The focus of the DID part of my blog is not about scary descriptions of abuse, but the subject can’t be avoided altogether. This post is going to be about a specific type of abuse that is controversial at best—satanic ritual abuse (SRA). I debated for quite some time on writing about this, but as it is my experience and deeply affects the organisation of my system, it’s sort of a necessary evil (remember that bit about dry wit?). Slight Disclaimer: I’m not a therapist or connected to the medical field in any way at all. Once again, I’m just putting information out there in hopes that it might help someone. If you are a survivor of SRA, *please* take care in reading this post.
SRA is a whole other world. Conspiracies about satanic groups have been around for a very long time, and people who believe in these ‘conspiracies’ are often ridiculed and discounted as unstable. I can absolutely understand that—SRA is certainly not something one would *want* to believe in, and knowing ritual abuse goes on is not something people want to think about. It is scary. It does sound crazy and impossible. It’s also real, and while a lot of disinformation exists, many of those conspiracy nuts are on to something true.
As is probably obvious by the name, SRA takes place in satanic cults. Most often people are born into these cults, and sometimes their families have been involved for generations. Typically, cults are very highly organised with leadership councils, specific jobs for members, and layers of involvement. It’s a bit like an external DID system—one leader or ‘core’ with many others around for work and protection. The thing that most people don’t realise is that most people who belong to these cults exist out in the world like any of the rest of us. They hold normal jobs, shop at normal stores, attend normal schools, etc. The rituals, of course, are far from normal, but they aren’t openly held. Unfortunately, dysfunctional families are not at all uncommon, so families of SRA don’t always appear any more dysfunctional than others. In fact, many seem to be very stable. SRA imposes a rigid structure, so keeping up the appearance of normalcy is nothing new. It requires the same great discipline and stoicism that being part of such a group requires in the first place. However, the organisation and specifics of satanic cults are not important to my purpose. I just want to talk about how SRA works in the creation of alters.
Part of satanic cults involves programming—using whatever means of abuse necessary to create alters to perform jobs that will further the mission of the cult. A great lot of lovely things are used to do this including physical objects, methods of inflicting deep psychological pain, various substances, patterns using combinations of things such as coloured lights, and isolation. There are others, but that shows the basic concept. Loyalty is of utmost importance to a satanic cult; if the members are not completely loyal they will not be willing to do the hard and terrible work required of them. One has to give up any sense of morality and become almost inhuman. Act, don’t think, is the mentality. All for the greater good.
In order to keep a person loyal, then, layers of protection are put in place. There are many, many ways to do this. I’m vaguely describing the way mine played out. I’ll talk more specifically about my internal people in future posts. Child alters might be created who feel like they owe obedience to their ‘parents,’ the cult leaders and programmers who work with them. Often they are given special toys, drinks, or things they really love after being abused to show them that, if they do what they’re told without questioning it or causing a scene, they get rewarded. Nothing like that to build loyalty. This is called a double bind and is really common in non-sra abuse as well. Another characteristic of SRA abuse that occurs in other types of abuse is loyalty out of fear. There are usually alters who are so terrified of what will be done to them if they leave the cult that they can’t even consider leaving. The fear paralyses them, and even though they might want to leave, they just can’t break away.
Possibly the thing about DID that comes about almost entirely from SRA is the existence, sometimes, of two separate systems. When I first started dealing with my issues, it took some time before I realised there were two distinct groups and many layers within those groups. Internal worlds can be very vast and detailed—mine were set up like gardens. One was beautiful, and the people in that garden were the ones who slowly introduced me to my internal folk. They’re also the ones who continue to help me as I move further along.
At the back of that garden was an old, dark house. Oddly, I remembered that house from my childhood. When the time was right, one of the more powerful members of my good internal team led me through the house and into a dark garden. The really bizarre thing is that it exactly mirrors the light garden. Frequently, the alters even have mirrors. A very specific type of programming creates mirror-alters such as these. Anyway, at first I had almost no access to the people in the dark garden. They seemed to completely overpower me, and sometimes they still do. I have internal people who can go back and forth between the two systems, but at this stage we’re all sort of working together to try to introduce them to our side of things. In short, the alters from the light garden were created more by my control; those in the dark garden were created specifically for cult control. Nice, isn’t it? Argh.
Once a person starts the long and difficult path away from a satanic group, the types of alters put in place to ensure loyalty become very important. Emotions and thought processes that seem foreign to the person might be noticed. Even when a survivor has physically broken free from the cult, he or she will be drawn back mentally. Sometimes this results in the person’s actually returning to the cult in what is called, appropriately, a callback. Breaking the mental bonds requires quite alot of work. Therapists who specialise in SRA are highly skilled in peeling back the layers enforcing loyalty and deprogramming alters who hold those jobs. At first, the survivor might not remember anything about the SRA even if he or she has just recently got out of it. They will likely remember abuse, and maybe even abuse involving religion, but the ritual abuse is frequently blurred so much that the survivor doesn’t recognise what it is. This is likely to be an alter or group of alters who protect the cult by preventing the survivor from knowing (and therefore from telling about) the extent of the abuse or the involvement of a satanic group.
I guess my main point is that, if you’re dealing with SRA, make sure you get a therapist who is comfortable with the specialised treatment that will take. It’s hard enough to find a therapist who believes in and is willing to treat DID. SRA just adds another dimension to everything. But it’s worth it. It’s worth all the *hard* work, and all the setbacks. It’s worth dealing with the nightmares, flashbacks, physical issues, and anything at all that might come your way. I *hate* platitudes, but, once you’ve established enough distance from a cult to feel safe and start processing what you’ve been through, the worst truly is over.