Sadistic / Satanic Ritual Abuse, or rather, Transgenerational Organized Violence and Dissociative Identity Disorder are controversial concepts, but it appears from the increasing demand for help that they describe a reality. There are at least 5 obstacles that hinder an open discussion about this. It is important not to give up when facing these obstacles, but to listen and to look for adequate forms of help. This article provides arguments why interdisciplinary collaboration is necessary. It also explains why the church can and should play a role in this. This article also argues for more insight into and support for the care provision.
SRA a reality?
The question about the existence and effect of Sadistic Ritual Abuse on life and faith cannot be answered unambiguously. A few years ago, at a meeting of representatives of a number of aid organizations it became clear that about half of those present had no professional experience with Transgenerational Organized Violence. They had never heard of it and did not have clients who spoke about it. The other half, both official and unofficial aid agencies, had abundant experience with it and described very similar forms and consequences of cultic abuse. It was a strange experience, this dichotomy, which immediately made clear how easily the debate arises about the existence of this type of abuse.
Counselors who responded in the affirmative to whether they were affected, said they were confronted with such an abundance of detail that they became convinced of its reality. Care providers who have not come into direct contact with such abuse, are often not enabled to pick up the sometimes limited or confused signals, as a result of which this layer of the issue remains hidden.
Het Alternatief Beraad, now known as Kenniscentrum TGG (Transgenerational Organized Violence) was originally founded around 1999 by a mixed group of care providers and pastors, who all had to deal with clients who reported to a greater or lesser extent to be affected by organized abuse. The foundation itself was founded in 2005 by Ton Marinkelle, clinical psychologist, Bas Kremer, integrative therapist and the undersigned, minister of a Baptist Church. Het Alternatief Beraad set itself the following goals: to do research into the existence of ritual abuse in the Netherlands and to provide information to people who have to deal with survivors of ritual abuse professionally or privately. The foundation wants to continue the investigation started by the government in 1993 into the existence of ritual abuse in the Netherlands.
Quote from the foundation’s objective: “We want to shed some light on the reality of the persistent reports of ritual abuse by collecting and comparing the experiences of survivors and/or their therapists. We also want to gain more insight into the content of the reports. We refer to recurring patterns and methods of influencing and their effect within the setting in which the reported abuse takes place. We do not have the illusion that we will unambiguously uncover the truth on the subject of ritual abuse. It is already quite something if we achieve the understanding that reports of ritual violence can relate to a gruesome reality. We also want to ensure that the subject is removed from the taboo sphere and can be discussed within the relevant professional groups (such as care providers, justice, health care). We publish the findings of research by ourselves and others. We maintain a literature review. We can assist you in finding the right professional help where options are available. We offer opportunities for inter- and supervision to increase the expertise of emergency responders.”
For a number of years, the foundation interviewed social workers who responded in the affirmative to a short questionnaire on the website. Finally, the collected data from 28 care providers has been merged into two reports on this research, which can be found on the website of the foundation. The board has been assisted by a group of voluntary experts, including psychotherapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
On the basis of the data found, I can provide some general information: the different groups that practice ritual abuse or violence have common denominators. A small summary: it is an organization with leaders, to exercise power by the strong over the weak (children), to indoctrinate the participants with an ideology that reinforces and hinders resistance or escape the existence of the cult *Cult is the term I use to describe a group that systematically applies ritual sexual violence.*, including often gruesome sexual violence and a constant threat of death and violence. There are different types of cults. Most fanciful is anything that calls itself satanic or satanist. They are an absolute contrast to Christians and Christian faith communities in teaching and practice – more on that later. In addition, there are cults that do not bear the name satanism, but have more or less similar practices.
There is also data about cults hiding behind or within an existing denomination, a secret group of insiders within a normal church organization. There are also cults whose practices and ideology are partly determined by a country, a people or a culture. A well-known example of this is voodoo, which probably originated in Africa, but which also developed mainly in the Caribbean. Sometimes these cults have a kind of folkloric top layer, covering the underlying atrocities. There is strong scepticism about the reality of transgenerational organized violence
A number of websites that deny it or are sceptical:
This is not surprising, as it comes with the nature of the problem. Various causes work together to keep this reality hidden. I will name five:
1. The primary shock: the practices described are often so gruesome that it is naturally shocking to everyone who hears about it. We have an almost automatic defense and denial system that wants to block bad things. That’s a normal human response. If it were no longer there, we would have apparently already accepted internally that society is horrible. However, this primary shock may cause the reported data to be denied. There are plenty of examples. Not only was the Holocaust systematically denied in the beginning (certainly by the perpetrators), but also other atrocities, the truth of which is sometimes not immediately accepted. The beheadings by members of the Islamic State, but also the first news of the death of a loved one, are other examples of how shock is first experienced and the powerful tendency to deny a factual reality. It is important not to get stuck in denial, but to further investigate what is going on.
