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Posts Tagged ‘cults’

Be sure to watch today’s Oprah show. She is going to be exploring “Internet Predators: How Bad is It?” Here is the description of the episode from her website:

No one knows how bad it really is or [how] fast it spreads…it’s time we all found out. Online sex predators—we’ve got to change the law.

One issue she will be covering is a proposed change in the law. The Senate is considering Senate Bill 1738, which would appropriate millions of dollars toward fighting Internet kiddie porn. Here is a summary of the bill, which is also known as the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008:

A bill to establish a Special Counsel for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, to improve the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to increase resources for regional computer forensic labs, and to make other improvements to increase the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute predators. – Govtrack.us

The statistics in the bill are disturbing but not surprising to me. The bill cites research by the Department of Justice, the University of New Hampshire, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that found that those arrested for possession of child pornography included the following:

  • 83% have images of children 6-12 years old
  • 39% have images of children 3-5 years old
  • 19% have images of children under the age of 3 years old

See Sec. 2 Findings under subsection (2) in Senate Bill 1738.

It gets worse.

The images and videos being trafficked typically depict sexual assaults that are both graphic and brutal. The same research indicates that 80 percent of known child pornography possessors have images of children being sexually penetrated and 21 percent have images depicting children bound, gagged, blindfolded, or ‘‘otherwise enduring sadistic sex.’’ Just 1 percent restricted their collecting to images of simple child nudity.

See Sec. 2 Findings under subsection (3) in Senate Bill 1738.

These people are not only taking nude photographs of children. They rape every orifice. They take pictures of children being sexually assaulted by animals. This type of abuse is not limited to older children. Very young children, even toddlers, are photographed experiencing this type of severe sexual abuse.

Every single person reading this blog needs to contact your senator in support of this bill. As someone who was once a victim of a kiddie porn ring, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that we invest money in stopping these kiddie porn rings from continuing to hurt innocent children.

Kiddie porn has been a problem for decades, and it has only gotten worse. While the Internet has brought many positives into our lives, it has also enabled kiddie porn rings to more easily distribute their pornography. This needs to stop. The Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008 is a good step in the right direction.

*** Updated 9/23/08 — See Update on the Protect Our Children Act for a way to help pressure the Senate into passing the legislation to protect children without having to get into party politics. We need to act fast. ***

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This week, I have been writing about my epiphany that the ritual abuse I suffered likely had less to do with satanic worship and more to do with protecting a kiddie porn ring. While coming to terms with having been a victim of a kiddie porn and child prostitution ring has been challenging, some wonderfully powerful messages have come out of this experience for me.

The most powerful message I have taken away is that my child abusers were human. They were not “monsters” or “demons” with supernatural powers. They do not have any mystical powers from “Satan” to track me down and silence me if I ever tell. In fact, look how much I have shared about my ritual abuse over the past couple of weeks. I have yet to burst into flames.

I was very triggered when writing my posts about the ritual abuse. This is because of the terror that my child abusers instilled in me as they were dressed in black robes and tormenting me around a bonfire at midnight. However, their scare tactics did not succeed in silencing me. I pushed through the fear and have shed light on ritual abuse issues that others need to know about.

Now, I recognize that these were not all-powerful “monsters” but fallible and weak human beings. They allowed the power of the almighty dollar and their own sick perversions to override their own humanity. How a person could “sell” an innocent child’s body to be used and abused will never make sense to me.

What does make sense is that these abusers were only human, and I can defend myself against another human being. I am no longer a little girl who is battling people who are 3-4 times my size. I am a grown woman who has the power to fight back. I cannot express how incredibly empowering this realization is to me.

I have not felt this safe in decades. I am so grateful to have pushed through the lies and to have the ability to see my abusers for the weak people that they were. They were not monsters – they are mere mortals.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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In my last blog entry, I asked Are Cults Really Covers for Kiddie Porn and Prostitution Rings? I believe that, in my situation, the answer is yes. This might not be true in all cult situations, but I do believe that this is the case in mine. My intuition is screaming that this is the case, and my sister’s memories back it up as well. So, I am in the process of trying to wrap my mind around this latest piece of my life puzzle.

I am handling this new information surprisingly well. Honestly, I feel much more comfortable with coming to terms with falling victim to a kiddie porn and child prostitution ring than I did having to accept that I had been “raped for Satan.” Satanic ritual abuse is so “out there” and sounds so unbelievable. The greed involved in making money off little kids’ bodies is, unfortunately, very believable. It is much easier to wrap my mind around kiddie porn and child prostitution than devil worship.

