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27 January, 2012


An overarching phobia common to sexual abuse survivors is solitude.  If you have read through the previous posts, the reason will be clear:  Hallucinations, especially, are far more likely to occur when the survivor is alone.  The need to avoid solitude is one factor in survivors sticking with abusive or otherwise lousy men. The reality of dealing with a marginal partner beats the terror of dealing with hallucinations; better the known reality than the unknown apparitions.

In addition, survivors tend to need some chaos in real life to distract themselves from their inner worlds. The saying goes that one positive thing about your difficulties is that they will distract you from your problems. Unfortunately, that strategy often backfires. We all have only so much psychic energy to use, and a lot of that is needed by survivors to keep their monsters in the basement. If too much of the energy has to be expended to deal with outer realities, some of the monsters will be free to get out of the basement.


Survivors dislike (to put it mildly) showering when alone in the home.  In addition to the factor of solitude, there’s the ultimate in vulnerability.  The survivor is alone, naked, cornered in a shower, has her vision obscured by a shower curtain or door and the ability to hear a potential assailant is masked by the white noise of the spraying water.  When the task must be accomplished alone, many survivors take special care never to have their vision further obscured by the act of washing their faces or shampooing.  They often carefully wash their faces in a way that allows at least one eye to be open.  One survivor I knew solved that by taking her pet pit bull into the bathroom with her. I can’t help but note the parallel with combat veterans’ service dog use. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why I refer to this as the Norman Bates syndrome.


The classic old position of the wild west gunfighter in a bar, sitting in a corner facing the rest of the room (and the door) had its utility.  The possibility of missing a potential threat was greatly reduced, albeit at the expense of being cornered.  Survivors are particular about the placement of their beds.  They would never face the bed in such a way that there is not an easy, clear field of vision to the bedroom door.  They will in addition, with the foregoing being the number one rule, avoid having the head of the bed under a window.  The preferred position, if possible, is having the bed located such that they can clearly see the bedroom door, any windows – and any closet doors.  Yes – there are boogiemen in there.  The closet door, of course, would absolutely never be left open or even cracked.  The bedroom door, however, has to be kept open in order to be able to see any approaching threat before it got through the doorway. Any situation which has, by it’s quality of uncertainty, is a perfect target for projection of the horror and rage that seethes deep in the psyche of the survivor. That factor was noted long ago in an essay entitled On The Sublime and the Beautiful by the philosopher Edmund Burke.


It may be pushing the definition of a phobia a bit, but survivors not uncommonly have at least aversions to certain tastes and textures of foods. Among the more common are things like mashed potatoes and tapioca pudding. It should be unnecessary to explain the source of gustatory phobias.


I’m hoping that as survivors happen upon this blog, they will share some of their particular experiences with hallucinations, phobias and the like.  For one thing, I am always interested in learning more about the variations in those symptoms.  In addition, other survivors to follow would be afforded some corroboration of their own experiences and not feel so alone and so … well … crazy.

  1. I have ptsd from childhood abuse minus the sexual side ( i think), I do have memory issues too. I only shower in trusted places. At home we buy clear curtains only, I wash my face in sink only, with door open. If I must bath in a empty house I run a hot bath then get in after is full so the noise of water is gone. I also insist that in public i stand or sit in a viewing position. I prefer outside seating when possible and can not sit or be cornered.
    I try to avoid white noise. when I musty blow dry my hair I stand with my back semi close to the wall. Any shadow our strange sound I stop and walk around. I can not enjoy head phones or loud music in my house. I only enjoy loud music in the car where it drowns out some thoughts.

    I hope this helps others. Learning I’m not the only one like this helps me:)

    • If the phobias are absolutely all you have in the way of symptoms, you can probably rule out a history of sexual abuse. If you have not done so, you might wish to review the other symptoms, especially the hallucinations. Straight physical abuse and sexual abuse tend to go together though certainly not always. In some ways, physical abuse is easier to deal with and to remember because it is more readily recognized as simply out of line. Sexual abuse tends to be more complicated and to generate more symptoms owing to the need for suppression/compartmentalization of the cataclysmic emotions associated with it. Indeed, it is the unconscious (dissociated, if you will) nature of the memories and associated affects that actually power the symptoms when it comes to sexual abuse.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for sharing so openly. Godspeed!

  2. purplemoonstar permalink

    amazing I can relate to this. I do the same thing, been doing it forever it seems nver thought to relate it to my past abuse as a child.thank you for sharing

    • I want to say “No … thank you for sharing.” Godspeed in your recovery.

      • purplemoonstar permalink

        what do you mean No ? im a female looking for other females in the same situation, someone i can relate too about my hallucinations hearing voices and seeing things to. what is so wrong with that?

      • What I meant was that it is I who should be thanking you. Please don’t hear me wrong.

      • purplemoonstar permalink

        oh ok thank you i really like your site it speaks to me

      • I’m happy to hear that. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comments.

  3. Very interesting! I do both of those things and have never once attributed them to my past child sexual abuse. As I read, I realized that I have done them both my entire life. As I go through proper therapy, I’m amazed at how many of my actions have been molded based on my history, without a conscience effort.

    • Thanks for your courage in sharing. Making the connection you did is a huge part of the process. Even though it’s only 3:30 a.m., I’m short on time but will put up a link to your blog.

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