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MOOKA’S STORY – June 2002

The Dream

In the dream, It seems that that it is night. I am in a confined place, thought it feels as if it is in public. I am aware that there are loud sounds everywhere around me and many people are nearby. The people are moving strangely but it is hard to see them clearly because there seems to be a fog everywhere. In time everything seems to get quiet and an old woman that I think I know approaches me. The old woman leaves. I can see through the spaces that seem like slats of some sort. There is a pungent smell in the air that makes it hard to breathe, but at least the noise has stopped and all the people seem to be sleeping. I feel very tired and so relieved that it is quiet. It seems that in the dream, I fall into a welcome sleep.

In my dream, I am awakened in the middle of my sleep by a sound. I see hands reaching for me. The hands pull me up and away from where I have been sleeping. I am frightened because the hands are rough and don’t hold me carefully. I want to cry but the hands cover my mouth. The hands are a man’s hands. The man carries me over people who are sleeping, through a door, and into the darkness of the night. I see the image of something that looks like a car silhouetted against the night sky. I hear the sound of a car door opening.

I feel helpless, and cannot move, as if something has completely overpowered me. I hear a loud sound, like a door shutting and hear the sound of an engine. I think I am on the seat of a car, but I am not sure; everything is so dark, and I seem to have no control over my body; I am frightened. I can see lights and dials flashing above me. I am terrified. I cry out but no one comes to help me. A hand pushes hard against my chest and I can no longer cry out.

It seems like a very long time has passed. Then everything stops. There is no more engine sound; there are no more lights. There is only the sound of the man breathing very hard. The rough hands pick me up. I hear the slamming of the door. I am being taken into the darkness again. I am so afraid.
I feel my body moving up and down very rapidly, but I cannot see because he is holding me against him, with my face shoved up against his chest. I can tell that the man is running very fast; he seems to be running and climbing, running and climbing, and I am helpless to break free, as if my body is limp with fear. It feels like my head is going to disconnect from my body and his hand is pushing so hard against me it feels like my bones will break from the pressure. I cannot move my body, but I can scream.

The hands shake me until I stop screaming and the running continues. I feel my body being hit by something that stings. Cold, sharp, cutting feelings slap against my back and head perhaps like twigs or branches that are hitting against me. I can hear the breathing of the one who holds me too tightly. The breath is heavy and hot, the hands are wet, and they press me against the very wet shirt. It smells so bad that I want to vomit.

I am thrown on the ground in leaves and grass. And then I feel something that is too horrible, too, too awful. I am being torn into pieces. I try to keep the feeling from cutting deeper into me and I hold my muscles tight, but the painful feeling tears open the holding muscles. I think I am going to die. It feels as if he is shoving a huge stick all the way through my body and it tears me all apart inside.

Hot and cold-smells–horrible smells-blood and sweat, breath, sharp pinpricks on my skin, the tearing feeling deep inside me, and the night all are one. Pain, more pain-I cannot stand the pain. Hands grab my throat and squeeze tighter and tighter, so hard I can no longer breathe; I can no longer cry. The pain in my throat makes me forget about the pain in my body, and the darkness on the outside becomes darkness on the inside. I believe I have died. But I don’t wake from the dream.

And then I have another dream. Everything is quiet. I seem to be outside in the daytime. It seems like something very bad has happened, but I do not know what it was. I am lying in leaves and I cannot feel part of my body. There are branches that are over me. I can feel my skin. I think something is biting me…little stings…and tiny tickling movements that make my skin itch; something is crawling on me but I cannot make it stop. The sun is shining through the brush that covers me. It is getting so hot…I think I am hungry, but I am not sure. I am feeling very weak. I am not sure if I can cry. I want to cry, to move my arms, to move my legs, but noting seems to be connected, and my thoughts of moving don’t allow me to move. My mouth is so dry. It feels as if the hot sun is making my mouth turn to dust and my lips stiffen and crack. I have no idea what has happened. I don’t know why I am here. This does not seem to be where I am supposed to be but I don’t know where I am supposed to be. I remember having legs. I think I used to stand on legs, but I don’t feel them and I don’t think I could stand even if I could feel them. Maybe legs and standing were a dream.

