Other Let's talk about torture.

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
What it is. What it isn't. [*1] The legal definition. Is there ever a point at which torture is justified? [*2] The colloquial definition. I was tortured. The legal definition of torture is as follows:

Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogation for information, or intimidating third parties. Some definitions are restricted to acts carried out by the state, but others include non-state organizations. (Copied from Wikipedia Torture - Wikipedia)

Some legal definitions push that torture must occur "under the color of the law." What does that mean, precisely? For me, law enforcement officials were involved in my abuse. They made deals with the gangs around here and participated in abusive circumstances directly. They even make jokes about it in the newspaper. The police officers steal evidence and money. It's a big open secret.

I mentioned on @Freida 's diary that there's also an interesting intersection of Non-State Torture (Home) and what happens when you are abused beyond the realm of ordinary human experiential capacity, and you engage a justice system that disregards and thus tacitly approves of your experiences. Is this not state sanctioned torture? Where do we draw those lines?

It took until this year for a therapist to point out that if the police were involved in my abuse, that is legally torture. And I'm not sure if that's relevant. That now it has a different meaning because it is in fact the state, the system, the government that is reinforcing this ideology. It must on some level matter because it affects my entire worldview.

I'm very anti-police. I don't believe law enforcement should be abolished. I do believe there are good police officers out there. I've met them. I've spoken to them. I know them. They're on this forum. But within the context of my trauma those associations are difficult to let go. So many times we flick on the news and see stories of police brutality that reinforce my opinions that this gigantic system of governance that we've established is fundamentally broken at the core.

Do you feel that being tortured has a special place within the context of your traumatic experiences? Have you ever spoken to other torture survivors before? I'd like to reach out and connect. Community reintegration is a big part of my therapy, which is part and parcel for why I'm doing these Let's Talk series-threads. I've had lots of different experiences happen to me.

Waterboarding, stickies under the nails, electrocution, mock executions, burial, stress positions, ice baths. Degrading commentary. Made fun of, perpetrators dressing up in Halloween masks.

I have physical disabilities from my experiences as a result. Stress fractures that healed wrong in my tailbone and leg. A CPN injury in my leg. My shoulders and wrists and knees are messed up. I am in chronic pain all of the time and diagnosed with CRPS in my leg. My blood pressure and heart rate are all off for a person of my age. It f*ckin' sucks, yeah?

Anyway, I just wanted to open the dialogue. I've seen it all throughout this forum that those of us in "The Club" have trickled it out. So let's talk about it.

[*1] Some ground rules: this stuff is hard. We will respect everyone's experiences. Every person. No matter what. Whether it rises to the level that we personally feel is torture or not. It counts. That's subjective and we have no qualifications to disregard it. That's the boundary, and I will be enforcing this very squarely. No one has the right to say that someone else's experience isn't torture. We all know that waiting in line at the DMV isn't torture. It's just an inconvenience. Use your best judgment, but do not degrade other people.

[*2] Tread very carefully in this arena. Do not invalidate anyone else. Speak only from your own personal experiences and nothing more. Do not politicize it. Do not aggrandize. I'm hesitant to include this structure but as this is Let's Talk, this is inevitably going to be in the background. I have perpetration induced stress myself and I have taken actions that are torturous myself. So I do know that the cycle continues spiraling downward. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. This is the strongest boundary I'll enforce.
 
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prynne

Confident
I don't think I have the capacity to get into this 100% right now, but I want to acknowledge that I appreciate this thread. I'm glad that you made it and I hope good conversations come from it. Commenting also so this gets back to the top and it won't get buried.

For me, the things that they did to me to keep me from telling are worse than the rapes themselves. With the gangrape/water torture (found this term on the website you linked and I like the vagueness, an escape from using strict definitions to invalidate myself) incident and another trauma I went through in elementary school at a summer camp. I don't talk about the summer camp a lot because those memories are mostly lost to me right now, but I do remember the flashbacks I've had of him beating me, terrorizing me, threatening me, shaming me for being a "bad girlfriend", practically holding me captive, etc.

