Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feelings are belittled or mocked and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being abused—pain, outrage, hate, vengeance, confusion, arousal. So she short-circuits them and goes numb. For many children, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, is cause for more severe abuse. Again, the only recourse is to shut down. Feelings go underground.
Some people with DID present their narratives of sadistic abuse in a quite matter-of-fact way, without perceptible affect. This may sometimes be done as a way of protecting themselves, and the listener, from the emotional impact of their experience. We have found that people describing trauma in a flat way, without feeling, are usually those who have been more chronically abused, while those with affect still have a sense of self that can observe the tragedy of betrayal and have feelings about it. In some cases, this deadpan presentation can also be the result of cult training and brainwashing. Unfortunately, when a patient describes a traumatic experience without showing any apparent emotion, it can make the listener doubt whether the patient is telling the truth. (page 119, Chapter 9, Some clinical implications of believing or not believing the patient)
Today I wore a pair of faded old jeans and a plain grey baggy shirt. I hadn't even taken a shower, and I did not put on an ounce of makeup. I grabbed a worn out black oversized jacket to cover myself with even though it is warm outside. I have made conscious decisions lately to look like less of what I felt a male would want to see. I want to disappear.
So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.” The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
Fawn types seek safety by merging with the wishes, needs and demands of others. They act as if they unconsciously believe that the price of admission to any relationship is the forfeiture of all their needs, rights, preferences and boundaries. They often begin life like the precocious children described in Alice Miler’s 'The Drama Of The Gifted Child', who learn that a modicum of safety and attachment can be gained by becoming the helpful and compliant servants of their parents. They are usually the children of at least one narcissistic parent who uses contempt to press them into service- scaring and shaming them out of developing a healthy sense of self: an egoic locus of self-protection, self-care and self-compassion.