“for all the other Mirandas”
only what i need to know
as i continue to work toward speaking about and describing my own experiences as a ritual abuse survivor – new memories have been surfacing recently, and i have been working hard to heal the trauma associated with them- you might have noticed that i’ve been including a number of quotes from other survivors. i’m doing this for several reasons: i feel connected to them and their stories, and including them in my writing feels good, as if i’m relating to and having a conversation with them, and that we’re all having a conservation with you, the reader; to give you all a better idea of the general shape of ritual abuse; so that you can read the stories of other survivors, and learn from their experiences and their special insights, gifts and perspectives; finally, to make sure that people know that there are many survivors and that there is even a small ritual abuse survivors’ movement.
i would encourage you all to check out these websites and fb pages about ritual abuse:
End Ritual Abuse: http://endritualabuse.org/
Satanic Ritual Abuse Exists – Together We Can Stop It: https://www.facebook.com/RitualAbuseHealing
Ritual Abuse, Ritual Crime and Healing: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ritual-Abuse-Ritual-Crime-and-Healing/150512681757740
“This is for you Miranda, and for all the other Mirandas who came before you, and who have come after you. May your Souls be forever at peace.
Miranda was four years old when she died on an altar of Satan, at the hand of her five-year old friend.
The only difference between Miranda and the other little girl was the family to which she was born. The five-year-old was fortunate, or not so fortunate, depending on the way you look at it, to be born to a family of the inner circle. She was destined to be great and she was groomed to be so, and Miranda’s death was part of this hideous grooming. Miranda was born to the lower circle. From the moment of her conception she was fated to die….No outside human being would have known of her existence.
From the moment of her birth she was neglected and abused, physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. She was given only the bare necessities of survival. She was never allowed to associate with other little children or have any kind of friends. About six months before her death, she was, for the first time, allowed to have a little friend….
For those six months the friendship was encouraged in every way, and it flourished, neither child knowing what was to come….the bond that [was] created [was] an everlasting thing.
For Miranda and her little friend, the bond that was created was nothing more than a deliberate cruel joke…
Holding [the little friend’s] hand in his, [the satanic priest] raised her hand, and with one swift thrust, pierced Miranda’s heart. Miranda looked up at her little friend and smiled through the pain and tears, and she said, “You was my friend” and died.
The little friend was left kneeling on the alter at Miranda’s side holding the knife with the blood of her friend dripping off the end of it. Knowing she had just killed her best friend.”
– For Miranda by Stella Katz in Healing the Unimaginable, p. 211-212
for me, this excerpt by Stella Katz eloquently captures the horror of growing up in a satanic cult, as well as how truly obscene they are. it doesn’t get into just how banal satanic cults really are, though.
banality, evil and sabotage
in 1963 hannah arendt published her book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem” about adolf eichmann’s trial for his role as one of the main architects of the holocaust. the subtitle for the book was “the banality of evil” and i refer to it here because i think the insight that evil is in many respects dull, boring and mundane applies well to the satanic cult that i grew up in, and to ritual abuse more generally.
for example, one of the many times i was tortured by my uncle c., one of my primary abusers, i was strapped to a chair, one of the kitchen chairs that was in my grandmother’s house. it wasn’t a special chair. my grandmother’s house wasn’t a special, or secret place. it was and is a big, old country house. i was immobilized with some rope. it wasn’t special rope. he used duct tape to attach one rope to my right cheek and another to my left cheek and then proceeded to pull my head back and forth for a long, long time – six, or twelve hours, or maybe even longer. the repeated motion eventually became excruciatingly painful, and, as i was already prone to dissociation due to years of abuse, i started to dissociate. at this point, they programmed me. there was no special equipment involved, just normal household items, and the ritual abuse itself was simply pulling my head back and forth repetitively for hours and hours.
so, while the ritual abuse that i experienced was at times “spectacular” in the sense of an elaborate show, much more of it was this type of meat and potatoes madness. my family didn’t keep any special tools for ritual abuse – although they surely had access to them. most of what was done to me involved household items, and simple techniques: forcing me to ingest salt, dish washing soap, toothpaste, no sleep, no food and water, asphyxiation with a plastic bag, drowning in a bathtub, etc.
there are many reasons for this. one is secrecy and safety – items that are specifically designed to be used in rituals are also evidence, and if they have been used in rituals they might also have fingerprints, dna etc.
