Survivors of ritual abuse come from all over the world. This is not a phenomenon limited to the United States or Europe.

John, a survivor outside the U.S., shares his process of remembering: I did not always remember. As with many sexual assault survivors and because of the violence and threats done to them, I was not able or allowed to remember. In 1974 I was 16 and I saw the movie, The Exorcist. It triggered an uncomfortableness and because of the brainwashing and lies “my family would be killed” I couldn’t get consciousness and clarity. I ran away though on this subconcious and yet still powerful fear. I then got brainwashed again and it blotted out all my memory and the abuse that was happening then. In 1992, I met a ritual abuse survivor in an incest survivors group and after about six months of listening to her, I realised that I had been, and was then also being, ritually abused. The brainwashing was so strong that it took six months of listening to another survivor to assist me to have consciousness and clarity.

Abigail is another survivor who has always remembered some things: We always had part memories indicating such, though we didn’t know what to label it, i.e. going to grade school and then my father would show up with an excuse to take me out of school. He would take me to the grocery store he worked at and sit me in the cooler room to sort numbers for pricing. Even though it was very cold in that room, he would tell his co-workers that I was sick and he was taking me to the Doctor. We would leave at noon time and then there would be no memory for the next 3 days. I know it was 3 days because the note my mother wrote for me to give my teacher always said that I was absent with a 3 day flu. Other things were almost life-long inexplicable fears and reactions to things that are otherwise pretty much commonplace. Still can’t light a match but do ok with a lighter. The fear with an unlighted match in my hand is overwhelming panic and terror feeling very young. There are many others, too long to list here but they are this specific rather than general. Definition of ritual abuse came later in adulthood during a support group for sexual abuse survivors. We, as a group of survivors, were reading and working out of a book together. There were lists for identifying sexually abused girls and boys and then a chapter and list for identifying ritual abuse. All our fears were listed, our reactions, our body pains. All never had explanation before were now explained within the context of ritual abuse and as things fell into place, things began to make sense. Our reaction to this was more, “Oh no, no, that can’t be so!” then it was the “Ahhh, now it makes sense.” For us, memories have surfaced more in an age-based chronological order with only few exceptions, i.e. related issues at a later age.

Ian, an eleven year old child, shares his experience: I always knew I had inside people. I could see them and talk to them. One time, I remembered something, and two nights later, one of my inside people told my leader that I remembered, it was an inside kid who “squealed” on me. They hit me, and then they shocked me, yelling at me I was to never remember, ever, or it would be worse for me. They then made me run, shooting bullets over my head, and laughing. I was really afraid then, when I first remembered again, when I got away from them. I was sure someone was going to come and get me, or hurt me. In fact, at night, I need someone with me so I can fall asleep. Night is the worst, because that is when we would go to meetings. Daytime is great for me.
Svali also remembered gradually: I had struggled with depression all of my life, but without a reason. I was labeled “endogenous” depression. My ex-husband and I entered marriage counseling for conflicts. One day the therapist told me, “Won’t it be good when the tremendous guilt that I see in you is gone.” Guilty was out then, and I ran to a corner and crouched, saying “But if the guilt is gone, then I will be gone.” I then had a spontaneous memory of being hurt. The counselor had no idea what it was, and neither did I. That night, when I got home, while washing the dishes, I remembered my father abusing me. I ran into my bedroom, stuffed a pillow in my mouth, and screamed as the memory came out. The rage, the hurt, the pain were all there. As time went on, other memories came forward, all spontaneously, usually at home. I had always remembered my family’s dysfunctionality: that my stepfather was an alcoholic, that my mother would beat her children, that my sister and brothers and I all tried to commit suicide many times growing up. They had to cut my 8 year old brother down when he tried to hang himself. But other things I had blocked, because it hurt too much until I felt safer and was older, able to deal with it.

Frank remembers: I knew I was different. I would find things in my room that I had never bought, or would wake up in a strange city with no idea how I got there, would find out I had a job for several months, a bank account, a girlfriend! I moved around a lot, was afraid to get close to anyone, or they would find out my “secret”. But one day, I was in drug rehab several years ago, and it happened. My grandfather, one of my biggest perpetrators died, and I had flashback after flashback about him. I was given his masonic ring, and just looking at it, I remembered more. I went into therapy, and right away inside people came out and started talking. They figured that once he was dead, it was safe to talk.

Alex, a survivor from the West Coast, shares: I had no idea that it was happening until last year when I started to remember. I’m over 50, so there’s a lot to remember! I don’t talk about this with my family, I don’t want to hurt them. I have all of this stuff about my life growing up that makes sense now. I always knew my family wasn’t normal, that things weren’t right. I always had a lot of rage, I would throw things against the wall and scream and yell without knowing why. But now, I’m finding out where the rage came from. I am getting better now, and feel better than I ever had in my life, because before all that rage was bottled up inside, and now it is getting released and healed. Someday I will tell my sister, because I want her to get out too, but it isn’t time yet. I need to heal more.
As clearly illustrated by these accounts, many survivors HAVE remembered some things all of their life – or had indications that something traumatic happened. Others have progressed through a more gradual process of remembering. All, however, are courageously working at dealing with some of the most overwhelming abuse that a young child or adult can experience (and still survive): Ritual Abuse. I am greatly inspired by their courage and honesty in sharing here.

copyright 2000 Svali

Part one: **Important: part of this article contains discussion of survivor memories. If you are a survivor of ritual abuse, please be aware that reading about it may be triggering, and do not read if you become uncomfortable** A significant aspect of the ritual abuse subject is the testimony of survivors – those who are seriously engaged in the healing process. The uninitiated reader can scarcely begin to comprehend the journey upon which many such people from around the world have embarked. They are all ages, both male and female. They are working hard at exchanging old belief systems for a different world-view and an entirely new way of life. This is the first in a series of articles based on survivor responses to a questionaire I distributed.
All quoted passages herein have the express permission of the respective survivor and, for obvious reasons, I have substituted pseudonyms in order to protect their true identities. These are, however, very real people and each has a genuine story to tell.

