What We Call Ourselves

Here are two pages about my personal feelings about Christmas:
https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/christmas-plans/ (The images disappeared — I don’t know why.)
This page is about the source of winter holiday customs. I wrote about Yule and the winter solstice but a great deal applies to Christmas, too. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

For many, many years, we had no name. We did not know what had happened to us, or even what was still happening. How could we have a name if we didn’t have any idea of what was going on? Its like somebody in the middle ages got sick. They could say, “I am sick” but they couldn’t say, “I have a bacterial infection” because nobody knew bacteria even existed.

At the end of the twentieth century, we discovered what was making us feel awful – ritual abuse. For the first time we had words to talk about it and we could name ourselves as “survivors of ritual abuse.”

There is a great deal of power in a name. In many cultures, it is believed that if a person knows your real name they have control over you and you must do whatever they want. This certainly resonates for many ritual abuse and mind control survivors. As long as an alter believes this, it is true. But if they stop believing it and decide it is a lie, a perpetrator may call their name until the cows come home and that alter does not respond. (Except internally, where they might giggle at their disobedience or give an internal finger.)

For us, having a name took the power away from the perpetrators and gave it back to us. This was a process, of course, it didn’t happen overnight. But when we connected to other survivors, we saw that we belonged and we could take courage from every step each person took away from their abusers. We were a community. A community with a name.

I don’t know exactly when survivors started calling themselves “ritual abuse survivors” and “mind control survivors.” The earliest citation I could find was in “Michele Remembers” (1980) where Pazder called it “ritualized abuse.” I do know that it was already in our culture in the mid to late eighties when we started to speak out and identify ourselves as survivors.

Today, the words we use are “ritual abuse,” “ritualized abuse,” “Satanic ritual abuse,” and “mind control.” “Mind control” has evolved from ”mind control experimentation.” In the early days, it was, “Let’s see what we can do with torture, drugs, planned dissociation, and hypnotism.” Then, when the perpetrators  knew what they were doing, it was no longer experimentation.

Memories often surface in this order: physical/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and finally government/military mind control. In the eighties, therefore, it seemed that almost all survivors had been subjected “only” to ritual abuse, simply because many people had not yet remembered government/military mind control. Now, an awful lot of us belong in both those categories.

The names we use to describe ourselves, both among ourselves and when speaking to outsiders, hasn’t changed much in the past thirty five-years.

I was used in mind control experimentation and child pornography and I sometimes speak of myself as a survivor of government/academic mind control experimentation or child pornography. My primary identity, however, is that of a ritual abuse survivor. Similarly, I have friends whose primary identity is mind control survivor although they may also have suffered ritual abuse, prostitution, etc. What we call ourselves is our name; that’s who we are, that’s our identity.

Often, it is not the group itself that chooses a name, but doctors or psychologists or other professionals. Look at autism, for example. First there was no name, because nobody had thought to study this particular subset of neuro-psychological conditions. The term was first used by Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to refer to a set of symptoms of schizophrenia. At about the same time, Hans Asperger identified a similar condition among people who did not appear to be schizophrenic. In the ’60’s, doctors began to see autism as a condition completely separate from schizophrenia.

Slowly, Asperger’s came to represent people with high-functioning autism. Now the medical profession refers to “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”  The people with either autism or Asperger’s had no say in choosing any of these names. I wonder what they would have come up with if they had been able to conceptualize themselves as a group and named themselves, rather than leaving it to professionals. My guess is that if they had chosen their own name, it would have stuck for half a century. They, too, would have been a community with a name, with an identity.

I think many of us get very upset when somebody who is not a survivor tries to give us a different name. I know I do. It feels like an attempt to strip me of my identity, and I do not appreciate it. Can you imagine being spoken of as a person with “Abuse Spectrum Disorder?”

Soon, I plan to write about how different names can help us explain our experiences to those who have not been there and how they can help us join with other groups of survivors and increase our collective strength as we fight for recognition, resources, influence, and justice. We could do this freely in order to take advantage of the social implications of the changed name(s), while still retaining our identity as ritual abuse and/or mind control survivors. So stay tuned!