Believing Rachel JEANNE HILL The Journal of Psychohistory
The Journal of Psychohistory 24 (2) Fall 1996
(posted with permission)
describes graphic crimes of abuse
(all accusations are alleged)
“There are two ways to be fooled: one is to believe what isn’t so; the other is to refuse to believe what is so.”
– – Soren Kierkegard
I found out almost by accident. It was April, 1984. I was picking up my four-year-old daughter, Rachel, from preschool. As she came down the stairs from the second-floor classroom, I observed the janitor, who was standing at the foot of the stairs, attempt to tickle her Rachel pulled away from him and cried, “No! Leave me alone! Don’t touch me.”
That evening we discussed the incident. “Why are you upset with Mr. Jones?” I asked hen “I don’t like it when he tickles me.” “Where does he tickle you?” “My arms, my legs….
“Does he fickle you anywhere else?” Rachel nodded her head and pointed between her legs; “You mean he tickles your tummy?” I suggested. “No, Mommy.” She shook her head emphatically. “My vagina.” “Don’t you mean your tummy?”
“No. My vagina. I mean my vagina.”
I remember telling Rachel that I believed hen But the last thing I wanted to believe was that what she had said was true.
“MOMMY IT WON’T HELP”
The first step I took in response to Rachel’s disclosure was to call the preschool director It was a big mistake, a decision that still haunts me. At the time, however, it seemed like a reasonable response. I knew I had to act on Rachel’s behalf — even though denial was settling around me like a fog — and I trusted the preschool director She was a pediatrician’s wife, her-self the mother of two young children. She would know what to do.
I phoned the preschool director and told her that Rachel had described being molested by Mr. Jones. She assured me that Mr. Jones would have no further contact with the children and made an appointment to meet with me in two days.
When I told Rachel that I was going to her school to talk to staff about what she had reported, she looked up at me and said, “But Mommy, it won’t help.” I should have listened to her.
Instead, I kept my appointment with the preschool director Although mandated to report child abuse allegations to the authorities, the preschool director did not call the child abuse hotline. Instead, she tried to convince me that Rachel was mistaken. Children her age confuse their body parts, she told me. Maybe we were “flooding” Rachel with too much sex abuse prevention education at home. Children her age fantasize and tell wild stories.
The day I called the authorities-which was, appropriately enough, Friday, the 13th of April – Rachel was examined by our family physician. The medical exam revealed that her hymen was not intact and her labia were red and swollen. Finger-mark bruises on her lower calves supported Rachel’s claim that Mr. Jones had lowered her headfirst into a garbage can.
Over 80 children were interviewed by investigators from the police department, child protective services and the prosecutor’s office. About 20 children said they had been abused at the preschool, and an additional 25 were categorized as probable victims. The interviews, which lasted only fifteen or twenty minutes, were intended to target “court worthy” children to testify against Mr. Jones. A total of 246 allegations of abuse were made against Mr. Jones and a number of preschool employees.
PINS AND NEEDLES
One afternoon about a month after Rachel’s outcry, we were lying on my bed reading a story while her baby brother took a nap.
“Mommy,” she said when the story was over, “Remember ‘cupcake day’?”
[She was referring to a day in January when she took cupcakes to school to celebrate her birthday.]
“Yes. You said Mr. Jones hurt you on that day.”
“Lynne hurt me, too. She hurt me real bad.” Lynne was Rachel’s teacher.
“What did Lynne do?”
“I was in the bathroom, and she hit my vagina and it really hurt.”
“I’m sure it did. What did she hit you with?”
“Her hand. But it was real hard.” Rachel pounded her fist into a pillow. “Like this.”
“I bet that hurt a whole lot,” I acknowledged, remembering a large bruise that I had dismissed as probably resulting from a fall off her rocking horse. “She had no right to do that to you.”
“She really likes to hurt kids.”
“What else did she do?”
“She stuck needles in me.”
“She what? What did you say?”
“She’ stuck needles in me.”
“What kind of needles? Were they needles like a doctor gives you shots with’ or needles like Mommy sews with?”