2. The external and internal blockages. Clients with ritual abuse experiences have to battle blockages that prevent them from speaking freely. These can be external blocks, such as a counselor who is holding on to denial, or denial for fear of sinking into a quagmire. Usually the result is a therapy that is primarily aimed at concealing the problem. They are also internal blockages: not only do clients have (or used to have) a place in the cult that gave them their identity and that laid a determining foundation for their existence, but there are also indications that the cults themselves create blocks in the person through deception, coercion, threat, violence, abuse of loyalty, blackmail and post-hypnotic engagement. For example: a client received a phone call containing a decisive code word, which brought out that personality part that worked in the prostitution and she went to the previously designated place. Another victim said that orders were given by means of knock or tap signals, after which she carried out a previously issued order. In addition, it happens that in particular children are forced to commit criminal acts. Among other things, various clients mention the killing of animals and the drinking of their blood. In this way they are (in any case according to their own conscience) inextricably linked to the offender group. Finally, there are strong indications that the cults themselves are capable of creating distinct personality parts (also called “alters”) that display perpetrator behavior. It has now become known that the CIA carried out psychological experiments around and after 1960, in which dissociation was created in clients by means of extreme threat and violence (Ross, C.A., 1999). * Ross, C.A. Bluebird: Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality by Psychiatrists ISBN 0-9704525-1- 1999. *. It is therefore plausible that cults have also developed such skills. This creates a very effective blockade against disclosure of criminal activities. A similar observation is expressed in the Report of the Ritual Abuse working group, established upon the request of the Ministry of Justice: “An additional problem that arises with ritual abuse, however, is that victims and witnesses can have major obstacles to explaining what has happened, they appear to have been intimidated to the extreme. ”* Report of the working group on ritual abuse, April 1994, Ministry of Justice , page 40 *
3. The Complexity of Dissociative Identity Disorder. This describes the total of symptoms of a non-integrated personality, which consists of several sub-personalities. These symptoms often arise when the client is confronted with severe physical threat and sexual violence at a very young age. In order to survive the atrocities, the experiences are divided into a number of separate parts of the total person, parts that might not communicate with each other. This makes the unbearable burden bearable. Any care provider who deals with a client who shows signs of DID for the first time often does not believe her/his own eyes and ears. The complexity of the personality system that emerges from conversations is often downright baffling. Numerous sharply distinguishable personality aspects, each with their own characteristics, behavior, task use, handwriting, but especially each with their own tasks and assignments become apparent over time without a clear picture of their mutual coherence and meaning. Because of the primary shock described above, it is not uncommon to dismiss DID as a complex of delusions, which may require some more effective medication to be developed. Incidentally, DID is clearly described in DSM-5, which is the standard work for psychiatric diagnostics. * American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition 5, ISBN13 9780890425558. *
General scepticism about repressed memories is expressed in Crombag and Merkelbach’s book (Recollected Memories and Other Misunderstandings). * Crombag, H.F.M. & Merckelbach, H. (1996). Recovered memories and other misunderstandings. Amsterdam: Contact. *
A number of sentences from the report of the ritual abuse working group also point to the necessary scepticism with regard to the reality of ritual abuse: “Another explanation is that precisely because a care provider is more focused on this theme, his or her role in the construction of the client’s story becomes so large that it is at least unclear whether the final story is mainly the result of the activities of the care provider or refers to events that actually took place. ”
* Report of the ritual abuse working group, April 1994, Ministry of Justice, page 10 *
“The above leads to the conclusion that there is very little chance that the stories that victims tell about ritual abuse are ‘fully’ true.” * Report of the working group on ritual abuse, April 1994, Ministry of Justice, page 22 *
“While there are reasons to doubt the truthfulness of stories of ritual abuse, the victims believe in all sincerity in their story, although they have their pangs of doubt. The same applies to the therapists involved. The question then remains how it is possible that so many people are convinced of the truth of ritual abuse, while the chance that those stories are based on truth should be considered small.” * Report of the working group on ritual abuse, April 1994, Ministry of Justice , page 25 *
Psychiatrists / psychologists who are used to working according to protocol or who do not think in terms of dissociation run the risk of not missing the larger context of the symptoms with which people with DID generally present themselves, and of linking those symptoms to a psychiatric diagnosis that matches that presentation. Almost all people with DID have had a multitude of psychiatric diagnoses before they were finally recognized as clients with DID (and hence, they experienced a multitude of unsuccessful and therefore re-traumatizing treatments).
