All I wanted to do was hide away from the world, but I still had a role to play. I had to be ‘Girl A’ – the key witness in the trial that finally saw my abusers locked up. Girl A – the girl in the newspaper stories who had been through the most hideous experience imaginable. When I read those stories, I felt like I was reading about somebody else, another girl who was subjected to the depths of human depravity. But it wasn’t. It was about me. I am Girl A.
interview from Ross E. Cheit about The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children (Oxford University Press, February 2014).In the foreword to your book you mention a book titled Satan’s Silence was the catalyst for your research. Tell us about that. Cheit: Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker solidified the witch-hunt narrative in their 1995 book, Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt, which included some of these cases. I was initially skeptical of the book’s argument for personal reasons. It seemed implausible to me that we had overreacted to child abuse because everything in my own personal history said we hadn’t. When I read the book closely, my skepticism increased. Satan’s Silence has been widely reviewed as meticulously researched. As someone with legal training, I looked for how many citations referred to the trial transcripts. The answer was almost none. Readers were also persuaded by long list of [presumably innocent] convicted sex offenders to whom they dedicated the book. If I’m dedicating a book to fifty-four people, all of whom I think have been falsely convicted, I’m going to mention every one of these cases somewhere in the book. Most weren’t mentioned at all beyond that dedication. The witch-hunt narrative is so sparsely documented that it’s shocking.
I'm just asking you to accept that there are some people who will go to extraordinary lengths to cover up the facts that they are abusing children.What words are there to describe what happened to me, what was done to me? Some call it ritual abuse, others call it organised abuse. There are those that call it satanic. I've heard all the phrases, not just in relation to me, but also with regard to those I work with and try to help. Do you know what I think? It doesn't matter how you dress it up, it doesn't matter what label you put on it. It is abuse, pure and simple. It is adults abusing children. It is adults deciding - actually making a conscious decision, a conscious choices that what they want, what they convince themselves they need, is more important than anything else; certainly more important than the safety or feelings or sanity of a child.However, there can be differences which are layered on top of that abuse. I'm not saying that some abuse is worse than others, or that someone 'wins' the competition to have the worst abuse inflicted on them, but ritual and organised abuse is at the extreme end of the spectrum. If we try to think of a continuum where there are lots of different things imposed on children (or, for that matter, anyone who is forced into these things — and that force can take many forms, it can be threats and promises, as well as kicks and punches), then ritual and organised abuse is intense and complicated.It often involves multiple abusers of both sexes. There can be extreme violence, mind control, systematic torture and even, in some cases, a complex belief system which is sometimes described as religion. I say 'described as' religion because, to me, I think that when this aspect is involved, it is window dressing. I'm not religious. I cried many times for God to save me. I was always ignored — how could I believe? However, I think that ritual abusers who do use religious imagery or 'beliefs' are doing so to justify it all to themselves, or to confuse the victim, or to hide their activities. Ritual abuse is highly organised and, obviously, secretive. It is often linked with other major crimes such as child pornography, child prostitution, the drugs industry, trafficking, and many other illegal and heinous activities. Ritual abuse is organised sexual, physical and psychological abuse, which can be systematic and sustained over a long period of time. It involves the use of rituals - things which the abusers 'need' to do, or 'need' to have in place - but it doesn't have to have a belief system. There doesn't have to be God or the Devil, or any other deity for it to be considered 'ritual'. It involves using patterns of learning and development to keep the abuse going and to make sure the child stays quiet.
It felt like I was living in two worlds. There was one world which was a daylight world and another dark world (though I'm not saying that everything bad happened in darkness because it didn't). In the daylight world, life had a veneer of normality - my mum was a bit violent, my dad was a bit distant, my big brother was in hospital somewhere, my little brother was always with Mum, and I had an uncle who was very loving and caring and did nice things for me. In this daylight world, I went to church and learned about Jesus. I was told about innocence and how He loves children. Then there was the other side, the dark world, which was almost a mirror image. But what I was getting taught there was all of the opposites.It was almost the reverse of Christianity. They would say that the Christian teachings were rubbish, and everything in the Kirk was right. they would sing a hymn - not like 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' but something about being strong. The hymns were quite Germanic, with harsh, aggressive chanting. They were always about power and strength and right. When they were singing I would be standing or sitting with whoever had taken me.
