Pastor Panic

One of your sheep walks into your office and tearfully announces he/she is an SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse) survivor. What is the normal response?

PANIC

 A sentence with the word “nightmare” is probably going through your mind right now, and rightfully so. But the thing to remember is:

Panic is the absence of strategy

Panic sets you up to react in ways that could harm your precious sheep forever, so beware. Any grimace, sigh, look of horror, or impatience will be interpreted by your sheep that God doesn’t care, that she is now a problem to you, that you don’t care or believe her, or that she is not welcome in your church. The outcomes of this can be catastrophic. Your sheep might never go to a church again in her life, and some might even have nothing to do with God after that.

The sad truth is that the majority of SRA survivors will never again go to a church. Many of the courageous ones that are in a church are left to themselves to deal with their trauma. They will be on the outskirts of the congregation, not entering in, and feeling alone and uncared for.

If a survivor comes to you and tells you about SRA, she is communicating that she is in a pivotal and critical part in her recovery. What she really needs is to know is if you will reject her, which to her ultimately means God will reject her. To keep this from happening, let’s create a strategy:

  • Immediately open a prayer channel in your heart to be led
  • Smile at her and offer for her to sit, offer a drink
  • Know where your tissue box is
  • Tell her how sad you are to hear this and that nobody should ever be treated in this manner
  • Tell her you believe her
  • Assess where she is in the healing process and proceed accordingly
  • Affirm God’s love
  • Ask her if she knows what she needs from you
  • Activate your critical response team (article to come)
  • Personally check in at least once weekly

God has given you the wondrous opportunity to minister to the remnants of a tiny, terrorized child that was completely in the power of the devil. God has entrusted you with her care.

You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

 You don’t need a special master’s degree to help you through this. You have every answer in the Bible just as you have for every other issue you deal with in pastoring. You’ve got this.

Take care of this precious sheep that has been placed in your pasture. You can do it!

 

Picture by:  David Padfield

Don’t Close Your Eyes

People see what they want

and

Deny what they see

 

We all fall into this category. After all, it is human nature and we are all human. But we need to make sure that we don’t stay in this murky, guilt-ridden place.

I was a victim of SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse). People who were not connected to my abuse directly did not know this was going on in my life. What they could see was probably vague and confusing. But as people in my past come back to me now, they feel bad because they did not know or they were not able to decode the signals I was sending.

This is what they could see: Blinking tics that I couldn’t stop; spending large amounts of time staring at the floor; fear of people; over-achieving; crying; socially backwards…

I wouldn’t have been able to say that I was abused at that time. Neither will most of the children who have SRA abuse or other abuses. So this is what we can do for them:

Listen to their pain. Look at their body. It will speak to you in ways their mouths cannot. Hear their heart and ask deep questions (why do you look sad? why are you looking at the floor?).

If you feel that there is abuse going on in their life, regardless of proof, then there are things you can do:

Be available. Listen. Give them attention. Give them respites from home. Pray. Look for ways to help.

These ideas may seem small to you, but they will mean the world to a child who is abused. You don’t have to stop the abuse (unless they disclose actual abuse they are suffering to you, then you need to take it to the police). It’s not your responsibility to “fix” the child.

Don’t close your eyes to the hurting child… step in and show compassion. You will make a difference.

How To Speak Up in the Presence of Abuse

What is our first response when we see or know abuse is going on?

FREEZE

This is completely normal and expected. We are always surprised to come upon a child being yelled at and told how dumb or disappointing they are, shocked to see a child get hit upside the head, we quake in our boots when we know that a child is getting sexually abused. Our minds seem to slow down, our hearts pound, and we can’t seem to think through the fog. It is okay.

What is not okay is staying there. We live in a culture where abuse is allowed and the victims become the ones who “asked for it” in court. The time has come to stop this evil and become strong. If the child can handle the abuse, then we can certainly handle the unease of saying something.

There is much I am not saying here. I am not saying that it is our responsibility to put a stop to abuse (unless we are a relative). I am not saying we have to try to physically beat up the abuser or run off with the child.

