I was born and raised in Israel. My father got me involved in ritual abuse and torture, as well as child pornography and child prostitution. It started before I was a pre-verbal baby and lasted for at least ten years. My mother told me that as a baby I cried almost non-stop for the first nine months or so and then I stopped abruptly one day. Looking back I suspect that day might have been the day my first personality was created to help deal with the pain. As a child I had personalities designated to “playing and acting normal” to make sure no one found out. The abusers made it very clear that there would be big punishment if someone ever found out. As a child I tried to be a “good little girl”. I appeared quiet, shy and daydreamed a lot.
When I arrived at high school for the second semester, I had 6 failing grades. Just showing up to school was no longer enough. I started focusing on schoolwork, and by the end of high school I had straight As. I was socially isolated and felt different and out of place. My daily functioning part was not aware of the abuse, though it bothered me that my father was inappropriate with a few friends I brought home. I was depressed and very much cut off from any feelings, hopes or desires. I felt no attraction to men but somehow felt I had to fit in and date. As soon as I started having memories I let myself date women, which was a much better fit for me.
I started therapy at age 22 at the advice of a friend. I worked for five years with my second therapist who I felt gave me a new start in life. Therapy has become very important to me since then. I was fortunate enough to heal through therapy without ever being hospitalized or using medications. My therapist at the time was Jungian and so we worked on dreams. The feelings of being vulnerable and exposed in my body came out very strongly. My therapist was baffled by it. I ended up recovering my first trauma memories with an angelic volunteer of the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center.
I continued working on my emerging memories with a different therapist. At age 30, I moved to the USA for my Master of Social Work at Smith College. During my internship in Boston, I visited the women’s center and saw a binder titled “Multiple Personality” to which I was drawn. With the support of a survivor’s group at the women’s center, I became aware of being DID. My therapist at the time who was very accomplished had a difficult time accepting my diagnosis: “Why do you want to think of yourself as more damaged then you are?” she asked.
Once again the women’s movement was a few steps ahead of the professional community. While I was at Smith learning how to be a therapist, neither the topic of ritual abuse or torture, nor the subjects of dissociation were ever studied.
Healing Tools by Ronit Kedeem
A twelve-step group for survivors at the women’s center also helped me reconnect with my spirituality. The freedom to choose a Higher Power “as I understand Higher Power” and to “take what you need and leave the rest” helped to make a spiritual connection possible for me. I established a connection with God, which was never mentioned in school or therapy. To this day frequent interactions with my Higher Power are very important to me. After graduation, I moved to Boston and started seeing a competent therapist. She helped me through the years to recover my memories and get a better cooperation within my system.
None of my memories were recovered through hypnosis and I found out about that tool after most of my memories had already surfaced. I did find hypnosis to be an extremely helpful device. I became a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Dissociation is a process of self-hypnosis and so using hypnosis for my own goals brought about deep and long lasting changes. I made self-hypnosis tapes for myself, in an attempt to “reprogram” my worldview. I changed early messages such as: “you were born to be a slave and serve the men” with more positive ones.
I also tried to mentally prepare for a better intimate relationship. This aspect in my life left much to be desired. I would listen to a tape every day at work during my lunch break. Some tapes I listened to repeatedly for years at a time. I believe the tapes I created helped me focus on the positive and also helped me to establish and maintain my current relationship of seven years. This relationship exceeds my wildest hopes for a romantic union.
Another aspect that helped my partner and I “make it” was our decision go to couple’s therapy. We started therapy when we were together for only three weeks and have been going every other week since. Our brilliant couple’s therapist is familiar with both trauma and dissociation and her interventions help keep our relationship positive, despite family of origin issues. In addition to my couple’s therapy, I am also still working with an outstanding therapist and hypnotherapist who has been helping me recover more of the after affects of trauma.
By Ronit Kedem