Ritual Abuse survivors are taught from an early age that no one will believe them. The fact that this tends to be true re-enforces this.
Survivors are taught not to talk. They are taught that it would be a betrayal. They are taught that talking is a weakness.
Ritual Abuse survivors find talking difficult, as do most survivors. If you add to that the extent of the trauma and how talking about it can cause flashbacks, it sometimes becomes impossible to talk.
Survivors often believe that if they talk, they will die or someone will.
As adults, survivors can appreciate that what they might try to say will be unbelievable. Things may have happened that they know on a rational level just can’t be possible. They may also appreciate that there must have been trickery involved, but not know what it was.
The literal language that many survivors use while trying to talk can make it difficult for others to understand what they are trying to say.
People sometimes don’t ask or persist in asking in the right way. Many survivors need to be asked in a very direct manner.
Many survivors believe that it is pointless to try and talk about abuse.
Loyalty to the family and the group can run very deep.
RA survivors often feel that what happened to them was right. They often feel that they quite literally belong to the group and as such the group had a right to do anything at all to them. In this case, talking about it would not be a consideration for a survivor.
Many RA survivors who have tried to talk have experienced a severe backlash from the abusers.
If people generally, and publicly, do not believe that this type of abuse happens, it is next to impossible to get survivors to talk about it.
People generally use the word ‘ritual’ quite liberally when talking about ritual abuse but as survivors are usually reluctant to go into any specific detail about what this actually means, many people are left with a very vague sense of what occurs. To begin to try and understand some of the things that go on during rituals, it is easiest to begin by thinking of an established and acceptable religion.
Many different religions of the world have their own particular trappings, symbols, language and set routines or rituals that they carry out at regular prescribed times, places and in a particularly revered manner. They have their hierarchy, ordained ministers of the faith and followers or worshippers. They employ methods of teaching the faith to the children from a relatively young age and often have particular levels of attainment, initiation and acceptance into the faith. These things are part of the worship and reverence of the people involved in the faith and as such are extremely important and powerful to them. These religions are mostly harmless to people and for many help them live a fulfilled and meaningful life.
Secret religions and groups that survivors talk about, often behave in exactly the same manner as legitimate churches, to a point. Many things described in catholic worship and other religions are done to some degree in cults and satanic worship. The big difference is that some of the secret religions are extremely abusive of some people during the worship, are praying to a different god and the rituals are designed to control and terrify victims. Many of the abusers claim to be believers in their faith and intent on worshipping their own deity in their own way, but groups which incorporate abuse as part of their worship will not do so openly as to do so, would, quite rightly, lead to prosecution in this and most other countries of the world.
Because the activities carried out during abusive satanic rituals are illegal, the places used are varied. The groups very carefully choose the places they meet in and then prepare the place for the rituals. Often the floor area to be used is covered with a large sheet of tarpaulin. The tarpaulin usually has the symbols used by the group painted or printed on it, and its main purpose is to prevent any evidence of the abuse from being left behind. Most groups have a tarpaulin, which is kept specifically for this purpose and it is often stored in places such as farm buildings or warehouses where it would not be seen to be out of place.
Before and more frequently during the rituals, symbols may be drawn in blood or other body fluids on the tarpaulin, on the walls or onto some individuals.
In addition, associated group symbols are drawn or hung on the walls, candles are set out at various points in the space being used and an altar is set up. The altar is frequently person sized and sometimes initially covered by an ornate altar cloth. Sometimes the various items to be used during the ceremony (knife, dagger, chalice, bowls, etc) are placed carefully on this altar. Often they are covered or wrapped in cloth or skin until the rituals begin.
From the perspective of most survivors, they are not usually involved in these particular preparations, unless they are being trained to perform rituals. Instead, for weeks before the ceremony, any survivors who have to take part are being prepared for what is to happen during the ritual. This, in reality, means that the abusers often take the survivor through their part in the proceedings to come over and over again until they are certain that the survivor will perform their part properly. This usually involves taking part in forced sexual activity of some kind, responding to the abusers demands in a multitude of different ways, both physical and sexual violence, and behaving exactly in the way that the abusers have decreed they must.