It seems like I have been here for so long. I think there was something before being here, but I don’t remember what it was; maybe something before was a dream. My throat hurts. It feels like something is wrapped around my throat; though when I put my hands to my neck, nothing is there-but I can’t make the feeling go away. I wonder if I am dead? Silence is everywhere. Birds are near; I can hear them. A squirrel looks at me. I can see him through the twigs and brush that seem to be covering me. I can see the birds and the squirrel. I wonder if you can see birds and squirrels if you are dead? There is silence, only silence that seems to have always been and always will be; I think I can remember a time when there was not silence and burning heat, and when there was not stillness, but maybe that was just a dream.

Shhhhhhh. Do I hear a sound? Voices-they sound like good voices. They are coming closer. Oh please, voices, see me under the branches-I am here-please see that I am here, everything hurts and I don’t want to be here any more. Please see me between the blades of grass. I can make my throat cry. I know my throat is supposed to cry. I hope crying was not a dream. I open my throat, I breathe, and I make a sound. Oh no, it is too quiet, I sound like a bird. It is not loud enough. The voices might not hear the sound. Perhaps I can lift my arm…yes…I can lift my arm and push it through the grass that covers me. I can hold it up. I am strong. Please voices…please see my hand that reaches for you.

One voice seems to see me, because it is coming closer, getting louder. I see hands above me, hands connected to the voice. They are removing the branches that are above me, dusting off the dry leaves, and the hands touch me. The voice is connected to gentle hands that lift me up. They lift me up gently and I feel safe. There are tears on the man’s face. He seems happy and sad at the same time. His face is covered with wet tears and his hands hold me against his face. This wetness in the light feels different from the wetness of the dark before the horrible thing. The good voices come around me and the hands that hold me let me know that I am safe. My fingers find cloth that is connected to the good voice and gentle hands. I cling to the cloth. I will not let go. I can feel the hands; perhaps I am not dead.

The Baby

How I wish that this was “just a dream” but it wasn’t a dream. This is a story of the kidnapping and rape of a nine-month old infant in Tampa, Florida, on September 21, 2001 as told from the compiled information provided by the 20-year-old rapist, the grandmother, and police officers. The story was reported in the Tampa Tribune by Jose Patino Girona and Lindsay Peterson, and was reported on all the local stations for days after the horrible event.

A Tampa police officer explained that little Mooka, the nine-month old baby girl was snatched from her crib early in the morning by a 20 year old man who had been partying with a number of others in the living room where the little girl slept. Sometime in the night, according to the reports, Randolph Standifer, took the baby girl from her crib, drove her down a dead-end road in a station wagon. He then scaled two iron gates and entered a wooded area where he brutally raped the infant, strangled her, and left her for dead.

After the little girl was reported missing, a police interview was conducted. The officers spoke with the baby’s grandmother who had tucked her in the previous night. Her story together with interrogations of the others whom attended the party and had spent the night, revealed that one person, Standifer, who remained afterward as well, was missing in the morning.

He was traced to his home. After being questioned and failing a polygraph test, the man admitted to raping and strangling the baby. The officer, who was reporting the story, was nearly overcome with emotion as he related what happened next. When the officers went in search of the body in the location that Standifer described, they first found a diaper in the woods, and then one of the officers heard a whimpering sound, something that he said sounded like a bird. Then he saw a tiny hand reaching out through the grass and debris. He ran over to her, and removed the debris that covered the infant. The baby was naked, dehydrated, and covered with insect bites. When the officer picked her up, the little girl reached out and grabbed his shirt. She wouldn’t let go.

Two weeks later, the child with the nick-name of Mooka, was released from the hospital, but instead of being returned to her home, was placed in the custody of the court. Though the story of the events of the kidnapping and recovery filled the airwaves and press for a couple of days, the baby’s own story was not told.

