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Trust betrayed, a mind shattered

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Today the Sequim Gazette embarks on a continuing series of reports that look longer and dig deeper into their subjects than our usual news and feature stories. Introducing INSIGHT

Cautionary note: The following story was painful for its author and editors because we were victims of abuse or are close to victims. It describes abuse - although not graphically -- and could trigger memories or flashbacks in readers. It also could raise questions from children. Nevertheless, it is an important story that we must share. Shedding light on this subject will help to remove the stigma from its victims and to bring abusers to justice.


Every morning, Dauna Cole holds a conference with four other people, all of whom live inside her mind.

George has a deep voice and is unemotional and businesslike. He functions as Cole's intellect, taking tests and going to work for her.

Suzie laughs and tends to be emotional. She cries easily, even at commercials. She enjoys shopping and would hang out with Cole's daughters when they were teenagers.

Naunie at 5 is sweet and innocent. She has a high, little-girl voice.

Joe is a teenage boy who uses slang and enjoys sports. He is active and likes to hike, bike and camp.

At the meetings, Cole lies in a quiet place with her eyes closed. She asks each "alter" - alternate personality - if he/she has anything to say or any problems. If she is plans any big changes in her life, she consults with the alters; otherwise they might try to sabotage them.

These alters used to come forward whenever they wanted to be heard and take over her body and consciousness. Now she has learned to be co-conscious with them and to control her life.

Dissociative identity disorder

Cole has dissociative identity disorder, previously called multiple personality disorder. It was brought about by the sexual abuse she suffered from the time she was an infant until she bore her father's baby at the age of 16.

The Sequim woman has been happily married since 1972. Through all the turmoil of finding and integrating her alters, she and her husband, Robert, have stayed together. They now live a calm, happy life.

Cole has three rescue cats. She likes making stained glass windows and recently completed one for Peninsula Friends of Animals to help it raise funds.

And she's written "Shattered Mind," a book about her childhood horrors and her struggle toward normalcy

One alter, Rosie, has a memory from when Dauna was 2 or 3:

"My father picked me up and sat me on his lap. His pants were unzipped and he did not wear underwear. He pulled my little yellow dress over his hand, hiding what he was doing as he molested and raped me.

"I tried to squirm away, but he held me tight. My brothers were sitting on the couch right next to where I was; my mother was just a few steps away in the kitchen. I cried out, 'No, no, no, Daddy'...."

Removed from home

Cole was placed in foster care after she delivered her father's baby. That stopped the sexual abuse but only started her long journey to recovery.

The abuse has shadowed her entire life. The terror, fear and breach of trust by being repeatedly raped by someone who was supposed to love and protect a child destroys the child's innocence and ability to trust anyone.

In Cole's case, the abuse was so continuous and overwhelming for 14 years that her mind created other personalities - she estimates more than 100 - to protect her from the abuse.

"The disorder comes about when the young person cannot deal with the extreme fear and pain (often torture) they are faced with," she writes in "Shattered Mind."

"They create another person to be able to handle the abuse. ... As the abuse continues, more personalities or alters can be created to handle what the child is unable to (cope with). The core personality is unaware of the painful memories that are being held by the alters."

In other words, the sexual exploitation was easier to endure if it was happening to someone else.

Father's friends

In her book, Cole describes only a few instances of the abuse she suffered almost nightly. Not only was she repeatedly raped by her father but he shared her with his pedophiliac friends.

She recounts that monthly her father would shove her into his car and drive out to meet his buddies. Each man had a child in tow. The men would drink and watch while each of them raped each child. The children were threatened with death for not cooperating and were beaten if they resisted.

Cole says two of her brothers also raped her.

Although Cole was unaware of Rosie's memory until she had been through many years of therapy, she remembers being terrified of her father.

Another of her alters, Naunie, recalls:

"The floor was cold under my tiny feet as I ran around the house pushing my brother's truck. ... As I was playing in the bedroom, I heard the heavy door slam shut. I was afraid so I ran into the closet to hide."