Memory retrieval is a strenuously debated topic. There are groups (well chronicled in the mass media) who assert that repressed memories cannot be accessed as an adult, while other groups or professionals argue that yes, it is possible and does in fact happen. I thought it wise to go to the source – the survivors themselves – and discover what their first-hand experience has been. They know best how they remembered.

My hope is that upon experiencing what is shared here, you will be inspired by their sincerity, truthfulness and conviction. These are NOT people “fabricating memories” as is sometimes alleged. Several people have always remembered at least some of their abuse. These are people whose determination to escape from an abusive environment (both receiving abuse and inflicting it upon others) has cost them dearly. They are paying a very high price for living in a culture which continues to wallow in a state of collective denial. Here, survivors speak out on how they remembered:

Joanne, a survivor of generational abuse, states: I was about 12yrs old when I realised what was going on wasn’t “normal” but I never came out and said anything, I was the typical abused kid who acted up, but no-one would believe me when I first tried to say anything at the age of 16yrs. The memories, well some I have always known, generally the more traumatic the event the better recall of them that I have, although there are still some major injuries that I remember having but can’t recall what lead up to the injuries, I know when and where they took place but as to what precipitated the actual injury, I don’t remember.

Ellen, another survivor, did not dissociate her memories: I was in a cult which started in 1994 evolving from alleged apparitions of Mary in this area of the country. These apparitions, called Our Lady of Light, I now believe to be luciferian in nature. There was a visionary who claimed to be receiving messages from Jesus to renew the Church and the world with a particular emphasis on the priesthood. A Jesuit theologian became the spiritual director of this group through messages from Our Lady of Light. I was deeply involved in this cult from it’s inception in 1994 until I was able to escape in June of 1998. I am not DID; but was well on my way by the time I left. I remember feeling as if there were 2 different realities while I was in that cult……… I dared not remember my former life……….. but glimpses would come through at times which I would quickly shut down. It was not until after I left that cult and began healing and studying that I came to the realization of the symbolic satanic rituals involved in this cult. The understanding would come little bits at a time. The depth of the evil was so intense that I could only have tolerated little pieces at a time. If I would have come to a full understanding immediately, I do believe that I would have shattered or died. I knew that I had to keep battling for the truth. It was through the struggle to sift out the truth from the lie that I came to the understanding of the nature of the evil of the group.
Children as well as adults have remembered abuse: Vicky, a 15 year old, shares: I had bad dreams at night. I would dream that I was going somewhere and things happened, but the next morning, everything was normal. I didn’t really start remembering until I went to be with my Mom, when she got out, and it was safe. They don’t let you remember, you get hurt if you do. I didn’t want to get hurt. I started remembering, and inside people started sharing stuff. But most of the time, I try to ignore it. I’m busy at school, and being a teenager. It happened, but I try not to think about it. Except at night I get scared because then I can’t help but think about it. That’s when my Mom and Dad would wake me up, they were all cold and impersonal, and get me and my brother out of bed to go to a meeting. I have trouble sleeping at night, I keep waking up all night to make sure I’m safe and at home even now.

When confronted with the possibility that ritual abuse may occur, one of the first questions people ask is: “But if it’s real, why aren’t they caught?”. In other words, how can an organized society meet and execute rituals in secret, yet not leave any incriminating evidence which may lead to a conviction? How can such secrecy possibly be maintained in this day and age? Surely they would leave behind a ‘trail’ that would alert others as to what was happening.
I will address these questions from my own experience with one cultic group and also provide a link to articles about other ritually abusive groups who HAVE been ‘caught in the act’ and subsequently convicted in court. I would first, however, like to discuss one other secret society that has continued to operate in the US since the early 1920s (approx.). A secret society that commits acts of brutality including not only physical beatings, but also cold blooded murder. A criminal group that engages in a variety of illegal activities. An organization with members who are born into it and thus can be termed ‘generational’. One who prior to the 1970s enjoyed the official FBI position of non-existence, despite those who were reporting its reality (sounds much like ritual abuse today!). I am referring, of course, to ‘La Cosa Nostra’ aka ‘The Mafia’.

In ‘Who Is The Mob Today?’ (2/25/1996), Peter Maas quotes FBI Director Louis J.Freeh admitting the terrible past mistake made by the FBI in rejecting accounts of the Mafia’s existence: For decades under the late J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s official position was that the existence of Cosa Nostra was a myth. “We cannot allow the same kinds of mistakes to be made today”, Freeh told Congress. “The failure of American law enforcement, including the FBI… permitted the development of a powerful, well-entrenched organized crime syndicate (that required) 35 years of concerted law-enforcement effort and the expenditure of incredible resources to address.”

