Lisa’s Story, Part II: “I saw other children forced to undergo the same things I had to, but for longer. Or being forced to undergo things that were even worse… I remember feeling grateful at first that it wasn’t me. Then I stopped feeling anything at all.”

Day 900. Survivors found: 11

Read part one of my account here.

One of the first things to come back to me was the sound of the cries.

There were these small, whimpering baby cries of protestation from all around the room. I guess we were all more or less babies at the time. There were about 6 toddlers and preschool children in the program.

My mind associates the sound of these cries with heat and sweat. After they got off of me, I remember everything being hot, wet, fuzzy and hazy. The whole world became blurry.

I told my therapist about this later, and she said that these are the effects of oxygen deprivation.

Sometimes, I’d be let up while some of the other children were still being laid on. I stood up in the blurry haze, looking around the room and seeing them forced to undergo the same things I just had to undergo, but for longer. Or being forced to undergo things that were even worse than I had to on that day.

I remember feeling grateful at first that it wasn’t me. Then I stopped feeling anything at all. I just stared out like a deer in headlights, frozen and numb. I now see the process of how my ability to feel empathy froze at that time.

The place where this program was held is still open. I requested to have my records sent to me. After encountering resistance, I was finally sent something.

It was ridiculous; the intake involved asking my mother to write a paragraph on ‘what do you feel your child’s problem is’, giving me an IQ test, then slapping a catch-all label of “emotionally disturbed” (they didn’t even diagnose me with anything) on me and making the recommendation that I attend their program for a year.

The program included 2.5+ hours of holding therapy every day with men and women in the group, plus at least 2 individual sessions of holding therapy, as well as on an as-needed basis at home.

I blocked much of that year out. Could we have been kept in cages, had our mouths duct-taped, or any of the other associated practices as well? I was 4 years old, and I still can’t remember everything. But I wouldn’t rule it out.

I do remember not being allowed to go to the bathroom, with my mom and therapist’s weight pressing down on me. I begged and pleaded and they said no. I asked when I could go to the bathroom, and they would not tell me.

I have another memory of my dad (who must have weighed between 180 to 200 pounds) lying on me and thrusting his lower body into me in a sexual way. Whenever this memory comes up, there’s always a voice in my mind that accompanies it, saying, “you’re making this all up, that couldn’t have been, he was just changing positions, adjusting himelf.”

I hope so.

I have a sense that there were body fluids – vomit, urine, etc. during the group holding sessions, though whether from me or from the other children I don’t remember.

I might write more later.

Thank you again for listening.

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Comments 11

  1. Adelaide wrote:

    Hi, Lisa!

    Lots of encouragement and empathy from over here.

    Just a few points:

    You had said, “My mind associates the sound of these cries with heat and sweat. After they got off of me, I remember everything being hot, wet, fuzzy and hazy. The whole world became blurry.

    I told my therapist about this later, and she said that these are the effects of oxygen deprivation.”

    Your therapist was probably a very wise lady. Oxygen deprivation would have been one of the obvious causes. As for everything feeling, ‘hot, wet, fuzzy and hazy’ … these are fairly primal memories, with all the feelings in them.

    And this:

    “The place where this program was held is still open. I requested to have my records sent to me. After encountering resistance, I was finally sent something.

    It was ridiculous; the intake involved asking my mother to write a paragraph on ‘what do you feel your child’s problem is’, giving me an IQ test, then slapping a catch-all label of “emotionally disturbed” (they didn’t even diagnose me with anything) on me and making the recommendation that I attend their program for a year.

    The program included 2.5+ hours of holding therapy every day with men and women in the group, plus at least 2 individual sessions of holding therapy, as well as on an as-needed basis at home.”

    Glad you were able to get your records: at last.

    Yes, it was very generalised, and it probably tallies with other survivors in that situation.

    2.5 hours of holding therapy! Every day, with men and women.

    How much (if at all) were these sessions supervised?

    About your Dad and the positions:

    “I do remember not being allowed to go to the bathroom, with my mom and therapist’s weight pressing down on me. I begged and pleaded and they said no. I asked when I could go to the bathroom, and they would not tell me.

    I have another memory of my dad (who must have weighed between 180 to 200 pounds) lying on me and thrusting his lower body into me in a sexual way. Whenever this memory comes up, there’s always a voice in my mind that accompanies it, saying, “you’re making this all up, that couldn’t have been, he was just changing positions, adjusting him[s]elf.”

    I hope so.”

    Would you have been toilet-trained at that time? What were you like about going to the toilet at other places than home? (Oh, I remember. You were 4 years old at the time. Were you the youngest, oldest, in the middle…)

    Yes, 180-200 pounds on a small girl would have been too much.

    As for the vomit, urine and other fluids.

    Posted 15 Aug 2010 at 22:21
  2. Linda Rosa, RN wrote:

    What were these people thinking? This is water-boarding for children!

