Alexandria Heather: Excerpts from Dirty Shamana

Contributed by Alexandria Heather

Content Warning: This is a space for survivors to share their testimonies. Consequently, there are some graphic depictions of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence.



Martha’s Vineyard, MA : 4yrs

Sabrina and I were 4.

I would turn her hands over and back, again and again.

Marveling at the meridian between the palm and the back of her hand.

A line where pink faded to deep chocolate.

I was missing half of my color. White skin obviously less-than.

She was Beauty.

She lived several blocks away.

Doors open, no one home.

Except cookies.

Almost to the jar when the screen door slammed.


A dark man I didn’t know.

He had a deep voice, an odd accent.

He spoke softly at first, his tone almost friendly.

Red and brown swirling around his head.

He shut the inside door and came closer.

He smelled of sweat, piss, alcohol and shit.

(Upset about the cookies?!?)

He has me. I keep trying to get up. I have no control over my body. I am a rag doll.

His penis has white and green ooze. Musky rot.

Forces into my mouth: gag. Vomit.

It covers him, re-ignites the Rage.

Skin ripping as he shoves himself into me.

My anus stings as if it were burnt.

Kicks me in the crotch.

The screen door slams.

Birds outside.

I cannot move.

My skin, bones and ribs ache.

Tears roll down my face but I am not crying.

A small plane passes lazily overhead.

Can’t move. Made of lead and pain.

Please help me.

I call to the plane, to the birds.

It seems as if I passed out.

Suddenly I was aware of being surrounded.

A group of golden figures, crouched over me.

Reaching into me.

Stroking my forehead, rubbing my back, my stomach.

The pain, accentuated by every pulse of blood, decreases.

I feel warmth.

Absolute love.

They soothe my pain.

Numb the terror in my heart.

Mom says I acted perfectly normal for about ten minutes and then broke down.

She changed my clothes, washed my face and then called the police.

They came and asked questions. Didn’t examine my body. Everyone smiles and talks quietly but I can’t hear them, I barely could see them.

When I finally found myself again it was dark and I was alone in the house, still sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket.

I lie on my back. Above, in the murk of the dark room, there is a small glowing light. The pinprick grows into a disk. The disk becomes a sun, then a face, then a hand reaching for me. I close my eyes but when I open them it is still there and has become a small glowing figure. It fills me with indescribable comfort and I fall asleep without realizing, wanting to keep my eyes on the image forever.

Predators were common on the island.


I was four.

She had her own bedroom with a door.

Yet they chose my child’s twin bed.

I was eight when I made the mistake of asking why I didn’t have a dad, why she had no partner.

Her response was the family’s demon:

“I can get laid any time I want, Alexandria! You’re just an ugly fat retard who’ll never get a man! But I can get laid ANY TIME I WANT!”

That night she didn’t come home to prove her point.

But I was asking about Love & Family, not sex.

She may not have understood that.

Home was often cold, dark, isolated.

Punctuated by her rages and flying slaps coming out of nowhere.

She was a 26 year old girl living among the rough-trade bikers and fishermen on the poor side of Martha’s Vineyard.

I was her biggest mistake, her albatross.

Other times when I asked about my father she told me he’d never pay support because he’d lie and say she was with all his buddies.

“Were you?” I’d ask. “Is he really my Father?”

“Of course he is. You just can’t get blood out of a stone.”

The brief times I spoke with him he never denied being my Father.

He never offered any kind of help whatsoever.

The one time he contacted me was when his ‘real’ daughter was a toddler.

“Yeah, how’re ya doin’? Yeah? Good? How’s School? So anyway I’m calling because remember those real pretty dresses your Gramma used to dress you in? Ya got those still? Maybe I could send you the money to mail them to me? They’d look good on my girl!”

It hurt so much I dropped the phone.

Mom hung it up without saying a word.

As if she’d known he was going to say this to me.

“Did you make him ask me that? Why didn’t you just tell him no?”

“They’re your dresses, Alexandria. They barely fit you then. You don’t care about them.”

“Then why didn’t you just give them to him? Why do that to me, Mom?”

“I’m tired of your bullshit, Alexandria. I need to go out for awhile.”

Auspicious Beginnings.

She served at the Black Dog, a popular restaurant near the fishing docks.

I’m told as a child I’d dance to locals like James Taylor playing on their tiny stage.

I liked the homey feeling of the place.

The wood floors and walls were still alive.

But like all the places in which she was a servant, I was tolerated only so much.

I was left home often without supervision.

She’d tried babysitters.

I disliked them.

Mom was the only one I’d let smack me around.

These bitches were gonna get bit.

Begged to be left on my own.

She wearily gave in, making me promise to stay inside while she was gone.

Or at least just stick to the tennis wall by the house.

When she was home she’d know I was safe because I’d volley on the wall for hours with clock-like precision.

The ocean was down the hill from the dingy apartment in Oak Bluffs.

I spent hours alone on the rocks.

Tide-pools offered new miracles everyday.

The Wind and the Ocean in conversation with each other and with me.

Scents and snapshots from around the world floated on their murmurings.

This was my school of life, this was my science and religion.

My mother understood that Nature was our church.

She knew I’d lied about staying indoors, but the promise was her release from responsibility.

We understood that together.

My need for autonomy symbiotic with hers.

Both of us foreigners but from different lands.

Know above all that my Mother is one of the better people on this Earth.

Like so many unsung heroes, she fucking TRIED against all odds.

She is a caretaker, a creator, a botanist, an artist, so much more.

Her story intricate, complex, and honorable.

Know that nothing is Black & White.

We only make it that way to justify or compartmentalize.

Know that no one here got to be true to their Soul.


Imagine a species that scorns it’s very own emotions?

Empathy now like a tiny oasis in a desert that once was ocean.

Pain Eaters scorned because our stories border on the wildly fantastic.

No one person could have had such calamity!

Well, yeah, we do. There’s a reason we do.

It’s called fucking training.

The problem is we’re born into our function without Earthly guidance.

What to do with all the horrors inflicted upon us?

We are here to clean the collective energy.

But if we cannot filter, expel and diffuse it, sticky suffering clogs our light.

So much forgotten!

The psychopaths in charge find human Visions and Imagination threatening.

Their work is reflected in the modern construct:

Intuition, Creativity and Life-Affirming consciousness practically erased.

Culture that labels deviation as aberration, meant to be drugged into compliance.

