parenting

GASLIGHTING: The Movie That Should Make You Shudder

Gaslighting

GASLIGHTING is a twenty minute film packed with a raw and candid look into the true-life story of a teenage girl named Brooke, played by Hannah Walters, who has suffered sexual abuse as a child. In just a short twenty minutes, her whole life unfolds. With a mother who is caught in a domestically violent relationship and rearing three other children, Brooke is often left in the care of questionable adults who use her compliance and fear to their advantage. The child welfare system continually fails her. Held silent in mental fear, she is victim blamed by teachers, her own mother and a court judge. In essence, for Brooke, there is no safe place.

If this film makes you cringe, cover your eyes, gasp or even cry then you are one of the good ones. This movie is a raw depiction about how a child protection system, justice system, parents, teachers and caregivers continually fail children who have been abused.

GASLIGHTING is a perfect example of what society must fix in order to bring about change in our world. This movie is a reminder that the planetary social construct can no longer ignore the horrors being wrought upon the most innocent of its inhabitants, our children.

Children deserve to have a safe space. Children deserve care, love and protection. GASLIGHTING will remind you of something incredibly important. That teenager you can’t stand, who you think is so horrible, is most likely in even more emotional pain. Beneath their sullen silence, the lashing out, the self-harm and inability to communicate, is a child needing someone to listen to them tell us why they are broken.

As a survivor of sexual abuse I can assure you that this ripping of innocence shatters the very core of a child. I am a firm supporter of anyone working with children being required to go through an intensive course on recognizing the signs of child abuse. GASLIGHTING should be added to the list of required viewing.

Anger is not a base emotion. Pain is. Anger is the projection of that emotion. When you see anger you are really seeing pain.

Watch GASLIGHTING here:

Gaslighting

Please support  GASLIGHTING by leaving a review or donating to the work involved in utilizing this film for global education.

Vennie Kocsis is the author of CULT CHILD and other publications.  She is the host of Survivor Voices Show on Freedom Slips / Studio B, each Sunday at 6PM EST.  She is a child advocate, artist and uses her passion for creative therapy to reach other trauma survivors. Visit Vennie at her personal website, Vennie Kocsis Official.

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The Outhouse and a Sears Magazine

When I was a child growing up on Sam Fife’s cult compound in Alaska, we did not have electricity or plumbing. As a result, we used the bathroom in chamber pots and outhouses. We also did not have toilet paper. Our toilet paper was often a Sears magazine with anything that wasn’t “proper” for us to see torn out of it.

We would rip out a couple of pages, sitting bare butted on top of a wooden hole, softening the glossy paper with our hands so that we could wipe as gently as possible.

I also had a severe fear that a demon would rise from the pile of human manure and snatch me down into the outhouse hole.

It was here, that I would find the toy sections of the magazine, and I would see what all the of the kids outside of the compound were getting to play with. These toys were considered evil commodities for they fed the wants and desires of the flesh; to want to play and enjoy doing it. For all “play” and attention should be only on God and what he wanted for our lives.

Yet, they left those pages in the magazine for us children to have to use as toilet paper after stealing a few seconds to dream of what could be.

So I used these pages to clean my body, dropping them to float down into a mound of lime covered feces, urine and other, already melting pages.

Your face crinkles as you read this.

Gross“, you say.

Yes. The smell covers you, rancid and fuming, even with the lime to help counter it.

When we finally got toilet paper around 1981, it was rationed. Families were given toilet paper rolls based on how many people were in their family. Then the toilet paper roll itself was rationed.

One square for number one and two squares for number two.”

The rule of thumb in regards to the use of toilet paper.

We live in this society who doesn’t understand what’s it’s like to be without even the smallest of things like toilet paper and baby wipes, diapers and showers, toilets that flush and electricity; even the freedom to be exactly who we want to be if we so choose.

Toilet meditations often reveal a lot.

I’m grateful as fuck for toilet paper and toilets that flush. Not because of third world countries who don’t have them, but because I lived a third world childhood in a first world country that was and still is so focused on third world issues that the citizens of America never pay attention to the horror children endure here in their own camp.

and for the most part, they still aren’t.

I’m done dealing with humans who claim co-consciousness and oneness or follow religions that claim to be based out of love yet are the same people supporting things like hitting children. They call it discipline. I call it abuse that damages the spinal column.

Oh, that’s just science. What do they know… unless you’re dying. Then you care about science.

Yes, I’m talking directly to you.

How can anyone be love in any way while at the same time finding a reason to support hitting, neglecting or harming the most innocent and defenseless humans on the planet?

