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Ritual Abuse

Definition used by the Ritual Abuse Task Force, Los Angeles of 1994:

“A brutal form of abuse of children, adolescents and adults, consisting of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and involving the use of rituals. Rituals does not necessarily mean satanic. However, most survivors state that they were ritually abused as part of satanic worship for the purpose of indoctrinating them into satanic beliefs and practices. Ritual abuse rarely consists of a single episode. It usually involves repeated abuse over an extended period of time.”

(Ritual Abuse Task Force, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, 1994)

Supporting Survivors Of Satanic Ritual Abuse

In the last few years’ survivors have been disclosing experiences of Satanic Ritual Abuse to Rape Crisis Centres as well as social workers, counsellors and other caring agencies here in Ireland. In response to this, the Galway Rape Crisis Centre felt it was vital that we both inform ourselves further, and join survivors in highlighting and beginning to break the silence in this area of organised sexual violence.

In 1992, 1993, 1997 and 1999 we invited three trainers from England to run some two-day courses, both introductory and advanced, for those already in contact with survivors who may until now have been working in isolation. The training workshops are an information-based training. The trainers work with survivors of Ritual Abuse with SAFE (an organisation supporting survivors of ritual abuse in England) and at Manchester RCC. One of the trainers was herself a survivor of Ritual Abuse.

At GRCC we support survivors of Ritual Abuse. To date, only a very limited number of survivors have contacted us.

We hope that over time society at large will be ready to acknowledge the incidence of this form of violence and begin to take action in both supporting survivors and dealing with Ritual Abuse as a crime.

The following is an excerpt from a leaflet by SAFE:

Ritual Abuse…… It happens

Most sexual abuse of children is ritualised in some way. Abusers use repetition, routine and ritual to coerce children into the patterns of behaviour they require, to instil fear and ensure silence. Nursery rhymes, prayers, bath times or teddy bears might be used like this by an abusing father; gifts, secrets, elaborate games, dressing up, taking photographs may be part of a paedophile’s ritual preparation for a victim. The sexual abuse of a child is never a random act of lust; it always involves thorough planning and preparation. Horrific though this is, it is well documented and believable enough to most people. The purpose seems clear: to gain and maintain access to children in order to exploit them sexually. To most people it seems a long way from the unbelievable stories of children taken nightly to covens where they are literally tortured, subjected to multiple rape and forced to watch or participate in ritual murder. Were the purpose is apparently worship of devils and demons. Were generations of the same families may have practised such atrocities as a religion, as a way of life. Yet these two systems of abuse are not so very far apart either practically or ideologically.

At a level of international crime the trade in pornography, drug trafficking and arms deals are closely interwoven. (Ask Interpol, ask Linda Lovelace). And no power structure consists of a dozen clever, wicked men sitting atop a huge pile of money. The supporting structure consists of layer upon layer of corruption and coercion, in the sex industry, in the military, in quasi-religious secret organisations and in families. The Klan, the Mafia and organised Satanism have a lot in common – including ritual murder. Seen in this context a child porn ring is no more just a bunch of perverts than a Klan group is just a bunch of racists.

Child sexual abuse is always about power and secrecy. Ten years ago few of us who were neither victims nor abusers found it easy to believe that thousands of men rape their children on a regular basis. Survivors spoke out and eventually we began to listen. Ritual abuse survivors frequently fear for their lives – their abusers may be highly organised and have more to lose than custody or respectability.

Yet survivors are beginning to speak out – small children safe in their foster mothers’ arms, women on the run phoning a Rape Crisis Line, clients in a therapist’s office. And some of us are beginning, just beginning, to listen.

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