Other Let's talk about dehumanization.

Are you coming back and reading this thread obsessively? 🧐🧐🧐🤨 It was really helpful but also pretty distressing. It's great to know there's other people to relate to. It's also soul crushing.
I know when I get stuck I obsess over why I feel like I'm stuck. Dehumanization is definitely one of those things. Things will get better. Even when that evil curtain comes down and all you can see is the horrors of the world - it's lying to you.
 
Are you coming back and reading this thread obsessively? 🧐🧐🧐🤨
Whoooo meeee? Ha. I managed to put this aside for a while! But last night sucked hard. Nightmare threw me into a spiral. I had written a big thing and I was going to post it in here, since it was primarily about the dehumanization component, but then I figured it'd be better off in my diary since it was pretty trauma dumpy.

Deffo relate to the obsessive component though. I get stuck on shit and it just repeats over and over again. Today it wasn't so much this thread as it was the contents of my nightmare, which opened a huge box of garbage that all spilled out. Hard to feel like a human when your body so vividly and specifically remembers being harmed and causing harm.

It's great to know there's other people to relate to. It's also soul crushing.
That it is. I vacillate between feeling terribly lonely and alien, to wishing I really was the only person in the world with these problems (to go so far as "that no one should have these problems" would suppose that I Don't Deserve This, which I'm not quite-there yet).

One of my friends who was a nurse and worked in a few different specialties made it very clear to me that my trauma is one of the extremes. I had to gently correct her that actually, human trafficking is epidemic throughout the world and is present in every single country on Earth. There are millions and millions of trafficked children and adults. And that's a wide range of things from labor, sex slavery, armed violence & even sports athletes.

But for her, and indeed for so many people I talk to, these are experiences of extremes. And that's really weird, to like, reconcile. Because in my day-to-day life I am alone. I am distinct. Even on this forum, I haven't heard of anyone who has done the things I've done (and God, what would that be like, if that f*cking happened? Jesus christ, lmao. I'd probably have a f*cking aneurysm.)

So much of my own opinions about myself and my experiences exist in isolation. I have experiences of talking to kids like me but those are 16 years old and very far away. So I know that this stuff is very common all over the world but yet functionally, am alone. Bleh. Challenging.
 
But for her, and indeed for so many people I talk to, these are experiences of extremes. A

So I know that this stuff is very common all over the world but yet functionally, am alone. Bleh. Challenging.
ya... I get this.
I mean, 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 10 men are raped while they are in the military, so it's just a thing. It's a bad thing, but it's a common thing that has happened to thousands of people. And military medicine is known for being horrific. And terrorists are things everyone faces. The idea that all three of those are built around dehuminizingness (is that even a word? LOL) is just, meh.

So when t tells me that my situation is "extreme" just because of the level of dehumanizing I kinda want to tell her she just doesn't understand. I mean, we are told all the time that we shouldn't compare trauma, and I know many people here who survived much worse situations than mine. So why can't I just get past it? And that's a horribly lonely feeling.

And yep - right on cue I do this......
Are you coming back and reading this thread obsessively? 🧐🧐🧐🤨 It was really helpful but also pretty distressing. It's great to know there's other people to relate to. It's also soul crushing.
I know when I get stuck I obsess over why I feel like I'm stuck. Dehumanization is definitely one of those things.
I end up dehumanizing myself (ok, well, screamer) because making her a human is just too f*cking hard. Then I end up feeling completely alone and like a total fraud for even being here with people who can relate to the whole mess..

ugh. hamster wheel from hell
 
I mean, 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 10 men are raped while they are in the military, so it's just a thing.

I still remember like 5 years ago when FJ said (sorry for bringing this back up & I may be misremembering this)
she was told to "expect" to be raped in the military within 2 years and then sure enough it happened.
That stuck with me because that's a level of ubiquity that I have only ever seen replicated in my group therapy at CSI & of course, it occurred within my own non-military VNSP experiences.