The current ‘official’ position of the FBI is that organized, secretive societies that ritually abuse and participate in illegal activities do not exist, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The bureau appears to have a consistent track record in this department.

What kind of evidence? Ritual abuse does occur and is being successfully prosecuted in courts today, despite the claims of those who deny this fact. Evidence such as pentagrams and assorted paraphernalia IS being found in many of these instances. The following URL is an excellent link to such cases and I would strongly encourage anyone interested in learning more about the reality of ritual abuse to visit this site. It is an eye-opener.

Survivor memories: More and more survivors are coming forward and sharing memories of ritual abuse. These accounts are specific in terms of dates, times, individuals present and events which transpired. Such disclosures have been made by both children and adults from around the world.

How security is maintained: One group’s methods

In the remainder of this article I will share my knowledge of how one group operated its internal security in order to prevent detection. I cannot speak of other groups or their security measures. As previously stated, I was a member of the Illuminati for the first 38 years of my life, spanning from 1957 to 1995. Based on this experience I will now discuss exactly how security was maintained both in Northern Virginia and San Diego, Ca.

1. Telephone Tree: General meetings were scheduled by the leadership council well in advance (usually several months) during their private meetings. In turn, these dates were then given to ranking leaders in the group who, several days prior to a meeting, would activate a telephone tree. Higher members first called their peers, then those beneath them in the group hierarchy. Those at the lowest level were notified just one night before the meeting date, since they were considered ‘higher security risks’.

2. Conditioning To Remain Silent: From the age of 24 months, ALL children in the group were taught the importance of not discussing group activities during the daytime. Teaching methods included ‘set-ups’, in which a member ‘told’ and was then ‘punished’ by the administration of torture. Set-ups were designed to look very realistic, with the ‘betrayer’ loudly screaming throughout his ‘punishment’ – which may have included drowning, burning or even murder. This graphic experience of what happened to those who ‘tell’, served as an unforgettable lesson to young children.

Other methods included beating the child if he spoke of night-related activities in the daytime. The adults around the child also modeled this behaviour by NEVER discussing night activities the following morning. If the child mentioned something he would be told “you were dreaming” and to “forget it”. Severe and brutal physical punishment of children was also used. Set-up scenarios such as fake burials, where the child is then retrieved from a coffin and told he will stay below ground forever should he even think of talking about group activities was done. I was put through that scenario as a young child and in turn, as an adult, saw it perpetrated upon young children. The child is always screaming and swears to never ever tell.

3. Expert Clean-up Crews: Many rituals involving murder were set-ups (no, the cult was not murdering its children – however they did create very realistic set-ups that had powerful psychological effects on the children present). More commonly, an animal was used during spiritual rituals (as I will discuss in another article, there were many other kinds of meetings. Spiritual was but one of six areas of group activities, the others being military, sciences, scholarship, leadership and government). Members were trained in post-meeting clean-up techniques from childhood. Wooden tables were taken apart, bleached,cleaned and then loaded into vans. Clothes were folded in preparation for laundering later. If the site was outdoors then the area was raked clean. If inside a large private home then the site was thoroughly washed down.
4. Restriction Of Meeting Size: In order to avoid overly large meetings, the San Diego group was divided into 24 sister groups (each approx. 60 members) that met on alternating days at alternating sites. Some groups met on Mondays and Thursdays, others on Tuesdays and Fridays, and yet others on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Usually two groups (occasionally three) would meet together at one site. Only at major annual meetings would large numbers congregate. As mentioned above, meeting times were coordinated by telephone trees.

5. Clandestine Times: Meetings were held between 12:30am and 2:00am and on occasion were extended to 4:00am. Traffic would be light. Members often lived in communities where everyone was a member of the group (oh yes, there are ‘cult communities’ because like attracts like, and often whole neighborhoods are comprised exclusively of cult members). People would leave quietly in the night, with car lights off until they were out on the street. The adult non-driver would be the ‘watcher’, checking that they were not being followed.

Each family had a cover story to be used in the event of an outsider catching them leaving. Typically the story would involve an urgently hospitalized relative, which would satisfactorily explain the lateness of the hour and the presence of small children . Normal clothes were worn enroute to the meeting and people would change once on-site. In my family we would sometimes go to sleep in our clothes, which saved time when we got up in the middle of the night. I never considered it unusual to go to bed in my clothing two or three nights a week.

6. On-site Security: The group had several security perimeters around meetings. The first checkpoint (outermost perimeter) was at the five mile mark. There were always at least two roads leading into the meeting site and both would be manned by members possessing a list of approved license plate numbers. All vehicles (incoming and outgoing) were checked. Vehicle flow was minimized as families often car pooled. In the event of an unauthorized vehicle breaching the perimeter, a hidden security person (they would stand behind a tree, watching) would radio ahead and the meeting was immediately packed-up and the people quickly dispersed. Meanwhile, the incoming vehicle would be delayed by the non-hidden security who would pretend to be stranded and in need of assistance. They were taught how to engage the outsider for several crucial minutes. If that ploy failed then they would alert the next perimeter where logs would then be positioned to block the roadway. Of the three-man security team, one would be responsible for alerting members while the other two executed delaying tactics if required.

