When Survivors of Ritual Abuse or Other Forms of Extreme Abuse Need Medical Care

Upcoming holidays –  7/19 S (Satanic and some Nazi) Full Moon: 7/29 (Nazi) Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party: 8/1 (Satanic) Lamas: 8/18 (Satanic and some Nazi)  Full Moon: 8/15 (Satanic) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: sundown 8/13 to sundown 8/14 (Nazi) Tisha B’Av: (Day of Mourning) Please note that Satanic sects build the year around pagan holidays and appropriate Christian holidays, some secular holidays, and may also mark holidays of other religions and cultures. Nazis and Neo-Nazis base their calendar on the Satanic calendar, add dates from Nazi history, and appropriate Jewish holidays.

Jade Miller’s wonderful blog, “Thoughts from J8: Notes on Attachment, Trauma, Dissociation, Multiplicity, SRA, and Recovery” is at http://thoughtsfromj8.com/ I hope you go visit it!

Jade and I have become friends over the last year. We are similar in many ways, dissimilar in many others. One of the ways we are alike is that we both come up with tons of wonderful ideas. But she starts working on them as soon as she thinks of them, while I put them on my to-do list. I start one in ten, while she finishes one in ten while I am still researching things.

A month or so ago we talked about how wonderful it would be to go to med schools and dental schools and tell the students about fear, PTSD, flashbacks, and all those good things that come from torturing children. And to write an article with doctors or dentists as co-authors. So far I have recruited one dentist and thought of another. She has decided to offer herself as a speaker and has started to assemble another website. She also wrote this guest post for me, which can serve as a first draft of the article on treating people like us.

So we happily share it with you – our idea’s first venture out into public. We see it as a step to more effective self-care and as an act of activism, as speaking out and educating others is activism.

Jade says that, if you think this would help with your medical care, you may print it out and give it to your medical provider.

When Survivors of Ritual Abuse or Other Forms of Extreme Abuse Need Medical Care
One topic that often comes up in conversation with other abuse survivors is the need for medical professionals to have a greater understanding of the issues survivors deal with in the doctor’s office. I say “doctor’s office” but I’m really talking about any kind of office where a professional is going to be consulted about some aspect of our physical health. So all of this includes dentists, eye doctors, ultrasound technicians, gynecologists, etc.

Things That Apply to All Survivors
In my opinion, one of the most important things for practitioners to keep in mind is that even the disclosure of abuse history is a very vulnerable and tender place for survivors. Filling out forms with questions about our medical history can feel very cold and impersonal, and we may not initially write these things on the lines on the papers. But face to face, if your staff is friendly and compassionate, if they take their time and don’t rush us through the check-in process, we may tell them snippets of the abuse that relates to the questions they have to ask. It’s awkward and scary for us, and we do it because we want help – not because it’s fun.

Another thing to be aware of is  – this may sound counterintuitive – sometimes compassion is not helpful when expressed as noticeable emotion. If I tell somebody about something abusive that happened to me, and that person starts to cry or get very angry, it puts an additional burden on me. I immediately feel guilty for saying something that caused pain – even though the pain was coming from a beautiful place of compassion. I feel I have to comfort them and I’m reluctant to say anything else – even if the information would change the course of my treatment – because I want to protect them from more painful knowledge. It makes it hard to just be a patient.

Presenting a strong and calm presence is beneficial for survivors because it conveys that you can handle anything we need to disclose. Statements like “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” and “I hate that you went through that,” along with, “Thank you for letting me know so that I can do everything I can to help you,” help calm our anxiety.

Another very important thing to know is that every single abuse survivor has been stripped of their own personal power at some point or another. We are in various stages of taking that power back – from not even realizing we have any personal power of our own, to taking baby steps, to full recovery. Making an appointment to see someone perceived to be in a position of power over us is really difficult. Oftentimes the only reason we choose to do it is because we are having some pain or problem with our bodies that has become greater than our fear of your perceived authority.

Because we’ve experienced abuse by more powerful people, we often naturally distrust people in positions of power. This is not personal or a statement about you. Power has been used against us and we have been violated, silenced, and shamed with it.

So with that in mind, one of the best things you can do for us is to honor our voice. Honor and even reiterate the fact that we are in control of our bodies and our treatments. Make recommendations, give us the facts, share your knowledge with us – and then put the ball completely in our court. Don’t argue with us if we choose something different than your first recommendation. Don’t belittle our choices or our questions.

Survivors who have been ritually abused often have specific reasons to fear the medical system. Many have been abused by doctors or people pretending to be doctors and have been told that cult medical personnel are in all hospitals and clinics. We believe, on some level, that all it will take is one phone call to set us up to be abused again. Because of this, many of us are interested in more holistic alternatives to medical problems.

We have often done research and asked questions and investigated alternative treatment methods. Honor our requests for information about other options if you feel professionally capable. If you don’t, be honest without being antagonistic. Tell us you don’t have enough knowledge or experience to practice what we are asking for but would be willing to make a referral.

