In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.
Betrayal is too kind a word to describe a situation in which a father says he loves his daughter but claims he must teach her about the horrors of the world in order to make her a stronger person; a situation in which he watches or participates in rituals that make her feel like she is going to die. She experiences pain that is so intense that she cannot think; her head spins so fast she can't remember who she is or how she got there. All she knows is pain. All she feels is desperation. She tries to cry out for help, but soon learns that no one will listen. No matter how loud she cries, she can't stop or change what is happening. No matter what she does, the pain will not stop. Her father orders her to be tortured and tells her it is for her own good. He tells her that she needs the discipline, or that she has asked for it by her misbehavior. Betrayal is too simple a word to describe the overwhelming pain, the overwhelming loneliness and isolation this child experiences. As if the abuse during the rituals were not enough, this child experiences similar abuse at home on a daily basis. When she tries to talk about her pain, she is told that she must be crazy. "Nothing bad has happened to you;' her family tells her Each day she begins to feel more and more like she doesn't know what is real. She stops trusting her own feelings because no one else acknowledges them or hears her agony. Soon the pain becomes too great. She learns not to feel at all. This strong, lonely, desperate child learns to give up the senses that make all people feel alive. She begins to feel dead. She wishes she were dead. For her there is no way out. She soon learns there is no hope. As she grows older she gets stronger. She learns to do what she is told with the utmost compliance. She forgets everything she has ever wanted. The pain still lurks, but it's easier to pretend it's not there than to acknowledge the horrors she has buried in the deepest parts of her mind. Her relationships are overwhelmed by the power of her emotions. She reaches out for help, but never seems to find what she is looking for The pain gets worse. The loneliness sets in. When the feelings return, she is overcome with panic, pain, and desperation. She is convinced she is going to die. Yet, when she looks around her she sees nothing that should make her feel so bad. Deep inside she knows something is very, very wrong, but she doesn't remember anything. She thinks, "Maybe I am crazy.
Many survivors insist they’re not courageous: ‘If I were courageous I would have stopped the abuse.’ ‘If I were courageous, I wouldn't be scared’... Most of us have it mixed up. You don’t start with courage and then face fear. You become courageous because you face your fear.
Along with the trust issues, one of the hardest parts to deal with is the feeling of not being believed or supported, especially by your own grandparents and extended family. When I have been through so much pain and hurt and have to live with the scars every day, I get angry knowing that others think it is all made up or they brush it off because my cousin was a teenager. I was ten when I was first sexually abused by my cousin, and a majority of my relatives have taken the perpetrator's side. I have cried many times about everything and how my relatives gave no support or love to me as a kid when this all came out. Not one relative ever came up to that innocent little girl I was and said "I am sorry for what you went through" or "I am here for you." Instead they said hurtful things: "Oh he was young." "That is what kids do." "It is not like he was some older man you didn't know." Why does age make a difference? It is a sick way of thinking. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. What is wrong with this picture? It brings tears to my eyes the way my relatives have reacted to this and cannot accept the truth. Denial is where they would rather stay.
It’s hard to feel supported when you can’t tell people everything. People haven’t really got a clue what it’s like. It’s hard to trust anyone. It’s hard to believe people won’t let you down. I’m feeling like I want to cry. My body feels hollow. Empty. I don’t feel like I’m 17. I feel young. I’m not sure how old, maybe about 10 yrs. It’s hard to accept that I can’t get all the support I need from one person. From any person. It’s hard that no one can fully understand. It’s hard for me to admit that inside I feel a really lonely person. What do I need to do to take care of myself right now? Well I need to cuddle my teddies — it sounds silly, but I need some comfort... I was still cuddling teddies when I should have been cuddling boys. The sick imagery in my mind, rather than making me sexually active, had closed that door completely.
Denial is commonly found among persons with dissociative disorders. My favorite quotation from such a client is, "We are not multiple, we made it all up." I have heard this from several different clients. When I hear it, I politely inquire, "And who is we?
The childhood sexual abuse taught me that my value came from sex. In adulthood, I was driven to have sex since I always felt worthless. I felt important and desired until it was over and then I felt like garbage—the same way I did after the abuse. I desperately needed to feel valued again, which led to more sex. My sex addiction only stopped when I believed that I’m valuable apart from anything I do.