This security procedure was repeated at both the three mile and one mile perimeters, meaning members had to pass through a total of three checkpoints before arriving at the meeting. To avoid boredom or staleness, security members were rotated on a bi-monthly basis.
Often, on private property, indoor meetings or trainings would occur on large multi-acred estates appointed with securely fenced perimeters. The site would be located in a downstairs basement which could be closed-off from the rest of the house by a false wall. These estates usually had at least one private roadway at the rear and the customary security perimeters in place. As you may by now appreciate, it would be extremely difficult to ‘crash a meeting’ considering the security measures utilized by the group. Given that an outsider was able to discover the time and date of a meeting, he would then have to travel in a vehicle with approved plates. Short of breaking the law, this would require the cooperation of an active group member (which is quite difficult to arrange as they are taught to report to their leader anything like this).

The above has been shared with police departments and they have said that I describe a “highly sophisticated security system”. It is the only one I ever knew while part of this group.

What about the bodies? As mentioned above, the reality is that many of the ‘ritual killings’ (although not all) were set-ups. Fake. Some involved filling a corpse (obtained prior to the ritual) with warm blood. The child would be allowed to play with a living infant before a ceremony, then the switch would be made while the child was in a room ‘preparing’.

Children NEVER question set-ups (they are too frightened) and truly believe they actually killed someone. The group wants them to believe this because the perpetrator guilt will then bind the child to them, and make it less willing to disclose group activities. The child is told it is now a murderer and will go to jail should it ever talk about the meetings. There are real ritual killings, but I believe that set-ups inflate the figures somewhat. Homeless people, and runaways were also used on rare ocassions.

At times animals are used, however they usually belonged to group members. When living in San Diego I had four cats and three dogs mysteriously ‘disappear’ as well as most of my chickens (I lived in the country). These pets were undoubtedly used in ceremonies. After that I quit having pets – the trauma was too great. Goats, chickens, cattle and deer are all used on occasion. The carcasses are are subsequently torn-up, buried or thrown to the dogs in order to make the killings appear to have been done by wild dogs. Sometimes the skins are incinerated and the ashes buried.

It is not my intention to be gruesome. I am merely attempting to explain the mechanics of how this group maintained its secrecy. No doubt other groups use different methods.
>In closing, I would like to offer a comparison upon which to ponder. The Mafia, comprised of thousands of members and openly killing people, maintained its secrecy for over fifty years in the US. Today nobody doubts their existence, yet those same people question that other groups could successfully remain secret. Secrecy is not difficult. The Mafia used their own code of silence – ‘Omerta’. The Illuminati cult also maintains its own silence to this day.

copywrite 2000 svali

Cults that Abuse

Before I address survivor’s stories in later articles, I believe it is important to understand how groups that ritually abuse operate. Cults can be abusive or non-abusive, and there are many fairly benign cult-like groups that exist today. But for the purposes of my article, I want to look at cults that abuse, specifically, in the sense of ritual abuse.

What are the characteristics of an abusive cult? There are many studies that have defined controlling cults. Dr. Margaret Singer, Phd, U.Ca. Berkley, has written one of the definitive articles on cults that employ mind control and their characteristics (1).

She states that thought reform, as employed by controlling cults, involves the entire anthropological/social spectrum of behaviour, including language use, social environment, and influence of the leader and peers on the member. This often involves attacking the person’s self concept.

I would like to take the six conditions that she has identified as being pre-requisites to exerting mind control, and compare them to experiences of survivors in ritualistically abusive groups. The two correlate completely.

1. CONTROL OVER TIME : this is Singer’s first condition. The cult group must get some of the person’s time, as much as possible, and have the individual think about group idealogy. Survivors report spending time during the week in contact with the cultic groups that abuse them. Contact is by phone; by verbal discussion, or going to meetings. Survivors state that group meetings often occur weekly, monthly, or as frequently as two to three times a week for intensive training sessions. The group that I was involved in (the Illuminati) met two to three times a week for normal teaching times, and had large group meetings on a monthly basis (“ritual times”) as well as leadership meetings once a month to plan the activities for the next few weeks.

2. CREATE A SENSE OF POWERLESSNESS Most groups involved in ritual abuse do this to the nth degree. Through pain, degradation, tying up victims, and experiences created to show there is “no escape” from infancy on, the victim of cult control soon comes to believe that he/she is trapped, can never break free, and should just “give in” to what is asked of them.

3. MANIPULATE REWARDS, PUNISHMENTS, EXPERIENCES IN ORDER TO SUPPRESS OLD SOCIAL BEHAVIOR BEHAVIORS REWARDED: Participation, conformity to ideas/behavior, zeal, personal changes BEHAVIORS PUNISHED: criticalness, independent thinking, non-conformity to ideas/behavior From earliest childhood in generational ritual groups, to later childhood or adulthood in other groups, the use of rewards and praise, as well as punishment have a name: training. Cult type groups believe strongly in the use of praise if the person does well, including merit badges, ceremonies of reward, and high status if the person conforms to the expected behaviour, and severe punishment, even death threatened if the person refuses to perform. Often, abusive and coercive groups will take this concept to its outermost extremes.

