Survivors of Extreme Abuse: The Awful Rowing Toward Social Emancipation

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Survivors of extreme abuse have a lot to contribute to society because of what they have experienced and witnessed first-hand. But because of personal and cultural impediments, survivors rarely get the opportunity to share this gift safely.
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  Survivors of Extreme Abuse The Awful Rowing Toward Social Emancipation For survivors of extreme abuse, the disclosure of the crimes they experienced and the public identification of the perpetrators of those crimes can be monumentally dauntingtasks. Among the impediments they may face in their pursuit of personal and social justice are their own psychological challenges, due to the complex, and sometimesdebilitating effects of having experienced severe trauma, the dangers inherent in exposingcriminals or criminal networks, and social denial of their plight on almost every level. A woman's first scream is for help. Her second scream is for justice.   - Coral Anika Theill,  BONSHEA IMAGINE Survivors have an invaluable gift to share with society: intimate knowledge of crimes perpetrated in their midst, and the criminals who committed them. Their knowledge andinsight could theoretically lift the great rock of our cultural denial and officiallysanctioned version of reality, and expose the dark and dangerous world of child, drug andarms traffickers, rapists, child pornographers, serial killers, cults, secret societies andgovernment corruption. And that exposure would surely mark the beginning of the end of the widespread abuses that plague our society now.But that doesn't happen. SPEAK NO EVIL Survivors need to tell their stories; it's a vital component of their healing process. Andthey need to be heard; it's a vital component of society's healing process. But for manysurvivors, establishing the requisite trust in a personal or therapeutic relationship for thisto happen can be a big challenge in and of itself. To speak that truth publicly can be anoverwhelmingly complex and terrifying undertaking. They risk being stigmatized,disbelieved, harassed, sued or physically harmed.When a survivor reports criminal abuses to law enforcement agencies, she or he canexpect to be met with breathtaking ignorance on the subjects of the prevalence of rapeand incest, the sheer numbers of children who live under the social radar, i (either completely undocumented, as in the case of children of cult members and the like, or under the control of abusers who keep them isolated) and a limited understanding of posttraumatic stress syndromes, if any. The requisite legal infrastructure for dealing withextreme abuse is next to non-existent.For example, with the notable exception of Michigan, ii US victims of non-state actor torture are not specifically protected by law. This is because the crime has not been  officially named and recognized legislatively. In 2008, Jeanne Sarson, MEd, BN, RN,and Linda MacDonald, MEd, BN, RN, two renowned survivor advocates in Nova Scotia,wrote a report called Torture of Canadian Women by Non-State Actors In the PrivateSphere iii   in their effort to make all of Canada a “torture-free zone.” In this report theyexplain why officially recognizing non-state actor torture is so crucial: “… Canada’s failure to name and criminalize non-state actor torture means, for example,that the women are not believed when they seek police protection, thus their safety iscompromised. They cannot lay criminal charges identifying that they have endured torture inthe private sphere because no specific law criminalizing non-state actor torture exists inCanada. And when there is no specific law there is no such recognized crime. The women frequently experience discreditation, are considered ‘crazy’, or are labeled mentally ill when seeking professional help .” Some victims risk more than being shunned and stigmatized when they disclose abuses toauthorities. In cases of cult, cult/government and other organized crimes, the survivor runs the risk of reporting the crime to a person who is part of the crime network, whether it be a police officer, attorney, judge, federal agent or politician. iv Compounding theseconundrums is the fact that many survivors tend to isolate, and often distrustorganizations and institutions in general. All of this, of course, works in favor of the perpetrators.In addition to the obvious risks involved in publicly naming names, survivors often haveto cope with memories of having been specifically threatened with violence in the past if they dared to expose their perpetrators.Complicating this task even further, some survivors of extreme abuse have been programmed to switch to alters who will behave in such a way as to destroy their owncredibility, or even to commit suicide if they start talking about their abuse. Results fromthe first ever international survey of survivors of extreme abuse v include statisticsregarding the prevalence of this and other silencing techniques: 57% of 997 respondentssaid they had self-destruct programming installed should they begin to remember their  programming, and 77% of 1159 respondents were threatened with death if they so muchas talked about the abuse.Another common practice among handlers and programmers is to install alters who have been programmed to report any potentially damaging disclosure of their abuse to the perpetrators of that abuse. In other words, internally covert tattletales.Survivors are also at a great disadvantage in more subtle and insidious ways. When itcomes to exposing perpetrators and their crimes, many survivors experience deeplyconflicted needs and drives, obstacles such as learned helplessness, self-blame and other disempowering beliefs and attitudes. HEAR NO EVIL 2  Socially the constraints on disclosure are also confounding, if not prohibitive. Onedeterrent is the simple fact that well-qualified