ritual abuse, human trafficking and sex work
i have two main reasons for writing this essay. the first is to explore the subjects of satanic ritual abuse, human trafficking and sex work and the commonalities and differences between them, the second to try and understand what my experiences in a satanic cult can illuminate about the subjects of sexuality and heteropatriarchy.
in the interest of ensuring that people understand how i am using what terms and why, here are four definitions, and four clarifications:
ritual abuse: “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 [and torture] through the use of rituals”. (Corsini, 1999, p.848)
human trafficking: “Trafficiking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability, or of giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”
sex work: sex work is the exchange of sex or sexual services for money and/or goods and/or services by consenting adults. it is a term that was coined by feminist sex workers to highlight the fact that prostitution, etc. is a job. people who use the term also stress the fact that individuals choose to do sex work.
survival sex work: is sex work engaged in by a person because of their extreme need. It describes the practice of people who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged in society, trading sex for food, a place to sleep, or other basic needs, or for drugs. The term is used by sex trade and poverty researchers and aid workers.
there is such a general lack of knowledge about cults and ritual abuse, and, i think, human trafficking, and sex work are such a controvertial subjects that i will also add some further clarifications:
1) children cannot consent to sex with adults
2) cultists and people trapped in cults are not sex workers in the conventional sense of the terms.
this is not to say that some cult members may not also professional sex workers.
3) human trafficking and sex work are not the same
4) while cults, human trafficking and sex work may sometimes overlap, they are not the same.
i am writing this essay to explore my own experience as a ritual abuse survivor, and someone who also fits the definition of survivor of human trafficking, and choices that i made that are or were decisions to to trade sexual activities for money and/or goods and/or services. i’m not completely certain how i feel about definining choices that i made as a teenager and adult (16+) to buy and sell and trade sex with/to other teenagers and adults as sex work as the context was so specific to being in a ritual abuse cult and i was usually, almost never, not paid money.
however, since i was born into a satanic cult i had an extremely limited set of options, and there were times when i choose to sell/trade sex as my best and/or least worst option. (link) given better options, i would probably never have chosen to buy, sell and trade sex. and by “better options” i mean not trapped in a cult, or being forced into cult settings. i would have chosen not to have been held captive as a child and an adult, and i would not have been put into situations where sex work, or something similar to it, was my best, or seemed to be my best option at that time and in those situations. the question for me insofar as defining my actions as sex work is: to what extent was i making free choices and to what extent was i being coerced directly or indirectly into situations where my best option was to sell and buy sex?
by definition, sex work is not coerced. satanic cults, however, are made of coercion, be it subtle, brutal, direct and/or indirect. and, of course, the capitalist, colonialist and oppressive society that is canada is also made of coercion, albeit in ways that are both more and less secret and violent. that is ot say that everyone living within the illegal capitalist-settler nation state of canada is living in an environment of coercion and oppression and all of our choices are impacted and limited by this reality. we are obliged to to exploit ourselves for the benefit of bosses and other privileged groups simply in order to survive. so, to what extent do people who end up homeless and pennyless in a hard, cruel world really choose and consent to engage in sex work? to what extent does anyone choose and consent to any of the jobs that are part of the capitalist economy? i don’t propose to answer that question here – i’ve never quite been in that situation myself, and i am not qualified to provide any definitive response.
what i can and will do, though, is to talk about being born into a satanic cult, trafficked as child, and, as an adult, and i choose at times to trade sex for money/goods/services.
ritual abuse, cults and the sexual exploitation of children
the foundation of ritual abuse cults is sexual exploitation, especially the sexual exploitation of children. i don’t mean that there are no other reasons that ritual abuse cults to exist, all of which are, ultimatley, about money, power and the reproduction of the cult both physically and psychologically. when i say the sexual exploitation of children, i am not necessesarily talking about the commercial sexual exploitation of children, although i am certain that some cults are deeply involved in the production of child pornography and trafficiking children. no, even ritual abuse cults that are not, or are only minimally, implicated in commercial human trafficking engage in traffciking in children, as well as adults, only within the closed system of the cult and cult members, as opposed to the “outside world”.
why, you might ask, do i say that the sexual exploitation of children is the fundamental reason that ritual abuse cults exist?
1) most importantly, the type of intentional trauma, emotional manipulation and psychological programming is, i think, only really effective when done to children. children are more vulnerable and more suggestible than adults and, practically speaking, young children can be exclusively supervised by parenty, family and cult members without appearing suspicious. the cult that i was born into did not, as far as i know, recruit in any way. you had to be born into the cult in order to be a “member”, and no one was permitted to leave.
2) some of the main reasons that cult members are not capable and/or do not choose to exit the cult include: brainwashing from infancy onward; the fact that many, most or all cult members have dissociated identities; and the guilt, shame, and fear that they feel over the wrongs done to them and the wrongs that they have done or been complicit in, and the potential for both persecultion and prosecution from non-cult members and legal authorities, as well reprisal from the cult and harm to loved ones in the cult if they speak out; finally, as we were all taught from infancy that no one would ever believe us there is also the fear of being disbelieved.
3) the sexual exploitation of children is big business – child pornography alone was a $2-$3 billion dollar industry in 2004 and the UN estimates the human trafficking industry at $32 billion in 2005. it is also a central practice in indoctrinating and controlling cult members and anyone the cult and cult members have been able to catch harming children.