The Retractors' Voice is a newsletter for and by survivors of False Memory Syndrome, a condition usually resulting from Repressed-memory therapy in which a person's identify and Interpersonal relationships are centered around a memory of a Traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the Person strongly believes. The purpose of this publication is to provide a means of communication among those who have come out of False Memory Syndrome (FMS)" the retractors.

Dear Fellow FMS Survivors:                           Issue No 1 February 1997

I am 38 years old, have two children, and have been married for 19 years. Last March, I came out of my FMS. As I approach the one year anniversary of having my parents back, I am preparing to attend the FMS Foundation's conference, "Memory and Realty: Next Steps" in Baltimore on March 22 and 23. (An interesting coincidence: my father's birthday is March 22, which was also the day he received my written letter of retraction last year.) I hope to meet many of you at the conference in March; the FMS Foundation is offering a $50 rate for retractors.

I just spent my best Christmas ever in Florida with my parents and older brother. Sadly, my sister still suffers from FMS, and her two children (5 and 1 1/2) have never met their grandfather. My prayers for her continue.

Since my retraction, I have had thoughts like "Why my family? Why, Lord, did this have to happen to us? Why did we have to lose six years together? But recently I've decided to give some thought to what I've learned from this experience and what possible silver lining there could be in this horrible storm. I have found more positive elements than I expected.

After spending Christmas reunited with my parents and brother, I realize there is a certain richness to our relationships that wasn't there before. I doubt we will ever take each other for granted again. In many ways, we were all dead to each other for six years, and now we have a chance to relate to each other as we wish we always had. There were actually times during my FMS when I envied people who were grieving the physical death of a parent; I thought "at least they have something positive to grieve far." Now I feel guilty when I think of those people. I have a second chance with my parents; theirs are gone from this earth. So one positive that's come out of this is the recognition of the preciousness of our family relationships-a recognition that often only occurs when it's too late-and a chance to start over with this new awareness.

What have I learned from FMS? I've learned how easy it is to be severely misled. I've learned that even though people may be sincere in their efforts and speak as if they have definite knowledge, they can be totally and hideously WRONG! And I've learned that just because many people hold the same belief does not make them any less wrong. I've learned to question things more, to think for myself, do my own research far all the facts, and draw my own conclusions. I've learned how readily we humans assume guilt when someone is accused of a crime. Because of this natural inclination, I have a renewed respect for the approach our legal system should have of presuming innocence.

As a Christian, I also look for God's purpose in drawing me into this mess. I have tried in vain to get my sister to see the truth. I find myself drawn into the larger fight because of my inability to help her; hence, this newsletter and my attendance at the conference. And I can't help wondering if this isn't all part of His plan. Perhaps He wants to use me to help reunite other families caught in this nightmare. If I could somehow help even one family find their way out of the pain, that would be a silver lining...

Donna Anderson

 


In the front of their book, The Courage to Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis welcome any feedback or responses to their book, providing the address below. Following is my open response to Ellen and Laura via a copy of this newsletter

Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
P.O. Box 5296
Santa Cruz, CA 95063-5296

Dear Ellen and Laura:

My younger sister went in to in-patient treatment for depression in 1989. She was 30 years old and had just left her second husband. She came out of that treatment saying she remembered cur father sexually abusing her. She gave me your book, which told me the only thing I could do to really help her was, believe her. So even though it broke my heart, I did. I had always thought of my father as a kind and gentle man, but my sister and I have always been very close; and I knew she wasn't crazy, so what other explanation could there be?

She confronted our father within a few months, and our family (we have two older brothers) was torn apart. I was the only one in the family who believed her. Instead of getting better, my sister got worse. Her visions kept occurring, each one worse than the last. They seemed to occur in about a monthly cycle. She would start getting depressed, have a horrific memory, feel relieved for a while, then start feeling down again (just as suggested in your book). It was a vicious cycle that controlled her life. She remembered my older brother (10 years older than my sister) being told to touch her by my father. My brother has no such memories. She remembered my mother walking in on the abuse, looking startled, and walking back out. My mother has no such memories. My sister's

visions span time from age 6 months to 10 years of age.

She had visions of my father abusing both she and I together. I had no such memories, and I did not suffer from the symptoms listed in your book. It didn't make sense to me, but I still thought I must be repressing it because I believed her memories. I sought out a therapist to help me uncover my memories. I easily found one; and after three sessions, she did guided imagery with me and taught me to do it at home. While l never "saw" anything, she told me my body held the memories. She recommended your book, especially the writing exercises. I "felt" things happening to me in the guided imagery and, using what I had learned from the therapist and from your book, decided I had been abused as well.

