Has ritual abuse happened
outside of day care centers??
The brief answer is YES. Some types of ritual abuse exist; others seem to be
extremely rare or non-existent.
Definition of ritual abuse
There are many criminal activities that have been called ritual abuse, ritualized
abuse, Satanic ritual abuse, Christian ritual abuse, sadistic ritual abuse, etc. And there
is no consensus on the precise definition of any of these terms. At this Web site, we use
the following definitions:
Ritual Abuse (RA) is "psychological, sexual, and/or physical
non-consensual assault on a human victim, committed according to a prescribed ritual, by
one or more persons whose primary motive is either to fulfill a need to abuse others, or
to program the victim so that they can be better controlled in the future."
Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) is "ritual abuse, the primary aim of which is
to worship the Christian devil, Satan."
Christian Ritual Abuse (CRA) is "ritual abuse, the primary aim of which
is to fulfill a requirement of their Christian faith, or to purge the victim of demonic
We also differentiate between three mainly unrelated forms of Satanism:
Gothic Satanism is used here to refer to a religion that involved the worship of
Satan by secret, underground groups who torture, kill, and eat infants. Belief in this
religion was created by the Christian Church during the late Middle Ages as justification
for their burning of Witches and other heretics. Many adults still believe and many
religious organizations and writers still promote the concept of Gothic Satanism as being
widespread in North America. It is in fact, a hoax.
Religious Satanism or Satanism is used to refer
to persons who refer to themselves as Satanists and who are dedicated to the teachings of
the Church of Satan, Temple of Set, or similar belief systems.
Satanic Dabblers is used to refer to a person or group of persons who are
typically in their late teens, who refer to themselves as Satanists, and who follow a
syncretistic religion that they have created from elements of religious Satanism,
Neo-Paganism, Christian writings about Gothic Satanism, ceremonial magick, etc.
Classification of ritual abuse cases
We attempt to classify ritual abuse into 6 categories, according to the religious
beliefs, mental state, profession and motivation of the abusers. Some categories exist;
others occur only in fantasy. All of the cases that we have studied fit into one of the
1. Abuse by secret, multi-generational gothic Satanic cults
Ken Lanning is head of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI which investigates
ritual abuse cases. He issued a report in 1992 which concluded that "..in none
of the cases of which I am aware has any evidence of a well-organized satanic cult been
found". 1 A group of
US government study involving over
10 thousand therapists, DA offices, police forces, etc. reached the same conclusion.
Additional studies were conducted by the governments of the State of Virginia
England 5 and the Netherlands
6 between 1991 and 1994. They all agree that there
organized, secret, abusive Satanic cults.
These conclusions are in opposition to many people's belief systems. In some states of
the US, during the 1980s, over 90% of the adults believed that underground Satanic groups are actively
abusing and killing children. Tens of thousands of people who have had
Memory Therapy (RMT) have recollected memories of SRA. (Others involved in the same
therapy have recovered memories of abuse on board UFO's, and in former lifetimes). There
is a near consensus now among therapists that such memories are not related to real events, but are accidental
and unintended byproducts of the suggestive therapeutic methods.
We have been actively seeking hard evidence of secret Satanic cults since the
startup of this web site in 1995. In particular we have tried to find a person with "always present" SRA memories who has never been
exposed to RMT or self-hypnosis. So far, the search has been unsuccessful.
As a working hypotheses, we have concluded that multi-generational, secret, abusive,
organized Satanic cults do not exist.
The Church of Satan, Temple of Set and other
religious groups are active and probably include many thousands of members in North
America. This number is speculative, because the largest group does not reveal its
membership statistics, and the remaining groups are relatively small. There was one
allegation of abuse against a member of the Temple of Set by an ex-girlfriend, but no charges resulted.
One case of intra-familial incest involving an underage teen-age male may have
occurred. It was reported in the large Federal government study
referred to above. 2 The teen-ager's parents were Satanists and publicly acknowledged
their religion. They apparently invited him to some of their sexual rituals as victim,
observer and perpetrator. None of the horrendous details that the public associates with
SRA (ritual killing, torture and mutilation, blood drinking, etc.) occurred. It involved
only sexual activity. If the allegations are true, then the parents would have committed
incest with an under-aged person - a criminal act of child abuse. Since it happened during
a Satanic ritual, it would be regarded by many as Satanic Ritual Abuse.