State-sanctioned or not? When it comes to the gangrape, who f*cking knows. Depends on what you believe about who they worked for. Personally, I think it's common knowledge that the gov turned a blind eye, silenced, and participated and that counts. No matter who you think was paying for all of it. The government stuff makes it so much worse. I feel like the whole world is against me and that it is impossible for me to ever get legal justice. In a way, it feels like my entire world is ruled by my abusers or people who have done the same things to other children. People who already see me only as collateral damage and can make me go away if I step too far out of line.

They knew that water was important to me and that this would probably ruin my life. It did. At least for now, it has. I was a competitive swimmer at the time. I was really good. Like maybe Olympic level in the future if I made the right choices. Some of my old teammates have qualified for the Olympics and gotten nice college scholarships. Meanwhile, here I am failing out of community college. They taunted me about it. They knew how heinous it was what they were doing. I thought you could swim.

Now I can't. Not for long. I panic. It used to be my favorite place in the world, my safe place, and now I can't even wash my face. I feel like my body is falling apart around me. So many health issues for my age and usually no clear answer for why it's happening. I feel like the clock is ticking away. Heal the trauma before it kills you first
 
I was sexually tortured and genitally mutilated by my ex-wife, which was certainly the cause of my PTSD. I've never talked to anyone else out there like me, but I have to assume they exist because I've seen endless videos of this kind of stuff, and I have to assume that they can't all have consented.

Did I consent to sexual torture and mutilation? Technically yes. However I don't think torture is necessarily something that can really be consented to. In my case, I believe the consent was coerced due to a long campaign of gaslighting and fearmongering on my ex-wife's part.

As has been explained to me numerous times, if I ask you to punch me in the jaw and you do, who's going to be arrested for battery?
 

Friday

Moderator
🤣 LMFAO…. Aaaaargh! I’m still something like 3 days in trying to respond to your dehumanising thread without losing it in drafts. 🤣

Seriously, though, you give good thread. My hard stuff rarely comes up in this community, and it’s good to be able to work on.

Do you feel that being tortured has a special place within the context of your traumatic experiences?
It’s the one of a few things I ‘never’ talk about… that I’ve talked about the most. As several years back I “had” to go testify before a panel in DC, followed immediately thereafter by a military tribunal. So I hired a trauma therapist to attempt to help me get to a point where I could speak clearly / concisely / on point to a very narrow time period in my trauma history… without losing my ever loving mind; sought out resources online (how I found this place!); and right up until the moment I got on the (correct) plane? Didn’t know if I’d go, or ditch my citizenship and run for my life.

Have you ever spoken to other torture survivors before?
- The people I was with, at the time. Some of whom didn’t survive, so I don’t know if that counts under the letter, but suspect the spirit, of the Q.
- A few people on here.
- A few very brief encounters out & about.
- However many people I never knew, nor did they, that we share history 😉 I needed a bit of levity for a moment. And ‘It’s funny because it’s true’ counts!
- My favourite ex-fiancé

I'd like to reach out and connect. Community reintegration is a big part of my therapy, which is part and parcel for why I'm doing these Let's Talk series-threads. I've had lots of different experiences happen to me.
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims In the US they’re mostly focused on refugees, but there are a few locations who also specialize in journalists, K&R, combat vets regardless of nation or enterprise, gang members, etc. In other countries one will find different trending. Like in cartel country most of the therapists and groups are focused on cartel & police torture victims.


Let's Talk series-threads. I've had lots of different experiences happen to me.

I’ll get back to you on this. Or not. (Just to make it more likely that I will, leaving myself the option to Nope! out). But I can say we have quite a bit in common on both that list, and in lasting results.
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
Oofsie. Yeah. Erm.

