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Tonic Immobility

Trigger warning: sexual assault

Most people know that the body goes into “fight or flight” mode when in a dangerous and stressful situation. What many people don’t know is that there are more possible responses, one of which is to freeze. A person can literally be involuntarily, temporarily paralyzed with fear. This is called tonic immobility.

According to recent research, the majority of female rape survivors do not fight back or yell for help because of tonic immobility.  Another study found that half of people who survived childhood sexual abuse also experienced tonic immobility. Continue reading Tonic Immobility

13 Steps for Managing Flashbacks by Pete Walker, MA, MFT

  1. Say to yourself: “I am having a flashback”. Flashbacks take us into a timeless part of the psyche that feels as helpless, hopeless and surrounded by danger as we were in childhood. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are past memories that cannot hurt you now.
  2. Remind yourself: “I feel afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present.” Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.

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