Reflections on Coerced Perpetration and Perpetrator-Identified Parts of Self: A Letter of Understanding

This piece was written by a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous.

She challenges me…by saying things I had not thought of…by saying them in ways I had not thought of…by lingering on parts of her experience that I have skipped over or run away from. This is one issue that I have dealt with, but not at the depth that she has, and I feel honored that she chose to share it with me.

And not just with me. With all who may read my blog today or in days to come. Or who may choose to quote from her writing so that her words may spread even further. (Just cite this article.)

Thank you, dear friend, from the bottom of my heart.

~~~~~~~~~

What comes next is not you.  Is not who you are.
What they made from you is not who you wished to be or become.
These parts of you did not have a choice.  You did not have a choice.

For some time now, we have been reflecting on coerced perpetration trauma and the subsequent creation of parts for the purposes of furthering the agenda of our oppressors, who were our family, along with the perpetration groups with which they were involved.  We are not very far along on this part of our healing journey – it is a place we have been utterly terrified of for decades.

Our perpetrators, our parents, did a very good job of breaking us.

Our whole lives have been centered around striving to be free of our perpetrators, to escape, to survive, to find and create a meaningful life where we can do good.  Help others. Bring more light into the world in whatever small ways we can. Forever it has been thus, for us…. Trying to do good, be good.  Take care of others. Of course, these altruistic behaviors originate from many places in many people, abused or not.

What has also been true is that we always knew there was a “Dark Side,” another side, another way of being… another place within our psyche, where other beings and entities existed.

However, we believed these “others” were evidence of psychosis.  ALWAYS.  We were told this – as many of us were, as survivors of extreme, sadistic, organized abuse.  Any memories, thoughts or voices, expressions through art or poetry, images, sensations: ALL of it = psychosis.

So, of course we stayed away from this content, these “entities.”  Avoidant in the extreme; the idea of learning or understanding more about these “others,” who live in darkness, felt tantamount to death.  This has been the belief.

Until. Until a massive shake-up and reorganization of our system happened and we started to wonder.  These “evil others,” these demonic entities, these images of perpetrating harm against other children, animals, others… what if these were real events from childhood, what if these “others” were parts of self, parts of our system?

We must have sensed something about this around the time of our big internal shake-up.  We bought a book, called “The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep” by Harvey Schwartz.  We read Harvey’s book and felt understood in a way we never had before. (Though some parts of us hid certain chapters – those that said healing is possible.)  Through his book, we felt that someone in the world could actually comprehend and bear witness to the degree of evil that some humans perpetrate against others, including against children.  We saw that someone might be able to see into the nature of this experience of coerced perpetration trauma and even have compassion and care for them.

Coerced perpetration trauma is the result of extreme forms of abuse perpetrated by offending persons and systems when they want to perpetuate their evil, when they want to create mini-versions of their own abusive selves, when they derive a sick pleasure from taking an innocent child, a child who is dependent on them, and twisting and perverting their natural attachment bonds to create a part of that child’s self/mind that will behave EXACTLY as told.  A part that will do whatever their “handler” wants, whatever their perpetrator requires of them.  A child that will behave exactly like the perpetrator, that will inflict harm on others or engage in antisocial behavior.

Why would a child do this; behave as a perpetrator?  Why would a child, with the full capacity for being kind and loving, harm another child or animal?

They would do this in order to survive. They would do this to survive extremes of torture and abuse. A child would harm others in order to survive the extreme manipulation of their mind by perpetrators who know how to break humans.

Adults and children alike – will do just about anything to survive.  This is, actually, a harsh truth about human nature.

We are built to survive at all costs.  At the level of our ancient brain, we are hard-wired to stay alive.  We have wondered and wished: why didn’t they just let us die? Why didn’t we just die?

We always thought these “others” we knew about were ALL-BAD, and totally evil.  And, actually, I believe some of them are, pure evil.  But as a system, we have learned a lot in the past few years.

One thing we have learned is that the “others” who live in darkness – that even they exist on a continuum of evil.  Some, it seems, embrace their evil-ness, some, it seems, are “just doing their jobs,” some, it seems, do not like their jobs.  Some are a little bit interested in all of this healing work that has been going on.  Some, of course, would like to kill everyone and completely stop all progress.  The “jobs” within are multitudinous.

The point is, that not everyone wants to be a slave to the perpetrating system.  Not everyone wants to live in darkness forever.  Not everyone wants to believe everything they were taught.

A few experiences have helped us begin to see things differently and to be willing to learn a little bit more about these “others.” Something has shifted to dial back the utter terror (an absolute TERROR of understanding our own selves implanted by our perpetrators) so that we can begin to consider that these “others” may actually be parts of… us.

In 2020, we saw a webinar by Richard Loewenstein through the ISSTD on the demystification of perpetrator tactics.  His words have been percolating inside all this time.

First, he described programming as torture.  Plain and simple.  And boy, did that hit home.  We found ourselves recalling various “lessons,” “programming,” and “training” experiences…. They were torture.  As in true, mind-bending, horrifically pain-inducing, crazy-making torture.  We dreamt repeatedly about adults being tortured and seeing them “break,” and each time we woke feeling shocked that one could “break” an adult so completely. If you could “break” an adult so completely, what chance does a child have, what chance does a 3 year old, or a 5 year old, or an 8 year old or even a teenager have against an army of adults bent on “breaking” them, using extreme methods of torture?

This was another dawning moment…. That the use of torture was how they “programmed” all of us.  That certainly helped to demystify the word “programming.” But it also made the method clear – this was pain-inducing torture, including techniques that break hardened military men and women, people who have been trained to withstand these techniques.  They apply these similar methods (and worse, actually) to children.

The next thing Loewenstein said that stayed with us from the moment we heard it, was his description of “introjects” (parts that identify with the perpetrator) as “Underground Freedom Fighters.”  This term conveyed a sense of respect and honor for parts of us who had to do terrible things in order to survive… especially those protector parts who did what they did, not because they liked it, but because they had to.

Loewenstein called to mind the extremely dangerous dictatorships of Nazi Germany or Saddam Hussein.  He asked us to consider that working under Hitler or Saddam meant obedience or death.

We understand that equation: obedience or death.

We are starting to see that parts made in the likeness and qualities of the perpetrators had no choice.  These parts may have been convinced that they made a choice; they may have been offered something that looked like choice, that didn’t seem like the indoctrination or the coercion it was… but they did not have a true choice or a voice in what they would do or how they would think or feel or behave.

A few months ago, we went back and read those chapters we ‘skipped’ in Harvey’s book that suggested healing was possible. Most powerful was his chapter, ‘The Child Soldier as a model of internalized perpetration.’ It resonated within us and across barriers. It helped us to understand the level of manipulation we – and sadly, many children around the world – have been subjected to in the name of power, greed, and ideology. Reading about the rehabilitation of these child soldiers, who had both experienced and committed atrocities, we found understanding and compassion for them. And we felt profoundly, the healing power generated by a caring person bearing witness and saying, again and again and again: “None of what happened was your fault. You were just a little boy… None of what happened was your fault. None of what happened was your fault.” (Harvey Schwartz quotes from Beah, I. (2007). A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier. Sarah Crichton Books.)

We immediately started reading “A Long Way Gone,” by Ishmael Beah and thank him deeply for his brave voice and courageous spirit.  Our heart breaks for his suffering and rejoices in his redemption.

