Spacing Our or Dissociation

Sometimes people who have been through sexual abuse or a rape cope with feelings by spacing out and feeling like they are not ‘in their body’ or ‘not here’.

A way of explaining this is that the mind drifts away from what is happening to the body in such situations and you either think of other things/places/people, or your mind may go completely blank. This is also known as ‘dissociation’.

It is common for children or young people to space out when something too horrible or confusing is happening, and is too much to cope with at such a young age. Spacing out helps them feel it is not really happening to them. This means that spacing out can really help people who have been sexually abused or raped to protect themselves. But sometimes it is difficult for people to stop feeling this way, even though the bad experience has stopped. If a person feels spaced out a lot of the time, even though this may help them avoid painful experiences, it also means they may miss out on the nicer things in life too.

This can become a problem for some people, so if you feel like you are spaced out a lot of the time, the best way to help yourself is to talk to someone about it, such as someone you trust, a counsellor or your G.P. This may help you feel more like you are here in the present again, and able to live your life more fully.

For more information, please see the section on Grounding.

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