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Archive for August, 2008

I have added a blogroll to my website. To date, I have only provided links to a couple of blogs that are resources for child abuse survivors rather than tracking individual stories:

I have become aware of many good blogs written by child abuse survivors, such as Beautiful Ashes, so I have decided to add a blogroll to my site. I have moved Forbidden Topic and What About When MOM is the Abuser? to the blogroll as well.

If you would like to include your blog on my blogroll, please post a link in the comments section or send me an email with the link. My email address is under ABOUT FAITH ALLEN at the upper right of the screen. I don’t want to post it here because then I will get spammed to death by bots. I will check out your blog and make sure it is appropriate for my readers and then add it to my blogroll.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry Survey for Child Abuse Survivors with More Than One Diagnosis, a reader posted the following question:

I have been officially diagnosed with D.I.D. Currently we are integrating, sometimes at an alarming rate. There is a question though…how can we integrate with the core when the core has been sleeping and protected for many years? The core is pre-verbal and while we feel her presence, her breathing, her innocence…she does not stir, she is very hidden and protected. – Holly

You can still integrate even in this situation. Full integration is going to take some time and patience, but you can do it.

I think that you have confused the core with the original child. They are not necessarily the same thing.

The best analogy I can think of is this … To assume that the original child is the core is to see fragmenting like a banana. The sleeping original child is like the banana itself, and the alter parts are the peels. Until the banana wakes up and integrates, there is no core to work with.

I see fragmentation and integration differently. My analogy is like an iced-over pond. There is only one pond, but it has frozen, and the ice has broken off into chunks. One chunk holds anger, another holds terror, and another holds the feelings of the original child. However, the one chunk of ice that holds the original child’s feelings, even if it is huge, is not the pond. All parts collectively make up the pond.

The healing process is like shining the warmth of the sun onto the pond and melting the chunks of ice back into one lake. The core is not the one big chunk of ice that holds the feelings of the original child. Instead, the core is the part of the pond that has been melted through self-love back into the pond. The core might or might not contain the feelings of the original child, but the core is still just as much a part of your spirit as that original child block of ice is.

As long as you are shining the warmth of self-love onto your parts, you are melting the ice. All will merge back into one pond, which is where they have always belonged. It does not matter if the original child block of ice melts first or last. In fact, it might be easier for you to absorb the feelings of the original child once the rest of the pond is more fluid.

I remember when my original child woke up. I never felt so “in my body” as I did in that moment. It was a powerful experience. You will experience this, too. Just keep loving yourself.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I received a question from a reader about healing from dissociative identity disorder (DID). She is reading a book about healing from DID, and that author recommends naming each alter part and holding “meetings” with the different alter parts to get them to work together. The reader asked if I agreed with this advice.

Before I answer the question, let me take a step back. As somebody over at the Isurvive message board once commented, DID is a “create your own disorder” disorder, so it manifests in different ways in different people. Some people might only have two or three personalities. In that case, each personality might have already named herself, and it would not be that complicated to “hold a meeting” that invites the input of all three.

However, DID can manifest in many different ways. In my situation, I had six layers of alter parts, most of whom were personality fragments but many of whom were full personalities. None of the layers knew about the other layers. I “guesstimate” that I had about 1,000 parts in all. I would have taken me forever to name each part and “hold meetings.” That simply would not have been feasible for me.

I am not saying that the author’s way is the “wrong way;” however, it is not the only way.

Because the traumatized child created the fragmentation, the fragmented adult intuitively knows the best way to heal. The key is figuring out how to listen to your intuition and learning how to trust it again. Severe abuse causes a person to doubt her own intuition. Learning how to hear and heed your intuition is a big part of healing from DID.

For me, naming the alter parts was not helpful. Healing from DID involved loving and accepting each part as “me.” Naming a part made it feel more separate. For example, the first part I “met” was named Irate. I integrated many other parts much more easily than Irate because Irate was my “friend,” and I didn’t want to “lose” her by integrating her. It took courage to follow my intuition and allow her to integrate, where she has become a part of me.

While I never held “formal meetings,” I did invite my alter parts to “come out” and express themselves. Once they expressed their memories and pain, there was no longer a need for them to stay separate, so they would integrate, and I would work through the memories and emotions.

When it comes to healing from DID, trust your own intuition. If another person’s advice sounds appealing at a heart level, then try it. If it does not, then try something else that feels like a better fit.

I know how scary it can sound to blaze your own trail with healing from DID, but try to remember that you blazed your own trail when you fragmented in the way that you did. Only you know the most effective way to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. You hold all of the answers inside of yourself.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Over on my professional blog, I write about how trauma affects children on Trauma Tuesdays and Trauma Thursdays. I write this blog for people whose lives are touched by adoption. Most of the people who read my trauma articles are either foster parents or adoptive parents who are parenting children who have suffered from trauma, such as child abuse. I try to explain the mind of the abused child so that the parents can have a better understanding about why their children act and react the way that they do.

A therapist who has healed from dissociative identity disorder (DID) contacted me about a new blog that she has started called Forbidden Topic. Her blog is so good that I added it to my resources section. Like me, this woman is hoping to break the silence and correct the misperceptions that pervade society about dissociation and DID.

