While living temporarily in her mother's basement, Mary Klein awoke to the sound of heavy breathing in her right ear. "I tried to get up and I couldn't move. I couldn't talk or scream. It felt like there was a hand over my face," she says.
She was unable to move her spread-apart legs, and her shoulders felt pinned down. Her dog barked repeatedly and backed away from her bed. Her cat escaped into an adjoining room. An innate sense told Mary that she was being accosted by a large male presence without a physical form. "I had to figure out how to convince this entity to leave me alone, and I started to will it to do so in my mind," she says.
During the attack, Mary felt rubbing on her pelvic bone. "I got very angry with the entity and I think he knew it," she says. After several minutes, the presence and the pressing sensation vanished. "There was no actual penetration, but Iwas sore for two days," she recalls.
This wasn't Mary's first experience with the paranormal. She had witnessed poltergeist-type activity in a childhood residence, hearing noises and seeing a dark presence in a particular room. Later residents of the house reported activity in the same room. But for years Mary was too terrified to talk about her latest experience: She tried to dismiss it until last year when she noticed a book in the library about ghost attacks. A few weeks later, she felt bold enough to tell her mother, who admitted similar, less severe experiences. That was more than five years ago. Now, Mary reports no other attacks and remains convinced it was a random incident.
For Carla Moran, a single mother with four children living in California in the mid-1970s, nothing seemed random about the repeated and apparently violent attacks that, like Mary's, felt like rape. Carla sought psychiatric counseling and books on the subject, and while in a bookstore, she happened to meet Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff, two parapsychologists specializing in haunted-house and poltergeist cases. Gaynor and Taff volunteered to investigate Carla's case. Her story was overdramatized in the 1982 movie The Entity and a book of the same name. Neither treatment was completely factual.
Carla was initially accosted by what she perceived as three entities - two holding her down while the third assaulted her. Over the course of nearly a dozen incidents, the number of perpetrators decreased to just one. Carla reported attacks that simulated penetrating rape in some instances. Her teenage son described a particularly vicious attack in which Carla was thrown by the malevolent force and hit her head. He tried to intervene, but he was also thrown, breaking his arm. ("In the filming of The Entity, the actor playing the son broke his arm in that scene, and the curtains tore from top to bottom without explanation," recalls Gaynor.) Carla later moved to Texas and the attacks subsided and eventually stopped.
Despite on-site investigations by Gaynor and Taff, as well as psychics and professional photographers, the attacks on Carla never occurred in the presence of non-family members. Gaynor observed only bite marks on Carla's neck and bruises on her body. But general paranormal phenomena in the house was observed by many. Strange lights started to appear on the walls. Investigators covered the walls and ceiling with black cardboard and told the light source to move to certain spots. The light obeyed. On several occasions, it floated into the middle of the room, gaining speed and dimension, and formed into a distinct human-like figure before dissolving.
Gaynor remains convinced there was legitimate paranormal activity in the house, but he stresses that there was no evidence of anything paranormal about the attacks. If Carla did experience sexual assault, possible sources could have been a random violent spirit or disturbances in her psyche, such as subconscious childhood abuse memories.
The experiences reported by Carla and Mary are similar to other reports of attacks by unknown forces having sexual or rape-like characteristics. Gaynor speaks from examination of 900 cases over 25 years. "Sexual aspects to cases are not that unusual," he says. "It's far more a part of [paranormal] phenomena than is recognized. These may very well fall into the domain of psychological disturbances."
Demon and Poltergeist Lovers
Reports of phantom sexual attacks go back centuries to the realm of the incubus and classic demon lovers. The incubus is a male demon who lies on sleeping women to have sexual intercourse or otherwise abuse them. The succubus is a female version of this demon, and attacks men. Bruises and cuts might appear on the victim's body following such encounters.
Barbara Hershey played a victim of spectral attack in The Entity.