This oxymoron of take and shut down are like gnats.

I realized today in a big way, how much humans are stuck in duality; how they think they know all, and yet, if they silenced themselves to listen, if they read the voices of us survivors who have written out our experiences, they would understand how deeply they must open their minds in order to truly bring this planet to a place of peace.

They’d understand why people like me, are grateful for toilet paper, why we fight against mind control and shorten our allowance arena.

Until you’ve lived with nothing. Until you’ve carried the scars of a shattered sacrum from too many childhood spankings, memories of outhouses and dumping chamber pots into potty dump holes, working through aching bones, untreated split skin and bruises, you can’t know. You lived a life of electricity, television and secular luxuries like getting to go to grocery stores.

Until you’ve had that all stripped from you and lived wiping yourself with magazine pages holding treasures you can never have, oh, dears, you cannot know. You can only accept and ask yourself why you can’t open your mind to care.

Be grateful for toilet paper.

Growth Sometimes Comes In Small Packages

It’s been a long run with me being a parent. I was a young mother at twenty. The parenting skills I knew, I acquired from my own mother, and well, anyone who has read “Cult Child” knows that her parenting skills were sub par.

There were things I hoped I would never do; like make mistakes. No one ever told me that was okay. No one ever told me that I was a flawed human being.

My eldest son went straight into parenthood at a young age. He is a warrior child, and while his personality is… Virgo, fact based, ready to make a move and sometimes difficult, I admire the tenacity with which he figures out supporting his family.

This is where I feel I failed as a mother. I didn’t have the best of life skills in my earlier days and because of that, my eldest especially, suffered with the same.

When his little daughter was born last week, 6 weeks before time, just a mere 3.5lbs, in the ICU, but doing so well, nothing in the past mattered for me. We sprung into action. I realize that while I cannot do everything, like be a nanny, I can be the best YaYa to these beautiful grandchildren and support my family emotionally while still maintaining my own mental health boundaries.

We are growing. I am learning. My sons are teaching me that I have to let go; that I will always be mom and they will be brothers who have secrets and moments in which I am not included. That hurts sometimes, triggering me back to being a child on the cult, shunned for some infraction. Yet, I bring my critical thinking into the forefront and remember that this is not the same. This is two brothers loving each other, and they deserve that special bond.

In this experience, through help from friends and my counselor, I’m learning my place as mom; that I cannot fix everything. I cannot rescue everyone. I can support without exhausting myself. That is my responsibility to maintain.

I am thankful today for these lessons, and I take them with me, adding to my infinite growth.

Why You Shouldn’t Stand In Front Of a Runaway Train

When my eldest son was in his early teens, he loved his trick bikes and was quite good at jumping hills. We’d go out to the dirt bike jumps before the days of cemented skate parks. I was adamant about helmets, elbow pads and knee pads.

OMG, mom. I look stupid!” He’d say.

He’d put them on, but just like I changed clothes after I left the house as a teenager, he took off his uncool protective gear when he was out of my eyesight too.

Then one day he bit it. Jamming down a hill, peddling his heart out, he crashed, straight into the gravel. His arms were like mincemeat, his face scraped up, and he was injured quite seriously.

I might have said I told you so, but more, I nursed his wounds, with pillows propped under his gauze covered arms, I felt so bad for my kiddo’s pain. Now, as a father, he requires his children to wear protective gear.  Experiences like that aren’t forgotten. 

There’s a saying; something about not standing in front of someone else’s firing squad. I think on that tonight. No matter how I explained to my son about head injuries and what could happen to him if he didn’t wear protective gear, what mattered most to him was looking cool to his friends and fitting in where he felt comfortable. He still has scars from that accident.

Life experience has taught me a harsh but valuable lesson. If someone is standing in front of a train, don’t attempt to push them out of the way. I’m not talking about suicide here. I am talking about life situations.

I am an outspoken Empath. I see much. One of the difficult parts of owning this state of being is remembering that even when I can see what is coming for someone, I have to let them have their own experience.  Sometimes we have to just let the train wreck and decide whether we want to be a part of the cleanup crew.    

By the way, that doesn’t mean you should let your kids ride bikes without protective gear.

When situations arise in adult relationships sometimes it’s best to step back, float up to an observational space and assess from all perspectives. I have to accept that sharing my experiences, information, insight and perspective doesn’t guarantee someone’s protection, because they may choose to reject it or even interpret it as judgment so they don’t have to accept any truth in it.  I know this mindset because I’ve lived it.  There have been many times I placed my ethics aside, just to have what I wanted, made myself believe it was good for me, then paid dearly in the end.  