The Life

Without loving support, the baby may grow up never being able to tell her story. It happened to her before she had language to tell such a story. But that does not mean it is not recorded in her memory and in the cells of her body, and it does not mean that it will not become a part of her inner structure from which she will interpret the world and from which she will live herlife. One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to assume that because someone is too young to have words to describe what happened to them or because they do not appear to remember what happened, that it does not impact their lives.

Years from now, this little girl may have nightmares that contain tiny pieces of this horrible September day, the first day of fall, in 2001. She may dream in tiny pieces because she would not be able to stand remembering the horrible night and day as a single event, not for a very long time.
In the intervening years, between this fall event and the beginnings of her disturbing dreams, she may lead a life filled with many symptoms that reflect the world as seen from the eyes of the raped infant. She may be terrified of the particular sound of a car engine, or become anxious at the opening and closing of car doors and react in unfathomable ways. She may hate the smell of perspiration, even her own, and may not want to anything that would bring on body sweat.

She may hate the smell of musty forests and dislike going outdoors. She may be fine in relationships with men, longing for them to reach for her in the day, but she may resist anything that leads to sexual intimacy. She may distance herself during intimacy while pretending to be involved, or she may respond by becoming frigid or violently angry when a man gets “too close.” She may have a whole series of relationships with wicked, abusing men who have rough hands and she may experience mistreatment, rapes, and attacks, at the hands of these men. She may spend her life reaching out to be freed from these horrible relationships by gentlepeople only to feel unsure of the safety.

She may attempt to recreate the circumstances around the horror as a way to tell her story, reenacting all the parts of event, by becoming the helpless infant self, unable to protect herself from the abuses of men. She may act out the role of her grandmother, by not protecting herself from people who have no regard for her. She may act out being the “party-goer”, by not caring for the safety of her own children.

The helpless infant may become a helpless adult unable to prevent the most horrible events from happening in her life. She may take on the part of the vicious perpetrator, attempting to be the one in control as a way to avoid being helpless. She may cover herself up, as she was covered up by the leaves and debris, in any number of means and live a quiet, withdrawn life in silence until a part of her can no longer stand to be isolated. Then she may reach out for help, or she may scream to be set free.

Perhaps she may find herself running and running and running, and not know why. She may become a person who has gentle hands that rescue others as a way to hold on to a feeling that rescuing is possible. And she may become all of the roles, switching and changing, as from one part in the drama to another. This could be her way to reveal to someone-to anyone-perhaps even to herself, her untold story…a story for which she has no words, yet one that must be told if she is to become free of it. As a result, her life may be filled with conflict, with disaster, with unexpected shifts and turns that are difficult to understand. She may live her life as a successful person, accomplishing amazing things, but inside she may feel a quiet desperation of unknown origin, or she may find herself in institutions such as hospitals or prisons as a result of acting out the story.

My Life Story and My Work

Years ago, after experiencing nearly two decades of the “successful life-path” first as a teacher and then as a business woman, I began to experience debilitating nightmares from events in my childhood that molded years of unconscious reliving my story. After years of intense and painful therapy that allowed me to piece together the shattering events of abuse so long before, I was able to finally tell my story. Eventually, I decided to become a therapist because I wanted to help people piece together whatever shattering experiences formed and deformed their lives. In 1994, I entered graduate school to get both a master’s and a doctoral degree in psychology, with an emphasis on trauma and abuse. My intention was to provide the space for others to experience self-transformation, as I had been able to experience for my self.

My personal work, my studies, my research, and my work with clients has convinced me that what happens to us early in our lives affects how we interpret ourselves and our world. Those interpretations, which are composed of our feeling responses to the world, become the foundation upon which our lives are built. If early experiences are of love and safety, we create an image of a self who is loveable and a world that is safe. If a trauma occurs later in life, after the foundation of self-definition and world-view is established, we deal with the event as an abnormality, after which we reconnect with the safe world and the positive self. However, If a trauma occurs early in life, as definitions of self and world are first being formed, the self and world become defined by that trauma and traumatic life is experienced as normal and deserved, based on that formation.