I think essentially torture narrows down to be trapped and have to navigate your way through severe to extreme pain without being able to escape. The notion of escape though I do find difficult to define, at least for me, technically I wasn't detained, but I guess I was. I was detained by the idea someone could die because of me. Torture I think hones on your sense of dignity and resistance, and does everything to break it. It has nothing to do with fetching information at its base. Information is the pretext. Terror is the only reason.

I have flashbacks of sceneries in which I was tortured in plain sight. Being sussured the most horrible things while simply waking in a park, and I knew what was waiting for me, I knew there was no escape, I knew there was no shortcut, no sleep, no relief, there only were hours and hours of terror, then assault, then hope, then rinse and repeat. Swans and dogs and joggers carried with their days but my universe was molten there.

I never spoke about this in these terms with anyone. Sometimes I did mention it but the experience seems so brutal that no one is disposed to actually hear it. And as it was entirely domestic, it doesn't even bring the silly attire of "bravery" that a military scenario would. People don't know what to do about this. I feel I'm pushed to say "it was a hard relationship" but to say it's a euphemism makes me laugh nervously.

It's the sense of knowing you're being held and knowing that all you can do is to endure. All that is left to you is your poor mind trying to reach a black hole that would at least shut the f*ck up. And it comes or it doesn't. I couldn't recognise my face. I have a scar and a broken thumb. I had a rib broken too. Right and wrong simply collapse, truth is irrelevant. Even death somewhat, is irrelevant, until you suddenly wake up and see it coming and something pushes you out in extremis. You'd try anything to survive, committing suicide would be for later. Surviving is purely automatic.

I do know my words are accurate or at least I try them to be. But at the same time it feels ridiculous. It looks nonsensical. It doesn't look like it's possible that me the woman in a pink coat went through this. I'm not a woman in a pink coat. Yet I evidently am.

I feel like authorities fail to understand what power really means in that sense. By definition that kind of power means to be able to get away, being tortured means remained trapped in hell and surviving just for the sake of surviving. You don't even know why you are even doing this anymore. It doesn't matter.

In my particular case I feel like that person almost wanted to prove that love didn't exist, that hope didn't exist. It really felt like going the distance to try to break me and own me. It didn't really work, but there were breaking points. I came out of it feeling like I had to murder a part of myself for that madness to cease.

Is that torture? I think it is. My tendency would be to say it's not a too much of a bad form rsrsrsrsrs, but honestly wtf lol, of course horror always can get worse and even at its entry point it is horror.

A bad girlfriend. I had almost a panic attack reading these three words. Your love isn't enough, and proof it is I am going to break it. Watch me. These were his words.

It is also by reading through military stories that I realised my shit might have been more serious than I thought. Because I was showing the same kind of PTSD outbursts than people having been deployed on war zones. For a civilian that's just abnormal.

Or is it?

In some regards, I do think patriarchy, and/or even spousal entitlement, do constitute enough of a frame of an institution to fill the notion of state authority. Same goes to churches. These institutions, states, churches, patriarchy, marriage, family, work, they are intertwined in our survival and people in them can use that bond as a leverage to prevent from escaping and enforcing situations of torture.
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
Also I forgot to add, one of the most painful parts is that since you're by definition isolated, your torturer also becomes your only source of support. You are forced to bond with them in some capacity. You are forced to get along. Might not even be felt that way but yeah, that's an aspect of it. Cannot have torture without a torturer. It is very intentional. And in some twisted way you end up knowing them probably better than they'll ever know themselves.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
It's the sense of knowing you're being held and knowing that all you can do is to endure. All that is left to you is your poor mind trying to reach a black hole that would at least shut the f*ck up. And it comes or it doesn't. I couldn't recognise my face. I have a scar and a broken thumb. I had a rib broken too. Right and wrong simply collapse, truth is irrelevant. Even death somewhat, is irrelevant, until you suddenly wake up and see it coming and something pushes you out in extremis. You'd try anything to survive, committing suicide would be for later. Surviving is purely automatic.
wow.
This is ...wow.
It is the best explanation I've heard.
Just. Wow.

