On my blog entry entitled Differences Between Ritual Abuse and Other Forms of Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:
hi. dont mean to be annoying…just dont know where to seek answers to my questions in my head. seems like the images are more dominant and ever present but i cant get clear answers from within my brain. i imagine or remember fire torches. not fancy ones. 3 foot tall. garden snakes, earthworms. kneeling. hypnotic manner. hands folded. that wooden object inserted into me with the opening and 3 claws. what is the number 3 in any of this? and a smell and noise. not music. mold. and another smell i cant place. what would my parents being swingers have to do with it. and i know i was sexually abused by my father, 2 neighbors and a man he worked with. related > or not? such confusion. i dont know where to seek the answers i want. i have always been a self injurer in many ways. and i have always ‘known’ some of the images in my head. thinking i was just crazy. my sister remembers men in a place but nothing else and has 5 yrs missing. i remember the weird shit. no people. any idea where i can seek answers? ~ Malanie
I am going to address Malanie’s questions from my own perspective (which is pretty much all I have to offer).
For me, the ritual abuse memories are different from the other abuse memories. I never self-injured (or even considered self-injuring) throughout a year’s worth of recovering memories of mother-daughter sexual abuse. However, when I started having the first “flashes” of ritual abuse memories, I kept feeling strong urges to bang my head.
With the mother-daughter sexual abuse memories, they started with the release of body memories, and I would then recover “linear” memories of seeing/reliving an event that happened. At first it was from the perspective of the ceiling (could actually see myself from behind). Then, I moved into recovering memories in a linear way.
The ritual abuse memories come differently. I would experience a flash here and a flash there that made no sense because there was no context. I would experience deep terror, despair, the urge to self-injure, and a deep desire to die. While recovering other abuse memories was no picnic, that was different from recovering the ritual abuse memories.
I see a lot of commonality between what Malanie posted in her comment and some of the flashback memories I have recovered. My first ritual abuse memories were of the bonfire from a distance. I am very triggered by fire torches.
I, too, am haunted by the number 3, but I don’t know why. I used to keep a dream journal back when I was in my teens and twenties. Even dating back to those dreams, I saw a pattern of threes, and I continue to dream in patterns of threes. I have been perplexed by this for many years. I have speculated whether this represents being harmed in body, soul, and spirit, but that doesn’t seem to “feel right.” I don’t know the significance yet.
My parents were also swingers with the couple who brought my sister and me into the cult. While the husband was upstairs with both of my parents, the wife would come down to the basement where my sister and I were playing, and she would “groom” us for the cult. I don’t know why swinging was part of this – I only know that it was.
The answers you seek are inside of you already, and you will remember as you are ready. This has been a slow process for me. The mother-daughter sexual abuse memories came tumbling out one after another, but it hasn’t been that way with the ritual abuse memories. I’ll remember just a flash at first, and I will feel the terror. As I am ready, I will remember more.
With ritual abuse memories, I frequently remember one event in pieces. I might recover through one trauma and assume that was all. Then, after I process the first piece (which might be after one day or after a few months), I will recover memories of additional trauma that built upon the first.
I still have numerous “blanks” from the ritual abuse. I know through my triggers that I was drugged, but I have recovered no memories of being injected with anything. I know that my severe reaction to splinters is indicative of trauma, but I have no idea what happened to cause that reaction. The same is true of my triggering of fingernails that “split.”
You will remember as you are ready. The ritual abuse memories are encased in terror, so they will take time and lots of gentle self-care.
Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney