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Victim or Perpetrator - A cycle of ritual abuse

With ritual abuse the line between victim and perpetrator becomes very blurred. To my knowledge, both from personal experience and research, very few people that remain part of a ritual abuse group through adolescence and adulthood are not required to perpetrate violence onto others. Victim becomes perpetrator to a new generation of victims and the cycle continues on. It also seems likely that many of those that escaped during childhood were forced into situations of violence towards others. Although the fearful manipulated children can not be held responsible for their actions whereof does the responsibility and indeed blame lie? It is a question that many of us struggle to answer. Are we to blame for abusing others whilst we were an active member of our ritual abuse group?

We became members of our cult group at a relatively old age. Maybe the leaders were aware of our multiplicity when they recruited our grandparents or perhaps they just lucked out with a child that was already multiple and who had developed extreme dissociative skills. Either way they used our multiplicity and dissociation to their advantage. Unlike many reports of ritual abuse we ere never lead to believe we were being trained for a position of high power. Instead those that handled the abuse first hand found themselves split into two distinct groups, victim and enforcer. The "victims' amongst us, although greatly hurt and damaged by their histories, often have an easier recovery. When they find the courage to talk (and a person who is willing to listen) they are met with compassion and understanding, the blame is placed back with the perpetrator and they are given new messages of comfort and care. The mere fact they are seen as victims allows things to be more clear cut and offers of support and caring more readily available. This is not to say that the "victims" road to recovery isn't painful and hard. But in comparison to those who had enforcer roles, it is often an easier journey.

The enforcers' road to wellness is often more complicated. Years of programming and indoctrination can taint our words and thoughts. We often find ourselves rigidly sticking to the beliefs of others instead of allowing our spirits to express themselves. We have perpetrated evilness onto others but were taught such actions were good and just. Perhaps for many of us the only way to live with ourselves and ensure our own survival was to believe in such things. Perhaps when that is all you know and all you are taught you simply do not question. Or perhaps reciting these beliefs allows you to keep your own pain and fear hidden. But regardless of the reasons, when the evilness is spoken with pride, justification and a lack of remorse it can become hard to find anyone willing to listen and delve deeper.

It is easier for someone who believes they know the Shire, who feels compassion for what we have endured to look at me, a person who has taken pride in her duties, who has tortured, and killed without remorse and proclaim me a victim. They see (or need to see me) as an abused child without choices and manipulated into such actions. Others, perhaps not so invested in their perceptions of the Shire will often see me as bad or evil. They can point to my actions as indicators that I have no merit or value as a person. I am the monster that deserves to suffer and pay for her abuse of others. So where does the truth lie, probably like most truths some where in the middle.

From my knowledge there are two origins to the path of enforcer within the Shire. There are those that made a simple choice. Faced with two options, victim or perpetrator, abuse or be abused, they took the option believed to cause the least pain that would ensure their survival. Perhaps there are actual people that can take the heroic martyr approach to life and outside fiction there might be those that willingly sacrifice themselves for the good of others. But I wonder, how many people, alone and without others to turn to for safety and belonging would not make similar choices. It may indeed sound callous but this was not a hypothetical decision, and faced with the constant reality of pain and possible death, for many it was often a case of "better them than us".

For others there was not a choice. The creation of someone cold and calculating or with out of control fury is often traced back to the most horrific of abuse. This abuse, the torture and contorting of one's mind is not easily acknowledged. It often lies behind strong barriers, either built at the time, or self imposed later. It is hard to be an often cruel and controlling menace when you also are aware and acknowledge that you are, or once were a frightened hurt individual. So that abuse often remains hidden, acutely denied for the dangers it holds. These are the enforcers that were never given the choice, that never had an option and they are also the ones that hold the tightest to their roles and the belief in the righteousness of their actions.

So where does the blame lie? If we are not to blame for our abuse on others then no blame can be placed on those that abuse us. Likewise if we blame our abusers then we too must accept blame of our actions. Perhaps after all it is not a question of blame, but rather one of responsibility. I am a strong believer in personal responsibility for the choices, actions and paths one takes in life. My decision to take a path towards self integrity and wholeness means that journey is my responsibility. But for me it also means I must accept responsibility for all my past and future actions, regardless of how abhorrent they might seem. I do not know if the future will bring confrontation from one of my victims, but if that day comes I will take up my strength and courage and acknowledge my part in the hurt and harm that came to them.

Blame, it seems to me is about guilt and flagellation. It does not bring with it closure or growth. Indeed it only helps maintain the separation of humanity which in turn allows these kinds of atrocities to continue. Blame fosters hatred. Blame can so quickly turn to the need for revenge and the continuation of violence. Responsibility brings acknowledgement and sincere sorrow. It allows both victim and perpetrator to be heard and respected. It robs neither of their humanity. Accepting responsibility for your actions opens an avenue for growth, to be able to talk about and investigate your own origins. Responsibility brings with it a chance for healing.

I am responsible for my actions and choices. I am responsible for my violence against others. Just as in turn, those before me are responsible for their violence towards us.