I'm here. On this thread. Yay me!!! (for those just joining in, I've denied the whole torture thing for a long time so being able to be here is a pretty big jump for me)

And to add to my aha moments.
I kept thinking there was no "state sanctioning" crap in my situation.
Which means I'm totally skipping over the whole military environment thing
Guess that counts as government?

It used to be my favorite place in the world, my safe place, and now I can't even wash my face
This makes me so sad for you... 🫂
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
psychological torture.

The place where you are no longer a human to them. You are just a doll to be played with, broken and put back on a shelf.
The place where you start to wonder if you are invisible or if you even exist.

Or the place where they do see you for YOU, a being to be played with and tormented, acknowledging your humanity as something to break.

Or they go back and forth, sometimes you are real and sometimes you are not. You won't know until the moment you see them, to see if they recognize you or see just a tool to use for amusement.

How do you keep your mind together when they make you believe you aren't even there?
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
The government stuff makes it so much worse. I feel like the whole world is against me and that it is impossible for me to ever get legal justice. In a way, it feels like my entire world is ruled by my abusers or people who have done the same things to other children. People who already see me only as collateral damage and can make me go away if I step too far out of line.
@prynne

This aspect of it is what's made it difficult for me to engage with any aspect of our municipal services here. When I was in therapy through DHS and intake at the hospital I was afraid to be open about my experiences because I worried they'd tell the police and my family would be targeted.

That was a frequent threat made to me and the police did target my family through unlawful search warrants, repeatedly invading our home and destroying our belongings, etc. If I told anyone they'd kill my mom. I still worry about retaliation to this day. Even speaking online about it or telling a friend I contend with the paranoia that it may somehow reach their ears and we'll be punished.

It blew my paranoia way out of proportion when I found out that the woman who trafficked me wrote a school paper with one of the social workers that worked in the same building as my DHS therapist (this woman was extremely incompetent and shouldn't have been a therapist in the first place). It must have been a coincidence but try telling me that.

I was sexually tortured and genitally mutilated by my ex-wife, which was certainly the cause of my PTSD.
@somerandomguy

I was genitally mutilated as well, internally and externally. I retain some function but there is nerve damage and extensive scarring, and I've had surgery to repair some of the internal damage as an adult. It didn't occur within the context of a romantic relationship and I am a transgender male which makes my experiences different, but in this you aren't alone.

I've spoken to many people who have similar circumstances (typically FGM which I get isn't the same thing) and these feelings are really big and heavy and suffocating at times. It's hard to talk about and it can be very isolating. This is an aspect of my experience I do not often speak about, but felt compelled to do so today. Certainly not to overshadow you but to let you know you aren't alone and my diary and profile are always open if you'd care to chat.

I deeply appreciate you sharing on this thread.

LMFAO…. Aaaaargh! I’m still something like 3 days in trying to respond to your dehumanising thread without losing it in drafts. Seriously, though, you give good thread. My hard stuff rarely comes up in this community, and it’s good to be able to work on.
@Friday

Ha! It's been on my mind for a long ass time and I finally plucked up the gumption to start an open dialogue about it somewhere. It's been an incredible experience to be able to talk so openly about this and have others connect and relate to my experiences and even find these environments rewarding and helpful. I very rarely get an opportunity to organically discuss it outside of "hard trauma" spaces so it's been immensely powerful for me as well.

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims In the US they’re mostly focused on refugees, but there are a few locations who also specialize in journalists, K&R, combat vets regardless of nation or enterprise, gang members, etc.

A fantastic resource along with the International Committee of the Red Cross and https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/assets/...international-humanitarian-law-i-icrc-eng.pdf (A 600 page treatise on international humanitarian law)
as well as https://www.vivo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/neu_1.-NET-studies-January-2021-ohne.pdf A detailed list of publications on NET (you'll have to search the books/papers yourself as they're not listed)
APA PsycNet another article on FORNET in treating traumatized offenders and victims (this is the therapy I'm undergoing currently).
Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) (The Bellevue program)
Program for Survivors of Torture & Trauma (PSTT) - Northern Virginia Family Service (The North Virginia program)

One thing I'd also love this thread to accomplish is to have a list of resources available for torture victims to seek out.