“Needles like you sew with.”
“Where did she put the needles? Show me where she stuck you.” Rachel pointed between her legs.
“Were your clothes on or off?”
“How did she do it? Tell me what she did.”
“Well, she drawed a picture on a piece of paper arid put the paper on my vagina. Then she took a needle and pushed it trough the paper and sticked it in my vagina.”
“My God! That must have really hurt.”
Rachel dissolved into tears, and I hugged her until she composed her-self. Then I asked a question that seems pretty ironic, considering the severity of what she had already described.
“Is that all she did?”
“No. Then she drawed another picture and sticked another needle in my bottom.”
“What was the picture of?”
“A flower, I think. Or maybe a heart.”
“What happened after she put the needles in you?”
“Then she took a picture of me and she laughed.”
“They all laughed. Except Brittany. She didn’t laugh.”
[Brittany was Rachel’s best friend. When I asked who else was present, Rachel said that another teacher, a teacher’s aide, Mr. Jones and other children observed what had happened.]
“Did Lynne stick needles in other kids, too, or just in you?” I asked.
“Which kids, honey? Can you tell me their names?”
“Hmmm. Let me think. Brittany….” [She named four other classmates] I’… Daniel. You know what she did to Daniel? She stuck a needle in his penis.
“Rachel, that must have really hurt. Did he cry?”
“Yes. And l did this.” Rachel covered her ears with her hands. “It was really loud.”
“Where were you when it happened? What room were you in?”
“The classroom. The upstairs classroom.”
“Is that all you want to tell me about? Or is there something else?”
“Well, Lynne tied a pink thread to the needle and tied it around my waist. She taped it down and told me it would stay there forever It was pink. Because I like pink…” Rachel’s voice trailed off to a whisper… “and she put thread in here. She did this ….” Rachel tugged on her eyelid”… and put thread in there.”
“Put thread in your eye? Under your eyelid?”
Rachel nodded her head.
“That must have been very painful. That was a horrible thing to do to you. What she did was wrong.”
“She pooped on me, too. And peed.”
“She should be punished. She should never be allowed to….”
“Mommy,” Rachel interrupted, “when Lynne pulled the needle out, it really hurt. It hurt…”
Rachel starting sobbing, and I cradled her in my arms as we rocked back and forth on the bed, back and forth.
“Shhh. It’s all right. Mommy’s here. No one will ever hurt you like that again.
A few minutes later Rachel brushed away her tears, walked across the room, opened my sewing basket and said, “Let me look at your needles.” She took out a box of straight pins and emptied it onto the bed. Mixed in with the dressmaker’s pins was a large hat pin.
“It was a needle like this one,” Rachel said, picking up the hat pin. As she began putting the pins back into the box, she counted, “and she did it on this day, and this day, and this day….”
As months passed Rachel’s accounts of abuse and the threats used to terrorize and silence her became increasingly violent. Rachel reported that she was told she would be cut into a million pieces and thrown into the garbage if she told anyone about the abuse. To substantiate the threat, Mr. Jones had lowered her head first into a garbage can; the finger-mark bruises on her legs noted by the physician who examined her in April corroborated her claim.
Other threats were directed toward her younger brother, who was born several months after Rachel was enrolled at preschool. Apparently, threats were made even before the baby was born. Rachel told me that during my pregnancy, she was warned that if she talked about the abuse, I would be cut open, the unborn child would be removed and killed, and l would bleed to death. After her brother was born, she was told that he would be chopped up, cooked in a pot on the stove, and fed to the children for lunch. I believe Rachel’s love for her brother and me, as well as fear for her own safety, prevented her from telling me about the abuse immediately.
My mother recalled a disturbing conversation she had with Rachel. She had visited us during the summer of 1983 to help after Rachel’s little brother was horn. After her grandmother picked her up from preschool, Rachel had confided, “Grandma, at my school children get cut up and thrown in the garbage.”
“Rachel, you know that isn’t true,” my mother had assured her. But Rachel had insisted. “They do, Grandma. They really do.
