Ritual Abuse/Mind Control survivors – Internal Keys to Safety by Alison Miller

Trigger warning
A minority of people with Dissociative Identity Disorder or Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (DDNOS) have experienced ritual abuse (also known as trauma-based mind control). The combination of both creates additional struggles in healing because typically alter personalities will have been created to actively disrupt and prevent healing.
Fighting against these alter personalities tends to lead to more problems and prevents healing – but their roles and motives can be understood in a positive way, and survivors can learn to negotiate with and educate these parts/alters in order to heal together. Often these parts/alters will have been lied to and tricked by abusers, and may have been traumatized by them as well. If they discover this they may choose to work towards – rather than against – healing.
Psychotherapist Alison Miller recognizes two areas of problems for survivors of RA/MC:

  • Emotional instability and psychiatric symptoms
  • Inability to keep physically safe from the perpetrator group

She states both are related to programming – which is “the training of child insiders (alter personalities) to do ‘jobs’ assigned by the perpetrators.”

Trigger Warning yellow triangle

Download Internal Keys to Safety by Alison Miller (survivorship.org) to learn more – could be very triggering. 

Survivors may want to review this with your therapist or support person before reading it. This presentation is not meant as therapy or treatment.

Related Links

Books on Ritual Abuse and Mind Control by the Sidran Institute

Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control and Ritual Abuse by Alison Miller (book cover) 

Using visualization for stabilization and safety in Dissociative Identity Disorder and OSDD

Phase 1 of Treatment

Phase 1 of treating both Complex Dissociative Disorders and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is establishing safety, stabilization and symptom reduction.

Guided Imagery

If you have ever looked at a holiday brochure and imagined yourself lying on the beach, in the sunshine or perhaps swimming in the warm water, or you have looked at a car and imagined what it might feel like to drive, then you have used guided imagery, often called visualization.

Containment of Trauma Memories

Dr Onno van der Hart, a psychologist and researcher specializes in the field of Trauma and Dissociative Disorders, and has written an interesting paper on the use of guided imagery for reducing PTSD symptoms and improving daily life functioning, most of which applies to Complex PTSD as well as Dissociative Identity Disorder and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (formerly DDNOS).

This approach is also referred to in the Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults (p156-158) as an auto-hypnotic technique which has been well-proven in Phase 1 of treatment. It does not involve trance-like states or investigating amnesia/gaps in memory, but instead serves as a method of self-soothing, calming and containing distress. Because this is an auto-hypnotic technique it can be used outside therapy sessions, and whilst maintaining awareness of the present and current surroundings. Anxiety can also respond well to the use of guided imagery to aid relaxation.
Van der Hart suggests the following examples of guided imagery:

  • Imaginary protective gear (especially useful for emotionally younger ones)
  • Inner safe places
  • Containment of traumatic memories
  • The imaginary meeting place (for dissociative parts/alters within DID)
  • Inner community building (for dissociative parts/alters within DID)
  • The inner source of wisdom

I would highly recommend reading the full article, this section starts at around the third page, under the heading ‘Guided imagery during phase 1 treatment. The book Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation also includes helpful exercises including creating an inner safe place.

van der Hart, O. (2012). The use of imagery in phase 1 treatment of clients with complex dissociative disorders. European journal of psychotraumatology, 3. (full article)

Related links

Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 12:115-187, 2011 (Institute of Trauma and Dissociation – large file)

Dissociative Identity Disorder (traumadissociation.com)

Treatment of Dissociative Disorders Study Results (July 2014, traumadissociation.wordpress.com)

Forging a Deeper Understanding of Flashbacks Part I  (Paul F. Dell, understandingdissociation.wordpress.com)

Structural dissociation: Division of the personality (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)

Phase I: Overcoming the phobia of dissociative parts (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)

Flashback Worksheets for Trauma Survivors (ritualabuse.wordpress.com)

Attachment-based therapy (crazyinthecoconut.co.uk)

Self Injury Awareness Day #SIAD

Walsh (2012) defines self-harm (referring to direct self harm) as

self-inflicted physical harm severe enough to cause tissue damage or leave visible marks that do not fade within a few hours. Acts done for the purpose of suicide, or for ritual, sexual or ornamental purposes are not considered self-injury.

self  injury awareness day #SIAD

Today is March 1st – it’s Self Injury Awareness Day.

Self injury is also known as direct self harm, or non-suicidal self injury. It is not a mental disorder but is common in people with mental health difficulties.

Self harm is when someone intentionally damages or injuries their body. It is recognized as a way to cope with overwhelming feelings, which does not have suicidal intent. It is an attempt to stay alive by alleviating overwhelming emotional distress.

Self harm is linked to many mental health conditions, and often concealed. It is not “just to get attention”, and it should not be minimized or dismissed. Many people who self harm feel shame or guilt as a result, and will try to keep their self harming secret.


Self-harm: When you feel hurting yourself is the anwer

Excellent information to help people make sense of self-injury

Mental illness, Self harm, Anxiety and Recovery

Mental illness, stigma, self harm and the road to recovery, a very brave post indeed.