I written and produced Transfer, a psychological drama / horror film about my journey of healing and recovery from sexual abuse, after 13 years of in-depth psychological work, analysis, trauma therapy, psychics, gurus, healers and classes in personal development, including the 16-day NXIVM program. I say “recovery” because the journey required me to dig deep into my psyche to recover and integrate the girl I had to abandon when I lost my innocence.
My journey through childhood sexual trauma began when my youngest child was two years old, the same age when my mother abandoned me and the abuse began. I was abused on several occasions by an older cousin when I was two and subsequently by a male babysitter when I was four. The horror of childhood sexual abuse haunts its victims for years until we face the “demons” of our past.
I was an actress living in my dream house in the Hollywood Hills with my director husband and two beautiful daughters. While outside I had the perfect life, inside I crawled out of my skin. I didn’t want to give up my children like my mother did, so I went to India to witness the spiritual process of Oneness University. Part of the 10-day program included teaching “every fully expressed emotion turns into joy”. It made sense to me energetically. I was carrying a lot of repressed terrifying emotions at a time in my life that was largely pre-language. Back then, I didn’t have the emotional intelligence to understand what was happening to me at such a young age let alone express it to the adults in my life who were supposed to take care of me.
During a meditation, sitting in a lotus position on my straw mat, I saw how the trauma of these formative years shaped my identity and my misconceptions about myself and my place in the world. I saw how these constructs guided my choices and attracted circumstances where the pain of the initial abuse would repeat itself. I have flashed on memories throughout my life – my father’s coworker who tried to penetrate my shorts leg when I was 7, the school janitor who exposed himself to me when I was 10, the modeling agent who bullied me taking nude photos when I was 16, the real estate agent I caught holding a pair of my dirty panties in the garage of the house we were selling when I was 17, the Hollywood producer I was sitting next to at a dinner party in my thirties, who whispered inappropriate things to me without my husband’s knowledge sitting at my sides. Why didn’t I say anything? Why didn’t I tell them all to fuck off? Because when I was two years old, in front of my sleeping grandparents, my attacker whispered: “shhhhhh!While he was hurting me. There, in India, I had the awareness and the opportunity to let everything go. I spent days on a yoga mat screaming in rage, mourning my lost innocence, screaming out the sadness, frustration, helplessness and injustice it all got. I allowed everything I felt, but I never got to express, and I left it there on the mat.
When I returned to Los Angeles, I had an identity crisis. For 30 years, I filtered my reality through the eyes of shame and guilt. I no longer knew who I was without these shame glasses. Over the next 10 years, I continued to seek help in the process of rediscovery, healing and integration. I have found an excellent psychologist. I have been to several different energy healers. I learned meditation at the Isha Foundation. I even tried phytosanitary therapies like sassafras, psilocybin and ayahuasca.
At a particularly low point in my life, I also looked for other human development programs, including the 16 Day Executive Success Program at NXIVM. My marriage was failing despite my best efforts, and in my career I couldn’t break the pattern of playing the victim in the episodic TV roles I got. Did this art reflect life?
I was friends on Facebook with my fellow actress Bonnie Piesse, married to Mark Vicente, then one of the senior members of NXIVM. I was in a very vulnerable location and posted daily, seeking solace in the social media void when she reached out to me via DM to tell me about the program. I met Mark for coffee and shared my struggles with feelings of failure in my personal life and career. He told me about the program. Like me, he had tried several different modalities to achieve a level of self-confidence and success, but said none of them worked except for NXIVM, which he described as scientific and quantifiable. He explained how EM (“Exploration in Meaning”) worked to unravel the Pavlovian bonds that formed in early childhood. It made sense to me. I understood early programming and brain plasticity. I still had triggers deeply embedded in the neural pathways of my mind; I just didn’t know how to rewire them. It seemed like the thing that could help.
The next day I signed up for my first five days of the 16 day program. Early on I recognized how different this organization was from other self-help programs I had participated in. They had a special handshake, there was a mission statement that we all had to stand up and say at the start of each class, they made us promise not to share any of the programs that we were learning in the program. I didn’t like the hierarchy of the pyramid system and I hated having to call Keith Raniere “Vanguard”. Of course, I didn’t say any of this out loud because I didn’t want to be labeled “suppressive” or “parasitic,” some of the shameful terms that were used by anyone who questioned or disagreed with their. philosophy.
The point is, even acknowledging it for what it was, I found some of the programs and tools to be very effective in helping me deal with the trauma of my past, especially ES. I completed my 16 day course over the next 18 months and left shortly after. During that time, I even held a Jness reunion with Nancy Salzman and Allison Mack at my home in Brentwood. One of the biggest red flags for me was that the organization valued logic above all else and believed that anything that came from intuition was based on your “shortcomings” and should not be trusted. Because of all of the deep intuitive work that I had already done up to this point in my healing process, I think it was my intuition, the exact thing they were telling me to beware of, that got me. prevented from letting me dragged into another abusive relationship.
“I think it was my intuition, the exact thing they were telling me to beware of, that kept me from getting drawn into another abusive relationship.“
As I began to let go of my identity as a victim, my life began to change. I picked up my story and started writing new ones. I put the theater on hold and took some scriptwriting lessons. I left a marriage that hurt me and my husband. I continued my healing journey, taking another personal development course each year. With each step, I healed another layer. In the Hoffman process, I learned forgiveness. In the spiritual psychology program at the University of Santa Monica, I practiced Gestalt Therapy. During our second year at USM, we were asked to do a “holy yes” project. I had already written two screenplays, both with a big budget. I set myself the goal of writing something that I could produce on my own and when I entered the Ideas folder in my brain I remembered a PSA I had seen in England when I was pregnant with my second child. It was about a little girl playing on the playground with a dead girl who looked like her. The slogan read: “Survivors of sexual abuse must carry a dead part of themselves with them for the rest of their lives.” I lived this truth for 40 years, until I found the courage to turn inward, face my demons, breathe life into this dead little girl and love her in her. fullness. You can find this healing journey in Transfer.
I chose to do Transfer a horror film to push the boundaries of the genre. When I wrote the character, Camille, I wanted to highlight some of the various coping mechanisms that arise during different stages of life with trauma, such as self-harm, drug addiction, promiscuity and the hangman. job. When Camille is a little girl, she dissociates herself from what is happening to her and projects her feelings onto a safety object, Piper, a handcrafted doll that her late mother made for her. Later in Camille’s adult life, Piper returns to haunt Camille and her family by clinging to her innocent daughter, Sadie. I felt it was important to highlight the legacy of intergenerational trauma through the metaphor of Piper’s character. Camille cannot directly acknowledge the trauma of her past as it is too shameful but through Sadie she finds the courage to face her demons and heal.
One of the most important and final steps in my healing process was telling this story so that my suffering was not in vain. I wrote this movie because there is power in reclaiming your story. I wrote it because there is the freedom to find your voice and speak out against the horrendous injustice, and I wrote it in the hope that it may help other survivors on their healing journey and their lives. let people know that they are not alone on the journey to regain their lost innocence. .
Nicole Cannon’s new movie Transfer is now available through Amazon, Google Play, and other vendors.
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