sigh I fully plan to go dig up the FBI’s sainted report on ritual abuse, but what I gathered from it was not that they found that ritual abuse didn’t exist, but that they didn’t find proof that there was a national or international network of Satanic cults that were all ritually abusing people together for Nefarious Purposes. IIRC, they KNOW ritual abuse exists.
below is something I wrote about ritual abuse for everything2.com that might clarify this more. For what it’s worth, I do not claim to have been ritually abused; I do know people who were, and I have studied it enough that I have a fairly good idea of, for example, what kinds of effects it has on people’s lives and so on. It’s not the kind of thing people can fake, and it’s really not the kind of thing that at least the people I know well would fake. It is not fun, it is not worth it in any way, and they do not get anything good out of it. But I digress…
At its most broad, ritual abuse is physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse involving a religious framework. For example, a Sunday-school teacher molesting the students as part of a lesson about penitence or original sin would be exploiting and twisting their religion to ritually abuse them. Generally, ritual abuse has taken place when someone’s experience of a religion has involved abuse presented as part of the religion.
Ritual abuse should be distinguished from ritualized abuse. Ritualized abuse does not require a religious component and is merely abuse that takes place in a repeated, formalized manner. It is the difference between the religious rituals associated with Easter, and the mundane ritual of brushing one’s teeth and going to bed.
It seems simple, but in fact ritual abuse is extremely controversial, at least in much of the United States, at the time of this writing. Partly, this is because “ritual abuse” is often assumed to be synonymous with Satanic ritual abuse, and Satanic ritual abuse is often assumed to mean one large, connected cult working across the world to abuse children.
The natural response to this, from a population conditioned toward cynicism, is scorn and disbelief. However, when viewed on a smaller scale - the Sunday school teacher or priest, the already-abusive family with a fanatically fundamental religion to drawn from, the extremely similar experiences of many people ritually abused in the same town - it does not always seem so difficult to believe that ritual abuse can take place, if not on the same large scale.
At its most extreme, ritual abuse often involves torture and programming, often using techniques developed by the CIA in projects like MKULTRA and Project Artichoke. When ritual abuse is occuring to this extent, it is generally happening at an institutionalized level. That is, these things usually take place in the framework of abusive cults or sometimes in families with generational abuse, rather than the lone abusive adult. They are simply too involved.
Ritual abuse can also be tricky in other ways, both on a large and a smaller level. For example, an abuser may don a Mickey Mouse or alien mask because if their young victim ever tries to tell someone that Mickey abused them, they will sound delusional. There has been speculation that at least some of the alien abduction stories out there, especially with the bright lights and the probing, are connected to experiences of ritual abuse.
As far as the disbelief that there are groups out there with religious beliefs and actions that seem reprehensibly abusive to most people, the tables may be turning. Despite many people’s knee-jerk denial on the subject, ritual abuse was suggested as a serious possibility in the Lori Peterson murder case in California recently. An NBC article on the case even, surprisingly, referred twice to “several Satanic cults known to operate in Modesto.” One reader I know commented, “When I was living in the San Bernardino area everyone knew about the 20 to 30 dead cats and dogs pulled out of the culverts every year, all carved up. I figured that every major and middling city has its own little cult of perverts.”
For those who are desperately wedded to legal and news media evidence, http://www.newsmakingnews.com/karencuriojonesarchive.htm has a large collection of international news stories and court cases which explicitly refer to ritual abuse and related crimes where the plaintiffs pled guilty or were found guilty. (addendum: the above-mentioned CIA efforts are also well-documented through documentation they released themselves through the Freedom of Information Act. further addendum: i don’t think this writeup on it is half explanatory enough, but it may give you some idea of what is really meant by stuff.)