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Satanic/sadistic ritual abuse (SRA)

1: Beliefs. Does it exist? One
indicator of its non-existence

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Ritual Abuse is also called SRA, Satanic Ritual Abuse,
Ritualistic Abuse, Sadistic Ritual Abuse, Cult Related Abuse, etc.

What some people believe about SRA:

bulletSome believe that a high-tech, secret, international Satanic organization engages in horrendous ritual abuse, mutilation and torture - largely of children.
bulletSome attribute this abuse to mind and behavior control cults or other hidden groups.
bulletSome estimate that there are 50,000 ritual human sacrifices each year in the US alone.
bulletPerpetrators are believed to drink the blood and eat the flesh of the victims and engage in sexual abuse.
bulletGenerational Satanists are believed sacrifice some of their children and pass on their killing and mutilating rituals to other children.

A SRA industry composed of seminar speakers and authors sprang up in the 1980's to promote this belief system. By 2005, the "Satanic panic" had largely dissipated for two main reasons:

bulletIn spite of decades of dedicated police investigations, there resulted a complete lack of hard evidence of its existence.
bulletEssentially all beliefs in ritual abuse by its survivors have been traced to a suggestive and unreliable therapeutic technique known as Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT). This technique regularly creates horrendous memories of abusive events that never happened.

Does SRA Exist?

The simple answers are yes and no. All evidence indicates that it does not exist as an international conspiracy. Also, it does not exist as a widespread underground inter-generational cult that passes its abusive beliefs and practices from grandparents to parents to children. There have been a few, isolated cases of activities that might be called "Sadistic Ritual Abuse", although none match the belief system described above and none are done by intergenerational secret "cults".

Investigators are divided on the existence and nature of this form of abuse. While some believe that there are an average of 50,000 ritual murders per year in North America; most believe very few or none.

That said, many adults continue to suffer from horrendous memories of having been the victim of SRA. All or essentially all are believed to have developed these memories during recovered memory therapy or in mutual support groups that delve into repressed memories, or self-hypnosis. During the 1990s, when recovered memories were shown to be very unreliable but real-feeling images of events that never happened, belief in SRA also collapsed.

It is essentially impossible to prove that something does not exist. For example, who can prove that they did not beat their spouse last year on the evening of January 15th?. However, there are strong indications that SRA is not practiced at any significant level in North America. 

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Indicator 1 that SRA is rare or nonexistent: A 1,800 year history of unsubstantiated rumors:

Rumors of an evil, underground, abusive religious group were well documented during the early history of the Christian church. W.J. Bethancourt III 1 quotes a (presumably Pagan) Roman writer from the 1st century CE. Minicus Felix wrote the following piece of hate literature which describes how the Christians allegedly kidnapped babies, ritually killed them, dismembered them, drank their blood, ate their flesh and engaged in degenerate sexual practices:

"As for the initiation of new members, the details are as disgusting as they are well known. The novice himself, deceived by the coating of dough (covering a sacrificial infant), thinks the stabs are harmless. Then, it's horrible! They hungrily drink the blood and compete with one another as they divide his limbs. And the fact they all share knowledge of the crime pledges them all to silence. On the feast-day they foregather with all their children, sisters, mothers, people of either sex and all ages. Now, in the dark, so favorable to shameless behavior, they twine the bonds of unnamable passion, as chance decides. Precisely the secrecy of this evil religion proves that all these things, or practically all, are true."

This "urban folk tale," of course, never happened. It was simply an attempt to organize religious hatred against a new religion. The first century hate literature was based on:
bulletThe practices of some Christians to seek out and save the lives of abandoned infants; the rumor implied that the babies were later murdered in rituals.
bulletThe communion ritual in which Christians consumed wine and bread, with the belief that it had been transmuted into the blood and body of Christ; the rumor implied that real blood and body parts were used during the ritual.
bulletThe practice of early Christians to have a shared meal and social gathering; the rumor implied that these were orgies.

The same basic story has continued intermittently in many variations for some 1800 years. The Church used it against the heretics, lepers, Cathars, Knights Templar, and Witches during the period 1000 to 1800 AD. Hitler used it against the Jews and Roma (a.k.a. Gypsies) during the 1930's. The USSR used it against the Jews more recently. A variety of SRA promoters are using it against Satanists, followers of minority religions, men's fraternal organizations, self help groups, etc. today. The stories are almost identical (less the coating of dough).

Historians do not believe that these tales were true in the past; there is no reason to assume that the latest manifestation of the same rumor is true today. Promoters of SRA are simply continuing the lies of the Inquisition, of Nazi Germany, and of the USSR into the 1990's. Most are believed to do this unknowingly. Most firmly believe in the reality of SRA.

Reference cited:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. W.J. Bethancourt III, "Halloween: Myths, Monsters and Devils," at: http://www.geocities.com/

Continue with more indicators that SRA does not exist.

Copyright © 1995 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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