ILLUMINATING THE UN-ILLUMINATED (A Guest Post)

One of the wonderful gifts of WordPress is the community of bloggers that support, encourage and accept each other exactly for who they are. I have found this to be especially true in the mental health community. Five years ago I had the pleasure of meeting my survivor-sister. She’s a brilliant writer who has agreed to illuminate what for many of us survivors is hard to talk and write about. Ritual Abuse. Although we live on separate continents and we are decades apart in age, our bond, our stories and trauma are very similar. I’m humbled to get to introduce her bravery to you. It is with great pleasure and an honor to share with you, Illuminating the Un-illuminated!

The very best way to counter darkness is illumination, and how do you illuminate something? You drag it out of the shadows, and you shine the brightest of spotlights right on it. Light is the opposite to darkness so any time darkness is the dominant force, the best antidote is always light.

For any survivor of childhood trauma, while there is rarely any definite and distinct end point to your healing, the beginning of that healing process almost always begins on that first brave day you speak your truth out loud for the first time.

Darkness is abuse. Truth is light.

Darkness is secrecy. Truth telling is the illuminator; shining a spotlight on that darkness.

So what is illumination? Illumination begins the day you defy all the threats you heard whispered a hair’s breadth from your ear, and shoulders back, head held high, with an exhaled breath of determined, task-oriented, tunnel vision, you decide you might just finally be ready to talk about your trauma. Fighting through lumps in your throat as jagged and vast as boulders, you scan your brain for words (all of which seem entirely inadequate) and sputter segments out of some of the mess inside your head, in breathless and exhausting bursts. It hurts, it all really hurts. It aches, the wounds start to weep and bleed and your body feels heavy, oh so heavy. For moments the pain threatens to completely engulf you and you panic and cry, but nonetheless, despite the difficulty of those words, so impossible to say, you persist, and little by little you paint pictures in words for whoever it is privileged enough to be hearing you voice your story; something that was once entirely hidden.

When voicing your trauma testimony to others you inevitably re-experience what you went through but from a safer distance this time. You are one step removed. You are the observer now, not the participant. Never have you been more relieved of anything in your entire life. During the re-tell, you hear the sounds, you smell the smells, see the sights, and once again you trace the textures through nervous shaky fingertips. In titrated bursts, all over again, you feel the feels. It hurts. It really hurts, but you persist because you feel braver than brave and prouder than proud of yourself, because your pain is not just your pain anymore. You do not sit behind bars with your pain in a private prison. Your pain is now a shared pain. Your distress has been seen, felt, and heard. Your story exists somewhere outside of your own body. That story has a life now.

When a survivor describes their testimony to any human witness, describing some of what you went though, that witness (if they have any empathic capacity at all) will begin to see and feel and hear and touch and sense a teeny tiny proportion of some of the traumas you went through. They will never truly ‘get it’. Of course they won’t. They will *never* know how it felt to be you, but at least there is some building block there, some foundation to build understanding and raise awareness; something to help you internally construct an image of something you may well never ever have heard of before. This is why sharing your trauma, if you can possibly find the strength and guts to do it, is probably one of the best and most liberating things you can do to both raise awareness, and liberate yourself, kickstarting your healing process.

Sharing has a ripple effect. One single survivor’s testimony can be so powerful. You could be that one person who inspires another to share their trauma testimony, who in turn tell others, and before you know it, more and more and more of humanity are now waking up and beginning to see an image of that thing that was once entirely un-illuminated, secretly festering in the depths of the very darkest of shadows.

So what is the shadow I’m talking about here?….the shadow is organised ritual abuse.

There is no sub-category of abuse lesser known about or more taboo than ritual abuse (also known as organised abuse, satanic abuse, or satanic ritual abuse). We have all heard of abuse going on with family members and those known to the family, as well as the concept of stranger danger, but organised ritual abuse is another thing un-entirely. The public domain contains so little accurate and reliable information about ritual abuse, and that is one of the key factors that actually keeps ritual abuse un-illuminated in the shadows. This collective un-illumination about the goings on of ritual abuse only serves to protect the perpetrators of the abuse, allowing them to continue on with their abusing.

THIS is why I am writing about Ritual Abuse, and not only that, I’m writing this so near Halloween….a day so significant for survivors of this type of abuse across the globe.

