The Truth about Satanic Ritual Abuse
A Rebuttal to Wikipedia’s Portrayal of Satanic Ritual Abuse
November 2, 2008
Wanda Karriker, PhD
Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) is NOT a moral panic.
SRA is a subset of Ritual Abuse (RA).
Ritual abuse is defined in the Dictionary of Psychology as “A method of control of people of all ages consisting of physical, sexual, and psychological mistreatment through the use of rituals” (Corsini, 1999, p. 848).
Young, Sacks, Braun & Watkins (1991) use the term “satanic ritual abuse” to describe ritual abuse associated with satanic worship. Becker and Fröhling (1998) caution that (1) a ritual can be staged to make a victim believe that the ideological background is real, i.e., a child is made to think she has murdered a baby as a sacrifice to Satan or another deity, (2) that whether or not a ritual is staged, the victim is bound into the real or faked belief system of the perpetrator(s).
A June 2007 review of psychological and medical peer-reviewed journals yielded 47 empirical studies of the RA phenomenon.
Bottoms, Shaver, and Goodman (1996) indicate that the majority of surveyed therapists who have treated at least one alleged survivor believe their clients’ claims of ritual abuse. Schmuttermaier and Veno (1999) report that none of the counselors in their Australian study believe that their clients intentionally fabricated claims of ritual abuse.
Bottoms et al. constructed a prototype of 386 cases from the decade of the 1980’s based on the particular features of abuse that clinical psychologists had heard from their clients. They found the following:
The most common feature of ritual cases was “forced sex.” The next most common was “repeated practices.” . . . Also common, however, were abuse by a member of a cult-like group; abuse related to symbols associated with the devil; abuse involving sacrifice or torture of animals; abuse involving excrement or blood; and abuse involving knives, altars, and candles. . . . The least common features of ritualistic cases were abuse related to the breeding of infants for ritual sacrifice, abuse involving cannibalism, child pornography, and amnesic periods or preoccupation with dates. (p. 10)
Young et al. (1991) describe 37 adult patients, all diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD) or dissociative disorder not otherwise specified who reported similar abuses by satanic cults. Apparently, most of the data were collected while the patients were in treatment with the authors. The article lists ten types of ritual abuse and the percentage of subjects who reported each type: sexual abuse (100%), witnessing and receiving physical abuse/torture (100%), witnessing animal mutilation/killings (100%), death threats (100%), forced drug usage (97%), witnessing and forced participation in human adult and infant sacrifice (83%), forced cannibalism (81%), marriage to Satan (78%), buried alive in coffins or graves (72%), forced impregnation and sacrifice of own child (60%).
Shaffer and Cozolino (1992) interviewed 19 women and one man who reported types and aftereffects of ritualistic abuse consistent with those reported by Young et al. All subjects reported witnessing the murder of animals, infants, children and/or adults. All reported suicidal ideation and half reported suicide attempts. The majority reported severe and sadistic forms of abuse by multiple perpetrators. Some reported continued recontact/revictimization into their adult years.
Satanic Ritual Abuse is an international phenomenon. Van der Hart, Boon, and Heijtmajer (1997) describe reports of SRA in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States; Kent (1997), in Canada; and Schmuttermaier and Veno (1999), in Australia. An organization, Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse (2006), also includes reports of SRA in Australia.
In Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-First Century, German journalist, Ulla Fröhling (2008), writes about her study that was published as a book in 1996 titled Vater unser in der Hölle (Our Father Who Art in Hell). Reprinted in 2008, it is about the life of a German woman with a background of satanic ritual abuse:
The book had an impact: victims found a corroboration of their experiences in it, and doctors and trauma therapists who work with dissociative patients use it for workshops and training courses. A parliamentary inquiry examined the topic of ritual abuse, as did the Parliamentary select committee “Sects and Psycho-Groups,” which mentions the book several times in its concluding report. Three surveys on ritual abuse were carried out. Together with Michaela Huber’s textbook Multiple Personlichkeiten (Multiple Personalities), it changed the German public’s perception of one of the darkest areas of organized violence. (p. 355)
Becker (2008) reported unpublished data from one of the above mentioned surveys, a 1997 study by Fröhling and German psychotherapist Michaela Huber. Of 354 cases in treatment for the aftereffects of ritual abuse by 126 therapists and counselors from 61 locations in Germany, 58% reported that they had been ritually abused in a satanic cult.