My sister's visions continued getting worse until she had visions of my father killing her 3rd-grade best friend. My sister and I had no conscious memory of this girl dying, so my sister and her new husband (who is a private investigator) drove down to Miami where this supposedly occurred to see if they could confirm the girl's death. I thought we would finally have some proof of the abuse and could resolve the terrible estrangement in our family. They found the girl alive and well, married and living in the area. When they came back to Michigan, my sister felt that it may still be true; perhaps it was a different girl. This is when I began to doubt her visions.

During all of this time, my sister would often call me and express her doubts about whether or not her visions were true. I was a patient listener. I would refer to your book which told me that these kinds of doubts were normal.

My sister was sent to another in-patient treatment center because the visions would not stop. This treatment taught her to accept the abuse and move on. When she was released, she said she had decided that she would never be totally sure about it, but had to go on with her life. After that, she seldom wanted to discuss my parents and seemed annoyed when I did. But at least her visions finally stopped occurring.

Last spring, a television movie about Paul Ingram sent me to the library to research the "other" side of this issue. Paul confessed to abusing his daughters after a therapist put him into a trance-like state and taught him how to do this himself. Richard Ofshe, a cult specialist brought in by the prosecution, effectively proved Paul was innocent by telling Paul of a false abuse episode (something Mr. Ofshe made up)and asking him if he remembered. Paul said no but said he'd "work on it." He came back to Mr. Ofshe not only "remembering" the made-up abuse (which was confirmed to be false by Paul's daughters), but adding elaborate details about what happened and relating specific dialog. (Unfortunately, by this time Paul had convinced himself of his own guilt and confessed in court.)

I now realize my sister and I were not abused by our father. I know there are no such things as "body memories." While I am open to the possibility of repression of perhaps isolated traumatic events, I don't believe in repression of repeated events over a period of years. 'And I certainty don't believe that in one family, 4 out of 6 family members would repress abuse (as my sister's scenario suggests).

I have reconciled with my parents, and it is wonderful. I have my brothers back in my knife as well, and my children have their grandparents and uncles back. Unfortunately, there is now no convincing my sister she was not abused. She will not read books that challenge her belief. So while I have gained my other family members back, in many ways I have lost the sister I have been the closest to my whole life. I worry about the depression she may feel if she ever realizes it's not true-and yet I worry that she'll always believe the gentle father who loves her would do such horrible things, and her children and grandchildren will be robbed of grandparents who love them.

I write you this letter as a retractor who knows that you believe you are doing the right things and knows you are sincerely trying to help people. But I am writing to implore you to thoroughly research the other side of this issue with an OPEN mind. I was in the same bedroom with my sister all the years she thinks this happened. She is the youngest of four children -- yet no one else remembers any of this. And she had no "memory" of any of it until her therapy. Please you are destroying innocent families and pulling out the support systems of the people you are trying to help.

Do you have the courage to look at the other side? Do you have the courage to admit you may even be wrong and in doing so, save thousands of hurting families? Probably not -- but I had to at least try.

Sincerely,

Donna Anderson

 

A Coincidence?

One retractor I spoke to mentioned the second treatment center she went to. It was Pine Rest in Grand Rapids, Michigan-also the second place my sister received treatment.

The Retractors' Voice is a free publication. Donations to help meet expenses are gratefully accepted. 


Thanks for your cards and letters! Here are some excerpts:

Even though our daughter is a retractor, (my husband) and I still want to do all we can to help educate all those who do not see the dangers and pitfalls of repressed memory therapy. God has opened up doors for (our daughter) and I to go out and give lectures on false memory syndrome. We are both nurses. (We) have been privileged to be able to speak at Purdue University... The joy has not stopped since our family has been reunited. We even get to babysit for our precious grandchildren which we were not allowed to see for almost a year. The other day Jessica said "Grandma." I asked her what and she said "Grandma! I love you!" It just melts (my husband) and my heart. We are so thankful in having our family back together, and pray that many more families will soon be back together.
Barbara
Indiana

I have a very real disability in that I have bipolar and/or schizoaffective disorder and have had several relapses over the last few years. It is a genetically inherited disease. Of course, I was misdiagnosed with PTSD (past traumatic stress disorder) and Incest Survivor so I was not treated correctly for my real disorder for many years.
Melody Gavigan
Reno. NV

I think (the newsletter) is a much needed service for us who have survived FMS... I had to realize all problems don't go away after FMS; but they sure are a lot better than believing a lie! I thought it would be nice to have a column devoted to specific ways others have gotten on with life in order to survive the pain of what happened. I am in a Bible (not book) study at our church... It is healing to read what God's word has to say about life and trust Him for my healing.
Holly
Indiana

