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Hi CL,

My abuse was long term and though I was incorporated there are still things that trigger flashbacks. With what I know to be true and then the flashbacks, I believe the flashbacks are real.

Our alters shielded us from many horrible things and my therapist had told me to not dwell on this point. Sometimes memories are gone to protect our own minds. Sometimes the memories don't come back until we can handle them. I have the added problem of having a stroke and I lost memory from that.

I don't believe that flashbacks are made up. I do believe that for some they are too frightening to believe they are real.

Good luck,
Mary G.




Hi C.L.

Even before I was diagnosed with PTSD and MPD/DID in 1991, I'd always had violent and ugly flashbacks, but I didn't know what it was. I didn't have all the memories, just this stuff I "saw" all the time, and relive it. To me, it was "normal", but very disturbing. As more memories started coming back to me, the "stuff" I had always seen, started making sense. All throughout the years in therapy, I struggled with thinking that some of these things were so ugly or so violent that they could'nt be real. Yet, I had the feelings of terror. I had everything that meant it really happened. Even now, 8 months after going through the final integrations of personalities, there are times I think, "That couldn't possibly have happened." But I know how I still react to it. There is one incident that a few people have told me, that it couldn't possibly have happened. I'd like to think it didn't, but I know how I react, I know how strong the flashbacks and reliving it are. I know I have extremely strong reactions about it. In my heart, I know it happened. I just go by the intensity of the flashbacks and reliving something, by how I react, and if these things keep playing in my mind over and over, by determining if these things are real. I hope this helps.

Debbie E.



Hello CL, 

In the beginning of my healing journey I too wondered what was real and what was made up. I am a ritual abuse survivor and I experienced horrible violent ritualized abuse as a child.  When I first started getting glimpses of my memories in the form of flashbacks and dreams, it totally terrified me. Most times before I would get the full memory of what had happened to me and the things I witnessed as a child, I got the details in my dreams which would be very similar to the actual events. Over the course of the next day or so, I got flashbacks of what really occurred and each time I did I got more complete information where all the details were filled in like a puzzle that fit together. 

I knew it was real by my feelings and my emotional response to it. When my little ones inside felt the terror and the fear and was worried "they" my abusers would know somehow and come get me. Well that was a good indicator to me that no, I was not making this up and it was indeed real. I've had many confirmations through my emotional feelings to different triggers and situations, that I know without a doubt that I did not make this up.  Later, as I made friends with other RA survivors and they shared their history with me, it also confirmed my own experiences and my truths. Writing, drawing and journaling helped tremendously. I now have all of my memories intact and am free from the intense fear I once had. 

Best wishes for you healing journey,



Hi CL,

This has been not only mine, it has been the experience of many of the multiples who have talked with me through the groups and in private.  For me, real memories/pictures/flashback stills/and moving, always stay the same.  In time more of the picture is shown, clearer, more focused, hearing, faces yet the main context always remains the same. 

The flashbacks,memories, night and day mares, that change each time better or worse, are usually my mind's fabrication of an event in a way it can handle it.  My goal was to search the context and relate it to something I may remember.  As with one of the other replies, sometimes we hear something and the person/alter that started to listen was out of there and the mind is left to fill in the blank.
I had a many years of sorting through those to figure out if I had really applied to a certain job and after working one day never going back.  I do have a history way back when of just walking off a job mid shift (for real) when an alter said "screw this crap" or someone got scared and left. 
It does take time to figure most of it out.  Having a friend from my childhood/teen years who is also multiple has helped the last ten years because knowing that she experienced many of the same types of things made it easier for me to accept them.  Having places to go in groups on the web and others to talk to really helps to validate those awful feelings. 

There came a point as Lynn said where I stopped worrying about what happened and started learning to live with what is happening today in my life and how it related to what had happened in the past.  I had to remind myself each morning and still do some days, to first think what I can do with this feeling right now and take care of what I can do first.  The rest gets easier once I do that.  Good luck and keep asking questions.  That's how we make it. 

Lady J




Hello, CL.
We are glad to meet you.