'No Daddy!'

Cole remembers being fearful but did not know why. The memory continues:

"Suddenly he (my father) appeared at my doorway. I could hardly breathe because I was so afraid. 'You can't hide from me!' ... He pulled me from the closet, tossed me on the bed and pulled off my panties. ... I felt a stinging pain, and I cried "No Daddy! No Daddy!' He did not stop ...."

Cole's father never used her name but called her "slut" or "whore."

The only place she felt safe was in a church a half-mile from her home. She would walk there alone and simply sit and enjoy the peace and safety of the service. She didn't tell anyone about the abuse because her father had told her that if she did, he would drive out into the desert and leave her where no one would find her - and that no one would care.

However, someone at the church gave her a copy of the New Testament, which she read most nights hoping for some of the love and peace she read about.

She also escaped by riding an old horse her father gave her when she was in her teens. He used the horse to get her to cooperate by saying it would disappear if she did not allow him and his friends to have sex with her.

30 years of therapy

Cole's recovery began when she went into foster care. She did not remember much of the abuse because each alternate personality kept the secret of what he or she had suffered. It took more than 30 years of treatment and many therapists to bring Cole to peace with her life and what happened to her as a child.

Cole has two kinds of alter egos or alters:

• The first are complete personalities that once functioned independently. They caused her to lose time.

• The other personalities are fragments. They have names, genders and ages that can be different from Cole's. Each usually carries one memory of the abuse Cole suffered. One alter, Jack, felt Cole had evil blood and cut her with razor blades and knives, hoping to bleed out the evil.

Cole's grades in school always had been low since she seldom had time to do homework and often was sleepy in class because her father or brothers woke her up every night. In high school, her grades were D's and F's.

She finished high school with all A's and B's. After high school, Cole entered Loma Linda (California) University's prenursing program. She needed a tutor and was assigned to Robert Cole.

Feared intimacy

They had dated for a couple of years when Dauna told Robert about the abuse in her background. She feared intimacy and developed a terrible migraine headache the evening they had decided to try.

Robert placed a cool cloth on her head and stroked her hair to calm her.

"Looking back on this evening, it was no surprise to me that we made love ... in the wee hours that followed Robert's tender loving care. Sex was not like anything I had ever experienced; I realized this is what it felt like to be intimate with someone you loved. ..."

Robert and Dauna have two daughters who are happily married. Both are both college graduates and lead successful lives. Because Dauna had no positive example of parenting to follow, she studied books on parenting and took classes to learn how to mother her children.

Life was not easy, though. She often sank into deep depressions and attempted suicide. She was treated by a succession of therapists.

Lost in space, time

She lost time. For example, she would leave home to shop but several hours later find herself in a parking lot miles from her destination with no idea how she got there.

She would find clothes in her closet that she did not remember buying. She would agree to help at her children's school but have no memory of promising to work.

And she had terrible nightmares that made sleep impossible.

While some therapists helped her recover a few memories, she was left with trying to cope with the emotions those memories held until the next therapy session a week later. She finally found the help she needed with a therapist who used Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and Life Span therapy.

EMDR uses sensory techniques like watching an object move from side to side without the head moving, tapping a pencil on a table, listening to music through earphones that transfer the sound from one ear to the other, and low light.

Meeting each alter

Such techniques helped Cole transfer the traumatic memories from the feeling side of her brain to the intellectual side. This helped her put aside the fear, anger and hurt from each memory. Then the therapist helped her move the alter ahead in time until it was her age.

"He would ask my alter if she/he wanted to come inside me to a safe place where there were other children (alters) to play with. If the alter agreed, the therapist would ask me to close my eyes and feel the alter merging into my chest. Each time I would do the process, I would feel a warmth in my chest and a deep sense of relaxation."

Cole now can perform the integration process on her own. She has integrated at least 100 alters and knows there are more.