We may think we celebrate the anomaly.

The Honorable Loner. The Quirky Genius.

I can verify personally there is no home for the oddball, the ugly, the awkward, the weirdo. There is little room for the highly intelligent as well.

The born artist or mystic is an easy target.

For all of us, it is trial by fire.

My experiences are not unusual at all in the Earth’s history of humanoid children.

The empathetic & sensitive soul doesn’t stand a chance.

Perhaps not even in their own family clan.

It is more common for family to be treacherous than not.

Some of us survive. Rarely intact.

Years of shunning alter one’s perspective permanently.

Everyone told me I was weird but no one explained.

She’d moved us to a wealthy NH school district after she disagreed with the Kindergarten’s assessment that I may be autistic.

Years later, when I was struggling socially in high school I asked about that day, wondering if there was something to it after all.

She pretended I wasn’t at that meeting, pretended I didn’t try to correct their conversation – “I’m ARTISTIC, not awwtistic…”

The teacher gently shook her head, as she’d often done with me in class.

“Yes, honey, you are very artistic. Autistic is something different.”

I puzzled over the word for many years.

It wasn’t until my forties that the diagnosis was confirmed.

Other words for me are ‘Loser’, ‘Bitch’, ‘Cry-Baby’, ‘Crazy’, ‘Retard’, & ‘Faker’.

People all over have called me those things and worse. It took me years to pluck out these narrow darts that decide one’s worth.

In elementary school I was sometimes shuffled between stranger’s homes.

When Mom was working or going to school or saying as much.

Middle and upper class homes like decadent prisons.

Everything shrouded in some code of deference and denials, glances and smiles.

At various dinner tables I am Tarzan.

I bolt with no explanation from all kinds of events.

Must get into the woods or by the water!

Kinder folks forgave what must have been a terribly rude child.

Being among humans excruciating.

Faking it impossible until I learned it was called acting.

I did try for a long time to be normal.

But it was more like a griffin trying to hide in a robin’s nest.

When there is a squirrelly kid like me is that it’s probably abuse.

Most likely sexual abuse.

Jumping to conclusions is dangerous, and perhaps some saw but couldn’t help.

But the problem will also be with the child’s perception of it all.

I learned to prefer dysfunction.

This carries over into our understanding of relationships, harming deepest the complexities surrounding intimate bonds.

The abused and scapegoated child may never be able to perceive things in a healthy way.

I realized my understanding of intimate, romantic relationships was so warped that I’d mistaken Need for Love.

We’d like to think we aren’t products of our environment, that we’ll fly far from the damage. But it sleeps inside of us.

This happens to us all, in everything, to some degree.

Abuse survivors just get a stronger, weirder poison.

Everything is some kind of lie or translation.


If an organism has too many of these false realities chafing their true soul, they begin to feel false themselves.

In all systems, the new transmutes what the old has offered.

But it is always a dilution and mutation of that original dysfunction.

We like to imagine all that comes next must be better.

It appears, though, more and more gets lost with each new generation of hairless apes.

Ideologies re-formed, warped for eons by powers only in place a few short centuries.

The fabric of the powerful long so perverted there’s little access to what being a healthy human really means. Everything is lies.

So, yeah, we’re all confused about Love & Sex.

When I was four my room was the hallway between the kitchen and living-room.

I awoke to being crushed into the wall.

Weight and movement.

Stale cigarettes & musky booze.

A man’s grunting. My mother’s odd, false wailing.

I remembered it being more pleasant while I was in the womb.

A gentle rocking, the sounds muffled.

Though in both cases I smelled her anxiety.

A jittery, uncomfortable ‘scent’ I’d learn later was a kind of crippling sexual narcissism.

A deep insecurity that drives a woman to prove she is worthy by mating.

I smelled it years later with female friends on the prowl in bars, or even on myself.

It is the scent of a woman deferring to her sexual value, rather than her true value.

The condition includes shame, regret and self-destructiveness directly after the act of sex.

A key element of the wounded modern female psyche.

I’ve witnessed degrees of it in women throughout the economic spectrum and from different countries. It is an epidemic against the human psyche.

No doubt reflected in an equal manner in the male psyche because we are all in the same soup.

The ancient conspiracy to divide us against ourselves depends upon Woman despising herself.

Sex was once sacred.

Now irretrievably defamed.

Without unfettered access to the eternal Spirit of Love the whole species starves.

We stare into black mirrors as we turn into a loveless race.

Mom’s world unequivocally dictated limited roles for women.

Servitude. Subjugation. Private violence.

She worked in bars my entire young life.

There were always takers.


I knew none of them.

Often gone before morning after her Banshee Night.

He rushes out, sometimes not fully dressed, grasping a shoe or underwear.

Breakfast is not offered to me.

The performance is over.

She collapses into absolute self-hatred and shame.

Her wrath soon to seep into my bones.

She would sob and rage at me.

Because it was my fault.

He would’ve wanted her breakfast if he hadn’t seen me.

Days or weeks later, after the physical attacks subside.

After the silent treatment ends.

She’d gush about how I was the best thing to happen to her!

She loved me more than anything!

How talented and beautiful I was!

I began to notice these proclamations of love usually happened in front of her friends.

In front of them we were the BEST of FRIENDS, a wonderful jovial act.

Some of her friends seemed to be very good people.

Caring, creative. Quiet and peaceful. No malevolence. Time spent in their care fed my curiosity about the myth of a peaceful life.

Different from the Church-going suburbanites of the school district. They were usually people she’d met while earning her BA in Horticulture.

She often dropped by unannounced with me in tow.

She’d smoke their weed and then conk out on their living room floors.

I hadn’t understood this was the rudest way to ask for a babysitter.

They all took care of me while she rested.


I’d always be disappointed that she’d wake, groggily stretching me from a kinder bond.

We’d have to leave a place where I was interesting, where it was warm and bright and there was no yelling, no rage.

It’s not uncommon for a covert narcissist to surround themselves with the kindest people.

Mom had the perfect cover, a scrappy single mom raising a weird kid who was easy to smear, easy to use in head games when she got bored.

Easy to victimize herself by showing how difficult and strange I was.

These are the gifts of her mother handed down to her.

Turn against your own child in every way you’d been turned upon.

I was groomed perfectly for every disordered person I met for the next forty years.

Always searching for my Mom, my better half.

