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Scottish Executive Backs Satanic Abuse Claims

One of the joys of being back in the UK is that I can now get my fortnightly dose of Private Eye magazine, which keeps most of its news content off-line. The latest issue (1155) contains a letter about Satanic Ritual Abuse, from Dr Joan Coleman of RAINS (Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support):

…I have no doubt whatsoever that Satanist abuse is a reality. I believe it to be far more prevalent than I thought 20 years ago, when I first encountered it. Since then, I have talked to more than 600 professionals who have worked with victims/survivors. I have also spoken with over 200 of them. Although they do not know each other, they all describe very similar activities. In addition, I regularly receive threatening letters, phone calls and text messages from self-declared Satanists, telling me to back off…

In 2002, Damian Thompson wrote an article for the Telegraph that quotes Coleman as blaming “Masonic connections” for the success of the Satanists. Coleman’s letter responds to a couple of sceptical articles on the subject that recently appeared in the Eye. Fortunately, blog Cabinet of Wonders has placed these on-line, along with some letters that have appeared in the magazine. Back in mid-January, the Eye warned that

…that there is still a network of believers across the UK among professionals and assorted therapists who work with children and adult “survivors” who reinforce each other’s convictions that what they now term “ritual abuse” exists, through literature, websites, conferences and training courses.

…Groups run by [Laurie] Matthew, all based at 1 Victoria Road, Dundee, include Ritual Abuse Network Scotland (RANS), which has a website offering “support for survivors” and a resource for counsellors, parents and concerned friends, packed with ghoulish detail about “the reality” of ritual abuse, including allegations of babies being bred for sacrifice and children being sexually abused and mutilated and a checklist of signs and symptoms to look for…

…Matthew is now helping to influence policy-making in Scotland via her presence on the Scottish parliament’s cross-party group on Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, which produced a national strategy for adult survivors in September 2005. Her group 18 and Under is a member of the group.

The Scottish Executive has produced a booklet that endorses Matthew’s work; the Eye suggested that the booklet’s co-author, Dr Sarah Nelson, was perhaps the harbinger of a new Satanic panic. Nelson replied in bullish mood:

…The sweeping “Satanic Panic ” which wildly enthused professionals is a fabrication, invented by abusers and spread by their apologists. No one who confronted evidence of unspeakable sadistic abuse believed its reality with anything but the most profound reluctance.

…The Satanic Abuse Witch-Hunt is the only witchhunt in history where those supposedly leading it were its victims, and found their careers destroyed.

A person unfairly accused of Satanism as recently as 2003 found this hard to take:

Judith Jones (Dawson), a social worker in the Nottingham Satanic case, is now listed as an expert witness and living and working in London. She was part of the review team who wrongly labelled Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed as ritual abusers in the Shieldfield Nursery Nurses case.

Also on this review team was Jacqui Saradjian, who has written of satanic cults. She still works as an independent clinical psychologist.

Coleman’s contribution to the discussion comes after a second article about Nelson’s booklet, which is titled A Can of Worms — Working with Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse:

…A group of eminent psychologists and psychiatrists has written a devastating critique of :he booklet and called for it to be withdrawn, or substantially rewritten.

In a scathing seven-page letter to the Lothian Health Board, the distributors, copied to ministers and officials from the Scottish Executive and UK Department of Health, the critics question the authors’ apparent lack of knowledge of the academic literature…”There is almost no condition that the authors do not consider a sign of past abuse,” they wrote.

The booklet’s recommended reading list includes a library of discredited “self help” books which suggest the reader should try to recover supposedly repressed memories of abuse. These include a much pilloried American book, The Courage to Heal, which encourages readers to believe they were sexually abused, if they think they were, or have “body memories”, even if they can’t actually remember it.

In a 1996 paper Nelson

confidently estimated more than 1,650 people in Edinburgh had been involved in satanic ritual abuse.

The new booklet has been released at a somewhat inauspicious moment: as I noted just recently, a central figure in the 1980s Californian McMartin Preschool case is now admitting that he had been coaxed into lying by adults, while those whose lives were blighted in Rochdale are making new demands for compensation.

5 Responses

  1. I read the Eye story on the booklet and, even from that, got the impression that the Executive and various councils were distancing themselves from it, claiming it was not official, etc.

  2. The first Eye story says that:

    “The Scottish Executive launched a new booklet, A Can of Worms — Working with Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, funded by the Scottish Health Department”

  3. Great information here – I’m writing a book about satanic panic, and love to see people taking an interest in the subject. I suspect we’ll be seeing more McMartin (et al) recanters in coming years.

  4. […] Eye, which has cast a sceptical eye over “Satanic ritual abuse” previously, notes Driscoll’s involvement with the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support (RAINS), […]

  5. […] to become involved in the investigation of the “Adam” killing, a few months before that it noted the continued existence of a network of believers across the UK among professionals and assorted […]

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