That someone could so confidently tell you expect this. And then sure enough it happens. And it makes sense, right, because all of those environments are conflict-heavy. Rape as an instrument of armed conflict is very rarely framed that way when it includes intra-group rape & MST yet every female in my group reported an experience of at least one rape. Every single one. And almost every one had an experience of rape that occurred by their own men and women.

So it wasn't just a matter of conquest and enslavement, which many reported additional experiences of if captured by the enemy -- but it was extremely opportunistic as well. And to my own recollection, every single child that I encountered was eventually raped and many adults spoke of their own rapes in a completely normalized manner. "This'll toughen you up, it worked for me. This is just how things are. This is how you have to contribute until you prove yourself worthy."

&& this all occurred "in-group." I was never, as far as I can recall, raped by anyone else other than my own "team" and by clients procured by said "team." It was all about generating revenue. I had experiences of acting out against additional groups & of feeling my life in danger by inter-group conflict, but I never expected to be captured and raped by them. So my experiences were definitely different as it was not a traditional conflict by any means.

I spoke to one boy who I had suspected of also being raped privately & in group he also opened up that every boy in his unit was sexually abused as well, but it was not framed that way. He described it as a form of punishment that relied on humiliation rather than on it being an act of assault/violence or sexual gratification. While we didn't question this interpretation (all victims are entitled to process their experiences however they'd like) I also don't necessarily buy it.

There's no way that an adult military commander rapes a little kid for no reason other than self-gratification. There was also, and this was true of my group as well, an excessive amount of amphetamine abuse that resulted in hypersexuality and cocaine/meth-induced psychosis. Whereas the girls described their experiences as such (for sex, for marriage, for compliance, etc). The girls had an easier time processing the sexual aspect of their trauma whereas the boys did not.

It being "just a thing" is some type of, yah know, thing. While on this thread we are discussing this within the scope of dehumanization, the reality is that this is human behavior. This is common human behavior. Warfare, violence, destruction, are common human behaviors. It is the part of humanity and our evolutionary history that is based on what my forensic psychologist has called "animal instinct."

And she has said that I also fit that criteria, that at certain points I fell back completely on evolutionary/animalistic responses of aggression and violence and attack and provocation. I was not exempt from this just as I am not exempt from victimizing and dehumanizing others in a continuous cycle of violence. And this cycle of violence is repeated all over the world in every country on Earth. And it is a cycle of violence that spills down from generation to generation.
 
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But for her, and indeed for so many people I talk to, these are experiences of extremes.
It’s a thing.

That I struggle with / appreciate living in a first world country. That no one gets me.

Pfft. There are tons of us HERE, but we’re in the extreme minority. We meet in the streets and never know it. Most of the places I’ve lived/worked? My “stuff” is a 2, on a 1-10 scale. “Everyone” gets it. Not a 200 on a 1-10 scale. Which is part of why I DO live here. By choice. Because people, most people, simply don’t get it. Because it’s not normal/ common/ expected. Like child abuse, or abusive marriages, or other common hardships.

Are your eyes swirling, yet? 😵‍💫

Prolly not. Because you -most likely- get it.

And get why I’m not posting on topic.

At least, not yet. May. May not. Shall see.

Because I’ve had “it” in drafts since you posted. But it’s hard. So it waits. But the discordance? That’s everyday, every day, baby! That’s normal. That’s easy. Because hard things get easy when it’s constant. Except for when they’re not. When TIRED weighs in. Or pain. Or grief. Or fear. And it takes what is normal and shines a light on… lonely? It’s not quite the right word. But it’s close.

IDFK if I’m making sense, but it’s brazenly hit ‘post reply’ or let this (also) die in drafts. So? Why not?
 
I think this aftermath is really important too. The aspect of rape I found BY FAR the most painful was the relentless will to dub me as a whore who wanted it (to which I'd like to say: so what? Whores who wanted it and changed their minds aren't wanting to be raped) and treated as lesser than a dog. I have been told "dogs are loyal and you're just a whore".