The healing process is best described as a spiral. Survivors go through the stages once, sometimes many times; sometimes in one order, sometimes in another. Each time they hit a stage again, they move up the spiral: they can integrate new information and a broader range of feelings, utilize more resources, take better care of themselves, and make deeper changes. Allies in Healing by Laura Davis
The most important thing in defining child sexual abuse is the experience of the child. It takes very little for a child’s world to be devastated. A single experience can have a profound impact on a child’s life. A man sticks his hand in his daughter’s underpants, or strokes his son’s penis once, and for that child, the world is never the same again.
The introduction to horrors so young impressed on me just how helpless and vulnerable I was. Parents are supposed to empower their children to live without them but in my family, I wasn’t given permission to be my own person. I thought I needed them to live and then they abandoned me. It’s no wonder I felt so unempowered well into my adult years.
Recently I interviewed a psychopath. This is always a humbling experience because it teaches over and over how much of human motivation and experience is outside my narrow range. Despite the psychopath's lack of conscience and lack of empathy for others, he is inevitably better at fooling people than any other type of offender. I suppose conscience just slows you down. A child convicted molester, this particular one made friends with a correctional officer who invited him to live in his home after he was released - despite the fact the officer had a nine-year-old daughter. The officer and his wife were so taken with the offender that, after the offender lived with them for a few months, they initiated adoption proceedings- adoption for a man almost their age. Of course, he was a child molester living in the same house as a child. Not surprisingly, he molested the daughter the entire time he lived there. [...] What these experiences taught have me is that even when people are warned of a previously founded case of even a conviction, they still routinely underestimate the pathology with which they are dealing.
Although healing brings a better life, it also threatens to permanently alter life as you’ve known it. Your relationships, your position in the world, even your sense of identity may change. Coping patterns that have served you for a lifetime will be called into question. When you make the commitment to heal, you risk losing much of what is familiar. As a result one part of you may want to heal while another resists change.
Cheryl was aided in her search by the Internet. Each time she remembered a name that seemed to be important in her life, she tried to look up that person on the World Wide Web. The names and pictures Cheryl found were at once familiar and yet not part of her conscious memory: Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Dr. Louis 'Jolly' West, Dr. Ewen Cameron, Dr. Martin Orne and others had information by and about them on the Web. Soon, she began looking up sites related to childhood incest and found that some of the survivor sites mentioned the same names, though in the context of experiments performed on small children. Again, some names were familiar. Then Cheryl began remembering what turned out to be triggers from old programmes. 'The song, "The Green, Green Grass of home" kept running through my mind. I remembered that my father sang it as well. It all made no sense until I remembered that the last line of the song tells of being buried six feet under that green, green grass. Suddenly, it came to me that this was a suicide programme of the government. 'I went crazy. I felt that my body would explode unless I released some of the pressure I felt within, so I grabbed a [pair ofl scissors and cut myself with the blade so I bled. In my distracted state, I was certain that the bleeding would let the pressure out. I didn't know Lynn had felt the same way years earlier. I just knew I had to do it Cheryl says. She had some barbiturates and other medicine in the house. 'One particularly despondent night, I took several pills. It wasn't exactly a suicide try, though the pills could have killed me. Instead, I kept thinking that I would give myself a fifty-fifty chance of waking up the next morning. Maybe the pills would kill me. Maybe the dose would not be lethal. It was all up to God. I began taking pills each night. Each-morning I kept awakening.
Other personalities are created to handle new traumas, their existence usually occurring one at a time. Each has a singular purpose and is totally focused on that task. The important aspect of the mind's extreme dissociation is that each ego state is totally without knowledge of the other. Because of this, the researchers for the CIA and the Department of Defense believed they could take a personality, train him or her to be a killer and no other ego stares would be aware of the violence that was taking place. The personality running the body would be genuinely unaware of the deaths another personality was causing. Even torture could not expose the with, because the personality experiencing the torture would have no awareness of the information being sought. Earlier, such knowledge was gained from therapists working with adults who had multiple personalities. The earliest pioneers in the field, such as Dr. Ralph Alison, a psychiatrist then living in Santa Cruz, California, were helping victims of severe early childhood trauma. Because there were no protocols for treatment, the pioneers made careful notes, publishing their discoveries so other therapists would understand how to help these rare cases. By 1965, the information was fairly extensive, including the knowledge that only unusually intelligent children become multiple personalities and that sexual trauma endured by a restrained child under the age of seven is the most common way to induce hysteric dissociation.
