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Adult and Adolescent Indicators of Ritual Trauma
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Adult and Adolescent Indicators of Ritual Trauma
by Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D., 2004

(Remember, indicator lists only provide common associated signs. Most survivors will have many indicators. The presence of indicators does not prove the existence of ritual trauma. Their absence does not mean a person has no such trauma.)

1. May be relatively normal and highly functional.

2. A strong sense of social justice and victim advocacy.

3. May seek careers in social services, a strong wounded healer.

4. May be a strong political and social crusader.

5. Advocate for animal rights. Loves pets.

6. May be only depressed or anxious or have sexual or substance-abuse problems.

7. No memory of childhood, or of particular childhood ages or school years.

8. Idealization of parent figures and superficial descriptions of their qualities.

9. Inability to recall childhood home, or anxiety upon recollecting childhood home.

10. Threatening or denigrating voices, perceived as coming from inside the head.

11. Dissociated identities, often with hundreds of "parts".

12. History of significant suicidality, often beginning in childhood or following attempted disclosure.

13. History of significant self-mutilation, particularly cuts in patterns, shapes, or letters, and genital self-harm or introduction of sharp objects into genitalia. This is often concealed.

14. Extreme social anxiety, difficulty making eye contact.

15. Extreme distrust of people, hypervigilance, and startle responses.

16. Inability to assert or defend self.

17. Fears, phobias, or nightmares associated with religion, e.g., priests, churches, crosses, Christmas, demons, angels, God, etc.

18. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of health care, e.g., doctors, dentists, hospitals, syringes.

19. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of body fluids and excretions, e.g., blood, feces, urine, saliva, vomit.

20. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of weapons, including knives, guns, and ropes.

21. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of birthdays and weddings.

22. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of men or women, and babies.

23. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of the police, jails, and cages.

24. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of baths and drowning.

25. Fears, phobias, or nightmares of insects, snakes, spiders, and rats.

26. Fear of cameras and of being photographed.

27. Fear of specific colors (often red) or shapes (often circles).

28. Fears, phobias, nightmares, or an attraction, to metaphysics and the occult, e.g., Halloween, masks, witches, vampires, astrology, full moons, psychic abilities, astral travel, extraterrestrials, etc.

29. Chronic stress-related disorders, e.g., fibro-myalgia, lupus, arthritis, eczema, asthma.

30. Frequent and severe migraine headaches.

31. Ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.

32. Significant skeletal injuries or pain, especially to the neck, back, and joints.

33. Unusual scars or suspicious or unexplainable childhood or adult operations or hospitalizations

34. High pain tolerance; lack of awareness of injury or illness.

35. Problems with food and eating, particularly fasting, purging, anorexia, or obesity.

36. Vegetarianism or ritualized eating, such as eating only certain foods or in a certain order.

37. Interest in witchcraft and the occult.

38. Hatred or attraction to Nazis and white supremacy groups.

39. Extreme avoidance and fear of discussing and disclosing his/her abuse history

40. Sexual aversion.

41. Sexual perversion, intrusive thoughts or impulses, especially sado-masochism, pedophilia, zoophilia.

42. Recurrent bladder, yeast infections, and skin irritation in genital region

43. Illogical sudden urges to re-locate to a new distant residence or to drive great distances.






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