Treating Patients Who Dissociate
Here are some questions that would be great for medical providers to ask patients who have disclosed that they have issues with dissociation. Keep in mind that answering these questions may be difficult and make the patient feel very vulnerable.

1) What happens when you dissociate?  For example, do you space out, switch to a different part, freeze up, flinch if you are touched?
2) What would be helpful for me to do if I notice that you’re dissociating? For example, give you a few minutes to collect yourself, ignore it, ask how you’re doing?
3) Is there anything that would help make the appointment less stressful? For example, bringing a stuffed animal or other comfort object or having a support person in the room?
4) When procedures have to be done, would you prefer that I tell you everything I’m going to do before I do it or just get it over with as quickly as possible?
5. Do you know of specific things I could do to prevent a flashback or help you through one?

We will try to answer your questions, but we may not be able to tell you everything up front. Some of us may not have the awareness or ability to articulate their experiences. Building trust takes time. There may be events or experiences in our past that relate to present-day medical issues but we just don’t feel like we can tell a complete stranger we’ve only just met. Patience and respect on your part will – over time – empower us to trust you with that information.

Summing Up
This post is just a starting point. I want to address providers on behalf of trauma survivors, but there are so many unique situations represented by this population that a ton of other information could be written about the subject. The best thing to do is to get to know the patient and form a partnership with them.

There is one final thing I would like to share. We don’t have two heads. We aren’t all that different from your other fearful, phobic patients. We just have different reasons for our fear. We’ve lived through things that you may never have heard of, but that doesn’t mean that the things that you do to reassure your patients won’t work for us. And it works the other way, too; if you learn something from us it may be applicable to the rest of your practice.

Jade Miller

http://thoughtsfromj8.com/

Talktoj8@gmail.com

RA Survivors and Dentistry

I have a miserable time at the dentist. It’s not that I’m a chicken; it’s because I was tortured as a child by a dentist or somebody pretending to be a dentist. Over the years I have learned ways to make it a little less unbearable.

First, I tell all new dentists, in general terms, what my background is. I learned this the hard way twenty years ago when I had an emergency and my regular dentist wasn’t available and so sent me to the person who was covering for him. I figured, “I’m only going to see this guy once, so I won’t bother telling him.” I was so anxious that he tried everything he could think of to make me relax. Finally he said, “Just think of me as a witch doctor who make everything all right by magic.” I shot right up in the chair and said, “Don’t talk to me like that! I was abused by a dentist in a Satanic cult.” Shall we say he was startled?

We both calmed down enough to get the procedure done, but my regular dentist said that he was so shaken up that he had to send him a nice bottle of wine to persuade him to continue being on call.

Second, I kept changing dentists until I found a gentle soul. He’s a total gem. He practices dentistry half time, is an MFT and sees clients half time, and is writing a book on treating phobic patients. (Anybody who needs a dentist in San Francisco, just let me know. And you bet I will review his book when it comes out!)

Third, I have figured out some methods to keep myself in the present and out of flashbacks. I have no compunctions about asking for what I need because my dentist and his assistants dislike flashbacks almost as much as I do. Here’s what I’ve learned to do:

I ask them to keep talking about anything at all during the procedure. Hiking, dental school stories, their grandmothers, baseball, whatever. I just need their voices to hang on to and keep me in the present.

I tell them to let me know ahead of time what they are going to do, how much noise it will make, how long it will take. Surprises are not a good idea.

I ask for a lead apron because the weight is reassuring and goggles because they make me feel like my eyes are protected. Apparently I am not a freak; others find the apron and goggles comforting.

Last time, I was asked if I wanted nitrous oxide. I thought I could get through it without it. But why make life harder for myself, if I didn’t have to? I gratefully accepted it.

Nitrous disinhibits and I got relaxed enough to give him some feedback I had kept to myself until that point. (Again, I had made life harder for myself by not speaking up sooner. I think this pattern needs looking at!)

All dentists seem to minimize the amount of pain involved. They must teach them in dental school that the word “pain” frightens patients and it is better to use a euphemism. Well, it’s not. At best it’s annoying, at worst it destroys trust in the dentist. It’s not a “little tinge” or a “pinch” or “you may feel some pressure.” Be honest and call it what it is. “This will hurt moderately for about one minute. Raise your hand if you need me to stop.” I may be dental phobic, but I am still an intelligent adult and I don’t like being lied to.

The other thing I figured out under nitrous is that the torture I had experienced as a child had magnified the nerves’ response to pain.  Repeated stimulation of the nerve-to-brain pain pathway had set me up to be overly sensitive to dental pain for the rest of my life. I checked this out and was told that I was right.  Perhaps some people really do experience a novocaine shot as “a little pinch.” Apparently there are lucky folk who are even able to fall asleep while being given novocaine!!!

So it’s not our fault. We aren’t being sissies. It’s completely sensible to take care of ourselves and soothe ourselves the best we can. We can’t lessen the pain or eliminate the fear; we are stuck with it for life. But we can handle pain and fear in a way that gives us some measure of control, which we never had as children. That in itself is assertive and empowering, well worth doing.