Often, the events organised by groups last for several days and on some occasions for weeks.
All survivors report that they are thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed before entering the proceedings and the cleansing is very abusive and intrusive. Often the cleaning includes inner cleansing such as making sure that the stomach and bowels are empty. The survivor may be told that this cleansing is essential so that their impurities do not tarnish the ritual, but it is probably more to do with making sure that survivors are not able to vomit etc, during the ritual.
Sometimes, at the beginning of the event, the survivor is dressed in a robe. Nothing is worn underneath. Survivors report the abusers’ reading from the group ‘Bible’, chanting, swaying and dancing themselves into frenzy. Often, the participants of the event, i.e. the abusers, stand in a close semi-circle round the altar and often survivors talk about being placed on the altar where they are then abused, firstly by those people who are officiating, and then by all group members.
Survivors talk about the different colours worn by abusers and survivors to indicate their status. Through the colours worn, everyone knows at a glance which position is held and where everyone is in the pecking order.
There is a large difference apparent in any group ritual between those with the power, who are there to enjoy themselves in their so-called worship, and those other people without any power who become the objects to be used and abused by the group. Though all may belong to the same group, equality simply does not exist in this kind of setting. Some people are members because they have chosen to be, other people belong because the group has chosen it to be that way for them and they have no choice in this.
During rituals, some groups, in addition to worshiping their particular god, carry out rituals designed to curse others or raise demons or even the devil himself. These rituals can be very frightening. There are often many minor and major demons that these people, or at least the ones who practise the magic amongst them, believe in and believe they can raise and control.
Though many survivors claim to have witnessed these ‘other world’ creatures appearing out of Hell on the command of some group members, extremes of fear and pain, dissociation and mind-altering drugs probably help them to appear to the survivor. Groups also ‘persuade’ some people that they have been possessed or are in fact representatives of these and other demons. The group, to assist the belief in these creatures, will give some survivors the names of the demons.
It is incredibly hard for many people to accept or believe that ritual abuse happens because to do so would be tantamount to accepting the unacceptable and believing in the unbelievable. To believe that ritual abuse actually happens also means the complete destruction of a person’s world view which can result in inner con!ict as the mind struggles to make sense of a different and opposing reality to what the person believes goes on in the world.
In order to accept that ritual abuse may be going on, especially in your own community, you first have to be able to accept that people are capable of atrocious acts of depravity, rape, torture, sadism and even child murder. Many people shield themselves from the unacceptability of all this through denial of the possibility that anyone could ever be capable of doing such terrible things. To come to believe that seemingly normal people are capable of such atrocity can so alter a person’s worldview that they are often rendered helpless and deeply shocked. Often the mind simply cannot cope with such an upheaval in beliefs. The belief in a safe and ordered world in which people care for one another and the children in particular begins to fragment and many people take refuge in complete denial.
Denial of the existence of ritual abuse is common and can be a way of protecting self from becoming completely overwhelmed by the unacceptable reality of such abuse happening. Even survivors and supporters take refuge in denial from time to time despite, or even because of, their own experiences. Denial is our minds first line of defence and is a completely normal human coping mechanism which all of us experience when we are faced with something that we just cannot come to terms with.
It is very diffcult to get evidence about ritual abuse. Firstly, ritual abuse is not a recognised crime as such in many countries. The abuse that occurs within it is criminal but the addition of almost unbelievable rituals, makes the whole experience sound fantastic and thereby, almost untellable and unhearable. For certain, the easiest way to abuse a child and then get away with it is to dress up in robes, behave strangely, dance round a fire, chant and wear a weird mask. Then if the child tries to describe these events or tell, no one will be able to believe them. Even believing that a child has been abused or raped is hard enough for most people to take on but if the addition factors such as carrying out weird rituals are added to the equation, it becomes far too much for most people to take on and believe.
