Most abuse is ritualised in some way and, generally, people accept that children can be subjected to a range of terrifying and repetitive abusive experiences.
One definition of ritual abuse is when one or more children are abused in a highly organised way, by a group of people who have come together and subscribe to a belief system that, for them, justifies their actions towards that child. This usually extends into family involvement and may have been practised as a religion or a way of life for years. Although survivors speak of differing experiences, many elements are common:
- Elaborate rituals, “games” set ups and “ceremonies”
- Systematic emotional, physical and sexual abuse
- Being used in child pornography and prostitution
- Being forced to take drugs and alcohol
- Being tortured almost to the point of death
- Being forced to participate in the abuse of others
If you are a survivor of ritual abuse you may feel
- Trapped and that you cannot escape. Although it can be difficult to get away from such abuse, it can be done. Many survivors have successfully escaped and lead normal lives.
- Fear that you or someone else may be killed, that you may be re-involved, of talking, reprisals, that they have power over you, loneliness and disbelief. These fears are understandable. It is possible to overcome this although it takes time and courage.
- Distrust and that you can trust no one at all. This is completely reasonable given that you may have never had someone trustworthy in your life. Trust has to be earned by people and in time you may feel that someone has earned it enough to be trusted a little.
We support survivors of all forms of sexual abuse, including ritual abuse.
In this section
- Reporting to the police and court process
- Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse
- Ritual abuse
- Commercial sexual exploitation
- Information for family and friends
- LGBTI survivors
- Sexual abuse against boys and men
- Survivors' stories
Browse our collection of stories, poems and experiences.
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