Ritual Abuse is Different
I read somewhere recently, probably in one of the articles I have been typing out, that ritual abuse has nothing to do with spirituality. That the use of religious dogma is simply another way to gain control over people, and ritual abuse is solely about gaining control and power. Now I am not sure I would go that far in agreement. But I have been thinking, and things on one of the lists I am on made me think a little more about it. So here goes.
I do believe ritual abuse is different from spiritual abuse, although many people that are involved in ritual abuse use spiritual abuse as part of that. I know with the ritual abuse we went through spiritual abuse was a big part of that. The spiritual abuse is often hard to separate from the ritual abuse. They are so intertwined, enmeshed in each other. But I have found that is often the case with abuse, one abusive episode seldom is limited to one type of abuse. When you are told you are bad as you get beaten, emotional and physical abuse mingle, likewise if you are slapped or hit whilst being raped the physical and sexual become one. It becomes hard to determine where one stops and the other starts. And it is my belief this is the same with spiritual abuse too.
It is my belief that spiritual abuse can and does occur outside of the realm of ritual abuse. If you are beaten by a caregiver and told it is because God wishes it to happen that is spiritual abuse, and of course physical abuse. However on its own it is not ritual abuse. The use of religion and spirituality to make someone live in fear and shame, to make them feel less then other people, or despised in the eyes of God (whatever that is viewed as) all and more contribute to spiritual abuse. In my opinion, spiritual abuse occurs in many areas, it can happen within a family, within a church or other organised religion, within cults and sects, and also from government and other authorities. I also believe that other forms of abuse damage or in some cases destroy a personís sense of self and therefore, although not directly spiritual abuse have a carry over effect.
Of the experiences of ritual abuse I know, most seem to have some aspect of ritual abuse. There is usually some religion or dogma presented to the group. It appears a large majority (although that seems to be changing slowly) report that religion to be Satanism. Although I have read of people that were ritually abused within cults organised around KKK influences, neo-Nazi and other types of fascism. Some speak of the connection with religion whilst others say there was little to no religious content. The goal seems to be indoctrination into some belief structure, power and control, and it would appear a release of sadistic violence over others.
I believe there are connections and similarities with ritual abuse and other forms of abuse, including spiritual abuse. But it is also my belief that there are things connected with ritual abuse that makes it stand apart from those other abuses. I want, however, to say this as clearly as I can. I do not belief that ritual abuse is more important, more deserving of attention than any other type of abuse. I do believe that all abuse robs someone of their sense of self and ability to live an authentic real existence. And that all people should honour their own truths and seek the answers that are right for them. Ok that disclaimer out of the road back to my topic at hand. From my own experience and readings of others there are things about ritual abuse that seldom are faced by victims of other abuses. Abuse in general happens in secret, there is shame felt by the victims, but I believe victims of ritual abuse often have their shame expounded by the fact that the abuse is not secret. When they are being raped and beaten there are usually bystanders watching. There are witnesses to their abuse. Ritual abuse is a group activity and that group gets to witness all the degradation happening. This is seldom something that those abused in the home have to deal with. These events made be taken further by being involved in aspects of the child pornography and prostitution industry. (Note: I am not implying that these activities solely happen within ritual abusive cults)
There are activities I do believe that seldom happen outside of ritual abuse, that for the majority of society and indeed abuse victims have no experience of and indeed have no awareness of. There are however some common experiences that most ritual abuse victims report. These include such things as the drinking of blood, cannibalism, burial, and often murder and torture of animals and in some cases people. Ritual abuse victims are often placed in a position where they not only get abused themselves but are manipulated and threatened into abusing others. The lines between victim and perpetrator get forever broken and it can make guilt unbearable. Often with forms of spiritual and indeed familial abuse these things may be discussed, and people are encouraged to think and fantasise about them happening. But in my opinion there is a major difference between rhetoric and reality.