If you struggle with dissociation, including DID, or just want to learn more about it, her blog is a wonderful resource.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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One of the questions I have been asked a lot about ritual abuse is if certain numbers trigger me. The answer is yes, and this is true for most ritual abuse survivors.

When I was brought into the cult, I was assigned a number as a name. My sister was assigned the next number. I have always been bothered by both numbers but particularly by the number assigned to me. I was not “Faith” to the cult. I was just a number. What really bothers me is that my number was not 1, so that means that other children came before me.

Most ritual abuse survivors are triggered by the numbers 6 and 9 but do not know why. I can provide some insight into this.

The Number Six

Ritual abuse generally desecrates Christianity, which (I assume) accounts for it being viewed as “Satanic”. The issue with the number six comes straight out of the Bible from the book of Revelation:

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. – Rev. 13:18

Many ritual abuse survivors find the number six to be triggering. I cannot tell you specifically what is done to bring about this reaction, only that it is common among ritual abuse survivors.

The Number Nine

The number nine is a little trickier. A fellow ritual abuse survivor explained it to me this way: 6 + 6 + 6 = 18; and 1 + 8 = 9. So, ritual abusers see the number nine as significant and step up the ritual abuse when the child reaches the age of nine. This accounts for why I experienced some forms of severe ritual abuse that my sister did not. (She was 8 when we moved away from the cult.)

I do not know why numerology factors into ritual abuse, only that it does. If you suffered from ritual abuse and are triggered by different numbers, you are not alone.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I have not written that much about ritual abuse on my blog. This is because ritual abuse is the most difficult form of abuse for me to talk about. It really puts it in perspective when I feel more comfortable talking about mother-daughter sexual abuse than I do about ritual abuse.

Why is it so hard to talk about ritual abuse? One reason is because it sounds so “crazy.” When I tell people that I was taken at midnight to a wooded area and gang raped by people dressed in black robes around a bonfire at the full moon, it sounds “crazy.” It sounds like I watched one too many horror flicks. However, I rarely watch horror movies, and my sister has the same memories that I do.

Another reason it is hard to talk about is because of sheer terror. I endured a lot of abuse during my childhood – none had the sheer terror that came with the ritual abuse.

I compare regular abuse to street crime and ritual abuse to the mafia – I was abused by the “pros.” Ritual abusers are not involved in a “crime of passion” to gratify themselves in the moment. They are experienced child abusers who have spent centuries, if not millennia, perfecting the most effective ways to terrorize children as part of their sick rituals.

Was my ritual abuse “satanic”? I don’t know. The reasons behind why I was being terrorized never really mattered to me. I just wanted the abuse to stop, and I wanted to be strong enough to survive it without becoming like them. I succeeded.

Over my next few posts, I will be talking about ritual abuse. I am not sure what direction my writings will take, and I am not sure how much internal “backlash” I will experience by talking about it. However, I know that I am not alone in experiencing ritual abuse, and I want others to know that I get it. I also want others to know that they can heal from ritual abuse, just as I have.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Today I am going to talk about a very difficult topic that affects many survivors of severe child abuse, particularly those who experienced severe sexual abuse and/or ritual abuse. The topic is using masturbation as a form of self-injury.

People who self-injure with masturbation tend to be women who use objects that cut, burn, or otherwise harm their genitals while they masturbate. I know women who have used anything from knives to hot curling irons to self-injure through masturbation. The only way these women seem to be able to climax is by experiencing pain, and the self-inflicted pain can be severe.

Why would a woman choose to masturbate with a knife, curling iron, or other dangerous object? The reason is that the child abuse survivor’s first sexual experiences intermixed orgasms with pain. Many child abuse survivors experienced orgasms during sexual abuse, which caused the child’s body to feel both “pleasure” and pain at the same time. Even though the child’s body reacted by having an orgasm, the child did not want the rape or sexual abuse, and the experiences of terror, pain, and orgasm got all jumbled up in the child’s head.

Now, as an adult, the child abuse survivor has a desire for sexual pleasure (just like any other adult human being), but the only way to achieve an orgasm is to combine it with pain and, in some cases, even bloodshed. Numerous child abuse survivors also need to fantasize about reliving the abuse in order to have an orgasm, whether through masturbation or consensual sex. In some cases, masturbating with dangerous objects is a reenactment of sexual abuse that the person suffered as a child.

The women I have spoken with who struggle with using masturbation as a form of self-injury feel deep shame about what they are doing, and each one fears that she is the only person on the planet who does such a thing. They also tell me that masturbating as self-injury is a compulsion: They want to stop, but they feel powerless to do so. This is true of all forms of self-injury, which is why self-injury is a compulsion, not a recreational hobby.

If you struggle with masturbating as a form of self-injury, you are not alone. You are also not “crazy.” Just like anyone else who struggles with other forms of self-injury, you can learn how to stop self-injuring through masturbation. It won’t happen overnight, but you can move toward weaning yourself off your compulsion.

The key to healing from any form of self-injury is learning how to talk about your feelings and express your emotions instead of shoving them back down inside. A good start is finding a qualified therapist with experience in counseling child abuse survivors. The self-injury is a symptom, not the cause. If you had never been sexually abused, then you would not feel a compulsion to self-injure through masturbating. Healing your emotional wounds from the underlying pain will help you stop feeling the need to self-injure through masturbation.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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