That being said, it is still hard to face the reality of being a victim of kiddie porn and child prostitution. I already suspected the kiddie porn part. My memories of animal rape involved a camera, and I have another memory of being tied to a bed naked with lots of pictures being taken. There are other memories with cameras as well. I suspected that at least the animal rape pictures were sold as kiddie porn, so I have already come to terms with the reality that there are pictures out there somewhere of me as a child being raped.

The child prostitution angle is new, though. The thought of my hymen being auctioned off is tough. I was only seven years old when that was taken from me. It sickens me to think of some man paying who knows how much money to do that to a seven-year-old child, doubly so since I have a child of that age and appreciate just how young a seven-year-old child is.

I feel heaviness inside when I think about this, but I have not been able to cry about it yet. However, for the most part, it is not rocking me as I would expect it to. Perhaps my belief in reincarnation has helped with this. I do not see my body as a part of me but, instead, as my “earth suit” for this go-round in this lifetime. Neither my soul nor my spirit are a part of the pictures, and my rapists never got a hold of me. My body is not who I am.

Related Topic:

Trauma Tuesday: Raped by Santa Claus??

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Are cults really just covers for kiddie porn and prostitution rings? That is the question that I have been pondering all week, ever since I read the article The Dirtiest Secret Behind Child Abuse. The author is a therapist, ritual abuse survivor, and has healed from dissociative identity disorder (DID). She has heard many ritual abuse stories as well as experienced her own, so she knows what she is talking about.

She talks about how “sophisticated” pedophiles will dress up like Santa and rape a child. That way, if the child ever tells or recovers memories in the future, nobody will believe her. I know several child abuse survivors who experienced this kind of abuse, being raped by someone dressed up as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or even Jesus.

Then, the author asks …

So why wouldn’t organized child porn groups dress up in robes and wear devil masks and provide other surrounding paraphernalia to share their love of child molestation?

That question hit me hard, and it caused me to think about my own memories and experiences. Could the black robes around the bonfire really have just been for my benefit? Could it all have been smoke and mirrors to mask a kiddie porn ring?

And then the pieces of the puzzle started rapidly falling into place. I have numerous memories of being photographed during the abuse. I find it triggering when lights flicker because it mimics a flashbulb, and the sound effects of a camera taking rapid pictures is very triggering to me.

I thought about the time that my sister and I showed up “early” and had to wait around in our nightgowns in a room filled with adults. It was some sort of log cabin or lodge. Everyone (mostly men) was drinking and laughing, fully clothed, while my sister and I wandered about confused with the men looking at us and laughing. That memory never made sense as a prelude to a cult ceremony, but it makes perfect sense if a price was being set.

I also wondered about why my sister was raped when I was not for the first several cult meetings. She had been raped previously by a babysitter, but I still had my hymen. If the goal was just to have some sort of bizarre ceremony, then why protect my hymen? I suspect the answer is that my hymen was very valuable and was auctioned off to some pervert who wanted to be my first rapist.

I ran this theory by my sister, and she agrees with it. In fact, it made a memory of hers fall into place. She remembers being blindfolded, raped, and then hearing, “Your debt has been paid,” said to one of the cult members. She knew that her body had paid off that debt.

I always assumed that all of robed people were cult members, but what if some of them were johns? What if it was never about “satanic worship” and all about kiddie porn and child prostitution?

Related Topic:

Trauma Tuesday: Raped by Santa Claus??

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Writing the blog entries about ritual abuse this week has been hard. I have a major headache right now, and I have been feeling triggered as I worked through the topics this week. The worst part is the terror – the deep-seated fear that I am going to be “punished” for breaking the silence of the cult.

Ritual abuse and terror go hand-in-hand. I suffered from many forms of abuse at the hands of many people, but none of the forms of abuse is coupled with the same level of sheer terror that I felt from the ritual abuse.

I am not worried about the cult members coming after me. For one, I have been very careful to shield my off-line identity. Also, this abuse happened back in the 1970’s, so most of my ritual abusers are either very old or dead at this point. I have not been in touch with any of my ritual abusers in decades. Also, I am not providing any identifying information, so they are safe from any sort of punishment for their actions at this point.

Instead, it is an internally-generated terror that bothers me. The terror comes with feeling very cold. In fact, whenever I have nightmares involving the cult, I have to pile blankets on top of myself in order to fall back to sleep, even in the middle of summer. The coldness permeates my bones and reaches down to the very core of myself.

Whenever I think about the ritual abuse (which is not very often), I remember the icy coldness. The abuse always happened outdoors in the middle of the night, so I was cold from that. But it was the coldness in the ritual abusers’ eyes that really froze me. It was like they were not human. It felt very much like how Harry Potter describes the dementors in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It was as if the ritual abuse tried to suck the life out of me.