health care professionals are usually veryexpensive. This alone represents a major obstacle for many survivors. Finding a qualifiedtherapist is also a big challenge. It’s still a rare therapist who has a clear understanding of cult psychodynamics, or who’s been trained to treat the full range of what can be verycomplex post-traumatic experience.Part of the problem is that this field of study as a psychiatric science is relatively new.The diagnosis of PTSD vi (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) only made the Diagnostic andStatistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, in 1980. There are mental health professionals who still believe that survivors who disclose histories of extreme abuse areacting out of a need to feel special, or are merely seeking attention. DID (DisocciativeIdentity Disorder) is still highly controversial, not only in that mental health professionalssquabble over subtle differences in qualifying symptoms, how it develops, or should best be treated, but, especially in the case of deliberate dissociation, whether or not it evenexists.The social ramifications of this conflict permeate not only the health care industry, butaffect who gets insurance, what gets taught in universities, and what juries and judges believe or dismiss when confronted with PTSD or DID afflicted survivors. How cansurvivors get heard and healed while physicians, academicians and attorneys do battle inthe Dark Ages?Another reason for the current dearth of specialists is that they’re at risk for taking on patients whose families may retaliate against them for their client's reactions to thehealing process. They face the same credibility challenges academically, professionallyand legally that their clients do socially because of the all-pervasive climate of denial.And this is no accident.For the last 17 years, abusers have had a powerful ally. In 1992, the False MemorySyndrome Foundation, or FMSF, launched a movement to discredit survivors, and tovilify therapists who treat them.FMSF was founded by Pamela and Peter Freyd after Peter had been accused of molestation by his daughter, Dr. Jennifer Freyd, Professor of Psychology at theUniversity of Oregon. Two of the first board members, therapists Hollida Wakefield andRalph Underwager, had to resign after publicly defending pedophilia. Many other boardmembers, past and present, have CIA or military intelligence connections (Tavistock Institute trained Dr. Louis West, known for his CIA funded work on mind controltechniques, among them).FMSF tactics include suing therapists for malpractice and filing amicus briefs(documents filed by someone not a party to the case) in court cases relating to childabuse. But the real success story here is their ability to manipulate public perception.Mike Stanton, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, summarized this phenomenon: The foundation is an aggressive, well-financed p.r. (sic) machine adept at3  manipulating the press, harassing its critics, and mobilizing a diverse army of  psychiatrists, outspoken academics, expert defense witnesses, litigious lawyers, Freud bashers, critics of psychotherapy, and devastated parents. He goes on to note: A study published (in 1996) by a University of Michigansociologist, Katherine Beckett, found a sharp shift in how four leading magazines --Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and People -- treated sexual abuse. In1991, more than 80% of the coverage was weighted toward stories of survivors, withrecovered memory taken for granted and questionable therapy virtually ignored. By 1994,more than 80% of the coverage focused on false accusations, often involving supposedlyfalse memory. There is now an FMSF chapter in every state.Of the brave souls who choose to defy the status quo and specialize in the field of trauma,it will be the minority who fully comprehend and acknowledge the extremities to which perpetrators are capable of going to achieve their ends, and especially how well they may be organized and interconnected.As a result, a client often has to contend with an ever-present layer of resistance to thecredibility of her or his memories, and/or her or his apparently baffling constellation of symptoms, which impinges on any therapeutic value the telling of their stories mightotherwise have.Elie Wiesel, novelist and Holocaust survivor, wrote: “ When human beings tell victims,who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions, theyare committing the greatest indignity humans can inflict on another  . There are other challenges for a survivor in a therapeutic relationship even if thattherapist is well qualified to treat post-traumatic symptoms, and honors their integrity andcourage. The intrinsic trust issues a survivor brings to the table can be debilitating, andthe power differential inherent in the traditional client-therapist dynamic can serve toundermine trust and create an atmosphere that impedes the healing process on manylevels. In cases where survivors were tortured, programmed or experimented upon by psychologists, psychiatrists or other medically trained personnel, trusting any kind of therapist or doctor can require an enormous leap of faith.Survivors who have been institutionalized may endure fates much worse than beingdiscredited and dismissed socially. The many ways in which survivors have been re-traumatized while in institutional care have been well documented. They often suffer from psychological abuse such as being controlled, isolated, stigmatized, misdiagnosed,etc. They may also be physically abused: physically or chemically restrained, made tostrip, overmedicated or given dangerous psychotropic medication, among other deplorable violations. And again, survivors of medical experiments or medical treatmentsdesigned to induce memory loss and compliance are especially vulnerable to institutionalre-traumatization.4
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