Ritual Abuse

Menstuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of ritual abuse.

Ritual Abuse

Cult Abuse - Discounted as False Memory Syndrome
Issues - Related:
Talking With Kids About Tough Issues Abuse - Sexual, Circumcision, Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Harassment, Womens' Violence and Prisons.
Books -
Abuse-Ritual, Abuse-MPD, Abuse - Boys, Abuse - Children, Abuse - Sexual
Books - Related topics of Circumcision, Anger, Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Womens' Violence
Journals - on Child, Emotional, Religious, and Sexual Abuse and Trauma

Ritual Abuse

I saw a program called Prime Time, a so-called "news" show which seems more like the National Inquirer made for television. A male reporter was talking with a male psychologist (who just happens to make his living by disputing the existence of ritual abuse for those charged and insurance companies) interspersed with video cuts from therapy sessions. While it probably wasn't produced by people who are in one of these cults, the whole development of the program appeared to suggest that as it went on to dispute the existence of ritual abuse.

A Definition

So, what is Ritual abuse? It involves the use of rituals to physically, sexually or psychologically abuse children, adolescents and adults. The physical abuse is severe, sometimes including torture and killing. The sexual abuse is usually painful, sadistic and humiliating, intended as a means of gaining dominance over the victim. The psychological abuse is devastating and involves the use of ritual indoctrination, which can include mind control techniques, mind altering drugs, and ritual/intimidation which conveys to the victim a profound terror of the cult members and of the evil spirits they believe cult members command. (Be assured this is not an accusation of all witches since the vast majority of these people practice healing, non-abusive magick.) Because of the extreme nature of the abuse, it seems hard to understand that human beings can do this to other human beings, especially children.

A major effort is made within the cult, usually at a very early age, to program the initiate. This can be lethal programming (such as suicide, assassination), self-injury (cutting, burning, traffic accidents, jumps, falls), cult-control (reporting, access, return, seduction, etc.), therapy interference (scrambling, flooding, erasure, fixed verbal response, nightmare, isolation, etc.) and psychoneurological (numb, seizure, vision, hearing, sleep, etc.).

I Can't Believe It

Though ritual sexual abuse of children is a reality, many still believe that something that terrible couldn't really happen. When articles and television distort the reality of ritual abuse, it's similar to what Frued's colleagues did when he first published his shocking study that many women were sexually abused as children. There were no proven cases to support his theory so he rewrote his theory so he would be accepted by his peers. Like the Prime Time story that went to an accused couple (he a minister, she played the church organ) asking them on national television if they were guilty of ritual abuse, virtually all parents of adult children who have sexual abuse memories deny they were the ones who did it. Manipulating thought is one thing. Denying experience is unconscionable. Afterall, these "...cults are comprised of doctors, business people, churchgoers, (therapists) and PTA mothers..." says Daniel Ryder. "The ritual abuse field today is where the incest field was 12 to 15 years ago." We have a culture that is still denying that such atrocious things could have ever happened.

An area of distortion surrounds circumcision. While not officially termed ritual abuse, it has all the components. It is often a ritual, sometimes even performed in a religious structure, to mutilate the sexual organ of a child without his knowledge or permission. Yet, 74% of parents continue to sign the papers to allow this antiquated ritual abuse to be performed on their baby boys. Why is our culture systematically sexually abusing its boys when it would collectively be up in arms if Islamic-Arabic girls were given clitoridectomies here.


Not withstanding Prime Time's narrow reporting, men and women are coming out. California has a Ritual Crime Investigators Association which includes police detectives, arson investigators, intelligence specialists and child abuse investigators. Los Angeles has a ritual abuse task force and Minnesota has a statewide task force made up of law enforcement representatives, therapists, survivors and teachers. Nationwide referral centers for survivors, such as JUSTUS Unlimited in Denver (303.759.4275) have also evolved. And, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists presented a very information session on the "Clinical Assessment of Satanic Ritualistic Abuse" last May. The evidence keeps mounting.

What to do?

After all is said and done, I really wonder if anyone, boys or girls, escape from some form of sexual abuse present in our culture today. The point is that we must take action now to break the chain of what happened to us, so we won't be multiplying this effect over the number of children we have and expect all of them to break the chain for their children. It takes one person at a time.