Eager to hand over my power in the sculptured, subjective role of Co-dependent.

Easily turning cruel upon anyone showing me their underside.

I thought that was the only way Love danced.

Someone gives themselves up.

Charades of power, jealousy. Triangulation, gaslighting.

Mimicry taught me strange behavior like sleeping with a friend’s love interest meant an attempt to get closer to her.

Approval of her choices, being supportive…?


In fact, many such offensive tactics I’d interpreted as common bonding rituals upset relationships with those far less dysfunctional.

Chronic abuse sculpts twisted misconceptions that take decades from which to untangle. I’ll never be free of those fucking chains, but I escaped the actual prison.

I must always distill moments in life:

Are my thoughts loving?

Am I being kind?

Is this an appropriate response?

Am I working with Unconditional Love?

It goes on and on.

I can wave my victim flag all I fucking want.

The bottom line is I inspire the world to perceive me.

I just might be the asshole in the room.

Being liked, fitting in, isn’t much of a concern anymore.

Being Good is the challenge.

Living up to my own ideals.

Being the adult I always needed around.

Facing what is mine, here. What I am.

Embracing my only inheritance – genetic trauma.

Like compost it stinks to high heaven but holds miraculous, life-giving properties if one tends and turns it regularly.

How much of my pain is ancestor pain and can I heal us all by healing myself?

The duality of being both the Golden Child and The Scapegoat an especially hellish training ground for a Pain Eater.

What can I say, I’m an over achiever.

I was first orally & anally raped at four.

Raped and molested until I was about 14 by several people, mostly men.

Mom told me again and again I was never raped whenever I tried to find reasons, closure.

Then when I was an adult she proclaimed everyone gets raped and I should just get over it.

“Everyone gets raped and you should just get over it. I get raped every year, I got raped last year and you don’t hear me whining about it. Grow the Fuck Up and get over it, Alexandria.”

Her refusals to acknowledge the truth of my life helped me begin a spiral of suicide attempts from the age of 7 to the age of 28.

Friends discarded me when I confessed to these thoughts or attempted suicide.

They say these things are cries for help.

But I don’t think that’s quite what’s going on.

It truly is too excruciating for some of us and we really want out.

My last attempt:

I had a 9mm for travel safety.

Criss-Crossing the continent.

Failure and loneliness in cycles of self-hating talk.

The raw, unending, grinding mysterious pain bore down on me every waking moment.

It simply clicked.

The gun would not shoot.

I never tried again.

I’d tried just about most ways.

My Golden People want me to stay.

They show me it’s just gonna be the same hurts if I give up.

Time Is an illusion and karma’s a bitch.

When we survive a beginning that threatens to destroy us at every turn –

We are being called.

We can effect the negative consciousness the permeates us all.


Newburyport, MA : 11yrs

The neighbor boy likes you!

He thinks you’re really pretty!

You should go over and talk with him!

No boys ever thought I was pretty.

They took over my space and pushed their dicks into my face.

They pulled my hair and punched me to the floor.

But they never said I was pretty.

Staying at Gram’s I often crossed the street to sit on the rocks by the water.

One day the boy appeared next to me.

He stared at me strangely.

Hi, he said.

Hi, I say, shielding the sun from my eyes as I looked up at him.

Is it true you want to be my girlfriend?

What? I say, alarmed.

Your grandmother told me you wanted to be my girlfriend. I just wanted to tell you you’re way too ugly for me to be interested. Ok?

Yeah. Ok. I say. But I never wanted to be your girlfriend!

I yell as he walks back to the duplex his family shared with Gram.

I THINK YOU’RE UGLY TOO! I yell through the wall hours later.

Alexandria! What’s with the racket! Gram yells from her bedroom, the tinkling of ice in her gin and tonic glass loud from her movement.


Durham, NH : 9yrs

3rd grade was the worst.

Constant bullying from students and teachers.

If it’d happened in these camera-phone days I’d have a nice settlement.

There was a recent video of a child ruthlessly bullied and left motionless in a corner for over 15 minutes. A few days later he killed himself. I was that child. No exaggeration. Somehow I lived.

Even when those I sought comfort from treated me in much the same way.

After a particularly terrible day I came home wanting to kill myself.

That circular thought embedded in my mind.

I’d made one very serious attempt already, some others less serious.

Where others might chalk things up to a bad spell, let the day go I gave up all hope.

Suicide bloomed into the only option my mind considered. I knew I had to fight it. The bottle of pills I’d taken the year before made me so ill I could still taste them.

I struggled with it and called the only person I could think of, Gram.

Why are you calling me again? She asked angrily.

What do you mean? I ask.

Well, we just spoke for 20 minutes. Why are you calling me again?

I didn’t call you Gram. I just called you. I just got home from school.

No, we talked for 20 minutes and you told me how much you loved the dolls I sent you and you said everything’s great in school.

Gram, it wasn’t me. I just got home. My panic rises.

Stop lying Alexandria. What is wrong with you. Now this is what I want you to do.

Call me back and we’ll see if it was a crossed line.

I don’t understand how–

Just call me back again.

She makes me call her several times, she pretends as if she’s checking some mysterious thing that makes these calls show her I was lying about the first call from someone else.

Now I want you to call me and leave the phone off the hook for 20 minutes.

But Gram, I just wanted to talk about–

We can talk later. Leave the phone off the hook.

I do as she asks.

Later Gram complains to Mom that I was messing with the phone.

She demands that I never call her without supervision.

I explain to Mom what happened, she says to let it go. Says Gram does this kind of thing. But later when the bill arrives Mom accuses me of lying.

I am not allowed to call Gram on my own until I am an adult.



Newburyport, MA : 10yrs

Gram is making an apple spice cake.

I want to help but she is easily annoyed and tells me I am in the way.

I watch quietly from the kitchen table after she smacks my face.

She says something’s wrong, it’s not moist enough to mix.

I suggest she add water or more milk.

No, Goddammit, Alexandria, you can’t just do that! You’ll ruin it!

She becomes irate, she is crying and slamming things in her frustration.

She makes herself a gin and tonic with ice.

She brings the bottle up to her room.

Huge snorts erupt as she sobs her way upstairs.

She’d left the bowl of chalky batter on the counter.

All the ingredient containers are there, it is a mess.

I take the bowl of batter to the table.

After 15 minutes of patient stirring it is thick and creamy, ready to be poured into the pan.

