Littles: Who are they?
What do I have to know about Littles?
What do Littles know?
Blocks to verbal expression
What are body memories?
How are Littles healed?
Can a child really have demons?
Littles: Who are they? I don’t know if there is an official definition of Littles in a DID system, but I think of any Primary or Alter under the age of 13 as a Little. (To understand the difference between Primary Personalities and Alter Personalities check out What does it mean to be a personality.) Probably if we could talk to everyone who has Littles, there would be a wide opinion of who they are and what part of history they represent. Because by definition DID starts very early in life, Littles, at a minimum, hold much trauma. But there is another very important distinction that needs to be made.
In our previous post we talked about how Jesus can heal one’s “inner child“. The difference between an inner child and Littles has to do with severity and number of abusive events. Inner children never come out and take over the body in order to do their own thing. Littles do. They are completely dissociated parts. Usually they hold unique memories that are discontinuous, i.e. none of the adults know anything about that memory. It’s more than repressed. It’s uniquely held by that child. If you want to talk to that child, she’ll come out, and suddenly that person is a child. The person with DID may or may not be coconscious when that happens. Over time Alters in DID systems usually get to know each other, and loving the Littles is a special part of being in that family. In our case our therapist talked with Littles for over a year, and we had no idea. When it was time to go home after a therapy session, he got “an adult personality” back, and no one had any memory of what had happened in that period of time. Yet our counselor had learned a lot. It varies with the system, but in almost all cases of DID, Littles are extremely traumatized. Sometimes dissociated good feelings are held by Littles. That was rare in our system. Nonetheless, whoever is talking with them, be it a therapist, a friend, a spouse, or others in the system, needs to understand, to approve, to encourage, to honor by listening carefully, and to not take sides in any internal conflicts. Littles often don’t know that years or decades have passed. They have the same needs they had when they were first made. In the extreme, infant Littles can be found who are unable to speak. In that case there is almost always an inner caretaker who knows what happened. Given the extreme trauma, the age, and the possibility of fragments (see below) dealing with Littles can be very complex.
What do I have to know about Littles? Before talking about Littles in therapy, let’s talk about Littles who just appear. Anyone who has DID and switches (changes from one personality to another on the outside) has the possibility of presenting as a Little. This can be OK in some contexts, but it’s often extremely disconcerting and/or embarrassing, depending on the circumstances. I was getting ready to play the piano for a group at church, when suddenly a Little came out who didn’t know how to play the piano. There was a several minute delay while the rest of us tried to get her back in and the correct person out. Our husband caught on, and he distracted the people there. Of course, no one else in the group had a clue we were multiple. Sometimes a person with DID has no control over who is out. This is particularly true early in the healing process. If possible, family members need to be made aware and taught how to interact with them. All interactions really must be as if one were dealing with a child. Husbands need to KNOW this. Littles are not wives. Littles are not moms, which can be a huge problem for mothers of small children. Older children can be taught what to do, when necessary. In the extreme Littles may see things as very big and believe they cannot take care of their own needs, like reaching the faucet to wash hands. This is a form of derealization.
Certainly, there is no standard way that a person with DID “presents”. Some know their entire lives that they are multiple. Some have no idea until their system starts to break down. We were among the latter, and it happened late in life. The end of life as we knew it happened one day when a two year old came out. Fortunately, it happened at home. To anyone who would listen, she asked them to tell her that “God loves me” and “It’s not my fault”. To this day we don’t know who that was. She wouldn’t get out of bed, and she wept herself to sleep. Now when no one knows you have DID and Littles start coming out, the people around you are ready to send you to the psych ward. Hopefully, that never happens. Littles are usually terrified enough.
But what do they know? Why is it so important to deal with them? If you want to understand how you got to where you are as a multiple, you have to talk to Littles. By the time one gets to the teen years in cases of continual abuse, the story lines, cult loyalties, and programmed Alters often give false information – true to them but false in the sense of not revealing the reason for their belief systems. Belief systems and all the lies within them, about self, about others, and about God, happen early in life. From a healing standpoint, in order to understand how this life of dissociation started, the information is collectively held by Littles. Often older Primaries and Alters will have no idea about their own history. In cases of programming, this is done on purpose. But even in cases of ritual trauma, the dissociation itself can lead to a total loss of how life began.
One of the overwhelming aspects of healing, in some cases, can be the sheer number of Littles. Some people have a few Littles, and getting to know them is rather easy. Once a safe environment is established and there is a willingness on the part of someone in the system and/or someone on the outside (a therapist, spouse, friend) to interact with them, Littles often want to come out to be comforted, played with, read to…..treated like a child. However, children have very few emotional or psychological resources for dealing with trauma, so fragmentation by severe dissociation is common, especially in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Therefore, in more fragmented cases, Littles may only have memories of trauma. In severe fragmentation, a Little may only know a tiny part of one event.
