Trigger Warning: non-detailed mentions of the affects of surviving ritual and/or spiritual abuse
Note 1: I see the word Ritual used a lot in Black & POC community healing. There are people including survivors of abuse, who use this word as a way to celebrate and empower themselves and others. THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT THEM IN ANY WAY.
Note 2: Ritual Abuse is not only Satanic Ritual Abuse, despite what we read in the media. There is a good webpage that explores the different kinds, and the help that is available for survivors. https://information.pods-online.org.uk/demystifying-ritual-abuse/. PODS – Positive Outcomes for Dissociation is a site that also provides resources for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder and OSDD
Words and their meanings change over time – that’s a feature and not a bug. Reclaimed words however can still wound me if I have spent most of my life hearing them in certain contexts.
As a survivor of abuse, the R-word is incredibly triggering to me, even in safer spaces. For example: I joined a healing group meeting on Zoom a few weeks ago, and had to leave about five minutes in, as the facilitator kept using the R-word to describe what we would do. I could have spoken up, but to do so would make me feel even more vulnerable than I already was. In addition, I am often unable to communicate normally when I’ve been triggered. I have too many memories of abusive people using the R-word to mask their physical, sexual and spiritual violence to vulnerable adults and children in my past, for it to be a neutral term to me now. Other words like Spells and Magic, don’t bother me as much, but Witchcraft does. I know other survivors may have different connotations to these words. I am writing from my own lived experience.
In decolonised healing practices, R-word and W-word are reclaimed from a time where indigenous spirituality was outlawed or at the least mocked and disparaged. The whyte Halloween/Hollywood version of W-word that many see as a bit of harmless fun in the media, isn’t what I personally feel when I hear them. I see sinister ways to control people in a non-consensual manner. I see practices that are distorted from their original intent, often mixed with Christianity (or other dominant religion) to make a truly toxic mix.
Words can carry a lot of weight to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and other types of trauma-related mental health issues. There may not be another word but those above that encapsulates a process involved in healing in a non-western way, but checking that others are okay with these words, is a way to be more inclusive. Speaking for myself, I’ve already been cut out of most healing practices because of my size, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation. And I’d like a chance to feel better too, without being triggered by the things supposed to help me