Ritual abuse is an abuse of extremes. Ritual abuse is organised, planned, hierarchical, structured, deliberate, extreme, sadistic, brutal, intentional, callous, torturous, manipulative, control-driven, exploitative (and those are the nicer descriptions). Other more emotive but equally accurate words I could use to describe ritual abuse is animalistic, monstrous, twisted, sick and evil. Evil is a strong word, and arguably, no form of child abuse is exempt from the category marked evil, but there is something so shockingly and unbelievably extreme about the nature of the rituals involved in this type of organised abuse, that evil is the most appropriate over-arching word I can think of to describe it.

Secrecy is another concept closely tied with ritual abuse. There is no form of abuse that is lesser known about than ritual abuse. The secrecy and deliberate hiddenness of it all ensures public awareness is not much more significant than zero. The secrecy means awareness is prevented from building, and the secrecy is cultivated by the perpetrators by the way they conduct and plan the systems of abuse, as well as the way they suppress media and police activity. Coupled with that, victims are threatened in a way that is far more believable for them to fear might be true, than your usual class of perpetrators threats. This isn’t to say ritual abuse perpetrators are ‘better’ at threatening and scaring victims, but to say that because their threats are paired with visible actions that make the threats more credible and believable in the eyes of the child victim, the threats are more effective at preventing survivors from disclosing to anyone, particularly as anti-therapy mind control systems are deliberately installed in the mind’s of child victims, causing those parts of the psyche to greatly fear authority, and struggle to trust professional therapists.

I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to share in this written piece, and since I don’t want to risk sharing any content that would be triggering to other ritual abuse survivors…I will end with two last statements. One is a letter to ritual abuse survivors (as well as all survivors of extreme trauma) The second is a statement to the public…..what I would want you to know and take home from reading this ritual abuse blog……Both statements are written from my heart, from someone who has personally experienced this form of organised childhood abuse.

To the public…

What I want to illuminate here is this. Ritual abuse, organized abuse, satanic abuse (whatever your preferred term) is REAL. It happens. It isn’t made up. It isn’t the figment of a child or adult’s imagination. Reporting ritual abuse is not a means of seeking notoriety or attention (believe me, there’s nothing nice about it). It happens everywhere, worldwide, in every county, country, region, or state. It spans the whole economic spectrum of society, with many RA groups being comprised of wealthy and powerful members who on the surface appear to be pillars of the community. It is inter-generational, starting in the family. Children are often introduced to ritual abuse groups by one or both parents. It is highly possible that the parent who involved you in the group was ritually abused themselves when they were a child, and that is how they first became linked with the group. Not only is ritual abuse systematic and varied, involving physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, and spiritual abuse, but mind control and programming is a key part that differentiates organized ritual abuse from other forms of abuse. Mind control techniques, drugging, trafficking, tricks, threats, and lies are combined along with sensory deprivation and other hypnotic techniques to induce a dissociative state in the child victims, meaning they lack conscious memory of the abuse they endured, often well into adulthood. It is possible to deliberately induce amnesia in a child forced to participate in rituals, and create dissociative alter identities to hold memories of the abuse, using proven, high-level, complex psychological techniques. Just because you struggle to believe something like this could happen, and you not know about it, it doesn’t mean survivor accounts of ritual abuse are not believable or true. The false memory syndrome movement was started by a small team of powerful male perpetrators, themselves accused of ritual abuse by their own daughters. The concept of ‘False memory syndrome’ is the perfect tool to cover ritual abuse up and aim to discredit survivors who bravely speak out and report their abuse memories to professionals and members of the police. Child victims usually only become free from the abuse when they get to an age where their brains can not be mind-controlled anymore, and they cease to be of use to the group leaders in serving the needs of the perpetrators. Either that or a child victim defies the perpetrators and refuses to participate, or someone new, such as a partner, enters the world of the victim, leading the perpetrators to disengage that victim from being a part of the group anymore, for fear of getting caught. If someone tells you they were ritually abused, you don’t get to decide that they didn’t. If someone discloses ritual abuse (or what sounds like ritual abuse) to you, believe them. Disclosing RA is difficult enough, without being met with skepticism, rejection, and dismissal. Learn about what RA is. Learn about ways RA survivors can be triggered, and with kindness and gentleness, attempt to minimize any behavior with that person that you know to be triggering. We have been hurt enough in our lives….rejection, skepticism, and a refusal to believe us only adds to that hurt, reinforcing what was drummed into us by perpetrators…that if we ever told, no-one would believe us.

