*Important note: This article does not, and is not meant, to take the place of work with a qualified therapist, which is essential to healing from severe trauma. The comments in this article are in general terms only, and are only opinions.*
Healing. That is the goal in the journey of healing from abuse, and I have a confession to make. The question I asked therapists in this article was totally self serving. I really wanted to hear what they had to say on healing, what helps, and what doesn’t. As a survivor, I was extremely interested in the answers.
Each therapist was careful to say that they were speaking in generalities, that each client is different and unique. That each person’s healing will following the path best for them. But there are some excellent insights that they shared from their observations over the years, and I felt that this deserved an article of its own.
The question I asked was: Which factors have you seen in clients that help them progress in their healing process from ritual abuse? Which factors have you seen that tend to retard progress? (I know this is a complex question, just a few key elements)
Ritual abuse often makes the survivor feel they are worthless, or have no rights. Jenny had some thoughts on this topic:
Aura of spirituality; sense of humor, lack of feelings of entitlement, strong support system Which factors have you seen that tend to retard progress? (I know this is a complex question, just a few key elements) Opposite of the above
Fran had comments based on many hours of work with her clients. Her response shows her commitment, and her client’s commitment, to the healing process:
Factors that facilitate progress:
1. Patience by the therapist.
2. Hard work, journaling, art, between sessions.
3. Having a greater purpose of helping others
4. Having helpful, loving, and protective support persons.
5. A religious base of hope and protection.
6. Valuing both their own knowledge and the suggestions of the therapist.
7. Crying, grieving.
Factors that retard progress
1. Maladaptive relationships
2. Being re-accessed or abducted.
3. Substance abuse
4. Over-dependence, looking for the perfect new mother.
5. Lack of support persons
6. Lack of a religious support network and belief system.
7. Lack of looking inward for answers, over-reliance on the therapist
8. Resistance to crying.
Those who have been ritually abused have often had negative spiritual experiences. Joann shares her perspective that includes her belief system:
Which factors have you seen in clients that help them progress in their healing process from ritual abuse? strong Christian beliefs, strong desire to heal, submission to the healing process Which factors have you seen that tend to retard progress? denial, unwilling or unable to commit time or money, fear, trust issues, emphasis on presenting alters rather than on programming/structures/systems , lone ranger counselors who burn themselves out
Survivors of ritual abuse have often had a multitude of painful betrayals in their lifetime. Alice shares her thoughts on this painful topic:
It always helps to process betrayal…all the betrayals from spiritual to parental. It also helps to label specific behaviors as abuse in the framework of healthy parenting and group dynamics.Sometimes clients have difficulty with their corrupted belief systems as regards themselves…i.e.- “I have no soul”
Survivors of ritual abuse often have difficulty trusting others, and John shares his perspective on this issue:
What helps the most is the solid listening and them coming away from session after session with a strong sense of being listened too. The second mostimportant eliment is to treat the presenting problem properly and that is usually a deep seated depression that masks itself in some other format. ODD or BiP or BPD etc. and to gain releif here and build trust over time….
One of the facinating things that I have found is that in the fourth or fifth year of treatment sometimes the depth of the dissociative aspect jumps out and you have alters in your office who have watched you for a very long time and they can finally trust you to share. I had one lady who had been treated for 8 and half years before I got to her and it was late in our third year when I meet the first alter. The Alters knew the truth of what happened to her and it was ritual abuse by her mom. It went on every day and on several occasions nearly resulted in the clients death, and all this happened per age three. Mom later confirmed this. I had used the principal of the ISH and garnered its support in the healing and the client now 39 has her child back, is holding down a full time job, is in a relationship that she is happy with and is clean and sober drugs and alcohol 6 years..She is on Rx for her depression and probabily will be all the rest of her life… but she is having one now.
I found these responses helpful and insightful. These are caring people, who have invested hours and hours into helping survivors in the often painful, but also rewarding, journey of healing. The fact that they took time from their busy practices to share some thoughts is awesome, and I appreciate and thank each and every one. In my thoughts, these people are heros, along with the people that they help. Ritual abuse is one of the most traumatic abuses to heal from, but the therapists and survivors discussed in these articles are doing just that. Healing.