Although I know how to make the cake & use the oven, I know it would enrage her. Instead I clean up the mess, put the ingredients back.

As I’m wiping down the counter she comes back downstairs.

What are you doing down here? I heard you making a racket!

I am proud and pleased. I mixed the batter for you! I hold the bowl to her for inspection.

You little bitch. I told you not to add any water! She thumps my back hard.

But I didn’t–

You ruined it! You ruin everything! She throws the whole bowl of batter in the garbage.

She returns to her bedroom and doesn’t speak to me for the rest of my stay.


York, ME: 10yrs

She didn’t blink once when I told her I was an alien.

Or when I said I was dying from Ammonia.

She just chuckled and gave me a big hug.

Ms. Whalen was my 2nd grade teacher.

She was a sun worshiper and I was safe next to her during recess.

Her face turned to the sky and mine turned to hers.

She was a large woman, something my Mother often pointed out.

A failing, a thing to be critical of.

It didn’t matter that mom was obese, too.

To lose Ms. Whalen was to lose my first sense of belonging.

Fat-shaming was alive and well in the 3rd grade.

Mrs. Pelton, a sub for the often ill teacher, joked about how hard it must be for me to get through doorways or fit into chairs.

At recess she’d say loudly that I just couldn’t help being so slow, what with all my ‘lard’.

During a lesson about making butter she made me stand up in front of the class and shake the jars of cream.

Work off some of that lard and I’ll let you have some lard!

She said and everyone just laughs and laughs.

I have a mason jar in each hand and I shake as fast as I can.

But within a minute the spasms start to rise.

I lower my arms and shake at thigh level.

The pain is becoming unbearable but I try my best to appear fine.

No, no, you have to raise your arms to burn that lard! Mrs. Pelton grabs my wrists sharply and yanks my arms up. I yelp in pain, and drop a jar. It rolls under the teacher’s desk.

I didn’t hurt you! She said, and turned to the class. I didn’t hurt her, she’s just a cry baby. We all know that. She says cheerfully, and they laugh again.

The spasms take over, the tears streaming down my face.

Go to the bathroom and get ahold of yourself.

She hisses, gripping my wrist.

You’re making a fool of yourself, again, you little pig.

She is so skillful no one else can hear her icy whispers.

In photos I see I was just a little chubby.

By today’s standards, fit.

Mrs. Pelton never stopped, not even after high school.

She’d harass me & complain about me at various workplaces.

Her daughter joined the fun in middle school, younger kids were safe to join in torturing me.

I was born for it, it was my role, I did not question it.

Mrs. Pelton was friends with the group of mothers who would glaringly take me in.

Good christians feeling good about their charity while they belittled my clothes, cleanliness or table manners. Miserable bitches who seek power through dominating and bullying children. They’re a universal breed.

The group of mothers who were nowhere to be found when I became the punching bag.

Even later on, I learned Melanie had been subject to endless diets and bullshit about her body.

Mrs. Pelton was an equal opportunity Momster.


It was the end of 3rd grade when Ms. Whalen asked me to come to her summer art camp.

She lived on the ocean in York Beach, Maine, with her longtime partner, Elise.

I was super excited, and I felt special because she’d invited me on scholarship.

Art and music were the only things that made any sense to me.

It was an expensive school, but  I was there because she cared for me.

I can’t describe how it felt to be fully welcome. NSA.

My mother was excited to not have me around, so much so that, as often was the case after any kind of sleepover or summer camp, she forgot to come pick me up.

Happened often when I depended on her for a ride.

If she wasn’t the very last, very late arrival, she’d just not show up at all.

But this time I’d almost wished she’d never arrive and I’d stay with Ms. Whalen forever.


It was the day before my birthday, about halfway through the camp session. It was our quiet time, when we were in our shared rooms, resting or writing home, maybe tidying up our space. I’d found a juggling book in their rambling, house-wide library and I was practicing on my bed with two rolled-up socks. Sandy, my aloof and bitchy older roommate enters, stands there and stares me down disdainfully.

What? I ask. What is it?

She shakes her head and leaves the room. A few minutes later Elise rushes into the room, enraged. She points at me, accentuating each word with her index finger.

You. Get. In. The. Hall. Right. Now.

What’s wrong? I ask.

Get Up! She grabs my shirt and forces me into the hallway. I am now hysterically crying and begging to know what is going on.

You stay right there, you! She pushes me into the wall.

What? Why? I yell, I cry. What did I do?

I catch Sandy smiling widely as she goes into our room down the hallway.

I can hear Ms. Whalen saying behind her closed door, Maybe she didn’t do it? Maybe we should talk with her?

Elise answers, No she’s a goddamn liar. Let her suffer. Why did you even invite her here?

I am completely devastated.

The next day I am greeted at breakfast with birthday cards and drawings from all the girls at camp.

I look around the table and see a lot of people who don’t want me there who were forced to make me things. I am miserable and crushed and Ms. Whalen is never as close to me, ever again.

A few years later I am at the Dover, NH public pool’s Halloween party.

I am wearing a witch wig in the water when I spy Sandy across the pool.

There’s no way she’d recognize me.  I think I am very clever.

Like, ‘Get Smart’ fucking clever, right?

I put on my mutt British accent and wade on over.

Pardon, but aren’t you Sandy? Well my cousin Alexandria, who is American, like you, wanted to know what you said to Elise at summer camp?

Fuck Off. She says, and moves away to join a group of girls.

Later, in the locker room I come out of the toilets to find all of my things missing.

I am wearing only a wig and a bathing suit and my mother forgets to pick me up.


Martha’s Vineyard : 3yrs

We called it Daycare.

It was a spacious compound in the forest.

Memories are scattered, incomplete.

The clearest one is my giving an anatomy lesson on the floor of the kitchen.

There are several other children and four adults.

We are all nude, legs spread or crossed.

I am explaining to the group that our sex organs look very different, but that they are exactly the same.

The adults are smiling encouragingly at me as I give the details.

I am shocked I have to explain it all, but it seems everyone is curious.

It appears I’m the only one who understands.

I tell them the vagina is a flower from which the penis grows.

I explain to them that we are all women first, then some ride the wave into ‘boy’.

We are equal, I insist. It’s all the same, just different codes.

Everyone is examining themselves as I go through the comparative parts.

A boy about my age asks very earnestly if he can also make babies.

I tell him he chose boy this time, and cannot get pregnant. I tell him he can plant babies but he must love and protect them.