To our knowledge, no criminal charges have been laid or convictions obtained against
any religious Satanist. Again, as a working hypothesis, we conclude that religious
Satanists do not abuse or sacrifice people.
These are typically males who follow their religious practices alone or within a small
group. Usually, they become involved in a form of Satanism during their mid-teenage years
and lose interest within a few years. They are commonly referred to as
"dabblers" because they normally do not follow a rigorous study of their
religion within an established group as do religious Satanists. Rather, they might develop
their own unique syncretistic religion from a number of sources such as:
The writings of Anton LaVey (The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals, etc.)
Various books describing Wiccan and other Neo-Pagan "white magick"
Books on ceremonial magick
Books which describe the Witchhunts of the 15th to 18th centuries
Books by Christian authors about Satanism which are not grounded in reality but are
based on rumors and fears - some dating back 5 centuries.
Horror movies and comic books
Any other sources of rituals that are to slow to run away
Most dabblers engage in reasonably harmless activities, such as attempting to call up
demons, giving oaths to Satan, laying curses on others, etc. A few conduct gruesome
rituals such as consensual sadism, masochism, digging up of human corpses, applying
Satanic tattoos, self or group mutilation, signing oaths in blood, etc. We do not consider
these activities as ritual abuse, because they are engaged in willingly by all parties.
Some dabblers engage in illegal activities; the most popular are tombstone desecration
and, the painting of Satanic graffiti on walls of buildings. A very few conduct rituals in
which small animals are ritually killed.
Rumors often circulate that some Satanic dabblers are involved in more serious
activity, such as kidnapping, torture or murdering of victims. The cases of
which we are aware
of are either
Non-existent hoaxes, or
Acts performed by mentally ill youth and caused by their psychopathology rather than by
any religious motivation.
The latter fall into our fourth classification.
4. Abuse and murder by psychotic or psychopathic individuals:
There have been a number of mentally ill people, often teenage males, who have engaged
in mass murder or mutilation and killing of an individual. Some are psychopaths, who have
no concept of guilt and no inhibitions about committing murder; others are psychotic
-- individuals who
have lost grips with reality. These crimes have normally been committed by a single
individual; some are by a group in which at least the leader is mentally ill.
Some examples are available.
There is abundant evidence that a small number of individuals suffering from a
psychosis or who are psychopaths dabble in Satanism and kill others. One or two cases a
year surface in North America, so the problem is thankfully uncommon. The driving force is
the mental illness, not the Satanism.
5. Abuse by child molesters or abusers with gothic Satanic
Three instances of ritual Satanic child molestation have been documented in England.
5 The perpetrators were not in fact actual Satanists; they know little about Satanism.
They just pretended to be in order to better control and terrorize their victims into
submission. We have heard rumors of similar occurrences in the US, but have been unable to
We suspect that this technique for controlling children is used by a small percentage
of child molesters in North America and Europe.
Occasionally, the media carry stories of child abuse cases which contain elements which
people associate with Gothic Satanism. For example:
"K" was a 9 year old girl when she was kidnapped and kept in a dungeon by a
family friend (her Godmother) in 1992. She was kept in a state of near servitude. Her
revelations sparked a 9 month investigation by the Suffolk County (NY) grand jury into the
Marc Dutroux, a convicted child rapist in Belgium, confessed to abducting young girls in
1996-AUG. Newspaper reports allege that he ran a business in which girls were kept in
cells in the basement of one of his houses, that he sold them for tens of thousands of
dollars each, and that he sent them out of the country for a life of child prostitution.
Two girls, aged 8, died of starvation; police rescued two other girls, but also found the
bodies of two teenage women (19 and 17) buried on his property.
Such cases prove that vicious instances of horrible child abuse, child exploitation and
even murder do exist, and that they sometimes have elements similar to those associated
with "Gothic Satanism". But they appear to be unrelated to actual Satanism in any form.