I'm a retractor from Massachusetts. I like Retractors' Voice as a name for the newsletter. I'm trying to decide whether to go to the conference in Baltimore. It would take some doing, getting a loan, as I live on social security. Looking forward to the newsletter.
Elizabeth
Northampton. MA

After a year of "Christian" counseling and six weeks after having a baby, I had my first "memories." The memories caused me to have a nervous breakdown. My counselor had told me "God causes you to forget your abuse until you are older and can cope with it." I believed that sexual abuse could be repressed because an acquaintance had recovered memories of sexual abuse. When the pressure of life got too tough, I gave up. I went through months of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts after separation from my family. My husband went through great pain and grief taking care of me, one child and a newborn while trying to work at the same time. After my second breakdown, my husband contacted my parents for help. They gave him information on FMS. He reminded me that I had never had these horrible memories before I went to counseling. He said "repressed memories" is a theory and that it is not supported by the Scriptures. It is by God's grace that I was able to begin to understand that the memories that were so painful and so real might be false. My parents have been so forgiving. I have lost so much of my life and so have my husband, children and the families from both sides. The belief of "repressed memories" has done much damage. The realization that this theory is not Biblically based must be shown to the churches that are teaching it as fact.
A Daughter. Wife. and Mother

Please feel free to make copies of this newsletter, especially if it might help someone.

 


 Kenneth Robertson is a retractor and has been falsely accused. He granted permission to use his name, address and phone number when submitting these lovely poems:

 ANGELS HAVE THAT HABIT

 When I was in a doctor's care

I prayed each day that God be there.

Let an angel with me abide

Until I'm happy deep inside.

Let something good occur again

And end this judgment of my sin.

Roll back the clouds of darkest drear

And please, acknowledge that I'm here.

My life has lain in ruin three years

And a river I've cried of tears.

In 'Angelic Apparition:

An answer to this petition,

0 In the form of a friend, a nurse

Saying, ?My cousin shares your curse

She's in the 'survivors' sin.

Her turmoil rises deep within.

Her accusation's surely false

You'd need only to read her pulse

To feel the torment in her mind.

This thing 'repression' you will find

Only exists within the cult

Which makes its money on insults."

To her my story did unfold

How this deception had its hold,

And patiently she did listen

As I glimpsed her halo glisten.

Then once again she spoke to me,

"Go back to God, now don't you flee,

Don't seek for credibility.

O Receive again your sanity."

She connected me to my past

With information so, so vast,

Using a scrapbook now dated,

Pictures, letters antiquated

And reminders of that old car

I had driven so very far

Just to take her with her brother

For a visit with their mother

She arose, left and closed the door.

Would she return? My heart would soar!

She made me happy, that is so,

Angels have that habit, you know.

 

TO CLARlSSA AT CHRISTMAS

 Please be with me when I die

I'll see an angel on each side.

I've missed you through the years

And cried so many, many tears.

I don't want to make You cry

But be with me when I die.

I'll have thirty years or more

Before I reach that golden floor

And see our God up in the sky,

Please be with me when I die

I long to hear your lovely voice,

Let's get together and rejoice.

Don't wait till in my grave I lie,

Please be with me when I die.

Don't 1st this one Christmas pass

My poor heart's not made of glass,

Must I use this breath to sigh:

Please be with me 'till I die?

Young granddaughter kept from me,

Don't end my life lest you I see,

Please be with me when I die,

I'll see an angel on each side.

 

My therapy has caused this pain-

God grant repression end defamed.

Clarissa, hear my lonely cry

And be with me 'till I die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenneth Robertson

Ph. 506/883-4399

1601 Pennsylvania NE U20

Albuquerque, NM 87110

 

 


Here is Margaret's heart-wrenching story. In my prayers, she remains...

My story has resulted in the loss of my children, poverty, and physical injury with no health insurance. I First entered therapy a few months after my mother died. I was the mother of 7 year old twin daughters. My marriage was abusive and I was suffering symptoms of grief and depression but 1 had a hopeful outlook on life and was going to school and had just written my first novel.

The therapist took a spiritual angle on the hypnosis which later in the therapy led into evil and demonic forces. I had never consider my parents to be abusive before therapy. In fact it took a year for the " memories to surface." The therapist did not show much interest in my issues or problems until the " memories " started to surface. Then she began her campaign with the books and the groups arid all the propaganda about what it meant to be a survivor.