Robert has learned to deal with their visits.

"As the husband of a woman with DID, I have had to deal with alters anytime, day or night," he writes in "Shattered Mind."

"Most of my encounters have been between 2 and 4 a.m. I'll be sleeping, and all of a sudden I feel the whole bed shaking, and the person in bed with me is crying and shaking with overwhelming fear and pain.

"I try to get a name and age and partial memory of what is happening. Some alters are male, but most of them have been female; most are younger than 16 years old with a few that are infants that cannot talk."

Robert calms the alter and assures him or her that the abuser is dead and cannot hurt anyone again. The next morning, he tells Dauna what happened so she can integrate the alter.

"A person can go through so much adversity in life and come out on the other side as a survivor instead of a victim," she writes.

"My mind-set is a choice, a decision not to let the horrible things in life control me and to move forward with my life. ...

"Your parents might have hurt you in your childhood, but you are in control of your future."

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Special reports scrutinize abuse

Rape. It’s an ugly word, an uglier act.

Couple it with “child,” and the notion turns ghastly.

The terms are so horrific that we recoil from the very idea of sexual abuse of a child. We want to turn away, pretend it doesn’t happen. Yet in that instant we enable the abusers who prey on children. We empower evil — and we condemn the young victims to lifelong pain and shame.

That’s why today in a special package of articles the Sequim Gazette shares the story of Dauna Cole and “Shattered Mind,” the Sequim woman’s book about her nightmare childhood and her long road back to mental health.

The title refers to the more than 100 alternate personalities Cole’s mind created to protect her core personality from the horrors she suffered from her father and his friends.

Although the story is harrowing, it’s also inspiring. In sharing it, the Gazette hopes it will inspire readers to become children’s champions against all sorts of abuse. And, that it will inspire the victims of abuse to seek the help they need to recover.

Other articles in the package and on our Web site, www.sequimgazette.com, help readers learn how.

No, these reports aren’t what you expect in a usual edition of the Gazette.

With stories like these, we hope you’d expect nothing less.
— Jim Casey, Sequim Gazette editor

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Some stories are never easy

Dauna Cole's story has been hard to do. It was hard to read her book, it was hard to listen to her talk about some of the abuse and it was hard to write about that abuse.

The statistics make things even worse. According to the latest government reports, 794,000 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported nationally in 2007. In just one year, 794,000 cases.

People understandably are upset about the tax money missing from the Clallam County Treasurer's Office. But even the highest reported amount that may be missing amounts to less than $1 for each abused or neglected child reported in just one year. Of that number, 10 percent or

79,400, are sexually abused.

Those are just the reported cases. How many more children live with abuse and neglect that never is reported? How many live with the daily terror and betrayal that abuse causes?

Two reasons to write

Cole wrote her book for two reasons:

• She wanted to let people know what may be happening to children on a daily basis and warn those who work with children about signs that might indicate child abuse.

• She wanted to give others who have been abused an idea of how to know if they could have dissociative identity disorder and to give them hope that help is available.

Abusing a child is so easy. A child cannot fight back. He or she won't turn in the perpetrator because threats of killing family members or the child work so well. Often, the child is so dependent on the perpetrator that the child has no recourse.

We used to think abuse only happened in poor, backward homes in poor, backward places. Certainly no one you know would do such a thing. No one you party with or eat dinner with or go on vacation with would do such a thing.

A dirty truth

That is not supported by the government statistics nor by Sequim Police Chief Robert Spinks, whose "On the Beat" column appears today on Page A-11. Abuse happens in homes all across the country and across all socioeconomic lines.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty that legally obliges nations to protect children's rights. Articles 34 and 35 of the CRC require nations to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This includes outlawing the coercion of a child to perform sexual activity, the prostitution of children and the exploitation of children in creating pornography.

Nations also are required to prevent the abduction, sale or trafficking of children. As of November 2008, 193 countries were bound by the CRC, including every member of the United Nations.

