Spiritual Warfare: A Healing Journey
Trigger Warning: This article discusses Christianity, prayer, and spiritual warfare, deliverance, and the demonic in detail. It is not meant to replace therapy with a qualified counselor, and is only the opinion of a survivor, based on her personal experiences.
“I command you to leave this woman’s body in Jesus’ name!” The blond haired woman used a voice of authority. From my mouth came a voice filled with laughter. “Lady, you could work on me all day and all night for the next ten weeks, and you wouldn’t even have begun to get us all.” It mocked her. “How many are you?” she asked. “Thousands,” replied the voice. I was terrified, quaking inside as the exchange went on. I could hear it all, but was powerless to stop it. “You legions, depart in the name of Jesus.” The short- haired blond used her authoritative voice again. Six hours later, she pronounced me “cured” and “delivered”. But I heard a mocking voice inside of melaughing at her, rolling on the ground internally. “She didn’t even know what she was dealing with, the idiot,” it said. I smiled and thanked the lady for “healing me” and fled, more confused than ever and wondering why I was so resistant to deliverance.
This is a true story from early in my healing journey, and is used to illustrate a point. The area of spiritual warfare for the person with ritual abuse and DID is often highly misunderstood. What the woman involved in deliverance didn’t realize is that the part talking to her was an ALTERNATE PERSONALITY named “laugher” who was created in times of great emotional stress (I wasn’t allowed to cry when I felt pain at others’ suffering, but mocking laughter was highly accepted as an emotional release). And the “thousands” referred to were personalities, not demons. Laugher found the evening highly entertaining, but others inside found it highly traumatic.
It is sad but true that all too often, the healing of DID (dissociative identity disorder) and ritual abuse is divided into two separate, and at times, disparaging groups. The first camp is what I privately term the “psychological approach.” This approach states that if a wounded person is allowed to verbalize their traumas, is given support and grounding techniques, and can learn system cooperation, that they will begin to heal. While this is valid, and important, it leaves out part of the picture. A person who recovers dissociated memories will be recovering memories of severe trauma and horrendous pain that will often feel overwhelming. Despair may hit, and the person searches for a reason to go on living. Without a strong faith basis, the person may find it difficult to resolve these traumas. Also, this approach leaves out the reality of the spiritual abuse and experiences that the survivor went through in a cult setting. Or the influence of the demonic. I believe that the demonic is real, and must be dealt with, or it will continue to retraumatize a survivor of ritual abuse.
The other camp is the “cast them all out and heal the person “ approach. This is also what I have privately termed the “instant integration” approach. Bypassing the trauma and psychological defenses, the well meaning church member will treat any and all psychological illness as “demons” that need to be “cast out.” At best, this approach will cause extreme cynicism in a survivor who finds out that the voices and switching still continue after the “deliverance” and wonder why they can’t be helped. At worst, it can highly traumatize alters who already feel shame, degradation, and that they are “evil”, and they will go deep into the system, for protection. If they do come out later in therapy, they will be understandably hostile towards Christianity, since their last experience was of being treated as evil, something to be gotten “rid of.”
Rare and refreshing indeed is the therapist or counselor who has a good grasp of both the psychological principles of healing, and a strong faith and discernment when the spiritual presents itself. Who starts sessions and ends them in prayer, who takes the time to discern if the part speaking is a personality, a demon, or an alter who is influenced by the demonic. Who listens supportively, does not rush healing, yet gently encourages the person in their walk with Christ in love. This is discipleship in the truest sense, and it takes a person with a strong walk to go this route beside another who has been deeply wounded.
So often ritual abuse has involved the most horrendous spiritual abuse that a human being can undergo. To a point that defies description. A young child will be hurt, and told to pray and ask God to deliver them. The child does this, and their tormentor hurts them more, saying, “See, God is powerless. He doesn’t love you, and has forgotten you, He doesn’t care. ” He or she will then ask the child to pray to Satan for deliverance. In immense pain, the child will, trying anything to stop the torture. As soon as the child does this, the torment is stopped. The child learns a horrible lesson, an ingrained lie. Only strong caring Christian love can overcome sessions like these as they are remembered and grieved over.
I am by no means saying that there is not a place for deliverance in therapy for DID, or making fun of deliverance ministries. There are some who do have people trained to deal with DID, and to not traumatize an already spiritually abused system. Imagine the impact on a protector (they frequently first present snarling or cursing because they have been so wounded) being told he or she is a “demon”. This is a part of the person’s mind that has already been wounded and tortured to the point of agreeing to do deeds that the child could not, such as hurting others or inflicting pain. Now, to be told he or she is a demon reinforces the belief that the protector is evil. A protector may have a demonic influence attached to it, but trying to deliver from a protector will not bring any results or healing and may cause more trauma.
My point is that there needs to be an understanding of both the psychological and the spiritual, and wisdom about the horrendous effects of trauma on the human soul, in the healing of the spiritual aspects of DID and ritual abuse. Can Jesus heal the ritual abuse survivor? Certainly! I would not be alive or writing these articles if this were not the cornerstone of my faith and being. I personally believe that only the deep, caring, compassionate love of our Heavenly Father can bring healing to the horrors of ritual abuse. The knowledge that Jesus WILLINGLY suffered the horrors that I did on the cross, that He was able to take those experiences into His own body for me and understands FIRST-HAND what I underwent (I believe that the cross was ritual trauma to the deepest degree) has been the MOST healing realization that I have ever had. That God loved me that much. It is humbling, and awe-inspiring. He wasn’t FORCED to undergo it as I was. He CHOSE to, to save me. To feel the pain that I suffered, so that “by His stripes I might be healed.”
I also have found that I do my own best spiritual warfare for myself, since I know best who and what is inside, and who needs healing. I have gone to my local church, and was led to ask for the annointing of oil, as I prayed and confessed before others and renounced every satanic ceremony that I remembered being part of. The most painful ones were the ones I remembered as a youth and adult VOLUNTEERING to go through, in order to rise in status. I had to come to grips with this reality, that I ASKED and INVITED the demonic into my life at those points. I then asked Jesus to deliver me. It was very quiet, peaceful, and non-threatening. And this time, there was no laughter, because I was in touch with the memories that had allowed the demonic in. The demonic will not leave if it believes that it has “rights” and I had to break those rights. I have also done this for my children, and broken spiritual and soul bonds with my family of origin.
But I also know that while this brings healing of the spirit, grieving, feeling, and sharing myself with a trusted counselor is also important for healing of my wounded soul. That my willingness to hear the heart breaking memories that my inside people share, and comforting them, is so necessary. As well as my praying for the courage to accept parts that come out blatently wounded, or saying that they enjoy pain and things that horrify my sensibilities, and for the compassion to come near to this part of myself. This, also, is deliverance in its truest sense, as I allow God to reach deep into my heart and show me what is there, and then grieve before Him as I acknowledge my sin and receive forgiveness. This is deep deliverance of root traumas, as I pour the anger and rage as pain comes out, cry tears of sorrow at the lifetime of betrayals, and the gift I give to God is going to Him yet again for His mercy and healing touch. He has never failed me yet, and I believe His word. He never will forsake me, or any who come to Him.
I believe that God is a loving God who desires to heal the survivor body, soul, and spirit. This is not a quick or easy process; I have yet to hear of any “instant cures” for severe childhood trauma, and would be very wary of any claims of it. To leave out any part of the healing process would be to have only partial resolution. Instead, healing for me has been a journey, filled with sorrow at times, but also great joy as I learn to trust in One who loves me, whose infinite care is the healing balm for the wounds of those who once hated me.
Copyright 2000 Svali
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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