There are many different ways that young children can become involved in the activities of a group practising ritual abuse. Frequently, the members of a group deliberately produce children for the group to use. They use the women within their groups, either willingly or unwillingly, as vessels, which they impregnate and thus, in time, provide live babies. The woman may be kept hidden as her pregnancy develops so that no one outside of the group will know that she is even pregnant. Providing she is not a person who would be missed by anyone, it is relatively easy to keep her out of circulation for a few months. On other occasions, a woman may carry the child openly and later tell people that she miscarried the child or that the child was stillborn. Certainly no one would ever think to check her story.
Other women may be so totally controlled by the abusive group that they are rendered permanently silent. They may be in the position of being so controlled that they are allowed little or no access to the outside world. They may be so traumatised that they cannot talk about what happened for many years, if ever. They may suffer from learning difficulties or be so damaged by the abuse that they are not capable of ever telling. They may even simply believe that there is no one they can ever tell, have no trust in anyone and/or believe that it is useless to try and tell about the child.
Many children produced in this way are subjected to extremes of torture, mutilation and eventual murder with no one ever able or willing to admit that they ever existed. Few of these children ever live longer than the first few years of life and it is very rare for one of them to reach adulthood.
Children Born into itSome children are born into the culture and tradition of ritual abuse. One or both parents may be active members of a group and be quite accepting of involving their children in the activities of the group. Not only do they allow their child to be actively used in terrifying rituals and ceremonies involving extremes of physical and sexual abuse, but also usually, they reinforce the message of silence and compliance within the home setting on a daily basis. Parents such as this, no matter what belief system they employ to justify their behaviour, benefit financially and personally from the abuse that their child suffers. Like most abusers, particularly those who belong to organised groups, these parents will rarely be brought to justice. Currently, the best that can be hoped for is that the child, somehow, for some reason will be removed from them before too much damage is done to them.
Children born into and raised in such families are taught from a very early age that the lives they are leading are right and proper. Long before they reach school age they have been taught the rules of silence and the many traditions of the group. In the same way that any child growing up within a religious family are taught and conditioned to accept the faith of their parents, so too are these children. They will be taught the group version of history, the philosophy of their religion, languages, what is expected of them and the implications of ever telling about the group or the religion. They have absolutely no choice in any of this. Neither can they ever know or begin to understand while young that what they are experiencing is completely unacceptable within society. To these children their lives are normal to them and they have nothing else to begin to compare it with.
It is only when the children get older, if they are able to have enough freedom that they are able to begin to question whether or not there is any other way to live. By then, they are so thoroughly silenced and conditioned, that it is unlikely they will ever try to tell anyone or seek help from anyone. They have absolutely no choice in how they live and no matter whether they question what is going on, or not, they are well and truly stuck in the situation while young.
Depending on the family these generational children are born into, the child may feel that they have too much to lose by telling. Some, even while still quite young, will have given in and accepted their roles and position within the group. Few consider what is happening to themselves and others to be abuse but rather they accept things as right because their parents and their faith dictates it as such. For some, they have too much to gain from the group to ever risk exposure. If they themselves are destined to win a position of power within the group, they very quickly reap the rewards of behaving as they have been taught to behave. Some of these children grow up to be the next generation of abusers.
Some of those children born into the faith are regarded purely as property to be used by the parents and the group in whatever way they want. They are not destined to gain in power or position and are taught from an early age that they are completely worthless and should be grateful for ever being allowed to live. These children are very much controlled by the family and the group to the extent that they may be kept totally dependent on the group for all things.
Single Parent Marries into Ritual AbuseThere are, these days, an increasing number of single parent families as it is now more acceptable to leave partners and bring up children alone. Abusers often actively seek out and pursue a relationship with single parents in order to get access to their children. So too with those abusers who are involved with ritual abuse. Single parent, who are usually women, sometimes become involved with men who are, unknown to them at the time, involved with an abusive group. These women, over time, may become victims themselves of the brainwashing and abuse that frequently characterises domestic violence and become less able to protect their children. They may be totally taken in by the man and not know that he has set out to abuse the children.
The children in such a situation quickly become isolated from their mother and are carefully ‘groomed’ and prepared to becoming involved in the group activities. Usually, the abuser takes everything very slowly and gently at first so as to gradually introduce and accustom the child to its new situation. Over time, as the child becomes accustomed to accepting more and more in the way of abuse and ritual, the child is exposed to more and more until they accept anything that is done to them and others. As the silencing of the victims is always an absolute priority so as to ensure the safety of the abusers, long before any extremes of abuse takes place; the children will know not to talk to anyone about what is going on.
