so much for posting this, it is very useful information. Thanks again.

#10 Nath

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 06:16 PM

Great tips thank you :) !

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