Imagine the message that sent to my sister and me. A cousin violates us, confesses, and walks away with barely a slap on the wrist. I learned at a young age that if I was ever going to see justice for the wrongs done to me, I had to find it myself.
Eating disorders are prevalent among women who were sexually abused as children. They seem to have components of other symptoms such as obsessions, compulsions, avoidance of food, and anxiety, and they primarily include a distorted body image and feelings of body shame. For some women, eating disorders are related to the loss of control over their bodies during the sexual abuse and serve as a means of feeling in control of their bodies now. Eating disorders can also be indicative of the developmental stage and age at which the sexual abuse began. Women with anorexia and bulimia report that they were sexually abused either at the age of puberty or during puberty, when their bodies were beginning to develop and they felt a great deal of body shame from the abuse. By contrast, women with compulsive eating report that the sexual abuse occurred before the age of puberty; they used food for comfort.
Having DID is, for many people, a very lonely thing. If this book reaches some people whose experiences resonate with mine and gives them a sense that they aren't alone, that there is hope, then I will have achieved one of my goals. A sad fact is that people with DID spend an average of almost seven years in the mental health system before being properly diagnosed and receiving the specific help they need. During that repeatedly misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated, simply because clinicians fail to recognize the symptoms. If this book provides practicing and future clinicians certain insight into DID, then I will have accomplished another goal. Clinicians, and all others whose lives are touched by DID, need to grasp the fundamentally illusive nature of memory, because memory, or the lack of it, is an integral component of this condition. Our minds are stock pots which are continuously fed ingredients from many cooks: parents, siblings, relatives, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates, strangers, acquaintances, radio, television, movies, and books. These are the fixings of learning and memory, which are stirred with a spoon that changes form over time as it is shaped by our experiences. In this incredibly amorphous neurological stew, it is impossible for all memories to be exact. But even as we accept the complex of impressionistic nature of memory, it is equally essential to recognize that people who experience persistent and intrusive memories that disrupt their sense of well-being and ability to function, have some real basis distress, regardless of the degree of clarity or feasibility of their recollections. We must understand that those who experience abuse as children, and particularly those who experience incest, almost invariably suffer from a profound sense of guilt and shame that is not meliorated merely by unearthing memories or focusing on the content of traumatic material. It is not enough to just remember. Nor is achieving a sense of wholeness and peace necessarily accomplished by either placing blame on others or by forgiving those we perceive as having wronged us. It is achieved through understanding, acceptance, and reinvention of the self.
So often parents of abused children feel helpless. When a child falls, and scrapes her knees parents can erase the hurt by kissing it and putting a Band-Aid on it, but not so with the pain of sexual abuse.
I should meet many people who do not know anyone personally who has been raped or molested as a child. But I can't remember seeing a newspaper without a rape or molestation charge in it somewhere, and when I ask groups how many people know someone personally with a history of molestation, almost always, every hand in the room goes up.
He pulled my skirt up. I began to worry. Everyone knew he had broken in girls before and I didn't want it to happen to me. I said, 'No. Get off, please.' He pulled me down the alley and pushed me to the ground. As I lay on my back worrying about my new blue coat, he pushed his fingers up between my legs — and rammed himself into me. I was crying. His lips were pressed against mine but I was motionless, like a small corpse. He grunted and I knew it was over. He got up, I just lay there on the ground, my tights round my ankles. The clock was striking twelve. As he walked away, he turned and said, 'I've always wanted to do it to you. I like your mouth'. When I got in, my mum said, 'Tracey, what's wrong with you?' I showed her my coat, the dirt and the stains, and told her 'I'm not a virgin any more.' She didn't call the police or make any fuss. She just washed my coat and everything carried on as normal, as though nothing had happened. But for me, my childhood was over, I had become conscious of my physicality, aware of my presence and open to the ugly truths of the world. At the age of thirteen, I realised that there was a danger in innocence and beauty, and I could not live with both. (describing childhood rape)
My goal in going public was not to put my extended family to shame, or to get back at Brian for abusing my sister and me; rather, my mission was to give a face and voice to an epidemic that society stays hushed about.
