If the Abuse is Ongoing

Breaking the chains of abuse – parallels between domestic violence and ritual abuse.

The strong attachment bonds, psychological and emotional abuse, often combined with trauma bonding, can be understood and undone. Healing is possible.

If you think about studies on domestic violence, you will recall that the abused person often returns to the abuser, perhaps because they are too afraid not to, perhaps because they hope against hope that this time it will be different. The abuser may turn regretful and apologetic and things may be better for a short period of time. But the abuse inevitably returns, and often is more violent. The sweet talk is the carrot, the stick is the threat of dire consequences for disobedience. It’s the same with cults. - Jean http://ritualabuse.wordpress.com

This article may be triggering.

Ritual Abuse

There is a blog entry on Labor Day at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/labor-day/

I haven’t ever blogged about this, at least that I can remember. The closest I have come is writing about how to handle harassing phone calls, which, after all, are cues to show up for more abuse.

I wonder why. I think it is because it breaks my heart that some of us think we have escaped, but haven’t. When a friend has unexplained bruises or little burns in strange places, I get really upset. Or when they start remembering recent abuse, perhaps after a long stretch of safety.

I’d like to believe that each and every one of us has broken with our perpetrators, worked through all the cues and programming, and disarmed all the triggers once and for all. That would mean we never could be hurt in this way again, we never could be abducted and reprogrammed…

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System responsibility and Dissociative Identity Disorder

When a person has Dissociative Identity Disorder, or a similar form of Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (known as DDNOS-1) responsibility gets complex. DID can only be diagnosed if alter identities exist and can take control of the body, they usually act in a different way to the person normally in charge, sometimes in a child-like way, or a protective way. In DID this can cause difficulties because an alter identity may behave in a way which is unacceptable to you (ignoring friends, being rude to people), or may do something which is illegal (for example, a hungry child alter could steal someone else’s candy). The amnesia present between different identities may mean that others are not aware of what has happened, or they may be able to “watch” as it happens but not prevent it, which is known as co-conciousness. An important concept in healing is for all alter identities to begin to communicate and work together, and this involves taking collective responsibility for the actions of any other identities. The treatment guidelines also advice this:

“…the patient is a single person and generally must hold the whole person (i.e., system of alternate identities) responsible for the behavior of any or all of the constituent identities, even in the presence of amnesia or the sense of lack of control or agency over behavior.” – Dissociative Identity Disorder Adult treatment guidelines

By being willing to take responsibility (and accept any consequences) as a result of an alter identity’s actions, it may (over time) lead to an internal discussion about behavior, responsibility and consequences. Shame should not be part of this – switching identities, and losing control to another alter is a symptom of DID. Going back to an example of a child alter stealing candy, does the child alter know that this is both wrong and illegal? Does he/she know what the consequences of doing this again are? Does the child alter know how to find food or prepare food? Is there something that an adult alter can do in advance to make sure the child alter does not go hungry? In taking responsibility for actions of all alters/parts greater co-operation and stability can be achieved for all.

Dissociative identity disorder – the crime myth

Dissociative identity disorder is strongly associated with being the victim of a crime (especially child abuse or sexual assault), and recent research found that mental illness was not a cause of crime. The study look at all “Axis I” mental disorders, which includes all dissociative disorders. What is associated with crime is malingering, which means intentionally faking a mental or physical health condition for personal gain (for example to avoid criminal charges, or evade other responsibilities like military service). Several studies now identify how malingers (people knowingly faking a disease or disorder) can be distinguished from people with Dissociative identity disorder, including Thomas (2001) and Brand & Chasson (2014). Dissociative identity disorder (unlike psychosis) is rarely (if ever) successful as a legal defense. The diagnostic descriptions and symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder often described “self-destructive” behaviors, but do not refer to any violence toward other people.[See Kaplan & Sadock (2008), DSM-5]

Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality) and system responsibility / crime

Gotta Love Memory Loss

Living with amnesia… and those “who are you” moments…

Related links

Another Hope Entirely

Someone friended me on Facebook tonight.  I couldn’t for the life of me remember who she was, but we had three mutual friends, all people I knew from the 2 years I spent at a treatment center.  So I approved her friend request even though I had no memory of her.

Then she posted on my timeline–along the lines of, “Hey, how are?”  I gave a nondescript answer at first and then went to scour her page to see if I could figure out who on earth she was.  Her pictures didn’t even look familiar.

Finally I texted B and asked him who the hell this person was.  (B and I met at this program.)  Apparently, she was my first nursing care coordinator (NCC).  I met with her every day for months and saw her several times a week once she wasn’t my NCC anymore.  This was only five years…

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Losing time….failing to take account of my alters feelings.

The amnesia that is part of DID… the “losing time” can be really frustrating, but why does it happen?

Losing time….failing to take account of my alters feelings..


Forgetting the horrors of the past: repressed memories

Today’s blog post was inspired by a piece of poetry from an abuse survivor titled I wasn’t supposed to remember.

Breaking the silence surrounding child abuse has been shown to be fundamental to the healing of abuse survivors, and allows the painful memories to be revisited and processed within the mind. Processing trauma memories prevents the continuing intrusive symptoms such as flashbacks which form a core element of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Judith Lewis Herman, author of Trauma and Recovery, and prominent researcher into Complex PTSD tell us:

“The ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

“The ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

she goes on to say:

Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called “doublethink,” and which mental health professionals, searching for calm, precise language, call dissociation It results in protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms of hysteria which Feud recognized a century ago as disguised communications about sexual abuse in childhood. . . .”

Our own personal history is important to use – whether it includes trauma or not.

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.

What reminders do we use as a society to prevent the experiences of the past repeating themselves?

blog war photos

Memorial day and the mass graves will remain long after the last soldiers from World War II have died. Each memorial day is a reminder not just of the recent deaths and injured servicemen and women, but of the mass graves from those who died many decades ago.

We are now have Laws against physical assault and abuse, and almost all countries in the world have child protection services.

free to copy & remix

Child abuse awareness ribbon