It is incredibly hard for many people to accept or believe that ritual abuse happens because to do so would be tantamount to accepting the unacceptable and believing in the unbelievable. To believe that ritual abuse actually happens also means the complete destruction of a person’s world view which can result in inner conflict as the mind struggles to make sense of a different and opposing reality to what the person believes goes on in the world.

In order to accept that ritual abuse may be going on, especially in your own community, you first have to be able to accept that people are capable of atrocious acts of depravity, rape, torture, sadism and even child murder. Many people shield themselves from the unacceptability of all this through denial of the possibility that anyone could ever be capable of doing such terrible things. To come to believe that seemingly normal people are capable of such atrocity can so alter a person’s worldview that they are often rendered helpless and deeply shocked. Often the mind simply cannot cope with such an upheaval in beliefs. The belief in a safe and ordered world in which people care for one another and the children in particular begins to fragment and many people take refuge in complete denial.

Denial of the existence of ritual abuse is common and can be a way of protecting self from becoming completely overwhelmed by the unacceptable reality of such abuse happening. Even survivors and supporters take refuge in denial from time to time despite, or even because of, their own experiences. Denial is our minds first line of defence and is a completely normal human coping mechanism which all of us experience when we are faced with something that we just cannot come to terms with.

It is very difficult to get evidence about ritual abuse. Firstly, ritual abuse is not a recognised crime as such in many countries. The abuse that occurs within it is criminal but the addition of almost unbelievable rituals, makes the whole experience sound fantastic and thereby, almost untellable and unhearable. For certain, the easiest way to abuse a child and then get away with it is to dress up in robes, behave strangely, dance round a fire, chant and wear a weird mask. Then if the child tries to describe these events or tell, no one will be able to believe them. Even believing that a child has been abused or raped is hard enough for most people to take on but if the addition factors such as carrying out weird rituals are added to the equation, it becomes far too much for most people to take on and believe.

Also, if there is no crime of ritual abuse to address, there can never be any real and sustained search for evidence. No one will ever take the time to look for evidence of a crime that does not exist. Criminals, unless they are of the extremely stupid variety, seldom leave the evidence of their crimes lying about waiting to be discovered by the police. Normally once a crime is committed and reported, the police begin to search for the evidence that will indicate who did it, how they did it and how the perpetrators can be caught and be brought to justice. With ritual abuse no one can report it as a crime in its own right and no one will look for any real evidence.

Survivors are extremely well conditioned not to talk. This conditioning usually begins at a very early age and continues throughout the period of abuse. It is relatively easy for any adult to make a child believe anything that they say. Children have nothing to compare their beliefs and adult’s statement with and have little choice but to believe what they have been always been taught. They can therefore end up in the position of repeating things that everyone knows just cannot be true i.e. a statement such as, ‘Santa and his reindeer hurt my bum.’ Santa is a mythical figure therefore this simply cannot be true. Reindeer are not the usual kind of creatures to be found hanging about in Scotland, therefore this bit of the statement is very unlikely. Yet, the child may have been told that one of the persons hurting them was Santa and the things used to hurt the child may have been called reindeer by the abusers. How would the child know any differently?

It is rare for a ritual abuse survivor to initiate contact with the police or any other statutory agency. Not only are they conditioned not to tell, but also adult survivors know that they will just not be believed if they try to tell it all. The real experience of survivors, which is the only thing they will have to go on, will be that any threats by group members are not idle threats when they come from the group. All of this makes it unlikely the will talk to the police.

In childhood, survivors will have been told that to talk to outsiders will result in extremes of torture and ultimate death. They will have witnessed the fact that these threats can and will be carried out. Most child and adult survivors, when they can eventually talk, will recount having seen murders and mutilations carried out. Most survivors will talk about being punished in an extreme manner for trying to talk when young. It is for this reason than it is usually several years before survivors who have finally reached safety begin to talk. All survivors share the same reluctance to disclose and the more horrendous the experience, the more unwilling or unable they become to talk about it. All survivors fear the consequences of talking both in term of what the group will do to them for talking and because they justifiably fear the disbelief of the person they try to talk to and tell.

Satanism and other abusive cult practises are not a new phenomenon as is often declared. It is not something that only appeared out of the blue in the 1990’s. For a start, survivors were talking to people like me in rape crisis centres long before the 1990’s. Any researcher into history, both recent and ancient, can uncover documented accounts of demonic worship, torture, child rape, child sacrifice and ritualised abuse. Human nature is a constant over thousands of years and although modern people would prefer to believe that we are now so civilised that we are all beyond committing such acts of cruelty upon a child, this is simply not the case. Every newspaper daily carries details of adults raped as children, child murder and child torture. The Internet circulates thousands of images of extreme brutality towards children to people who enjoy and get sexual pleasure from seeing these images of children suffering. Those children used to make the hard-core pornography and snuff movies that are in circulation on the Internet, had to come from somewhere.

Every generation will throw up individuals who will seek to have power and control over others and be prepared to fly in the face of law and cultural norms in order to pursue their own ends. Power hungry individuals who have broken through, or care nothing for, cultural prohibitions will do anything to satisfy their own needs at the expense of anyone. Such individuals will stop at nothing at all to satisfy their own gratification and quest for more power. Even in recent history there are many examples of people who are more than capable of unimaginable atrocities and also capable of swaying huge numbers of people to accept and embrace whatever philosophy, religion or belief they advocated. Possibly the best example of this was Hitler and the rise of Nazism. This is also a good example of elitism, getting rid of evidence, persuading people to collude and the range of things that people are actually capable when they follow a particular set of beliefs. Abusive groups can behave very much the same way as the Nazi regime albeit on a much smaller scale.

Few people want to believe that ritual abuse is a reality for anyone living in this country, and probably all of us would rather it was either a very rare occurrence or did not exist at all. If we are ever to uncover the real truth about what goes on though, we must be ready and willing to believe and hear all available information from all different perspectives, regardless of our own worldview and beliefs. We must also we willing to look for the evidence. The abusers are never going to tell us anything so we must stay open to listening to the survivors. The people who are most likely to believe that ritual abuse is practised in our society are still the people who have come into contact with survivors.