What's important is to listen to the stories, no matter how horrid they may sound. Stories of childhood sexual abuse, of orgies, of torture, of murder and sacrifice. It's important to talk about your own experience, if you had one that you remember, and join together with others to stop the perpetration of abuse wherever we find it - in our own homes, next door, at the grocery store, in church or school, no matter who's doing it or what their excuse may be. Abuse must be stopped, NOW! Think about it! - Gordon Clay

Cult Abuse - Discounted as False Memory Syndrome

While some known pediphiles are touting their position that "memories" of ritual abuse retrieved years later must be false or perpetrated by therapists and that, because the FBI shows no cases of missing children and sacrifice, it's interesting why the media has surprised the findings in an archaeological dig at the McMartin preschool. You may remember that is the case where children claimed there were tunnels under the school where ritual abuse was practiced but no investigation was made. Well, in April, 1990, Gary Stickel, PhD conducted a dig at the school and found the tunnels where the children said they would be. Dr. Stickel published an 185-page report entitled "Report of the Archaeological Excavation of the McMartin Preschool Site". Because the general media doesn't seem to be interested in the truth, Dr. Roland Summit decided to write an article for Treating Abuse Today. The publication is requesting donations for the publications and distribution of the report to researches, journalists, policy-makers and other professionals. Individuals can obtain a copy for $19.00. To order or make a donation, send your check to Treating Abuse Today, McMartin Preschool Tunnels Report Fund, 2722 Eastlake Ave E, # 300, Seattle, WA 98102

There are several things that seem clear regarding the false memory situation. The first is that normal human memory is highly error-prone. This is true of all biological processes, from DNA transciption to immune responses: the built-in capacity for error is one of the foundations of biological survival, in that it allows for change, novel responses, and adaptation. There is no need to be defensive about the fact that clients and patients have false memories, because everyone else does. False memories are biologically normal and, therefore, not necessarily the therapist's fault.

Second, in an analogy to DNA processing, traumatic memory is guaranteed to include mutations, deletions, transpositions and insertions; this is true for all memory. It is natural and expected that traumatic memory will include inaccuracies due to errors of registration, retention and retrieval. This, again, is not the therapist's fault - it is not possible to go through therapy without retrieving some false memories, as all memory contains a degree of falsehood.

Third, it is a fact that suggestible individuals can have memories elaborated within their minds because of poor therapeutic technique. This occurs by mechanisms similar to the techniques of the persuasion used by politicians, advertising agencies and most notably lawyers or anyone who wants to influence another person's perception of the past, present or future. In therapy, persuasion is an artifact of bad technique, rather than the goal of intervention. No one launches suits against advertisers for creating false needs or against politicians for creating false votes, though this is no less rational or plausible than a false memory suit against a therapist

Fourth, patients and clients must be responsible for their own memories, just as they are responsible for their own feelings and behavior. The therapist is a consultant to the recovery process, not the boss of it. False memory suits are, I think, driven partly by a plaintiff's reaction to overinvolvement and rescuing behavior of therapists, who then are thrown into the persecutor role by the client, as the dyad oscillates around the victim-rescuer-perpetrator triangle. Not getting into the rescuer role reduces the likelihood of being forced into the persecutor role.

Part of the motive for false memory suits, is, I think, patients' and clients' needs to act out their rage about being help responsible for their thoughts, feelings, memories and behaviors. One of the deepest needs created in a sexually abused child is to avoid responsibility for the incest - not to want it, to have caused it or to have liked it. At the same time, the child shifts the locus of control for the abuse inside themselves, to create an illusion of being in control of the uncontrollable

Fifth, false memory suits are reinforced by massive secondary gain, far exceeding any that could ever be derived from therapy. Major financial awards and pseudo-reconciliation with the family, with a sealing over of family lies, secrets and conflicts, are rewards with which a therapist cannot compete. A false memory defense is the best legal strategy for a perpetrator in the present legal and political climate.

Sixth, there undoubtedly are falsely accused perpetrators, but such false memories are not necessarily the therapist's fault. The client has switched the rescuer-perpetrator roles to pursue secondary gain. Logically, the therapist should be able to sue the parents for false memories of therapy, as much as the parents should be able to sue the therapists, since both parties are pawns of protective identification.

Seventh, clients with false memories should be treated, countertransferentially, more like the medical profession regards patients with Munchausen's syndrome. There is an epidemic of a dissociative variant of Munchausen's . The attitude toward doctors who are fooled by medical Munchausen's cases is very different from that toward the therapist in a false memory suit. The doctor is viewed as a conscientious, ethical, competent professional, duped by a con artist. There is no epidemic of false illness suites against doctors by Munchausen's patients.

Eighth, it is very difficult to tell a false from a real memory clinically. There are undoubtedly incompetent therapists who should be sued. However, I am confident that the bulk of current false memory suits are pure acting out, reinforced by the possibility of secondary gain. What I have learned from the false memory controversy is that false memories are a profound, subtle and difficult problem in both therapy and research.

There is an inherent paradox in all false memory suits. They are based on a claim that the client is weak, suggestible,vulnerable, easily persuaded, swayed by secondary gain and not responsible for their own memories. This is a demeaning characterization. If accurate, however, it means that the memories of therapy could be as false as the memories recovered during therapy. This means that the foundation of the suit invalidates the suit. The constant in the equation is the person who tells fantastic stories for secondary gain, in changing social contexts. Therefore, therapists should be able to launch false memory suits against the parents, lawyers and background organizations suing them. And, the media should also be liable for damaging professional reputations through sensationalizing false memories of therapy, thereby generating ratings, circulation and advertising revenues for themselves.

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Adversity introduces a man to himself. - Anonymous

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