    I’ve watched several of Martha Welch’s training tapes, and her “Compression Therapy” method is a sure set-up for suffocation. (She even shows a session in which a child is ignored after complaining she can’t breathe.)

    In the Welch method, the adult, lying over the child, doesn’t even have to put pressure on the chest (although they do that, too). Heavy weight on the abdomen alone can make it very difficult to breathe and get adequate gas exchange.

    I’m not surprised at child would faint in such circumstances. But in fainting, a person goes down, allowing the brain to get more oxygen. In Welch Method Compression Therapy, there would be no such relief, and the brain could sustain prolonged oxygen deprivation.

    What people doing Welch Method want to see is distress, so apparently they persist in what does exactly that.

    (That may also be the idea behind not permitting bathroom breaks. Or perhaps they use the usual lame “Attachment Therapy” justification that “the child is just faking to get out of the closeness and confrontation.”)

    It seems that Welch’s theory behind creating fear and pain is that it will cause the distressed child to emotionally reach out for the parent — EVEN IF IT IS THE PARENT WHO IS CAUSING THE DISTRESS.

    Does this notion come from those Harry Harlow monkey studies? If I am remembering right, the monkey babies would hang on tighter to their mothers, even if it is the mother who is doing something annoying or nasty to the baby (I forget what exactly). It seems the baby has come to expect comfort and relief from its mother and will continue to expect comfort and relief even if mom is the source of the problem. However, wouldn’t such behavior behavior appear to confirm that the baby monkey is already attached to its mother?

    So is what Lisa endured as a small child, in huge doses, just some twisted “maintenance therapy” devised by Welch to keep the child’s attachment to the parent strong?

    But even monkeys, suffocated for several hours on a daily basis by mom, would catch on that it’s the parents causing the distress, not relieving it.

    There has always been way too much free-wheeling experimentation with fads of all sorts in American schools, but this has to be *The Worst Example* of how bad it can get.

    We must remember that Martha Welch methods are not a thing of the past. Her “Holding Therapy” continues today as “Prolonged Parent-Child Embrace.”

    Thank you so much for telling your story, Lisa. It can’t be easy to reflect on these memories.
    If anything can put an end to this insane torture it will be accounts like yours coming to the public’s attention.

    Posted 16 Aug 2010 at 07:59
  3. BMW Princess wrote:

    It must have been a nightmare.
    You did NOTHING to merit that Not even remotely. Death row inmates are treated better!

    Posted 16 Aug 2010 at 15:56
  4. Catt Kingsgrave wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story of torture and degradation — that could not have been easy for you to revisit, especially in such a public venue as this protest site.

    But I hope, as one who hopes to see all such torture palaces destroyed, that your testimony reaches the minds of others before they buy into the idea that inducing Stockholm Syndrome in their children is a good substitute for respect and love. I hope they read your story, and walk away from the whole idea.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 06:03
  5. Nancy Lebovitz wrote:

    Thank you for writing this. It’s hard and important to sort through the memories.

    What was done to you was atrocious.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 06:11
  6. Cathy D. wrote:

    It’s really hard for me to understand how any parents — any human beings, really — could do something like that to their child, or any child. I am horrified and so sorry that you had to go through such an ordeal.

    Much love to you, Lisa, and thank you for sharing your story. You’re incredibly brave.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 07:25
  7. SBents wrote:

    That… I can’t even imagine going through anything remotely like this. Thank you for coming forward and sharing your story. Good luck with just… everything.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 07:57
  8. Sarah wrote:

    I can’t even imagine going through what you have been through, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry we live in a society that ever permitted it. Though I don’t know you, I am SO GLAD that you survived. You are here, in the world as your own adult self and able to make your own life choices.

    Your therapist sounds like a good one, and I hope she is able to help you through this. Thank you for coming forward with your story. I don’t know if posting about it makes it easier or harder for you to work through this, but it is important for other people to be made aware of this horrific practice, so that we can all work to put a stop to it. YOU are important, and so is your testimony.

    Thank you.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 09:34
  9. Nats wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Lisa. I’m going to be qualifying as a doctor soon, and brave people like you make it possible for us to recognise the effects of this horrible experience in other people, and to support them in getting help. Thank you for making that possible.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 10:06
  10. Laura wrote:

    You are amazing. Your strength in sharing these things, in facing down the demons inside and out, is astounding to me. Thank you for sharing your story. I hear you, and I believe you, and I hope that can help somehow. You have my best wishes as you heal.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 13:06
  11. Kelsi wrote:

    Thank you, Lisa. I am glad you are finding some relief in sharing your story (per the last post)–I know it must be an incredibly difficult thing to revisit. I hope knowing your story can help all of us to protect others who are also in this situation, and to eventually show this practice for the abuse it is rather than a legal therapy method.

    Posted 31 Aug 2010 at 05:09

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