4. MANIPULATE REWARDS, PUNISHMENTS, EXPERIENCES IN ORDER TO ELICIT NEW BEHAVIOR Models will demonstrate new behavior Conformity: dress, language, behavior Using group language will eventually still the thinking mind I will discuss this from the point of view of my experiences in the Illuminati in San Diego, Ca. Again, “training” in the Illuminati and other highly controlling groups (outside people call it “programming” ) is meant to create behaviour that helps the group to continue. The goal is a member who is absolutely committed to the group; who never questions leadership, who strives to excel, and who scoffs at the weak. Weakness is the displaying of emotion during ritual events; the refusal to perform an act, or the inability to keep up with others in the group during activities. “Weak” members are brought forward, and punished in view of all. During military exercises (the group had a strong military basis, with forced marches at night, and mock “battles” and “hunts” ) if a member did well, they were highly praised and rewarded. This could be being excused from a difficult maneuver, or sexual rewards, or moving up in status at the next award time. Members were highly conscious of their standing in the group, and were constantly seeking to “move up.”
5. MUST BE A TIGHTLY CONTROLLED SYSTEM OF LOGIC There must be authoritarian leaders in control, who inspire confidence and punish questioning behaviour. In San Diego, as well as several Illuminati groups that I belonged to across the country, the leadership looked like a “pyramid”, with the top person being head of “leadership council”, then a group of two “advisors” below him. Below these two were six administrators who coordinated finances, meeting times, and running the groups logistically. Below them were six head trainers. Underneath were the “sister groups” of about 50 members each, with priests/priestesses, and others. All aspired to a leadership role, to being allowed to move up the rigid hierarchy. Questioning of leadership was unthought of, and considered quite dangerous. From earliest childhood on, members were taught that seeking to leave, or questioning the group’s philosophy, would mean isolation, beratement, punishment, and possible death, with “deaths” being staged to convince children of this reality. Survivors of groups outside the Illuminati have also reported similar activities to control members, with a hierarchy of leadership and leaders being given the right to severely punish or discipline nonconformers.


A person is hard to manipulate if they KNOW they are being manipulated. That is why techniques used by ritualistically abusive groups are often based on a sophisticated knowledge of human behaviour and psychology. The member’s peers including family, closest friends, and spouse are ALL members of the group in generational cults. These people all reinforce for the member that the group is good; has the member’s “best interests” at heart, no matter how abusive the behaviour. That they want to “help” the member. Trainers and behaviour programmers also use these techniques, including “bonding” with the victim, convincing the victim that they “care for them” , that “no one else could possibly understand them the way their ‘family’ (the name the Illuminati go by) does”, etc. As a former trainer in this group, I used those phrases frequently during sessions. At one time, I even believed them myself, until I began questioning what I was doing (this will be the focus of another article: why I left). Surrounded by members who all dress alike, act alike, the person in an abusive cult will often question themselves instead of the cult group, if they question at all. After all, in generational cults, this is the ONLY reality the person has known, from infancy on, and not everyone questions what happens to them.
In later articles, I hope to be able to incorporate survivor accounts of the types of groups involved in this kind of abuse. On a personal note, the group that was involved in my ritual abuse was known as the Illuminati, although day to day they called themselves “family”, “the Order”, or “the Society” depending on the circumstances. For thirteen years, at times my abuse occurred in a Masonic temple in Alexandria, Virginia and some of the abusers were Masons, although most of the membership of that group had no idea that some of the members were using the temple for that purpose. All Masons are NOT abusers, most are not, but SOME in my experience were members of the Illuminati and abused me in that context. I was also abused in a small abandoned Baptist church in the country in northern Virginia. One of the abusers was a deacon in a local baptist church. All Baptists are NOT abusers, but in this one instance, some members of the local church were members of a group that abused during the night hours.

In the daytime, these people were respected members of the community, churchgoers, and appeared benevolent. This shows that a person’s daytime “persona” can be quite different from how they act at night or in a different setting. All of the members of the group that abused me were generational themselves, and had been abused in the same way when they were children. This shows how the cycle of abuse, if not healed, will continue generation after generation in some families.
References: (1) Singer, Margaret T. “Conditions for Thought Reform

** If you are a survivor of ritual abuse , please be in a safe place before reading the following article, as it mentions groups that practice ritual abuse as well as the historical groups that they are descended from. **

In this article, I will be discussing ritual abuse in a historical context. Later articles will share about ritual abuse from the perspective of its effects on the survivor as well as significant others.
1. Ritual abuse: modern hysteria or ancient practice?

Ritualized forms of abuse have been practiced since the dawn of human history. Violence in the name of a religious or ideological belief is not new; it has been practiced for thousands of years.

Here I will discuss a few groups that have been documented as practicing secret, esoteric, or abusive rites to place modern ritual abuse in a historical context. Please be aware that this is only some of the documented ritualized abuse that we know of from ancient until modern times, and is by no means complete.

The ancient Assyrians and Phoenicians worshipped the sun god, Baal, who they depended upon for the continuance of their crops. The antiquity of the worship of the god or gods of Baal extends back to the 14th century BCE among the ancient Semitic cultures. Worship of Baal extended from the Canaanites to the Phoenicians who also were partially an agricultural people. Baal, the sun god, was fervently prayed to for the protection of livestock and crops, and the rites also included animal and human sacrifice.

Another co-current deity was Molech, whose rituals were also costly to human life. (excerpted from Alan G. Hefner).

Many of these rituals were adopted by the ancient Hebrews, as mentioned in the Bible (Leviticus 20 and 2 Kings 23) These rituals were carried out for over a thousand years, both openly and secretly.

Ancient Babylonia also practiced Mystery Religions, which involved worship of the sun god, and sacrifices to this deity.