He promises to be a very good father.

Naked and innocent, we hug, looking forward to the promises of Life.

It was a moment that stuck with me.

That people didn’t understand, what was fact & memory to me were lost to many as myth or occult science.

That I could teach them.

Later I dismissed the nudity and touching of ourselves.

Martha’s Vineyard was a nudist paradise.

It seemed a normal way to be until we moved to NH and I started to go to The Little People’s Center. Mom said it was daycare so I took all my clothes off on the first day, yelling DAYCARE!

We don’t do that here, honey, the Carer gently tried to cover my wildly dancing squirmy self.

I didn’t recall either daycare being abusive or dangerous. Nothing but peaceful feelings about the places.

I pondered how I could have known things so precisely about human reproduction.

But through the years I had to pick & choose my personal mysteries to gnaw on.

The other memories there are of Gram coming to pick me up in her yellow convertible, a surprise! I ran into her arms.

She went to speak with the people inside the house.

I am to wait in the yard.

She is in there a long time. It’s chicken & rabbit time & that’s good for me.

She comes out with a manila envelope.

And the ever repeated:

Walking down into a garden, on a path next to a stream.

Back & forth, every time I am there.

There is a white door.

Time is lost the most here.

I chalk it up to the fading of memory.


Boston, MA : 42yrs

I can’t handle the pain. Same old story, I know.


I’ve long stopped trusting big Pharma for any relief.

Drugging the physical body isn’t the answer.

Shifting the energy body is the key.

Shifting the mind.

I’d been doing it my entire life to deal with the spinal cord injury.

To cope with the emotional damage I’d collected like cans on the side of the road.

I’d been dissociative for most of my life.

My light out of phase with my flesh.

A miss-aligned transparent overlay.

For the most part cultivated through music, dance, painting and intensive creative endeavors.

The only way to survive it all without the hard drugs broken hearts fall in love with.

The only way to avoid feeding the malignant mold on the gold of my family’s spirit.

But the pain itself was now keeping me from doing the things that save me.

I was lost without my work.

I’d begun an earnest search for all viable means of healing.

When you are desperate you’ll try anything once.

I figured hypnotism would be a way to ramp up that innate talent I had to step out of the pain consciousness. 

I made an appointment. Borrow the cash. Rest up for the journey.

Have you been hypnotized before? She peers at me over her half-moon glasses.

No. But I developed a dissociative state to cope with an undiagnosed spinal cord injury and a broken neck.

She stares. What happened?

Well, it seems it was abuse and neglect. So, I’m a bit guarded. I’m not sure if this will work.

Abuse and neglect. Hmm, she says. Well, lets just start gently then. It’s possible your pain is worse because of your…history.

Yes, absolutely, I say. I notice that often. I was diagnosed with Female Asperger’s as well, so I have a predisposition to panic that complicates the C-Ptsd. I’m a mess.

Well, you certainly are facing a lot of challenges. You seem very well composed!

Good dog! I think and I’m ready to bolt. This isn’t going to work.

She starts with a pendulum and a calm, soothing voice.

I’m fully aware of what she’s saying.

Nothing’s happening.

Good riddance to that $250.

As I often do in my aimless thoughts, I walk down that garden path to the white door.

There is a flash of a star, a hand, an arm, reaching across the white door.

Not for you, not now! A familiar male voice.

She brings me out of it very rapidly.

See, I didn’t think it would work, I say, gathering my coat in my lap.

Actually, she says, I don’t want to alarm you.

But there are indications you’ve been under very deep hypnosis.

I’m not sure what you mean? It’s just the abuse & dissociation, right?

Well, she says carefully. No. I don’t think it could be that.

Okayyy, I say, both suspicious and fearful.

Her tone just got mad serious.

A colleague of mine came up with a few questions in case I ever see this.


Do you mind if I ask you these questions?


You have lovely auburn hair, is it a natural color? I assume so because you don’t color your grey…no offense, it looks very Bonnie Raitt.

Thanksss. Yes, it’s natural. This is fucking ridiculous, I think.

Are you of German or Irish descent?


Do you know your blood type?


AB-?, she asks like it’s a kind of cheese or extinct animal.


Do you know when your families immigrated to the US?

I can’t hide my fidgeting and I can feel the rocking rising like a scream.

My father, who is a stranger to me, once tried to take credit for my artistic skills. He said his mother was an artist from Germany. I assumed she was the first generation.

My mother’s side was mostly irish & english. Gram’s husband was German. Everything’s been forgotten.

Was he also an absent father?

I don’t understand why YOU’RE ASKING ME THESE QUESTIONS! I am getting upset.

I’m sorry, just a few more and I’ll tell you why.


Everything’s alright. She reassures me in her velvet voice. Can you tell me more about how you got your injuries? Can you tell me more precisely what the injuries are?

I’ve had the spinal cord injury for my entire life. I started having symptoms as an infant. I’ve felt the grinding pressure my entire life. My mother purposefully avoided any real examination of it. She forced me to be silent. No childhood accidents that would’ve caused it. In fact, the neurosurgeon told me all of the violent events I recall wouldn’t have caused this kind of injury.

Why is that?

There have only been 80 known cases, ever, of thoracic tethered spinal cord. It’s a rare convergence of massive force and hyperflexivity that traps the spinal cord between vertebrae. It’s caused by trauma only. Mine was the only one left untreated for 34 years. It ruined both my spine and my spinal cord. The cord’s been chewed to bits. It was untethered in 2005, but it’s all shot to shit.

She regards me like a pitiable unicorn. It’s amazing that you’re walking. How are you even alive? Is it near the neck? Is it related to the broken neck?

It’s between the shoulder blades. I think the broken neck was from diving into a pool and ramming into the floor.

Oh, yeah, she says. I remember lawsuits about the design of pool floors. Were you compensated?

No, I just had to hold it together for a few weeks.

Hold it together?

Yes, the dissociative thing. It’s my lifetime method.

Wow, Okay, let’s move on. Have you ever lived in Long Island, New York, Boston?

Well…Gram and Mom lived in Long Island. One time that I was homeless I camped in a barn on Montauk in the winter. I moved to nyc when I was 26 or so. I grew up near Boston, I used to drive to Cambridge Square a lot. Harvard, I say.

Why Montauk?

I was staying at a friend’s house but when I told her that her boyfriend felt me up and tried to kiss me, she dumped me.