~~~~~~~~~~

For some time now, we have been able to tolerate the barest glimpse of what these “others” may hold.  We have flashbacks… which is interesting, right?  If they were entirely “other,” flashback material would not cross over to “our” consciousness, right?

(The “delusion” of their separateness is pretty extreme.)

Recently, we have experienced a series of unexpected life events which set off cascades of internal messages, flashbacks, memories…. And we have begun wondering… if some of the “others” might want to come over to be where “we” are in our internal landscape…. If some of them might be genuinely interested in participating in this ‘healing’ stuff we are doing or even, just breathing fresh air.  Some are terrified of even that, for what might that mean: to breathe fresh air?  We have begun sensing that some might want to see what the life is like – so many of them have been “entombed” within their trauma or their concrete rooms, for eternity, it seems.

We wonder, because some of them have broken through in dramatic fashion – seemingly by accident – some have run though then retreated.  I wonder, sometimes, if “word’s gettin’ out,” if whispers of another way of life are leaking through.  If fragments of light and even a speck of hope might be filtering through barriers which have been rock solid, until now. (Which is terrifying.)

So… we have begun thinking about how to understand, how to work with and manage these “others.”  We had a re-living experience of torture a few weeks ago.  We re-lived and re-lived and re-lived the moment, the exact moment when you feel you are going to die and you WILL DO ANYTHING to MAKE IT STOP.  ANYTHING.  Anything.  Those of “us” on this side of things felt that. That state. That annihilation. That agony. That capitulation. And we felt it over and over again as some kind of flashback.  And, while that re-living may have been generated from within as a punishment, what happened instead was: we found compassion.  Compassion for the part of us who endured that experience.  She endured THAT experience as an 8 year old child.  OF COURSE she (and whomever they created from her) OF COURSE she did whatever they told her to do.  Of course, she did, she had no choice.

Is that child evil? Is that part-of-self truly evil?  I’ll tell you what is evil: Breaking a child.

Making a child believe they are evil, loathsome, rotten to the core.  What is evil, is breaking a child into a million pieces so you can control their every function and make them do this, do that.  Think this, think that.  Like an army of puppets or robots or slaves (or zombies, says someone inside).

Some with more sophistication, of course, to perpetuate their evil agenda…. An army of children.