I think essentially torture narrows down to be trapped and have to navigate your way through severe to extreme pain without being able to escape.
@coraxxx

I would agree with this though I do think there's room to expand. For example some of the things I endured did not result in any physical pain such as
mock executions and being forced to dig a pit that I was supposedly going to be buried in
but yet caused an immense degree of distress and shock of imminent death that never came.

Much like @Freida stated with psychological torture. The spirit-breaking place. The dehumanization component, the deliberation. Having absolutely no choice but to endure whatever they want you to endure. You can't even kill yourself. I wonder if tying it to the distress level itself would make more sense, plus the lack of ability to escape.

Food for thought.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
One thing I'd also love this thread to accomplish is to have a list of resources available for torture victims to seek out.
A link to an essay a member shared with me, on a thread from quite awhile ago - The Psychology of Torture. It's by a psychologist from Israel, his bigger focus is writing on narcissism but he's drawn a connection between narcissism, psychopathy, and torture.

It's weird; I'm having a pretty strong reaction to this thread, and I'm not entirely sure why. One of the first questions I asked this site when I joined had to do with this topic - I ended up here after searching for resources and connections, something that would make it so I wasn't the only person I knew who went through something like my situation. I was glad to find the site. I was surprised to hear a similar story.

I thought I had eventually accepted the word and the concept. Maybe not.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
I thought I had eventually accepted the word and the concept. Maybe not.
Such is the cyclical nature of traumatic processing, eh? There are times where it is plain to me as day and where a single ordinary tweak will have me convinced we all live in a simulation and I am utterly insane.

It's by a psychologist from Israel, his bigger focus is writing on narcissism but he's drawn a connection between narcissism, psychopathy, and torture.
Oh yes, I'm familiar with Sam Vaknin. There's something about the way this article is written that rubs me the wrong way, though I can't articulate why that is. It strikes me as oddly sensationalized, and it draws a number of conclusions that are based on assumptions that aren't entirely correct (example: all torture victims have PTSD).

Vaknin strikes me as someone very much concerned with earning profit and self-promotion, though some of his ideas do hold merit via the lens of personal experience (as far as I understand it he's diagnosed with NPD) this isn't necessarily scientific.

Nevertheless, an interesting read.

Other tormentors channel their negative emotions – pent up aggression, humiliation, rage, envy, diffuse hatred – and displace them. The victim becomes a symbol of everything that's wrong in the torturer's life and the situation he finds himself caught in. The act of torture amounts to misplaced and violent venting.

This part stood out to me as worthy of note. When I was 16 I
encountered a former abuser targeting a friend and something snapped within me. I jumped on him and threatened him sadistically with a knife under his eyes and threatened to cut his eyes out, cut his dick off, among other graphic statements.

There were also periods where I was forced to treat others violently and sadistically and gained cathartic release from it as a child while under the influence of crack. "Violent venting" is an apt term, especially considering how displaced those impulses are from my current desires and ethics (I am a pacifist and attempt to live peacefully in all ways.)
 
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joeylittle

Administrator
Vaknin strikes me as someone very much concerned with earning profit and self-promotion, though some of his ideas do hold merit via the lens of personal experience (as far as I understand it he's diagnosed with NPD) this isn't necessarily scientific.
Yeah, didn't say it was. It's an essay, that's all. I think it helped me because the context of my event was completely devoid of any connection to what I'd call a heightened environment. Backyard depravity; nothing international, nothing entangled with a government in any way, no meaningful financial transaction. Psychopathy as a hobby, not as a means to any end. Sometimes I wish it had been more of an organization, or entity, or at least pursuing material gain. It would help me relate to any of the research on the impact torture has on it's victims.
 
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