She sighs. Any other universities you’ve been drawn to?

I grew up, basically, at UNH. The entire town was the college, I say. I guess I was really huffed to get to school in West Sussex, England.

Oh, that’s one of the places. She says, writing in her notes.

What places?

Just a few more questions and I can answer yours. But I’m seeing multiple red flags. We might want to contact my colleague right now. Carl really knows his stuff.

WHAT STUFF!? Just be honest with me, I’m about to walk out this door.

She raises her palms flat, calming the air around us.

I haven’t finished the questions. But we’ve done enough, I think. I don’t want to make you more ill-at-ease. She pauses. Carl is an expert in government operative techniques. He does a lot of de-programming.

I’m fucking leaving. I get my coat and hat on, gather my bag and canes.

No, please hear me out.

I stay on the couch, ass on edge. Is she concerned or is she trying to sell me something?

He gave me this list to help people who’ve been part of an ongoing experiment on unsuspecting citizens.Your lineage, personal experiences, injuries and locations you’ve lived and been drawn to are all red flags for Mk-Ultra victims.

YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF. I storm out of her office, deaf to her protests.

For the three hour drive home I am constantly walking up and down that garden path in my mind’s eye.

The flash of a star.

White door.

White door.

White door.

Mike: My Odd Little Life

Contributed by Mike

Content Warning: This is a space for survivors to share their testimonies. Consequently, there are some graphic depictions of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence.

I would imagine this is triggering to read please do not read if your in bad form.

So there was a boy. He was learning to ride a bike with his father, his father accidentally made contact with the boys backside when he was sitting on the bike. The boy thought oh your one of those and expected to be sexually abused not that he understood the term at the time. It is not right that a boy should think in this fashion.

When his grandmother died he felt all the good had gone out of the world, she was the balance to the evil which went on in his world. Not that he even understood that it was evil at the time. The boys earliest memory’s involve his grandfather visiting his room regularly to do evil acts. The boy has no memory of a time this did not occur in his young life, this was literally his norm. His grandfather had a conversation with his young grandson that he should not tell anyone about what was going on. The boy was to young to understand that it was wrong. To him it was just something that happened in everyday life. He just did not understand the conversation but he did what he was told and said nothing.

The boy gradually learned to hate the stench of the cigarette and his grandfathers laugh when he was finished, and utterly hated the way his grandfather griped him close in bed when he was done. The boy mostly kept to himself and did not feel he fitted in anywhere. He just felt outside of whatever group he was part of.

Thankfully the abuse stopped at about the age of 7 or 8. The boy remembers his grandfather visiting every Christmas to give money to his mother for xmas the boy thought it was hush money. The boy remembers staring with utter hatred at this man who called himself his grandfather. His grandfather just sat there and laughed.

The years went by and the boy became a teenager and the memories of the events of his youth simply disappeared into the past. The teenage boy kept to himself and had some unusual experiences during these years he was unsure off but he just kept on going did not think much of them.

The boy turned 16 his grandfather came back into his life. The teenager knew he hated this man but was not sure why. The teenager began working for this man gardening. Of course the man being what he was started touching the teenager inappropriately once again when gardening with him. The teenager was confused he could not believe the stuff that happened in his youth was real. He planked out and woke up standing at home outside his house. The teenager immediately repressed this memory and went back working the next day with his grandfather. I would imagine it is hard to understand why this would happen but the memory of any harm caused by the predator was simply not there so he was simply not seen as a threat.

Of course the next day the predator exposed himself and did something disgusting again. The teenager simply froze and could not respond. The teenager simply did not have the capacity to deal with the situation. For whatever reason his grandfather stopped when he saw the distress or possibly unresponsive reaction from the teenager. The teenager had a conversation with the predator. The predator apologised he said he was sick, the teenager simply responded that’s fine don’t worry about it. The teenager did not work for his grandfather again. His grandfather died when the teenager was 17 or so. The teenager carried his coffin down the church. The teenager hit his twenties and went to collage. He seemed to live in two worlds. In one he was all powerful he experienced this world as real as anything else he experienced but it mostly seemed to happen in his sleep. In his other world the one people consider real. He was brutally depressed kept to himself, avoided people as much as possible, and made odd appearance at college. This continued for 3 years, dispute his state of mind he got a diploma in construction studies. To this day he has no clue how. So he is now a young man finished college and gets a job. He is very angry at everything and depressed and has no clue why. So he continues to do what he always does keeps to himself and works away. People find him strange, he cannot come to terms with the opposite sex. He is lonely but can’t quite manage to fix it. The thought of being intimate with someone is just terrifying. This continues for years, he hears occasional voices and unusual experiences but thinks nothing

The teenager hit his twenties and went to collage. He seemed to live in two worlds. In one he was all powerful he experienced this world as real as anything else he experienced but it mostly seemed to happen in his sleep. In his other world the one people consider real. He was brutally depressed kept to himself, avoided people as much as possible, and made odd appearance at college. This continued for 3 years, dispute his state of mind he got a diploma in construction studies. To this day he has no clue how. So he is now a young man finished college and gets a job. He is very angry at everything and depressed and has no clue why. So he continues to do what he always does keeps to himself and works away. People find him strange, he cannot come to terms with the opposite sex. He is lonely but can’t quite manage to fix it. The thought of being intimate with someone is just terrifying. This continues for years, he hears occasional voices and unusual experiences but thinks nothing

He is very angry at everything and depressed and has no clue why. So he continues to do what he always does keeps to himself and works away. People find him strange, he cannot come to terms with the opposite sex. He is lonely but can’t quite manage to fix it. The thought of being intimate with someone is just terrifying. This continues for years, he hears occasional voices and unusual experiences but thinks nothing of them.

The man now turns thirty and the wheels come off. He is hearing voices and seeing and feeling things on his body he does not understand. The man is distressed but does not have the tools to deal with the issue. So he quits his job and retreated from the world. He has savings so lives on this for a while. He eventually gets kicked out of his rented accommodation, so moves back home the house he was sexually abused in. He rings an old work acquaintance to ask about strange memory’s he has and ends up getting a job?. So he starts working again in a rather unusual state of mind.