Because I froze and at the moment of that particular rape, I internally felt it as an inconvenience and just wanted to "sleep" (I later understood that was a dissociative response) then it wasn't a rape, but just me being a slut, a whore, a dirty c*nt, a dead fish. There were plenty of those. Apparently I should have died on the spot instead of being raped. And as I survivor obviously I cannot agree with this. I want to live.

Actually dehumanisation often works in berating people for just wanting to stay alive. The message you get is very clearly that you shouldn't have existed even in the first place.

I'm pissed now lol
Sadly there are times when a person was tortured while under the influence of any type of mind altering substance..or if known to be a user of any kind...they won't get the credibility they deserve or want/need. But screw it anyway. Toss it out the back window and feel the breeze that is yours as much as anyones. Forward is the only way.
 
We meet in the streets and never know it.

Aaah. How many ppl I have met on the streets, literally. One woman sat by me at the bus stop and was like my dad raped me for 30 years! There's my bus, bye! Wut. OK, bye!

Prolly not. Because you -most likely- get it.

And get why I’m not posting on topic.

At least, not yet. May. May not. Shall see.

Indeed so. There are things that I struggle greatly just to hint at or reference outside of my thoughts. I'm a "research" guy, so I like to know, but these things -- there is almost zero research on it at all because it's one of those "things" that human beings just don't f*cking talk about.

Even in the most serious and egregious recountings of war violence I have not heard this particular thing discussed. && it gets more challenging because you run on the hamster-wheel but it doesn't go anywhere because it's all just stuck in your own brain. Or in your drafts. Or back there, somewhere.

In the depths of consciousness where neurons are so slowed they barely fire. Chilled and frozen. "The definition of unspeakable," as Judith Herman puts it. "The ORDINARY response to atrocity is to bury it." So what do we do as survivors or even as perpetrators?

Because how common could this stuff actually be, but everyone is just stuck in silence? (Of this I am not certain. I've seen precedent but the context is different. It's not about the violence and sickness.)

But the discordance? That’s everyday, every day, baby! That’s normal. That’s easy. Because hard things get easy when it’s constant. Except for when they’re not. When TIRED weighs in. Or pain. Or grief. Or fear. And it takes what is normal and shines a light on… lonely? It’s not quite the right word. But it’s close.

Yup yup. It's exhausting to be alone. As a kid I was locked in a room for 6 years. Literally, there was a lock on my door. I was "taken out" to periodically do things (I started school at 6, so I was not in school at this time, but I did attend a childcare place where they abused us and restrained us and also locked us in rooms, so...) && I compare it to this. I think that's what's so triggering for me about the alienation & isolation.

Because it feels like solitary confinement all over again. And the biggest challenge of solitary confinement is resisting the exhaustion of being completely alone. Everything that you can think about you do think until it's burned out of you. You replay conversations and make up stories. I have "parts" and I started seeing/talking to those parts very young. You run around and try to exercise but the endorphins get burned out of you.

Me, I ran around and drew on the walls and hid hotdogs in drawers until bugs came and picked the bugs up. But then you can't sleep, because there's bugs all over you. Like, and then you're just -- I don't know if I'm making much sense but it's inescapable. It doesn't matter what you do, you are alone and eventually your mind completely breaks and you kind of go crazy and start hallucinating and seeing shit.

Even though I was in a room that had a window and my memories of it are during the daytime so there was sunlight in the room, I would see shit in the whorls of the ceiling and on the walls and my blankets and shit. It doesn't make much sense because probably I am brain damaged from this too but even to this day, today, as a 31-year old, I am mostly confined to my room.

I never really learned how to do anything for myself but sit in a room. And these feelings of being inescapably by myself creep in when I think about all the ways that I am different from others. My experiences are different. My neurological make-up is different. My body is different. My being is different. && how do you escape that loneliness? Should you even desire to escape it?

By definition, not being alone means that others have to suffer.

Most of the places I’ve lived/worked? My “stuff” is a 2, on a 1-10 scale. “Everyone” gets it. Not a 200 on a 1-10 scale.