To the survivors…..

What you went through was NOT your fault, not one bit of it. I am so saddened that you experienced what you experienced. My hurt is your hurt. I know how you feel as I’ve felt it. No matter the lies you were told, or the ways the group members tried to trick you into believing horrible things about yourself as though they were fact, NONE of that stuff was true, not one bit of it. They just told you lies as a means of control and manipulation, and you cannot continue to feel ashamed or like you have failed in some way for falling for those lies. You did not deserve to be hurt. You did not ever bring in on yourself. You are NOT weak. You are NOT evil, just because you knew people who were. I am sorry you were unlucky enough to have been born into a family that linked you in with a group. I am sorry you had parents and significant adults in your life who failed to love, nurture and protect you, as you so badly wanted and needed and deserved. I am sorry they frightened you. I am sorry they hurt you. I am sorry you feared for your life. I am sorry you weren’t rescued. I am sorry you had to endure it, night after night, as you grew up, believing that was what happened to all children. I am sad you lost the joy and innocence of your childhood, and that you had to expend all that energy on the basics of survival, rather than thriving or developing and feeling safe to explore who you were as a person, in safety. Please don’t feel bad for anything you did or didn’t do. Please don’t continue to bully yourself, using the abusers as an example of how you deserve to be treated. You deserve so much more than what you had. And most of all you deserved kindness, compassion, protection, care, empathy, and safety. I am sad for all they did to your body. Please know your body can and will heal, maybe not entirely, but enough to live a meaningful life where you experience large swathes of contentment, in-between the tricky trauma trigger stuff. When something or someone triggers your trauma memories, or activates pain belonging to those wounded trauma-holding parts of you, understand and accept you have been triggered, and be as kind as you possibly can to yourself. After all the hurt you have held, no one deserves kindness and patience more than you. If kindness, patience and empathy is not forthcoming from others, you can give some of that love you are craving to yourself. You can be kind, instead of beating yourself up. You can trust it will pass, while acknowledging it hurts like hell in that very moment. One day you will look back at the person you are here today, in the head space you are in while reading this blog, and you will recognise progress. You will see the ways you have grown. You will notice the pain is still very much there, but you can handle it better. You will speak your truth out loud, even if your voice wobbles and shakes. Maybe you can start by speaking your truth into a mirror, telling your secrets to your reflection. Over time you may want to build up to writing about it, or telling another human being about it. However that person reacts, they cannot take your truth away. They cannot diminish your bravery, even if they try to. If you tell someone and they don’t believe you, that is on them. That is their prejudice. That is their filtering. They have only shown you where their blinkers lie. If people reject your truth, or the truth your parts hold, they are not your people. Seek out others who will believe you, who will be kind, who will accept you, and will love you, including your trauma story, as well as everything about you that is not about your trauma story. People won’t always know what to say, but you always have your own strength. No perpetrator can ever fully break you, even if it very much feels that that is what they’ve done. You are not broken, and I promise you, if you commit to it, and not make excuses to avoid doing it, you WILL heal.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for opening your mind. Thank you for inviting me to have this space on your blog Alexis, to speak directly to your friends and followers.

Thank you for helping to facilitate me in taking my power back. In writing and publishing this, I hope for the dark truth of ritual abuse to be a little more illuminated.

The Woods

At an early age, I began collecting odd things like rocks, a bag of dirt, a lock of hair, a cuff-link, or anything that I thought would provide proof of my existence. I hid these things in safe places all over my room. I didn’t keep too many of them in one place for fear that someone would find my cache and I would lose my whole collection.

I thought these artifacts could prove where I was, what was happening to me, and who was with me. In my mind, these were my smoking guns.  I was already trying to gain control over my young life and circumstances. I couldn’t have known that years later, these would be precious breadcrumbs for me to follow as I began recovering my repressed childhood memories.

I was living in a world of secrets. I was born into a family with a strong European bloodline. I was indoctrinated into the family rules at a very young age, at the hands of my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and father. The secrets involved inter-generational abuse, incest, and seasonal secret society rituals.

