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Got Trauma!

The word “trauma” appears everywhere we look these days. Some people  under-rate the cause of the trauma, like it’s no big deal. This may prevent the traumitized person from seeking the help they need. If trauma is ignored, the victim may not have the opportunity to heal, because others downplay their pain.

On the other hand, some over-rate trauma, which can also keep the traumatized person from receiving the help they need, because those close to him or her may try to keep sweep it under the rug.  As a counselor, I have seen both situations.

Another issue in trauma depends on the make-up of the survivor. Some people are highly resilient, like Navy Seals. I suspect they have to have the right temperament before they are selected for the job. Their lives depend on the whole team working together, knowing their job and doing it well.

Psychologists have learned much about trauma by studying the brain. Dr. David Amen and Dr. Timothy R. Jennings have made great strides in brain research and brain health.

I, on the other hand, have learned some things about trauma in my counseling office, especially in the area of ritual abuse. Years ago I went to an American Association of Christian Counselors conference. I attended a session where a woman had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) or also called multiple personality disorder. She had been healed of her alters (alternate personalities) in a short time.

I had never had a client with that diagnosis, but I found it fascinating. So I sought to learn more. I attended another conference, but wondered if I was wasting money. No. Almost as soon a I got home, I realized I already had two clients with DID and another one I co-counseled. It’s hard to diagnose if you don’t know the symptoms. Also I discovered someone in my family dated a person with DID. My psychology teacher in college said we would probably never see a client with this disorder, I have found it to be more prevalent than I thought.

People with DID have experienced horrific trauma in their childhood. It causes them to create alter identities in their minds. This helps them take a break from the pain and pretend to be another person. Many of the identities are children in their minds, because they created them as children. In a sense without knowing it, the host personality pretends to be  someone else, so they won’t have to feel the pain.

People seem to come in two camps when it comes to DID, especially when the client has memories of horrible abuse. They either don’t believe it or they are afraid to learn about it. They sometimes fear the person with DID. People with dissociative identity disorder struggle with life. They may believe they are a five year old child one minute and a sacred teenager the next.

People with DID are wounded souls seeking help, but they may not know where to find it. They are not dangerous. In fact, they are some of my favorite people. As they find someone they can trust, the healing begins. But it can take years for those who have had extensive abuse to integrate their alters.

They will be able to be themselves most of the time. However, depending on the extent of their dissociation, it could take a long time for the person to heal. I have worked extensively with three people with DID and helped with several others. They present as normal people, but once they trust their counselor, they allow their alternate personalities to emerge. Often they don’t know about the alters until they come out in counseling.

My book, What Lies in the Shadows: How Truth Healed a Splintered Mind, chronicles the healing journey of a woman I call Kathy. When she came to me for counseling, she already suspecting she had alters, but didn’t know she had about seventy personalities. As we began the counseling process, she remembered times when her mother taking her to a satanic cults to be ritually abused. She was a small child. Her child alters acted out the experiences on my office floor.

There are several other good books about people with DID, but this one is different. Kathy gave me all her amazing journals, where she and her alters drew pictures and wrote to each other and to Jesus. One by one, she wrote the stories of the child alters as if they were still there. Kathy gave me permission to use her journals to write exactly what she rememberd in my office. The words are those of Kathy and her alters just as she wrote them in her journals, so the words belong to her and the alter personalities.

What Lies in the Shadows: How Truth Healed a Splintered Mind tells her fascinating story of survival and healing. It also tells how Jesus spoke truth to her spirit to dispel the lies of the cult. What Lies in the Shadows is a true story of God’s redemption and love. I hope you will take the time to read it.

What Can Be Worse than the Worst Abuse of All?

Since my last blog was entitled The Worst Abuse of All, you may think I’m crazy. You would be wrong, because if you remember, I ended it by saying, “This may not be the worst abuse of all.” In my opinion, it’s horrible, but not the worst. Spiritual or cult abuse by a parent is worse. Can you imagine a mother who would take her baby child to cult meetings in the middle of the night, just to allow the leaders to drug, rape, shame, and twist the truth beyond recognition?

There were times when I would say I couldn’t imagine such a terrible thing. Then in my counseling office, I met several counselees who experienced such human tragedies when they were small children. The mind of a child has no place to put this type of abuse, so they dissociate it away. It’s similar to creating an imaginary friend. Children who have not experienced those circumstances may create an imaginary friend. It’s normal. In fact, it shows a good imagination. Children who have experienced cult abuse are different. Sometimes the cult leaders trick them to create alters by calling them differenct names at different times. Alters is another word used for multiple personalities, which is now called DID or dissociative identity disorder. God created their minds to use the alters so they could forget or dissociate away the abuse that happened while they were children.

As they grow to adulthood, memories come back. They still may not know why they have such strange thoughts and voices in their heads. At first, the alters help them make it through the day. If the abuse continued for a long time, the adult parts of the person may go for years wondering why they struggle so. They don’t remember that part of their lives. I have read it takes about five years for the psychiatric community to recognize a person has alters. Yet they need help to find their real self, the self they were born to be. They need to remember the past in order to forget the past.

It often takes years for the abuse victim to find the help they need. In the meantime, they struggle to survive. Most do survive, because God has wired them to be survivors. People with dissociative identity disorder are still children at heart, children in adult bodies who feel shame and fear in most circumstances. They need caring people to help them learn ways to manage life. They are not dangerous to others, but they may be dangerouse to themselves at times. If you happen to know a person with DID, please be kind and helpful. Once they trust you, they will do anything to keep your friendship so be sensitive to their pain. They are some of my favorite people.

The Worst Abuse of All

Traffickers steal the freedon of their prey. They force them to take drugs to keep their victims so addicted they don’t believe they can leave. It, in fact, is true. They can’t leave. They are prisoners of war, a war for human decency. Most victims never dreamed it would happen to them, but I’ve been told once a pimp gets a person, he won’t let go.

It’s money. It’s slave labor. It’s selfishness. It’s deplorable. Being held prisoner and forced to use their bodies in ways they never expected is deplorable. Not the person, but the situation. But they don’t know how to get out, and they sometimes become so brain-washed they think they want to stay. It sickens me that one human can do that to another.

This is not always grown women. They take little girls,teens, men and even babies.

Traffickers even abduct children.

I asked my nephew who was a policeman in a large city where the trafficking is worse. He said it’s worse from the high value suburbs to the downtown area and everywhere in between. I asked again for clarification. He repeated exactly what he said before. As we sat and talked with others, including his mother, he had never told her as much about his work before.

What can the average citizen do about trafficking? First, pray. Not only for the victims you don’t know, but also for the young girls and boys you do know. Pray for the police who have to deal with this horrible problem. Pray for the little girls who find themselves trapped and drugged, when they started to walk to a friends house. Pray for the parents who have no idea where their little girls are. Yes, traffickers grab little girls off the street and give them drugs to keep them from running. As they got hooked on drugs, they also became hooked on their abusers. Pray for people like my friend who may get a call from the police in the middle of the night and drive to the worst part of the city and rescue the girl who wants out. Then pray that she gets out and stays out.

Father, only You can heal this great land of trafficking. Please protect our children. Please watch over our police officers. Please be with those who have been trafficked and the families of those who have no idea where their family member is. Pray for the judges who have to determine what to do with the traffickers when they get arrested. Pray this will stop.

This may not be the worst abuse of all. More later.