Trigger warning: discusses torture and Christian faith
Several years ago, I wrote an article about torture: the psychological effects, and how people respond to it. This article is a bit different. I want to write about how to remember having been tortured, and still keep your faith that God is good, and the world still has good people in it.
Torture is a difficult topic; in fact, the very word can bring up terrible images for many people. This is the “stick” used in the reward and punishment sequences used to put in programming.
It starts in the womb for many survivors, and goes on throughout childhood and even into the adult years, until an individual chooses to get out.
It causes immense physical, emotional and spiritual effects in those who survive. In this article, I want to address this pain, and share some thoughts.
The most devastating effect of torture is that the survivor believes that God is bad, because they were hurt badly.
This is a common, and understandable reaction, that has plenty of help from the programmers, who tell the individual “See, God hates you, or you wouldn’t be getting hurt like this” and other lies. A fetus may be surgically removed from the womb and tortured on a table by a programmer who tells the fetus that they are “God” and the pain is because of the fetus’s “disobedience” (i.e. trying to escape a needle or shock within the womb).
Prenatal and infant torture creates implicit memories (emotional memories without the actual full recall) of pain, rage and anger. The fetus or infant becomes enraged at God, who has supposedly abandoned them to this type of torment, and at all mankind, since they were hurt by people.
This is the root of the rage that is used to install assassin and other programming internally, and the unconscious fear of disobedience that keeps many survivors afraid to get free. This pain also makes it difficult later in life to pray or trust God at all, after all, He didn’t seem to “be there” when the survivor needed Him most: their point of deepest pain and grief.
There is no “easy” or pat answer to this kind of pain. I remember asking in the depth of my pain, as I recalled core fetal traumas that involved terrible torture in the womb, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” Christian answers such as “Because people have free will” or “Because the devil made them do it” made me want to smack the other person. I remember thinking “If free will is why, then people shouldn’t have so much free will…God made a mistake giving us free will…I will take less free will and no pain if this is what free will means!” I ALREADY knew the “devil made them do it” and that didn’t heal the pain or make me feel better at all; it just made me feel as if he must have an awful lot of power if he could get people to do things that hurt me this badly.
If you are a survivor, don’t rush to come up with explanations. Don’t try to “let God off the hook” as a way to stop your processing your pain or rage at what happened to you. I don’t believe there are any easy answers to this; and that we may not fully understand until we meet Him in heaven.
Until then, I do believe God is big enough and loving enough to be able to take our heartfelt cries of pain, hear them, and understand. He can sit with us through the process of hearing exactly how we felt about it all, and will even meet us and bring comfort.
If you are a therapist, or someone who supports survivors you need to be patient as the survivor processes their pain. They don’t need answers; they need someone who can sit with them where they are in their pain, and be there.
I believe that each person, in their journey, will find at least some answers that help, but this is individual. I remember working on some terrible torture memories, and sobbing, asking God “WHY?” As I did, I felt that I heard Him answer, not why, but what. He reminded me that when Jesus was on the cross, He experienced every single thing I had gone through, willingly, in order to provide for my healing. How He could take prenatal torture and tech torture, I don’t have a theology for, but I believe it.
Jesus understands our deepest griefs, because somehow, He has been there too. In Hebrews, it says that we don’t have a high priest that hasn’t been touched by our weaknesses, and it is true. He really, truly “gets it”; and knows how awful it really is.
It takes letting God go back to the point in time where you were wounded, to find healing. Again, I don’t fully understand how all this works, except that God is outside of time. As I prayed through many of my prenatal torture memories, I had other memories: that in the womb, I “hummed” (without sound in the watery environment), and that I was recalling the beautiful melodies I had heard in heaven prior to conception; that God never abandoned me, but instead, I turned away from Him in anger because of the pain, and that He was willing to heal even this.
I admit freely that I don’t fully comprehend a universe where evil such as I remember exists. This is one reason that so many churches fear supporting survivors of ritual abuse and mind control: it messes with their theology, in which evil is limited. The things survivors report undergoing bring this theology (which feels safe and comfortable) into question.
I do believe that God is greater than any evil. The devil is not nearly as powerful as he would like people to think (otherwise, why would he have to pick on unborn children and infants, the only audience he can get to truly believe his nonsense)? The devil has no real power, other than what we give him; this is why he tries to target unborn children with no outside experience to combat his lies.
But God can heal even this. The God of the Bible can stop Satan with a word, and frequently does. He does put limits on the evil that a person undergoes in their lifetime, and in His love, provides them with people that care and support them in their healing, whether a safe therapist, a good church, or a caring friend.
The devil is constantly communicating discouragement, defeat and despair, but God communicates the opposite throughout our lives, if we are willing to hear: unfailing love, amazing hope and abundant joy. This is the heart’s response, as the traumatized survivor realizes that God really does love him or her; that He never failed to care and has always wanted to protect and heal.
The answer to torture and evil? The knowledge that regardless, God is good, and wants to heal, bless and protect. This is His true heart towards us, that no amount of programming can change or take away.