The Cost of True Service to Christ

by Kate Barkman

Anyone who is involved in any way with a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse or plans to embark on a relationship with a survivor will need to know three elements that are especially critical to developing a relationship which will be emotionally and spiritually vital and healthy for both individuals. Being involved in care-giving does not consist of primarily keeping the survivor safe and occupied while she works on “her” stuff. Those important elements may be involved, but they are only a small part of developing a relationship that meets needs on both sides. I propose that a relationship between a caregiver and a survivor consists of three essential elements, from which all other aspects of care-giving arise. I will call these elements the “three C’s: communication, connection, and comfort.” These are basic elements that are essential in our relationship with God, with other friends and with survivors. We see clearly in our daily lives that when we do not communicate with God, spend valuable time with Him and do not allow ourselves to receive His comfort and strength, our relationship with Him deteriorates. Likewise, without these elements being the foundation of the relationship with a survivor, caregivers can easily become frustrated, guilt-laden, exhausted, burned out, consistently angry, resentful or haunted with a sense of failure. A. The first element that should be foundational in a relationship between a caregiver and a survivor is the element of communication. A survivor has been taught varying means of communication in the cult, all for the goal of glorifying darkness. It is difficult for the survivor sometimes to know what is a healthy means of communication which is not manipulative, accusing, overly pleasing or a means of gathering information. She might really believe that she is communicating in a loving way, when in reality people inside are exercising means of manipulation, etc. It is important that you as a caregiver understand that and set an example of genuine, Spirit-led, loving, truthful communication. Many victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse have a deep desire for the truth. Their lives have been so filled with deception that even though they might practice deception themselves because of their programming, they desire a way out of that deception through truth. Even if the truth causes reactions in personalities, such as anger, denial, acting out, etc. it is important to communicate truth, both positive and negative. If something the survivor does seems manipulative to you, pressuring or self-absorbed, please communicate what you see to the survivor. Tell her how it is affecting you. At the same time, communicate your love and appreciation of her. I think it is also equally important that the survivor feel free to express herself, no matter who the personality, knowing that if she is hurting you in any way that you will let her know and work through it with her.

Another aspect of communication is sharing of yourself, your thoughts, things you are learning, struggles, etc. It has been my experience that caregivers get in a rut consisting of hearing the struggles of the survivor but not sharing her daily struggles because she feels it would be too overwhelming for the survivor or that it is too trivial in light of the horrendous struggles the survivor is going through. There also sometimes is a feeling that if the survivor knew her daily struggles, etc. that she might try to control her or manipulate her in her weaknesses. I propose that this relationship can be a two way street if the caregiver is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to the needs and issues of the survivor. Survivors desperately need healthy relationships. If you see manipulation or control, confront it. If certain aspects of your struggles or joys cannot be shared at the time because of issues that would be triggered too severely in the survivor or is a private matter between you and God or another person, that does not mean that you have to close yourself to sharing other aspects of your life. It is OK to say that there are struggles going on in you that you can’t share because you see that it would trigger manipulation, control, memories, etc., but to ask her (those parts that are open to that) to pray for you or with you for perseverance, joy etc. It is so important that truthful, loving communication be in place. If there is an explosion at any time because of something you have said, it is not necessarily your fault, nor is it necessarily a bad thing! You might have touched on an issue that the Lord is bringing to the surface! If you close up, feel guilty or become afraid to bring up the issue; perhaps you will be missing out on a time when the two of you could talk about why that person exploded and the truth of the situation. The personality might have thought you were trying to tell them they were bad or wrong, etc.