4. Constructed unreliability. Counselors regularly run into cult-loyal personality parts, who report to the cult on the therapy and who are then often instructed to sabotage the aid provided. It also becomes clear from thorough research that the cult feigned certain reported atrocities, which were perceived and stored as reality by the client. Particularly with clients who were forced to participate in cultic and sadistic rituals at a young age, it regularly seems that atrocities were faked. This often happened in combination with hallucinogenic substances and very serious violence. When these memories are discussed later during counseling and are examined for fact, there is a good chance that what the client is remembering was not reality but acting, mystification and deception. By doing this, the memories of clients are manipulated in advance by the leadership of the cult, so that later attempts at “fact-finding” will show the unreliability of those memories, with which the described facts can be labeled as fiction. In this sense, Boon (2013) also writes: “Concerning all other clients, we – myself and the colleagues with whom I work – are convinced that they were indeed (or sometimes still are) abused by a criminal network. But that does not mean that all memories have to be factually correct. As mentioned, there is an impression that the perpetrators also induced deliberate distortion of the memory and pseudo-memories with the help of drugs and deception.” * Boon S. Tijdschrift voor Psychotherapie 2013  06 www.psychotherapie.bsl.nl *
5. Lack of expertise. There is a strong taboo atmosphere around this subject – which is a block in itself. Within the reach of regular care and judicial authorities, there is great scepticism with regard to repressed memories and the related ritual abuse. * N. Nierop N., P. van den Eshof P., Tijdschrift voor Psychotherapie 2013  06 www.psychotherapie.bsl.nl (p 57-58). * cite the Health Council Report, Controversial Memories 2004 and write: “The Health Council points out that traumatic events are usually remembered better than neutral ones, that it is possible to create fictional memories, that fictional memories can evoke the same emotional and physiological reactions as real memories, and that without knowing the facts it is not possible to distinguish between true and fictional memories.” This is mainly due to frustrating experiences in which substantive research proved impossible or yielded no results. Finding hard evidence is indeed a difficult task. But it does not alter the fact that the unfamiliarity with this subject frustrates targeted research even more. Usually, a better understanding of the reality of ritual abuse arises when a care provider is confronted with several clients, who independently report comparable phenomena.
Clues for the existence of Transgenerational Organized Abuse
An important reason to believe that ritual abuse really exists is that a number of official care providers independently of each other report that there is an increase in requests for help from clients who show a background of organized abuse. This is includes aid workers who deal with migrants, who report on cult violence from their own culture. The aforementioned research by Stichting Alternatief Beraad / Kenniscentrum TGG also provides access to reports on Transgenerational Organized Abuse – but within Dutch society (Stichting Alternatief Beraad, retrieved from the internet on 30-1-2017). This field research shows that overlapping phenomena are mentioned by various sources. In addition, it has now been demonstrated that therapies in which ritual abuse signals are accepted and processed as such in the therapy have led to a reduction / disappearance of the symptoms.
Coherence with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Organized abuse often leads to DID. There are also other known causes that cause this disorder. But there is a vast overlap with ritual abuse. Clients who reported having been subjected to organized abuse almost all had and have to deal with a non-integrated personality structure. Nijenhuis (2015) describes dissociation in traumatized children in “Psyche and Faith”. * Nijenhuis, E.R.S., (2015) Psyche en Geloof 26. * I am inclined to speak of a fragmented personality, in order to do justice to the violent process they suffered. Clients often considered the disorder as a survival mechanism of the person in order to lock away unbearable experiences and memories in a sub-personality, so that other parts do not have to carry that burden and can continue to function. To cite another example: A few years ago in the former “Nieuwsblad van het Noorden” an experience expert with DIS wrote that she thought the system was a kind of hell, but that she was not intending to get rid of it because she wanted to remain armed against a possible next perpetrator. A client spoke of a child part, who just cried, but whose grief could not be articulated by her. This child part did help her to function as a more or less cheerful person in daily life because the grief was stored away and could thus be sort of ignored by her.
