Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse
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Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse, by Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D.

Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse (by Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D., updated on 11-18-2003)

Psychological and legal evidence of the existence of ritual abuse is substantial and rapidly growing.

The psychological literature supports that ritualistic abuse is a real phenomenon that must be correctly assessed and treated (Belitz, & Schacht, 1992; Bernet & chang, 1997; Bloom, 1994; Boat, 1991; Boyd, 1991; Brown, 1994; Clark, 1994; Clay, 1996; Coleman, 1994; Cook, 1991; Coons, 1997; Cozolino, 1989, 1990; deMause, 1994; Driscoll & Wright, 1991; Edwards, 1990; Ehrensaft, 1992; Faller, 1994; Feldman, 1993; Finkelhor, Williams, & Burns, 1988; Fraser, 1990, 1997a, 1997b; Friesen, 1991, 1992, 1993; Gonzalez, Waterman, Kelly, McCord, & Oliveri, 1993; Golston, 1993; Gonzalez, Waterman, Kelly, McCord, & Oliveri, 1993; Goodman, Quas, Bottoms, Qin, Shaver, Orcutt, & Shapiro, 1997; Goodwin, 1994; Gould, 1992, 1995; Gould & Cozolino, 1992; Gould & Graham-Costain, 1994; Gould & Neswald, 1992; Greaves, 1992; Hammond, 1992; Harvey, 1993; Hill & Goodwin, 1989; Hudson, 1990, 1991; Ireland & Ireland, 1994; Jones, 1991; Jonker & Jonker-Bakker, 1991; Jonker & Jonker-Bakker, I., 1997; Kelley, 1989; King & Yorker, 1996; Kinscherff & Barnum, 1992; Lawrence, Cozolino, & Foy, 1995; Leavitt, 1994; Leavitt & Labott, 1998; Lockwood, 1993; Lloyd, 1992; Mandell & Schiff, 1993; Mangen, 1992; Mayer, 1991; McCulley, 1994; McFarland & Lockerbie, 1994; Moriarty, 1991, 1992; Neswald & Gould, 1993; Neswald, Gould, & Graham-Costain, 1991; Noblitt, 1995; Noblitt, & Perskin, 2000; Nurcombe & Unutzer, 1991; Oksana, 1994, 2001; Rockwell, 1994, 1995; Rose, 1996; Ross, 1995; Ryder, 1992; Sachs, 1990; Sakheim & Devine, 1992b; Sakheim, 1996; Scott, 2001; Sinason, 1994; Smith, C. 1998; Smith, M. 1993; Smith & Pazder, 1981; Snow & Sorenson, 1990; Stafford, 1993; Stratford, 1993; Summit, 1994; Tamarkin, 1994a, 1994b; Tate, 1991; Uherek, 1991; Valente, 1992; Waterman, Kelly, Olivieri, McCord, 1993; Weir & Wheatcroft, 1995; Wong & McKeen, 1990; Woodsum, 1998; Young, 1992; Young, 1993; Young, Sachs, Braun, & Watkins, 1991; Young & Young, 1997.

A recent review of the empirical evidence of ritual abuse is included in a book by Noblitt and Perskin (Cult and Ritual Abuse, 2000, Chapter 6). One national survey of 2709 clinical psychologists showed that 30% claimed to have seen at least one case of "ritualistic or religion-based abuse" and 93% of these psychologists believed the harm actually occurred (Goodman, Qin, Bottoms, & Shaver, 1994). Noblitt reports that, "In a survey of the membership of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation, [Nancy] Perry concluded that 88% of 1185 respondents reported belief in ritual abuse, involving mind control and programming" (Paper presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, Fort Worth, Texas, March 18, 1998, adapted from Noblitt, 1998; Accessing Dissociated Mental States, referring to Perrys findings published in the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation Newsletter, 1992, p. 4).

The American Psychiatric Press published a text in 1997 explaining the importance of correct assessment and treatment of ritualistic abuse survivors (The Dilemma of Ritual Abuse: Cautions and Guides for Therapists, edited by Fraser).

A ritual abuse search on of books on August 8, 2003 found 36 books on treating survivors, self-help for survivors, and supporting the existence of ritual abuse. This list is posted on this web-site on the page, "Books and videotapes on ritual abuse (including Brice Taylor Trust Materials)".

September 4, 2002, United States Marshals in Oregon arrested Russell Smith, accused child rapist and self-proclaimed Satanist. He was wanted by the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia for rape and sodomy of a child. According to authorities, Smith convinced a young girl to become involved in satanic rituals, and part of those rituals involved having sex with her ( Police found in his basement a goats skull with a pentagram drawn on it, black robes, girls' underwear, and ceremonial candles. His license plate read 100P666". Smith was profiled on "America's Most Wanted on 8-31-02. The broadcast led to his arrest. Due to these allegations, the Satanic group he founded as Rev. Sorath, Order of Perdition, has excommunicated him (Washington Post, 8-27-02, p. B03, 8-30-02, p. B01).

Numerous court decisions (criminal, family, juvenile, and civil) have been based on findings of ritual abuse. One list is archived, periodically updated, and published on the world-wide web by "Karen Curio Jones" ( In August, 2002, 65 cases were presented in this archive. For example, on February 27, 1999, the Honorable Warren K. Urbom, Senior United States District Judge, Omaha, Nebraska, awarded a million dollar civil judgement to Paul Bonacci based on sexual abuse (including pornography and orgies) and false imprisonment of Bonacci as a child, in the infamous Franklin ritual cult/sex/drug ring case. This case is discussed in depth in John De Camps 1994 book, "The Franklin Cover-Up", and on the internet at:
The post-trial geological survey under the McMartin preschool's foundation yielded convincing corroboration of the children's reports of being taken through underground tunnels ("The Dark Tunnels of McMartin", Summit, R.C., )

A good deal more information on ritual abuse would be available if it were not for the secrecy preserved by the underground groups that commit such abuse, the profound dissociative responses and fear of disclosure among its victims (Fraser; 1997b; Young & Young, 1997), and the sophisticated use of mind control by some abuser groups. Proponents of the position that memories of ritual abuse are false or grossly exaggerated, e.g., the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, claim therapists lead clients to believe they were ritually abused and have had considerable influence on the media and a considerable presence in the courts. Thus, psychotherapists treating victims of these abuses are often guarded about divulging this clinical data, sharing their findings with their colleagues, or worse, they discount the reports of their clients, resulting in further suppression of this information (Brown, Scheflin, & Hammond, 1998; Coons, 1997; Whitfield, Silberg, & Fink, 2002; Young & Young, 1997).


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