At first we assumed comments about dismemberment were references to the horrible threats made to silence the victims. Later, we would discover that Rachel’s ordeal surpassed anything we could ever imagine.
Looking back, I began to recall symptoms and warning signs that I had overlooked or misinterpreted during the year Rachel attended the preschool. She had occasionally complained of stomachaches, headaches and sore throats upon returning home from school. After resting for an hour or so, she would recover, so I never took her complaints seriously. Now I know that somatic complaints may be symptoms of sexual abuse.
She also delayed going to the bathroom until the last minute, and once or twice complained of painful urination. Mysterious scratches that ap-peared on her feet during the winter months when her feet should not have been bare were also linked to the abuse.
Rachel displayed some classical symptoms of sexual abuse, such as bed-wetting, nightmares, and behavior that was sometimes hyperactive and hostile, at other times withdrawn. In addition, she manifested Symptoms of ritual abuse, such as repeatedly using the phrases “pee-pee face” and poo-poo face,” especially at meal times. Later, I learned that Rachel had been forced to consume urine and feces at school. When she returned
home from school, and I asked her what she had been served for lunch, she sometimes answered “poop,” and sometimes said “nothing.” It never occurred to me that meals were being withheld or that children were being forced to consume feces.
Another symptom of ritual abuse was Rachel’s paralyzing fear of clowns.
Her fear of clowns was so intense that whenever a Ronald McDonald commercial came on TV, she had to cover her eyes. She cowered in the kitchen at a friend’s birthday party when a clown arrived to entertain the children. The source of the clown phobia was revealed when Rachel described being sexually abused by adults wearing masks and face paints.
Rachel unburdened herself to me almost every day. She did so a little at a time like a person slowly wades into a body of cold water, gradually venturing into the deeper regions. Rachel had to test the waters to be certain that I was strong enough to hear what she had to say, that I would believe her, and that she would continue to be loved and protected.
For Rachel’s sake, I tried to listen to her accounts calmly, as if we were talking about normal events in a child’s life like what she wanted for a snack or who she played with at recess. Ml my feelings had to be sup-pressed, my reactions of outrage, guilt and grief delayed. I might sail through an unusually wrenching day, calm as a rock, thinking I had passed through unscathed, only to discover hours or days later that the pain was there, a constant presence. Tears would come later when Rachel was safely tucked in bed. Sometimes I became so ill following Rachel’s dis-closures that I vomited. Or 1 walked around for days with a knife in my side, experiencing abdominal cramps that made me feel as if I were being cut in half. I was being cut in half: I had to separate myself from my feel-ings so that I could be calm when Rachel needed me. Only in rare, private moments was I able to confront what I felt. Or rather, the pain confronted me. It found me in the form of chronic headaches, abdominal pain, and insomnia.
My role as Rachel’s mother was to become what Lloyd deMause has termed a “good poison container.” The people who abused Rachel had made her a receptacle for their toxic rage and sadism. As she poured out her heart to me, describing scenes of horrible abuse, the poison was transferred from her body and psyche into mine. In normal situations, caring parents absorb the pain of their children’s encounters with the world-the pain of rejection, failure, and grief. Most of the time the poisons can be sealed like industrial by – products in oil drums. When a child has been ritually abused, however, the poison is comparable to the toxic waste from the Exxon Valdez. It permeates the global environment.
SALT ON THE WOUND
We marked a bitter anniversary in April, 1985. Listening to Rachel’s dis-closures was excruciating; what made the situation even more intolerable was the revictimization we were encountering. When I reported Rachel’s allegations to authorities, I was told that there was little they could do or that they believed she was fantasizing about all the abuse except that com-mitted by the janitor My blood ran cold when I thought of the children who were still attending the preschool. What could I do? Why wouldn’t anyone believe us?