Abreactions: HELP! In all cases of severe trauma, before talking to Littles about their memories there needs to be someone around who is able to help deal with severe emotional reactions, what are called abreactions. The Free Dictionary defines abreactions as “To release (repressed emotions) by acting out, as in words, behavior, or the imagination, the situation causing the conflict”. The Littles may be trapped in a place of severe pain, and it’s extremely important not to leave them there. In our experience talking to Littles like this is like having a planned flashback. There needs to be a safe venue for them to find a “voice” and be comforted. No matter what happens (screaming, crawling on the floor, running away, throwing up…..) it has to be “OK” with the individual working with the Little. In cases of extreme fragmentation, there may be thousands of Littles. It’s impossible to talk to all of them. Our system had a number of events in which highly fragmented Littles were made, such that one held the story line, one held the physical pain, one held the emotional pain, one held the relationship with the abuser, and one watched the trauma from the ceiling. With patience all of them came together as one Little with a “full” memory that could be processed. That’s very time consuming. However, once the gist of what happened in these early years of life is revealed, in some cases groups of Littles with similar experiences can find healing together.
A difficult aspect of reaching out to Littles is their nearly uniform understanding that…..if they talk something bad will happen. Also, they believe they are worthless, others in the system keep them from talking, the shame is overwhelming, the pain is overwhelming, the fear is overwhelming…..and it’s just impossible for them to speak. In nearly every case of abuse, especially sexual abuse, threats are made to the victim to prevent them from telling someone what happened. In addition, in the complexity of DID, there are internal protectors and punishers who accomplish the same function. Furthermore, just the overwhelming raw emotions of shame and fear often silence the victim. Anyone who has dealt with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can tell you chapter and verse how pain and shame keep memories repressed, and when identified, the memories are then tucked away.
About 5 years before we discovered we had DID, we went on a week-long retreat to try and de-stress. We had a counselor with whom we met for about 30 minutes each day. We had never had any memory of our childhood, but in these long days of walking and prayer, something came up inside us. We couldn’t believe it or face it. We literally wept non-stop for a week, not knowing why. Finally, our counselor suggested that we write a letter to ourselves about what we were feeling. There it was. Our uncle. The word r-a-p-e that we couldn’t think or say. The very last day we said it very quietly to our counselor while overcome with weeping. She immediately was soooo amazing….it wasn’t our fault. We were a child. It was a great evil done against us…. We never said that word again for years. If it’s that difficult for an adult, how much more so for Littles who are stuck back in those memories. It takes great courage to come out and say anything.
Blocks to verbal expression: Being able to verbally express something is actually a very advanced state of comprehension and processing. Even if the memory is clearly formed, speaking is often perceived as extremely dangerous. We found that severely traumatized Littles could only “say” what happened by playing or by drawing. Sand play, paper and crayons, and clay are all tools that we found very helpful for traumatized Littles to begin to express what happened and what they were feeling. At this early stage of therapy when Littles often appeared out of nowhere at home, we created a “safe room” where there was isolation, if needed, and these tools for self expression. Sometimes at this stage there needed to be a mechanism for fear or anger to be expressed in otherwise totally unacceptable ways. Making a safe place for physical release of violent feelings was very helpful; certainly the older Littles had many “not safe” ways to express their feelings. Having a place where physical violence could be released through hitting objects with a plastic ball bat, throwing objects, and stabbing pictures with a blunt object were extremely helpful. There usually comes a time when Littles who are old enough to speak can verbalize some of what happened. That’s a huge step. Even if a Little can acknowledge someone else speaking what they see in the child’s play or drawing, great healing can happen. A Little can be validated by knowing that someone understands.
What are body memories? Because Littles are often stuck in an event, they can experience serious body memories. Body memories are physical manifestations in the now of what happened then. It could be severe pain. It could be the formation of bruising or welt marks. The child may throw up or have some other physiological response. It’s often said that “body memories don’t lie“. If an Alter is having a body memory, it is an indication of a real event. Of course, not having body memories doesn’t mean the event didn’t happen. The point is that Littles won’t understand what’s happening to them, and it’s important that people around them do understand and can help them process what’s happening. Over the years some pretty serious messes occurred in our therapist’s office. Garbage cans and plastic garbage bags to save the furniture were plentiful. The point for all concerned is to be prepared.
So how are Littles healed? Jesus. Just as with the Inner Child, Jesus is the ultimate healer. In the worst of abreactions with extreme fragmentation, Jesus is there in the memory. All one has to do is ask Him to show Himself to the traumatized child. He knows who all the pieces are. He readily helps children express themselves. As with many things with the Lord, there is human spirit-to-Holy Spirit communication that uses no words. It’s a “knowing” of the other. This communication works even with tiny infants. Peace and love and comfort are transmitted to Littles by their KNOWING that He is there and loves them. When our Littles saw Jesus, they spontaneously would talk about “yellow stuff”. They loved to be enveloped by His Presence, which they perceived as a soft yellow glow around Him. Being in that glow was peace – real healing peace. No one ever, ever, ever could hurt them there. They were safe.