Ritually abusive cults maintain their power and control through elaborate forms of mind control and programming. The concept of mind control and conditioning is definitely not the sole provision of ritual abuse. My mother, who was never involved in my ritual abuse, was an expert at screwing with my mind. I believe any changes to someoneís view of the world, to how they interact with their environment and other people is a form of conditioning. Some conditioning is totally benign and others are actually incredibly helpful. Conditioning is after all little more than teaching someone how to act, when as a child our parent figures yell at us, tell us off for running out into the road, over time we learn that doing that is wrong because it makes them afraid for us, which is usually presented as anger. We become conditioned to see roads as rather dangerous places and learn in a healthy way to hold some fear of them. If this didnít happen so many toddlers would probably get squashed by passing cars. This is normal conditioning, and no one sees it as abusive. However the same conditioning can teach you that it isnít the road that is dangerous, but that something about you is bad. If say every time a child ran out on the road the parent would yell at it, call it stupid and bad and never take the time to explain why the road is dangerous that child might internalise that it is wrong, that it is at fault, and rather than learning to be careful around a road, the child might learn to hate itself for doing something wrong.
Over the years the abusers in my family would punish me if anyone complimented any of my activities. They would say I was being too proud, that I was holding a too high opinion of myself. I soon learnt that not only compliments were dangerous but that to feel pleased with myself was a sign of my badness. This lesson was learnt through fear and pain, and I do not believe it was a healthy thing for me to learn. It is a very simple example of how abuse can condition, control a personís mind until it becomes part of their own thinking. Even years after the actual punishments stopped my fear of compliments remained, I did not need the outside reinforcement, they had already managed to influence how I viewed things. And even now, as my awareness grows I still get a chill of fear every time someone says something good about me.
But with ritual abuse this programming is more regimented, more elaborate in its function and implementation. Programmes are installed through intensive forms of torture and conditioning. That might never be fully able to be unravelled. It is not a simple case of being told not to do something, nor is it as random as punishments for events that occur naturally. The physical torture, the confinement and neglect are all designed to create a result in the victim, one that might not be understood after the event. A personal example of this was my fear of the colour yellow. Whenever I saw it I felt sick, literally, from the fear of knowing I would hurt someone. This made no sense to me for such a long time. Yellow would bring waves of panic as I knew I was somehow about to become violent. Over the years we have pieced together enough to learn that yellow was programmed as a trigger (along with something else I wonít mention) that would call out one of our more violent people who would then under the direction of our abusers severely hurt people. We have now learnt to diffuse that reaction, sometimes when we see the colour it makes us go cold, but the feeling of violence is not so obsessive. The colour yellow was never enough on its own to bring her violent behaviour into play, but as one part of the cue it was enough to make life uncomfortable. There is just so much yellow in the world. We are now have enough information to be aware that this programming took place over a very long intense weekend. That through torture, hunger, and confinement, intermingled with conflicting messages of love and support, we began to respond automatically to the cues we were sent. Until eventually the control over our actions no longer resided somewhere inside us.
Why I discussed this is to hopefully show the differences in the programming and conditioning that happens in life and in abuse. The latter is in my experience totally different from the type of conditioning my other forms of abuse left on me. It was created in other ways and it is my belief for us personally, far more terrifying ways. Because of the nature of this programming, the pain, the dissociative techniques it is often hard to trace back to the time when the programme was installed. It has been far easier for us to recognise our fear of compliments comes from a direct reaction to the punishments, there seems to be a clear cause and effect with those things. The messages are direct and not clouded behind purposed designed amnesiac barriers. Therefore I have found the lines to recovery are clearer, not easier to travel, each step holds pain, but ritual abuse programming and condition it is easy to find yourself off the path, in dead ends or dangerous territory. All abusive conditioning, and programming is a terrible thing, none of it is acceptable in my opinion. The worst abuse in my opinion is that which damages your mind and spirit and I believe all types of abuse do that. However it is still my stance that ritual abuse programming and condition is on a different level than other kinds.
If you have read all this, I want to end with a last disclaimer. No abuse is acceptable. No one is more entitled to their pain, or to the support and care of others. Ritual abuse is not superior or more important to other abuse. It is just my opinion that it is different.
Lena & Tallie