I have always identified as Catholic, but religion was never a priority in my house as I grew up. We didn’t say grace before meals or prayers before bedtime. We never went to church unless it was for a wedding or funeral. By the same token, I never knew anything about Satanism, either. When I think back, I was aware of some of the Satanic panic issues that were being discussed—the McMartin daycare case, heavy metal music, etc. I had a hard time believing that there were groups of Satanists running around committing atrocities, though. Beyond that, religion of any type wasn’t really an influence for me.
There were three major events in my life that led me to Satanism. The first was serving in the Navy. John Buer wrote a piece back in January (Thy Inner Light) in which he discussed being psychologically broken down and built back up while serving in the Army. He said that that experience enabled to him to trust himself and to trust his ability to face challenges. I agree wholeheartedly, and I don’t think I can say it any better. Looking back, it was step one in looking to myself for strength and solutions rather than praying for the outcome that I wanted.
The next event occurred after I was discharged from the Navy. I began working for a local bank. It was early in the morning; around 9:30 or 10:00. The branch manager and I were the only employees in the branch. I was on the phone with my husband when I heard two shots. My back was to the door, but I knew exactly what it was. Even my husband knew. I don’t remember, but he told me that I said, “Fuck. Call 911,” and hung up on him. I didn’t turn around because I had an “if I don’t see him, he won’t see me” moment. When I hung up on my husband, I pushed another line and dialed 911 myself. Even though everything seemed to slow down, the rest is kind of hard to remember in order. I remember hearing a terribly loud noise, and I felt something on my cheek. My body had already dropped to the ground (my knees were bruised the next day) before my mind could tell me that I was hearing gunshots (from an AK-47), and it was the BR glass shattering that was hitting my face. I crawled behind my coin vault, and wondered what was taking 911 so long to answer. They finally did, and all I could say was that there were shots fired, and my location. Then, I heard the door open to the teller line. I heard the branch manager call my name. I slid the phone across the floor so that the robber wouldn’t know that I had the police on the line. In that instant, all I could think was why in the world would she bring them back where I was? I later realized that she probably thought I was dead. One of the two robbers was bringing her back to clear out the vault, and I had the second key. I answered her that I was here, and stood up with my hands in the air. She came around the corner, and then the robber did. He was wearing a black mask, and had a gun pointed at my manager. As he turned the corner, he pointed the gun at me, and my bladder let loose. I pissed right down my legs in the middle of the floor. I had just been shot at, and there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind that he was going to pull the trigger and kill me. Obviously, he didn’t. I gave my key to my manager, she helped him fill his bags with everything in the vault. They left without incident. They were caught about 6 months later, and I was relieved that I wasn’t required to testify.
It ended up being about 2 years before I was diagnosed with PTSD. My counselor described my coping mechanism as shoving the whole thing in a box in my head, locking it up tight, and hiding it behind a bunch of other boxes on a really high shelf in the attic. However, she also said that I couldn’t shove only the bad stuff in the box. There’s no way to separate the good stuff from the bad, so everything was also getting shoved into the box. Every so often, the box either gets a little too full or something triggers me, and the lid goes flying off. I usually just let it happen, and end up feeling much better for allowing the release.
For a long time, I struggled to find meaning in having escaped death. I also became more spiritual. Conventional indoctrination is that god saved me for a higher purpose, but that ends up being a very frustrating train of thought when you don’t know what that purpose might be. One day I was watching a talk show, and Marc Cohn was a guest. He’s the singer best known for the song “Walking in Memphis.” A few years after that song, he was involved in a carjacking. He was shot in the head, but the bullet went through the windshield and grazed another person before hitting him. He was unharmed, and discharged from the hospital the following day. On the show, he performed a song called “Live Out the String.” To this day, I couldn’t sing a single line from the song, but it was the explanation that resonated with me. Basically, he said that maybe he didn’t get saved for any higher purpose. Maybe he simply needed to live each and every day being the best person he could be in every situation. It sounds very simplistic, but it was very profound for me, and gave me something to aspire to.
The last thing affected my whole family. We were all impacted, and still are today. When my husband and I married, he had a 4 year old son with his high school girlfriend. His ex fulfilled every stereotype of the psychotic ex-girlfriend, and then some. Worse, she used their son as a weapon. When he was about 10 years old, she moved a significant distance away solely for the purpose of preventing us from seeing him. We still had visitation, but only a few times a year.
