Flashbacks comes as nightmares and daymares...


I heard my son softly whimper and cry out in his sleep this morning. The shaky breaths he drew and the way he cried out as though someone was hurting him and muffling his cries will haunt me until my last breath...I went to him and comforted him which woke him up and he covered his face and withdrew further in his blankets and responded as though to make me feel better. To Make Me Feel Better. Not himself. 😞 I said nothing, and sat with him and comforted him the best I could until he felt better. Getting a haircut threw him into a state of panic and terror and it took a few hours before he was able to stabilize and talk to me. He had another nightmare/flashback of his assault and said I pulled him out of it this morning..It's weighed heavily on my mind and I just don't know what more I can do to help him..I want nothing more than to take this pain away from him, to stop the memories and resulting suffering, and trauma..
..It's weighed heavily on my mind and I just don't know what more I can do to help him..I want nothing more than to take this pain away from him, to stop the memories and resulting suffering, and trauma..
@OldGal - My suggestion is that you prioritize having patience and being open and available to him for the long haul. Your son suffered injuries from which his mind and body are trying to heal, but this is a non-linear process. Some days and some nights will be worse than others, if there are circumstances and triggers that aggravate his injuries. I can't remember if you mentioned your son's age, but I was guessing he is a teenager?

You can't take away his pain, you cant undo his traumatic injuries. You yourself, as a parent, are suffering from the trauma of knowing your child has been harmed. I can't remember if you mentioned whether you yourself are getting any therapy, but this might be valuable, to focus on your own trauma in a separate space from your son.

I understand your frustration. I'm a single parent, and one of my sons has been living just with me for most of his life. He lives with PTSD after a traumatic experience (not CSA), and although he is legally and intellectually an adult, he has not yet launched into independence.
What I am striving to do, and I encourage you to do, is reinforce for your son that he can have a healthy productive life. Despite his injuries, and being so overwhelmed at his young age, one of the best gifts you can give him is a sense of hope and confidence that his future life can be fulfilling and meaningful. He may struggle with nightmares and daymares, on some level, for the rest of his life (as has been my life for over 50 years). On a day- to-day basis, if he has the reassurance that he is unconditionally loved and accepted, and he has the resources and support readily available to help him deal with his challenges in healthy ways, he can learn how to find safety for himself and expand his life skills to function and accomplish his goals, as he continues to heal from injuries.

The other thing I'd suggest, which is tricky to do, is to find balance between: giving him his own space and time, while also keeping a close eye on him for any signs he is engaging in any unsafe or worrisome behavior (for which you might need to intervene to prevent him from further harm). Encourage him to have fun and do things he enjoys, watching from a distance. Stay alert and at the ready, but don't smother him or try to control his life. He needs to know he can rely on you and trust you, even when he may push you away. And know that it's okay for you to make mistakes as a parent, especially because there is often no 'right' thing to do.

Make sure you are breathing and grounded, so you are in a calm rational state in your choices of how you help him, and provide him with support and resources to help himself. Put your own oxygen mask on first, so you are safe and strong and rational to help your child.


I said nothing, and sat with him and comforted him the best I could until he felt better.
I suffer Night Terrors , and flashbacks daily due to MST and military combat. I last year i was living with my parents to help them out a bit. When I went into terror mode my mom came in not knowing what to do and just sat next to me and she would whisper "Its going to be okay Your not alone". For me flashbacks and night terrors would cause me alot of embarrassment. Simply just being there for someone, and listening or letting them know there not alone is perfect. My mother doesnt understand PTSD, But she does her best to learn and is that is comforting


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Hi Old Gal,

I am glad you have found us.

How caring of you to come to a place looking for information so you can help your son.

I am very sorry you are both going through this.

You have been given a lot of good advice.

Healing from trauma is not easy, nor is it quick.

Ideally, both you and your son will have a therapist - a separate therapist. The common denominator between the therapists you see is they will be individuals who specialize in trauma.

Male Survivor has a Therapist Directory. Should you not be able to find a therapist there, do not despair.

If you are in the United States or Canada, you may want to check the Psychology Today website.

Use "trauma" as the specialty. Not all will list "Male Sexual Abuse" as a "specialty."

Additionally, there is an article you may want to read called The Consumer's Guide to Therapist Shopping. While not all of the proposed questions on it will be applicable to you / your son's situation, feel free to add or delete any questions.

Create the list of questions (presuming your son is not yet an adult), leaving a space at the top for the name, number of the therapist as well as the phone number.

Yes, you will call.

Electronic contact is not recommended. You can never be certain the message was received, or received by the intended party. Nor can you know if the intended recipient is the one who is responding.

Additionally, if you are able to hear, you want to hear "tone of voice" when you are speaking to the prospective therapist.

How something is said is as important, if not more important, than what is said.

Interviewing therapists (or any professionals) is daunting. It is not something we are told we have the "right" to do.

You are hiring someone to be your ally in healing. You have every right to interview a person for this very important job, just as you have the right to interview any professional from whom you need assistance.

