Narcissistic Families and Child Sexual Abuse, I’m Tylee Ryan

What’s left when you don’t die and you don’t get justice

Amy Punt

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Photo by author

Content warning: discussion of child sexual abuse.

I woke up early, my nervous system already shredded. It felt like someone dragged the center of me over broken glass.

Last night, I listened to several episodes of a podcast on the psychological profile of Lori Vallow Daybell, the woman recently convicted of murdering her two children and conspiring to murder Tammy Daybell, the wife of her lover, Chad Daybell. She’ll serve three consecutive life sentences, and now she faces charges in the murder of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow.

I stayed away from the case when news of it broke; by all accounts, the murders of her children were so gruesome it made grown men cry. Jurors wept openly. I won’t recount the state of their remains. You can’t unknow it and knowing it is a kind of trauma. I won’t do that to you. J.J. was nine and Tylee 16. Thinking about it now makes me physically ill. I thought I could handle it because of what I’ve been through. Turns out, human beings can always surprise you with their sadism.

A criminal psychologist evaluated Vallow Daybell in prison and diagnosed her with Delusional Disorder. The DSM V characterizes Delusional Disorder as “the presence of one or more delusions for a month in a person who, except for the delusions and their behavioral ramifications, does not appear odd and is not functionally impaired.”

Vallow Daybell believed evil spirits possessed her children. Chad Daybell convinced her that they were zombies and no trace of their souls remained in their bodies. He and Vallow Daybell met at a conference. They fell in love at first sight, though both were married to other people. Chad and Lori were devout Mormons. Affairs are mortal sins, as is divorce. To get around this, Chad constructed an entire belief system about how he and Lori were married in a past life. He also told her that they were both deities. When they married the first time, they were both still married, but because Jesus officiated the ceremony, it was legal. After their spouses and Lori’s children were dead, they married in Hawaii.

Healing begins when you tell…

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Amy Punt

As a child, writing saved my sanity. As an adult, writing saved my life. Now, I write in hopes of helping someone else.