Has ritual abuse happened
|Ritual Abuse (RA) is "psychological, sexual, and/or physical non-consensual assault on a human victim, committed according to a prescribed ritual, by one or more persons whose primary motive is either to fulfill a need to abuse others, or to program the victim so that they can be better controlled in the future."|
|Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) is "ritual abuse, the primary aim of which is to worship the Christian devil, Satan."|
|Christian Ritual Abuse (CRA) is "ritual abuse, the primary aim of which is to fulfill a requirement of their Christian faith, or to purge the victim of demonic possession."|
We also differentiate between three mainly unrelated forms of Satanism:
|Gothic Satanism is used here to refer to a religion that involved the worship of Satan by secret, underground groups who torture, kill, and eat infants. Belief in this religion was created by the Christian Church during the late Middle Ages as justification for their burning of Witches and other heretics. Many adults still believe and many religious organizations and writers still promote the concept of Gothic Satanism as being widespread in North America. It is in fact, a hoax.|
|Religious Satanism or Satanism is used to refer to persons who refer to themselves as Satanists and who are dedicated to the teachings of the Church of Satan, Temple of Set, or similar belief systems.|
|Satanic Dabblers is used to refer to a person or group of persons who are
typically in their late teens, who refer to themselves as Satanists, and who follow a
syncretistic religion that they have created from elements of religious Satanism,
Neo-Paganism, Christian writings about Gothic Satanism, ceremonial magick, etc.|
We attempt to classify ritual abuse into 6 categories, according to the religious beliefs, mental state, profession and motivation of the abusers. Some categories exist; others occur only in fantasy. All of the cases that we have studied fit into one of the following categories:
We will deal with each of these categories below:
Ken Lanning is head of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI which investigates ritual abuse cases. He issued a report in 1992 which concluded that "..in none of the cases of which I am aware has any evidence of a well-organized satanic cult been found". 1 A group of US government study involving over 10 thousand therapists, DA offices, police forces, etc. reached the same conclusion. 2 Additional studies were conducted by the governments of the State of Virginia 3,4, England 5 and the Netherlands 6 between 1991 and 1994. They all agree that there are no organized, secret, abusive Satanic cults.
These conclusions are in opposition to many people's belief systems. In some states of the US, during the 1980s, over 90% of the adults believed that underground Satanic groups are actively abusing and killing children. Tens of thousands of people who have had Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT) have recollected memories of SRA. (Others involved in the same therapy have recovered memories of abuse on board UFO's, and in former lifetimes). There is a near consensus now among therapists that such memories are not related to real events, but are accidental and unintended byproducts of the suggestive therapeutic methods.
We have been actively seeking hard evidence of secret Satanic cults since the startup of this web site in 1995. In particular we have tried to find a person with "always present" SRA memories who has never been exposed to RMT or self-hypnosis. So far, the search has been unsuccessful.
As a working hypotheses, we have concluded that multi-generational, secret, abusive, organized Satanic cults do not exist.
The Church of Satan, Temple of Set and other Satanic religious groups are active and probably include many thousands of members in North America. This number is speculative, because the largest group does not reveal its membership statistics, and the remaining groups are relatively small. There was one allegation of abuse against a member of the Temple of Set by an ex-girlfriend, but no charges resulted. 7
One case of intra-familial incest involving an underage teen-age male may have occurred. It was reported in the large Federal government study referred to above. 2 The teen-ager's parents were Satanists and publicly acknowledged their religion. They apparently invited him to some of their sexual rituals as victim, observer and perpetrator. None of the horrendous details that the public associates with SRA (ritual killing, torture and mutilation, blood drinking, etc.) occurred. It involved only sexual activity. If the allegations are true, then the parents would have committed incest with an under-aged person - a criminal act of child abuse. Since it happened during a Satanic ritual, it would be regarded by many as Satanic Ritual Abuse.
To our knowledge, no criminal charges have been laid or convictions obtained against any religious Satanist. Again, as a working hypothesis, we conclude that religious Satanists do not abuse or sacrifice people.