Child protective services terminated its investigation, announcing that abuse allegations made against all staff except the janitor were “unfounded,” despite confirming testimony for all aspects of molestation, rape and ritual abuse by other children. This meant that the children’s accusations were expunged from the state’s central registry, leaving no trace of an abuse report ever having been made against the teachers. Child protective services defended its decision to close the investigation by calling in two specialists, a state criminal psychologist and a child analyst from St. Louis, who both recommended that the allegations against the teachers be ruled “unfounded.” In reaching that determination, however, neither expert interviewed any of the child victims or their parents.
Having the state rule in favor of the alleged perpetrators, absolving the staff of any responsibility for what had happened to the children, was salt on the wound for the victims.
The criminal case against the janitor had not yet gone to trial. Rachel was one of three children expected to testify; we felt the court case hang-ing over our family like Damocles’ sword. The therapist my husband and I were seeing kept telling us to “let go” of our outrage and anguish. But how could we achieve any closure at home when Rachel continued to disclose to us, the center remained open for business, and the criminal investigation continued?
A typical morning at our house began with Rachel engaging her little brother in a shrill chorus of screaming. It was the relentless nature of her behavior that I found most unbearable, the running around in circles, wild laughter, screaming, belching and stream of baby talk and bathroom phrases. One morning Rachel was shadowing her little brother, following him as he toddled from room to room until he eventually reacted to her pursuit by hitting her. When she struck back, I picked her up and carried her to her bedroom for a time-out.
“You’re Lynne,” she accused as I hauled her, kicking and screaming, up the’ stairs. [Later, Rachel would disclose that Lynne had told her that she was her “real” mother, and I was an imposter]
“No,” I answered firmly. “I’m your mother, and I’m sending you to your room. I expect you to stay here until you can calm down and behave your-self.”
I placed Rachel on her bed and continued trying to reason with her.
“We can’t go on living like this, Rachel. We have to do something about your behavior.”
“Ga-ga,” she laughed. “Goo-goo. I don’t have a brain.” She pointed an index finger at her temple as if her hand were a pistol.
“Rachel, stop that. We have to talk about this. Please. This is serious.”
She ran around the room in circles, repeating the words as if reciting an incantation.
“I want to be dead, to be dead, to be dead….”
PRAYERS TO THE DEVIL
One month later Rachel and I were sitting on the couch reading “My Day in Court,” a coloring book that had been given to her at the prosecutor’s office. While she colored in the stripes on the American flag with a red crayon, Rachel talked about Mr. Jones, admitting that she was afraid to confront him.
“Of course, you’re afraid. He hurt you. But you don’t have to look at him if you don’t want to. Just look at Mary [one of the prosecutors] when she asks you questions. Or look at the judge. Mr. Jones will not be allowed to speak when you are speaking. Everyone in court has to obey the rules. The guards are there to make sure everyone does.”
“What would the guards do if Mr. Jones stood up?”
“They would make him sit down.”
“Will Lynne be there?”
“I don’t know. If she comes, she will have to obey the rules, too.”
“What if she doesn’t? What if she tries to hurt me?”
“Then she would be in trouble. The judge would send her to jail.”
“You know what she told me? She told me if I told what happened, she would stick a needle in my eye and make me blind.”
“She told you that to keep you from telling. But you did tell. And you aren’t blind, are you?”
“No. She said she would-” Rachel shuddered at the memory, “-pee in my mouth.”
“Yuck. That sounds disgusting. But she will never do that, Rachel. You don’t go to your old school anymore. She will never have a chance to hurt you again.”
Since Rachel seemed to be interested in talking about what had happened, I felt compelled to ask a question.
“Rachel, did you ever say prayers at your old school?”
“Yes. We did when we lit the candles.”
“What did you say in your prayer? Did you pray to God?”
“We prayed to the devil. The devil that lives in the sun where it is very, very hot. You know what we had to say? We had to say God was dead.”
“They made you say a lie, Rachel. God is not dead.”
“I know. They made us say a lot of lies.”
Rachel looked over at me cautiously.
“They made us pray-” she put her head in her hands and peered through the web of her fingers at me, “-that we wished our mommies and daddies were dead.”