Mum was pregnant, then there was Sharron. [...]I wanted to keep him away from her - but for the wrong reasons. In my head he was mine, he was my special person but, of course, as I was getting older, his interest in me was waning anyway. I don't know whether it was because he had lost interest in me, or because the abuse elsewhere was so horrific, particularly without him in my life to make things seem better but, whatever the reason, I soon moved from wanted him to leave Sharron alone for my sake, to wanting him to leave her alone for the right reasons. She was tiny, just a toddler, and the thought of him touching her or abusing her horrified me. I started trying to attract his attention whenever he looked at her. I'd dance, I'd sing, I'd sit on his lap. I'd do a hundred things that were completely out of character - anything, anything to avoid seeing that look in his eye when he glanced at the baby.I knew that he was planing to do to her what he had done to me. I tried to get in the way, I tried to get him to play with me, but once Sharron was about three, the penny finally dropped. I had always thought he wasn't in the same category as the others; they weren't nice, and he always was. But as she began to replace me, it made me face up to things. What Uncle Andrew did wasn't right. [...]Even though I loved my uncle, and craved his attention, the thought of him coming into my bed was starting to repulse me. sharron slept in my bed, too, by then, and I wanted that to continue because I wanted to protect her.Of course, there were plenty of times when I wasn't there. I was still being taken away to be abused. I was at school; Sharon was often left unprotected. Something must have been happening because she started wetting the bed almost every night. This was a sign that even I couldn't turn away from. Sharon was being abused. I was sure of it. But I wouldn't stand for it, not for much longer.p209-2010
There was nothing you could be sure about, it was all lies, and it was all done to mess with minds because the control and the power trip was so important to them, as well as it being necessary in terms of screwing up anything you might remember from an evidential perspective.They would also build up your hopes, in terms of any tiny thing you did like or were less scared of, so I'd be told that it would be a nice night because Uncle Andrew would be coming, but then it wouldn't be him. There would be someone else There would be someone else who I was told was my Uncle Andrew as he was raping me. Sometimes, this other person would have a mask on but I would know that it wasn't really him. They would be the wrong height or the wrong weight or, sometimes, even obviously a woman. There were occasions when I would be told to call the person Uncle Andrew and then when I did, they would ask me why I was doing that. Sometimes he would be there, too, but that was rare.Was it Satanic? I don't know. Personally I don't believe in God or Satan or any of those things, but abusers use whatever they can to silence children because if you go to the police and say something about Satan, you are so much less likely to be believed. I personally think they were just a group of likeminded people who had no beliefs other than that they wanted to get satisfaction out of abusing children and it's as simple and horrible as that. My uncle certainly doesn't have any satanic beliefs — he just thinks that he loves children and is allowed to get sexual satisfaction from them. Why is there sex involved if it is just about Satan? Why does it always come down to them getting off? No matter what they do that's all it is, whether masturbation or penetration or humiliation, that's what it's about. I encountered people who just liked to humiliate — they wouldn't allow you to go to the bathroom, you would be given drink after drink, fizzy drinks, whatever, so you ended up absolutely desperate and that's where they got off — that's when they started to masturbate themselves, as you stood there peeing yourself. That was just awful, so humiliating. Where is God or Satan in that?(her Uncle was convicted for abusing her and jailed)
Ritual abuse is highly organised and, obviously, secretive. It is often linked with other major crimes such as child pornography, child prostitution, the drugs industry, trafficking, and many other illegal and heinous activities. Ritual abuse is organised sexual, physical and psychological abuse, which can be systematic and sustained over a long period of time. It involves the use of rituals - things which the abusers 'need' to do, or 'need' to have in place - but it doesn't have to have a belief system. There doesn't have to be God or the Devil, or any other deity for it to be considered 'ritual'. It involves using patterns of learning and development to keep the abuse going and to make sure the child stays quiet.There has been, and still is a great deal of debate about whether or not such abuse exists anywhere in the world. There are many people who constantly deny that there is even such a thing as ritual abuse. All I can say is that I know there is. Not only have I been a victim of it myself, but I have been dealing with survivors of this type of abuse for almost 30 years.If there are survivors, there must be something that they have survived.The things is, most sexual abuse of children is ritualised in some way. Abusers use repetition, routine and ritual to forced children into the patterns of behaviour they require. Some abusers want their victims to wear certain clothing, to say certain things. They might bathe them or cut them, they might burn them or abuse them only on certain days of the week. They might do a hundred other things which are ritualistic, but aren't always called that - partly, I think because we have a terror of the word and of accepting just how premeditated abuse actually is.Abusers instill fear in their victims and ensure silence; they do all they can to avoid being caught. Sexual abuse of a child is rarely a random act. It involves thorough planning and preparation beforehand. They threaten the children with death, with being taken into care, with no one believing them, which physical violence or their favourite teddy being taken away. They are told that their mum will die, or their dad will hate them, the abusers say everyone will think it's their fault, that everyone already knows they are bad. Nothing is too big or small for an abuser to use as leverage.There is unmistakable proof that abusers do get together in order to share children, abuse more children, and even learn from each other. As more cases have come into the public eye in recent years, this has become increasingly obvious. More and more of this type of abuse is coming to light.I definitely think it is the word ritual which causes people to question, to feel uncomfortable, or even just disbelieve. It seems almost incredible that such things would happen, but too many of us know exactly how bad the lives of many children are. A great deal of child pornography shows children being abused in a ritualised setting, and many have now come forward to share their experiences, but there is a still tendency to say it just couldn't happen.p204-205