These are typically males who follow their religious practices alone or within a small group. Usually, they become involved in a form of Satanism during their mid-teenage years and lose interest within a few years. They are commonly referred to as "dabblers" because they normally do not follow a rigorous study of their religion within an established group as do religious Satanists. Rather, they might develop their own unique syncretistic religion from a number of sources such as:
|The writings of Anton LaVey (The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals, etc.)|
|Various books describing Wiccan and other Neo-Pagan "white magick" (non-harmful) rituals|
|Books on ceremonial magick|
|Books which describe the Witchhunts of the 15th to 18th centuries|
|Books by Christian authors about Satanism which are not grounded in reality but are based on rumors and fears - some dating back 5 centuries.|
|Horror movies and comic books|
|Any other sources of rituals that are to slow to run away|
Most dabblers engage in reasonably harmless activities, such as attempting to call up demons, giving oaths to Satan, laying curses on others, etc. A few conduct gruesome rituals such as consensual sadism, masochism, digging up of human corpses, applying Satanic tattoos, self or group mutilation, signing oaths in blood, etc. We do not consider these activities as ritual abuse, because they are engaged in willingly by all parties.
Some dabblers engage in illegal activities; the most popular are tombstone desecration and, the painting of Satanic graffiti on walls of buildings. A very few conduct rituals in which small animals are ritually killed.
Rumors often circulate that some Satanic dabblers are involved in more serious activity, such as kidnapping, torture or murdering of victims. The cases of which we are aware of are either
|Non-existent hoaxes, or|
|Acts performed by mentally ill youth and caused by their psychopathology rather than by any religious motivation.|
The latter fall into our fourth classification.
There have been a number of mentally ill people, often teenage males, who have engaged in mass murder or mutilation and killing of an individual. Some are psychopaths, who have no concept of guilt and no inhibitions about committing murder; others are psychotic -- individuals who have lost grips with reality. These crimes have normally been committed by a single individual; some are by a group in which at least the leader is mentally ill. Some examples are available.
There is abundant evidence that a small number of individuals suffering from a psychosis or who are psychopaths dabble in Satanism and kill others. One or two cases a year surface in North America, so the problem is thankfully uncommon. The driving force is the mental illness, not the Satanism.
Three instances of ritual Satanic child molestation have been documented in England. 5 The perpetrators were not in fact actual Satanists; they know little about Satanism. They just pretended to be in order to better control and terrorize their victims into submission. We have heard rumors of similar occurrences in the US, but have been unable to confirm them.
We suspect that this technique for controlling children is used by a small percentage of child molesters in North America and Europe.
Occasionally, the media carry stories of child abuse cases which contain elements which people associate with Gothic Satanism. For example:
|"K" was a 9 year old girl when she was kidnapped and kept in a dungeon by a family friend (her Godmother) in 1992. She was kept in a state of near servitude. Her revelations sparked a 9 month investigation by the Suffolk County (NY) grand jury into the local CPS.|
|Marc Dutroux, a convicted child rapist in Belgium, confessed to abducting young girls in 1996-AUG. Newspaper reports allege that he ran a business in which girls were kept in cells in the basement of one of his houses, that he sold them for tens of thousands of dollars each, and that he sent them out of the country for a life of child prostitution. Two girls, aged 8, died of starvation; police rescued two other girls, but also found the bodies of two teenage women (19 and 17) buried on his property.|
Such cases prove that vicious instances of horrible child abuse, child exploitation and even murder do exist, and that they sometimes have elements similar to those associated with "Gothic Satanism". But they appear to be unrelated to actual Satanism in any form.
All of the non-Satanic, religiously based forms of ritual abuse that we have been able to find were practiced by either by Christians or members of syncretistic groups that are partly Christian. This is perhaps to be expected, because about 75% of adults in North America are of that religion. Other faith groups may engage in similar forms of abuse; but were not reported.
