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Abuse, Neglect and the Illuminati–Interview with Grace Peterson

by Laura on June 7th, 2013

During my early recovery following my bipolar breakdown in the early 2000s, my therapist emphasized that I needed to move on from my breakdown, not dwell in the details of the delusions. And rightly so. **

I listened at the time. But now, I find the far-fetched details of the delusions to be a fascinating topic. Where do these bananas ideas come from? Why does the mind go there? What do they mean? 

In my view (and remember, I’m not a therapist), delusions are culturally prescribed, a product of upbringing, education and values, among other things. Someone who’s never heard of Jesus is not going to believe he’s met Mary Magdalene.

So it’s not surprising that Grace Peterson and I are “kindred spirits” in a kind of messed up, delusional sense. Catch-up on our conversation from yesterday if you’re interested–PTSD and Breaking the Cycle of Abuse.

Grace and I both entered a mental space in which it seemed completely reasonable that a secret society (Masons) had engineered aspects of our childhood. And then there was the nefarious involvement of the Illuminati. And they say conspiracy theorists are crazy.

In her memoir, Reaching, we see how a legacy of trauma led Grace to find help with a very dangerous man, Brock. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In today’s conversation, Grace and I are talking a bit more about how the childhood abuse affected her sense of self, and how this trauma led her to follow a cult leader.

Safe from abuse

Laura — There were a couple of key moments for me, where I was like, I see, I get what’s going on in her head. I understand now how the trauma and abuse are coalescing into a skewed worldview. For example, after you lose your virginity, you say

Later, when I have the mental clarity to think about it, the whole event will illuminate what has been a covert forgone conclusion for many years: my complete ineptitude with living.

Here’s what I want to ask you … this isn’t the first time you were sexually abused. It started with a neighborhood kid’s molestation. How did this come about?

How can we (sanely) keep this from happening to our own children? And, at what point did you realize that it wasn’t your fault?

Grace – It came from neglect and ignorance but I can’t fault my parents for this. It was the times. Kids roamed the neighborhood unattended. Parents didn’t think twice about it.

Thankfully, we live in a different world now with awareness of child predators, how to protect our kids and how to alert them to “stranger-dangers.” I think any parent who is savvy and makes protecting their kids a priority will succeed. Granted, parents can’t be everywhere. Kids are still vulnerable.

But when a child is raised by loving parents and knows his/her parents are safe, caring and approachable, when s/he knows there won’t be punishment for revealing unpleasant things, they will be able to deal with trauma much better. I believe for kids and adults it’s not so much the trauma itself but not having the safety to talk and process the event that kills us emotionally.

I was a smother-mother. My kids, now adults, have their own difficulties because they had to grow up with a fearful mother. I feel terrible about this and have apologized for the ways I’ve wounded them. My kids know without a shadow of a doubt that they’re loved and that home is a safe place. This is more than I grew up with.

It’s been my observation that the previous generation is hard-pressed to admit their faults on any parenting matter. I can’t comprehend this. While I’m quick to admit my shortcomings to my kids, neither I, nor my siblings have ever received anything remotely resembling an apology from either parent. None of us is perfect so why pretend we are? It’s when parents alienate their kids through their self-righteousness and dominance that kids are vulnerable to a life of unhealed wounds.

 “I matter.”

Laura — Without giving too much away, another key moment is during a funeral when someone shows you a deep kindness. In that moment, you realize: I. matter. And I’m reading it and I’m thinking, Of course you matter!

What was that like for you? I can totally see how that “I matter” feeling was something you were desperate to duplicate.

Grace — It wasn’t until years later that I understood how the kindness of my friend’s family affected me. At the time I was too enmeshed in pain and confusion to fully grasp it. Sadly, I lost contact with them and never let them know how deeply appreciative I was, and still am, for their acceptance of me. I think the lesson is, pay attention to kids. Little, seemingly insignificant gestures of kindness can and make a difference. Kids are incapable of displaying gratitude but they feel it and it matters. Kindness is never wasted.

My family of origin was unable to see children as human beings with developing emotions. Kids were a nuisance, an intrusion. Nowadays people with this attitude can just opt to remain childless. And for the next generation’s sake, I hope they will.

Realizing it’s PTSD

Laura – In PTSD and Triggers, a conversation with Juanima Hiatt, we learned that the PTSD came on with the traumatic birth of her second child.

Grace, when did you realize what was happening to you after the birth of your children was in fact PTSD?

Grace – As the years with Brock wore on, I found myself at times willingly going against his staunch mandate to not look at other forms of “healing” and “recovery.” (Call it my rebellion.)

He felt that reading self-help books was “programming” me for a long and arduous recovery. He believed that “healing” would be instantaneous with casting out that stubborn, unrelenting kingpin demon. He wanted me to spend all my time reading the Bible and focusing on Jesus, believing my healing was imminent once Brock figured out the procedure.

The logic was flawed, of course, but faith is weird like that. I tried but I waffled.

One of my rebellious acts was reading a newspaper right after the Oklahoma City bombings. There was an article on PTSD with a series of questions to determine whether you have it or not. I answered yes to every one of them. The question I remember most went something like, “Does your mind replay the event over and over in your mind without your consent?” Um, yeah! To this day it still does but the accompanying panic is a tiny fraction of what it was back then.

I tried telling Brock about PTSD but he was convinced my symptoms were the result of demon torment and would cease once the demon was cast out. In a way, it was comforting. The idea of being instantly healed was very appealing and having a father figure care so much was tremendous. But despite seven, long years and multiple exorcisms, it never happened. Instead I became more paranoid in reaction to his “findings,” my supposed involvement in the Illuminati.

It was, if you don’t mind my candor, a mind fuck.

*  *  *  *  *

Grace Peterson is an author, garden columnist and blogger. She is the proud mother of four grown children and four friendly felines. She has been married to her best friend since 1980. Reaching is her first book. Her second book, Grace In The Garden will be published later this year. She can be reached by visiting her blog,

Congratulations to blog commenter Mindy for winning a copy of Reaching!

*  *  *  *  *

** Sorry, no cool images today. WordPress is f—ing with me, and instead of throwing my computer off of my balcony, I have to settle for publishing with bare-bones photos.

P.S. Be sure to sign up for the super-duper-new-and-improved-extra-exclusive-ever’body-loves-it not really but many do Cool Chick Newsletter in the column on the right. Cool dudes also welcome.


  1. Your interviews are more healing than you realize. Truth is healing all of us adoptees. Thank you!

  2. I don't know your full story but it seems completely reasonable to me knowing what I do about the Masons that they might and do engineer young lives! And by the way I don't believe kids can't feel or show gratitude – they clearly do, maybe you haven't been lucky enough to witness it yet. Great blog!

  3. Just so you know, you have one of the most valuable blogs on the net.

  4. Through this interview there are many things that have been cleared and I was glad to read this post. There are always things that we should be asking while having interview of this type.

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