She was so upset about a blog that maybe a total of six people read yet had no compassion for her granddaughters who had suffered the physical and emotional pains of sexual abuse and whose lives were changed forever. The two cannot even be compared, yet when someone is in denial about what happened, they cannot perceive what is true. It seemed too hard for her to let her mind go there and believe her grandson could do such terrible things.
(Talking about the movement to deny the prevalence and effects of adult sexual exploitation of children) So what does this movement consist of? Who are the movers and shakers? Well molesters are in it, of course. There are web pages telling them how to defend themselves against accusations, to retain confidence about their ‘loving and natural’ feelings for children, with advice on what lawyers to approach, how to complain, how to harass those helping their children. Then there’s the Men’s Movements, their web pages throbbing with excitement if they find ‘proof’ of conspiracy between feminists, divorcing wives and therapists to victimise men, fathers and husbands. Then there are journalists. A few have been vitally important in the US and Britain in establishing the fightback, using their power and influence to distort the work of child protection professionals and campaign against children’s testimony. Then there are other journalists who dance in and out of the debates waggling their columns behind them, rarely observing basic journalistic manners, but who use this debate to service something else – a crack at the welfare state, standards, feminism, ‘touchy, feely, post-Diana victimhood’. Then there is the academic voice, landing in the middle of court cases or inquiries, offering ‘rational authority’. Then there is the government. During the entire period of discovery and denial, not one Cabinet minister made a statement about the prevalence of sexual abuse or the harm it caused. Finally there are the ‘retractors’. For this movement to take off, it had to have ‘human interest’ victims – the accused – and then a happy ending – the ‘retractors’. We are aware that those ‘retractors’ whose parents trail them to newspapers, television studios and conferences are struggling. Lest we forget, they recanted under palpable pressure.
There was nothing you could be sure about, it was all lies, and it was all done to mess with minds because the control and the power trip was so important to them, as well as it being necessary in terms of screwing up anything you might remember from an evidential perspective. They would also build up your hopes, in terms of any tiny thing you did like or were less scared of, so I'd be told that it would be a nice night because Uncle Andrew would be coming, but then it wouldn't be him. There would be someone else There would be someone else who I was told was my Uncle Andrew as he was raping me. Sometimes, this other person would have a mask on but I would know that it wasn't really him. They would be the wrong height or the wrong weight or, sometimes, even obviously a woman. There were occasions when I would be told to call the person Uncle Andrew and then when I did, they would ask me why I was doing that. Sometimes he would be there, too, but that was rare. Was it Satanic? I don't know. Personally I don't believe in God or Satan or any of those things, but abusers use whatever they can to silence children because if you go to the police and say something about Satan, you are so much less likely to be believed. I personally think they were just a group of likeminded people who had no beliefs other than that they wanted to get satisfaction out of abusing children and it's as simple and horrible as that. My uncle certainly doesn't have any satanic beliefs — he just thinks that he loves children and is allowed to get sexual satisfaction from them. Why is there sex involved if it is just about Satan? Why does it always come down to them getting off? No matter what they do that's all it is, whether masturbation or penetration or humiliation, that's what it's about. I encountered people who just liked to humiliate — they wouldn't allow you to go to the bathroom, you would be given drink after drink, fizzy drinks, whatever, so you ended up absolutely desperate and that's where they got off — that's when they started to masturbate themselves, as you stood there peeing yourself. That was just awful, so humiliating. Where is God or Satan in that? (her Uncle was convicted for abusing her and jailed)
In all the interviews I have done, I cannot remember one offender who did not admit privately to more victims than those for whom he had been caught. On the contrary, most offenders had been charged with and/or convicted of from one to three victims. In the interviews I have done, they have admitted to roughly 10 to 1,250 victims. What was truly frightening was that all the offenders had been reported before by children, and the reports had been ignored.
