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Evidence of child abuse in cults and social groups

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There is strong evidence that child abuse and ritual abuse in cults and other social groups exists around the world.  Ritual abuse has been defined as

“…methodical abuse, often using indoctrination, aimed at breaking the will of another human being. In a 1989 report, the Ritual Abuse Task Force of the L.A. County Commission for Women defined ritual abuse as: ‘Ritual Abuse usually involves repeated abuse over an extended period of time. The physical abuse is severe, sometimes including torture and killing. The sexual abuse is usually painful, humiliating, intended as a means of gaining dominance over the victim. The psychological abuse is devastating and involves the use of ritual indoctrination. It includes mind control techniques which convey to the victim a profound terror of the cult members …most victims are in a state of terror, mind control and dissociation’”[i]

Dr Randall Noblitt stated that most of the empirical studies of ritual abuse can be divided into four categories:

(1) the frequency of ritual abuse disclosures to professionals and their beliefs about such reports;

(2) suggestibility, rumor and iatrogenesis as possible explanations for ritual abuse allegations;

(3) ritual abuse allegations made by children;

(4) ritual abuse allegations made by adults.

He cited studies showing large percentages of mental health professionals have worked with ritual abuse survivors. One study stated that “psychologists who had worked with at least one individual with allegations of ritual abuse, 93% believed that the harm had actually occurred.” His research included studies documenting ritual abuse in criminal cases and day care and cult settings.[ii]

There are archives of legal cases citing crimes involving ritual abuse and journal articles documenting ritual abuse occurrences.[iii] A 1993 study showed that out of over 2000 alleged ritual abuse cases, 15% of the perpetrators in adult cases and 30% of the perpetrators in child cases confessed to the abuse.[iv] In 1988, Finklehor et al. identified 270 cases of substantiated sexual abuse in daycare settings involving 1639 victimized children. The study stated that allegations of ritual abuse occurred in 13% of these cases.[v]

Anne Johnson Davis documents her story of abuse in a Satanic cult including the verified signed confessions of her parents. The story was also covered in her local media outlets..[vi]

In an online survey of extreme abuse survivors in 2007, 84% of the respondents (N=655) who stated that they had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder reported that they were also survivors of ritual abuse and mind control. Some of the extreme abuse survivors reported that they had been used in government-sponsored mind control experimentation. Fifty-five percent stated that they had been abused in Satanic cults.[vii] Others have written that children were experimented on by people connected to government agencies.[viii]

The most famous daycare child abuse case in the United States was the McMartin Preschool Case. Though the case has been written off by some as a travesty of justice, the reality is quite different. The first mother that started the accusations  had been accused of suffering from a mental illness. Yet reports show that when she was reporting allegations of abuse she “was quite sane and emotionally contained even as she described the improbable complaints of her child.”[ix]

In the trial, the jury deadlocked on several of the charges and at a press conference following the trial, 9 of the 11 jurors who were interviewed indicated that they believed the children had been molested.  They stated they felt that the evidence presented did not enable them to state beyond a reasonable doubt who had perpetrated the abuse.[x] Tunnels were also found beneath the school after the trial that may have corroborated some of the accounts of the children that testified.[xi]

The book Michelle Remembers has been heavily attacked by those denying the reality of ritual abuse crimes, even being called fictional by some.  Yet, the story was researched for the publisher by experienced interviewers who went to the location of where the story occurred and spoke with those involved in the case. The publisher in the book’s forward wrote: “The source material was scrutinized. The many thousands of pages of transcript of the tape recordings that Dr. Pazder and Michelle Smith made of their psychiatric sessions were read and digested; they became the basis of this book. The tapes themselves were listened to in good measure, and the videotapes made of some of his sessions were viewed. Both the audio and video are powerfully convincing. It is nearly unthinkable that the protracted agony they record could have been fabricated.”[xii]

A variety of theories have been produced in the last two decades in an attempt to discredit the realities of ritual abuse crimes and ritual abuse survivors. These theories have included concepts of social influence, attacks on the veracity of recovered memory phenomenon and the misrepresentations of criminal cases that have included ritual abuse elements. Yet these cases had two sides, those of the alleged victims and those of the alleged perpetrators.[xiii]

Some proponents of social influence theories use these theories in an attempt to discredit all ritual abuse cases. Yet an increase in the social awareness of the concept of ritual abuse could be due to abuse victims finally being able to come forward (as they did in the 1980's and 1990's) and being supported after many years of not being believed.  This is what happened in the child abuse movement.