I feel the best thing to do is to discuss what the truth of the situation is. Perhaps you do think their opinion is wrong, but that does not mean you think everything about that personality is wrong and that does not mean you are going to turn against them or abandon them. This time might turn out to be a genuine time of healing and of drawing closer together. I think it is important to tell them how you feel about their reaction also. If it scared you, tell them. If it made you angry for a moment, tell them. Survivors are very perceptive, and can usually tell if you have been affected. If you say you weren’t affected by it when you really were, it will plague the survivor to think that she has blown it with you and made it so a true friendship could not really exist. Your issues are going to be touched! I feel that it is vital to let the survivor know that temporary fear, anger or frustration will not hinder your relationship if both of you give it to the Lord and see the truth of what occurred and what issues were touched in both of you. This does not mean you have to tell the survivor everything about your thoughts, feelings, etc. all the time; but as in every friendship that is truly led by the Lord, there should be a knowledge that you are there for each other to share in each other’s lives as led by the Holy Spirit. If the survivor is calling too often or demanding too much of your time, please communicate that to her, with the understanding also that it does not mean that you are abandoning her or love her any less; but that the Lord has shown you that in order to minister to them effectively and to have a healthy friendship there has to be healthy limits in the time spent together. It is important for the survivor to understand that you have other responsibilities, and to also understand that her issues will trigger your issues and that you sometimes need time to sort through your issues that are triggered so that the time together will be glorifying to God and edifying to one another. That is a very difficult thing for a survivor to understand, but it is a very necessary one. The cult gives messages to victims that no one outside the cult will ever want to be with them after what they have done, and messages like this reverberate in a survivor's mind when time limits are set. It’s important to reinforce what true, godly friendship is and what it involves.

Another very, very important aspect of communication is positive reinforcement. Most victims of ritual abuse received very little, if any, positive emotional reinforcement for truthful, Godly behavior, thoughts, goals, etc. They got what they thought was positive reinforcement for negative, sinful behavior. Much of their reinforcement was filled with double-binds and inconsistent messages. If you consistently reinforce Godliness this will teach the survivor what is truth and righteousness. It will probably be very confusing for them, and there will be reactions of course, but after a time they will begin to understand that there are no double binds in Godliness. With so many and varying personalities in the survivor, it is important to communicate a desire to know all the personalities, not just the “cute” ones. If you positively reinforce interactions between you and even “undesirable” personalities you will have a more open relationship with many alters instead of just dealing with a few. It is important to communicate appreciation, safety and love for each personality with which you have contact. B. The second essential element in a healthy relationship with a survivor is connection. This arises out of a healthy communication between caregiver and survivor. There are two aspects of connection. One is developing a connection with all personalities in the system and you as the caregiver. By connection I just simply mean a bond rising out of reality. When you communicate with God on a daily basis you form a closeness, or a bond, that is based on who God really is. You learn who He really is by reading His Word and communing with Him. Likewise, the survivor can form a healthy bond of friendship with you by learning who you really are, your needs, limits, abilities, concerns, etc.; and you in turn, can form a healthy bond of friendship with her by learning who she really is, including all personalities within herself that she wishes to share. Connection does not mean you go into the time spent with the survivor with the attitude that you are there simply to take care of her. That is not a true, healthy bond of friendship. Sometimes the situation will require that if some personalities are working through difficult memories or are suicidal, or perhaps in need of physical caregiving because of illness. However, if there is a consistent pattern of giving of yourself without recognizing that you could be developing a bond of friendship here by getting to know the people inside, hearing, sympathizing and empathizing with each alter; and they getting to know you, hearing, sympathizing and empathizing as much as they can, you will be draining yourself of energy, and losing out on much encouragement, friendship and strength that a connection with these alters can provide.

