my life is a *trigger warning* – remembering
notes on surviving ritual abuse
reflecting now on the decision i made that day in august to begin remembering all of the many traumas i had experienced in my life, and to heal from them, it is among the most courageous choices i have made in my life. i say this with the knowledge that I risked, or was willing to risk death, rape and torture many times during my childhood.
i sometimes risked death (and, happily, was let live) and rape and torture (and sometimes had both done to me) because i had decided at a young age that there were actions that I was not willing to take, in spite of any consequences to myself, and sometimes others, too. cult members frequently manipulated the love and compassion i had for plants, animals and other children to try and control me. as much as possible, i avoided hurting other living beings, as I knew it was wrong.
i knew it was wrong to hurt others, and i also knew, from watching and listening to adult cult members, and the other children, that the individuals who were the most abusive, violent and cruel to other living beings were almost always the worst people – they were the least human. those who chose to hurt and abuse others would almost always get worse and worse, until their humanity and their sense of connection with themselves and others were so profoundly damaged that they did anything they were told, no matter how hurtful, wrong or degrading. the worse the atrocities that people engaged in, the worse they got, in a downward spiral from which few ever truly recovered. one of the main goals of cult indoctrination was to destroy cult members’ sense of self-respect and human dignity, to utterly dehumanize them.
risking and being willing to risk pain, injury and even death rather than do what i knew was wrong, and sometimes what i simply didn’t understand, was one of the ways that i managed to preserve my sense of self-respect. i felt good about myself when I was able to be brave enough to take those risks, and i realized at some point that feeling good about myself and being happy (even in the worst of circumstances) were necessary not only for my survival, but if i wanted to grow up to be a decent human being, and to get out of the cult.
this isn’t to say that they didn’t break me. they did, more than once. anyone can be broken, given time. everyone can heal from any torture they have experienced.
somehow i survived and continued to fight to maintain my humanity and personal integrity. i succeeded to an extent that anchored me into my adult life: i was a good man, even though I hurt so badly. eventually, i got myself into counselling where I have been able to reclaim every part of myself, and to heal from the vicious brutality i lived through as a child, and to a lesser extent, as an adult (partly at the hands of the catalonian and spanish police, about which more later).
remembering the abuse meant acknowledging that a part of my life, a small part by that time, was a lie. it meant that family and long-time “friends” were not a group of people who were unintentionally complicit with colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy – not to mention ableism, but who were fundamentally loving and decent people. it meant that they were a group of people who had systematically raped, tortured and abused me for a large part of my life.
remembering meant that i had to re-evaluate and re-asses my whole life and what it meant, as what i had understood to be true was false. i was ignorant of my own past and, therefore did not understand my present life, or my future trajectory. i was, in part, not even myself. my self had literally disintegrated due to the massive traumas done to me and, thus, i did not know myself. the self that i knew had been forced to disassociate significant portions of my psyche, to remember a limited and edited number of memories, and to forget everything about the cult.
remebering meant that i could be whole again. i could begin to remove the lies from my life – my relationship with my self, with my biological family, and with “friends” – and replace them with reltionships that were based inmutual respect, friendship, compassion and love. i could honour and love myself as i deserved. i could work to stop the cult, and to protect those children who are still being abused.