Have you ever seen The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, or other movies of that nature? Now imagine putting yourself in those roles and ask yourself, "How would I survive? Who would I turn to and trust with my deepest concerns and fears? Who, if anyone, would stand beside me through it all?"
Growing up I was always interested in the paranormal, and hoped to one day have an experience of my own. I suppose this is definitely a case of "be careful for what you wish for." I had no idea that evil could physically reach out from another realm, draw blood, and jeopardize your belief system and the safety of your family. I had no idea that a person could be terrorized to the extent they feel they are losing their mind. In my mind, it seemed that that type of thing only happened in the movies.
The fact is, when you see or feel physical manifestations of cuts and burns on your flesh when "alone" you are quickly catapulted into the realization that there are unseen forces among us with the capability of a personal ambush. This clearly raises the level of awareness that we, as corporal beings, are more vulnerable than we have ever imagined. With this understanding, it is difficult to live each day without wondering what to expect next, being in a state of constant anticipation of what shocking possibilities are around the next corner.
This is how life evolved while living in the Sallie House. As detailed in my book, The Sallie House Haunting: A True Story, our torment was not constant, it was not expected, and it was never the same (so that we might somehow prepare ourselves to deal with it when it next happened). For almost two years, my husband Tony bore the brunt of the physical and mental terror, and it was nothing short of excruciating.
Truly, things are not always what they seem. It is often impossible to fathom that there is something that hides behind the innocence that is presented, but beware, this situation does exist and it is often very difficult to recognize. Two psychics and a previous resident supported the theory that what we were dealing with in our house was the spirit of a little girl. This was further validated by the full-bodied apparition of a child seen by Tony in our kitchen in 1993.
I openly embraced this theory, likely fostered not only by the heightened motherly instinct generated by the birth of our first child, but also by my own desire for an experience of my own and the feeling that a paranormal event of this nature would be the ultimate. From my perspective, the activity in our house and "our spirit" was just that: an engaging little girl named Sallie. For Tony, however, months followed with disembodied noises and voices.
Even after seeing with his own eyes the young apparition, Tony's gut feeling was to not trust that which was being presented to him. He refused to acknowledge or interact with what he referred to as "It;" it was at this point that the level of activity changed. Within a few short months, the activity escalated and became more physical and harmful, not limited to forceful attacks, scratches, fires, visions, and dreams. The apparitions began to appear adult in nature and depicted a more sinister force within the walls of our home. The personal experiences bordered on a mental attack. It was not what he ever considered actions or antics of an innocent little girl.
Being, for the most part, the only one having these experiences, self-doubt as to what he was seeing, hearing, and feeling encroached and took over his ability to judge his current situation from a rational point of view. Uncertainty and hesitation to believe a human spirit was responsible for the occurrences he was witnessing allowed a level of negativity to creep in. The negativity soon enveloped him and opened a door for more sinister thoughts and feelings, leaving him wondering what was wrong with him and begging the question, "Am I losing my mind?," all the while feeling he was losing himself.
This evil presence pushed forward and continued to twist Tony's perception of reality. Although, in hindsight I can now see there were early signs of a potential possession, they went unrecognized at the time. Its grip ripped at Tony's kind heart and loving disposition and it festered, ultimately bringing about the most hateful feelings and horrific thoughts towards me. Tony has recalled, with remorse in voice and tears in his eyes, intense plans to actually kill me.
Fortunately, the hold this house, or the entities within the house, had on him had little power over him once he left the property; for him this was a ray of hope. Although the heaviness was alleviated for a short time during every outing, staying away from the house was simply not an option. We had spent everything we had on making this our home, and he felt that somehow he had to make the best of it.
His only respite was re-dedicating his faith in God's protection. Tony prayed, sometimes hourly, that he could make it through each day and that his family would be safe. To this day, he continues to credit his faith in God for surviving the ordeal in that house.
For ten years after leaving the house, Tony opted for the long way to a destination across town and avoided the house at all costs. Unexpectedly, five years ago, and based on EVP evidence of human voices from a paranormal group that had done numerous investigations in the house, Tony had re-evaluated his perspective that there was something evil in the house. Together we returned to investigate the house both with and without other paranormal groups. Like falling off a horse, facing your deepest fears and terrors makes you stronger, and, over time, we have learned much about the unseen forces that exist around us.
In a very short time, Tony actually found himself comfortable in the house again and no longer feared what he had once felt resided within its walls. Eventually we began to feel a kindred relationship with the spirits perceived to be there. We addressed them by name, we recognized their voices, we interpreted their interactions, and found justification for our previous experiences. We confidently initiated our search for answers and additional information, for an understanding we had yet realized.
In August of 2007, we attempted a short investigation that was wholeheartedly under the conscious theory that we were dealing with human spirits that had been drawn to or trapped in the house. This was our last investigation at this location. Tony was picked up a foot off the floor and thrown with such force against a wall four feet behind him that his laced-up work boot remained on the floor where he had stood only moments previous. I saw this with my own eyes! It scared the hell out of me, and will remain etched in my memory through the end of my days.
Over the years and since leaving this house, however, we (more than occasionally) have found ourselves experiencing continued paranormal activity; sometimes it is very similar to what we experienced while living in the Sallie house, often very distinct and on a more sinister level. Each occurrence was evidenced logically or independently as being directly related to that quaint little house on North 2nd Street house.
This correlation has been verified multiple times, after the fact, and by mere accidental knowledge that a group, known to antagonize, had been investigating the house and had done just that on weekends that we had disturbing activity at ours. We have all too often been the unfortunate subjects of the repercussions for their actions. Spontaneous fires, physical scratches, burns, and bruising have mysteriously appeared on Tony, all very difficult to explain to our own children. It is not easy bringing up your family hoping they will not be traumatized, but instead be safe from what could potentially be dangerous paranormal activity. It is certainly not a natural environment for normalcy.
Over the years, our faith in God has grown as we have come to realize that it is our faith that has kept us safe all along. We pray daily, sometimes more often than that, for the continued protection of our family's safety and solace.
Our experiences, research, and evidence gained through independent investigations, however, have led to theories, respect, and an understanding of the incarnate beings and the activity they present. We did not simply run away from our terror, we survived it, continue to do so, and have not only applied what we have learned to other locations, but openly share ourselves and our incite with others in an attempt to help them survive and understand.
When you live through an extreme haunting your life is changed forever. You are never free from the memories, the fear, and continued years of persistent activity that terrorizes you when you least expect it. I often sit up late at night in a quiet room and reflect on the days that have passed since my family left the house that changed our lives forever. It is almost unmanageable to live with the unanswered questions that remain so long after the experiences began.
Debra Pickman (Atchison, Kansas) lived in the Sallie House with her family over a year. In addition to attracting paranormal investigators and psychics, the home has been featured on television shows Sightings, Unexplained ...