I am saying that we need be willing to do something. Here are some ideas:

  • Pray… God can intervene when we cannot. God knows the deep hurts the child has.
  • Use your mouth… If you see a child being emotionally, spiritually, or physically hurt, say, “This is wrong. He/she should not be treated this way.”
  • Use your phone… If the abuse is severe enough, call the police and make a report.
  • Talk to the child… If you know the child, go to them at a later date. Explain to them that what is happening is not okay. Tell them you are sorry that you cannot stop the abuser.
  • Remember… It is much easier to forget what happened and go on with our life with business as usual. We must remember and look out for that child and other children in the future.
  • Give a Smile… Do something nice for the child. If life is difficult for the child, the nice thing someone does for them is  amplified many-fold. It will give the child a short distraction which will give some energy reserves to keep taking what cannot be stopped. It will cheer their heart that someone cares.

We cannot not stop every abuser, nor can we stop every abuse (even if we know for a fact it is happening). But if we each do something, no matter how small, it will make a huge difference in the life of the abused child.

Nobody spoke up for me. Let’s not let that happen to another child.

Why?

  1. There are many times in everyone’s life where the question of “why” becomes a hurdle that can easily turn into a wall. SRA comes with so many questions, but the question that comes to the fore is “why”.

I have battled this, too. It is difficult to trust God when there is no answer to such a basic question.

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did you allow this, God?
  • Why did it have to be me?

There is not an answer to this question on this side of eternity, but in the New Testament, Paul goes into his massive troubles that have troubled him in life.

Philippians is a book of love that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. God has had me reading it over and over again, and several times in chapter 1 verses 12-14:

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel, so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

I find it interesting that Paul doesn’t go into the “why” at all. He is showing us how he handled the many adversities and terrifying situations that had happened to him. No matter what it was, he skipped “why”.

Instead, he focuses his attention to the outcome. What happened to him happened to him. There was no changing it. So questions about it would only be  a waste of time.

Paul is focused on looking at the good that came out of the situations that occurred in his life. The first good outcome is that the message of Jesus and salvation is being spread. People are looking at Paul in his imprisonment and hearing his message. The second outcome is that Christians will see that Paul is in jail and because of Paul’s example of boldness will speak about Jesus to people.

I was a victim of SRA. There is no changing that. Going through the frustrating cycle of “why” would get me nothing but bitterness and hurt. Instead, I follow Paul’s example and look to the outcome.

  • I have a testimony about God being with me in SRA and helping me through recovery. I would not have made it through without God on my side.
  • I am getting the opportunity to share salvation in Jesus to people who haven’t really considered Jesus before.
  • I have written a book that tells my testimony to encourage and inform others.
  • I am able to minister to people that are wounded by abuse.
  • Hopefully other survivors will see me standing up and be encouraged and a little less afraid. If I can stand up and testitfy what happened to me, then maybe they don’t have to be fearful as they go through life.

Because I am an SRA survivor, I have an avenue to help those that are hurting. Jesus is being preached, and I really do rejoice in that.

“Why did God allow me to be an SRA victim?” is the wrong question.

“What good is coming out of me being an SRA victim?” That is the right question!

It’s really just a small thinking shift.

God bless,

Lisa Marie

Will the Real Name Please Stand Up?

I cannot articulate well enough the emotional roller-coaster of trying to decide to use my real name for my book and speaking, or a pen name. Here are some of the highlights:

  • In the RA (Ritual Abuse) it is programmed into the survivor to kill her or himself if she were to ever talk. There is also the very real threat imbedded in there that the cult would kill a person for speaking out. Using my real name would come with some very real risks.
  • How will the public respond to me if they know I am a survivor? There will be a certain amount that will view me as plain crazy.
  • The loss of anonimity in a culture that doesn’t have bounderies when it comes to people known by the public.
  • Embarrassment to my children. Wow, such a big one there.
  • When people google my name, all of this will come up.
  • Picking my own name could be downright fun.
  • Using a pen name would mean to me that I am letting the cult win in their intimidation tactics.
  • Hopefully using my real name would be standing up to the cult and telling them I am not afraid of them as an adult. Anyone can scare a child.
  • If other survivors see me using my real name, maybe it will make them feel a little bit safer.
  • What is God calling me to do (which makes all of the points invalid, but still interesting to think through).
  • Everyone I know will know that I am an SRA survivor. I have been choosey about who knows up until now. That control will be gone.
  • I don’t like the spotlight.

SO…… stay tuned. Give me your thoughts in the comments below. The announcement of pen name vs. real name will be revealed soon!