“It’s all right, honey,” I said, reaching over to comfort hen Rachel shrank from me, putting her arms up to ward off my embrace.
“But I didn’t really mean it. I said it but I didn’t really want you and Daddy to be dead.”
“I know you didn’t, honey. And God knows you didn’t mean it. God knows what is in your heart.”
Once again, I reached out to comfort hen This time Rachel ran to a cor-ner of the room.
“Are you angry at me?” I asked then.
“Why are you angry?”
“Because you sent me to that bad school.”
“I wish I never had. I really do. And it’s okay to be angry if you need to be. But I’m not angry at you. You’re my brave little girl. My good little girl…”
“No, I’m not. I’m bad,” she insisted.
“You are a good girl, Rachel. The same Rachel I gave birth to.”
“No. I’m a different Rachel. A bad Rachel.”
“You had to do things you knew were wrong. But that doesn’t make you a bad girl. Children are not responsible for what adults force them to do.”
THE DEAD BABY
In June, 1985, Rachel started talking about a “jail” at the preschool, a room where children were confined until it was their “turn” to be molested. She said the. teachers carried children up the stairway and then through a hall-way to the “jail.” I asked Rachel if the “jail” was close to the director’s of-fice, which was on the third floor of the building. Rachel confirmed that the room was close to the director’s office. Then she spontaneously asked if I knew what the director had in her office.
“No. What?” I asked.
“She had a baby in her drawen A dead baby.”
“How did the baby get dead?” I asked.
A shadow passed over Rachel’s blue eyes, and I knew what the answer would be.
“I killed the baby.”
At that moment I felt as if Rachel and I were falling into a bottomless hole of terror Automatic pilot kicked in, and I asked another question.
“How did you kill the baby, Rachel?” “With a gun.”
“What did you do with the gun?” “I shot the baby.”
“Where did you shoot the baby?” She pointed to her thigh. “Did the gun make a noise?”
“Just like this” she made a clicking sound with her tongue.
“Wasn’t there a lot of blood?”
I was having trouble understanding how it could have happened. “Well, they tricked me. It was really a paper gun.”
“A paper gun? Well, if it was a paper gun,” I said with a sigh of relief, you didn’t kill the baby. A paper gun couldn’t hurt anyone.”
For a moment I dared to hope that the baby wasn’t killed, that she had only been tricked into believing she had killed a baby.
“But l did kill the baby,” she insisted. “I killed it with a knife.” “First you said you killed it with a gun. Which was it? A gun or a knife?” “A knife.”
“What did you do with the knife?”
“I sticked it right through the baby’s heart.”
“Did you stab the baby one time, or did you take the knife out and stab again?”
“Did the baby do anything?”
“It cried. It cried a lot. A lot.”
Rachel covered her ears with her hands as if trying to push the horrible memories back into her head.
“Were you the only child who stabbed the baby, or did other children have to stab it, too?”
“Other kids did, too.”
“Which kids, Rachel?”
“All the kids. I don’t know….”
“Why did you do it?”
“Lynne told me to.”
“What would have happened if you hadn’t done it?”
“She said she would kill me. She would stick the knife in me.”
“It wasn’t your fault, honey. I’m sorry the baby died, and I know you are, too. But I’m not upset with you. You must have been very scared.”
“I was. I thought I was going to be killed, too.”
“What happened to the baby after it was dead?”
“They cut it up and threw it in the garbage.”
The threats about being dismembered and thrown into the garbage had been carried out right before Rachel’s eyes. Rachel had been describing more than mere death threats when she told her grandmother about children being cut up and thrown in the garbage at school. She had been describing an actual event, an infanticide.
“Rachel, who was with you and the other kids when the baby got killed? You mentioned Lynne -”
“She was there. All the teachers were there.”
“What room were you in when the baby got killed?”
“The classroom. The upstairs classroom.”
“Was there any blood?”
“Yes. There was blood everywhere.”
“Would you tell me what the baby looked like? Was it a black baby or a white one?”
Rachel touched her face with her hand.
“It was like this,” she said. “Like me.”
“A white baby?” “Yes.”