Like Jocelyn, Survivors often think: * That’s just the way I am * I’m not lovable, that’s why I keep having disastrous relationships * I’m not very clever, that’s why I didn’t do well at school * I’m a loner * I’m a weak person * I’m not very nice * I was a difficult child Many survivors find it difficult to accept that being sexually abused as a child can continue to affect them many years later. It may seem too fantastic, or too frightening an idea to believe. David Finkelhor, an American researcher, has tried to explain how sexual abuse affects a child and leads to long-term problems. He suggests four ways in which childhood sexual abuse causes problems: 1 Traumatic Sexualization 2 Stigmatization 3 Betrayal 4 Powerlessness
When I was cooking I enjoyed a sense of being ‘out’ of myself. The action of dicing vegetables and warming oil made my hands tingle and my thoughts switch to a different hemisphere, right brain rather than left, or left rather than right. In my mind there were many rooms and, just as I still got lost in the labyrinth of corridors at college, I often found myself lost, with a sense of déjà vu, in some obscure part of my cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that plays a key role in perceptual awareness, attention and memory. Everything I had lived through or imagined or dreamed appeared to have been backed up on a video clip and then scattered among those alien rooms. I could stumble into any number of scenes, from the horrifically sexual, horror-movie sequences that were crude and painful, to visualizing Grandpa polishing his shoes.
We must understand that those who experience abuse as children, and particularly those who experience incest, almost invariably suffer from a profound sense of guilt and shame that is not meliorated merely by unearthing memories or focusing on the content of traumatic material. It is not enough to just remember. Nor is achieving a sense of wholeness and peace necessarily accomplished by either placing blame on others or by forgiving those we perceive as having wronged us. It is achieved through understanding, acceptance, and reinvention of the self. At this point in time there are people who question the validity of the DID diagnosis. The fact is that DID has its own category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders because, as with all psychiatric conditions, a portion of society experiences a cluster of recognizable symptoms that are not better accounted for by any other diagnosis.
Janna knew - Rikki knew — and I knew, too — that becoming Dr Cameron West wouldn't make me feel a damn bit better about myself than I did about being Citizen West. Citizen West, Citizen Kane, Sugar Ray Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, Robinson miso, miso soup, black bean soup, black sticky soup, black sticky me. Yeah. Inside I was still a fetid and festering corpse covered in sticky blackness, still mired in putrid shame and scorching self-hatred. I could write an 86-page essay comparing the features of Borderline Personality Disorder with those of Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I barely knew what day it was, or even what month, never knew where the car was parked when Dusty would come out of the grocery store, couldn't look in the mirror for fear of what—or whom—I'd see. ~ Dr Cameron West describes living with DID whilst studying to be a psychologist.
By opening the door to my life, it is my hope and mission to shed light on the hidden wounds of abuse, to end the stigma and shame associated with abuse, and to show survivors true courage, strength, inspiration, and determination.
If I was set an essay on Friday, I’d spend three hours on Saturday morning in the library. Was that normal? I didn’t know. What I did know was that I felt less prone to depression and more normal walking through Venice or staring out over the lake in Zurich. At home I wrestled continually with my moods. The black thing inside me gnawed like a rat at my self-esteem and self-confidence. I felt there was a happy person inside me too, who wanted to enjoy life, to be normal, but my feelings of self-loathing and the deep distrust I had towards my father wouldn’t allow that sunny person to come out. When the black thing had an iron grip on me, I couldn’t even look at my father: Did you do bad things to me when I was little? Like a line from a song stuck in your brain, the words ran through my head and never once came out of my mouth. Not that I needed to say what was in my mind. I was sure Father could read my thoughts in my moods, in the blank, dead stare of my eyes. It was hardly surprising that there was always an atmosphere of strain and awkwardness in the house, and the blame was always mine: Alice and her moods, Alice and her anorexia; Alice and her low self-esteem; Alice and her inescapable feelings of loss and emptiness.