All of my Israeli friends in particular (due to the ubiquity of their culture && the circumstances of nearly everybody's life there) and I don't really need to "talk" about certain things, we just "get it." Sometimes you're just the crazy dude in the booth selling lotto tickets and pissing the bed at night.
 
And almost every one had an experience of rape that occurred by their own men and women.
Yep -- and this is why when it happens in the military it's such a nightmare. You are stationed in anytown USA and raped by someone you work with, and are expected to just show up the next like nothing happened. It's not a war, it's not the enemy. It's a coworker who already knows there is no repercussions.

And when you add in the war aspect? It's STILL the people you serve with who are doing it.

That I struggle with / appreciate living in a first world country. That no one gets me.
yep. I grew up here, from here, all the benefits of a first world life. Which meant that NO ONE would understand what had happened to me. Because those things don't happen to "our" people. Those things happen to "those" people in other countries.

And if I did try to talk about it? Shit they couldn't handle my stories from 911, how would they handle learning about the dehumanization of torture of someone they actually know?

I'm only now recognizing the damage that happened to my soul from the sheer loneliness of not being able to tell anyone. Why not? Because I wouldn't be human to them anymore. I'd be a thing to be pitied and avoided. Because if shit like that could happen to me it could happen to them. Which went against their whole understanding of the world. So the dehumanizing would continue


Because hard things get easy when it’s constant. Except for when they’re not
Yep. the mantra of my life: I've got this, nothing to see here, I can handle it

Until it becomes too much. Either too much quiet or too much chaos - either way it hits that FULL button and wham!!!!!
Shit falls apart.
 
It's been strange to slowly undergo the process of "re-humanizing" some of these memories.

My therapist has made it very clear that there is 100% no doubt in her mind that I regarded the people around me as objects and not beings. They were objects and I was goal-oriented, they served a purpose. But with some of these memories, there's these 3 in particular. They're not the worst things that have ever happened to me but... you know, I knew these two kids' names. I knew one of them from school, we had a relation to one another outside of atrocity. These experiences occurred before my brain injury. I do have some very faint visual memory of them. He cursed and spit in another language once.

He was defiant. They didn't break him. I didn't. I held him like a baby after the others left, so no one would see me showing weakness. I would sing to them. I was obsessed with the Titanic so I used to sing that Celine Dion song. That first time when I was naked and smoking and she was laying on the table with no color. And I thought I had achieved something. But for her there was no role to play. There was no accomplishment or purpose or duty. There was only fear and betrayal. Little kids should not plead and cry to be free from pain.

In that hotel room. She's on the floor. Still. The braids in her hair. How someone must have put them there. He once tried to choke me from behind. I was laying on the couch and he came up and wrapped his hands around my neck and like always when I was in danger. Everything got slow and I told myself, OK. What can you do right now. Analyze the situation. Solve it. I got some momentum and I swung my feet over my head in a half-somersault and kicked him off of me. I left my VHS copy of IT in his mom's VCR. Understand, I never went back for it. They were children, little kids. I have little sisters, they're quite a bit younger than me, and I was around when they were the same age as these children. I could not bear to be near them but my dad couldn't care for a rock with googly eyes pasted on it, let alone a toddler.

To formulate a thought in my mind to orchestrate an operation purely designed to use those two little girls to generate profit in the most egregious manner imaginable - I would say it is beyond my capacity except that I was hounded by the intrusion daily - what if someone did that to them. What if I, now an adult, did that to them? I would lose my breath and vacate the premises as they say, there's no lights on and no one home. And I mean they were kids. They were annoying. They were loud and messy. I do not have an ability to love others, it is the primary symptom of my disorder, so I did not view them any differently to any other human children. In some ways that makes this an objective statement of fact.

