February 10, 2009
Dissociative Identity Disorder is created from severe, chronic child abuse, but does that abuse automatically stop in childhood?
Unfortunately, no, it does not.
All too many survivors continue to be trapped in abusive environments long after their childhood has ended. Sometimes this abuse continues with the same family-related perpetrators that abused the survivor all throughout the childhood years. For example, far too many adult children of creepy-fathers are still being sexually abused into adulthood.
Creepy-fathers don’t necessarily stop being sex offenders just because their children get older. These lifelong predators already know how to manipulate your dissociative system, and they will continue to “call out” and dominate the child parts that they controlled for all the years previous. The child parts don’t necessarily realize that they are in an adult body, or that years of time have passed, so it still feels like more of the same to them.
Typically, in situations such as these, the dissociative walls that separate those abused child parts and the adult host can still be locked solidly in place, allowing no seepage of information to pass through. The adult DID survivor may not have any conscious awareness that they are still being abused in this way.
But true, far too often.
Sometimes, the ongoing abuse is more organized than in-home family abuse. The sex slave industries can use, own, control, sell, and exploit dissociative survivors for many years.
Slavery didn’t end with the Civil War – it just became more hidden.
One of the current ways that slavery still exists — even in 2009 — is through the entrapment of the dissociative population. Various prostitution / pornography organizations can “own” and exploit survivors by using physical violence, emotional blackmail, drugs, mind control techniques, and dissociation as means to maintain their power and control. Extricating these dissociative prisoners from these organized predators is a complicated and complex process, but possible nonetheless.
Adult trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) have had years of experience managing severe trauma while simultaneously blocking themselves off from the reality of that trauma. Dissociative walls can provide an element of amnesia that both protects the person from the overwhelming crushing awareness of ongoing abuse, but also traps the survivor in an ongoing continuation of that abuse.
If dissociative survivors have current-day chunks of missing time blocked from their awareness, they cannot know what happened to them, but they also cannot remove themselves or protect themselves from the ongoing trauma and abuse. Without effective therapy and treatment, they also cannot remember or control the fact that they could be handing over their children to be used in the same abusive ways by the very same perpetrator groups.
Unfortunately, we all know that the kiddie porn industry is alive and well.
Dissociative survivors that grew up being used and sold within the kiddie porn industry are at a higher risk of continuing to be owned by, and forced to work for that industry even as adults.
When DID survivors are involved in current day abuse, it is imperative to break down the amnesiac walls created through dissociative processes. The survivors have to have the courage to look at what they are involved with, and then have even more courage to problem-solve their way out.
Dissociative survivors trapped in other kinds of family violence and domestic violence are vulnerable in these same ways.
Trauma therapists must be aware of these possibilities so they can actively work with the dissociative population in order to assist them to gain freedom from ongoing abuse. Therapy with a strong emphasis on increasing internal communication and lowering amnesiac barriers is essential.
Therapists need to use basic good trauma therapy while doing this work. Listen closely to the inside parts, help sooth the pain, create both internal and external safety, reconnect the isolated parts with the rest of the system, address the concerns raised by those internal parts in all the normal ways, etc. Many of the very same processes that work to help heal “regular abuse” continue to be effective in addressing more extreme abuses.
*** To all dissociative survivors —
You don’t have to stay stuck in the abuse cycles. If you are able to read this post, you are able to do the work it takes to remove yourself from any ongoing abuse that you are tangled in. Of course, your perpetrators won’t tell you that you can get out, but you can get out and away from them anyway. You are older, wiser, and stronger than you were when you were just a child. You can find ways that will work for you, you can find safe people to help you, and you can be safe. Talk lots and lots to your inside people – it’s only as you work together as a team that you can beat the external controls. It takes a lot of hard work, but if you all really want to be free from abuse and safe from harm, you can be. It can happen.
Kathy Broady LCSW