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Nightmares are just a means of allowing hidden fears and feelings to emerge, but because they emerge in the way they do, they can be extremely difficult to control or mask them.

Note the word can be, it does not say they cannot.
Survivors often relive the abuse they suffered in the form of nightmares, and often it can manifest into what seems almost real, in that they "dream" what might have happened, or could have happened, which is often even scarier.

Here are some of the factors that permit nightmares to occur

1. Meeting/seeing someone who resembles your abuser, allowing the memories to creep back, scaring you and putting you back a step or two

2. Hearing/reading another persons story of abuse, which mirrors your abuse, awakening hidden thoughts, fears and feelings.

3. Feeling ill, depressed, lonely, sad and afraid.

4. Being stressed, including holidays, visits to people's houses, etc.

Bypass the nightmares, simply by facing the problem, putting the 'ghosts to be put to rest' avoiding stalling tactics like alcohol, drugs, work, or whatever you've used in the past.

Many things daily can remind you, so you need to talk those fears through, and gradually see that whatever did happen to you, you were in no way to blame.

In order to release that feelings you need to let those feelings of blame move back to their rightful owners, which is the people or person who created them for you, namely your abuser(s)

Although the following sounds easy, it will take time, its not easy, but is possible and in doing so, you will get restful, undisturbed sleep.

To begin with, you should take a look at changing your bedtime routine; this can take many forms, so here are just a few that could work:


1. Changing the physical layout of your room, perhaps moving the bed to somewhere that feels safer, maybe facing the door.

2. If you leave a light on, turn it off, don't read before you sleep, or do if you don't.

3. Turn off the radio if you listen to one, or perhaps leave a radio on to help you rest, and feel safe

4. Instead of surfing the Net, watching TV etc, change the routine, read a book, listen to music, arrange things for tomorrow.

5. Reflect back aloud on the day you had, what went wrong, what could have been done better, and finish off with what you achieved, all this will work to put you in a calmer frame of mind.

6. Take a bath, with music, candles, incense sticks, whatever works for you.

7. Join a session of relaxation classes, and learn how to relax

8. Avoid sleeping in the daytime, sleeping at the wrong time upsets your internal body clock, so get into a routine, and sleep will come to you.

Above all else, make sure that you have enough sleep every night, otherwise you will feel too tired, physically and emotionally to be of any good to yourself, never mind others.

Learn to trust someone again, allowing them to help you go leave the past behind, and go beyond the destructive feelings that you have

You can kick the past back where it belongs, rest assured this method works, continues to work for survivors, and it can work for you, so re-read it again, making sure you don't skip any of the advice offered, unless you want to that is

Still stuck, try this then ~ Some tips to help you control the dreams that may haunt you

It can help to write down what you've dreamed, (have pen and paper to hand, so you can write it down and get back to sleep again.)


1. Free Writing

Start anywhere and just keep writing whatever comes to mind. Don't censor or edit anything out. It's like free associating onto a piece of paper. Record everything you are thinking and feeling. If you get stuck, simply write "I'm stuck, I'm stuck..." over and over again until a new association comes up. Then keep writing.

Or write down each element of the dream, then write a stream of consciousness for each one. Compare what your wrote for each element of the dream. Look for similarities and patterns. Hold onto these writings - and go back to them later on. Days or weeks later you may see something that you missed the first time around.


2. Free Association

To unpack the various meanings of a dream, take each object, person, situation, etc. and free associate to them, one at a time. What does it remind you of? What comes to mind when you think of that element of the dream? Let your imagination go. Let your attention wander. Come up with as many associations as possible. Do this in your head, or talk out loud. If you let yourself go with this, something will come up - a memory, an idea, a feeling. It may not tell you "The Meaning" to the dream, but it will give you pieces to the puzzle.



Staff Alumni

Stressed? Dreaming dreams you'd rather not?

If you're stressed during the day, that stress will, without doubt, emerge during your sleeping hours, as that is the bodys way of dealing with stress.

Sometimes the dreams you have can be in the form of symbols or as enactments of different scenes but ones which bring out the same emotions - anger, frustration, grief - whatever is causing you distress, and understandably, some of those dreams are extremely disturbing.

You can turn this around and learn to interpret these dreams to try to identify exactly what it is that is causing you problems, and k keeping a dream diary is often very enlightening.

If your dreams are really terrifying, they are deemed to be night terrors (nightmares) These can be a sign of more severe stress or a deeper emotional problem. You might want to look at the page on Post Traumatic Stress first for more information on the subject.