All children are important. Love as a feeling is irrelevant. One must take (in)action. Which I tried to. I didn't yell at them or hit them or restrict them unreasonably. I had a degree of patience with them whose origins I still do not understand, but that is the nature of dissociative tendencies, I suppose. The imperative to shove down my aggression and shove down my anger and shove down my reactions until they were chilled frost, again, because it is imperative not to damage young children that way. But it doesn't matter. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that could prompt me to willingly subject them to the degree of insanity that I dealt with on a regular basis for years. These days I see the girl on the floor. There are many girls and many floors. But I see my sisters. I see the kids around me, outside.

It physically hurts. Like I can't breathe. Like when you fall and land so hard you literally cannot take in air. A lot of my friends have children, are parents, and I find myself thinking more and more - an intrusion, most likely. I've verbalized this in my diary. How must they feel knowing me, knowing that these children I harmed were the same age as their own. This contrast, between my friends, and their families and my history, is more vivid than I can ever remember it being. When we go swimming there are children there sometimes and I cannot be around it. There are children at synagogue. You can't avoid that; and shouldn't. Children belong there, it should be a place of joy. I am the one who is joyless, suffocated.

Kareth. Cut off. I hurt them. It hurt me. All of them were distinct. Special. Important. I shouldn't have mindlessly zoned out their faces and told them to shut up and hit them and speak cruelly to them. Like they were an inconvenience to me and not undergoing the most traumatic experiences of their tiny, tiny existence. I don't like the fact that I dehumanized them, because it dehumanizes me, too. Because only people who are inhuman can succeed at denying a child their dignity as a sentient being. I don't like it, but the closer it becomes to me - I do not think that I have the ability to live with these events, truly knowing that they happened to whole individuals.

It is unsustainable to even consider three. How do I honor them, and respect them, treat their memory and their record with compassion and justice, when I cannot bear to even look at them? Not just the victims. All of them. All children. How can a mother who loves her child be willing to place them in proximity to me? I can't humanize her children, either. I can't breathe.
 
only people who are inhuman can succeed at denying a child their dignity as a sentient being
You. Were. A. Child. You were a child who was denied your dignity as a sentient being by people who were adults. The adults who did that to you are inhuman.

You were a little girl who was used
to generate profit in the most egregious manner imaginable
The kind of behavior those inhuman adults did to children
is beyond my capacity

What if I, now an adult, did that to them? I would lose my breath and vacate the premises
Yes you most definitely would. Because you have now, even with the TBI, an adult brain which child Weemie did not have, and neither did the monsters who stole child Weemie’s dignity and birth right. Even if child Weemie felt like an adult-child hybrid. Even if child Weemie says “I did such-and-such.” Adult Weemie knows there’s more to the story.

The child soldiers who are recruited in DRC and Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and all the other places—are they responsible for buying into the adults’ war? The children recruited (you were not even given such an illusory choice) into sex trafficking rings in USA and Canada (two of the top five countries for child trafficking)—are they responsible for having a dream of becoming wealthy or famous—are they responsible for believing the predators who are driving a sadistic profit-machine?

Children take credit all the time for stuff that adults helped out on, did most of the work for, or even all the work for. Because that’s normal for children to see themselves as agents even when they aren’t. Adult wise self Weemie can forgive those parts even though the parts will hold on to their roles and their agency. Adults, if they are wise, have to forgive children all the time, and tolerate children’s self-aggrandizement, and you can do it too. The child parts don’t have to captain the ship anymore.

And for the parts of you that keep seeing the braids and the floor and the little hands, you can volunteer to support kids like that who grew up, like you do in running your support group. Every time you give your time and presence to people who suffered in similar ways you are healing and humanizing those parts who hold the pain.
 
The child soldiers who are recruited in DRC and Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and all the other places—are they responsible for buying into the adults’ war?

The short answer is "no." The long answer is, "it depends." Mostly it depends on how you conceptualize responsibility, mens rea, brainwashing/indoctrination and the legal capacity to commit crimes. Let's put it another way - when I was 16, of my own volition, I jumped onto an adult man and used a machete to torture him psychologically until he pissed himself. It was totally of my own volition, it was completely voluntary, no one was around me forcing me to do it.