In these very early years when Littles are formed, many of the worst lies are acquired/ programmed. In SRA a big lie is always that Jesus is evil and Satan is good. (See discussion of demons, below.) That lie can only be overcome by the real Jesus appearing. Nothing compares. He is slow to approach, gentle, and oh so loving. Soon that lie is dispelled, and all the underlying lies and programming can be addressed. In these early years concepts of self, value, capacity, and purpose are formed. Many threats are embedded. One should never be surprised by what Alters believe, no matter how absurd it is. Some parts can be programmed to “kill” other parts, even though no physical death is intended. The threat is just as real. All of our Littles KNEW that they could never die physically, i.e. they were trapped forever in the place of torture. We’ve experienced and heard of thousands of bizarre beliefs that Alters hold. For example, many of our Littles believed they were animals. These beliefs are important and must be taken very seriously. To not believe an Alter can literally be the difference between life and death. In SRA and government programming, suicide programs are VERY COMMON. One must always, always be aware that disbelieving, forcing an Alter to talk, and not recognizing that Protector, Punisher, and Suicide Alters could be activated, can be a dangerous mistake.
In our healing journey Jesus chose first to speak with Littles. No doubt everyone’s journey is quite unique in many ways. However, the advantage of having a large number of Littles who are healed and love Jesus is that the older, more skeptical, and more programmed Alters over time can “see” this transformation. Obviously, to Cult-Loyal Alters that’s a bad thing. But to most Alters the barriers are broken down when the Littles feel safe. The consistency and faithfulness of both the Lord, and hopefully the therapist, to be non-judgmental, caring, and comforting are invaluable lessons internally when programming needs to be undone. When in the middle of a horrific memory when no one inside thought that anything could help, our therapist has probably said a thousand times, “Do you remember when Jesus did….?” Yes! We’ll live! Jesus will come, even here, and set us free!
Can a child really have demons? Is knowing Jesus and having Him help Alters and Primaries find Truth in the midst of horror enough? No. We’ll probably repeat this many times in future blogs, but it’s extremely important for all who help with or experience healing for themselves to understand that in severe child abuse there is always demonization. (Even if you’re about to check out – stay with me. It’s really important!) We’re only going to touch on this lightly here, but not talking about the spiritual dimensions of abuse will leave victims trapped in their despair. The violence itself and the belief systems set up as a result of the violence give the demonic realm legal rights to attach to the child. This is true regardless whether there is RA/ SRA/ government programming or not. The details of how this happens will be dealt with in the a future blog. Similarly, we’ll deal with generational issues in another blog. What happens if the Little eventually expresses what happened and is comforted and feels better, but no one deals with these spiritual issues? (The term deliverance is so pejorative now that we loath to use it in this context. Maybe we’ll make up a new word.) As healing progresses the symptoms of deep trauma (anxiety, fear, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, shame, guilt, and PTSD) remain. Eventually, therapy becomes focused on learning to live with these issues by a variety of mechanisms – most of them very good and useful (exercise, meditation, diversion, biofeedback, etc) – but unnecessary if the symptoms are not there. When the false beliefs and spiritual issues are dealt with, the symptoms leave. Eventually, even the most complex multiple can find freedom from any symptoms. Becoming one person, yet still having depression or anxiety or inner hatred, is not freedom. The Lord wants total, complete freedom. Jesus came that we might have Life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). When Jesus heals, the demons go. No contest. This is true freedom.
For anyone who is in the process of healing or helping others on this journey and is interested in knowing more about the spiritual part, there are many great resources. Since this post is focused on Littles, knowing just the basic principles of one’s authority in Christ and our right as children of God to be free allows these Littles to be set free. All of the demonic realm know who a person is relative to their relationship with Christ. If you are born again, you are filled with Holy Spirit. (If you don’t know what it means to be born again see Statement of Faith and Salvation.) Jesus gave us authority over the demons. While He walked on earth He removed them again and again with a Word. We, too, have that authority. Holy Spirit reveals what needs to be done, and we come into agreement with Him. We hope that this discussion will lead the non-believer to research this out. There is POWER in knowing Jesus, and for the Littles this can mean a life of peace and joy vs. a life of just being better. Jesus comes to set the captives free. We’ve seen it hundreds of thousands of times. He never fails.
There’s a lot here that may seem really way out there. DON’T GIVE UP! All of this is real – very real. If you have any questions or you need help, please contact me. If you want to comment on this post (agree, disagree, stories), please do so. I’d love to have a conversation with you. For survivors I hope you will take some of these concepts seriously, and research it. God is waiting to change your life.