Amongst the names provided, were some names I knew. Strangely, these were not names of people I already knew as alleged abusers, but rather, were the names of people that I knew to be supportive of survivors. Now, while I believe survivors, and believe that the most unlikely people might be involved in ritual abuse, amongst this particular batch were names of people that I did not believe to be capable of ritual abuse.

I have been thinking long and hard about this and would like to throw in a note of caution regarding survivors naming their abusers. Firstly, abusers in groups rarely let survivors know their names. Think about it! Dressed up scary person about to abuse child stops and says, ‘Incidentely, my name is Joe Bloggs, I work in social work…’ I don’t think so! The names that survivors know for certain are their own family names; survivors of ritual abuse seldom know the real names of all people involved.

Secondly, there are a lot of people who are taking on ritual abuse in a serious way, yet, survivors are uncertain about who they can trust. This is particularly the case if the survivor is considering talking to someone in police, social services or health. When we find people in these agencies who take on ritual abuse, it can be quite easy to discredit them. All it needs is someone to drop a name, someone to believe it and then repeat it. Survivors are then afraid and steered away from a person who may have been able to help them. What finer way to isolate survivors and discredit supporters than to spread a rumour that a supporter might be ‘one of them’.

Names bandied about coupled with rumour and innuendo. What can I say? It’s a great way to undermine supporters and survivors and a tactic, which I believe abusers are employing in Scotland to great effect. Supporters need to be cautious that they do not do the abusers work for them. Be careful, what you end up spreading in the way of a rumour.

I believe survivors, and believe that they believe what they are telling me, however, I do not swallow everything wholesale. If I am told a name of someone I know, I note it and approach that person and tell them there is a rumour about them and what it is. Why not? If the person is on the side of survivors, are they not better equipped to help if they know what the opposition is doing? Equally, if the person is a baddy, they know that someone is on to them. Obviously, I always safeguard the confidentiality of survivors.

Let’s not fall into the trap of rumour, innuendo and fear of talking to others. Rather, l would suggest that we be open, share what reliable information we can with each other and let the abusers know that we are onto them. Secrecy and silence protects only the abusers, not the survivors.