When our daughter was a freshman in high school, she disclosed to us that when she was age 7 through 10 years old, her brother had raped her. He was 13 through 16 years old. To say that there’s nothing that can prepare you for that is an understatement.
I think that most families have that one relative that everyone keeps the kids away from. In my family, it was my grandfather. In my husband’s, it was his uncle. At the same time, though, it isn’t talked about. It’s embarrassing and something to be ashamed of. It’s like another type of indoctrination. How to keep family secrets.
One issue that we struggled with was trying to treat both kids equally. As a stepparent, I had spent a lot of time making sure that I wasn’t treating my daughter better than my stepson. My husband was always aware of not over indulging his son because he saw him so infrequently.
We were floundering. Stunned. We had been indoctrinated that you dealt with “family” issues within the family. Neither one of us was completely comfortable with it, but we didn’t know what to do. Looking back now, I realize that even though we were able to be freethinkers in some ways, in many other ways we were still sheep. We’ve been active in the satanic community for about a year now, and I’m still amazed at the information that’s put out on the evening news, and the information that I can find within our groups. However, when the only thing you know is indoctrination and a rape culture narrative, it seems impossible to know what to do.
At that time, I wasn’t very close with my parents. We saw my husband’s family a few times a week. Our daughter had spent school vacation weeks at her grandparents’ house, and many weekends at her aunt’s house. However, they didn’t support her. They were still having her brother over to their house even though we explained that he couldn’t be around her. We were told that his “side” was that she was a lying bitch because he had “just” touched her, not raped her.
As devastating as our situation was, the fact that both of our children were involved began to change the narrative for us. I suppose when your child is accused of a horrendous crime, it’s very easy to blame an anonymous victim. You can use all of the stereotypes and excuses, and as long as you don’t actually think about it for very long, I guess you can sleep at night. There’s never an acceptable narrative for raping a child, so that was a luxury we didn’t have. In the meantime, our daughter decided to do one of the bravest things I can imagine. She went to the police station and reported it herself.
One of the first things that happened was an interview at CARE house. It’s a child advocacy center, and they conducted an interview with her. As we were leaving, they gave us a folder full of information. We had our daughter in counseling, but about a month after her interview, she told me that she would be interested in a group setting, also. I remembered that one of the things CARE had told us was that they held a group meeting once a week. Fortunately, there was one that night.
We were told to arrive at 5:30 for dinner, and the group would be from 6:30 – 8:00. I was a little uncomfortable with the situation. A local organization provided the food for dinner, but we were capable of feeding ourselves! We didn’t need to get a free meal out of it. I didn’t understand the power in letting someone care for you. For that hour, I didn’t have to care for my family. I was the one being indulged. Food is probably one of the most powerful ways to show caring, welcome and hospitality. Dinner conversation was always very light. We simply socialized and talked about normal things. After dinner, the kids were split up according to age groups, and left the room. All of the parents stayed and had the opportunity to scream, cry, bitch, rage, and fantasize about what they were going to do to their abuser. Having people that understand every last thing you’re feeling is an indescribable luxury.
It was during one of those groups that everything became crystal clear for me. One of the ladies could tell that we were struggling to understand my husband’s family and why they were acting the way they were. This woman told us about her experience as a young girl. She had an uncle who liked to grab kids inappropriately. She had told her family, and was disregarded. Then, she explained how she felt every single time there was a holiday or family get together, and she had to look at him. He used to smirk at her and make comments – as if they were in on some joke together. I realized that there was no fair about it. Our daughter should not be required to look at her rapist over Thanksgiving dinner. She was the victim, and although we loved him, our son was going to have to face the consequences of what he had done, and we weren’t going to be able to support him. There was no way to take care of them both, and our daughter was entitled to everything we could do for her.
At first, we weren’t angry with my husband’s family. Who were we to throw stones when we didn’t even know what to do when this began? However, we got educated. We learned. One of the worst days of my life was going to a place called “The Self-Esteem Shop” where we got the books “Helping Your Child Recover from Sexual Abuse” and “When Your Child has been Molested.” I never wanted to know that a place like that existed or that books of that title needed to be written. When my husband’s family refused to be educated, I reached out to my parents. They were immediately supportive, and came to every hearing with me. We continue to have a very good relationship, and they’re still our daughter’s biggest supporters.