In Europe and Indo-asia, the ancient Druids also were known to engagein human sacrifice and rituals before the coming of Christianity to the areas occupied by the celts in Europe and Britain. Caesar commented upon this practice:

“The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so, employing the Druids as ministers for such sacrifices…”

(Gallic War, 6, 16)
By the medieval ages, Christianity had entered Europe, and groups were formed who practiced rites that were the antithesis of the organized religion of the day. Many of these groups claimed roots founded in the rites of the ancient druids and Canaanites. The Knights Templar were one such order. They were founded by medieval lords and barons to protect pilgrims who visited Jerusalem, which had been captured during the First Crusade. They were also quite wealthy,and financed the leading kings of Europe at the time, creating the modern banking system of lending at interest. They were disbanded in the early 1300s by the Pope and the King of France because of fear due to their power,as well as their esoteric religious practices. The Knights Templar began corrupting their Catholicism, and incorporating elements of mystery religions, which included rituals with candles around the body of a young virgin, and homosexual practices. They also began summoning demons during these rituals. Although officially disbanded, the Templar knights continued practicing their rites in secret, founding the thirteen orders, each with their own symbol.

Rosicrucianism. This group was publicly founded in the 17th century in Germany, supposedly by an individual in a novel known as Christian Resenkrutz. The order was based on the traditions of the “Rose Cross” order. This group emphasized the need for “enlightenment” through following certain spiritual principles,and had both a public and covert philosophy.

Meanwhile, in South America and Mexico, the Incas and Aztecs were also performing rituals which involved tbe taking of human life. This has been documented in the annals of the early Spanish conquerors.

Up until modern times, esoteric, hidden practices have continued around the world. Brutality, and sacrifices in the name of religion are not limited to one locality or one time in history.

In Africa, ritual murder is still ongoing, and has been extensively documented. (see articles by Oke(1989) for more information. In Thailand, India, and Malaysia, sacrifices and rituals are still conducted, similar to those of ancient times, and has been documented in articles by Newton (1993) and Constantine (1995).

Modern Europe has also reported incidences of ritual murder in recent years (see articles by Newton, 1993a for discussion of cases of ritual murder that have been convicted in Dusseldorf and Spain).

In strife-torn Peru, human sacrifice remains a daily fact of life, dating back to the time of the Incas. For some practitioners, the ritual offering of human lives is believed to insure bountiful crops, control the weather, and prevent such natural catastrophes as floods and earthquakes. These rituals, called “paying the earth,” are also employed by wealthy businessmen, including mine owners and beer distributors,to insure continued prosperity.

In neighboring Chile, human sacrifice is such an established tradition that the courts recognize
“compulsion by irresistible psychic forces” as grounds for acquittal in cases of ritual murder. (Tierney, 1989)

There is much, much more evidence of documented continuing ritual sacrificearound the world. It would take a strong denial system to refute both the historical and circumstancial evidence that ritual abuse has been a reality throughout the ages, and continues to be until this day.

Why am I sharing about the history of ritual abuse? One of the things that often perplexes survivors of ritual abuse is the denial with which their memories or accounts are often met. They are told: “ritual abuse is a modern-day witch hunt,” “Things like that don’t happen in this day and age” (as if man’s entering the Industrial Revolution changed human nature), or “I don’t believe you.” Comments like these can be devastating both to the survivor of ritual abuse, who often WISHES the memories were not true, and the family and support people for the individual, who know the individual, and that they are NOT lying.

Comments like these only reinforce what the individual was told by the cult group: “If you tell, no one will believe you,” or “You will be laughed at, or shunned.” The survivor courageous enough to not only remember, but then disclose their abuse, will be faced with a society that often appears in denial. “Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?” the survivor wonders, as they share the atrocities. “Why isn’t it stopped?” “Why do more children have to be hurt?”

Societal denial is complex. People often do not want to think about or hear about painful topics. Thirty years ago, teenage girls who shared that their middle class father was sexually abusing them were told that they were “lying”, or worse, “delusional”. Twenty years ago, medical professionals who suspected that battered children were being seen from not only the poverty levels of society, but also the middle class and well to do, were told it wasn’t possible. Society closed its eyes to the facts before it, until enough people finally came forward and disclosed.

Hopefully, placing ritual abuse in a historical context will help the reader see that:

Ritual abuse is NOT a “new” phenomenon, or a modern day “hysteria”

Human beings have been capable of great cruelty throughout the ages, and to believe otherwise refutes the historical record.

Those who are abused tend to abuse. Why would this well known psychological fact be different in the context of familial, generational ritual abuse? Where the abuse has been passed down for generations, in a codified manner?

That ritual abuse is occurring around the world. It is NOT a phenomenon limited to the United States, or to people “recovering memories” in therapy. Newton, Ryder, and Lockwood (“Other altars”) have resarched and proven this.

