I Have Really Bad Dreams – Is This Normal for Abuse Victims?
We were recently asked this very important question and thought it would be an excellent subject for a blog post and discussion. After all, I suspect that this is a pretty common experience after the trauma of abuse. Dreams. Nightmares. Am I going crazy? That sort of thing.
Sometimes I have really bad dreams. Last night I had one that I was raped. Is this normal for abuse victims? What I noticed about the dream was that it was multiple men.
I am no psychologist and certainly then no expert on this subject. But we all have experienced this enough to realize that bad dreams generally concern the things we fear the most. Right? In the conservative churches I was raised in, dreams are often dismissed. Now, I certainly don’t listen to someone who says they had a dream and God spoke to them (like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day), but dreams happen in our minds. In our mental center. And surely traumatized people are going to have their fears crop up in the night. Even more minor fears:
- You realize you forgot your pants as you stand up in front of the class to give a speech
- You are late for class and you can’t remember the combination for your locker lock
- …..you can add to the list here
One time when my wife and I were still in our early 20’s, we went hunting with her parents and slept in their camper. They were in the bed above the truck cab (you know, the bed with the ceiling only about two feet above you) and we were sleeping in the bed formed from the dining table. All of a sudden in the middle of the night Verla sat straight up and let out this horrendous blood curdling scream. Loud! And you hear this “whump, whump” which was her parent’s heads bouncing off the ceiling as they shot straight up in bed. I don’t remember what Verla’s nightmare was, but she had one that’s for sure.
So it is our fears, and our shame that seems to fuel these dreams. Abuse is a fear and shame factory, so it isn’t at all surprising that victims experience bad dreams. The solution? Getting out of the abuse, coming to understand abuse and its lies, and doing all the other things that go along with healing from trauma.
In your comments here, I suspect that you can all help one another out by sharing your experiences with fear-filled dreams. You don’t have to give all the details if you don’t want, but it is very validating for everyone to hear that no, they aren’t crazy. They aren’t the only ones to have these dreams.