Survivors speak out: On Remembering
**Important: part of this article contains discussion of survivor memories. If you are a survivor of ritual abuse, please be aware that reading about it may be triggering, and do not read if you become uncomfortable**
A significant aspect of the ritual abuse subject is the testimony of survivors - those who are seriously engaged in the healing process. The uninitiated reader can scarcely begin to comprehend the journey upon which many such people from around the world have embarked. They are all ages, both male and female. They are working hard at exchanging old belief systems for a different world-view and an entirely new way of life. This is the first in a series of articles based on survivor responses to a questionaire I distributed.
All quoted passages herein have the express permission of the respective survivor and, for obvious reasons, I have substituted pseudonyms in order to protect their true identities. These are, however, very real people and each has a genuine story to tell.
Memory retrieval is a strenuously debated topic. There are groups (well chronicled in the mass media) who assert that repressed memories cannot be accessed as an adult, while other groups or professionals argue that yes, it is possible and does in fact happen. I thought it wise to go to the source - the survivors themselves - and discover what their first-hand experience has been. They know best how they remembered.
My hope is that upon experiencing what is shared here, you will be inspired by their sincerity, truthfulness and conviction. These are NOT people "fabricating memories" as is sometimes alleged. Several people have always remembered at least some of their abuse. These are people whose determination to escape from an abusive environment (both receiving abuse and inflicting it upon others) has cost them dearly. They are paying a very high price for living in a culture which continues to wallow in a state of collective denial.
Here, survivors speak out on how they remembered:
Joanne, a survivor of generational abuse, states:
I was about 12yrs old when I realised what was going on wasn't "normal" but I never came out and said anything, I was the typical abused kid who acted up, but no-one would believe me when I first tried to say anything at the age of 16yrs. The memories, well some I have always known, generally the more traumatic the event the better recall of them that I have, although there are still some major injuries that I remember having but can't recall what lead up to the injuries, I know when and where they took place but as to what precipitated the actual injury, I don't remember.
Ellen, another survivor, did not dissociate her memories:
I was in a cult which started in 1994 evolving from alleged apparitions of Mary in this area of the country. These apparitions, called Our Lady of Light, I now believe to be luciferian in nature. There was a visionary who claimed to be receiving messages from Jesus to renew the Church and the world with a particular emphasis on the priesthood. A Jesuit theologian became the spiritual director of this group through messages from Our Lady of Light. I was deeply involved in this cult from it’s inception in 1994 until I was able to escape in June of 1998. I am not DID; but was well on my way by the time I left. I remember feeling as if there were 2 different realities while I was in that cult……… I dared not remember my former life……….. but glimpses would come through at times which I would quickly shut down. It was not until after I left that cult and began healing and studying that I came to the realization of the symbolic satanic rituals involved in this cult. The understanding would come little bits at a time. The depth of the evil was so intense that I could only have tolerated little pieces at a time. If I would have come to a full understanding immediately, I do believe that I would have shattered or died. I knew that I had to keep battling for the truth. It was through the struggle to sift out the truth from the lie that I came to the understanding of the nature of the evil of the group.
Children as well as adults have remembered abuse:
Vicky, a 15 year old, shares:
I had bad dreams at night. I would dream that I was going somewhere and things happened, but the next morning, everything was normal. I didn't really start remembering until I went to be with my Mom, when she got out, and it was safe. They don't let you remember, you get hurt if you do. I didn't want to get hurt. I started remembering, and inside people started sharing stuff. But most of the time, I try to ignore it. I'm busy at school, and being a teenager. It happened, but I try not to think about it. Except at night I get scared because then I can't help but think about it. That's when my Mom and Dad would wake me up, they were all cold and impersonal, and get me and my brother out of bed to go to a meeting. I have trouble sleeping at night, I keep waking up all night to make sure I'm safe and at home even now.
copyright 2000 svali