The second aspect of connection is the great need for the survivor to learn how to become connected in a healthy way to the world around her. You can be a vital part of providing opportunity to do so. You can also be a source of guidance to the survivor, who in all probability has many parts who have no idea how to do this. There are probably some parts who are quite frightened to connect with the outside world, and others who think they know exactly how to do it, but instead use coping mechanisms that are sinful and ungodly. You can be a beautiful instrument of God’s strength, guidance and truth by gently providing opportunities for personalities to connect with life in a Godly way, while at the same time providing scenarios that help you accomplish goals in your life. This will form even a stronger bond of friendship and connection in your relationship with a survivor. Sometimes it appears that caregivers feel that their world has to stop existing in order to be with a survivor, and that if they can’t give their full attention to the survivor, they better not have her around. Sometimes that message is communicated by the survivor, but it should not be reinforced. Yes, there are times when it just has to be the two of you working through difficult issues, memories, etc.; but other times the survivor needs to be connected to the outside world through learning normal daily interaction with life. It would help tremendously for a survivor to know that you would love to have them go with you to the grocery store, if they are able to do so. They can help you gather items, while you at the same time can be an example of how to purchase things wisely. The key is communication. If the survivor knows that she can tell you if an activity would be good for her or not on that particular day, then she can feel free to join in activities that teach her new daily living skills and you are helped out in the process! More importantly, a survivor is not alone and a friendship connection is being made at the same time healthy connection to the outside world is being formed in the survivor! The survivor’s outside system might know how to do daily tasks, but the people deeper inside who have only been involved in cult activities have a desperate need to see what true Godly living is like. Just to sit at your kitchen table and mix in the eggs into a cake while you are scrubbing the floor creates a connection to normal living of which many alters have no idea. Remember, if any alters become too demanding or controlling or use sinful coping mechanisms to perform a task, it is essential that you confront the alter with truth. Do not let having the survivor be involved in your life become an experience that you dread because you are allowing yourself to become controlled or manipulated. If a healthy pattern of communication exists, then an opportunity for a healthy connection between you and the survivor and the survivor and the outside world arises. This can provide the survivor with so many opportunities to not feel lonely, useless and always having to be taken care of. If she is involved in helping you and interacting with the world, it will help her learn to cope in reality despite the damage darkness has done. C. Comfort is the third foundational element in having a godly relationship with a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse. We are instructed in Scripture to encourage one another, to build each other up; and to comfort others with the comfort we have received. I believe that when there is a healthy communication and connection between the caregiver and the survivor, a genuine desire to comfort the survivor will exist, without an overwhelming fear of being expected to say or do exactly the right thing. Some caregivers may have the impression that they have to say just the right words when the survivor is in deep emotional pain. If the caregiver feels that she hasn’t done so, or if she gets a negative reaction then she feels like a failure. If the caregiver is working on her own issues, then she will be able to share the comfort and wisdom she is receiving from her relationship with God. Even if comfort is not always received well by the survivor, please don’t give up. There may be borderline personalities or others who have been programmed to attack or criticize any form of comfort, encouragement or advice they receive. This does not mean that comfort is not desperately needed. Survivors have experienced severe trauma and need a listening ear, a touch, sympathy, empathy, encouragement to go on, or praise for a good decision. Some personalities might not know how to receive it, however, so do not be surprised if it takes time for the survivor to learn that you are genuine and don’t expect anything in return except friendship. Another important thing to remember in comforting a survivor is that you don’t have to fix it! Some personalities may share horrible memories, confusing thoughts, or problems that seem insurmountable. They might even beg you to give them all the answers to their questions or tell them how to solve their problems. Please remember that you are not their salvation; God is. It is so easy to feel that you should know the answers or provide a way out of the survivor’s misery. I believe that God has put the survivor in your life for both of you to learn how to glorify Him, rely on Him and to receive His love, strength and power. If you can be an example of leaning on Him and growing in Him daily, you can open a world of light to the survivor which has been so darkened by evil!

Thank you, caregiver, for your willingness to communicate, connect and comfort those who have been so hurt by darkness! We survivors thank you for allowing God to live through your touch, your words, and your dedication to Him!

© C.A.R.E. Used by permission

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If you are going to work with ritual abuse survivors, you must also get educated if you want to be effective. And you must learn to be humble. Trauma survivors do not need to be around ignorant, modern-day Pharisees. Survivors in pain need people who will connect with them on an emotional level, get right down in there where they are, and listen. --Kathleen Sullivan