Also, if there is no crime of ritual abuse to address, there can never be any real and sustained search for evidence. No one will ever take the time to look for evidence of a crime that does not exist. Criminals, unless they are of the extremely stupid variety, seldom leave the evidence of their crimes lying about waiting to be discovered by the police. Normally once a crime is committed and reported, the police begin to search for the evidence that will indicate who did it, how they did it and how the perpetrators can be caught and be brought to justice. With ritual abuse no one can report it as a crime in its own right and no one will look for any real evidence.
Survivors are extremely well conditioned not to talk. This conditioning usually begins at a very early age and continues throughout the period of abuse. It is relatively easy for any adult to make a child believe anything that they say. Children have nothing to compare their beliefs and adult’s statement with and have little choice but to believe what they have been always been taught. They can therefore end up in the position of repeating things that everyone knows just cannot be true i.e. a statement such as, ‘Santa and his reindeer hurt my bum.’ Santa is a mythical figure therefore this simply cannot be true. Reindeer are not the usual kind of creatures to be found hanging about in Scotland, therefore this bit of the statement is very unlikely. Yet, the child may have been told that one of the persons hurting them was Santa and the things used to hurt the child may have been called reindeer by the abusers. How would the child know any differently?
It is rare for a ritual abuse survivor to initiate contact with the police or any other statutory agency. Not only are they conditioned not to tell, but also adult survivors know that they will just not be believed if they try to tell it all. The real experience of survivors, which is the only thing they will have to go on, will be that any threats by group members are not idle threats when they come from the group. All of this makes it unlikely the will talk to the police.
In childhood, survivors will have been told that to talk to outsiders will result in extremes of torture and ultimate death. They will have witnessed the fact that these threats can and will be carried out. Most child and adult survivors, when they can eventually talk, will recount having seen murders and mutilations carried out. Most survivors will talk about being punished in an extreme manner for trying to talk when young. It is for this reason than it is usually several years before survivors who have finally reached safety begin to talk. All survivors share the same reluctance to disclose and the more horrendous the experience, the more unwilling or unable they become to talk about it. All survivors fear the consequences of talking both in term of what the group will do to them for talking and because they justifiably fear the disbelief of the person they try to talk to and tell.
Satanism and other abusive cult practises are not a new phenomenon as is often declared. It is not something that only appeared out of the blue in the 1990’s. For a start, survivors were talking to people like me in rape crisis centres long before the 1990’s. Any researcher into history, both recent and ancient, can uncover documented accounts of demonic worship, torture, child rape, child sacri#ce and ritualised abuse. Human nature is a constant over thousands of years and although modern people would prefer to believe that we are now so civilised that we are all beyond committing such acts of cruelty upon a child, this is simply not the case. Every newspaper daily carries details of adults raped as children, child murder and child torture. The Internet circulates thousands of images of extreme brutality towards children to people who enjoy and get sexual pleasure from seeing these images of children suffering. Those children used to make the hard- core pornography and snuff movies that are in circulation on the Internet, had to come from somewhere.
Every generation will throw up individuals who will seek to have power and control over others and be prepared to fly in the face of law and cultural norms in order to pursue their own ends. Power hungry individuals who have broken through, or care nothing for, cultural prohibitions will do anything to satisfy their own needs at the expense of anyone. Such individuals will stop at nothing at all to satisfy their own gratification and quest for more power. Even in recent history there are many examples of people who are more than capable of unimaginable atrocities and also capable of swaying huge numbers of people to accept and embrace whatever philosophy, religion or belief they advocated. Possibly the best example of this was Hitler and the rise of Nazism. This is also a good example of elitism, getting rid of evidence, persuading people to collude and the range of things that people are actually capable when they follow a particular set of beliefs. Abusive groups can behave very much the same way as the Nazi regime albeit on a much smaller scale.
Few people want to believe that ritual abuse is a reality for anyone living in this country, and probably all of us would rather it was either a very rare occurrence or did not exist at all. If we are ever to uncover the real truth about what goes on though, we must be ready and willing to believe and hear all available information from all di"erent perspectives, regardless of our own worldview and beliefs. We must also we willing to look for the evidence. The abusers are never going to tell us anything so we must stay open to listening to the survivors. The people who are most likely to believe that ritual abuse is practised in our society are still the people who have come into contact with survivors.