Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More on Abuse

There has been attention drawn to the most egregious of abuses of minors in TFI: the sexual abuse, the depriving of education, the child labor, etc. But what of other abuses?

How do children handle being raised with no prospect of personal space? How could they develop a sense of personal control when it was virtually impossible to exert control over their environments and behavior, their lives being fully scheduled and controlled by outside sources - the arbitrary whims of their Shepherds and even more nebulously and frighteningly, almighty God?

Landmark studies conducted in the late 1970s to early 1980s by Ellen Langer and Judith Rodin on perceived control in nursing home residents showed that giving elderly people even the simplest autonomy, such as the freedom to rearrange their furniture, care for a plant in their room, etc., served to enhance their health and well-being significantly.

But isn't that a given? Did this really need to be the subject of studies?

The freedom to control our own environment to an age-appropriate degree is obviously necessary for mental, and even physical, health. Even very young children blossom when given the respect of allowing them a measure of personal control.

As well, how powerless were cult-raised children made to feel when cases of abuse that were reported went nowhere?

One case was of a prone-to-anger step-father who used to beat his son. When local Shepherds remained in denial about it, the concerned mother wrote to the leader of the country. That leader wrote back to the abuser, asking for his side of the story. He did nothing. When the mother confronted him with the letter from the big leader, his only response was to say, "Ha!"

And that was the end of Shepherd intervention. There was no follow-up at all. The abuse continued and escalated.

That was emblematic of how abuse in TFI was handled.

How could it have been otherwise? To step in and do something would have been hypocritical.

As an illustrative example: The "mate" of another country-wide leader was notorious for sneaking into the teen girls' room at night to "say goodnight" to his step-daughters. Kneeling down beside them, he would quietly demand, "Show me your breasts." Yet another big leader impregnated a 14-year-old. Too many cult-born girls were raised with such disregard for their personal boundaries.

What recourse was given to these girls? What personal control did they have? How could they not think that giving in to the whims of men was what "God" required of them?

Were they forced to seek their own, private, methods of control, resulting in anorexia or anxiety disorders, and having left the cult, eventual substance abuse?

It is a tribute to the resilience of the SGA's (Second Generation Adults) that they have grown into self-sufficient adults, with the intelligence and finesse to navigate a world in which they had little contact as children, and that, only from a twisted, paranoid viewpoint. Hats off to them.

Maltreatment in childhood is associated with a significantly increased likelihood of psychiatric disorder that endures across the lifespan. If disorders emerge they tend to be more severe and less responsive to treatment.*

*"The theory of latent vulnerability: Reconceptualizing the link between childhood maltreatment and psychiatric disorder," by Eamon J. McCrory and Essi Viding, University College London


  1. I think you will be very interested in the book "When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection" by Dr. Gabor Mate, who is from "neck of the woods". I worked for a while in the same area of Vancouver he did, with drug addicts. I helped fight to establish a harm reduction clinic, the first in North America, where he later worked. Here's a link to his website, where you can read the first chapter, and also a link to an interview with him. The excerpt below is from the transcript of that interview.

    AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Gabor Maté, you talk about adverse childhood —- adverse childhood stresses as ACEs -—

    DR. GABOR MATÉ: Yes, there was a —-

    AMY GOODMAN: —- and their connection also to addiction, this latest book that you have written, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

    DR. GABOR MATÉ: There was a number of large-scale studies in the United States done by very brilliant researchers called the ACE studies, A-C-E, adverse childhood experiences. An adverse childhood experience is a child being abused or violence in the family or a parent being jailed or extreme stress of poverty or a rancorous divorce, a parent being addicted, alcoholic and so on.

    When it comes to addiction, these effects are addictive, so that if a child has a number of these adverse childhood experiences, his chance of becoming a drug addict later on, or any kind of an addict, go up exponentially. So a male child with six such adverse childhood experiences has a 4,600 percent increase in the risk of him becoming an injection-using substance addict than a male child with no such experiences — in other words, a forty-six-fold increase in the risk.

    And interestingly enough, those adverse childhood experiences also exponentially increase the risk of cancer and high blood pressure and heart disease and a whole range of other diseases, as well as suicide, of course, and early death. In other words, there’s a real connection between early childhood adversity and how a person lives their lives and a later appearance of addiction and diseases, physical and of course mental illnesses at the same time.

    And if we don’t take this into account in medicine — most of the time, people are not asked about these things in doctors’ offices, and they’re not explored. They’re not encouraged to explore their childhoods and the kind of impact that the childhood has on their adult behaviors.

  2. But, but, we were taught, "the Family is the best place in the world to raise children." You mean, it was a lie?

    Levity aside, it is a horrible legacy for a group that claimed to believe in "love."

  3. Here is some interesting research on domestic abuse causing psychological symptoms similar to those from brain injuries such as concussion. Although it is looking at adult women in violent relationships, domestic abuse also happens to children, obviously. So, I think the findings are also relevant to the many children and teens who suffered physical/emotional/psychological violence in the COG/TFI.

    "Research explores brain injury in women exposed to domestic violence"

    "Many of the women who come to the [Women's Shelter] show signs of depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder as a result of trauma.
    "They also showed cognitive problems, prompting Mason to wonder if this was the bigger problem.
    "I think there are a number of women in intimate partner violence situations who understand that they have limits, wonder why they can't accomplish some of the things they want to in moving forward, and may not even know they've suffered a brain injury," Mason said.
    "Many of the symptoms that are present in patients with PTSD can overlap with those experienced after a concussion..."