Often, ritual abuse only becomes know when a victim actually dies. We uncovered a few cases between 1994 and 1999:
|In 1994, a three month old boy was ritually murdered in Quebec, Canada by members of the International Chivalric Order Solar Tradition, a doomsday cult. They follow a syncretistic religion, combining Roman Catholicism, New-Age philosophy, homeopathic medicine and high finance. This religious group believed that the murder was required because the infant was the Anti-Christ mentioned in the Book of Revelation of the Christian Scriptures. They ritually murdered the child by driving a wooden stake through his heart. The group went on to engage in mass murders and suicides among their membership in Quebec and France.|
|During 1995, a young Oriental woman in California was accidentally killed during a Christian exorcism which involved extensive physical abuse. A small group of Christians were trying to drive a what they believed to be a demon from her body. Her corpse was left for a few days before the police were called, in the hopes that she would return to life.|
|During 1995, an infant in Ontario, Canada was tortured and accidentally killed during a Christian exorcism by her grandmother. The infant had cried a lot and was believed to have been possessed by a demon. The murderer was convicted and received a 18 month jail sentence.|
|On 1996-DEC-9, Ms. Rosina Appiah-Boateng, a Roman Catholic from Toronto, ON, was convinced that her daughter Afua was possessed by demons. She attempted to drive the demons from her body by beating her daughter's naked body with a spoon-like wooden stick. Afua died from loss of blood. The mother was declared to be not criminally responsible for the exorcism beating death because of a pre-existing psychiatric condition. She had been diagnosed with psychotic bipolar disorder.|
|Cases are described frequently in the media in which parents withheld medical attention from their children in favor of ritually praying over them. Such actions are considered by some to be a form of ritual abuse. One example is the Tabitha's Place apocalyptic sect in France. Police arrested the parents of an 18 month boy and charged them with causing death by denying him proper food and treatment. He weighted 4.5 kG (10.0 lb.) at the time of his death. He was the second death in the previous year within the sect, which teaches their members and their children to reject medical care in favor of prayer.|
|Charity Martin, age 17, was allegedly suffocated during an exorcism. She had been suffering from a mysterious illness and had missed a week and a half from school. Her mother, Vivian, 39, and sisters Serena, 20, and Elizabeth, 15, decided that the girl was being "consumed by a demon." Allegedly, after several unsuccessful attempts to smother the perceived demon on with pillows, the mother covered Charity's head with a plastic bag. Vivian and Serena joined hands and prayed over Charity's body while reading Bible verses from Revelation. Vivian and Serena have pleaded not guilty of second degree murder. Eric Naiburg, Vivian's lawyer, commented that the women were suffering from a mental defect because of their intense religious beliefs.|
"...when you turn on your TV set, all you see are preachers ranting and raving about the devil and demons and fallen angels. Now, all of a sudden, someone allegedly takes it all to heart and everyone is aghast. It strikes me as kind of odd and hypocritical."
Many of the above cases were located in Canada. We do not believe that the incidence of exorcism deaths is higher in Canada than in the US; it is just that our agency's ability to learn of Canadian murders is much greater than for US exorcism homicides.
Much of the Christian Ritual Abuse is based upon either of two potentially fatal religious beliefs:
|that mental illness or strange forms of behavior are caused by demon infestation, which can be cured by exorcising the demon|
|that children need not be given medical attention because God will cure them if the parents pray for a cure|
Mental health professionals abandoned the demonic infestation theory of mental illness some centuries ago. There are some child illnesses which are invariable fatal, yet are often curable with proper medical attention. But as long as these hazardous religious beliefs exist, some parents will rely upon prayer, and some of their children will die preventable deaths.
The incidence of Christian Ritual Abuse is unknown. When it results in death, it often comes to the attention of the authorities and is reported in the media. But for every known murder case, there are probably many instances of physical, emotional or psychological ritual abuse which did not result in a death; these might well have gone unreported.
A massive study of ritual abuse and what was called "religious abuse" involved questioning 6000 members of the American Psychological Association. 14,15,16 Their definition of religious abuse includes abuse which may or may not involve some degree of ritual. They concluded that of the 2,297 cases of religious abuse reported:
These data would seem to indicate that the incidence of ritual abuse during exorcisms should be considered as a serious social problem.
These forms of abuse are not confined to Christianity. Belief in the existence of Satan and of demonic possession is also widespread within Islam. Thus Muslims also have the potential of physically and emotionally abusing others during exorcisms. In 1997-JUN, a Muslim cleric was given a 7 year sentence in Lille, France, for his involvement in the accidental death of a teen-age girl during an exorcism. Another man was given a 4 year sentence.
We have concluded that sexual abuse of children by single perpetrators does occur in a small percentage of day care centers, pre-schools, Sunday schools, etc. However, we have found no convincing evidence of large scale, multi-victim multi-offender (MVMO) child ritual abuse cases.
Copyright © 1998 to 2007 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-MAR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson
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