All of the non-Satanic, religiously based forms of ritual abuse that we have been able
to find were practiced by either by Christians or members of syncretistic
groups that are partly Christian. This is perhaps to be expected, because about
75% of adults in North America are of that religion. Other faith groups may engage in similar
forms of abuse; but were not reported.
Often, ritual abuse only becomes know when a victim actually dies. We
uncovered a few cases between 1994 and 1999:
In 1994, a three month old boy was ritually murdered in Quebec, Canada by members of the
International Chivalric Order Solar Tradition, a
doomsday cult. They follow a syncretistic religion, combining
Roman Catholicism, New-Age philosophy, homeopathic medicine and high finance. This
religious group believed that the murder was required because the infant was the
Anti-Christ mentioned in the Book of Revelation of the Christian Scriptures. They
ritually murdered the child by driving a wooden stake through his heart. The group went on
to engage in mass murders and suicides among their membership in Quebec and France.
During 1995, a young Oriental woman in California was accidentally killed during a
Christian exorcism which involved extensive physical abuse. A small group of Christians
were trying to drive a what they believed to be a demon from her body. Her corpse was left for a few days before the
police were called, in the hopes that she would return to life.
During 1995, an infant in Ontario, Canada was tortured and accidentally killed during a
Christian exorcism by her grandmother. The infant had cried a lot and was believed to have
been possessed by a demon. The murderer was convicted and received a 18 month jail
On 1996-DEC-9, Ms. Rosina Appiah-Boateng, a Roman Catholic from Toronto, ON, was
convinced that her daughter Afua was possessed by demons. She attempted to drive the
demons from her body by beating her daughter's naked body with a spoon-like wooden stick.
Afua died from loss of blood. The mother was declared to be not criminally responsible for
the exorcism beating death because of a pre-existing psychiatric condition. She had been
diagnosed with psychotic bipolar disorder.
Cases are described frequently in the media in which parents
withheld medical attention
from their children in favor of ritually praying over them. Such actions are considered by
some to be a form of ritual abuse. One example is the Tabitha's Place apocalyptic
sect in France. Police arrested the parents of an 18 month boy and charged them with
causing death by denying him proper food and treatment. He weighted 4.5 kG (10.0 lb.) at
the time of his death. He was the second death in the previous year within the sect, which
teaches their members and their children to reject medical care in favor
Charity Martin, age 17, was allegedly suffocated during an exorcism. She had been
suffering from a mysterious illness and had missed a week and a half from school. Her
mother, Vivian, 39, and sisters Serena, 20, and Elizabeth, 15, decided that the girl was
being "consumed by a demon." Allegedly, after several unsuccessful attempts to
smother the perceived demon on with pillows, the mother covered Charity's head with a
plastic bag. Vivian and Serena joined hands and prayed over Charity's body while reading
Bible verses from Revelation. Vivian and Serena have pleaded not guilty of second degree murder. Eric Naiburg, Vivian's lawyer, commented that the women were suffering from a
mental defect because of their intense religious beliefs.
"...when you turn on your TV set, all you see are preachers
ranting and raving about the devil and demons and fallen angels. Now,
all of a sudden, someone allegedly takes it all to heart and everyone is
aghast. It strikes me as kind of odd and hypocritical."
Many of the above cases were located in Canada. We do not believe that the incidence of
exorcism deaths is higher in Canada than in the US; it is just that our agency's ability
to learn of Canadian murders is much greater than for US exorcism homicides.
Much of the Christian Ritual Abuse is based upon either of two potentially
that mental illness or strange forms of behavior are caused by demon infestation, which
can be cured by exorcising the demon
that children need not be given medical attention because God will cure them if the
parents pray for a cure
Mental health professionals abandoned the demonic infestation theory of mental illness
some centuries ago. There are some child illnesses which are invariable fatal, yet are
often curable with proper medical attention. But as long as these hazardous religious
beliefs exist, some parents will rely upon prayer, and some of their children will die
The incidence of Christian Ritual Abuse is unknown. When it results in death, it often
comes to the attention of the authorities and is reported in the media. But for every
known murder case, there are probably many instances of physical, emotional or
psychological ritual abuse which did not result in a death; these might well have gone
A massive study of ritual abuse and what was called "religious
abuse" involved questioning 6000 members of the American Psychological
Association. 14,15,16 Their definition of religious abuse includes abuse which may or may not
involve some degree of ritual. They concluded that of the 2,297 cases of religious abuse reported:
58% involved "abuse by religious professionals"
38% involved "abuse in a religious setting, a religious school, or a religious
24% involved "abuse related to attempts to rid a child of the devil or evil
14% involved "abuse involving withholding of medical care for religious
These data would seem to indicate that the incidence of ritual abuse during exorcisms
should be considered as a serious social problem.