God bless,

Lisa

 

Raggedy Ann’s Link to My Terror

I opened a box labeled “Bedroom” and James smiled as I squealed with delight at my long lost, and much loved, Raggedy Ann doll. Her tattered body attested to her going everywhere with me for years. I grabbed Raggedy Ann from the box and squeezed her to my heart just as I had as a child. Suddenly a burning ball of emotions exploded in my chest. The tangle of feelings made it hard to tell where one stopped and another started. There was terror, fear, confusion, betrayal, hurt, and pain. I compare it to people who say their whole life flashed before their eyes before they died. I had no memories, just the unexpressed emotions of them.

I immediately yelped and threw Raggedy Ann down as if she had burned me. James and I stared in shock at the floor where I had thrown my beloved doll. Like in a comedy, we both slowly raised our heads and looked at each other. “What was that?” James asked.

“I don’t know,” I whispered. I shrugged and tried my best to explain the feelings.

“If Raggedy Ann could talk, what would she tell you?” he asked.

“I have no idea.”

 

This excerpt from the book Only God Rescued Me shows the intensity of the emotions endured by survivors of SRA. At the point that Raggedy Ann was unearthed after many years, I was not in cognitive recall of SRA. But Raggedy Ann brought up the terrifying emotions that I had at the time of the abuse.

I truly felt like I was insane at the time. I did not understand that I was thinking as an adult while experiencing the emotions of a terrified child. It would take years of experience, counseling, and reading before it would make sense. Let me break down what I have learned for you:

  • Our bodies are incredibly amazing. They were created to have the ability to endure crazy, nasty abuse as a child and for the mind to break the abuse into small, more manageable chunks. This makes survival possible.
  • We need to listen to what our body is telling us. I knew something was terribly wrong with me, but I fought the cognitive recall with everything I could. The battle was intense. I would not fight myself if I had to do it over again. If that is where you or a loved one is you need to listen and not fight yourself. Your body has perfect recall of the abuse, whether you acknowledge it or not.
  • You are not making flashbacks up. They are painful, accurate to the pain, and bring with them intense emotional distress. You would not be able to make that up.
  • There is intense confusion around flashbacks. Talk with your spouse or support person and discuss ways to ease some of your to-do list. Rest if you are able and do nice things for yourself. A fragrant, sudsy body wash on a net bath sponge did wonders for me.
  • Write yourself encouraging notes and make lists of what helps to calm you down. When you can’t think, have your support person remind you to go to the list and implement at least one item.
  • It takes time. You cannot rush the process. Work on the step you are on and that step only. You will get through this and will be happy with where you will be on the other side.
  • There is just as much torture in not knowing what happened to you as there is in knowing what happened. You might as well start the journey and get the uncomfortable feeling of something being terribly wrong but you don’t know what it is over with.
  • Recovery is hard, but not a death sentence. Your life is not over when you realize that you have been abused. Take it as an opportunity to heal from the past and make the present enjoyed in ways you never thought possible.
  • Support people, you are in a rough place. Acknowlege that you also need someone to support you. Your loved one will not be in this phase forever. Help where you can. Give space when needed. Look forward to where your loved one is going and don’t give into despair for where your loved one is.
  • The other side is wonderful. The healing journey was intense, but easier than the abuse itself. You can do it. Breathe.
  • You have to have God on this journey with you. I would not have survived the journey without Him. He led me step by step and was the support person who was not only always there for me, but also was at each ritual. He knows way better than you do what you need.

I hope you find this helpful. In the comments, please leave items that you have on your comfort list for hard times.

You can do this!

God bless,

Lisa Marie

Church Symbols and SRA

I walked into the church that I had been to every Sunday for years and saw a candle lit on the cross. I felt the pull to go back in time, but I fought it. I knew the church did this so that people know that Jesus is The Light and that the cross points our way to Jesus. It was an encouragement.

I looked at the floor and tried not to look up, but the picture was stuck in my mind. My thoughts refused to stay with the cross and the candle. I was seeing candles, crosses, robed and hooded people walking around, chanting, smoke, and blood. And lots of each.

My heart rate was rapid as my body disappeared into my eyes. I ran from the church to my van, sobbing inconsolably. My husband’s voice came out of the air and gently told me to get into the van, and that everything would be okay. He took me home where I cowered into the corner of our bedroom trying to feel safe and in control.

**********************************************************

Sadly, this really happened to me. SRA survivors deal with these symbols all of the time. The goal of SRA is to keep the child from ever trusting God or wanting anything to do with Him. That is why we need to be aware of what is going on inside of them and how we can help.