Both incest and the Holocaust have been subject to furious denial by perpetrators and other individuals and by highly organised groups such as the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and the Committee for Historical Review. Incest and the Holocaust are vulnerable to this kind of concerted denial because of their unfathomability, the unjustifiability, and the threat they pose to the politics of patriarchy and anti-Semitism respectively. Over and over, survivors of the Holocaust attest that they were warned of what was happening in Poland but could not believe it at the time, could not believe it later as it was happening to them, and still to this day cannot believe what they, at the same time, know to have occurred. For Holocaust deniers this is a felicitous twist, for their arguments denying the Holocaust and therefore the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state capitalize on the discrepancies of faded memory. In the case of incest, although post-traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, and dissociation represent some of the mind's strategies for comprehending the incomprehensible, incest deniers have taken advantage of inconsistencies to discredit survivor testimony.
Some alters are what Dr Ross describes in Multiple Personality Disorder as 'fragments'. which are 'relatively limited psychic states that express only one feeling, hold one memory, or carry out a limited task in the person's life. A fragment might be a frightened child who holds the memory of one particular abuse incident.' In complex multiples, Dr Ross continues, the 'personalities are relatively full-bodied, complete states capable of a range of emotions and behaviours.' The alters will have 'executive control some substantial amount of time over the person's life'. He stresses, and I repeat his emphasis, 'Complex MPD with over 15 alter personalities and complicated amnesia barriers are associated with 100 percent frequency of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse.' Did I imagine the castle, the dungeon, the ritual orgies and violations? Did Lucy, Billy, Samuel, Eliza, Shirley and Kato make it all up? I went back to the industrial estate and found the castle. It was an old factory that had burned to the ground, but the charred ruins of the basement remained. I closed my eyes and could see the black candles, the dancing shadows, the inverted pentagram, the people chanting through hooded robes. I could see myself among other children being abused in ways that defy imagination. I have no doubt now that the cult of devil worshippers was nothing more than a ring of paedophiles, the satanic paraphernalia a cover for their true lusts: the innocent bodies of young children.
I am disgusted that I was often taken into their bed and told to do things to both of them. The things a decent parent wouldn't think of. I didn't know that having sex with her or with him was wrong because I'd never known anything else but I never understood why it used to hurt so much. It carried on right until she died and I am sure that if she was still alive it would still be going on now. I wished someone would help me and stop them hurting me. I tried to do what they told me to do because somethings they were nice to me if I did it properly." - Graham talks about being sexually abused by his mother (and her boyfriend) Graham was sexually abused by his mother. The only person who showed him any affection in his childhood was his grandmother. "My mother always told me the police would think I was a 'dirty little bastard' if I told them and they would take me away to a children's home and I would never see grandmother again." "I knew it was my fault and nobody would believe me." - Graham Children often do not tell about abuse because of their fears about how other people will respond. The most common fear is that they will not be believed, It is a child's word against an adult's and the adult may be well liked and respected in the community. Nowadays, because of the television and newspaper coverage, people are aware that child sexual abuse does happen. In the recent past it was thought to be a rare occurrence, so even if they were trusted adults around for a child to tell, the adult would probably have found it difficult to believe and would have little idea what to do about it.
For all this talk about us being a nation at war with child abuse, and for all the media hype about witch-hunts and false allegations — and don't ever let anyone use the word witch-hunts about this; there were no witches — the fact remains that in 1994, it is extremely difficult to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse. And the external forces of denial are almost overwhelming. If a case as verified as mine meets with denial, I dread to think about the experience of people who don't have the kind of corroboration that I do. And I really worry that we're getting close to a point where it's going to be impossible to prosecute child molesters, because we don't believe children, and now we don't believe adults. (Cheit "Paper presented at the Mississippi Statewide Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect" Jackson, April 29 1994.)