“How big was the baby?” “I don’t know. Just a baby.” “Could it walk?”
“No, but it could crawl.”
“Who brought the baby to your school?”
“Its mommy. She brought it and left it with Lynne.” “What did the mommy look like?”
“She had long blonde hair, straight hair She was pretty.”
“Did she see what happened to her baby?”
“She came back to pick up the baby.”
“What did the mommy do when she found out the baby was dead? Didn’t she care?”
“She cared. Let’s see. Oh yeah. She cried.”
I wondered if the pretty blonde mother was a fantasy created by Rachel’s need to believe that the baby was loved by someone, that his mommy did what mommies are supposed to do. She returned to claim him. She grieved. Or was the blonde mother a real woman who had been forced to give up her child?
“Come here, Rachel,” I motioned to hen “Come sit on my lap. Let me give you a hug.”
“No, I don’t want to.”
“I just don’t.”
“Well, I want to hug you. I think you deserve to be’ hugged.” I took a “”step forward. “You deserve to be loved.”
“No!” she cried, shielding her eyes with her hands as if she had emerged from a cave into blinding sunlight. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew that Rachel needed to know that I still loved her, no matter what she had done. But I also wanted Rachel to know that she could say “No” to an adult, that her body has boundaries. On other occasions when ‘Rachel refused to hold my hand or kiss me, I respected her wishes. This time, however, I felt that she was testing me, that she felt unlovable and was rejecting me because she feared rejection herself. I pulled her onto my lap and embraced her.
“I love you, Rachel. “
“You don’t love me,” she hissed through clenched teeth, wrestling to free herself from my arms.
“Yes, I do love you,” I insisted. “You are a sweet, good little girl.”
“No, I’m not. I’m bad!” She kicked a leg blindly into the am “Bad! Bad! Bad!”
“You are not bad, Rachel. It’s not your fault, believe me. You are a good person, and I love you.”
I repeated those words over and over like a litany while Rachel wres-tied, struggling to free herself from my arms. Finally, I released her. She bolted across the room, squatted on the floor, and stuck out her tongue at me.
“Rachel, I am your mother, and nothing you can do or say will ever make me stop loving you.”
THE DOLL GESTALT
About a week later Rachel and I were playing with her dolls. Rachel was pretending to be the mother of two children who had attended her old school. We were talking about our children
“My little girl is much better now,” I confided. “I think she is beginning to understand that what happened wasn’t her fault.”
“My kids are better, too,” she replied, scooping up her Cabbage Patch doll and a rag doll her grandmother had sewn her for Christmas. “I love my kids. I’m not mad at them.”
“Oh, I’m not mad at Rachel, either. I’m just very, very sorry that she got hurt. I wish I had known that she was being hurt so much, but I didn’t. The teachers tricked me, too. I thought they were nice people.”
“What did the teachers say to you?”
“Sometimes Patricia would say-” my voice rose to a derisive falsetto “‘Hi. How are you? My, what a pretty blouse you’re wearing.”‘
“What else would she say?”
“She always made a big fuss over my baby. She would say, ‘Oh, what a beautiful boy! Aren’t you precious! I could just eat you up!”‘
“You know what? She really meant that.”
“Really meant what?”
“That she wanted to eat him.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because we did eat a baby at my old school.”
I thought I had already heard the worst that could possibly have happened to Rachel: that my child had stabbed an infant. But now we were dropping to a lower level of horror.
“Who ate the baby?” I asked.
“Us. The kids.”
“What did the baby look like?”
“It was a boy baby.”
“Was it the baby you told me about already, the white baby?”
“No. That’s the baby we stabbed through the heart.”
“And that baby didn’t get eaten?”
“No. It got thrown in the garbage.”
“What did the baby you ate look like? Was it a white baby or a black baby?”
“It was a black baby. A boy.”
“How did the black baby get dead?”
“We killed it. Like the other one.”
“Was the baby cooked or not?”
“It was cooked. They cut it up and cooked it on the stove.” “Was it cooked in the oven or on top of the stove?”
