Hiding from the abuse takes effort – blocking it out of our minds means that we are not living in true reality because it is too painful – which means we have to live in denial or unreality and may enter into fantasy and escapism. Fantasy is the classic way of coping with the pain of our lives. Many people live in fantasy, not just abuse victims. However, with abuse victims it is often more prevalent because during abuse – especially abuse over a protracted period of time – victims often develop a coping mechanism of mental escape which is escaping mentally from the situation an disassociating from it. “One of the defining elements of a traumatic experience…..that is so traumatic that one disassociates because there is no other way to escape from it.” (Source “The Boy who was raised as a dog” by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz Published by Basic Books 2006 page 53)
Spacing out or splitting off is the way most abuse victims endure abuse. This is actually a very clever coping mechanism, making an unbearable situation bearable. This means that during the abuse or painful time, the victim will be able to switch off, and so part of her mind will not be there having escaped into another world. Fantasy however can become dangerous when it becomes so much a part of life, that it is difficult to distinguish reality from daydreaming and escapism. Overcoming fantasy can be a long and arduous process. But by facing the root of the problems as to why we fantasise – (i.e. facing the pain of the past) – the fruit will be a life based in reality and honesty. Often being accountable is a key way out of breaking through the fantasy cycle.
How Fantasy Works::
Fantasy is a self protective coping mechanism used by many abuse victims. A way of mentally or emotionally leaving the situation (spacing out) to enter a fantasy world or a particular scenario. This often helps to anaesthetise the person by relieving present pain and anger.
It has addictive and obsessive characteristics and is difficult for a person to let go of.
When you are in a situation either with someone one to one or listening to someone at college or work do you ever find it hard to remember what was said? Are you present mentally do you listen and remember what is said; or do you find your mind drifting off and thinking about other things?
Can become a lifestyle or pattern.
It is isolating and relationships suffer due to lack of intimacy.
Leads to unrealistic imaginary thinking and expectations.
Inhibits growth and change.
Overcoming fantasy is a process which takes time and effort.
Steps to take:
1 Recognise you are in fantasy.
2 Although may be comforting at the time, think about the negative impact it may have on you.
3 Discuss the fantasies and obsessions with a trusting person – accountability is key think about what is behind the fantasies – is it about what is lacking in your life.