In the specific case of the use of the term false memory to describe errors in details in laboratory tasks (e.g., in word-learning tasks), the media and public are set up all too easily to interpret such research as relevant to false memories of abuse because the term is used in the public domain to refer to contested memories of abuse. Because the term false memory is inextricably tied in the public to a social movement that questions the veracity of memories for childhood sexual abuse, the use of the term in scientific research that evaluates memory errors for details (not whole events) must be evaluated in this light." From: What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term False Memory for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior 14(3) pages 201-233, 2004
From Colin A. Ross, 1995: The writer is the brother of the man who co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He is writing to WGBH about a program called 'Divided Memories', which you may have seen, that was supposed to be an investigation of memory. This letter also went to Congress and to the press, so it's a public letter. It's just unfortunate that the press, as far as I know, didn't pick it up. 'Gentlemen: Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn [their daughters] are my nieces. There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam, while they were raising their daughters. Peter said (on your show, 'Divided Memories') that his humor was ribald. Those of us who had to endure it, remember it as abusive at best and viciously sadistic at worst. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise. That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media. Neither Peter's mother (who was also mine), nor his daughters, nor I have wanted anything to do with Peter and Pam for periods of time ranging up to more than two decades. We do not understand why you would 'buy' such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality. For the most part you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredibly bizarre and exotic alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents, While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators, most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the mainstream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting television, it certainly does not make for more objectivity and fairness. I would advance the idea that 'Divided Memories' hurt victims, helped abusers and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public broadcasting is funded to support.
Working simultaneously, though seemingly without a conscience, was Dr. Ewen Cameron, whose base was a laboratory in Canada's McGill University, in Montreal. Since his death in 1967, the history of his work for both himself and the CIA has become known. He was interested in 'terminal' experiments and regularly received relatively small stipends (never more than $20,000) from the American CIA order to conduct his work. He explored electroshock in ways that offered such high risk of permanent brain damage that other researchers would not try them. He immersed subjects in sensory deprivation tanks for weeks at a time, though often claiming that they were immersed for only a matter of hours. He seemed to fancy himself a pure scientist, a man who would do anything to learn the outcome. The fact that some people died as a result of his research, while others went insane and still others, including the wife of a member of Canada's Parliament, had psychological problems for many years afterwards, was not a concern to the doctor or those who employed him. What mattered was that by the time Cheryl and Lynn Hersha were placed in the programme, the intelligence community had learned how to use electroshock techniques to control the mind. And so, like her sister, Lynn was strapped to a chair and wired for electric shock. The experience was different for Lynn, though the sexual component remained present to lesser degree...
I would like to turn in my skin and change it for a new epidermis. It feels as if I will never be able to rinse the sadness from my soul. All the while I am cognizant of the fact that I am trying to purge myself of my feelings. I start with my shell. I am in the water at least an hour. I immerse my head. My long, thick mane is so heavy, but I feel the lightness of my hair as it floats. I can hear my heart beating in my ears. I wonder what would happen if I died in this water. I drain the bathtub and refill it. I scrub my skin until it stings. I still don't feel clean. I close my eyes. I switch to lying on my back. I gaze at the heavens through the skylight on the ceiling above the tub. I am thinking about Isabella. I am struck by the feeling of uncleanness that I have been immersed in that day. I would imagine that this child feels unclean always, in body and in mind. I am hoping that the sheets in her foster home are snow white and fragrant. I am hoping that she felt safe. I am worried that she is so deeply alone and frightened. I know somewhere deep inside of me that the decisions and choices I made today were sound. I am praying, with eyes glued to the stars, that I will not awaken in the night with my heart beating out of my chest; that I will not be haunted by Francis's diseased body; that I will not perseverate on ever nuance of my day - the smells, the cockroaches, the piercing torment of Isabella's unseeing eye, her father's sore-ridden penis penetrating her tiny body. Yet in many ways this is an experience I hope never to forget. The pearls. I must not forget the pearls that I have promised her.
The themes that exercised the minds of survivor movements and their allies within the health and welfare professions generated a political project: how to revolutionise medical and judicial approaches to injured adults and children, how to raise awareness so that other people didn’t have to suffer the same, and how to understand, and then challenge, offenders who so love what they do to children that they can and must shut their minds to the feelings of children who have put their trust in them. P4
I remembered during puberty, through the anorexic mists of intermittent menstrual cycles, that man, my father, lifting Shirley's nightdress over her head and asking her in his mocking way to choose what colour condom she wanted. 'Red or yellow?' Which did she choose? I can't remember. Perhaps she alternated. Perhaps there were other colours. It didn't happen once. It happened again and again. I had no power to stop it. That man, my father, had some control over me. I was drugged by the black silence in that big house, the vile whiff of aftershave, the crushing torment of inevitability. My father fucked Shirley using red or yellow condoms and it was those condoms that brought it all to an end. It was my last realization of the day; any more would have been too much to contemplate. That time when my mother had found used condoms in bedroom, he had admitted, after a pointless burst my father's of denial, that he had been going to prostitutes. That was no doubt true but I can't imagine clients take used condoms away with them; prostitutes would surely get rid of the things. No. My father kept those used condoms as a prize. He was fucking his fourteen-year-old-daughter. He was proud of it. Rebecca welled up with tears. Poor thing, she kept saying. Poor thing.