However, they did not succeed, and I am very proud of that. They had all of the power, and yet they still could not control one little girl. No matter how hard they tried, they could not succeed in breaking the will of one little girl. I never became like them, and I never will. Their actions have affected every single area of my life, but they could not turn me into one of them. I can live with the terror, so long as I know that I am my own person. I have the power to make my own choices. They never controlled me, and they never will.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Ritual abusers are masters at “programming” a child’s mind. By “programming,” I mean that they “implant” self-serving behaviors to control the child. While this might sound like a science-fiction movie, I assure you that it is very real. I know because I experienced it.

I was suicidal as a teenager. It started soon after I went through puberty. This is common among sexual abuse survivors. After reaching puberty, the child appreciates the gravity of what was taken through rape at a much deeper level. I battled suicidal urges on and off throughout my teen years.

When I would fantasize about how to kill myself, it was always by swallowing a jar of pills. I wanted to fall asleep and never wake up. I never considered another form of suicide.

This changed during my senior year of high school. My father (the “good” parent) died suddenly, and my mother/abuser started sexually abusing me again. I felt an overwhelming desire to die with a razor. The thoughts kept swirling around my head that I wanted to “watch the lifeblood flow out of me.”

I even came close to doing it. I locked myself in my mother’s bathroom with a razor and prayed for God to give me one reason not to do it. Fortunately, I fought my way out of those feelings and put my suicidal desires behind me.

I did not deal with suicidal urges again until I started recovering memories of the ritual abuse. I also did not ever deal with self-injury before I started to recover ritual abuse memories. I dealt with the pain of infertility, the frustration of the adoption process, and other very difficult life circumstances without self-injuring or considering suicide. I even made it through a year of the healing process without either, including recovering memories of my mother sexually abusing me.

As soon as I started recovering ritual abuse memories, I started banging my head as a form of self-injury. I wanted to bang my head repeatedly into a brick wall – not just any brick wall but a particular one with messy mortar that was never smoothed down. I also felt very strong urges to “watch the lifeblood flow out of me.”

Neither of these urges seemed to originate from myself. If I were to choose to self-injure, I think would probably choose cutting. I would definitely choose a less messy way to go through with a suicide. And yet, I was plagued with both of these very strong urges once I started recovering memories of the ritual abuse.

I came to recognize that these urges were programmed into me. The cult “programmed” me to self-destruct rather than tell. The brick wall I “saw” with the self-injury urges was a particular one that the cult used as part of the programming. The cult taught me the phrase “watch the lifeblood flow out.” This is not something I would have come up with on my own – certainly not at age 16.

The good news is that programming is much easier to remove than your own deep-seated feelings about yourself. As Chrystine Oksana says in Safe Passage to Healing, programming is like a foreign object, and the mind is eager to remove objects that do not belong.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Before my sister and I ever were forced to attend a cult ceremony, we were “groomed” for our role in the cult. The cult members who brought us into the cult were family “friends” who were a married couple named S & L. The wife (S) was the primary “groomer.”

S started ritually abusing my sister and me in her basement when we were around five and seven, respectively. The number one rule was total obedience at all times. We were not permitted to have wills of our own. Any deviance from immediate obedience would result in the sibling being tortured while the “transgressor” watched helplessly. This method was very effective because while I might be willing to take my own lumps after showing defiance, I was not willing to choose to have the pain inflicted upon my sister.

S would set us up to do things that violated our moral codes as a way to break our wills.

++++ ritual abuse and animal abuse triggers ++++

For example, she forced me to kill a small kitten with my bare hands. With my sister, S used a bird. To this day, I am very uncomfortable around kittens, and my sister is afraid of birds.

Ritual abusers just keep upping the ante until breaking the moral code is preferable to the alternative. For example, the ritual abuser might tell a child to kill a kitten. If the child refuses, then the abuser kills another kitten. The abuser says that the child is responsible for that kitten’s death because it would still be alive if the child had only obeyed. If the child continues to resist, then the ritual abuser kills a second kitten, then a third, and so on.

At some point, the child kills the kitten to save the lives of the other kittens. At this point, the ritual abuser “wins” because he has succeeded in forcing the child to break his own moral code. The ritual abuser also makes a point of telling the child that she “chose” to kill the kitten.

+++++ end triggers +++++

These are the kinds of abuses that ritual abusers do to break the will of the child before the child begins attending cult ceremonies. By the time the child attends a cult ceremony, he is already terrified of his ritual abuser. Add to that being abused at night in a rural area by robed people around a fire, and the child is very unlikely to disobey or tell anyone else about the abuse.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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