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“Ritual Abuse” Conference Returns to Dundee

From Third Force News (“the voice of Scotland’s third sector”):

A conference later this month will look at the current international situation of ritual abuse (RA) and organised abuse of children.

International experts in the field of RA will come together in Dundee to discuss the impact and prevalence of RA and organised abuse on children and share best practice on support for young survivors. The conference will examine the current situation in the world and in the UK specifically to help workers and supporters to identify and help children who are affected by organised and ritualised abuse.

Dr Laurie Matthew OBE, coordinator of charity Eighteen And Under, will be presenting at the conference… Other experts who will be presenting include Dr Michael Salter, a Scientia Fellow and associate professor of criminology at the University of New South Wales. His research focuses on organised forms of child sexual abuse. Dark Justice, an organisation who catch potential sex offenders who try to groom and meet up with children following sexual grooming will also be speaking. Neil Brick (RA survivor) and creator of the S.M.A.R.T (Stop Mind control And Ritual Abuse Today) newsletter and Dr Sarah Nelson, Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, who has presented widely for decades on sexual abuse issues, will also be delivering talks.

The event is being jointly organised by Eighteen and Under and a group called Izzy’s Promise, and as the report notes, it is their second conference – I discussed the first one, which took place in 2018, here. As I noted then, both groups are projects of the Ritual Abuse Network Scotland, and RANS in turn is affiliated with the Ritual Abuse Information Network (RAINS) (blogged here).

The bare formulation “ritual abuse” is broad. It might apply to children being harmed due to witchcraft beliefs, or by stretching the meaning a bit to the idea of “grooming” as a repeatable technique – this would explain the involvement of “Dark Justice”, a vigilante duo named Scott and Callum who have come under criticism from the police despite securing evidence that has been used in prosecutions.

However, the term “ritual abuse” is also useful because it comes with less baggage than “Satanic Ritual Abuse”, and it is reasonable to infer that this will be a significant topic of the conference. Nelson, for instance, is the author of works such as “Satanist Ritual Abuse: Challenges to the Mental Health System”, presented to RAINS in 1996 (available from SAFF here), while Neil Brick is known for his history of extravagant claims about Illuminati mind control and such, as discussed here.

Michael Salter, meanwhile has a history of attacking the personal integrity of memory scientists who raise doubts about supposedly “recovered” memories (as I noted here); he is also the chair of the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse (RAMCOA) Special Interest Group at the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

Excurcus on Michael Salter

Salter is usually based in Australia, but for those in the UK unable to make their way to Dundee there is also an upcoming ISSTD “Day With Professor Michael Salter” in London. Other presenters will include Valerie Sinason and Elly Hanson, the latter billed as an adviser to CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command of the National Crime Agency – Hanson recently came under critical scrutiny following her involvement with the police investigations into Edward Heath and into claims made by the hoaxer Carl Beech.

Recently, Twitter user @RDobbson1 has drawn attention to Salter’s early work, in particular a troubling 2005 essay titled “Bearing witness to ritual abuse” (Word doc download from the Internet Archive here). Much of the article is a personal narrative rather than a theoretical discussion, and it is Salter’s account of how, as a teenage student, he had come to discern that his female housemate’s behavioural quirks were evidence of past sexual abuse. This housemate, Alex, confirmed his suspicion and disclosed that the perpetrators had been “a group of police officers”. We’re told that in the years that followed, the two of them received threatening phone calls, Alex moved location frequently, and that Salter has “come home to find bloody organs smeared through our beds and strange sigils painted on our sheets.” Writing as “Plain Speaker”, @RDobbson1 refers critically to the story on a now-defunct website called Dysgenics (“Dispatches From a Degenerating Mental Environment”), which can be accessed here.