Except for the United States and Somalia.

It is beyond my comprehension that the United States of America will not agree to protect our children.

Up to you and me

That means it is up to the caring adults in the community to act as detectives of abuse and provide a safety net for children. So, thank you to the people who are brave enough to report suspected cases. Thank you to the Child Protective Services workers who check out reported instances of abuse.

Thank you to the people at Healthy Families who advocate for the children and offer counseling and other help as needed.

Thank you also to Serenity House for offering safe places for families to escape their abusers.

Hard as it may be, we need to stop child abuse in any form.

Dana Casey ordinarily covers arts and entertainment for the Sequim Gazette. She retired from a career in early childhood education in Ohio, Washington and Texas public schools. Reach her at dcasey@sequimgazette.com.

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Possible signs of dissociative identity disorder

According to Dauna Cole some signs of possible DID include:
• Very few, if any, childhood memories
• There may be voices inside your head; they could be male, female, a child’s voice or all three.
• People say they saw you, talked to you or even did something with you, but you have no memory of it.
• The gas tank in the car might be surprisingly full or empty with higher odometer numbers, but you don’t remember driving anywhere.
• A different style of clothing is in the closet than you usually wear, but you can’t explain how those clothes got there.
• Cigarettes are in your purse, but you don’t smoke.
• You wake up in a stranger’s bed with no memory of how or why you are there.
• You may get lost easily, even not remembering how to find your way home.
Cole says she experienced many of these things during the years when the alters were surfacing.

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Living with dissociative identity disorder

Dauna Cole’s suggestions for living with DID:
1. Keep paper and pencil by your bed so you can write down memories that come in the night.
2. Make a map that shows where the alters live inside your head.
3. When a new alter appears, write down his/her name, age and some of the memory.
4. Have family meetings with the alters each day. That way they needn’t emerge at inconvenient times to be heard.
5. Keep your medications in a locked box and give someone else the key. If an alter feels suicidal, you will be safer.
6. Believe that the abuse did happen and you are not crazy.
7. Memories that are complete with time of year, temperature, sounds, your age, etc., are real.
8. Find someone you can trust to help you sort out feelings that are real from those that may be influenced by an alter.
9. Take any prescribed drugs as directed.
10. Pray for help. Dauna has found God to be her salvation.

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Possible indicators of child sexual abuse

The following suggestions come from articles published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, The Journal of Clinical Psychology, Psychiatric News and the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Child abuse is not always obvious. By learning common warning signs of child abuse and neglect, you can catch problems early and get both child and abuser the help they need.
The earlier child abuse is detected, the better the chance of recovery and appropriate treatment for the child.

These signs can be signals of other problems as well and indicate that the child should be seen by a professional.

Some warning sings include:
• Waking up sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares
• Masturbating excessively
• Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys or pets
• Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement
• Exhibiting symptoms of genital infections, such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease
• Pregnancy, especially if younger than 14
• Evidence of physical trauma to the genitals or anal area
• Older children wetting the bed
• Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging
• Trouble walking or sitting
• Knowledge or interest inappropriate to his or her age in sexual acts
• Seductive behavior
• Strongly avoiding a specific person without an obvious reason
• Reluctance to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities
• Running away from home
• Depression or withdrawal from friends or family
• Statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged
• Refusal to go to school
• Delinquency/conduct problems
• Secretiveness
• Portraying sexual molestation in drawings, games or fantasies
• Suicidal behavior

Hidden by shame
Child sexual abuse is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame.

It’s important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn’t always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.

The shame of sexual abuse makes it very difficult for children to come forward. They may worry that others won’t believe them, will be angry with them or that it will split their family apart. Because of these fears, false accusations of sexual abuse are not common; if a child confides in you, take him or her seriously.

While news stories of sexual predators are scary, more frightening is that sexual abuse usually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows and should be able to trust — most often close relatives. Contrary to what many believe, not only girls are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of boys may be under-reported due to shame and stigma.