Some alters are what Dr Ross describes in Multiple Personality Disorder as 'fragments', which are 'relatively limited psychic states that express only one feeling, hold one memory or carry out a limited task in the person's life. A fragment might be a frightened child who holds the memory of one particular abuse incident.' In complex multiples, Dr Ross continues, the `personalities are relatively full-bodied, complete states capable of a rang of emotions and behaviours.' The alters will have `executive control some substantial amount of time over the person life'. He stresses, and I repeat his emphasis, 'Complex MPD with over 15 alter personalities and complicated amnesic barriers are associated with 100 percent frequency of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
The programme into which Cheryl was inducted combined all the different ways the intelligence community had learned could cause intense psychological change in adults and children. It had been learned through the use of both knowledgeable and 'unwitting' volunteers. They were subjected to sensory overload, isolation, drugs and hypnosis, all used on bodies that had been weakened from mild hunger. The horror of the programme was that it would be like having an elementary school sex education class conducted by a paedophile rapist. It would have been banned had the American government signed the Helsinki Accords. But, of course, they hadn't. For the test that day and in those that followed, Cheryl Hersha was positioned so she faced a portable movie screen. A 16mm movie projector was on a platform, along with several reels of film. Each was a short pornographic film meant to make her aware of sexuality in a variety of forms...
It felt like I was living in two worlds. There was one world which was a daylight world and another dark world (though I'm not saying that everything bad happened in darkness because it didn't). In the daylight world, life had a veneer of normality - my mum was a bit violent, my dad was a bit distant, my big brother was in hospital somewhere, my little brother was always with Mum, and I had an uncle who was very loving and caring and did nice things for me. In this daylight world, I went to church and learned about Jesus. I was told about innocence and how He loves children. Then there was the other side, the dark world, which was almost a mirror image. But what I was getting taught there was all of the opposites. It was almost the reverse of Christianity. They would say that the Christian teachings were rubbish, and everything in the Kirk was right. they would sing a hymn - not like 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' but something about being strong. The hymns were quite Germanic, with harsh, aggressive chanting. They were always about power and strength and right. When they were singing I would be standing or sitting with whoever had taken me.
The Kinsey staff asked questions of children, learning about sexuality in the family. And other psychologists, psychiatrists and paediatricians, including Benjamin Spock, explored this burgeoning field. As a result, it was known that children will naturally touch their genitals to experience a sense of pleasure. It was also known, from working with victims of childhood incest that small children will act in inappropriate sexual ways with adults if they are trained through abuse to do so. The methods used on Cheryl and the other 'lab rats' were meant to create an Alter personality that would both perform and tolerate sexual acts that are only appropriate for consenting adults. More important in their thinking, by limiting the experience to just one personality (ego state), the personality normally seen would behave like any other child who had not been sexually abused in any way.
As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept. Child abuse will always re-emerge, no matter how many years go by. We read of cases of people who have come forward after thirty or forty years to say they were abused as children in care homes by wardens, schoolteachers, neighbours, fathers, priests. The Catholic Church in the United States in the last decade has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for 'acts of sodomy and depravity towards children', to quote one information-exchange web-site. Why do these ageing people make the abuse public so late in their lives? To seek attention? No, it's because deep down there is a wound they need to bring out into the clean air before it can heal. Many clinicians miss signs of abuse in children because they, as decent people, do not want to find evidence of what Dr Ross suggests is 'a sick society that has grown sicker, and the abuse of children more bizarre'. (Note: this was written in the UK many years before the revelations of Jimmy Savile's widespread abuse, which included some ritual abuse)