It is not possible to change our definitions of self simply with reasoning processes because the largest component of the definition was formed before language was established and is feeling based. Feeling becomes the door through which definitions can be accessed and transformed. If someone who experienced a life event like that of baby Mooka were to come to my office to work on personal issues, I would begin with the current drama in the person’s life. That drama contains the known and unknown elements of the embedded untold story and the self and world that became defined by that story. If she came to me to deal with sexual dysfunction, I would assist her to access the feelings she experienced in a recent event in her life. Eventually she would learn to trust the process to take her to the body memory feelings of the kidnapping, sexual invasion, attempted murder, and abandonment in infancy.

If she came into my office to work with her codependency in relationships, I would help her access feelings that might eventually lead to the frightened infant-self in the brush, reaching for and clinging to her rescuer. Of course, not knowing ahead of time what her pre-verbal and buried experiences might be, I would not presume any cause of her distress before she found the cause within herself; and I would act as one who simply holds the space for her to discover what is recorded inside herself.

The purpose of the work is not to establish the guilt of a perpetrator or even the historical truth of any given experience, but to transform the self and world definitions held deep within the client. An actual taping of the events may reveal something not a part of the child’s experience. What is important is the interpretation because that is what forms years of one’s life. The adult self intervenes in the child-self’s experience and comforts the child letting him or her know that the child is worthy and wonderfully good enough. When the connection with the child self is genuine, there is a profound shift in self and world definition that is felt within the client. Once those definitions are changed life experiences will be interpreted from the new definitions.

I have found that trauma-based self and world definitions do not change until the trauma is expressed and new definitions are placed on the experience. The trauma does not have to be as excruciating as that experienced by baby Mooka to be significantly damaging to the person. Growing up feeling unloved, inadequate, a burden, unworthy of attention, unwanted, not good enough, or perhaps feeling as if one’s wants are not approved, or one’s very self is unacceptable, impact the definition of the self so very deeply.

Some may be defeated by the definition and give up on themselves and on life; others may take on a challenge to disprove the definition, but wins never seem to be enough to satisfy the one who holds a negative self-image, and the definition stays in place. However, once the foundational definitions are accessed, the client is able to bring current information into the foundational level and reconstruct self and world definitions, based on a connection within the self and a more mature understanding. This, in turn, allows the client to construct new behaviors and experience a life different from what was experienced previous to the work.

In the depth of the work I did within myself, I came to understand not only what weaved together to create my life, but also what caused my abusers to do what they did to me. They were wounded when they were children and were acting out to retell their stories as well-I just happened to be an unwitting player in their drama. I am sure that a study of the life of the 20-year-old rapist of Mooka would reveal the same truth. In time, I was able to forgive my abusers for acting out against me and was able to forgive myself for being in their drama. I was also able to forgive myself for the dramas I weaved in my own life long after the original trauma was over as a way to tell the world the unspoken story of my childhood. I discovered that my forgiveness deepened my ability to work with both victims and abusers in transforming lives.

Post Traumatic Feelings and Decisions

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, I became extremely disillusioned and found myself feeling a sense of hopelessness for the human race. The news following the horror of the terrorists caused the crumbling of my hope that people would someday stop the violent and painful aggressive acts. Twelve days later, as the report of this little girl filled the local news, I knew that if that child did not give up on life, I would not either. In spite of the horror and the pain she had experienced she still reached out to connect and didn’t let go. Neither would I give up on the child, on humanity, or on life.

I have decided to continue to write about the damage caused to human beings from trauma and abuse. I have decided to remain committed to a belief that people can heal from deeply hidden trauma, and to hold steadfast to the vision that transformation can happen in our world. Whether it will come to pass in my lifetime, in this little girl’s lifetime, or many generations from now, I will not let go. I will continue to hold the vision that eventually humankind will learn to create a world without babies being raped and people’s lives being snuffed out in horrible attacks of rageful violence as they were on September 11, 2001. I will continue to assist people in bringing together the pieces of shattered lives in their own personal tower experiences, and to uncover the causes of
people raping babies, and people attacking other people. I will do all that I can to let people know that how they treat their children influences the little ones to grow up and live lives based on that treatment. And I have decided to dedicate my writing and my work on this subject to a child named Mooka.

