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.)
https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/
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!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been hard for me because it was awful in my family and because I got married the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (We had chosen that date because it was a long weekend and we thought more people would come.) It’s a lot better now. I had been invited to a friend’s house but I declined because there is going to be a crowd of people and I am sure I would be overwhelmed. So it’s lovely Chinese food – I will be content.

I only have one memory of Thanksgiving from my childhood, and that was of staring at a plate with celery sticks and olives on it. I hated celery and loved olives but I was expected to take one of each. It just wasn’t worth it. In contrast, I have many clear memories of my wedding day and I fondly remember Thanksgivings from my adult years. Childhood amnesia for what should have been a memory-filled day says a lot to me.

The first year I was alone I bought myself a Cornish Rock Hen, made a wild rice stuffing, and sobbed through dinner. The next year I accepted an invitation and was totally miserable in a group of about thirty strangers who all seemed to be having a great time. Now I know myself better than to make those mistakes again.

I think Thanksgiving is a horrible holiday for most cult kids.  It’s so easy to turn Thanksgiving upside down and, in Satanic cults, give thanks to Satan for all the opportunities we had during the year to gift him with sacrifices, pain, and fear. It’s not a traditional Satanic holiday, so there is the freedom to design new rituals that satisfy the leaders’ particular sadistic desires. It’s also an extra long weekend, so there is a lot of time to abuse kids, animals, and weaker adults.

My guess is that there is more variability in Thanksgiving traditions among the different cults than there is for the other major holidays. I also imagine that it is not celebrated in most other countries; perhaps only in Canada. Lucky countries!

I hope all of you can prepare to deal with flashbacks and to be extra gentle with yourselves. Do things that soothe you, do things that have worked in the past to avoid self-harm, either to the body or to your soul. If you find a voice saying awful things to you, try talking softly to that voice, saying that it has done a great job all these years of putting you down and you think it was a way of hurting you before the cult members hurt you. But it isn’t necessary any more.

And those of you who are still being abused, I hope that you can protect yourself as much as possible and keep alive the hope that you will be able to escape. Try and remember that leaving a cult usually isn’t an abrupt break. It usually is a series of attempts until a time comes when you have tried  often enough, learned enough, and gotten strong enough to leave for good. We all are cheering you on!