My hope is that at the least, this article has helped raise some questions about a topic that is often overlooked and misunderstood. – Svali

References: Crowley, Aleister, The Book of Lies (Weiser, 1988)

Howard, Michael The Occult Conspiracy (1989)

Shaw, Jim and McKenney The Deadly Deception (1988)

Ryder, Daniel ;article: Satanic Ritual abuse: The evidence surfaces: …(1999)

Newton, Michael: Excerpt from essay published in the Journal of Psychohistory 24 (2) Fall 1996,”BLOOD ATONEMENT” IN 19TH-CENTURY AMERICA

Out of Darkness:Contoversy over satanism and ritual abuse ;Sakheim, Devine (1998)

Smith, Margaret; Ritual Abuse; (1993)

James, Simon: The World of the Celts (1993)

The Book of Illumination (age unknown)

**If you are a survivor of ritual abuse, please be aware that reading about it may be triggering. Please take care of yourself, and be in a safe place before reading

Ritual Abuse The words conjures up images of people in robes, chanting, or perhaps a grade D horror flick. But what is the reality?
First, let’s look at a definition of ritual abuse:

Ritual abuse is the systematic, repetitive abuse of both children and adults by either an individual or a group. It may involve psychological, sexual, physical and/or spiritual abuse, and the effects are devastating on the individual who undergoes it. Often survivors of this type of extreme abuse cope by dissociating, and as adults may continue the cycle of amnesia and abuse. The key word here is : repetitive. Ritual abuse is done repetitively, in a consistent pattern, over time. This may be done in the name of a religious belief, or simply out of patterned cruelty. Any idealogy can and has been used to justify the pattern of abuse. Most of the victimization begins in early childhood, and is done by adults who were themselves abused. The cycle continues because people often do not realize that they can stop it; often, they feel “trapped” in the pattern of abuse. What is the incidence of ritual abuse today? Statistics vary, depending upon the source. When I lived in a large metropolitan city in the Southwest, population close to 2,000,000 , the group that I was affiliated with, known as the Illuminati, had 24 sister groups. Each group had roughly 50 members, so they had approximately 1,200 members in this area. These numbers are reflected across the United States and European countries. And this was only one group.

In the next few months, I will be sharing different perspectives on the reality of ritual abuse. I hope to address the following questions:

1. What kinds of groups engage in what is known as ritual abuse? What motivates them?

2. How do these groups maintain their “cloak of secrecy?” How do they operate? What kind of security do they use?

3. How do they program their followers? Why? How does a person break free from this kind of programming?

4. What is the opinion of experts in the field?

5. Has there been documented, physical evidence that ritual abuse occurs? What evidence?

6. What about spouses and friends: what can they do to help survivors of ritual abuse? What is helpful, and what isn’t?

7. What can the general public do to help?
These are all valid points that need to be addressed in order to understand ritual abuse. As a survivor of ritual abuse myself, as well as a former cult programmer, or trainer, I have a vested interest in sharing both from my own experience, and the wealth of published information about ritual abuse that is available now.

I also hope to be able to share some survivor stories (with names changed to protect the people involved) about the reality of ritual abuse, and the ongoing effects that it causes in the life of the survivor, as well as things that have helped them in their healing journey.

I will be sharing internet links that relate to the topics that I have addressed. They are there, and are well worth reading for the person who desires to learn more, and is willing to approach this subject objectively.

Best wishes,

On Having Needs

This is a guest article by someone who has written expressively and eloquently on how the survivor of cult abuse feels. Her name is niid la’i and she speaks for many of us about the isolation and loss of identity, the need to protect oneself after a lifetime of betrayals. The desire to learn to trust and be open. She calls it:

On Having Need

by Niid La’i

This is an essay on need. Need is frightening to me. I don’t want to have need! The voices of programming inside start to shout at me when I acknowledge that I have needs. I am not supposed to have needs. I have always existed to serve others. I am supposed to be compliant, understanding, and forgiving, no matter what anyone does to me, or says to me. I am never supposed to express an opinion, or discontent or dissatisfaction.

As a child, I learned to have a “nothing face.” This face was devoid of all expression. It was a face that hid a million feelings. Sometimes, even this expression was unacceptable. If it was misconstrued as sullen, then punishment descended on me anyway. I had to have at least a suggestion of a smile and contentment blended in with the nothing face. It was used when cult members were present and in the home with the mother and father.

I also have, what I call, “outside faces.” Outside faces are more readable. They were created to present a pleasant, calm, and amiable appearance to all people. The outside faces went to school, and to relatives’ homes, and to public places. As a small child people would comment on how quiet I was. As a teen-ager, and even now, many friends and acquaintances tell me I am so, “laid back!” What a joke! But it proves how well everyone inside has hidden behind the acceptable faces that afforded some safety.

One problem this has created is a numbing affect. In order for the outside faces and the nothing face to function, needs and feelings had to be literally forgotten. If alters, which I call, “others, ” inside were too upset or anxious, there was a possibility of their emotions breaking through. Often in a cult gathering, members of the group would convince little others that if they had feelings inside, the members could tell. So, even if their facial expression was as it should be, the cult members would punish them for the feelings these “little people”, my name for little alters, were supposedly having. Because of this, others learned to deny their feelings and more others were created to hold feelings in far away worlds. Their needs were not recognized anymore either. Eventually they were as “nothing” inside as their faces learned to be on the outside.

When one of my others was 6 years old she was being taught not to cry. I’m sure there were lots of other “lessons” already ingrained about showing emotions, but this is just one description of those indoctrination sessions. The memory, and I’m sure it is not complete, is of this small child standing naked in front of a male adult. He was sitting in a chair and all of a sudden he slapped her very hard on the cheek. Of course, she grabbed her cheek and started to cry. He removed her hand and hit her again and said simply, “Don’t cry!” She tried to stop but couldn’t. He continued to hit her cheek and repeat the words until her tears stopped and the only evidence of the pain was her labored breathing. I’m sure that at some point this little person inside fragmented into more others who could hold the sting of the slaps and even the tears away from the six year olds consciousness. Eventually she was able to stand dry eyed in front of her abuser and not even flinch. By the time this was accomplished her cheek and eye were so swollen and bruised that she could not go to school for more than a week.

