Some individuals and groups who promote public belief in SRA estimate that
up to 60,000 children are killed each year by underground Satanic
Skeptics often suggest that the more probable number is zero.
Since no hard evidence of SRA has ever been found, proof of its existence
largely rests with:
Disclosures by children who believe themselves to have been subjected to
ritual abuse in pre-schools, day care centers, etc. Believers in SRA tend to
accept these statements as reflecting real abusive events. Skeptics
generally suggest that memories of non-existent abuse was implanted in the
minds of the children by incompetent interviewers.
The recovered memories of adults obtained through self-therapy, recovered
memory therapy and self-help groups. Again, believers in SRA generally
accept these memories as accurate recollections of real childhood events.
Skeptics often suggest that these memories are false. They feel like real
memories, but are unrelated to real events in the past.
Belief in the existence of SRA would become more credible if the statements
of the children agreed with the memories of the adults. After all, they would be
recalling the same ritual abuse events. In contrast, belief in SRA would be less
credible if there was little agreement between the two. It seems that there is
in fact relatively little agreement between the children's statements and the
Children's statements of ritual abuse:
There have been dozens of court cases alleging ritual
abuse of young children at day care centers, pre-schools, church Sunday
schools etc., worldwide. Children have testified about many forms of abuse.
Sometimes, the acts that they describe are physically impossible. Other times,
the acts would have left very serious and easily observable wounds; yet none
were ever seen. Typical themes disclosed by children have been:
Being locked in cages.
Made to ingest feces and urine.
Watching small animals (rabbits, turtles, etc.) being mutilated and/or
killed by an adult.
Being photographed nude.
Being taken to a secret room for abuse.
Being attacked by a monster, cartoon character or robot.
Being tied to a tree.
Having a large object (axe handle, knife) inserted into a penis or anus.
Forced into a coffin and buried.
Taken through trapdoors and underground tunnels.
Adult's recovered memories of ritual abuse:
Adult survivors' stories of childhood ritual abuse tend to be very different.
They often recall horrendous torture, mutilation, ritual murder, cannibalism,
drinking of blood, etc.
Therapist Pamela Hudson wrote a list of satanic symptoms and types of ritual abuse
which became very widely used among social workers and counselors working in
the SRA area. Included were two items in common with children's disclosures:
Being locked in a cage.
in the ground in a coffin or box.
Other memories were different from those typically disclosed by children.
They tend to be much more violent:
Being tied upside down or hung from a pole
Participating in a mock marriage.
Seeing children or babies killed.
Having blood poured over them.
Being taken to churches and graveyards
for ritual abuse." 1
Psychotherapist Pamela Monday has worked with 60 patients diagnosed with Dissociative
Identity Disorder. All reported satanic-type ritualized abuse. 51 reported
that military personnel or government employees were involved in the abuse.
Their abuse memories included:
Invoking the names of demons.
Sacrificing animals and humans.
Being married to Satan.
Being exposed to flashing colored lights, strobe lights.
Being tortured with stun guns, electrical shocks, sensory deprivation,
needles under the fingernails.
Being spun around in an apparatus.
They often report abuse by Satanists in cloaks, army personnel, members of
the Masonic Order, Shriners, judges, doctors, police chiefs and other leaders of
the community, celebrities, politicians, etc. Candles, a stone altar, chanting,
ritual sexual intercourse, and pentagram symbols often are described as
components of the rituals.
Accounting for similarities:
Many investigators have noted common themes that have frequently been
reported by children in different states and even different countries: Cages,
urine, feces, tunnels, nudity, photographs and movies, etc are frequently
disclosed. The recovered memories of adults often contain common themes, even
though the victims have no connection with each other: Satanists, robes, torture
devices, altars, important people from the community as perpetrators, etc.
Believers in the widespread nature of SRA conclude that these are all valid
memories of actual abuse. Since Satanic, government, military, and Masonic
perpetrators are highly organized it would seem reasonable that the rituals and
apparatus would be standardized within a country and perhaps even across the
world. This would lead to close similarities in memories of adults who have
never met. Similarly, there might well be some coordination among abusive
perpetrators in the education system. Thus, children who have never met would
probably disclose similar stories.
Skeptics point out that children's disclosures are generally the result of
direct and repeated questions in which the interrogator suggests various
scenarios to the child. The young person tries to satisfy the expectations of
the interviewer by simply echoing back what the adult wants to hear. Similarly,
recovered memories generally involve a a form of hypnotism in which the adult
patient is in a highly suggestive state. The patient can pick up on the
expectations of the therapist. Since both recovered memory therapists read the
same SRA literature, the abuse details flow from the SRA author, to the
therapist and finally to the patient. Thus it is the published SRA literature by
therapists that is the common factor that eventually causes adults across the
country to generate false memories of similar forms of abuse. Similarly, it is
the child ritual abuse literature read by child psychologists and police
investigators that causes children to eventually disclose similar abuse.
The 1990's have seen the advent of improved child interview techniques that
are far less likely to trigger false disclosures. They have also seen an
increase awareness of the dangers of recovered memory therapy. Fewer therapists
are using hypnosis and other suggestive therapies to dig for repressed memories
-- even if only because of response to pressure from their malpractice insurance
companies to abandon such practices. Belief in all forms of ritual abuse has
been in decline in recent years. The last of many dozens of ritual abuse cases
involving nursery schools, pre-schools, Sunday schools and adult sex rings in
America was in Wenatchee, WA during the mid-1990's.
Professional associations, the courts, therapists and the general public is now
aware of the unreliability of recovered memories. Hopefully, the "Satanic
Panic" will finally dissipate.
Various authors, "Journal of Psychohistory", vol.
24, #4, (1994-Spring). Has one skeptical article followed by a series
of articles by believers in SRA