At 16, did I have the legal capacity to: understand right and wrong, intend to commit a violent action and then execute it, know where I was/who I was/what was happening, etc etc? Most legal and forensic experts would say that yes, I have the legal competence to stand trial and I might even be asked to stand trial as an adult - such as in the cases in Sierra Leone during the Taylor trials, David Crane held the cut-off age for prosecution of child soldiers at 15. Meaning, anyone over the age of 15 was "fair game." Dallaire goes into this case in more detail in his book.

Essentially, and if you look at the Ongwen case this also seems accurate, any "crimes" committed before the age of 15 were forgiven. And when I look at something like what happened with T - I was 11, there was another adult there, he had a gun. Sometimes I acted alone especially during the training process of other kids, but I was even younger still when that began. At age 8 (the age I was recruited, the age I was first raped, the age that most kids are only just beginning to develop a deep sense of affective empathy) I planned to kill F (who owned the home) and went through with it. It just failed. Should I be charged with attempted murder?

In my opinion, objectively - no. That objective answer comes from thinking about it as a legal case, that could be applied to any child. Personally, I am conflicted. For me, I know without a doubt, 100%, I have killed people. (To be fair, this was never under my own volition - the person I actually, physically killed, and those killed as a result of my actions) I have tortured them and I have planned acts of murder and violence and then followed through with them. As myself a grown-up who can logistically understand the causality of my behavior, I would argue that Crane may have gotten it wrong.

That even a child who behaves like I did - even a teenager, or even perhaps an adult - may not deserve prosecution but instead intensive rehabilitation (and it is fortunate that other people in my life agreed. My therapist who broke confidentiality did not call the police. Because while I ended up in a locked facility in the gang violence unit - I was never imprisoned, nor faced a single legal consequence for my behavior. The focus was on mental health - we had other kids there who weren't criminals in different units, interacted with them regularly, did group therapy, got to go outside for walks 4 times a day, ended up at the CSI/RD, etc.)

Adult Weemie knows there’s more to the story.

I read thru the entire proceedings of the Ongwen verdict where they describe how he challenged orders, acted totally autonomously, abused others privately sexually and physically, and was given a great deal of latitude to act independently once he became a commander. But then you're like, you know, how old was he when this all started? (Other people say he was 9 or 10, he says he was 14) to claim that there is some magical distinction between a 9 year old who is indoctrinated into an armed group and an 18 year old major of the group - where does that distinction actually end?

When is it that they transform from a victim, into purely a perpetrator? Is there a transformation or are both things simultaneously true? (B, my first therapist, says that according to transactional analysis, victim-perpetrator-rescuer are all aspects of the same triangle.) And knowing my personal experiences with rehabilitation, and knowing my personal experiences with developing empathy in my thirties when people say "once you're an adult, that's it, nothing will ever change."

My experience with this, and even my experiences with other adult violent offenders, show that this is not true.

The children recruited (you were not even given such an illusory choice)

I suppose this is accurate. I say recruitment, but what I really mean, is - my role changed. Us 3 were told that we were special, that we were more than just servile. My experience of the first time that I was made to hurt someone else, before it happened I didn't want to do it. After it happened, I felt like I'd accomplished something. The adult in the room said I did, they gave me rewards, I got lots of money and shit, you know?

So that makes it easier to transform your internal image into a participant instead of essentially a meaningless object, which the other children around me were other than us 3 (and according to Kyle, and I saw them out and about, there were other children - even the guys at Superstore said "we knew it happened because we saw them on bikes.") And while we were trained together, we were always pitted against one another.

It wasn't like they were my brothers-in-arms, I was competing with them. And I am very competitive.

I was inducted is perhaps a better term, same with a lot of these kids.
 
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You. Were. A. Child. You were a child who was denied your dignity as a sentient being by people who were adults. The adults who did that to you are inhuman.
I just wanted to say thank you as well for your demonstration of kindness and empathy and that goes for everyone here too I know I tend to respond more logically to things and I'm sorry I dont always acknowledge
 
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