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Getting Through : Dealing

Reflections on the Past

from Regi - Saturday, October 25, 2003
accessed 1576 times

Last night for lack of energy to do anything else, I watched Dateline’s special on the poor girl Elisabeth Smart who, as everyone knows, was kidnapped by that madman because God “called” him to be a prophet and a polygamist or whatever. I felt nothing but sympathy for the girl, but I could not help hurting inside because what she went through during those nine months was in many ways similar to what we went through for most of our young lives. There are certainly many differences, but the similarities are eerie.

We were not ripped from a loving home by force like Elisabeth Smart was, but we were frequently separated from our loved ones and left in the care of unkind “aunties,” “uncles” and “shepherds” while our parents preached the gospel elsewhere, served the leadership behind the scenes, or worked in capacities other than being our parents.

Like Elizabeth, we were told twenty-four hours a day that our lives were not our own, that every thought that doubted the “word” was from Satan, that any attempt to be ourselves was “out of it”, etc. etc. We may not be Mene herself who suffered to a much greater extent than most of us, but many of us were called “mene cases” merely for asking a question that might hint that we doubted the obsessed writings of a perverted self-proclaimed prophet.

We were all emotionally and psychologically abused, most of us were physically abused, and some of us were even sexually abused. Worse yet, these atrocities were committed at whim of perverted caretakers and “shepherds” who have never been brought to justice.

I don’t want to go on. I do not want to dwell on these issues. I have moved on. I am happy about where I am in my life now and I have goals for the future, but why do these issues continue to surface from my subconscious?

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from viewer
Monday, October 27, 2003 - 13:16

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

I saw the show too. I wonder if Elizabeth Smart realizes how many young people out there can identify profoundly with her experiences in captivity.

A big difference however, at least in my own experience, is that before and after her ordeal, Elizabeth had the support and love of her parents and family. As you noted, "We were not ripped from a loving home by force like Elisabeth Smart was." In my own experience, I did not have a loving home to be ripped away from. Or to go back to.

Elizabeth's parents advocate for her, explain her fear and why she couldn't run, and protect her from outrageously exploitative media coverage (of course, for little nobodies like us without a privileged family, only the scandalous seems to draw the media). I think these things will aid in her recovery. How many of us had parents who were on our side?

One thing I can't decide in this situation is that I go back and forth between thinking "you lucky girl," to have the before and the after to bracket the hell, then on the other hand, wondering if for one like I who never had anything, materially or hope for the future with the ability to aspire to a good life (until I claimed them myself) it is less of a shock to the system to endure the torment. But then I go back to thinking at least she first had 14 years of an upbringing that was not aimed at robbing her of a sense of self. Also, even without knowing a better life, trauma is trauma, and the effects of acute or chronic early trauma compound, with scientific studies showing that one becomes even more sensitive to lesser stressors (by measuring the levels of stress hormones in the blood after such a situation).

The fact that a young woman with that support system could become as terrorized as she was without even the isolation that we had growing up gives strong are we to have made it out AND to keep going day after day?!
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from Banshee
Monday, October 27, 2003 - 06:56

I had very similar thoughts when I read the transcript of that show. We can probably understand her feelings of entrapment and confusion better than most. While I was reading it, I was thinking how much I related to her, yet thinking how strange some of it must sound to the general public...I guess in many ways, there will always be things that come up that bring us back to those times or memories. I too feel that I have moved on in many ways, but maybe it's like a scar; it might not still hurt, I might not even think about it, but when I see it...the memory will always be there.
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