Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Date: September 09, 2019 06:57AM
[This next section is very difficult for me. When I originally wrote it, and it was posted on Medium.com, I had severe PTSD symptoms because reliving the trauma is overwhelming. I had night after night of intensive seizures, flashbacks, and panic attacks. Now, two years later, I’m posting it here on Cult Ed, and I’m having reactions all over again. This time the panic attacks are not as debilitating. My sleep is very good. But while I make subtle edits in grammar, and post, I experience waves of panic.]
People would say I am crazy
I was told that my main job was to clean the outhouse. It was Karma Yoga and would help me to purify myself in order to know my Self. I didn’t have a big issue with the unpleasant job, but I noticed Jim himself never did such chores. Everyday Jim lectured us about how egoistic and selfish we were. During this time things began to get darker than dark. I had black outs and missing time, and now have fragments of memories where Jim drugged me, emotionally abused and sexually assaulted me. To protect himself, he put ideas, commands, and prompts into my subconscious mind. When I discovered blood, tears, lesions, and scar tissue building up around my anus, I didn’t know why or what it was. I had pelvic pain, and panic attacks, but I didn’t know what it was. At night, while sleeping, my teeth chattered uncontrollably, and I had waves and waves of panic. Currently, when I have memory flashbacks of that awful time, my brain puts things together in unusual ways. My body remembers being sodomized, while my visual memory remembers I was draped over the kitchen table, Jim’s hand gripping the edge of the table, his long fingernails…
We no longer had satsangs, and Rama stopped telling us stories. Jim said we needed money. Marlene went out for stripping jobs, a few days or a week at a time. Jessica slept a lot. It was during this time I started to fear for my life. I was terrified I would die if I left. I KNEW I would die. I was told that if I “spilled the beans” no one would believe me. People would say I am crazy. People would say I am lying. If I left, I would not survive. My life would be over. I would not succeed, nor would I have a future. Many days, I stole away into the woods to smoke a cigarette. This was my time of partial sanity, a time to think my own thoughts. I spent hours upon hours crying in those woods—not knowing what to do, or how to do it.
Over and over again, I went through possibilities of escape, only to come to the conclusion there was no way out. Jim’s thought reform had been cinched into my brain. Eventually hunger won out. I began to acquire angry feelings. While in the woods, my dialogues with myself gained strength, and I began to have the right conversation. Jessica had a post office box. Every week we went to town to get groceries, do laundry, and check her mail. I decided to write letters to my grandmother and father. This was our secret. Jessica and I began our measured separation from Jim and his wife. Soon I got a letter from my dad. He was very concerned and wanted to know exactly where I was and how to get there. He forcefully told me that if I was unable to respond, he would send the federal police to come find me. As my mind was still completely controlled, I quickly told Jim about what my dad warned about the “feds.” Jim became unhinged. He shouted and had tirades. He knew he was in trouble. Not wishing to invoke the feds, I called my uncle instead. I explained that I needed to get out but had no money. He wired me money within 48 hours. Things started to move quickly. I told Jessica I had to leave. She understood but herself decided to stay; “we are on different paths,” she said. She was willing to keep my secret and help me with the get-away.
Forget James Swartz, Rama, Sunny Jim, Jim
I’ll never forget my escape. My life was on the line. I packed my suitcase in the small wooden shack and told Jessica I was ready to go. My legs trembled, and I felt I might fall. My heart thumped through my chest. My ears rang. I tried to act invisible, and kept my eyes focussed straight ahead, as I dragged my belongings along the dirt path toward the wooden box pulley at the edge of the riverbank. When I passed the main house, I noticed in my peripheral vision that the front door had been opened wide. I stopped cold, sensing Rama’s eyes upon me. I turned to look and, peculiarly, he sat on a chair in the middle of the entrance way, his arms folded. Then he cupped his knees with his hands. His shoulders postured rigidly; his eyes commanded. I was ordered to step up and face him. I climbed the stairs and stood in front of him. He only said, “You are selfish.” The words felt like a signal to my brain. Perhaps this was part of the thought reform, made to hide and lock the secret of his assaults and abuse hidden within my mind, and never, ever, come out to tell.
[Over the years, I had wondered why James Swartz didn’t kill me. When I was with him, I feared he would. I was certain of it. I can only surmise that he knew my dad threatened to contact the FBI—if I died, Swartz would be the number one suspect. James Swartz used thought reform, torture, and sexual manipulation. One of the symptoms of his abuse is that I now suffer with seizures. When I lived with this cult, Marlene also had daily seizures. Jessica and I witnessed them. I’ll write another segment on these seizures and explain what happened.]
Exhausted, I took a long Greyhound bus ride back to Santa Barbara. My body trembled and my teeth chattered. I had very little money. The bus ride took several days. Day and night, I transferred from bus to bus in cities and towns until I got home. I was not sad, and I didn’t want to cry. I was numb. I was in very poor condition. My mind was shattered and in pieces. I felt I couldn’t face my grandmother and uncle. I stayed with a former school friend, until I summoned the courage to go home to my grandmother’s house. It took a month. When I got home, my grandmother welcomed me, and wanted to know if I was okay. She thought I had gone through what was a typical misadventure of a teenage runaway. I kept my secret. But my life was filled with problems.
Grandmother suggested I attend my senior year with my class, and try to do the work, even though I had dropped out. I failed in school. My face broke out in rashes. I had chronic pelvic pain. At night, my body trembled, and I started to have seizures. I got into drugs and had behavioral issues. I felt like I was spinning out of control. My friends wondered what happened to me—what was wrong? I couldn’t tell anyone, and I couldn’t remind myself. I buried the trauma deep down inside my mind and tried to forget the whole time I had been with James Swartz, Rama, Sunny Jim, Jim.
Six months after my escape, and I received a letter from Jessica. She sent me a long letter and a small cut out color photograph of herself. She was dressed professionally, and her hair was bleached blonder, cut shorter. She wanted to let me know that she too had made her escape. “Things got even weirder after you left,” she wrote. “Jim kicked Marlene out because he said she was going crazy. He asked me if I would seriously consider marrying him and become his wife.” Jessica hadn’t lost her sarcastic way of explaining things: “I guess he had this idea that we would take the world by storm—me his stripper-ho and he my sugar daddy.” Revolting. Conversations I had with Jessica a year ago revealed that she had a crisis when she left. She slit her wrist and tried to commit suicide. She got help from friendly strangers, and soon after received exit counselling from professionals in Missoula. Then she returned home to San Francisco.
After I read her letter, I was very happy to learn she had made her escape, but something clenched down inside of me and I felt I needed to distance myself from her—not communicate. I decided I needed to create a new me and bury the old me. I stopped taking drugs; I became serious. I landed a job, got my GED and, despite PTSD symptoms, started dancing in professional level classes again. I made goals. I wanted to be a dance artist and dance in a professional contemporary dance company. I earned my way and attended California Institute for the Arts. I got my BFA degree and joined a dance company in Los Angeles. During the period of my triumphs and successes, I suffered immensely. I had chronic pelvic pain that I named “The Pain.” I struggled with academics and the ability to memorize facts and do mathematics. My brain had been damaged, my memories were submerged, and I was trying to cope with it all.
(...more to come)
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2019 07:10AM by MynameisHeather.