Besides the physical damage sexual abuse can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far-reaching. Sexually abused children are tormented by shame and guilt. They may feel they somehow brought the abuse upon themselves. This can lead to self-loathing and sexual problems as they grow older — often either excessive promiscuity or an inability to have intimate relations.

Ways to help
• Believe your child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse or trauma.

• Commend your child for telling you about his or her experience.

• Convey your support for your child. Your child may fear he or she is responsible for viewing the pornography or interacting with a sexual predator. Try to alleviate this self-blame.

• Temper your own reaction. Your response sends a critical message to your child. Your greatest challenge may be to not convey your own horror.

The Department of Social and Health Services offers these ways to protect a child from sexual abuse:

• Tell children that if someone tries to touch him or her and do things that make them feel funny, say NO to that person and tell an adult right away.
• Teach children that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults or authority, for example, don’t tell children always to do everything a teacher or babysitter tells them.
• Encourage professional prevention programs in local schools.
• Volunteer to help with children’s activities.
• Discipline children thoughtfully, not when you are angry.
• Support groups that educate parents on how to keep children safe.
• Financially support abuse prevention programs.
• Understand that abuse can be emotional as well as physical.
• Report suspected abuse to 565-2240, 800-562-5624 or 888-437-6167.
• Encourage community leaders to support children’s activities.

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Second book at Healthy Families reading

Barbara Richard wrote “Dancing on His Grave” about the abuse she suffered as a child growing up in Montana. She started writing it soon after her father’s death about 25 years ago. She asked her sisters and mother to contribute to her memories.

After a few false starts and attempts to cover only some of her recollections, she signed up for a writing class with Judy Blunt, a Montana writer/teacher, and found that writing her story meant including all of her memories.

The story took over. As the memories returned, Richard suffered nightmares, sleeplessness, crying jags and depression — all symptoms of stress. They started to fade as the story developed.

Richard wound up with 700 pages of a story that stretched from the Civil War to the present day. It details generations of abuse and the struggle to break away from that pattern. She split the manuscript into three parts: “Dancing on His Grave,” “Walking Wounded” and “Chasing Ghosts.” Any of the books may be purchased at trafford.com.

Richard believes her father “was not mentally ill, in the moral or legal sense. I’m convinced that he was a narcissistic sociopath, a personality disorder that is untreatable but is not considered mental illness.

“He knew right from wrong but believed that the world revolved around him and therefore the rules of decency that other people live by did not apply. In other words, in my estimation, he was born without a conscience.

“Studies have indicated that as many as one person in 25 — 4 percent of the population — fits into this category. That means that when you sit in a room with 100 people, as many as four may have no conscience, and therefore, no constraints on how they treat other people. Their only objective is to get what they want — to serve their own needs. …

“These abusers are so alike that they perform as if they have access to the same manual or textbook on abuse. They isolate, indoctrinate and manipulate their victims and administer abuse with impunity. And most often (with the exception of the occasional serial killer), they are not caught or held accountable.

“There was never any alcohol or drugs involved in my father’s behavior. I never saw him take a drink until after I was grown and, aside from his copious nonprescription pill-popping for real or imagined headaches and other ailments, no mood-altering drugs. All his abuse was administered cold sober.

“The isolation and the deprivation we experienced are important factors in this story. Unlike most of our contemporaries, we never had a flush toilet or bathtub, a furnace or heated bedrooms, in eastern Montana where winter temperatures frequently dipped to 20 degrees below zero or lower. We had a well for only four years, and for at least six of the first 20 years of this story, we did not even have an outdoor toilet — just a shovel and a lot of cleanup in the spring.
“These were lifestyle choices made by my dad and were part of the set of tools he used in his indoctrination and manipulation, to keep us from resisting his control.”

Sequim Police Chief, Richard Spinks column on child abuse

Reach Dana Casey at dcasey@sequimgazette.com.









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