He jumps from job to job until fearing he is a danger to others (which he never was) reaches out for help to psychiatric unit. They ask him questions and give him antipsychotic meds and admit him to ward. He tries to explain the weird shit in his head, they react like he is a threat and treat him as such. He is sorry he annoyed them and just wants to leave. He very rapidly spirals to a very dark place. His family get him admitted to a private ward there is more help available but he has shutdown and just wants out and lies and says he is better and gets out. He has a dark few years of suicide attempts trips in and out of mental institutions. He seemed to continue on a dark spiral for while.

One day at 19+stone (from the bloody meds) sitting watching TV he thought there is more to life than this. He starts walking, and walking and he just keeps walking every day. He starts to lose the weight and takes up running , runs 3 marathons, And goes back working and stops trying to commit suicide. But with working again he most interact with people which he always really struggles to do. He buys a house with his sister . And is trying just like everyone else to make a living. He sees Ted Talks by Eleanor Longden his mind is totally blown he changes his perspective on how he interacts with the voices he hears.

So there was a boy he’s me now a 40 year old man who is only in the last while or so starting to come to understand the effects of CSA on his life. Keep up the good fight✊🏾

Jeannette: No Sound

Contributed by Jeannette

Content Warning: This is a space for survivors to share their testimonies. Consequently, there are some graphic depictions of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence.

From age 2, I was not allowed to make a sound during the (sexual and psychological) abuse. No permission to tell my parents. And then after so many years of silence I told a psychiatrist what happened. He locked me up, restricted me on a bed and abused me 9 ½ months. I was punished when making a sound. And in psychiatry no one believed me. They punished me because I told the truth. Lessons I’ve learned; don’t talk, don’t make a sound, don’t trust people who asked about my life, I’m worthless, a liar, attention seeker, hysterical, incapable of anything, I have to do things by myself, don’t need help. My goal in life is to overcome those powerful inner voices and to make words again, to speak out, to trust myself and others and to teach health care workers what people like me need, why we act like we do, and how we can be freed.


Jacqui Dillon: The Tale of an Ordinary Little Girl

Contributed by Jacqui Dillon.

Content Warning: This is a space for survivors to share their testimonies. Consequently, there are some graphic depictions of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence.

Jacqui Dillon aged fiveOnce upon a time there was a little girl, just an ordinary little girl, who like all children is born with basic human needs – the need to be fed and to be kept warm and safe. Like all children, she needs love and empathy to thrive and to grow and to fulfill her potential, like all children deserve to.

But like each and every one of us born into this magnificent and mysterious universe, the arbitrary nature of who we are born to is a random act and like many children, far too many children in this world, she has the misfortune to be born to parents who are simply unable to provide the most basic necessities. For her parents are themselves hurt and broken children, thwarted and twisted, encased in all powerful adult bodies, masquerading as a mother and a father.

When the little girl first looks up into her mother’s eyes for a reflection of herself, to know that she is real and that she exists and that she is safe in this big, scary, world, she is met with a cold, hostile stare. For when mother looks down at this scrap of humanity, her baby girl, she does not see her beauty or her innocence but only her own helplessness, her own vulnerability, her own unmet needs and all of these things she despises and wants to smash, stamp out, annihilate. The baby wails in terror and reaches out her small hand to this woman, her mother, and the woman laughs and bites the baby’s hand, just as her own mother had done to her.

The mother throws the child across her shoulder and together they descend, deep into the underworld, to a place where unspeakable acts of horror will be committed. The underworld is inhabited with many demons, monsters and witches of the worst kind. The woman presents her possession, the child, to a man who can only be the devil. Together they laugh and they defile the child and rob her of her innocence.

The pain and the shock and the terror are too much for the child to bear for she is being betrayed and exploited by those who are meant to protect her and there is no escape, there is no saviour, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. All the while, the child repeats over and over to herself – I am not here; this is not happening to me; I am not in this body. When all at once the child experiences a tremendous pressure building inside her head as the urgent need to flee collides with the awful realisation of her own helplessness and then BANG! there is a huge explosion as her tiny mind shatters into a thousand, little pieces. She serenely floats off into the ether and calmly looks down from a great height at the stupid girl who is left screaming in the underworld. She pities the pathetic creature but she simply cannot be held responsible for those who refuse to help themselves.

The girl inhabits a dual world. In one, she is a normal child with normal parents, a gifted child who goes to school, plays with her friends, and likes wearing ribbons in her hair. In the other world, she is a dirty little bitch, evil and unlovable, treated with cruelty and contempt by anyone who can get their filthy hands on her.

Everything she gets she deserves. She is repeatedly threatened that if she ever tells anyone about what happens in the underworld, she will be put into prison because she has committed terrible crimes, or everyone will think she is mad and they will lock her in an asylum forever and throw away the key; no one will ever believe her. Or the devil, demons and witches will find her, they will always find her, they will hunt her down and they will kill her, her children, anyone or anything that she ever loves. However much she yearns for it, she has no place of safety, no saviour to rescue her, so she does what many children have to do. She survives the best way she can.

The survival strategies that she unconsciously develops as a child create an illusion of control, an illusion that she has some agency over what happens to her. Despite her abject helplessness, she utilises all the resources available to her at the time – her mind, her body, her spirit – and she fights for her life.

She begins to hear voices; voices that talk to her, talk about her, who comfort her, protect her and make her feel less alone. In time, they control and terrorise her but help her to stay alive. One of the first voices that she hears is that of ‘the great mother’. She is a very powerful maternal figure, who is beautiful and kind, a beneficent figure who is always there comforting and soothing her. The great mother is one of the girl’s greatest inventions for she is a clever little girl, yet she keeps this illusion secret from herself for the longest time. The great mother is central in supporting the girl to survive with her humanity intact and she also enables the girl to become a loving and compassionate mother to her own daughters, when the time comes.

Her body becomes the locus of her horror and her need for there is no other place to express it, there is no-one to tell. She begins cutting herself, banging her head against the wall, tearing at herself, all ways she discovers, of safely releasing her anguish. She draws no attention to herself. She hurts no one else. No one can touch her. Her relationship with food becomes a mysterious journey of adventure on which she discovers many special powers. By controlling what she eats, overeating, forcing herself to vomit and starving herself she is the creator of many marvellous tricks, sleights of hand that make her feel more in control in a world that is filled with terrible, inescapable, arbitrary cruelty. For once, she has control of her body. She can do what she likes to it. She is mistress of her own universe.

