In the 1980’s survivors of Ritual Abuse (RA) in North America began to speak out about their experiences.
The website for Survivorship, one of the most important anti-RA groups in the US, defines Ritual Abuse as “Repeated, extreme, sadistic abuse, especially of children, within a group setting. The group’s ideology is used to justify the abuse, and abuse is used to teach the group’s ideology. The activities are kept secret from society at large, as they violate norms and laws.”
Jean Riseman is a RA survivor, who has written about it. She was also the “Coordinator of Volunteers” of Survivorship, an organization that works to end RA.
“I always knew there was something wrong with me, something terribly wrong. I spent years and years and years trying to figure out what it was,” she said.
She continued, “Both my parents died. My husband died, and my kids were in college and I was sort of freed up of feeling responsible for people, and then [the memories] came crashing down on me.”
Growing Up In A Cult In Ottawa
My own awareness of RA began four years ago, in my mid-thirties. While in therapy, I started remembering being abused as a young boy. One of the first memories was of being repeatedly drowned in a bathtub by my biological father.
I was born in Ottawa, and I grew up in Old Ottawa South, the only child of two members of an intergenerational Satanic cult. At that time, there were many other cult members who lived in that neighborhood. There were at least eleven cult children in my grade in elementary school, out of a class of about 30. Cult members also taught at this elementary school.
My parents were white and middle-class, as were a large majority of the other cult families. My biological father was an important member of the Carleton University administration in the 1980s and 1990s, and my mother was a mid-level Federal civil servant.
Many survivors of RA report abuse at the hands of prominent members of their communities, whether the mayor of a small town, police officers, or important members of the government. In her/his article, The Healing Journey as a Site of Resistance, RA survivor Billie Rain said that her/his father “was a presidential appointee under George Bush Sr. and several of my abusers were high-level government officials.”
Harold Pepinksy is a retired Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the University of Indiana via Skype. “[T]he [ritual abuse survivors] who I met who were intergenerational, their fathers tended to be in fairly elite places, in and out of the criminal justice system,” he said.
Ritual Abuse Denial and The False Memory Syndrome Foundation
“If you believe this happens, it’ll flip your whole world upside down,” said Pepinksy.
He believes one of the main reasons many people deny the existence of ritual abuse is that it is too horrific for them to accept. Instead they choose to deny “that serial and ritual killings could be going on, let alone sexual torture, going on by people with high standing in the community.”
In addition to this, in the 1990s some groups began an organized effort to discredit RA survivors, their therapists and allies. Several Ritual Abuse denial organizations were formed, key among them the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF).
The FMSF was founded in 1992, after two of the co-founders had been accused by their daughter of childhood sexual abuse. In 2002, the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse published Stephanie J. Dallam’s article “Crisis or Creation? A Systematic Examination of “False Memory Syndrome”.
Her article described the creation of the FMSF, and critiqued the science behind the so-called diagnosis. In her article, Dallam wrote that, “After surveying its members, the FMSF reported that most parents who joined the organization were concerned that they were going to be sued by their children”
She concluded that, “In the absence of any substantive scientific documentation, ‘False Memory Syndrome’ must be recognized as a pseudoscientific syndrome that was developed by an advocacy group formed by people seeking to defend against claims of child abuse.”
Although the False Memory Syndrome [FMS] and the Foundation that invented it have been debunked, the FMSF was largely successful in convincing the public that FMS was real. For Riseman, “[The FMSF] did a good job of shutting [survivors] up.
MK ULTRA, Ritual Abuse and Mind Control
In 1977, the MKULTRA documents, which had escaped destruction due to a clerical error, were declassified through a Freedom of Information Act Request. This led to the United States Senate Joint Hearing Before The Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources on “Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s program of research into behavioural modification” later that same year.
The senate hearings and the declassified documents detail the CIA’s efforts to “get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation?”
In her book, Dr. Alison Miller wrote, “According to survivors, during the second half of the twentieth century there appears to have been some collaboration between secretive military and political organizations and the occult religious groups who were already engaging in deliberate systematized child abuse.”
This was the case for Riseman, who said “I was part of a satanic cult and then I guess they sold me to do mind control experiments…they were looking for something that was easy to implant and difficult to discover.”
Grassroots Organizing To End Ritual Abuse and Mind Control
The efforts of Ritual Abuse deniers have been at least partly successful at keeping the subject invisible. However, “There are now places where people who are trying to escape can know that they’re safe,” said Pepinksy.
There is also a small but growing body of research about Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Dissociative Identity Disorder. For example, KARNAC books has published several books on the subject.
There are also grassroots groups such as Survivorship (https://survivorship.org/) and Stop Mind Control and Ritual Abuse Today (https://ritualabuse.us/), that work persistently to raise awareness about RA.
Jean Riseman believes in the power of grassroots organizing: “I think that nobody’s going to come down from on high and tell us what to do and make everything better and make everything go away. It’s got to come from the community.”