There is unmistakable proof that abusers do get together in order to share children, abuse more children, and even learn from each other. As more cases have come into the public eye in recent years, this has become increasingly obvious. More and more of this type of abuse is coming to light.I definitely think it is the word ritual which causes people to question, to feel uncomfortable, or even just disbelieve. It seems almost incredible that such things would happen, but too many of us know exactly how bad the lives of many children are. A great deal of child pornography shows children being abused in a ritualised setting, and many have now come forward to share their experiences, but there is a still tendency to say it just couldn't happen.Why not?Why, given what we now know about paedophiles and about what they do to children? Would they have limits? It was all done to me and I have enough experiences to write many more books than this one, but this will have to do for now. I've tried to make sense of it and I've tried to tell you my story in a way that will, hopefully, let you understand how it was done, and how they managed to get away with it, but I haven't told you a big part of it yet. I haven't told you what happened that finally ended it all for me.There was something else.When I was eight, someone else came into my life and made a huge difference to what was happening and how things would turn out. I didn't know it then, but I see the whole picture now.Something I have often wondered is whether Andrew was there while I was being abused. Lots of people hide their faces, and there were often masks worn, so he certainly could have been. I have no evidence one way or another though, so I will leave it to the reader to decide whether it would seem in a paedophile's character to watch abuse continue when it has been masterminded by him. But I do know that it wasn't just me who he abused - I know that because I saw it.Andrew was away a lot with the Army until I was at high school, then he left that position. He was instrumental both in my abuse and in setting the scene, but when I was eight, something happened which would distract him and which would, at times, take his attention from me. My mother very kindly provided him with a new victim - my little sister.
In 2011 in Swansea, Wales, Colin Batley was found guilty of 35 charges relating to his role as the leader of a 'satanic cult' that sexually abused children and women, manufactured child abuse images and forced children and women into prostitution (de Bruxelles 2011).His partner and two other women were also convicted on related charges, with one man convicted of paying to abuse a victim of the group. The groups' ritualistic activities were based on the doctrine of Aleister Crowley, an occult figure whose writing includes references to ritual sex with children. Crowley's literature has been widely linked to the practice of ritualistic abuse by survivors and their advocates, who in turn have been accused by occult groups of religious persecution. During Batley's trial, the prosecution claimed that Crowley's writings formed the basis of Batley's organisation and he read from a copy of it during sexually abusive incidents. It seems that alternative as well as mainstream religious traditions can be misused by sexually abusive groups. p38
As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept.Child abuse will always re-emerge, no matter how many years go by. We read of cases of people who have come forward after thirty or forty years to say they were abused as children in care homes by wardens, schoolteachers, neighbours, fathers, priests. The Catholic Church in the United States in the last decade has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for 'acts of sodomy and depravity towards children', to quote one information-exchange web-site. Why do these ageing people make the abuse public so late in their lives? To seek attention? No, it's because deep down there is a wound they need to bring out into the clean air before it can heal. Many clinicians miss signs of abuse in children because they, as decent people, do not want to find evidence of what Dr Ross suggests is 'a sick society that has grown sicker, and the abuse of children more bizarre'. (Note: this was written in the UK many years before the revelations of Jimmy Savile's widespread abuse, which included some ritual abuse)
When sleep came, I would dream bad dreams. Not the baby and the big man with a cigarette-lighter dream. Another dream. The castle dream. A little girl of about six who looks -like me, but isn’t me, is happy as she steps out of the car with her daddy. They enter the castle and go down the steps to the dungeon where people move like shadows in the glow of burning candles. There are carpets and funny pictures on the walls. Some of the people wear hoods and robes. Sometimes they chant in droning voices that make the little girl afraid. There are other children, some of them without any clothes on. There is an altar like the altar in nearby St Mildred’s Church. The children take turns lying on that altar so the people, mostly men, but a few women, can kiss and lick their private parts. The daddy holds the hand of the little girl tightly. She looks up at him and he smiles. The little girl likes going out with her daddy. I did want to tell Dr Purvis these dreams but I didn’t want her to think I was crazy, and so kept them to myself. The psychiatrist was wiser than I appreciated at the time; sixteen-year-olds imagine they are cleverer than they really are. Dr Purvis knew I had suffered psychological damage as a child, that’s why she kept making a fresh appointment week after week. But I was unable to give her the tools and clues to find out exactly what had happened.