The following is an excerpt from Chapter 36 in “Finding Freedom: Helping Survivors of Ritual Abuse and Mind Control to Heal” that I believe could be helpful for those who support survivors in their healing (shared with permission).
Trigger warning: the following information could be very triggering for survivors of ritual abuse or mind control. Please do not read without discussing with your therapist first. This information does not replace work with a licensed professional.
3. Agreements to not know and not remember
Survivors often need to address agreements to not remember and not know anything about the cult, as well as any demonic control over the emotions, information and parts that contain memories. Such agreements are usually coerced through the cult putting parts through horrendous scenarios of pain and terror and/or rejection for ‘knowing’ and ‘remembering’ about the cult, convincing the child that the only way to be safe and stay attached to loved ones is to forget and not know about the cult. These parts serve to remind the front person to not know and not remember the cult. In some survivors, the front person may be the one who has undergone the most severe traumatic conditioning to not know and not remember.
Additionally, after cult events (including both traumatic and non-traumatic cult events), parts are often made to go through specific rituals for amnesia and denial. The rituals include formal agreements made with the demonic, and often involve covenant meals, sexual activity and sacrifices. Through these agreements, demonic spirits can influence how much a survivor remembers, and also torment them with pain and/or distressing emotions. The survivor remains under this demonic oppression after the ritual is over due to:
• Sin in the rituals that need to be identified, confessed and renounced (repentance).
• Belief that God could never forgive them for the agreements and activities that took place in the rituals to forget
• Belief that Jesus is duplicitous, evil, condemning and untrustworthy
• Belief that the demonic spirits protect them from the trauma of the memory
• Belief that the demonic spirits have the right or power to destroy them or loved ones if they try to remember because of the agreements
• Belief that the demonic spirits are more powerful than God/ God doesn’t care to help
Important truths for addressing demonic hindrance to memory work:
• God is willing and able to forgive all sin committed by the survivor.
• God loves the survivor and does care to help.
• God is more powerful than the demonic.
• Vows, covenants and agreements made with the demonic, whether under duress or ‘freely given’, are NOT permanently binding and can be broken (the demonic do not truly keep their sides of the agreements anyway). They are also sin and should be repented of, renounced and revoked.
• These spirits are easily removed by the true Jesus as the survivor repents and gives Him permission to do so
• The demonic ‘protection’ offered these spirits are harmful to the survivor and his/her loved ones; these spirits do not really protect and are just trying to deceive and control people.
The vow and agreements to never remember or process traumatic memories will commonly manifest as the front parts saying, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” to any question asked about the event. The survivor is unconsciously repeating the very vow they originally agreed to take. This becomes a continued agreement with the demonic to keep the information buried in the unconscious. When the front person utters the words “I don’t know”, he or she agrees to forget again and nothing is remembered. It is common to find parts in the system with the name and role “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” whose job is to block remembering and healing.
Until front parts in the survivor are ready to challenge vows like “I don’t know” and repent of agreements made with the demonic, memory work will likely be impeded. Like the denial, doubt and unbelief parts, the ‘I don’t know” and ‘I don’t remember’ parts carry out their roles in order to protect the person and his or her loved ones. A helpful question for these parts that can encourage them to explore their fears is often, “What would happen if you did know?”
Just like for the denial, doubt and unbelief parts, it is important for “I don’t knows” to have safe experiences of memory processing, where things end up better because of the processing and the survivor remains safe from the demonic and the cult. They usually then become less afraid of memories returning or being processed. This is one reason why in cult-designed DID, it is important for work on traumatic memories to go slowly at a pace that is led by God. Denial parts, “I don’t know” parts and other parts who have been traumatized into fearing healing may need to dip their toes into the water and test that healing is ok, a little at a time, until they get bolder and their faith in God grows.
- Agreements to be punished for remembering and processing traumatic events
In agreements for retaliation, the survivor makes agreements with the cult and demonic that he or she would experience physical, mental and spiritual distress and/or death if he or she should ever try to remember and heal. The results of such agreements can be intense, with survivors experiencing symptoms like sleepiness, debilitating migraines, stabbing pains, confusion, panic attacks, flashing lights in front of their eyes if they try to pray, demonic spirits manifesting in their homes in terrifying ways, etc. The vows and agreements usually invoke one or more of the four fears basic to mind control: the fear of death, the fear of pain, the fear of rejection and the fear of lack. (An example of how the fear of death is used to hinder memory work is given in the next section). Retaliation programming is based upon the punishing (retaliatory) parts believing that if the person remembers, bad things will happen; they run their punishments to stop the person/other parts from healing, in order to prevent these bad things from happening.
The symptoms are usually based on the torture that parts received when the survivor was being trained to retaliate against his or her own remembering and healing. For instance, sleepiness can be a body memory of being drugged or completely exhausted from torture, and the debilitating headache can be from devices placed on the head that inflict horrible pain. A very common retaliation program involves parts that look like loved ones being ‘tortured’ internally, causing the survivor to feel terror and horror. These internal scenarios are usually based on real experiences of watching loved ones being tortured; to stop the torture, the survivor has to agree to never remember, and that the loved ones would be tortured again if he or she ever remembers. Other survivors have shared scenarios of being trained to believe they would ‘go crazy’ or ‘be destroyed’ if they remembered or tried to process trauma. The survivor may not consciously remember that experience or agreement at first but will feel the terror and horror whenever he or she tries to remember and work on traumatic memories.
