(a paragraph from this book by Tian Dayton, PhD)
Picture again the child facing her drunk parent. She is short, he is tall. She thinks with a child’s limited reasoning, he’s been to college. She has her truck or teddy dangling from her arms. He holds the keys to the house, the car, and credit cards. She could fight, but she knows that if she tries to stand up for herself, she will only come to her daddy’s waist. She could flee, but where would she go in her footy pajamas with no money? So she does what she can do. She shuts up. She stands there like a little soldier and takes it. She freezes, holds her pain, hurt and tension in the musculature of her little body and flees on the inside, she dissociates. Dissociation – or “fleeing on the inside” – can be hard to see. After all, your body is still there – you talk and interact, you seem to be there, but you are not in your own skin. You’re not present. You’re on autopilot. Life appears to be happening out there, somewhere, but you’re not quite present.