These forms of abuse are not confined to Christianity. Belief in the existence of Satan
and of demonic possession is also widespread within Islam. Thus Muslims also have the potential
of physically and emotionally abusing others during exorcisms. In 1997-JUN, a Muslim
cleric was given a 7 year sentence in Lille, France, for his involvement in the accidental
death of a teen-age girl during an exorcism. Another man was given a 4 year sentence.
7. Abuse in Day Care Centers, Sunday Schools and Baby-sitting
We have concluded that sexual abuse of children by single perpetrators does occur in a
small percentage of day care centers, pre-schools, Sunday schools, etc. However,
we have found no
convincing evidence of large scale, multi-victim multi-offender (MVMO)
child ritual abuse cases.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Ken Lanning of the FBI prepared a 1992 report which expresses skepticism
about the existence of evil Satanic cults. Author is by ; it is titled "Investigator's
Guide to Allegations of 'Ritual' Child Abuse".
Clearing House on Child Abuse & Neglect Information, Characteristics &
Sources of Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse, Suite 350, 3998 Fair Ridge Dr., Fairfax
VA, 22033, $20 US. Issued 1994-Fall. Free summary available by calling (703) 385-7565.
"Final Report of the Task Force Studying Ritual Crime", Richmond, VA;
(1991); This documents the conclusions of the Crime Commission Task Force Studying
Ritual Criminal Activity.
"State Task force Finds No Major Cult Activity", Richmond New Leader,
Prof. J.S. Lafontaine, [Great Britain] Department of Health, "Extent &
Nature of Organized Ritual Abuse" ISBN 011 11 321797 8; 1994-May. Available from
Unipub, 4611-F Assembly Drive, Lanham MD 20706, for USF$ 11.49
"Report of the Ritual Abuse Work Group" Minister of Justice, PO Box
20301, 2500EH, The Hague, Netherlands, 1994-APR. (They found that ritual abuse exists only
in the mind; it has no basis in fact.)
Linda Blood, "The New Satanists", Warner Books, New York, NY, (1994)
C.A. Ross, "Satanic Ritual Abuse, University of Toronto Press, Toronto ON,
(1995), P. 62.
T. Maury, "The Ultimate Evil, Bantam Press, New York NY, (1987)
1991-92 San Diego County Grand Jury, Report #8 "CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, ASSAULT, AND
MOLEST ISSUES" (San Diego County, CA). See:
J. McCann, L. Voris, M. Simon, R Wells, "Perianal Findings in Prepubertal
Children Selected for Nonabuse: a Descriptive Study.", Child Abuse &
Negelect, 13(2), P. 179-193 (1989). 267 children, aged 2 months to 11 years were examined.
Anal irregularities of types used to "prove" sexual abuse were found in large
percentages of children who had never been abused.
Ellen Yan & Deborah Barfield, "Suffolk Kids' Agency Blasted; Probe finds
training poor, abuse not seen", NEWSDAY, Suffolk County NY, 1995-FEB-08
"Belgian Police Force Comes Under Attack", Reuters News Agency,
Bette L. Bottoms, "Profile of Ritualistic and Religion-Related Abuse
Allegations", a paper presented to the American Psychological Association annual
convention in 1991-AUG-19.
Bette L. Bottoms et al, "An Analysis of Ritualistic and Religion-Related
Child-Abuse Allegations", Law and Human Behavior. V. 20, # 1, 1996-FEB, P. 1-34.
B.L. Bottoms, P.R. Shaver et al, "In the Name of God: A profile of
religion-related child abuse.", Journal of Social Issues, 51, P. 85-112.