Her creativity extends beyond her body into the world. She loves writing stories and poems, drawing and painting, reading as many books as she can get her little hands on. Books allow her access into other worlds, worlds where there are endless possibilities. In the realms of her imagination the characters and stories in books captivate and entrance her, become meaningful to her to the extent that she internalises them inside of her so that she feels less alone and the world still holds some magic and wonder for her. Her sense of justice is always there burning brightly inside of her, the whole time. She dreams of a world where one day she will be safe and free and loved.

She finally escapes the underworld after many torturous years when she reaches womanhood. They may have broken her mind and her body but thankfully, her spirit is still intact. She is inhabited by a multitude of characters each who have their part to play in helping her to survive. She does not realise this yet. For now, she hears their voices and sometimes catches a glimpse of them in the mirror, but she does her best to conceal their existence to herself and everyone else. She is adept at inhabiting different worlds and used to keeping secrets locked inside of her. The voices of the devils, witches and demons along with those of the children still trapped in the underworld, echo in her mind long after the worst has already happened, reminding her of what they will do if she ever speaks about what has happened, so she remains silent.

One day, years later a miracle occurs and it is now the girl who sits and looks down into the eyes of her own, baby daughter. This child has been much longed for and is much wanted and she is awestruck by the beauty and perfection of this tiny being. For the first time in her life, the girl’s body has done something that she can feel proud of. She smiles at the baby and beams love into her eyes and the child knows that she is real and that she is loved and that she is safe in this big, scary world.

Without warning, this idyllic scene is invaded by demons from the past. The girl’s voices multiply and intensify saying things that disturb and frighten her. She begins seeing horrifying images of abuse, torture and death. She can feel it in her body. Marks and bruises appear on her skin like stigmata. She begins to cut herself frequently in an attempt to appease the devil but to no effect. He is never satisfied. She becomes convinced that someone will try and hurt her and her baby because she knows how dangerous the world can be for little children. She becomes intensely fearful; terrified to leave the house in case someone tries to abduct them and take them to the underworld to kill them. She fears that she is going mad like she always knew she would, like they always said she would. She inhabits a dual world. She is a devoted mother, with a close and intimate bond with her baby, breastfeeding her on demand, yet she knows she is contaminating her with all of the poison that swirls around inside of her. She feels deeply ashamed of herself for being such a freak of nature and starts to feel as if there is no escape from the horrors of the past. She sees no way out but to end her life but she cannot bear the thought of leaving behind a motherless child.

In desperation, she seeks asylum in a place that is meant to provide sanctuary for her. She hopes to find safety and support for her and her precious child and believes that asking for help is a responsible and wise act. Perhaps when she tells them about what happened to her in the underworld they might even congratulate her on her efforts thus far. Surely they will see what a tremendous achievement it has been to get this far on her own.

The witches, devils and demons try to silence her with their vicious threats yet she begins to tell the gatekeepers at the asylum, who assure her that they are learned men, healers in fact, about the children who have suffered in the underworld. To her astonishment, they reiterate the words of the devil. There is no underworld. She is crazy. She is ill. She was born with something wrong with her. She feels as if she has been slapped in the face, kicked while she is down, re-abused. This is insult to injury. She is wild with outrage and has to restrain herself so as not to rip them all to shreds. This reality is enough to drive anyone crazy. The place that is meant to provide her with sanctuary is the place that nearly drives her over the edge once and for all.

She has escaped hell once already – she is a warrior after all – and uses whatever means necessary to deceive and trick her way past the gatekeepers. Once she is liberated, she runs as fast as she can and finds her way back to her child. She clutches her baby to her chest and gasps for breath. There is no sanctuary yet she cannot give up hope. She has come this far. She is a woman on a mission. One day, she will show them all.

After much searching, she finally encounters truly wise people, brave souls who have the courage and integrity to witness her truth. As much as it pains them, they listen to her stories from the underworld, and hear of the terrible suffering that many children have endured. Together they walk down a long winding, road, back to the underworld, where a process of truth and reconciliation, of listening, bearing witness and of facing the horrors of the past can take place. The world will never look the same again to them for they have seen the underworld. And even though she is a freak of nature they love her and they hold her and they soothe her and gradually she begins to feel human. She begins to feel real.

She discovers that she isn’t alone in quite the same way that she always had been. She begins to accept support as an act of courage and commitment to life and the future. Only then can she begin to truly mourn for all she has lost. She did not know it was possible to cry so many tears. They continue to hold her.

The most profound realisation dawns on her gradually, becoming apparent incrementally over time and then one day she suddenly knows what she has always known. Her voices are more than just voices. They are many different selves, with different names, ages, experiences, feelings, identities; dissociated selves that became internal representations of her external world. Rather than trying to eradicate these different parts of her even though they sometimes frighten her, she begins to embrace them. Each is part of the whole of her. She begins to listen to them and understand them and to greet them with compassion and understanding. To her delight, they begin to teach her the mysteries of healing, alchemy and magic. Gradually she feels less ashamed of who she is and begins to marvel at how creative she has been in surviving the horrors of the underworld. At times it feels as if she has created a work of art.

On the other hand, she finds it hard to comprehend a world that often makes no sense to her, a corrupt and crazy world which frequently exploits the vulnerable and protects the powerful. With all that she knows and all that she has seen and all that she has learnt, she cannot just standby and let that happen. If she is to be a part of the world then she must do what she can to make it a place she can actually inhabit and remain sane.

She begins to meet with others, warrior children, maddened men and women, fellow travellers who have escaped the underworld or some other kind of hell, as well as rebels and renegades, truth-tellers, pioneers and freedom fighters, all walking along the same path as her, seeking the same kind of justice. They too feel a collective responsibility to expose the truth and not allow further injustices to be perpetrated. They understand that being a bystander and remaining silent is the same as being complicit. They know that freedom is never given freely by those who have power; it has to be fought for. They understand that only the truth will set us free.

After a long, arduous journey that has taken her many, many years to accomplish, the girl finally feels as if she has come home. She is safe now, she is free, she is loved. She wears her battle scars with pride. She may still hear the echoes from the past but she considers herself one of the lucky ones. In many ways she is blessed. Her life and all that she did to get here, is a triumph.

This paper is based on presentations at numerous international conferences/seminars, including Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) Training Day on Trauma and Violence, London UK, November 2008; Recovery Conference, Aarhus, Denmark, May 2009; World Hearing Voices Congress, Maastricht, Netherlands, September 2009.