The Dream

In the dream, It seems that that it is night. I am in a confined place, thought it feels as if it is in public. I am aware that there are loud sounds everywhere around me and many people are nearby. The people are moving strangely but it is hard to see them clearly because there seems to be a fog everywhere. In time everything seems to get quiet and an old woman that I think I know approaches me. The old woman leaves. I can see through the spaces that seem like slats of some sort. There is a pungent smell in the air that makes it hard to breathe, but at least the noise has stopped and all the people seem to be sleeping. I feel very tired and so relieved that it is quiet. It seems that in the dream, I fall into a welcome sleep.

In my dream, I am awakened in the middle of my sleep by a sound. I see hands reaching for me. The hands pull me up and away from where I have been sleeping. I am frightened because the hands are rough and don’t hold me carefully. I want to cry but the hands cover my mouth. The hands are a man’s hands. The man carries me over people who are sleeping, through a door, and into the darkness of the night. I see the image of something that looks like a car silhouetted against the night sky. I hear the sound of a car door opening.

I feel helpless, and cannot move, as if something has completely overpowered me. I hear a loud sound, like a door shutting and hear the sound of an engine. I think I am on the seat of a car, but I am not sure; everything is so dark, and I seem to have no control over my body; I am frightened. I can see lights and dials flashing above me. I am terrified. I cry out but no one comes to help me. A hand pushes hard against my chest and I can no longer cry out.

It seems like a very long time has passed. Then everything stops. There is no more engine sound; there are no more lights. There is only the sound of the man breathing very hard. The rough hands pick me up. I hear the slamming of the door. I am being taken into the darkness again. I am so afraid.
I feel my body moving up and down very rapidly, but I cannot see because he is holding me against him, with my face shoved up against his chest. I can tell that the man is running very fast; he seems to be running and climbing, running and climbing, and I am helpless to break free, as if my body is limp with fear. It feels like my head is going to disconnect from my body and his hand is pushing so hard against me it feels like my bones will break from the pressure. I cannot move my body, but I can scream.

The hands shake me until I stop screaming and the running continues. I feel my body being hit by something that stings. Cold, sharp, cutting feelings slap against my back and head perhaps like twigs or branches that are hitting against me. I can hear the breathing of the one who holds me too tightly. The breath is heavy and hot, the hands are wet, and they press me against the very wet shirt. It smells so bad that I want to vomit.

I am thrown on the ground in leaves and grass. And then I feel something that is too horrible, too, too awful. I am being torn into pieces. I try to keep the feeling from cutting deeper into me and I hold my muscles tight, but the painful feeling tears open the holding muscles. I think I am going to die. It feels as if he is shoving a huge stick all the way through my body and it tears me all apart inside.

Hot and cold-smells–horrible smells-blood and sweat, breath, sharp pinpricks on my skin, the tearing feeling deep inside me, and the night all are one. Pain, more pain-I cannot stand the pain. Hands grab my throat and squeeze tighter and tighter, so hard I can no longer breathe; I can no longer cry. The pain in my throat makes me forget about the pain in my body, and the darkness on the outside becomes darkness on the inside. I believe I have died. But I don’t wake from the dream.

And then I have another dream. Everything is quiet. I seem to be outside in the daytime. It seems like something very bad has happened, but I do not know what it was. I am lying in leaves and I cannot feel part of my body. There are branches that are over me. I can feel my skin. I think something is biting me…little stings…and tiny tickling movements that make my skin itch; something is crawling on me but I cannot make it stop. The sun is shining through the brush that covers me. It is getting so hot…I think I am hungry, but I am not sure. I am feeling very weak. I am not sure if I can cry. I want to cry, to move my arms, to move my legs, but noting seems to be connected, and my thoughts of moving don’t allow me to move. My mouth is so dry. It feels as if the hot sun is making my mouth turn to dust and my lips stiffen and crack. I have no idea what has happened. I don’t know why I am here. This does not seem to be where I am supposed to be but I don’t know where I am supposed to be. I remember having legs. I think I used to stand on legs, but I don’t feel them and I don’t think I could stand even if I could feel them. Maybe legs and standing were a dream.