I was in an abusive relationship many years ago.  It didn’t happen right away.  There’s always the love bombing stage.  For some narcissists this can be years.  My self esteem had waned to nearly nothing, and I convinced myself that this man would be good to me, was just working on growing himself, and so I dove in.  

Months later, after being choked in an elevator, running for my life, having my head slammed repeatedly against a wall as my helpless younger, pre-teen son stood by, my then partner was finally arrested. 

I received a phone call from the assistant district attorney. 

Do you know his record?” She asked me. 

I replied that I didn’t.  

Ah, well let’s see, pimping and pandering and kidnapping.”  She read the former charges he’d been incarcerated for. 

I asked him about them when I accepted his collect call from jail. He had an explanation; an ex-girlfriend who just had it out for him and since he was a guy, he got stuck with the charges.  

Ah.” I thought.  “How messed up they did that to him.”

Need I remind you that I had been choked, beaten and exposed my child to domestic violence just weeks earlier?  This is the depth of a narcissistic mind controller. 

I went to court on his behalf,  because you see, I was the One.  He was going to change for me.  I asked the judge to grant him counseling because, well, he just had anger issues. My abuser.  I stood and pled HIS case.  

Not my case.

Not my kid’s case.

His.

He didn’t win and was incarcerated.  I was at the prison doors when he was released.  I took him back.  News flash.  He continued to abuse me until I finally left.  Fled would be a better word.  I fled. 

I sat and listened to a domestic violence counselor, who the assistant district attorney asked to call me, beg me not to be with this individual. 

They never change, girl. Not the narcissism that comes with being a pimp, ex or not.  It’s in their DNA.”

Still I didn’t listen, believing that I was the one who would be special.  There is no telling where I would be or what would have happened had I not finally gained the courage to leave and never look back. 

I ponder now on those days understanding that this time in my life was extremely indicative of how I viewed myself.  I assess my life now, and what I still must rid in order to continue growing and becoming better as a human being.   I know my worth.  I am in control of me.  I say when, where and how.   I stand on my feet.  No one will ever abuse me again.  There is only one chance to see the signs of narcissistic behavior in a potential partner, and I am a ghost. 

I must always realize where I am in this life’s journey, focusing inward and ask myself the question I am asking myself every day.

Is this situation/relationship/friendship contributing to my greater good?”

Every situation can contribute to our good if we choose the path which yields fruit. 

A Moment In the Mind of a Mother With DID

I stand still in my slippered feet. The girls are at the table coloring. My youngest son is visiting from college and is recalling a childhood moment with me.

“You took me to watch The Grinch, remember?” He asks. His eyebrows are furrowed.

“I did?” I am flipping through the years like micro film, trying to bring up the memory.

“Oh my gosh, mom! How can you not remember that?” He exclaims. I drown in his frustration.

I am on the spot standing in shame. How careless I must seem to not remember an experience that is so obviously a fond memory for him. What kind of mother would not remember that moment? What kind of mother doesn’t remember special memories with her children?

A mother with DID. I want to say this as he continues on, his brother joining him, but they don’t pause to let words in, and they’re certainly not seemingly interested.

“You DO know who the Grinch is, right?” My eldest asks.

“Of course I do.” I reply.

And they go on to tell me of the movie, and I remember Jim Carey’s antics and sparkly green fur. I just don’t remember seeing it at a theater.

But I can’t say it right now, with granddaughters happily coloring away in their coloring books and my sons in their own energy, laughing and remembering.

I can’t say how I will claw away at the particles of blank spaces trying to find this moment. I can’t let out the lump in my throat that outside of those who understand my cult aftermath, I will stand judged and misunderstood more than not. There will be no room for explanation or conversations that open doorways to understanding.

I can only quietly walk away and wish I could switch minds with them for a day. Then maybe we could understand each other. I could see myself from their perspective. I could understand them more if I could see me like they do.

It’s not their responsibility, but it’s mine to remember. I walk away wincing the ache of failure. How can I ever explain to them the maze that is my brain? How can I draw out blank spaces, pain and the exhausting  strain of remembering?

I accept that only those who have suffered similarly to me can feel with me. Only those who have experienced the fragmented pieces that are the aftermath of a complex childhood filled with physical, sexual and mental torture, can truly understand what we become, who arrives to help us through, and why we stand staring, akwardly on the spot, holding blank spaces in our palms.