Addressing retaliation against healing involves very similar processes to addressing denial, doubt, unbelief and “I don’t know”:
• Understanding what the fears about remembering and healing are and replacing lies with truth and comfort.
• Breaking agreements for retaliation against self and loved ones for healing; repenting for any sin involved; removing any demonic spirits over self and ties to loved ones; placing self and loved ones under God’s true protection instead.
• Processing the traumas that have created parts stuck in states of pain and distress so that these parts can heal – this takes the sting out of the retaliation program.
• Praying to stop internal re-enactments of traumatic scenarios, and for parts to be able to distinguish current reality from the training scenarios, and to be able to differentiate internal parts who have taken on identities of cult members, from the real external people.
- The fear of death
The fear of death is often used to hinder memory work. Cult programmers often deliberately use parts trapped in the state just before ‘death’ (sometimes it is a staged, fake death, and in other scenarios, the survivor may have been clinically dead and resuscitated) to flood a survivor with horrible sensations, in order to shut down any memory work that might bring healing. This is a very specific type of retaliation or anti-healing program.
Cult programmers who track how the person’s mind is responding to trauma carefully orchestrate the progression of trauma so they can induce parts in the survivor who hold experiences that lead up to the worst moment, those who experienced the worst moment and parts who hold the experiences after the worst moment. For example, in a near death experience at a ritual ceremony, parts are divided into three groups: (1) those from the moments before death, (2) those who believe they died, and (3) those who know they survived. Parts who hold the trauma and torture leading up to “death” would replay those moments over and over again, not knowing how to move beyond the worst moment, the fear of dying. The parts who experienced “dying” (near death or death experience and then revived) continue to believe they are dead. In this “death state”, the parts fear coming back to life because they believe the body is a place of torture. They believe they are in a disembodied spiritual state and feel nothing. If they go back into the body, they believe they will be back in the pain of torture that happened before they “died”. They often have a covenant with the spirit of death to keep them free of pain.
The parts created or in a state after “death” commonly have been “resurrected” from death in Satanic power and are numb. These parts are sometimes told they are ‘zombies’, and are taught to believe have no soul, no conscience and no ability to choose for themselves. Depending on what the cult is trying to achieve, these ‘post-death’ parts may also be told they have ascended and are now stars, celestial beings, immortals (and other similar lies) who are now free from pain and can enjoy bliss, rest and peace. Survivors have also reported, besides zombies and celestials, these parts being given another chance to be ‘reincarnated’, or were ‘sent to hell’ for eternal punishment. The point of whatever post-death storyline the parts were given is to create mindless obedience, a fear of ever returning to the death state or the body, and creating a dissociative barrier that prevents the trauma from being processed.
Healing will involve addressing the conflicts against healing or returning to the body that were created by these deceptions. Each group related to the trauma will have specific conflicts to resolve. Taking the zombies for example, the pre-death group is afraid of dying. The second group is afraid of living again because it means feeling pain again. The last group knows they survived but they don’t want to remember they are human because they will have to face what they did to other victims as unfeeling, demonically controlled ‘zombies’. The ritual is designed to force the parts into agreeing with the demonic to do their deeds in order to survive and not have to be in pain and torture anymore. If these parts resist the cult programmer’s plan, they are put through the rituals repeatedly until they give in. This is a typical way that victim and perpetrator parts are created within the system. The conflict is created between being a victim part or a perpetrator part, and the worst moment (fear of dying) separates the two through a covenant and spirit of death. The cult instills the belief that you must be either a victim or a perpetrator because being neither one is not an option. This causes the internal system to become a divided house with internal perpetrator parts continuing to victimize the victim parts (e.g., re-enacting the trauma memories internally). Both victim and perpetrator parts are still controlled by the demonic.
Sometimes the intense internal conflicts between systems seem impossible to resolve, with the systems staying stuck in their positions. A helpful intervention to bring some relief to these groups is to ask the true Jesus to take authority over the unclean spirits of each group and bring truth to each group as they are ready to receive it. Ask the LORD to stand between the groups to allow the information and emotions to flow together at the right pace and time. For the victim ( pre-death) parts, ask the LORD to move the experience of time while skipping over the worst moment that these parts don’t know how to resolve and ask Him to connect them up with the moments after the worst time to let them know they survived the experience. Once they learn that they actually survived, it often gives enough capacity to get unstuck and go back to the worst moment of ‘dying’ to actually move through the rest of the memory. The “death state” group will need to have the covenant with death removed and then ask the LORD to help them experience the body as it is currently without the torture experienced in the memory. This shows the parts that they can return to the body without feeling the constant state of pain. The zombies will need to know that they were deceived into living out of a false identity. They will eventually come to realize that they are human and can be forgiven.