It seems like I have been here for so long. I think there was something before being here, but I don’t remember what it was; maybe something before was a dream. My throat hurts. It feels like something is wrapped around my throat; though when I put my hands to my neck, nothing is there-but I can’t make the feeling go away. I wonder if I am dead? Silence is everywhere. Birds are near; I can hear them. A squirrel looks at me. I can see him through the twigs and brush that seem to be covering me. I can see the birds and the squirrel. I wonder if you can see birds and squirrels if you are dead? There is silence, only silence that seems to have always been and always will be; I think I can remember a time when there was not silence and burning heat, and when there was not stillness, but maybe that was just a dream.

Shhhhhhh. Do I hear a sound? Voices-they sound like good voices. They are coming closer. Oh please, voices, see me under the branches-I am here-please see that I am here, everything hurts and I don’t want to be here any more. Please see me between the blades of grass. I can make my throat cry. I know my throat is supposed to cry. I hope crying was not a dream. I open my throat, I breathe, and I make a sound. Oh no, it is too quiet, I sound like a bird. It is not loud enough. The voices might not hear the sound. Perhaps I can lift my arm…yes…I can lift my arm and push it through the grass that covers me. I can hold it up. I am strong. Please voices…please see my hand that reaches for you.

One voice seems to see me, because it is coming closer, getting louder. I see hands above me, hands connected to the voice. They are removing the branches that are above me, dusting off the dry leaves, and the hands touch me. The voice is connected to gentle hands that lift me up. They lift me up gently and I feel safe. There are tears on the man’s face. He seems happy and sad at the same time. His face is covered with wet tears and his hands hold me against his face. This wetness in the light feels different from the wetness of the dark before the horrible thing. The good voices come around me and the hands that hold me let me know that I am safe. My fingers find cloth that is connected to the good voice and gentle hands. I cling to the cloth. I will not let go. I can feel the hands; perhaps I am not dead.

The Baby

How I wish that this was “just a dream” but it wasn’t a dream. This is a story of the kidnapping and rape of a nine-month old infant in Tampa, Florida, on September 21, 2001 as told from the compiled information provided by the 20-year-old rapist, the grandmother, and police officers. The story was reported in the Tampa Tribune by Jose Patino Girona and Lindsay Peterson, and was reported on all the local stations for days after the horrible event.

A Tampa police officer explained that little Mooka, the nine-month old baby girl was snatched from her crib early in the morning by a 20 year old man who had been partying with a number of others in the living room where the little girl slept. Sometime in the night, according to the reports, Randolph Standifer, took the baby girl from her crib, drove her down a dead-end road in a station wagon. He then scaled two iron gates and entered a wooded area where he brutally raped the infant, strangled her, and left her for dead.

After the little girl was reported missing, a police interview was conducted. The officers spoke with the baby’s grandmother who had tucked her in the previous night. Her story together with interrogations of the others whom attended the party and had spent the night, revealed that one person, Standifer, who remained afterward as well, was missing in the morning.

He was traced to his home. After being questioned and failing a polygraph test, the man admitted to raping and strangling the baby. The officer, who was reporting the story, was nearly overcome with emotion as he related what happened next. When the officers went in search of the body in the location that Standifer described, they first found a diaper in the woods, and then one of the officers heard a whimpering sound, something that he said sounded like a bird. Then he saw a tiny hand reaching out through the grass and debris. He ran over to her, and removed the debris that covered the infant. The baby was naked, dehydrated, and covered with insect bites. When the officer picked her up, the little girl reached out and grabbed his shirt. She wouldn’t let go.

Two weeks later, the child with the nick-name of Mooka, was released from the hospital, but instead of being returned to her home, was placed in the custody of the court. Though the story of the events of the kidnapping and recovery filled the airwaves and press for a couple of days, the baby’s own story was not told.