Well, this is a frightening time when you have violent flashbacks. But also consider that most alters are
created due to violence, and many times alters are holding violent memories, so we would be surprised if
you didn't have alters with violent flashbacks.

Whether they are real or not will become apparent over time. I do know my alters had very violent flashbacks and they were very true, and a vast number of them I was able to confirm independently. It is not easy to deal with. We hope you are working with a good therapist.

I can tell you sometimes the context is very important. For example, I had one memory of a friend
dying in a car accident. I didn't know where this memory was from, but Alter One revealed it years ago.
Years later, I discovered it was not true because of Alter Two. The stress of hearing a conversation where
this friend was in danger caused a switch literally in the middle of a sentence. In reality, her father had
died in the accident: each alter heard only 1/2 of the conversation, so until they were both co-conscious
with me I never could figure this out. What each alter knew was correct, but they each only knew 1/2 of the

Other alters had very violent memories but the entire picture wasn't clear until they had moved through
their entire process, which can take time and is painful. 

All we can advise based on the information you provided is this: don't assume they can't be real just
because they're violent. In my experience and those we know with DID, alters don't generally 'imagine' trauma unless they are alters split off for a handling that role: for example, an alter which has the role of
handling scary movies or television shows. We don't have any alters like that, but we know of those who
do. And if this is the case, it should become clear to you over time.

We hope this helps a little! Violent memories are terrible. We have had a lot. Unfortunately. Make sure
to take care of yourself while you are working on them with your alters! :)

Doug T & Friends


Dear CL,

The last two years or so, I've had a lot of trouble figuring out the different between dreams, what actually happened in the world, and things I've thought of doing or saying that I haven't already done.

Just because only one part has a memory, doesn't mean it's not real; that was their job, to hide away that experience from you so you didn't have to deal with it.

However, memory doesn't work like a video camera. With time, each memory gets fuzzier (unless it's trapped in an alter), and it gets influenced by every experience you have after it. Memory can change very very easily. It's not that you're doing it on purpose or making it up; our brains just don't have the
capacity to haold onto all the details, and if we're missing details of one memory our brain has a tendency to just fill in the details with some from another excperience.

Iin my experience with trauma therapy, it's not as important to figure out what memories are real, or what actually happened, as it is to process the feelings that are brought up by those memories or events and learn how to deal with the feelings more effectively. I'm not saying that what happened doesn't matter, it
does, but it's not necessarily important in your treatment.




Dear CL

I don't know how to tell you whether your alter's images are real. I will tell you a story about MY life.

When I was in therapy years ago, my therapist had firm beliefs in RA (ritual abuse), and thought for sure I'd experienced it. This was problematic for me in many ways...because I did "see" very violent images in my head, such as those you describe. I wanted to please my therapist, but large parts of myself disagreed with her ideas, and I continued to resist. Finally, I found a book in my old home that my mother used to read to me at bedtime when I was 2 or 3 years old. It was an illustrated edition of DANTE'S INFERNO, with very gruesome pictures that were duplicates of some of the violent and ugly images that kept flashing back into my mind.

Set aside for a minute the strangeness of a mother who would read DANTE'S INFERNO to a tiny child at bedtime (I verified this memory with my sisters, by the way.) I have absolutely no doubt that I had a completely bizarre, unhealthy, dangerous and disturbing childhood, which brought on dissociation. This is just one tiny fragment of my experience... BUT...

I am frankly still not certain what went on back then - it was decades ago, and everyone who might have been involved is long dead. Are the images that disturbed me so much back then based on real experiences? Or did I 'make them up'?  I've finally come to terms with MY reality - I will never, never 'know' for sure. I do believe RA exists...I'm just not sure that's what happened to me. Many of the stories about RA I've heard go well beyond what I believe was my truth. But it could be someone else's truth. I've given up trying to judge this stuff so my only answer for you is...find the explanation that gives you the most peace of mind throughout your whole self. My explanation is "I'll never know & I have to live with it." And I've come to find out that I can live with that uncertainty. Those violent images leave me alone now. & I'm glad.

Best regards,