the reason that i want to focus on right now is that, while the cult has access to significant resources, they are not infinite and they want to economize. they want to maximize the benefit to them of engaging in expensive rituals and to minimize the costs and risks. elaborate and complicated rituals are money and labour intensive. rituals involving extreme abuse and murder are risky for everyone involved and for the organization, too. human lives, in particular, are not sacrificed lightly – the costs and dangers involved in raising and acquiring babies, and children to be sacrificed is high. the point i’m getting at is that while cult leaders present themselves and the cult as super-powerful, they and it operate in the real world with all of the limitations to their power that this necessarily implies.
people often, and understandably, focus on the worst and grimmest aspects of ritual abuse, but cults are institutions, and, like all institutions, a great deal of the day to day work is mundane.
i’m highlighting this fact because i want to counter the image the cult wants to present of itself as a super-scary, super-powerful group that knows all sorts of super-secrets. while i have no doubt that there are cult leaders who enjoy their self-concept as the ultimate perpetrators and who exercise great power both in the non-cult as well as the cult world, this was not the reality for most people. as i remember it, life in the cult was dull. truly dull. for those people who were doing most of the ritual abuse, it was also a great deal of work, work that for the most part wasn’t paid or rewarded. so, while cult leaders and other powerful cult members, may get to “enjoy” the power of using and abusing other adults, children, animals, and the natural world, for most cult members they simply have an extra part-time or full-time job. in no way do i want to minimize just how bad ritual abuse is: cult member’s jobs are to participate in the abuse, rape, torture and murder of other human beings, animals and plants as perpetrators, victims and enablers. and i don’t forget that the main reason that ritual abuse exists is to abuse children, for the power and profit of cult leaders and every person and institution engaged in child and human trafficking. what i am saying is that cults, to the extent that they can be said to benefit anyone, only really the small number of powerful cult members and leaders at the top of the hierarchy.
i’m also highlighting the economics of the cult because one of my main tactics to avoid participating in cult rituals was to engage in sabotage and labour strikes. cult rituals, as i wrote above, are expensive, and having someone deliberately ruin them is actually a serious problem. in fact, i didn’t resist only rituals, but as much of the abuse as i could. every minute, every moment that they had to spend searching for me, capturing me, reacting to me, was time that they weren’t abusing me, or others. sabotage and withdrawing my labour – refusing to participate in my own abuse and the abuse of others, as well as in the rituals – were indeed effective tactics. i was increasingly excluded from cult rituals as i grew up, and, while i was never told why, i am sure it was mostly because of my efforts to monkey-wrench the rituals and the ritual abuse:
“…when I was eleven years old, I committed more major acts of rebellion, including putting poison in the ceremonial drink at a ritual. This…proved that I was irrevocably uncontrollable…Now, my lessons – drugged, brutally painful and confusing nightmares come to life – changed to what I call “shutdown” and “discard” programming.”
– Mind control as I experienced it by Trish Fotheringham in Healing the Unimaginable, pg. 83
it took longer, i think, for my family to really give up on me being an obedient cult member – until around 17. i had been gradually moving further and further from “inner circle” activities for a long time before then, but trish fotherinham’s account of her rebellion and her handlers response is similar to my own experience. if i wasn’t willing to be an obedient cult member, then the cult would do it’s best to make sure that my life was as short, difficult and miserable as possible, to set me-up for failure and to reduce my credibility should i ever escape. indeed, obedient cult members and cult leaders are usually highly functional, meaning that they don’t appear to have serious emotional problems, whereas i was not especially functional, the most obvious signs of this being my alcoholism, three separate mental health crises and serious and ongoing mental health problems:
“Trainees discarded by the perpetrator groups because they are rebellious or security risks are often programmed to self-destruct with drugs and alcohol and risky behaviours. Successfully programmed survivors are reported to be highly functional in the identity states that perform cult rituals or other tasks required by their group.”
– Allison Miller, Ritual abuse and mind control: the definition evolves in Healing the Unimaginable, pg. 15
happily, they failed to ruin my life. while i have had a difficult life in some ways, and i’ve known hard times, and i have harmed myself and others, i have not been truly miserable and i did not replicate the violence that was done to me. despite their efforts, i am still very much alive and i have my life to live, a good life free from any cult involvement.