The Life

Without loving support, the baby may grow up never being able to tell her story. It happened to her before she had language to tell such a story. But that does not mean it is not recorded in her memory and in the cells of her body, and it does not mean that it will not become a part of her inner structure from which she will interpret the world and from which she will live herlife. One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to assume that because someone is too young to have words to describe what happened to them or because they do not appear to remember what happened, that it does not impact their lives.

Years from now, this little girl may have nightmares that contain tiny pieces of this horrible September day, the first day of fall, in 2001. She may dream in tiny pieces because she would not be able to stand remembering the horrible night and day as a single event, not for a very long time.
In the intervening years, between this fall event and the beginnings of her disturbing dreams, she may lead a life filled with many symptoms that reflect the world as seen from the eyes of the raped infant. She may be terrified of the particular sound of a car engine, or become anxious at the opening and closing of car doors and react in unfathomable ways. She may hate the smell of perspiration, even her own, and may not want to anything that would bring on body sweat.

She may hate the smell of musty forests and dislike going outdoors. She may be fine in relationships with men, longing for them to reach for her in the day, but she may resist anything that leads to sexual intimacy. She may distance herself during intimacy while pretending to be involved, or she may respond by becoming frigid or violently angry when a man gets “too close.” She may have a whole series of relationships with wicked, abusing men who have rough hands and she may experience mistreatment, rapes, and attacks, at the hands of these men. She may spend her life reaching out to be freed from these horrible relationships by gentlepeople only to feel unsure of the safety.

She may attempt to recreate the circumstances around the horror as a way to tell her story, reenacting all the parts of event, by becoming the helpless infant self, unable to protect herself from the abuses of men. She may act out the role of her grandmother, by not protecting herself from people who have no regard for her. She may act out being the “party-goer”, by not caring for the safety of her own children.

The helpless infant may become a helpless adult unable to prevent the most horrible events from happening in her life. She may take on the part of the vicious perpetrator, attempting to be the one in control as a way to avoid being helpless. She may cover herself up, as she was covered up by the leaves and debris, in any number of means and live a quiet, withdrawn life in silence until a part of her can no longer stand to be isolated. Then she may reach out for help, or she may scream to be set free.

Perhaps she may find herself running and running and running, and not know why. She may become a person who has gentle hands that rescue others as a way to hold on to a feeling that rescuing is possible. And she may become all of the roles, switching and changing, as from one part in the drama to another. This could be her way to reveal to someone-to anyone-perhaps even to herself, her untold story…a story for which she has no words, yet one that must be told if she is to become free of it. As a result, her life may be filled with conflict, with disaster, with unexpected shifts and turns that are difficult to understand. She may live her life as a successful person, accomplishing amazing things, but inside she may feel a quiet desperation of unknown origin, or she may find herself in institutions such as hospitals or prisons as a result of acting out the story.

My Life Story and My Work

Years ago, after experiencing nearly two decades of the “successful life-path” first as a teacher and then as a business woman, I began to experience debilitating nightmares from events in my childhood that molded years of unconscious reliving my story. After years of intense and painful therapy that allowed me to piece together the shattering events of abuse so long before, I was able to finally tell my story. Eventually, I decided to become a therapist because I wanted to help people piece together whatever shattering experiences formed and deformed their lives. In 1994, I entered graduate school to get both a master’s and a doctoral degree in psychology, with an emphasis on trauma and abuse. My intention was to provide the space for others to experience self-transformation, as I had been able to experience for my self.

My personal work, my studies, my research, and my work with clients has convinced me that what happens to us early in our lives affects how we interpret ourselves and our world. Those interpretations, which are composed of our feeling responses to the world, become the foundation upon which our lives are built. If early experiences are of love and safety, we create an image of a self who is loveable and a world that is safe. If a trauma occurs later in life, after the foundation of self-definition and world-view is established, we deal with the event as an abnormality, after which we reconnect with the safe world and the positive self. However, If a trauma occurs early in life, as definitions of self and world are first being formed, the self and world become defined by that trauma and traumatic life is experienced as normal and deserved, based on that formation.

