Adult Victims of Ritualistic Abuse -
Survivors or Delusionaries?
The veracity has been questioned of an Increasing number of adults who call themselves survivors of Satanic ritual abuse. Those who support the survivor theory believe survivors are raised within a Satanic group where they are ritualistically and repeatedly victimized, survive, and later leave the group where they continue their lives under the fear of discovery and death. Proponents of the delusionary theory believe those who claim to have survived Satanic ritualized abuse are really disturbed, delusionary people who adopted Satanic fantasies for a variety of reasons.
Hypothesis: Survivors are victims of ritualistic abuse who have "survived" to tell their stories.
Proponents believe survivor descriptions of intra-familial and extra-familial ritualistic abuse which they feel pose a threat to the social and spiritual fabric of American life. Among the primary survivor claims are that victims are either born into the group, obtained for the group's use, or are actively recruited into a coven; no physical evidence can be found because perpetrators use ritual dismemberment, cannibalism and group-controlled crematoriums to dispose of bodies; some women are forced to become breeders, conceiving undocumented children who are then sacrificed or bred for other group purposes; the groups continue to flourish because they are protected by members who have .infiltrated every level of society and government and because they are breeding new members to infiltrate the next generation of professionals; those who leave must go into hiding to avoid being murdered by members of the group.
Psychiatrist Roland Summit feels the "strongest corroboration of the reality of ritual abuse comes from an increasing number of adult survivors." (Summit, 1988:6.)
Lieutenant Larry Jones of the Boise Police Department and Director of CCIN, the Cult Crime impact Network, believes that those who discredit the claims of ritualistic abuse are "full of garbage! We have recovered ritually killed babies in Connecticut, Bend, Oregon and in Los Angeles...when you add to that the credible testimony of the survivors which can be circumstantially verified, there can be very little question." (Jones interview, May 8, 1989.)
Counselor Sharon Jackson with the Christian counseling group, Motivation Unlimited, says survivors offer the best intelligence if "you help them separate truth from fear - they are rightfully paranoid... The problem is that mental health usually prods the victim, tainting much of the badly-needed, pristine information for law enforcement." (Jackson interview, May 16, 1989.)
Hypothesis: Because there is no physical evidence to support "survivor" stories, many alleged victims may actually be disturbed, delusionary people who have adopted Satanic fantasies for any number of reasons.
Proponents believe self-proclaimed survivors were physically, sexually, and/or psychologically abused as children - but not by members of organized Satanic cults. Survivor belief in Satanic ritualistic abuse was, instead, obtained through inadvertent therapist coaching and reading books by other survivors. Their skepticism is based upon several things that make it impossible for law enforcers to use survivor experiences: no survivor has produced any physical evidence of their claims; some victims' stories are inconsistently related from setting to setting; many self-proclaimed survivors are victims of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) who have an incomplete and sometimes inaccurate perception of reality; therapists are trained to believe their clients, not to check their veracity; some therapists inadvertently suggest information to clients that are built into their sense of reality. Among these proponents are:
Psychiatric Anthropologist Mulhern from the University of Paris has studied many survivor cases and has examined some of the psychiatric records of Michelle Smith's sessions with Dr. Pazder. She claims Smith's memories were "contaminated" by Pazder's suggestions of Satanic involvement. Further, she says that in hypnotic therapy, the hypnotizer has difficulty avoiding suggestive material. If suggestion is used, when the patient comes out of the trance, he or she "will have an unshakeable belief" in the story constructed during the session, regardless of whether it is reality or fantasy. In most cases, Mulhern feels the survivor stories most often represent fantasy. (As quoted in Nathan, 1989.)
Dr. Richard Orshe, UC Berkeley Sociology professor, provides expert testimony in occult and cult related cases across the nation. He claims many therapists "come from a Fundamentalist Christian perspective and are ideologically driven to find that their patient has been a 'survivor' of Satanic abuse. Through their suggestions, clients can unintentionally develop a whole new personality, an unremembered identity." Additionally, Ofshe contends, "some clients who are especially insecure will continue to tell their therapists about Satanic abuse because they know it is pleasing to their therapist." (Ofshe interview, May 10, 1989.)