Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) is a.k.a. Cult Related
Abuse, Ritual Abuse,
Ritualized Abuse, Sadistic
Ritual Abuse, Organized Sadistic Abuse, etc.
Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) can be defined as the psychological, sexual, and/or physical assault
forced on an unwilling human victim, and committed
by one or more Satanists according to a prescribed ritual, the primary aim of which is to
fulfill the need to worship the Christian devil, Satan.
Whether or not SRA actually existed was a high-profile controversial topic
1980. A survey by Redbook magazine in 1994 found that
70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic
cults. Thirty-two percent explained away the absence of hard evidence or other proof by
believing that "the FBI and police ignore evidence because they don't
want to admit the cults exist." 1 There is a near consensus among investigators
today that SRA is either nonexistent or
occurs at an extremely low and undetectable level.
It is important to realize that the above definition is relatively restrictive. It excludes a number of behaviors
which are known to exist:
Abuse by non-Satanic, abusive pedophiles
2 who pretend to be Satanists in order to
gain better control of their victims through fear.
Mass murderers by a person who claims to be a Satanist and who tries to use the "Devil made me do it"
defense when arrested. They are generally found to have little or no knowledge of Satanism.
Abuse and murder by psychotic individuals and psychopaths who are primarily
motivated by their mental illness, not by any religious
Abuse by non-Satanists who engage in behaviors like SRA but are
motivated by Christian or other beliefs. Exorcisms including physical abuse is
the most common type.
When belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse collapsed in the mid 1990s, some believers
redefined the acronym "SRA" to refer to "Sadistic Ritual Abuse" by followers of any religion
or of no religion.
During the 1980s and 1990s, estimates of the number of SRA murders in the U.S. and Canada ranged
from 0 (among skeptics) to 60,000 (among some believers in the widespread
nature of SRA). It was a unique type of crime for which absolutely no reliable statistics
By the time of the most recent update to this section in 2009-JAN, belief about SRA
has largely vanished from the scene. There are many adults who are still
suffering from implanted false memories of abuse that never happened. There is
always the possibility that a small percentage of these victims actually were
abused. However, hard evidence is non-existent.
The importance of studying SRA:
SRA is a very important topic to study. Consider:
If there were 60,000 humans being killed annually by
Satanists in the U.S. and Canada as many people believed in the 1980s and early
1990s, then there would have been about 3 such deaths
for every known homicide. SRA would then have been, by far, our most serious social
If there were no murders, then the memories of SRA once held by
tens or hundreds of thousands of people were not based on reality. All
or almost all were victims of false memories created during
recovered memory therapy. They were at least partly disabled by
those beliefs. Some were driven to committing suicide. SRA would have remained a very serious problem.
If the actual number of murders was somewhere between these two values, SRA
would still be a very serious problem.
In the early 1990's, we analyzed reports on SRA from both believers and
skeptics. We tentatively concluded that the skeptics are correct; there is
no underground, internationally organized, inter-generational network of Satanic conspirators ritually abusing and murdering
children. We have been tracking the SRA movement ever since, and have not
seen any hard evidence that would convince us to change our conclusions.
Panics surface at unpredictable times:
Approximately 300 years ago, almost two dozen innocent people in Salem,
MA, were charged with witchcraft and executed by hanging; one was pressed to
Between 1980 and 1995, a North-American wide panic involved beliefs in
Satanic Ritual Abuse.
Nobody knows when the next panic will occur. Our best defense against future
panics is awareness of past panics.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
The definition of the word "pedophile" is in a state of flux.
Throughout this web site, we try use the term "pedophile" in its
historical sense to refer to any adult who is sexually attracted to
pre-pubertal children. We use the term "abusive pedophile" to
refer to those adults who form a very small minority of pedophiles --
those who act out their sexual attraction by sexually molesting