Results from the 2007 International Extreme Abuse Surveys offered in English and German indicate that ritual abuse (including SRA) is widespread. More than 2000 persons from 40 countries responded to one or more of the surveys for adult survivors of extreme abuse in childhood (EAS), for professionals who work with survivors who report extreme abuse (P-EAS), and for caregivers of children who disclose ritual abuse and its associated mind control. SRA related data are reported by Becker, Karriker, Overkamp, and Rutz (2008):
On the EAS, 543 respondents reported that they were ritually abused in a satanic cult: 360 from the United States, 33 from Canada, 97 from Europe, and 53 from other countries. (p. 41)
Respondents on the P-EAS were asked to report the approximate number of their adult clients who had reported memories consistent with the abuses/tortures listed. Of 219 professionals who responded to the item: “Ritual abuse in a satanic cult,” 20 reported none, 56 reported 1, 74 reported between 2 and 10; 28 reported between 11 and 20; 41 reported more than 20. (p. 44)
On the C-EAS, 55 caregivers reported that the child or children under their care had alleged a satanic cult as their perpetrator group. (p. 43)
Two web-based archives show legal proceedings and convictions related to SRA and other forms of RA.
Conviction List: Ritual Child Abuse
The Satanism and Ritual Abuse Archive
For more psychological and legal evidence on the existence of SRA and other forms of RA see:
Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse
Publications on Ritual Abuse and Mind Control in 2008
Proof that Ritual Abuse Exists
Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) is NOT a moral panic.
Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse. (2006). Ritual abuse & torture in Australia. Online at http://www.asca.org.au/pdf_public/brochure_ritualabuse040201.pdf
Becker, Th. & Fröhling, U. (1998). Handout: Rituelle Gewalt (Ritual Violence). Kult-und Ritual-Trauma-Institut. Lueneburg.
Becker, Th. (2008). Re-searching for new perspectives: Ritual abuse/ritual violence as ideologically motivated crime. In R. Noblitt & P. Noblitt (Eds.), Ritual abuse in the twenty-first century (pp. 237-260). Bandon, OR: Robert D. Reed.
Becker, Th., Karriker, W., Overkamp, B., & Rutz, C. (2008). The Extreme Abuse Surveys: Preliminary findings regarding dissociative identity disorder. In A. Sachs & G. Galton (Eds.), Forensic aspects of dissociative identity disorder (pp. 32-49). London: Karnac.
Bottoms, B. L., Shaver, P. R., & Goodman, G. S. (1996). An analysis of ritualistic and religion-related child abuse allegations. Law and Human Behavior
Corsini, R. J. (1999). The dictionary of psychology. Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel.
Fröhling, U. (1996). (2008). Vater unser in der Hölle (Our Father Who
Art in Hell). Bergisch-Gladbach: Luebbe.
Kent, S. (1997). Assessment of the satanic abuse allegations in the (name deleted) case. Online at http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~skent/satanic.html
Schmuttermaier, J., & Veno, A. (1999). Counselors’ beliefs about ritual abuse: An Australian study. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 8(3), 45-63. Abstract obtained from PsycINFO. No. 2000-13414-003.
Shaffer, R. E., & Cozolino, L.J. (1992). Adults who report childhood ritualistic abuse. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 20(3), 188-193.
van der Hart, O., Boon, S., & Heijtmajer J. O. (1997). Ritual abuse in European countries: A clinician’s perspective. In G. A. Fraser (Ed.), The dilemma of ritual abuse: Cautions and guides for therapists (pp. 137-163). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
Young, W. C., Sachs, R. G., Braun, B. G., & Watkins, R. T. (1991). Patients reporting ritual abuse in childhood: a clinical syndrome. Report of 37 cases. Child Abuse and Neglect, 15(3), 181-189.