Journey to Hell: A Comprehensive Review of Satanic Ritual Abuse
The concept of Satanism has lurked within the public consciousness for decades. It has made an appearance in a variety of films, and is typically regarded as nothing other than a good premise for a horror story.
In recent years, however, satanic activity has demanded the attention of many scholars and therapists, most notably in the form of Satanic Ritual Abuse (or SRA).
Regardless of opinion, it is important to understand the characteristics and consequences of Satanic Ritual Abuse Syndrome. This will enable the public to arrive at a more comprehensive awareness of the spiritual, emotional, and psychological complexity of human beings.
What Is Satanic Ritual Abuse?
Satanic Ritual Abuse refers to a particular phenomenon that occurred in the 1980’s (although its repercussions continue to this day). Satanic Ritual Abuse stories began to spring up with alarming ferocity, with alleged victims claiming that they had been kidnapped, abused, and forced to take part in grisly satanic rituals.
What was the cause of this sudden explosion of satanic cult activity? Where these experiences real, deliberately falsified, or the fantasies of a madman that reached monstrous proportions? A closer look at the culture places the matter in a clearer light.
There were many social concerns that had begun to boil beneath society’s surface, and during the period of the SRA reports, these issues had reached an intense climax:
- Cohabitation and divorce rates were on the increase.
- A shift occurred within the mental health community; its role changed from comforter to instructor, as clients now expected doctors to explain society as it existed.
- There was an increase in women’s rights and religious activism; this sparked a passion for preventing child abuse and pornography
- Christian sects began to develop complex ideas of the “end times” that included satanic cults and demonic activity.
These four factors converged into a heated crux, sparking a mass movement that history is still struggling to untangle. Whether these societal issues fueled a genuine spiritual dilemma or nothing but mass hysteria is a matter of contention among scholars.
Structure of Satanic Rituals
Relying on the information provided in numerous SRA reports, experts were able to piece together an outline that provided a better understanding of what supposedly occurred in these satanic cults:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical beating or cutting
- Mutilation of genitalia
- Spiritual threats (God will not forgive, Jesus is dead, etc.)
Satanic Ritual Abuse Survivors
Satanic Ritual Abuse survivors follow a typical pattern. Adult victims tend to be white women between twenty-five and forty-five; their past is usually filled with non-specified psychological problems, as well as a history of suicide attempts.
Child victims are harder to identify, although they often come from broken homes. In children’s cases, the accused satanic cult member is often the non-supportive parent or relative. Some common characteristics of child victims include:
- Loyalty to the supportive parent
It is interesting to note that the supportive parent often has characteristics similar to the typical adult victim, which could imply that the child has received a certain level of suggestion.
One final note must be considered: in the majority of satanic ritual abuse stories, the immediate family members are accused of being the perpetrators. When the immediate family is not involved (as happens with many of the children’s survivor stories), caregivers that have frequent custody of the survivors are the culprits (day care workers, teachers, etc.).
Those who suspect that they are victims of SRA are usually encouraged by believers to seek help from therapists, friends, support groups, and family members. Once the victim is placed in therapy, a history of SRA is manifested through a number of gradual symptoms:
- Denial—the client will initially reject the possibility of being a victim of SRA.
- Poor memory—the patient will then recall a number of fragmented images.
- Slow recollection—intensive therapy will lead the survivor to eventually piece together a personal SRA history.
A diagnosis of Satanic Ritual Abuse Syndrome is proposed shortly afterwards. Often the therapist decides that the repression was caused by a dissociative state, and will also diagnose the client with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
This will lead to more intensive therapy and support group involvement, including “abreacting,” or “reliving” each of the traumatic memories until the client becomes emotionally well.
Pre-Existing Patient Conditions
There are several factors that lead many scholars to disregard the recollections that patients experience during therapy. On reason they give is that clients are driven into counselling by advocates of SRA. Such unconditional reinforcement of the victim’s thinking could strengthen their erroneous conviction that they have been persecuted. Thus, the “epiphanies” undergone in therapy may be the result of false memory construction.
Indeed, some believers of SRA seem to be rather guilty of promoting their own viewpoint, even when there is little evidence to back up their claims. For example, there was one instance of a therapist who “discovered” that one of her patients had been a victim of SRA.
The therapist was so convinced of this that she in turn accused the parents. When they denied it, she told them that they were repressing memories of their own crimes!
It is also interesting to consider the fact that most patients do not enter therapy to be treated for SRA. They initially go to address another (and seemingly unrelated) problem, and are only made to realize their history of SRA after they have been interviewed extensively by the therapist.
Another matter that harms the validity of SRA reports is that memories are often elicited through hypnotic interviews, where the therapist will suggest such abuse to an already vulnerable patient. In such cases, the counsellor will provide descriptions of satanic rituals, showing the patient pictures of symbols and possible cult leaders.
Such detailed suggestion could certainly infuse “memories” into the mind of an individual who is already suffering from a mental disorder (such as Dissociative Identity Disorder). These patients are already incredibly susceptible and their memories could be easily fabricated.
Evidence for any widespread satanic activity has yet to be discovered. In fact, law enforcement agencies have repeatedly investigated the allegations made by Dissociative Identity Disorder patients. So far, they have been unable to discover the two essential elements that would lend validity to the reports: namely, reliable witnesses and physical proof.
Victims of SRA are either impressionable children or adults with pre-existent psychological conditions. Supporters have yet to present a patient who has a normal family background and no history of mental problems.
Lack of Physical Evidence
The satanic crimes remembered by patients who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder would refer to a massive criminal conspiracy that has been responsible for thousands of grisly murders.
There are many serial killers who have engaged in horrendous crimes due to a supposed allegiance to Satan, but experts have found no indication that these killers knew each other, or that they were part of a worldwide conspiracy.
The continued failure to discover any solid evidence strongly indicates that many of these allegations are false, and that the memories on which they are based are fantasies rather than the remembrances of true events.
Conclusions: Real Satanists and SRA Victims
Does Satanism Even Exist?
Yes. Despite the lack of evidence pertaining to the majority of SRA cases, traces of authentic Satanism are scattered throughout history.
For instance, the “Sigil of Baphomet” —a goat head and inverted pentagram symbol—has been in use since the 19th century. Other known satanic symbols include the “Cross of Peter” (an inverted cross) and the “Satanic Cross” (the sign for sulphur in alchemy, representing fire and brimstone).
There are also certain figures that have been connected to early forms of Satanism, including Aleister Crowley (a magician in the late 19th and early 20th century), Herbert Arthur Sloane (founder of Our Lady of Endor in 1948), and Anton LaVey (who established the Church of Satan in 1966).
The Healing Process for SRA Sufferers
Real Satanism could certainly perpetuate the problem of SRA; the seeds of old stories become implanted within the minds of individuals who are already susceptible and ill, and they in turn pass it on to others who are equally vulnerable. This causes a psychological torture that is very real, and so the stories of SRA victims should never be callously dismissed.
If you or a loved one suspects that they are a victim of SRA, it is important to keep two things in mind when seeking help:
- Avoid overt sceptics
- Avoid fervent believers
Find an intelligent, open-minded therapist who is willing to concede to the possibility of Satanic Ritual Abuse, but who is also familiar with its uneven history.
Such an individual will be able to sincerely listen to the concerns of the client, rather than allowing their own scepticism or beliefs to influence their diagnosis.
This balanced approach will set the patient on a road that will lead to inner peace, mental healing, and a better life.