Close Relative or Family Friend takes them into Ritual AbuseSome children are introduced to ritual abuse through close relatives or family friends. As the parents trust these people, they can often have easy access to the children from quite an early age. Like many child abusers, they ingratiate themselves into families with young children and are quickly regarded as being ‘good with children’. They offer to look after the children, take them on holiday and generally succeed in spending a great deal of time alone with the children. This provides them with adequate time and opportunity to begin to abuse the children. Again, silencing the child is the key to allowing this to continue to happen and they generally progress slowly to more frequent and more extremes of abuse.
As the parent trusts the abuser, the child can easily be persuaded that the parent has permitted all of what is going on. Young children are seldom able to work out for themselves the validity of this. All they will know is that they are repeatedly handed over to the abuser and their parent seems quite happy with this. They will also see that the parent is friendly with and accepting of the abuser. Few young children would ever seek to question this. A child in this situation does at least have a sense of normality at home but this can serve to make everything all the more confusing as the child slips from one reality to another.
Foster CarersFor a variety of reasons children are sometimes placed in foster care for a period of time. Some can be in foster care for quite a long period of time from infancy until they move on to other carers, back to their parents or are placed for adoption. Some abusers gain access to these children by becoming foster carers. Although all foster carers have to pass stringent safety checks by social services before being allowed to care for children, some abusers can easily pass these checks as they have never been caught, reported or prosecuted for any abuse of children. Many abusers appear on the surface to be upright and respectable people until such time as a child or adult survivor finds the strength and courage to speak out against them.
Those foster carers who are part of groups who practise ritual abuse usually involve their foster children in the abuse also. It is a case of too good an opportunity to miss. Though the abuse experience by these children is extremely traumatic, because there is involvement with outside agencies and the possibility of the child moving on to a new home at some point, the abusers are careful to abuse the children in the more subtle ways. Abusers are careful to make certain that the children can be thoroughly silenced before and after abuse and a huge emphasis is placed on ensuring continuing silence. These children are often repeatedly drugged and hypnotised, subjected to extreme sensory deprivation and tricked and confused by constant deceptions. The end result is an often a silent overly fearful child who is unable to make any sense of what they have experienced.
It is often a long time before these children can begin to remember or talk coherently about their experiences. Often their memories are very shattered and confused and the pieces they do remember are unable to fit into any order or make much sense to them or anyone else. Because of the confusion and lack of clear and coherent memories, the children can rarely give adequate details of what actually happened to them. Also, because the abusers will have deliberately deceived them, much of what the child is able to say sounds so bizarre that it is unlikely to be believed or be clear enough for any non-abusive adult to begin to understand what actually happened to the child. The only thing that may be really clear is that the child is so traumatised that something terrible must have happened to them.
Often children who have gone into foster care are distressed to start with and sometimes the assumption is made that a distressed or disturbed child in care is nothing to do with the lack of care they receive but more to do with their troubled backgrounds. Seldom are there any thoughts by anyone of suspecting the foster carers of abuse. Yet many adult survivors of a range of different abuses talk about being abused while in foster care. Abusers can be in any position and what better position could an abuser get into than being the foster carer of a vulnerable child.
Child MindersMany children go regularly, and increasingly these days, sometimes for long periods of time to child-minders as their parents work full-time. The vast majority of these child-minders are very good and caring of the children and would never permit harm to come to the children in their care. As with foster carers, registered child-minders in this country are carefully checked out and vetted by the authorities and this is, to a point, a good safeguard for children. However, abusers come from all walks of life and few are ever caught and convicted of offences against children. Just because someone has been checked out by local authorities does not necessarily mean that they may not involve a child in abuse.
Some adult survivors talk about having been involved in ritual abuse through their regular child-minder. These people may not be as likely to be able to take the children into all of the activities of the group, and they have to be very careful to make sure that the child will not talk, is not bruised and that there is no visible evidence that might make a parent suspect abuse. On occasions, some children do tell their parents what has happened to them, but the things they say can be so bizarre that they are often put down to children’s fantasy and imagination.
Though children abused in this way are usually out of it by the time they get to school age and often have the advantage of having good parents and a good home to return to, the trauma to them is no less for this. In many ways, it can be very difficult for the survivors as they get older and remember what went on, to believe themselves that such strange things could have happened to them. They often doubt their own memory of the events even as adults. They remember what happened in a very small child fashion sometimes with no language to know what was actually being done to them or why it was happening to them. They also have no context to place it in or any understanding of what the abusers were doing and why. All they have is a jumble of memories in which adults acted differently from others and sometimes hurt or frightened them.