The wheels of justice do not move quickly, so I attended more than a few hearings. My husband couldn’t, and we felt it was better for our daughter not to deal with every detail of the process. We ended up accepting a plea deal for CSC 2—which our daughter was fully involved in. She attended the arraignment because she wanted to hear him plead guilty. He brought his girlfriend to the hearing, and she sat a few rows behind us. She spent her time mocking our daughter; pointing and laughing as her boyfriend stood in a circuit court room and admitted to inappropriately touching his sister. Any measure of vindication she could have received was stolen from her that day.
Our daughter also attended the sentencing hearing. She absolutely wanted to give her victim impact statement, as did I. He received 5 years of probation. When everything was said and done, my husband and daughter lost an entire family. I thought that I had, also, but in the midst of everything, my mother-in-law informed my daughter that she had hated me for the 20 years my husband and I had been together. Any loss I felt quickly turned to indifference (stuffed in the box), but we were still very bothered by the lack of consequences being given to our son. We had an issue not only with his complete lack of remorse, but my husband’s family validating that.
Within a year, I found his Facebook account, on which he had underage friends. I reported him to his probation officer, and they began violation hearings. When I went to the first hearing, I was surprised to find my mother-in-law attending. She had not been to any hearings up to that point. That hearing was continued. At the next one, my mother-in-law and her niece were both there. They spent the entire time laughing, waving and pointing at us. This hearing was also continued. However, as we left the courtroom, my mother-in-law and her niece verbally attacked us. My stepson was with them, and although he didn’t participate in the harassment, he was laughing along and didn’t tell them to stop. My parents, my best friend and I all wrote letters to the judge after this incident.
The next hearing ended up being the final one. After the incident that happened at the last hearing, my husband came to this one. His mother wasn’t there, but her niece and her husband were there. We knew that there would be trouble. The recommendation by the probation officer was jail time of six months to one year for the probation violation. When the judge made his determination, he said, “If I’ve ever seen a case that calls for an upward deviation of the recommendation, this is it.” He sentenced our son to five years. The niece’s husband immediately jumped up and called me a fucking cunt. My husband immediately jumped up and punched him in the face, and there was a fist fight in the middle of the courtroom. Fortunately, no charges ended up being filed.
I think my husband’s family believes that we went home, popped open some champagne, and had some type of celebration. We cried all the way home. Our daughter had been in a fragile place, so we hadn’t told her anything about what was happening. We cried as we told her, and we cried for the rest of the night. As hateful as my husband’s ex-girlfriend and mother had been, I woke up crying for them. For any mother who has to wake up to their child in jail like I was.
Out of the five year sentence, he ended up serving two. My daughter and I traveled to the state capitol two years in a row to speak with one of the parole officers who would be holding his hearing. He was required to take a sex offender class while he was in prison, so we only hope that something got through to him.
Today, life goes on. Our daughter still lives with us. During her counseling, she was tentatively diagnosed as bipolar. At the time, a firm diagnosis wasn’t offered due to her age. As time has gone by, we’re starting to suspect that she’s borderline personality, and we’re currently engaged in that fight to try to get her back into counseling.
As far too many of us know, being rejected by your family is one of the deepest wounds you can suffer, and we didn’t come out of this unscathed. It affects your sense of self-worth. My husband still doesn’t speak to his family. His sister has called a couple of times over the years, but there hasn’t been a reconciliation. In fact, his stepfather (who raised him since he was about 8 years old) passed away, and he didn’t find out until over 6 months later.
I learned that doing the right thing is never easy, and anything worth having takes a lot of effort. There’s nothing worth more than helping our daughter work on her issues so that she can go through life as “normally” as possible. I’m so grateful to have found our Satanic groups. It’s helped me so much to practice the critical thinking that has been instinctive for me up until now, and to question the “this is how it’s always been done” mentality.
I recently told a friend that it had been about 5 years since we had socialized with people, but when I thought about it afterwards, it’s probably been closer to ten. I have a difficult time dealing with rejection. I also have a problem with too much socialization, as I’m beginning to learn. I love our communities, but I think that seeing so much emotion sometimes blows the lid right off of my box, and I become a weeping mess. We attempted to get out and engage with people about 6 months ago, but it didn’t end well. Unfortunately, it set me further back, and I recognize that I’ve become even more resistant to getting out. On the other hand, I’ve “met” some of the most caring, creative, humorous and intelligent people I’ve ever known within our groups. There’s one person in particular who has dealt with me losing my mind on a weekly/daily basis, but chose to make sure that I felt welcomed and valued, and for someone who hasn’t felt valued in a while, well “weeping mess” is still appropriate here. It’s something I’m going to have to work on.