“They are then dragged downstairs” A personal experience!

A demon attack is this crazy thing where teenaged girls behave as if they are possessed by something non-human. They begin yelling, kicking, biting, crying, scratching, and contorting their bodies in odd ways. It takes at least 3 or 4 strong teenaged boys to hold the girls down as they fight everything and anyone surrounding them. It is mostly something that happens to the poor girls, who have no one watching them and the girls who live in the dorms who are away from their families. The people in the community believe that these girls are really being attacked by demons, because they have weak spirits and/or someone has sent a demon after them. I read the blogs of previous volunteers before I came here, and I knew that they were a thing, but hearing about them and witnessing them are two completely different things.

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Photo: Shelby Lindsay

Now, let me rewind to a few years back in my own life. From about 15 or 16 to about 21, I used to have a very hard time coping with my own feelings. I had strong feelings of depression and anxiety that I felt were out of control. It took a lot of self-examination and practice to be able to find healthy ways to cope with my feelings. Before I found ways to pull myself out of what felt like a deep, dark well, I found myself losing control often. And, when I did lose control, I had my own “demon attacks.” I wanted to flail around, scream, and just let all of those strong emotions out. My parents would have to hold me and remind me that everything would be okay many times. I remember my dad holding me down with all of his might, so that I would stop trying to harm myself. I can’t help but feel like every teenaged girl goes through their own episode of “demon attacks.”

A few nights a go, my roommate (Brittany) and I went to the dorms to show a movie in the early evening. As we were walking, we could already hear the screams that we had been hearing for the past few nights. We knew that there were some “demon attacks” occurring and tried to best prepare ourselves for them. We had no idea what we were walking into. The boys who we already know fairly well showed us to the room where the girls were. There were about 6 of the dorms’ girls lying on the floor with boys holding them down. They were screaming, scratching, kicking, and looking as if they were trying to escape their bodies. We asked the dorms’ mom if there was anything that we could do to help, and she told us that we could try to be with them and hold them down. She also made sure to tell me to take off my glasses before I got close to the girls. (I made sure to do so…)

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Photo: Shelby Lindsay

The closer I got to the girls, the more I could see a younger version of myself. It was an emotional experience. I tried to gently hold one of the girls’ hands, while 3 other boys made sure she stayed down. I tried to rub her arm gently and her head if she would allow me to. She had moments where she allowed me to soothe whatever pain she was going through, and then she had moments when she was uncontrollable. She would relax and seem as though she were coming back to reality, only to fall into a fit minutes later. The craziest part is…these girls have their attacks in their rooms. They are then dragged downstairs by the boys and placed on the floor of a common room, where they are held down by a few boys. Everyone else stands and watches as they flail and scream. Some people try to talk to them and attempt to understand who sent the demons. When the girls say ridiculous things or act out, the adults laugh at them. Many of these girls already had cut marks on their arms from where they have been cutting themselves. When they are done with their demon attacks, they walk out of the room as if nothing ever happened.

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Photo: Shelby Lindsay

Because these occurrences are labeled as “demon attacks,” the true nature behind them is not taken seriously. These girls are clearly depressed, need someone to talk to, or are simply bored. But, because they are not taken seriously, the “demon attacks” become something to joke about and then never speak of again. It was painful to have to see these girls in such emotional pain. I don’t know if the demon attacks are orchestrated or how they began. But, I am pretty sure that there is more to it than a demonic possession. I wish that there were more I could do, but the demon attacks are community-wide belief and problem. All that I can do is to be sure that I am as loving as possible to the girls and provide a comforting shoulder for them to lean on. I am no longer the young girl who is too uncomfortable to confront a student who is missing school or acting weird. I realize how much power there is in simply noticing someone and speaking to them about what is going on in their lives. There is only so much I can do in four and a half months, and I am starting by being a positive influence in the lives of as many students as possible.

Written by: Shelby Lindsay

Original posted to: Because I’m a Turtle

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