At a very early age, I’d learned to disconnect from myself and either watch what was happening to me from afar or try to project the pain outside of my body. When I was abused at night, I would find a window in the bedroom and imagine the house next door on fire. I saw the flames shooting up the sides of the house in vivid orange and red; the heat and the spiky flames consuming the house. I found a way to externalize and dissociate from the pain and humiliation.

That fire raged outside my window most nights until we moved to Sheridan the summer I was nine.   That fire and my dream of living alone on the lake were my golden thread of survival. That thread kept the pieces of my shattered soul together and gave me the strength I needed to wake up and face another day. My raging fires were imaginary, but there were countless times in my young years that I had witnessed real and frightening rituals. These took place in the fall and spring with a group of six men, five others and my father.

They took place in temple basements, houses, or the woods and once, even in a mausoleum. They were held in the fall and spring of each year around full moons or holidays. They seemed very elaborate in my young mind. The men were dressed in robes, with candles burning and someone holding a staff with an ornate gold medallion on the top. In shadows cast by the candles, they chanted, sometimes handled snakes, and engaged in ritualistic child abuse.

The fall rituals were held in the woods. I may have been taken to the woods before the age of seven, but that year was a turning point for me. I began to understand how dire my situation was becoming. It was a sunny but cool autumn day with brightly colored leaves on the trees. I was sitting next to a teenage girl who told me her name was Jennifer. She looked beautiful to me, with long blond hair that would blow back from her face with the wind. She was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. She looked to me like a free spirit who belonged at a folk concert singing and dancing, but instead, she was on edge. Just like me, she was a frightened child watching the men in the clearing.

Without warning, Jennifer got up and started running onto the trails to the left of us.  My only thought was to run after her. She veered to the right and I stayed straight. From the sounds of leaves crunching behind me, I knew someone was closing in on me. Before I had time to think, one of the men caught up with me, grabbing me from behind.

He pulled me along the path to meet up with the others who had run after Jennifer. I saw the men standing in a semi-circle. Jennifer was on the ground in front of them. She was lying quiet and still, her pretty blond hair covering her eyes. I don’t know how long I stood there but I do remember one of the men saying to me, “This is what happens to girls who run away.”  As a man led me away from the clearing, I remember wishing that I could have pushed Jennifer’s hair away from her face. I didn’t want her pretty hair to be so messy in front of those men, and I wondered how could she see what was happening to her, with her hair over her eyes.

That thought and her image haunted me into my adulthood. I don’t know for sure what happened to Jennifer that day.  She may have just been knocked out or something more sinister may have befallen her. The men weren’t done with their rituals for the day. They built a fire, carried in a tiny goat that made sounds like a baby, cut its throat and did more ceremony. I remember watching the men with the smoke rising and the smell of burning animal flesh and blood. I remember feeling terrified. Everything seemed to happen so fast that day. What horrified me was that Jennifer was lying in a clearing in the woods, and the men never stopped their perverse festivities.

A few days after the incident in the woods, I took the chance to stray from the safety of my backyard.  I was sitting on my neighbor’s front steps looking at a little mirror with a red plastic case. I looked up and saw my mother storming down the street yelling at me. I panicked when I saw her, dropped the mirror and ran; but not before I heard it shatter on the concrete. My mother shrieked at me as she followed me back to our house. She came in and stood in the kitchen with my father, and I lost it. I started screaming at them that I knew what happened in the woods and that they had killed Jennifer.

My parents became enraged. My mother started toward me and I instinctively turned to run down the two steps leading to the back door, not thinking about the basement steps to the right of me.  I thought I felt a push and the gut-wrenching surprise of losing my balance and falling down the basement stairs. I grabbed the railing to stop myself and felt my hip come down hard as I tugged in the other direction to stop my fall. I groped my way to the bottom of the stairs, hurt and stunned only to look up to see my parents standing on the steps.

My father looked down at me and said, “You are dead to us, and you will never talk about what happened the other day.” I was in pain, confused and terrified but I knew they were serious. They had looks of utter disgust on their faces. I vowed to myself that I would never talk about what happened in the woods and I believed I was dead to them. After what I had witnessed in those woods, I had every reason to believe anything they said. I only was seven years old.

Excerpt from Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856