“On top of the stove. In a big pan.”
“Who ate the baby?”
“Brittany did. She ate part of the baby’s leg.”
“Did you eat any?”
“Yes. But just a tiny piece. That’s all.”
“And other kids ate it, too?”
“Yeah. We all did.”
“Did the teachers eat the baby, too?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Because they wanted us to be in trouble.”
“Oh, I see. But you know what? You’re not in trouble. They are.”
At her next therapy session, Rachel told her therapist about killing the baby and the cannibalism, events that were also later confirmed by other children. When we returned home, she vomited.
The preschool remained open for over a year while the criminal investigation continued. Finally, in May, 1985, a panel of experts reviewed the state’s investigation and recommended closing the center. Three days after the recommendation was made public, the owners announced that the preschool would close due to “changing demographics.”
In October, 1985, a judge acquitted Mr. Jones on all counts of rape and child molestation, saying there was “reasonable doubt.” A seven-year-old girl who had attended the preschool for two years testified that Mr. Jones had forcibly raped her, even getting down on the floor to demonstrate how she had been assaulted. When Mr. Jones took the stand, he denied even knowing the child.
Rachel was scheduled to testify, but she never had a chance. She was convinced that she would be killed if she talked in court. Her therapist advised the judge that Rachel was too traumatized to face Mr. Jones in court. All remaining charges against him were dropped.
Over a decade has passed since that evening when Rachel told me she was being abused. The conversations recounted here represent only a fraction of the disclosures Rachel has made over the years. I have witnessed the anguish Rachel relived as she struggled to cope with horrifying events. I have heard her cries in the middle of the night. I have seen the terror in her eyes.
Sixteen-year-old Rachel is an honor student; she is well liked by other teens and by her teachers. On the surface, Rachel’s life is no different from that of any other American teenager. To her, the events of early childhood are part of the distant past, like a wound that gradually fades to a whitened scan She rarely talks about the abuse, wanting most of all to move forward into adulthood. We are optimistic about her future.
Rachel’s story is one of suffering, courage and hope. As a young child she was the victim of unspeakable crimes, but because she received therapy and the support of a loving family, she has emerged intact. I hope that parents of other abused children will be reassured by our story. When I look at the strong, confident young woman my daughter is becoming, I know that believing Rachel was the right thing to do. Believing Rachel made her whole.
The author’s name and all other names have been changed. To contact the author, write to Believe The Children, Attention: ‘Jeanne Hill,” P.O. Box 797, Gary, IL 60013.
1. Catherine Gould. Signs and Symptoms of Ritualistic Abuse in Children, 1988.
2. Lloyd deMause. “The History of Child Abuse,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1(1), 1994, p.78.
3. In retrospect, I admit that my use of the terminology “good” and “bad” was ill-advised. Values of good and evil are frequently reversed for children who have been ritually abused, with “good” being “bad” and vice versa.
4. The coerced participation of children in the act of infanticide is commonly reported in ritual child abuse cases. According to occult beliefs, curses or acts of violence re-turn to harm the practitioner or agent of destruction. Author Paul Huson mentions the expediency of using the hand of another to do the actual “dirty work”: “Advanced practitioners try to avoid the recoil by enveigling other, less-advanced members of their coven only too glad to try their hand at a bit of cursing, to do the actual dirty work for them.” Paul Huson, Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1970, p.153.
5. In the years since this conversation took place, I have learned that the words “love” and “hate,” like “good” and “bad,” may have opposite meanings for children who have been ritually abused.
6. Gillian Tindall, author of A Handbook on Witches, documented a fifteenth-century belief that eating the body of an infant would prevent one from confessing to witch-craft: “This is a clear case of sympathetic magic: eat the flesh of a child who has not yet spoken and you yourself will be mute.” The modem practice has a more practical application. Children who believe they have killed others or eaten human flesh remain mute because, from the child’s perspective, disclosure equals self-incrimination. Gillian Tindall, A Handbook of Witches, New York: Castle Books, 1965, p. 47.
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