Child Indicators of Ritual Trauma in Play and Art
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Child Indicators of Ritual Abuse Trauma in Play and Art , by Ellen P. Lacter, 2004

L=Lacter's observations

G=Gillotte, See FORENSIC CONSIDERATIONS IN RITUAL TRAUMA CASES, by Sylvia Lynn Gillotte, P.O. Box 826, Spartanburg, SC 29304, Web: ttp://

(Remember, indicator lists only provide common associated signs. Most ritualistically abused children will have many of these indicators The presence of indicators does not prove a person has ritual abuse trauma. Their absence does not mean a person has no such trauma.)

L1. The child may be unable to enter the therapy room in the first session, even with a parent or caregiver. The child manifests more intense and enduring fear of the therapist than other abused children.

L2. The child will hide under a table or in a corner the first time entering the therapy room, and later as well.

LG3. The child may not be capable of imaginative play or can do so for only brief periods. A sense of omnipresent danger interferes.

L4. Representations of people are not incorporated into play dramas. People cannot be portrayed because all people are seen as too terrifying.

L5. If human characterizations are included in play, they become malevolent mid-drama. The concept of a benevolent adult cannot be sustained. Ritualistically abused children usually have multiple frightening perpetrators. If their parents are cult-involved, these parents have multiple personalities; one or more day-time "normal"-appearing personalities and night-time cult-involved alters.

L6. Children with genuinely protective parents attempt to include and sustain representations of them in their dramas, but these figures also turn malevolent. Deception or mind control are used by cults to sabotage positive relationships, to instill fear of protective parents in children

L7. Ritual trauma is unconsciously reenacted, suddenly surprising and frightening the child

LG8. The child creates gruesome art depictions associated with ritual practices; e.g., severed limbs, knives, guns, fascination with vampires, devils, Nazi symbols, death.

L9. The child attempts to achieve a sense of safety in play, by gathering multiple weapons, creating multiple barriers, etc., with little success, due to the intensity of fear and terror.

LG10. Child destroys toys [due to unregulated fear and anger]

LG11. Child acts out death, mutilation, cannibalism, burial, being locked in cages or hung.

G12. Child pretends to kill play figures, taking out eyes, pulling off heads or limbs

LG13. Child pretends to eat the figures or drink their blood and/or bury them

LG14. Child's play involves themes of drugging, threats, humiliation, hanging, torture, bondage, magic, weddings and other ceremonies

G15. Child obsessively chooses toys such as dinosaurs, monsters, or hooded figures, engaging them in frightening, aggressive and/or destructive scenarios; or child seems unnaturally fearful of them

LG16. Creative products show bizarre, occult, sexual, excretory, sadistic, death or mutilation themes

G17. Child gets on the floor and pretends to be an animal, or believes he/she is an animal at any given moment

LG18. Child hurts other children, sexually and/or physically

G19. Child is extremely controlling with other children or siblings, and constantly plays chase games

LG20. Child talks to an imaginary friend or says an evil/aggressive animal/entity made him/her do bad things.

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