"This is an ancient phenomenon utilizing popular figures in our culture, archetypes, and myths," says Brad Steiger, whose many books on the paranormal include Sex and the Supernatural and Haunted Lovers. According to Steiger, incubi have many modern spins. The intruder may take on the form of a priest, a rock star, or other respected or idolized figures. Alternately, a visitation could be triggered by a UFO sighting or alien contact. "Seeing a being seems to open the doorway," says Steiger. "They may not be aliens in the extraterrestrial sense, but other non-physical lifeforms indigenous to this planet."
One of the most commonly accepted explanations for entity attacks, especially when the victim reports pressing sensations, is sleep paralysis or "night heavies," a phenomenon linked to out-of-body experiences. "If your torso hasn't awakened when you come to consciousness, you feel like there's pressure on you," says parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach. But while victim Mary Klein has experienced the related sleep phenomenon of lucid dreaming (dreaming with awareness), she notes that during the attack she was fully awake, felt considerable physical discomfort, and heard heavy breathing.
To understand the topic of assault by entities, it's important to differentiate between poltergeists, ghosts, and other types of spirits. The word poltergeist literally means "noisy ghost." But an accepted theory is that poltergeist activity is actually energy that leaves one's body and has conscious or unconscious effects. Dishes falling off a shelf, loud noises, and other poltergeist-associated activity may emanate from a living human - for example, an adolescent with repressed anger, sexual energy, or hostility. "That energy causes the poltergeist," emphasizes Gaynor, adding that the energy typically manifests within ten feet of the person or "agent" causing the phenomena. "Poltergeist activity can be an externalization from the person himself or someone in the family," adds paranormal observer Bufo Calvin.
Attacks may also be a form of psychokinesis (PK) - the mind's influence on material objects, events, and energy. PK energy can bring on self-inflicted wounds such as cuts, bleeding, and bruises. The victim could be her own perpetrator, as her unconscious "dark side" manifests. Calvin suggests that mentally unstable adults may fall prey to such self-attacks. When sudden and unexpected violence, noises, or other disturbances happen repeatedly in close proximity to a particular person, they are classified as Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokineses, or RSPK. Gaynor and Taff suggest that the case of Carla Moran had all the symptoms of RSPK activity.
This is not to say that sexual assault cannot be the work of actual ghosts - although in the majority of haunting cases, there's nothing to worry about. Most hauntings are simply recorded impressions of an event, and do not interact with the living world. But other types of spirits are akin to concentrations of energy, and the non-human realm can encompass parasites or psychic residues. "These parasites feed off human vibrations and become stronger or energized," says Steiger. Parasites can be found anywhere, often in public spaces such as hotel rooms.
Calvin goes so far as to suggest that a discarnate, non-human entity in search of a fix would attack a human sexually to gain energy. "Sexual energy is very strong, powerful energy," says Calvin. Indeed, orgasmic energy is associated with cosmic energy. Sexual energy, as the second chakra, is linked to creativity. That chakra is located in the sexual organs and governs relationships, sex, and reproduction.
Meanwhile, lower-level entities could purposely attack a human to inflict pain, says Calvin. Hypnotherapist Dr. Bruce Goldberg agrees, arguing that attacks of a sexual nature can fall into the broad arena of "psychic attacks." Psychic attacks, both sexual and non-sexual, may be inflicted by troubled discarnates or ghosts. But the most severe psychic attacks, which may contain sexual overtones and produce physical wounds, make up only a tiny portion of the phenomena, and might derive from true black magic or demonic activity requiring an exorcist, says Goldberg. Another twist is a non-human spirit posing as a human spirit in order to deceive a victim. Furthermore, "What have been perceived in history as incubi and succubi could really be witches or demonic spirits in an astral body," Goldberg adds. Suspected encounters of these types should be treated with caution.
But truly related to the dark side is the notion of consensual sex between a human and a discarnate entity, whatever its form. "One can invite this," says Steiger. "It's one of the most dangerous things a human can do - ultimately courting possession."