my life is a *trigger warning*
only what i need to know: surviving ritual abuse
“I have learned many things on my journey: that if we forget or deny the past we are condemned to repeat it, that only the truth will set us free, and that the most powerful force, the only force that can save us in the face of such horror and destruction is LOVE. I cannot be a religious person, but love is my religion. Love is what I believe in. The greatest truth is love.”
– Anonymous, “Love is my religion” in Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs, p. 154.
writing about ritual abuse and mind control
it’s been a year or more since i wrote anything about ritual abuse. during this time i have continued to remember, both in terms of greater depth and detail and in terms of entirely new memories. now that i am writing about ritual abuse and mind control again i am trying to think of how to best make the writing accessible and interesting.
i think that one piece that i need to address to make the narrative easier to understand is to clarify the difference between what i remembered before i started healing and what i have been remembering after. i’m not going to really focus on this yet, but i want to mark the distinction between these two periods of my life.
then and now
simply put, until about 3 years ago i had no memories of being ritually abused. i had no memories of being physically, sexually, intellectually and spiritually abused. i had realized that my biological father had been emotionally abusive, and i had confronted him about it, and he eventually apologized and said he felt great remorse. on two or three occasions i had thoughts that i might have been sexually abused by my biological father as a child, but at those times when i had these thoughts i was not able to accept that this was a real possibility. this is a common enough reaction from many adults who have been sexually abused as children.
until i started therapy what i remembered of my childhood was what i thought of as a happy childhood. certainly, there were signs that this wasn’t accurate – for example, i attempted suicide just before my 17th birthday, and by 18 i had a drinking problem.
approximately 3 years ago i decided to explore these old thoughts that i might have been abused and what began to surface was memories of severe sexual and physical abuse – being repeatedly raped and drowned, or half-drowned in the bathtub. the memories of both were clear. the memories of being drowned in the tub were extraordinary in the sense that most childhood sexual abuse does not involve intentional and systematic torture, but they were consistent with ritual abuse.
since then, as more and more memories have surfaced, a fundamentally different version of my childhood and my life has emerged. from this new understanding of what actually happened it also became clear that the psychiatric diagnosis of “schizoaffective disorder” that i had been given about 8 years before was wrong. while this diagnosis described some of my symptoms, what i was really experiencing was a combination of post-traumatic stress and dissociated identities.
the healing work that i have been doing has so far reduced and/or eliminated the symptoms that i was experiencing and i have also stopped drinking and using other coping or self-medicating mechanism that i had relied on until that point.
dissociated identities, surviving and thriving
the most significant divide that i lived was between my “normal” life and self where i did not know that i had been born into a satanic ritual abuse cult, and the life and selves that were aware of this fact.
i was programmed in a way that cult members could trigger my dissociated identities. as far as I can remember this involved a combination of shock and some specific words and actions. it was, i think, somewhat like entering a hypnotic trance – trauma and especially life-threatening circumstances make people more suggestible and the use of repeated extreme traumas in childhood results in people and identities that are remarkably susceptible to suggestion and vulnerable to this type of mind control.
it may seem weird, it certainly still seems weird to me, but that’s the best that i can explain it right now.
in subsequent posts i’m going to talk about what i needed to know, and what i needed not to know, in order to survive the ritual abuse that was being done to me. dissociating, as well as having and maintaining a divide between my “normal” life and being in a cult, were absolutely essential to my survival. equally important was my single-minded focus on what i believed would assist me in surviving and escaping the cult. i both survived and escaped and i think that exploring surviving extreme abuse can help illuminate what is necessary to survive oppression, what it means to be human and the difference between surviving and thriving.