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* There is a public Facebook group titled: “LDS Survivors of Ritualistic Abuse, Mind Control and Organized Abuse”
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I promised I would write about denial. I started off thinking, “Oh this will be easy,” but I was mistaken. I found that denial, minimization, repression, and amnesia were all mixed up in my mind. After sleeping on it for several days, I figured out that in denial and minimization the thought, feeling, or memory is not forgotten, it resides in the conscious mind; it just isn’t interpreted the way most people would interpret it. Whereas in repression and amnesia the thought, feeling, or memory is unconscious.
Denial is. well, denying something is so. Minimization is admitting it’s so, but believing it isn’t really all that bad.
I’ll give an example from my past. For years I said (and believed) I didn’t self-harm. All that time, though, I was scratching the back of my neck and picking off the scabs. That’s denial. On and off I was aware I was doing this but I never really thought about what it might mean. When I finally admitted to myself that I was self-harming, I said that it didn’t really count because it was so much less severe than taking drugs or cutting or burning myself. That’s minimization.
True, it was a mild form of self-harm. But it still was self-harm.
I figured out that I had been abused in the woods as a young child and that the twigs and stones on the ground had left scratches on my back. I was recreating those scratches and I didn’t know why. It was the memory trying to surface and I made sure those scratches stayed open until I recognized it as a sign from my unconscious that I needed to pay attention to something.
When I got the memory and processed it, I no longer had the need to scratch myself. If I need to remind myself, I can take a mirror and see the scars. I can’t see the internal; scars, but I know they are there and sometimes I am acutely aware of them.
This example of denial didn’t cause any real harm to me or to anybody else. But often denial leaves destruction in its wake, like a hurricane. It ruins relationships and sucks the joy out of life for the person in denial and all those around them. People adapt to the denier’s behavior and this, rather than bringing peace and harmony as hoped, feeds the denial. The behavior being denied becomes a secret, corrosive as all secrets are.
Think of an alcoholic who says, “I’m not an alcoholic, I only drink beer.” But how many beers a day? Or “I only drink after five o’clock.” But how much? Does the money spent on alcohol strain the family budget? Does that person turn nasty and say horrible things to his kids? Are there fights, sometimes ending in violence? And what happens when that person blacks out?
Now the role of denial in alcoholism is much better understood than it is in survivors of ritual abuse, perpetrators, and family members. I think that’s because amnesia and multiplicity are much more central in ritual abuse and denial tends to be overlooked.
Let’s take a ritual abuse perpetrator who is also an alcoholic. (I am using the masculine pronoun, although we all know that there are many female perpetrators, probably just as many as male.) Chances are that he is amnesiac for his ritual abuse activities. If confronted, he would be baffled and think the person who was accusing him was crazy or had some ulterior motive to cause trouble. Why would anybody make up something like that? It would make no sense to him.
Of course, it might be possible that some of this information had leaked through to him. Perhaps he dreamed of orgies. This bothered him because he had never been to an orgy and had absolutely no desire to go to one. But he might have an uneasy, irrational fear that the accuser could read his mind and he might react defensively out of shame and fear. Whereas, if the action is conscious, no matter how much the person tries to push it away, he would know, on some level, that the accusation is true.
So, I believe that the closer the information is to the surface, the more angry and defensive he would be.
Now, although he may tell himself his drinking isn’t to the point of being alcoholism, the drinking is not close to the surface, it’s on the surface and he is conscious of it every day. In other words, he knows, but, in order to justify holding on to his addiction, he denies its severity and minimizes it, both to himself and to others.
When he is confronted, he may be defensive, angry, and argumentative. Unless he is ready to give it up because it is causing him too much pain, in which case he will react with relief. Relief, of course, isn’t available to a person if he is amnesiac and doesn’t know of his behavior.
Writing this has sorted some things out for me. I hope it helps to sort things out for others, too.
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11/22 US Thanksgiving
11/23 Full Moon
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)
2 thoughts on “Ritual Abuse and Denial”
It amazes me that I have lived in denial my whole life about certain things. For instance, my mother and her truly evil behavior towards me and my sister. I’m sure there are other things I am in denial about. But reading your column always helps me to start sorting things out. I hope your surgery went well.
A lot of kids go into denial about their parents because they are dependent on them. And if they admit their parents are evil, they will be terrified. It is much better to believe that they are fine and you are at fault, because you know you can try something different and maybe you will succeed in pleasing them. So denial is a survival technique.
Thanks for asking about the surgery. It went fine, no flashbacks, a skilled surgeon, and truly great results. I am so pleased with my distance vision. Everything is clear and sharp and the colors are so much brighter.