Normal dreams are a safety valve for the mind, allowing you to work through situations which have had impact on you during the day.

Don't expect your dreams to be make any sense or be coherent - they are usually a mixture of all sorts, and often fail to make sense, or can become confused with reality, making you doubt what you really think, plus you can get the odd few scenes which appear to come from nowhere! Try this next exercise to help you relax.....I've tried all sorts of relaxation methods in the past, and none work!


Muscle Relaxtion

Muscles are either tense or relaxed. If this were the whole story, there could be no benefit to be gained from relaxation exercises, because all you'd be doing would be tensing a muscle and then returning it to exactly the same state it was in before you started.

Muscles, however, don't work in isolation from the rest of the body. They are made of fibres which need blood and oxygen. Blood is pumped round the body by the heart and the rate at which it's pumped depends in part on how fast you're breathing.. The amount of oxygen in your blood also depends on your breathing - whether it is slow or fast, deep or shallow.

Let's assume you've tensed a muscle group as part of a relaxation exercise.

It takes effort to tense your muscles so those muscles require more "food", which for them is oxygen, carried to the muscles in the blood. The muscles send out signals that they require more oxygen, so the heart beats more quickly to increase the rate at which the blood flows around your body in order to provide it. Of course, this blood has to come from somewhere, so other parts of your body receive less blood, particularly the stomach, hands and feet.

Now let's assume that you relax that muscle group. The demand for food is back to normal. The muscles need less oxygen and therefore they need less blood. Your heartbeat will therefore slow down, as will your breathing. The blood supply to your stomach will return to normal and it can carry on the process of digestion at its normal rate. You are now relaxing.

Things go one stage further, however, and it is this which makes muscle relaxation exercises effective. It is as if after you've tensed and then relaxed a muscle group, your body says, "Whew - that was an effort," and relaxes even more.

Try it and see. Check and see roughly how tense your hand is at the moment, then clench your fist. Hold this for a few seconds until it starts to become quite uncomfortable. Then relax. The likelihood is that you are either stretching your fingers or shaking your hand, and will then rest it for a moment, This will make the muscles in your hand relax even more.

SEE? The relaxation opens the door for further relaxation of those particular muscles.

The key to good results when you are going muscle relaxation exercises is not just to tense and then relax each muscle group, but to rest those particular muscles for a short while after you've released the tension. You'll find that they are then far more relaxed than when you started. Keep this going, relaxing muscles slowly and often and the result will be that you will have no option to be feel relaxed, and refreshed after some practice

By the way, have you ever tried to fully relax your facial muscles? you'll be surprised how tense your jaw, mouth and cheek muscles can be.
Good instruction... pitty that it's too long...

Here is short cut: Just pray to God before sleep, and ask Him good dreams... He always helps :)



Mostly what i dream off is Fighting, wether it be a physical fight or a war (with alot of death in, Other times its being happy, and other times extrememly unhappy, i dream of allsorts of death too, as ive already said from wars, others from murders, others just natural causes.


In my dreams (I have the same one nearly every night!) I always see my throat getting slit by one of my dad's old friends. I'v kinda got used to it now but it still freaks me out! :confused:


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BTW god does jack, also thank u but all my nightmares consist of the same thing, starving, dead people walking the earth crying out as thay r in limbo, but i cannot help them i want to join them. any advice??????????????? :(


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i like nightmares... they dont bother me, because i know that when i wake it will all be over... itz relievin that i know some pain will end.. but in reality.. it never does.. sleep is my best escape from reality.. i guess thats y i sleep for up for 16 hours in a day.. sometimes more...


i dream of real life, and then get confused when I wake up because I can't remember what's real and what isn't, or which things that i remember that I actually did. it's a problem, especially since i have a poor memory to begin with.

that's probably why i like having dreams that could never be real, be they good or bad - at least i know it was a dream...

these past few days have felt like a dream. is it possible that i'm dreaming now? is this real? the matrix messed with my head because it put a face on an idea that i've had - what if none of this is real? what if i will wake up in a few seconds and think "wow! what a crazy, long, involved dream!"...

just in case you people aren't real, and this forum doesn't exist, let me just say that this was a crazy dream, but you figments of my imagination were all pretty cool, thanks a lot.