THAT, is the evil.  Perpetrating this harm on children. Taking away their innocence, their self-hood, their sovereignty.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The other night, we happened upon this article by Ellen Lacter, “Work with ‘Abuser Personalities.’” You can find it here: https://endritualabuse.org/latest-articles/  

In this article, we found a lot of clarification about our own experiences.  We have been stuck in the wondering about these “internalized perpetration parts;” wondering if this or that part is “us” or something “they” created?  Is this part an “organic” creation of our own mind/system, or something the perpetrators implanted?  What the hell is an implant?  Why does it seem like there is everything from pure evil within, to parts doing “jobs,” to parts who are just traumatized children holding delusional beliefs (such as: they are dead and live in actual hell)?

There is, indeed, a continuum.  A continuum of humanity within, a continuum of evil, a continuum of goodness and Light. There is a continuum of organically-generated to perpetrator-engineered parts.  It is not black and white. There are parts we made to survive.  There are parts the perpetrators made to use.  There are parts we made that they capitalized on. There are parts they made that didn’t work so well and parts they made that we are healing.

~~~~~~~~~

We now suspect that those “others” are, actually, parts of us.  We are starting to comprehend that our perpetrators created parts of us, from us, to do evil.  To do harm.  To make money for them, as part of their criminal organizations.  To further their agendas.

The utter heartbreak of this feels intolerable.  To know that you and so many parts of you have tried:  to be good, to do good, to protect other children, to protect others within ourselves, to save others, to protect and not hurt animals, to see goodness in the world, to help others heal, to support and offer care, to make the world a better place…. To know that some of us tried NOT TO BE BROKEN in order to protect others from pain – and to have been broken anyway. It feels like failure.  Utter hopelessness and despair.

The utter loss of self. The annihilation of goodness.  The destruction of innocence.  The complete and total loss of control.

This essay is, in a strange way, like a love letter, a letter of understanding, to all the parts of us who were broken. And to the one part of us who is grieving and struggling right now, who tried to hold out for so long, who tried to hold on to some tiny piece of her goodness, who was willing to die to make things stop… but couldn’t.  Dear one, you couldn’t die because they wouldn’t let you.  You didn’t die because your human brain is built to survive at all costs.

You couldn’t protect others or prevent others from being made from you – because you were just a child.  You were only 8 years old and we are all feeling how hard you tried.  And how HUGE the sadness is, this tidal wave of grief.  It is, too big… and we will share it with you so that you do not have to feel the full weight of this unbearable grief all alone.

And, no matter what comes next in our knowing, no matter who did what and who got hurt, we know you did not want to be or become that.  We know: it is not who you are.  Being a perpetrator of harm is not your – and is not our – true nature. It is not something we carried into our adulthood or passed on to future generations. It is something they created carefully, sadistically, and intentionally through torture, manipulation, and overwhelm.

You – and we, all of us, even the “others,” have a spark of creation energy, of cosmic light, and we will find our way to togetherness and healing, to releasing pure evil and that which is not us, in service of healing broken parts of us, and parts of us who believe they are beyond redemption.

We will find our way to understanding and compassion and connection – with nature, with ourselves, with the goodness in the world.  And dear little one, we see your goodness.  It shines through all that they made you do.

~~~~~~~~~~

We want to acknowledge that our healing work is deeply embedded in a relational context.  We would not be able to understand, find compassion for ourselves, and take next steps on our healing path were it not for the care and support of those who are sharing this part of our journey. There are not many – when you grow up as we did, it is hard to trust, and connection with humanity feels impossible.  But sometimes, when we are met consistently (surprisingly) with kindness, warmth, and compassion… more healing happens and is made possible with each shared step.

We are so deeply grateful for our therapist, who sees the good and the evil of our experiences and holds hope and such strong faith in our goodness and in our capacity to heal, even when we cannot. Your presence and bearing witness are healing in and of themselves. We know your love, that feels like Light, is helping us to find our own.

We are so grateful to our therapy consultant, for your generosity of spirit and compassion, your appreciation of what it means to be a true ally for healing, and for your wise guidance with the transpersonal and spiritual that are so critical on this path.

~~~~~~~~~~

Beah, I. (2007). A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier. Sarah Crichton Books.
Lacter, E. (2021, May 2). Work with “Abuser Personalities.” End Ritual Abuse.  https://endritualabuse.org/latest-articles/
Loewenstein, R.J. (2020). A Demystified, Pragmatic Approach to the Treatment of Patients with a History of Organized Sadistic Abuse. [PowerPoint slides]. https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/webinar-library/
Schwartz, H. L. (2013). The alchemy of wolves and sheep: A relational approach to internalized perpetration in complex trauma survivors. Routledge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

July 
7/23 Full Moon 
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God 
7/27 Grand Climax

August  
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh 
8/13 Friday the 13th 
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
8/22 Full Moon 
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

September  
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast 
9/7 Labor Day (United States)  
9/20 Full moon 
9/22 Fall Equinox 
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

7/18 Tisha B’Av (Jewish Day of Mourning) 
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party 
9/1 Start of WW2 
9/7 Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year, Day of Judgement) 
9/16 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement) 
9/17 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday 
9/21 – 9/27 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, Jewish harvest festival

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.

~~~~~~~~~~

Additional information on various holidays:

Lammas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-il
Fall Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Candlemas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/ 
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/

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