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



I’m Not Allowed to Enjoy My Achievements

I had a lot of feelings, all sorts of different feelings, when I read the comments to my last post, “Coming Out as a Ritual Abuse Survivor.”

Of course I was, and am, very grateful to my friends who gave me such wonderful feedback. I had no idea people would feel this way about what I did. To have you thank me, and say I was brave and an inspiration, well, it blew my socks off.

I noticed that I immediately downplayed what I had done – I shared that in a reply I made. “Funny, it didn’t seem brave at the time. I just realized it felt selfish. I was willing to risk causing them discomfort in order to feel like a whole person. Isn’t it odd how, after all these years, I so easily change positive into negative?”

Bravery is doing something in spite of being afraid. I wasn’t brave because I wasn’t afraid and I felt I had nothing to lose. My attitude was, it wasn’t a big deal because there was no angst involved. But reading through what I wrote, I was scared. So I had to distort what I felt in order to put myself down.

Didn’t occur to me until right now that not having any sense of dread or anxiety, just a little fear, was, in itself, a big deal. That was a product of years and years of work on my SRA past.

And I didn’t brush the compliments off in just one way. It was as if the first reason explaining that what I did didn’t count wasn’t good enough and so I had to keep coming up with more reasons.

There is the old “don’t-go-to-Harvard-unless-you-plan-to-be-the-best-in-the world” attitude. Why in the world would I think I was brave compared to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the first person to publicly say they were a ritual abuse survivor, etc. etc.? I have to be REALLY brave to admit to myself that I am brave.

And why didn’t I do that ten years ago, at the last reunion I attended? There was nothing to stop me and yet I slunk around as if I had a shameful secret. Don’t say, “Well, you weren’t ready” – I should have been ready after all that therapy. But I wasn’t.

Not good enough, not soon enough, not articulate enough, and besides, I am too fat and not dressed well enough and can’t work my cell phone well enough and so I can’t get on the Internet when I promised I would. Boy, can I ruin a wonderful experience.

My parents weren’t impressed with my achievements.They only commented on the mediocre marks in my report card, not the good ones. They stood over me as I read aloud and harshly corrected any mistake. No “That’s right! keep going!” And when I finally conquered something, they were not impressed. There was always something wrong.

In the cult, too, there was no praise. Achievement meant having to do more of something horrible, and there was no rejoicing on anybody’s part. It was a double bind: you were punished for not learning something, or not doing it well, and punished for learning and doing it well.

It’s amazing that I, or any of us, can hear a compliment without having an anxiety attack. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to gain all this insight, as well as making me feel good about myself!

Coming Out as a Ritual Abuse Survivor

Last week I went to my 60th High School reunion. Can you imagine? Twenty-five old ladies talking about what they did in 10th grade. It was fun.

At one point, we had a two-hour block of time to talk about anything we wanted. Ignoring retirement homes and hospice care, we chose to talk about what we were doing these days. We went around the table and I realized that I was going to be the last one to speak. I kept thinking about whether I wanted to disclose my ritual abuse past or not. (Happily, I still had enough brain power to listen to what others were saying.)

I saw that I had a choice: I could stick to the facts of my life – cats, gardening, chronic pain, doing social-worky things on the Internet.

But if I did they wouldn’t know the real me. I took a deep breath and decided to disclose my past.

I told them I had been born into a Satanic cult and was abused by that group and sold for pornography and that I managed to get out in college. I remained amnesic for all this until my early fifties and then, boy, it hit like a ton of bricks. In the meantime, I’d managed to raise two wonderful kids and protect them from being abused, by the cult or by anybody else. I feel that is a miracle!.

When I retired, I started to work for the RA community on the Internet, forming e-mail support groups for both survivors and therapists. My web page was the very first one on ritual abuse when the Internet was black and white and text only. I also have a blog. And then my disclosure was done and nobody fainted!

I don’t talk in groups much and, when I do, it is to survivors or professionals who already know about ritual abuse. Presumably nobody in this group knew much of anything about ritual abuse: if they had heard of it, it probably was in the context of how it didn’t exist. This was a first for me, and it was scary. It was also scary because these were people weren’t strangers and they meant something to me. I was a little nervous but not enough to have my voice and hands shake. At the end, I was asked for the urls of my website and blog.

One woman came up to me afterwards and thanked me. Another asked what Satanic cults were like and told me she had been to Salem and was told that Satanic groups were still practicing there. She also told me that some women were talking about my disclosure and saying I was brave. I’m going to write her and tell her that our connection meant a lot to me. It showed me that my words didn’t just fall into a void, as I often think they do.

I am glad I did this. I am proud of myself!!!