It is not possible to change our definitions of self simply with reasoning processes because the largest component of the definition was formed before language was established and is feeling based. Feeling becomes the door through which definitions can be accessed and transformed. If someone who experienced a life event like that of baby Mooka were to come to my office to work on personal issues, I would begin with the current drama in the person’s life. That drama contains the known and unknown elements of the embedded untold story and the self and world that became defined by that story. If she came to me to deal with sexual dysfunction, I would assist her to access the feelings she experienced in a recent event in her life. Eventually she would learn to trust the process to take her to the body memory feelings of the kidnapping, sexual invasion, attempted murder, and abandonment in infancy.

If she came into my office to work with her codependency in relationships, I would help her access feelings that might eventually lead to the frightened infant-self in the brush, reaching for and clinging to her rescuer. Of course, not knowing ahead of time what her pre-verbal and buried experiences might be, I would not presume any cause of her distress before she found the cause within herself; and I would act as one who simply holds the space for her to discover what is recorded inside herself.

The purpose of the work is not to establish the guilt of a perpetrator or even the historical truth of any given experience, but to transform the self and world definitions held deep within the client. An actual taping of the events may reveal something not a part of the child’s experience. What is important is the interpretation because that is what forms years of one’s life. The adult self intervenes in the child-self’s experience and comforts the child letting him or her know that the child is worthy and wonderfully good enough. When the connection with the child self is genuine, there is a profound shift in self and world definition that is felt within the client. Once those definitions are changed life experiences will be interpreted from the new definitions.

I have found that trauma-based self and world definitions do not change until the trauma is expressed and new definitions are placed on the experience. The trauma does not have to be as excruciating as that experienced by baby Mooka to be significantly damaging to the person. Growing up feeling unloved, inadequate, a burden, unworthy of attention, unwanted, not good enough, or perhaps feeling as if one’s wants are not approved, or one’s very self is unacceptable, impact the definition of the self so very deeply.

Some may be defeated by the definition and give up on themselves and on life; others may take on a challenge to disprove the definition, but wins never seem to be enough to satisfy the one who holds a negative self-image, and the definition stays in place. However, once the foundational definitions are accessed, the client is able to bring current information into the foundational level and reconstruct self and world definitions, based on a connection within the self and a more mature understanding. This, in turn, allows the client to construct new behaviors and experience a life different from what was experienced previous to the work.

In the depth of the work I did within myself, I came to understand not only what weaved together to create my life, but also what caused my abusers to do what they did to me. They were wounded when they were children and were acting out to retell their stories as well-I just happened to be an unwitting player in their drama. I am sure that a study of the life of the 20-year-old rapist of Mooka would reveal the same truth. In time, I was able to forgive my abusers for acting out against me and was able to forgive myself for being in their drama. I was also able to forgive myself for the dramas I weaved in my own life long after the original trauma was over as a way to tell the world the unspoken story of my childhood. I discovered that my forgiveness deepened my ability to work with both victims and abusers in transforming lives.

Post Traumatic Feelings and Decisions

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, I became extremely disillusioned and found myself feeling a sense of hopelessness for the human race. The news following the horror of the terrorists caused the crumbling of my hope that people would someday stop the violent and painful aggressive acts. Twelve days later, as the report of this little girl filled the local news, I knew that if that child did not give up on life, I would not either. In spite of the horror and the pain she had experienced she still reached out to connect and didn’t let go. Neither would I give up on the child, on humanity, or on life.

I have decided to continue to write about the damage caused to human beings from trauma and abuse. I have decided to remain committed to a belief that people can heal from deeply hidden trauma, and to hold steadfast to the vision that transformation can happen in our world. Whether it will come to pass in my lifetime, in this little girl’s lifetime, or many generations from now, I will not let go. I will continue to hold the vision that eventually humankind will learn to create a world without babies being raped and people’s lives being snuffed out in horrible attacks of rageful violence as they were on September 11, 2001. I will continue to assist people in bringing together the pieces of shattered lives in their own personal tower experiences, and to uncover the causes of
people raping babies, and people attacking other people. I will do all that I can to let people know that how they treat their children influences the little ones to grow up and live lives based on that treatment. And I have decided to dedicate my writing and my work on this subject to a child named Mooka.

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