Certainly, everyone who lives on the earth has the need to cry many times in his/her life. But for me, because of countless, repeated episodes of controlled programming such as the one just described, my need to cry was effectively shut off. Now, as an adult, though I need to cry, there are many times I can’t. I will feel tears begin to fill my eyes and my throat tighten up, but then all the symptoms just go away. I am left with an overwhelming sadness, a stomach- ache and extreme anxiety.

Can I then tell anyone I am anxious, or sad, or feel sick? NO! Others inside have been taught equally well that they are not supposed to ask for relief or comfort. They should not even feel sad, or anxious or sick. If they do have these feelings, they think they are bad and evil for having them. They experience tremendous guilt and shame.
In the present day, I find I don’t understand what is happening with my emotions. I go to the Dr. and get so anxious when I have to tell him/her what is wrong that I get tongue-tied and confused. The Dr. gets impatient and frustrated because my explanations are so disjointed. He/she misunderstands.. I try again, but I still can’t be clear. I am then judged incompetent and a hypochondriac. I am treated with lack of respect and in a mocking way. I don’t understand why I can’t talk to Drs. I feel stupid and ashamed for being so evasive and indirect.

This happens because I am not supposed to need. If I am sick, I am not supposed to need help. I am not supposed to tell anyone I don’t feel good. I am not supposed to GET sick in the first place. This is ludicrous when considered logically. Everyone gets sick. But, the lessons are still so much a part of me, I think I am bad and evil for wanting medicine to feel better.

Let’s say I go to a therapy session. I am going to therapy because I am trying to resolve the conflicts I sense inside. Even being there is a serious breach of “the rules.” Again, I am admitting I have needs, and I am trying to talk to someone about them. Talking is akin to murder. It is a capital offense, and carries major consequences if broken. Therapy is all about talking! If I sit silent in front of my therapist then nothing is accomplished. If I speak to him I am buried in angry, shouting inner voices, pleading voices, scared voices. My body starts to hurt in various places. I cannot think again, and what I say comes out jumbled and incoherent. I get frustrated and panic-stricken. If my therapist shows even the slightest indication of impatience or perceived anger, everyone inside withdraws. All the others inside willing to watch and listen are so hyper alert they notice every movement, twitch and voice inflection the therapist has. This can seriously impede progress in therapy.

Many times I have left a session thinking the therapist has labeled me needy and draining. This is because if I ask him/her for anything; reassurance, understanding, support, I think I am being overbearing and demanding. The very act of walking through the door of the office and being seen feels like asking for more than anyone should ever be asked to give. Indeed, I am supposed to go in there and figure out what the therapist needs and start supporting and taking care of him! Paradoxically if the therapist cannot return a rare phone call, or cannot be as supportive as I need him/her to be, I feel rejected and abandoned. So, I find myself in one of those double binds so common to survivors. If the therapist is supportive, etc. I feel bad and evil. If he is not supportive I feel bad and evil. This is all because I am not supposed to have any needs.
What can happen, is that I get so worried about being needy, that I become needy!! By skirting around what I really want to say or ask for, those who are working with me have to guess at what I am really trying to ask or say. They can end up feeling manipulated, or like they are being forced to play some strange kind of game. Though this is not my intent, especially if they do not know me very well, my “halftalk,” as I call it, can create the very drain I am trying so hard not to inflict on others.

It’s another trust issue. In order to heal, I have to trust before trust is really there to be able to learn to trust! I have to risk from the very foundation of my being. I wear the lessons of the past like a second skin. To begin removing this skin leaves me feeling touch tender and naked once again. I often feel like I am metaphorically standing in the middle of a busy freeway daring the cars not to hit me. That’s how vulnerable I feel as I try and shed the beliefs that have ruled me from the day I was born. I hate it when I am told I am comfortable living within the boundaries placed on me from the past. But, it is true. I have only known what I was so methodically programmed to believe.

Learning new ways is filled with as much pain and anxiety as the original abuse. As I discover and then acknowledge that I have needs, and attempt to trust these needs to “outsiders,” “big people,” i.e., therapist, Drs. and friends, I open myself up to the possibility of more hurt and misunderstanding. Though these people are not abusers, human beings are subject to making mistakes, responding from their own set of rules. The everyday problems in relationships that are bound to happen when people get together can seem as intense as the former abuse.

Can the voices of programming ever be silenced? I hope so. At this point, I have to rely on my therapists and other caregivers to instruct me and guide me. I cannot offer concrete ways to implant trust in barren soil. What this essay offers is insight. I NEED those who read it to understand and be able to step beyond my walls of resistance and help me. I hope that as other survivors relate to these barriers that affect their healing they will also seek out people that can assist them to shed their old skins of the past. Now how’s this for breaking programming! Copyright 2000 Niid la’i:

Thank you for your courage in opening your heart and sharing with others here. May what you wrote open the eyes of both therapists and support people to the tremendous issues that a survivor of ritual abuse struggles with in the healing process. -Svali