Should I Confront My Abuser(s)? (Svali Blog Post)
This information was mirrored from https://web.archive.org/web/20110321082324/http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/ritual_abuse/49485
Trigger warning: discusses cult abuse, suicidal programming, and acting out on it in article
“Mom, I remember. I remember what happened. I remember my cult name, A—-, I remember yours, Sh——. I remember Dr. Brogan and what happened with him.””You’re making this all up, sweetie. Nothing happened.””Then why can I speak German? I never heard it in the daytime, but you talked to me in the night. Why can I hear “Ich bin eine kinder macht sachens gut,” (I am a child who does things well) in my head? The words that you taught me?””Maybe you’re psychic? You picked it up spontaneously?”
This is part of an actual conversation from over a year ago with my own mother. She knew I had never learned German consciously. Yet I spoke German to her for two minutes to prove to her I knew it. She does not speak any German consciously. Yet I have tons of memories of her speaking it at night. In fact, Svali, one of my nicknames at night given to me by her, is a Germanization of my English name. My mother is in denial, and unwilling to give up her own dissociative defenses, although her explanation of my German seemed to be reaching a bit far. I have not spoken with her since, although I pray for her and my sister daily, and one of my greatest hopes is that they will get out of the cult.
As a survivor goes through the process of remembering their abuse, the question frequently comes up, “Should I confront my abusers?” This is a difficult topic, and one in which I will share a few ideas based on both my experience and the experience of others with whom I have discussed this in the past. It is NOT meant to replace discussion with a qualified therapist, who can help a survivor make the best judgement on what is best in an individual situation.
People will frequently have a desire to confront their perpetrator at some point in the healing process. The reasons for this will vary with each individual. Often, a desire for validation is the motivation. The survivor is struggling with memories coming up that seem unbelievable, and they want to hear the words from the person who hurt them, “Yes, that happened, and I’m sorry.” It is human nature to seek validation on the outside for long suppressed trauma, since the remembering process takes time. The full memory of a difficult event may take months, or even years, to be absorbed into conscious memory as recall of the event.
Rage will motivate some people. When memories of perpetration come forward, the long buried feelings of anger, that can border on the homicidal, may come out. The outrage that a young child felt at being used, abused, and betrayed in the horrendous ways that the cult does comes surging into the psyche. Anger is a natural reaction to violated boundaries, it is the signal that says “Something wrong happened to me, and it shouldn’t have!” When the boundaries have been not only violated, but completely trampled upon, as occurs with ritual abuse, the anger is correspondingly great.
I went through a short period of time feeling homicidal rage towards my mother as I remembered her abuse of me. But I had always CONSCIOUSLY remembered wanting to kill her and my stepfather when I was in high school, struggling with the desire to hurt them. I would push the feelings back over and over. Now, as an adult, it took concentrated effort in therapy and anger work to defuse the rage that I felt. I wanted a plane ticket one Christmas more than anything in the world, and the chance to “confront’ my mother and return to her the abuse that she had poured upon me as a child and youth.
This would have not been healthy, and thankfully I had a therapist and support system who cautioned me against a volatile confrontation at that time. Instead, as therapy progressed, I began to see that like me, my own mother was once a wounded child. As I prayed for her, I began the long journey towards forgiveness, which is still ongoing. I know the level of rage that I am describing may sound unusual, but in ritual abuse, the horrendous level of psychological betrayals, sexual abuse, and torture will create this kind of anger in the person, often locked within protector personalities.
I chose to not confront my mother while in this state. I went two years without any contact with her whatsoever. I also did this for my own safety and the homicidal rage has been resolved without needing to confront her at the time. Anger is part of the natural grieving process, and as a person grieves over a wounded childhood and their loss of innocence, it will be a stage that may be visited frequently as the survivor heals.
It may not be safe to confront an abuser who has the ability to reaccess the survivor. Meaning to confront the perpetrator, the person may instead be drawn back to the abuse that they are trying to resolve. In some cases, confrontation may be unsafe for the survivor of ritual abuse, and they need to choose to not confront, or only confront if there are safe people with them.Over three years ago, I called my mother. At the time, even though I had memories coming through of her abuse, they were vague. But then she gave a core command to my systems (she was my trainer the first three years of my life, and was one of three people who could go anywhere inside). The command was to “Come back or die”. I chose to suicide, rather than go back to the cult , and ended up in an Emergency room fighting for my life after taking an overdose. At that point, I stopped all contact with her, and the suicidality was broken. And I began to truly heal and integrate.
It is important if a person does decide to confront a perpetrator that they maintain safety first. NEVER go alone to confront a known perpetrator. This could be a set-up for trouble or being reacccessed. Always have one or two safe, non-DID people with you.
Be aware that the confrontation will probably result in denial. This is the universal reaction of most people still involved in the cult, who are amnesic. Most generational cult families are dissociative, to say the least, and they will NOT remember their abusing others, even when directly confronted with their abuse. Perpetration of others is often the LAST thing remembered psychologically when healing from suppressed trauma, according to several therapists I have talked to. Perpetration is a very psychologically painful issue to face, and the person confronted with their perpetration will deny, or dissociate from it.
When I lived in San Diego, I was investigated by a local authority for an allegation of being part of a cult group. I was still completely amnesic to my involvement. I invited the person doing the investigation into my home, offered them coffee, saw the evidence, and shook my head sadly over the “poor, ill woman” who was making the allegations. I stated unequivocally to the investigator that I was NOT part of any cult group, or involved in any cult activities. I even offered to have them come and stay with me for a month, to see if I was telling the truth! I was not lying, I was completely DISSOCIATED from my other activities. The investigator was convinced by me, and left my home sure I was telling the truth, because, yes, I was. My front people were, that is, while the buried knowledge of my other activities was inaccessible to me, even in the face of being confronted by a local authority, and later, an investigator for the DA’s office.
If the survivor is looking for a confession, or proof of their abuse from amnesic family members, they will be sorely disappointed. Unless others in the family are willing to look at their trauma, they will deny as strongly as I did in San Diego, or my own mother did when I confronted her. If the survivor is fragile, this denial may cause them to doubt their own memories. I remember early in my healing telling my stepfather that I was DID. He told me, “You are no more multiple than the chair I’m sitting on.” This was his reality, and at the time it caused me to wonder if my internal reality was made up. Yet I knew that I could NOT be making up the feelings or body memories that were coming. I finally concluded that he must have a pretty darn multiple chair, then, since I knew I was.
Sometimes a person will want to contact their perpetrator to offer forgiveness, especially far into the healing process. While this can be a valid reason, again, the forgiveness may be met with hostility and denial if the perpetrator is not able to cope with the realities of their own abusiveness.
Each person will have a unique situation. Some will find that confrontation may clear the air for others in their family to remember hidden abuse. Others will decide that their family of origin or their perpetrators are dangerous, and should not be contacted for safety reasons. It is best to discuss this at length with a qualified therapist before reaching any individual conclusions. I have shared some of my own experiences with confrontation in my own life, in the hope to help others understand some of the reactions that may occur. Ritual abuse is one of the most serious forms of abuse that can occur, and often the individuals involved are dangerous to a survivor, or their agenda may be to try and draw the survivor back to the cult group. The choice to confront an abuser in this type of situation should not be taken lightly, and extreme caution used as well as the advice of a qualified therapist.
Copyright 2000 svali