The Reality of Ritual Abuse
Ritual abuse does exist and we are very pleased to see that the Metropolitan Police are taken the safety of children seriously. However, we are very concerned by the number of mentions on our twitter feed suggesting that this article in the BBC on the Met's investigations were a joke or that it was an over-reaction.
Discussions of ritual abuse in the media tend to focus on "satanic ritual abuse" and focus on the cases in Orkney and Rochdale. In these cases, multiple children were taken into care and subsequent inquiries found that there was no evidence of satanic ritual abuse. What this narrative of hysterical, over-reacting social workers and medical professionals ignores is that some of the children involved were victims of sexual, physical, and emotional child abuse. Some were taken back into care several years later. In these cases, "satanic ritual abuse" was not proved but this does not mean that organised ritual child sexual exploitation, abuse and rape never occurred within these communities.
The media needs to take more responsibility for its perpetuations of myths concerning child ritual abuse - both in terms of 'witchcraft' but also organised child sexual exploitation. This subject requires clear use of non-hyperbolic language and evidence. We have included two definitions of ritual abuse below. We do direct harm to children if we pretend that ritual abuse is a joke or pretend it doesn't exist.
This is a definition of ritual abuse from Rape Crisis Scotland:
Most abuse is ritualised in some way and, generally, people accept that children can be subjected to a range of terrifying and repetitive abusive experiences. One definition of ritual abuse is when one or more children are abused in a highly organised way, by a group of people who have come together and subscribe to a belief system that, for them, justifies their actions towards that child. This usually extends into family involvement and may have been practised as a religion or a way of life for years. Although survivors speak of differing experiences, many elements are common:
- Elaborate rituals, “games” set ups and “ceremonies”
- Systematic emotional, physical and sexual abuse
- Being used in child pornography and prostitution
- Being forced to take drugs and alcohol
- Being tortured almost to the point of death
- Being forced to participate in the abuse of others
If you are a survivor of ritual abuse you may feel
- Trapped and that you cannot escape. Although it can be difficult to get away from such abuse, it can be done. Many survivors have successfully escaped and lead normal lives.
- Fear that you or someone else may be killed, that you may be re-involved, of talking, reprisals, that they have power over you, loneliness and disbelief. These fears are understandable. It is possible to overcome this although it takes time and courage.
- Distrust and that you can trust no one at all. This is completely reasonable given that you may have never had someone trustworthy in your life. Trust has to be earned by people and in time you may feel that someone has earned it enough to be trusted a little.
What is Ritual Abuse?
The Definition of Ritual Abuse is: Abuse that occurs in the context linked to some symbols or group activity that have religious, magical or supernatural connotation and where the invocation of these symbols or activities, repeated over time, is used to frighten and intimate children. All of this is conducted for the purpose of control so that the abusers can systematically sexually abuse children.
Ritual Abuse Facts
Ritual abuse is sexual abuse that occurs in a context linked to some symbols or fantasy that may or may not be linked to a known entity and where the invocation of these symbols or activities are repeated over time using torture and brain washing to indoctrinate, terrify and harm children sexually, mentally and physically in order to make financial gain from ‘pornography’ (child sexual abuse images) and the sexual exploitation of children. ‘The group’ may worship Satan or other deities. Although survivors speak of differing experiences, many elements are common:
- Elaborate rituals, “games” set ups and “ceremonies”.
- Systematic emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
- Being used in the production of images of child abuse (commonly called child pornography) and child sexual exploitation (commonly called prostitution).
- Being forced to take drugs and alcohol.
- Being tortured almost to the point of death.
- Being forced to participate in the abuse of others.
Ritual Abuse can involve cults or it can happen within a family setting or even on an individual basis. There can be multiple perpetrators, multiple victims and the use of rituals which include severe sexual abuse, physical abuse and torture.
The most important element for the perpetrators is that it is all kept very secret and they are very good at doing that. Perpetrators use ‘mind control’ techniques, such as systematic and brutal programming directed at every level of an individual’s awareness (physical, emotional, sexual, mental and spiritual) for the purpose of indoctrination and domination. The use of such techniques effectively silences those within that group and so works as a deterrent to disclosure. The perpetrators justify their actions using a religious or political ideology when actually it is about the systematic abuse and exploitation of children and financial gain.
There are some important recommendations in this report: Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of “Possession” and “Witchcraft” by Eleanor Stobart. Unfortunately, the same problems exist now with failures of communication and inadequate training.