I used to get nightmares all the time, These people came in this green gar and they would try and kill me. Anywa i dont really dream anymore :P :paperbag:
I do the exact same thing I dream about real life and when I wake up it's hard to tell what has happened and what has not. I have always had wild vivid dreams since my childhood that are so realistic. In my mind I know that I've been dreaming but it's so scary when your dreams are so real that you think that they could actually be happening. I always joke with friends that I don't need to go out at night because I live a pretty wild life in my sleep. I often awake and tell my boyfriend what I've dreamed and most of the time the dreams are just too far out for him he'll listen for awhile but then he's like I don't want to hear anymore. I do sleep walk from time to time and he always wakes up an makes sure I get in bed. On one occasion I stood up on the bed walked to the edge and jumped off, luckily into a couple of baskets of cloths so I wasn't hurt. He was watching me the whole time asking me what I was doing of course I didn't hear him, I didn't wake up when I jumped in the clothes, I have no idea what I thought I was jumping in. I didn't wake up until he helped me up from the baskets of cloths and he told me what I did but I had no recollection of this. I told my doctor and she said that stress can affect you in many ways and this can be one of them. Any thoughts? Anyone?
windancer, i do that a lot too, when i wake up, i am always really disorientated, and it takes me a while to realise that i'm not dreaming. my real life sort of melds into my dreams and vice versa, so it leave me very confused a lot. as for stress that you are having? hmmm... hard question for me to anser, but i'll give it a shot:

i think that people never actually forget anything. its just that the 'forgotten memories' have just sort of literally floated to the bottom of your mind, and just stay there, until someone/something triggersthem to rise up again. maybe you do remember, but you can't remember yet. i know that i do that a lot!

hard climb

I have heard this too, that stress plays a part in extremely vivid dreaming, for what it's worth. I definitely believe it to be true. :hug:
i have truly frightening and horrific dreams eg; peole bleeding from the ears, an eerie silence followed by a loud and fast sound of thumping footsteps before the face of my abusive father appears.


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I used to have nightmares a lot, like since I was 5, I dont actually know what it was that triggered it, but I rarely ever had a happy dream. I have had some very scary dreams in my time (havent we all) and there is this one that I wont even mention, I don't want you guys to start visualising what I was seeing. A few months back now I decided that the nightmares I was having were playing a large role in generally making me feel down. Once you have happy dreams again, you will generally start to feel happier. Remember, your mind is the one place you are truly free. Throughout your lifetime, you sleep an awful lot, so you may as well make the most of it and make these nightmares stop. Obviously you dont want to have nightmares, so you need to look at ways of stopping them, but I stopped mine by a way that isn't listed above. First, I tried listening to music quietly as I fall asleep. This didn't work for me, but it may work for others. I then tried listening to one of those nature sound CD's which was great for relaxing me, and helping me get to sleep, but it didnt stop the nightmares. Now the way that worked. You must promise not to laugh at me or make fun if you continue reading...


Promise ??


Nursery Rhymes and childrens songs. They are so cheerful (except humpty dumpty, rest in peace, egg man :P) and if you listen to them at a low volume as you are falling asleep, it works a treat. But you have to get into the songs and rhymes, picture them in your mind. If you dont they just become extremely irritating. I recommend you listen to the songs through a small ear piece, and lay on ur front/side with one earphone in (not the one against the pillow, gets very uncomfortable). Another thing, make sure that ur earphones are comfy, as it should stay in place all night. If you cant get to sleep whilst listening to it, wait until you are ready to sleep, then just take the earphone out, dont let yourself get distracted by anything. Sorry for gibbering on, I've got into a rather bad habit of doing that :) but please everyone, try it :) for me :) and yourselves :hug:


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I've been having nightmares almost every night for the past 3 months. Since my fiancee dumped me. I have dreams about him constantly, whether it's him doing incredibly cruel things to me, or us getting back together, which is almost as cruel. Often, I drink a lot and/or take Xanax to try to get myself into a more 'peaceful' sleep where I hopefully won't have nightmares. But often, I they wake me up really early and I can't get back to sleep.

I can't face him to tell him how I feel. Because I really think that will just make it worse. And all of my friends are tired of me complaining about it to them. So, I don't have anyone to talk to. I'm going to try some of ya'lls suggestions like reading before bed, etc. But if nothing works, I'm afraid I'll cut myself again, or seriously contemplate suicide yet again.


Well-Known Member
I have a lot of nightmare too. Even more when I was little. I'd dream I would be abducted and sexually or physically assaulted. And even in these days I still have these dreams. Its really scary 'cause every time one of these dreams start, I know that this dream isn't gonna be pretty. And I try to wake myself up by trying to move my hand, it rarely works though.
I actually get disturbed if I DONT have weird or intense dreams - so I guess its a classic case of reversal?

Most are perversions on real life - my own or others observed lives.

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