This is Dorothy’s story written on behalf of their system

For us the essence of abuse is loneliness. The essence of our early life has been loneliness.

Our mother had studied attachment theory at university. She decided she would do an experiment, she would make a child without attachment, a child who would not need anyone. She documented everything, made recordings and photographed it all.  She did not pick up the baby if it cried, she made sure as many people as possible fed it. Did not let us call her mother. She hung the nude photos of us on the wall, not just as a baby. It worked we have almost no attachment.

When we were three our father left for six months. This is when the having us in the room during sex changed into forcing us to do oral sex on this mother. She had health problems and we looked after her, cooking by standing on a stool to reach the stove.

By this time we definitely had DID. We became plural, each person in this body carried a part of life. Trauma, caring, school, attachment, anger. We were separated with a healthy dose of amnesia. We stopped feeling or eating much.

Our parents divorced and a year or so later David got a girlfriend. We also got a step brother and sister of around our age. From the second time we were in their house the step brother pressured us into seeing our vulva. This developed into putting in things, oral sex, penetrative sex, locking up, giving us attention and hurting us physically and emotionally. This lasted from 5 years till around 13.

I don't know what happened to him to make him like this, but nothing very good. His mother is bad. By the time we were 7 she lent us to other people on occasion. A small group of men. These men would put us up on a table or chest of draws. They liked to hurt us with needles in our private parts, they raped us, hurt us. Told us we needed this because we were so bad. They said they would kill us and we believed them, we were sure we were going to die.

I would concentrate on the doll in the corner, go up on the cupboard with her in my mind while the men did there thing to the body and the parts of us who stayed in the body.

Our first suicide attempt was when we were 8 years old. We never thought of tomorrow, never dreamt about what we would like to be when we grew up. We just dissociated. School was impossible with this much dissociation. We got kicked out of schools, our dyslexia was given the blame.

In the meantime at our mother's house not only was she being sexual with us, she was still not looking after us. We were walking home through the city from the age of 6 passing the red light district every day. Some men wanted stuff. Once a man took us and hurt us while he had the football on the television.

Some of us would get us out of the house. Go to church. Make friends with adults. We were always hoping someone would see us and understand. We hoped someone would adopt us. But we knew that our world was so different from theirs they could not imagine it. There were no words.

At 17 we were pregnant by a boy who gave us attention. We told our father, he said he would disinherit us. We got married, had the baby. Once he started to become violent we left. 

We tried to build a home for our daughter. Once our father was going to look after our daughter, the part of us who let him had complete amnesia about our trauma. But he gave our little girl to our step mother. She sexually abused our daughter. She then wrote a letter accusing us of abusing our daughter.

During this time we started to work together. To share information so that we would not lose time so much and would never put our child in danger again. We broke off contact with our family.  This created court cases we had to fight to keep our child safe and with us. This was so bad that all the parts with feeling and ability to attach went into hibernation for 20 years. 

We married a very good guy and had three more children with him. He let us feel safer and loved.

Twenty years later the parts that went dormant were safe enough to start coming out.  It started by us getting the body feeling bit by bit. Emotions like fear, love, smelling the world, feeling the wind seeing colours. For the first time.

We have now learned to make attachments. We are very attached too our husband now. Unfortunately falling in love for the first time was not with him but with a woman. We never knew we were lesbian because we were never able to feel.

Our loving husband found this hard to deal with and we were very confused. He made space for this side of us. We have a loving girlfriend and we have a loving home in which she is welcome.

We have major PTSD now that we are closer together and dissociate less. We cry a lot, we are afraid a lot. It feels unfair that after all these years we can't just enjoy these loving people in our lives. Our abusers and those that did not take responsibility stole from us, they forced us into decades of survival mode. But we can at least feel joy now and I hope we will have more and more of that.

We are healing. We are not alone. The opposite of abused is connection. Connection is seeing and being seen, both internal and external. Connection is what heals us.

Written by Dorothy (15), for the whole system: Emma and Dylen (16) Naomi, Sam, Liusaidh (40's) Fay, Ahavah, Ann (6) Rosie (3)