And of course she had God on her side and every time I would say something that didn't agree with, she would say that I was either 1) being abusive 2) being influenced by demonic forces 3) another personality was talking.

She never did counseling on the marriage issue. In fact during the time when I was at the peak of "memories" my husband split up with me and the therapist took him on in separate therapy with her against my wishes. I reluctantly kept my mouth shut most of the time because she told me that if he was in therapy with her that he would not abuse my children,. Most mothers I know who went through FMS,_were at one point feared. of their spouse abusing their children, even when it wasn't true.

My ex-husband proceeded with the divorce, designing a contract that cut me out of my rights and choices. I was too dysfunctional by then to take care of my interests. The therapist refused to assist me legally because she said she could not testify against my ex-husband because he was her client also. This conflict of interest, plus the fact that my ex was using my condition and my fabricated history of satanic ritual abuse, etc. to call me a unfit mother, plus the utter betrayal of the therapist in whom my trust had been put led to the loss of my children and all re civil rights were taken away from. me.

My children are now seventeen. They lost a mother and they lost opportunities for college that I was working toward providing for them financially. I lost all those years of education and career development for myself plus lost family, friends and community. I have no home and my neck and back are still in pain from the injury suffered through the abusive marriage which was never addressed by the therapist. She tried to tell me that the pain was dark farces and another personality held that pain.

I was still very raw and hysterical when I filed a lawsuit against the therapist. My condition was attacked. I was a worthless human being who had so many problems anyway that it really didn't matter that I was used as a guinea pig for this insane therapy and mind control. They battered me into submitting to a settlement that didn't cover even a fraction of what it would take to put me back on my feet.

But the damage is done. I didn't get to raise my daughters. I didn't get the education and career I wanted. I didn't get to mourn my mother, instead I was led to believe she was a monster. I didn't get my fathers' assistance in a difficult divorce. I lost my home.

My therapist kept telling me to came back to her because I was almost "home" .Fox the last two years, my home as been the foam mat on the bare floor of a friend's apartment. My therapist still lives in her nice house and takes international vacations every year. I watch her depositions on video tape. She lies and lies. And she still tries to say that I was abused as a child. No, I was abused as adult.

I am finally opening up to my father. I never confronted him. You see, in my false memories, my parents were supposedly abusers because they were possessed by evil forces themselves, so in the warped state of mind the therapy created in me, I did not blame my father but saw him as a victim also. This saved him from the confrontation but it caused me to hold an the pain inside by myself and alone. Also he was not able to be there for me to keep the legal proceedings from destroying me. He is now shocked to learn how far down I have come and very worried and concerned and still I can not bare to tell him the whole story, about the cut-off bloody.body parts, etc.

There is no one to talk to. It is hard to find a therapist who can help with these issues and most of them don't want to talk to you when they learned you have sued another therapist. I can't talk to!he new friends I am trying to make because it is such a bizarre story. There are not many people who can understand and stomach the amount of pain suffered. They don't realize that the suffering one has with these belief and images of torture affect you as if you were actually going through it.

I feel like a combat soldier who was taken prisoner and was tortured for years. Now as I return to civilization, I cannot truly return. There is no place for me and the pain is too constant.
Margaret M.
Berkeley,

While I've heard from a number of you, I-know there are hundreds more from whom l have not heard. Ideas for future issues are welcomed. One suggestion has been a column where parents can ask questions of retractors about dealing with their FMS children. Several responses could he provided by different retractors. Please let me hear from you. My phone number is ............ your submission to the next newsletter can be faxed to .......... or mailed to:.........................
Donna Anderson

Typed material is helpful, especially for longer submissions. Please indicate whether or not I can use your full name in the newsletter.

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "...plans to give you Hope and a Future...
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11.13


 

Goofy Santa

Happy Christmas memories
Today recalled with joyful ease

Yard lights the likes of which you'd find
In some star-crossed, magical place in time

Erected by the "Dad and Battey Boys Crew"
Excited little sisters running askew

These same two first woke on each Christmas morn
To open their stockings wee hours before dawn

Down the hallway they'd slither, slowly like spies
Beholding the tree, a feast for their eyes

Then pouncing Mom and Dad from their much-needed sleep
To share stocking treasures, so gleeful to keep

St. Nickolas Dad set the tone of the day
A goofy hat set on his head straight away

Our moods were all festive, with slaughter throughout
At dinner we gathered, no food done without

These memories I cherish with pleasure and joy
All in celebration of God's little boy

I realize the spirit I feel every year
I owe to these memories and the parents held dear

To them I am grateful for the peace that I've found
In the spirit of Jesus all the year round.

Donna Anderson
December 1996

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