‘My dad abused me at Satanic paedophile cult rituals where I was tied to a cross – but I forgive him’
WARNING – GRAPHIC DETAIL: Carolyn Shanti buried the memories from her traumatic childhood but, now in her 70s, she’s finally come to terms with what happened to her at the hands of her father
From the outside, no one could tell there was anything amiss in my family.
We lived in a large, plush house full of antiques and set in 30 acres of land.
My father was a businessman who was seen as an upright member of society, a Mason who belonged to the yacht club. But behind closed doors, we were all terrified of him.
He was tyrannical and demonic, and my mother, sister and I lived in constant fear.
He did strange things that made no sense: we weren’t allowed pictures in the house, and I was forbidden to have any red-haired friends.
He would also take me on odd dates to London, buy me very expensive dresses and show me off in fancy restaurants, just the two of us.
At the age of nine, I was sent away to boarding school.
It was a relief to be away from the oppressive atmosphere in the house, but I struggled to make friends.
There was always something setting me apart, and I was struck by the feeling that something awful had happened that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Teachers wanted me to see a psychiatrist because I was so withdrawn, but my father just laughed and refused to allow it.
As an adult, my older sister wrote us a letter saying she wanted nothing to do with the family and cut herself off completely.
I still saw my parents from time to time, but I’d often find it very difficult to be in the room with my father – he had a dark energy around him that meant sometimes I’d have to leave the room to be physically sick.
I trained as a social worker and tried to live a normal life.
I got married, but struggled a lot with having sex with my husband.
The thought of intercourse was so terrifying that it was nearly impossible.
Eventually, it ruined my marriage and I got divorced.
Gynaecological problems were a recurring feature in my life.
I had infections in my tubes and ovaries, and an alternative therapist told me I was holding a lot of tension in my sexual organs.
I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was damaged somehow.
In 1990, I began to have flashbacks.
Dark and disturbing sexual memories from my childhood that made me sick to my stomach.
As I began to remember, I’d get pins and needles down my arms, I’d shake all over and begin to feel as if I was leaving my body.
The memories were horrendous – my father penetrating me, anally and vaginally; being tied up in the shape of a cross; and the words ‘do not remember’ on loop.
It was too awful to accept that they were real, and I swallowed them down, going into denial and refusing to acknowledge them.
But you can’t hold things in forever.
By 2013, I’d remarried and both my parents were dead.
My husband and I had managed, with a lot of work, to overcome the sexual problems.
I’d spent years working a stressful job in a Traumatic Brain Injury Unit, so we decided to take early retirement and enjoy life.
We went to India on a meditation retreat.
The memories came back, even more strongly.
They were so disturbing I was on the edge of collapse and I had to go home and begin intensive therapy.
Bit by bit, the memories came through and I began to piece together what had happened to me.
I realised I’d been abused between the ages of three and nine, but it had stopped when I went to boarding school.
On our London trips, my father would take me to dark, shadowy meetings of men, dressed in eerie headdresses or terrifying dog masks.
To this day, I still have a phobia of Alsatians, and shake when I see one.
The men at the meeting would take it in turns to do terrible things to me.
I remember strange details, like a pendulum swinging in front of my face, and then my father’s fingers inside me, or a chalice of blood being placed on my stomach.
I was tied up in strange positions and raped my multiple men.
An overwhelming memory is the feeling of suffocation – something being stuffed in my mouth and throwing up.
Always, those words were in the background: ‘do not remember’.
I broke down and couldn’t cope with what I had remembered.
My marriage collapsed and I fled to India, seeking refuge with a famous homeopathic doctor, Dr Rajan Sankaram.
For four years, I had intensive holistic and homeopathic treatment.
I’d do deep meditations and therapy with Dr Sankaram, and more terrible memories would surface, leaving me sick and shaking, with a pounding headache.
I become weak, as if my life forces were ebbing away and I was going to die.
Eventually, I began to heal a little and decided that to work through the trauma I would write a book about the hell my father put me through.
I came back to the UK and began to research occult sex groups, spending a lot of time in the archives of the British Library.
I was staggered by what I saw.