Know you will not receive a full session when you call.

A "good" therapist will tell you "I do not have the time to speak at the moment, please give me your name, number and a time when it would be convenient for me to call."

If the therapist does have the time to speak, they will patiently answer your questions. Again, you won't get a full session, but you are not limited to a single phone call, either.

Should you not be able to write down everything they said in response to your question, a good therapist will have no problem repeating the information.

A Good therapist will make you feel invited to schedule an appointment.

A bad therapist, on the other hand, will be terse when you ask questions, will be reluctant to answer questions and may resort to things such as "we can talk about it when you make an appointment," making you feel obligated to make an appointment just to have your questions answered.

After you get off the phone, finish writing the answers you received.

Then take a few minutes and ask yourself "how do I feel about that person?" " Does that person seem like someone with whom I would be able to work?"

If the answer is "no." move on to the next name on your list.

Interviewing therapists is nerve wracking. You may only be able to make one or two calls a week. Consider that a Good Week.

If you can make more than one or two calls a week, great for you.

Regardless, know that making the calls is a big step.

A therapist may seem like a "good match" over the phone, but things may not "click" in person.

This is NOT a "failure" on your part, something you have "missed" or something you have "done wrong." Not all therapists and clients are good matches, regardless of their experience.

If your son is under the age of eighteen, you will be interviewing therapists for him.

If he is an adult, he needs to make the list of questions and he needs to be the one to make the calls. He has to find the therapist with whom he thinks he will be able to discuss things and with whom he will be able to develop rapport.

I do not know how much you know about the sexual abuse / assault of males.

To help you educate yourself, we have a list of facts about Male Survivors and a Bookstore you may find useful.

Books for survivors are not "off - limits" to family and friends. There are also books written specifically for family and friends (aka supporters) of male survivors. Books written for survivors are very informative for supporters, though some may be a bit "raw" or difficult to read.

You may find yourself purchasing several books.

While you may want your son to read them, do not make it mandatory. Do not tell him "I bought this book, I want you to read it."

Leaving books around the house is a good way to get someone interested in them. Make it clear these are "your" books, and leave it at that.

He may be afraid to tell you he wants to read them - he may fear what they contain. The flip side of that is he may be curious to read them.

If you notice they have been moved and he seems to have read them, good for him. He may not want you to know he has looked at them, and that is okay. Curiosity is a great way of getting people to do something without telling them to do it.

Do not ask him if he has read them.

If he wants to discuss them with you, I hope he knows he will be able to do that. By you having hte books out in the open, rather than hidden, you are sending him several messages - that you are willing to learn about the sexual abuse / assault of males and the effects it has on them, and that you are open minded enough to accept this has happened to him and that he can talk to you about this.

Knowing you are there for him and that he can discuss something with you in which you will not be judgmental, blaming or shaming, is HUGE. The fact you know this has happened and that you want to help him, has sent him the message that you believe him, which is also very important.

Getting your son into therapy may not be easy.

Whether or not he goes, you have to go. You have to deal with this as much as he does. Being stronger than you already are and gaining a lot of tools in your arsenal to deal with the roller coaster that will ensue as you both go through this process is paramount, regardless of the choice(s) he makes.

This is not a journey to take alone, neither for yourself nor for your son. With the help of qualified therapists and the community you have found here, I hope you will realize you are no longer alone in this journey.

One of the common beliefs male survivors have is "I am the only one." Then they find Male Survivor and they realize, often for the first time, they are not alone.

Our experiences may differ, but we have more in common than we have in differences regardless of the age(s) at which the abuse(s) occurred, how many abusers there were, whether the abuser(s) were within the family, family friends or strangers.

I am glad you have found us and I hope your son will come to realize how much you love him to have looked for this site and that you are prepared to take this journey with him.

What a wonderful way of telling him "I love you, son."



So painful seeing one's own child in pain. It sounds like you and your son have a trusting relationship. You have great instincts to witness, quietly comfort and be a calm and consistent presence, so keep on doing that.

Haircuts are triggering for my guy also, to the point where he will avoid it for way too long. He only has his hair cut a couple times a year, by a family member at home. A lot of hairdressers started making home visits during Covid.
Male Survivor has a Therapist Directory. Should you not be able to find a therapist there, do not despair.
The best kind of therapist would be someone who specializes in CSA and trauma. If you're not close to one see if you can access someone via Zoom.

TJ jeff

Staff member
He had another nightmare/flashback of his assault and said I pulled him out of it this morning

I bolded the end of the line I quoted above because of how it jumped off of the page at me - you pulled him out of that nightmare/flashback - that is huge - give yourself the credit you deserve for being there for him - as painful as it is you cannot stop the nightmares and flashbacks - but you can be there to comfort him - and that is huge!!! (many of us would give anything to have had someone there to comfort us during nightmares/flashbacks)
If you are in the United States or Canada, you may want to check the Psychology Today website.
you can still check out Psychology Today because if you find a therapist you want even further away you can connect with Zoom