The veracity of recovery memory has also been attacked. Yet the ideas of dissociation and repressing trauma have been accepted in the scientific community for many years.[xiv] There are many documented legal cases involving corroborated cases of recovered memory.[xv] Several studies show fairly high corroboration rates for recovered memories of traumatic events.[xvi]

The reality is that ritual abuse crimes have been well documented for many years. The misrepresentations of fact by those denying the existence of these crimes only causes the further denial of the existence of these crimes.

Resources and footnotes

Proof that ritual abuse exists:

Child abuse wiki:

Other organizations with data proving the worldwide existence of ritual abuse:

Books on ritual abuse not listed in the reference section:

Epstein, O., Schwartz, J., and Schwartz, R. (2011)  Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs. Karnac Books: London.

Karriker, Wanda (2003). Morning, Come Quickly. Catawba, NC: Sandime, LTD.

Noblitt, J.R. and Perskin, P. S. (eds) (2008). Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-first Century: Psychological, Forensic, Social and Political Considerations. Bandor, OR: Robert Reed.

Noblitt, J.R. and Perskin P.S. (2000). Cult and ritual abuse: its history, anthropology, and recent discovery in contemporary America. New York: Praeger.

Ryder, Daniel. (1992). Breaking the Circle of Satanic Ritual Abuse: Recognizing and Recovering. CompCare Pub.

Oksana, Chrystine (2001). Safe Passage to Healing – A Guide for Survivors of Ritual Abuse. Lincoln, NE: 1994 pub. Harper Perennial.

Raschke, Carl A. (1990). Painted Black. New York: HarperCollins.

Smith, Margaret. (1993). Ritual Abuse: What it Is, why it Happens, and how to Help Harper Collins.

Sinason, V (1994). Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse. New York: Routledge.

Scott, S. (2001). The politics and experience of ritual abuse: beyond disbelief. Open University Press.

[i] Oksana, C. Safe Passage to Healing (1994)  Harper Collins, pp. 35-36.

[ii] Noblitt, J. R. ‘An Empirical Look at the Ritual Abuse Controversy’ (2007) Adapted in 2007 from a paper presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, Fort Worth, Texas, March 18, 1998.

[iii] Conviction List: Ritual Child Abuse” compiled by Believe the Children in 1997 ; Lacter, E (2008-02-11) “Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse” ; Satanic Ritual Abuse evidence with information on the McMartin Preschool Case

[iv] Brown, Scheflin and Hammond (1998). ”Memory, Trauma Treatment, And the Law” W. W. Norton, p.62;  Bottoms, B. Shaver, P. & Goodman, G. (1993) Profile of ritual abuse and religion related abuse allegations in the United States. Updated findings provided via personal communication from B. Bottoms. Cited in K.C. Faller (1994), Ritual Abuse; A Review of the Research. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Advisor, 7, 1, 19-27).

[v] Finklehor, Williams, Burns, Kalinowski “Sexual Abuse in Day Care: A National Study – Executive Summary – March 1988"

[vi] Johnson Davis, A. “Hell Minus One: My Story of Deliverance From Satanic Ritual Abuse and My Journey to Freedom” (2008) Transcript Bulletin Publishing

[vii] Extreme Abuse Survey final results Data taken from Karriker, Wanda. (2008, November). Understanding ritual trauma: A comparison of findings from three online surveys. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Chicago, IL.

[viii] Rutz, C. A Nation Betrayed – The Chilling True Story of Secret Cold War Experiments Performed on our Children and Other Innocent People; Hersha, L, Hersha C., Griffis, D., Schwartz, T., Secret Weapons – Two Sisters’ Terrifying True Story of Sex, Spies and Sabotage  New Horizon Press

[ix] Summit, R.C. (1994). “The Dark Tunnels of McMartin” Journal of Psychohistory 21 (4): 397-416.

[x] “Tapes of Children Decided the Case for Most Jurors” Tracy Wilkinson and James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 1/19/90

[xi] Archaeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site, Manhattan Beach, California

Other articles on the McMartin case:

Summit, R.C. (1994). “The Dark Tunnels of McMartin” Journal of Psychohistory 21 (4): 397-416.

McMartin Preschool Case – What Really Happened and the Coverup

[xii] Full quote from Pazder, L, Smith, M. “Michelle Remembers” (1989), Pocket Publishers, is at

[xiii] For information on child abuse and day care cases from the alleged victims’ perspectives see Day Care and Child Abuse Cases -

[xiv] Summary of Research Examining the Prevalence of Full or Partial  Dissociative Amnesia for Traumatic Events -  The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence

Appellant on Appeal from a Judgment of the Superior Court Brief of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court SJC No. 10382 AC No. 2007-p-0886 Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Appellee V. Paul Shanley, Leadership Council as Amicus Curiae

[xvi] Child Abuse Wiki - Recovered Memories - Corroboration Rates

Neil Brick, MA Ed, LMHC

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