Here is a list of troubling symbols and words:
Jesus
God
Cross
Blood
Devil
Demons
Bible
Candles
Sacrifice
Death
Communion

This list is not exhaustive, so if you know of others, please add them below.

The big question is how to help the survivor to be able to take these amazing symbols of God’s great love and care and help the survivor to get past being triggered by them.

The first step is understanding that when a survivor has trouble with a church symbol, it is just not the survivor being uncomfortable, it is a concerted effort on the survivors part to not go into the fight or flight mode. Let the survivor know that you understand that this is a problem and that you are there to help.

Allow the survivor to have space when necessary. Let them know that when they are feeling stronger, you are there to help them with the next step. When you give them space, give them a call at least once a week to let them know you are praying for them and just want to check in.

When they feel ready, have a buddy to sit with them during the service so that they are not alone. Have them pray together before the service. Their buddy should be monitoring them during the service, and helping them to slip out for a break when they are beginning to have trouble. When they are calmed down, go back into the service with them.

Have them journal about what the symbol means in reference to God, and why it is powerful. Have them think through why it is important to overcome this difficulty. I had trouble with communion with the cup to remember the blood Jesus shed. I finally took the cup to the altar one day and stared at it and prayed for half an hour. I told God that this had to be settled. It did become settled that day.

Even after a symbol or word is finally “settled”, know that there will be days when the survivor isn’t feeling as strong. Assure your survivor that it is okay, and it is just a small step back.

Caring and patience are the keys here. Always go at the survivors pace. The survivor is not stuck forever. When they come through each symbol, one at a time, you will be amazed at their strength and courage.

God does not intent for survivors to stay injured. His plan is the metamorphasis from survivor to overcomer. You are an important part in helping the survivor to get to that place of victory. Remember, God doesn’t give us a task we cannot accomplish. You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.

God bless,

Lisa Marie

 

 

What You Need to Know About Your SRA Survivor

It is very difficult to explain the effects of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) to someone who has no idea what it is like. I have a friend editing a book for me, and she said, “there just aren’t enough words in our language that are bad enough to describe it without using the same word over and over.”

She is right. There are only so many times you can use “horrific, traumatizing, terrifying, horrifying…”. You can see what I mean. But even those words are sadly devoid of what SRA really entails.

Instead of bombarding you with SRA scenes that you will not appareciate having in your head, I can try to approach it through another direction.

“No Way Out” is an amazing movie of survival for a family that found themselves in the midst of a civil war in an Asian country. They encounter horror after horror, but eventually it comes down to one scene.

The father is being held down by two men. In front of him is his little daughter being held by another bad guy. This man has forced a gun into her hand, aimed at her father’s head, while he is also holding another gun to her head. The scenario is that if she doesn’t shoot her father on her own, the man will shoot her. The father is pleading with his daughter to shoot him and the girl is screaming no.

In a nut shell, this shows many of the aspects of SRA. Sexual torture and killing doesn’t satisfy the perpetrators thrill of blood and gore for long. They decide to turn the little girl into a killer herself.

The analogy breaks down here. In SRA, the little girl will be forced to do horrible deeds through torture. She is not lucky enough to have the luxury (which truly is a luxury: death is much preferable to life in rituals) to be killed. She will be tortured over and over and over until her body and mind completely numbs out and she does it.

Another break from the movie to reality is the little girl having her family around her giving her love through all aspects of the horror they are going through. In SRA, families bring their children to be used in the rituals willingly. There is no comfort shown to the children there. They will quickly learn not to cry or scream or even vomit. They learn to be dead inside.

This doesn’t happen once or twice. It is an ongoing scenario in this child’s life growing up. Many of them suffer silently until they are finally able to grow up and move away.

Now you know a survivor. You see their vulnerabilities or mental illnesses. They may be chain smokers or alcoholics. They will be on antidepressants and an incredible amount of pain killers and muscle relaxers to keep their bodies bearable in the physical and emotional injuries from the abuse.

Your survivor needs you. Take gentle care of her and provide her with unconditional love and support. She will heal. God created her with a destiny and a purpose, and that destiny and purpose was not stolen by the enemy.

God brought her through the abuse and He will bring you through the process of loving and supporting her. God bless you in the mighty work that God has called you to. Be encouraged. You can do it!