Moreover, there are indications that the cults are capable of deliberately creating sub-personalities for certain tasks, from what clients tell us. These subs can be externally controlled and carry out certain assignments, such as working as a prostitute. It may be clear that life for someone with DID is extremely complicated, and that the care provider has to deal with a complex situation. The client will not usually see it that way at first – his or her reality is experienced as normal.
The testimonies show that core values of the Jewish and Christian faith are radically transformed into the opposite.
* For a broader context see: de Vries A., The ideology of Satanism 2005 https://kenniscentrumtgg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ideologie-satanisme.pdf page 3 * Where there should be love hate is taught, where service is the norm, domination/submission is pursued, where the value of a human life should be emphasized, there is a profound disregard for bodily integrity and self-determination. This is also noticeable in the information about the rites of the cults. There is often some kind of ritual which forms an inversion of the Roman Catholic Mass or the Eucharist. There are animal and human sacrifices, but also pieces of liturgy or biblical texts that are taught and quoted backwards. Examples of this can again be found in the report of the investigation by Kenniscentrum TGG.
Marinkelle describes the following: “It often turns out that such a secret language consists of inversions of normal (Dutch_ words – for example, dog denotes God – sometimes of Latin words, sometimes of phrases from the Bible, the meaning of which is reversed at the same time. Nine interviewees reported various types of inversions: inversions of the letter order and word order and of symbols, while at the same time the meaning became completely different from the original from which they were derived. An example: a client kept repeating two sentences over and over: 1. Anod sibon mecap. This meant, as she was taught: there will never be peace for you. If we reverse the order of letters, it says: Dona nobis pacem, which means: Give us peace. So both the form and the meaning are reversed. 2. Much the same happened to the other phrase she repeated: ile ile amal inatchabas. This supposedly meant: you will be left alone. If we turn the words around, we read: eli eli lama sabachtani, which means: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. * Matthew 27:46 * She wrote down these two sentences herself and she memorized them with their so-called meanings. Another interviewee, a care provider, had also heard the above phrase “Anod sibon mecap” from another client. ” * Marinkelle A.B., Ritual Abuse: Experiences of Counselors and Their Clients. Report of an investigation (continued) https://kenniscentrumtgg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Rapportage-vervolg-april-2011.pdf p. 28 *
Prayers are not addressed to God or to Christ, but to Satan, who is worshipped as the victor and the almighty. Clients who have been in such a cult from an early age usually have a strong defenses against everything that the Christian faith (including its Jewish roots) stands for. The Church and its members are a hostile stronghold, God and Jesus are great adversaries to be fought.
A special part of the ideology of Satanism is the reversed interpretation of the martyrdom of Jesus Christ, as I was told by one of the victims. This is an eminent belief in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Through the suffering and death of Christ, people can become free from the evil they have committed. There is forgiveness, grace and reconciliation with God for all who accept this in faith. In Satanism, the martyrdom of Jesus is considered evidence of Satan’s victory. Jesus was not powerful enough to resist and so he is the loser. Therefore it is much better to serve Satan. The belief of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is, obviously, denied in Satanism. It is described as “wishful thinking” of Jesus’ followers and completely in conflict with the everyday reality of death as experienced by everyone. The given that the death and resurrection of Jesus is better documented than any other historical fact in classical history is contradicted by calling it a fictional fabrication of a number of followers. Because of these two ideological propositions, the content of the Christian faith is difficult to accept for victims of Satanism. The possible consolation and healing that can come from the Christian faith thus becomes difficult to achieve. The path from Satanism to a living faith in Christ is often a long struggle, parallel to the existential struggle to become a free human being.
Given these data, it is to be expected that victims of ritual abuse will not readily seek help within Christian faith communities. Only when there is a strong inner drive to escape the cult is there a chance that a church or Christian will come across this. In counseling and provision of (soul) care, the primary goal is providing a safe place, while accepting that an extremely complicated history and personality structure is likely to emerge. Life has to be completely recalibrated along the way. Everything that was taken for granted turns out to be deceitful and dangerous. Everything that was enmity (hopefully) turns out to yield alliance.
In addition, it is very important that Christians and churches speak out against this type of practice. Far too often people remain silent where it is necessary to speak. The risk of being considered yet another wave of preachers with a raised index finger should be accepted as part of the bargain. The suffering and atrocities that are practiced must end as much as possible. Churches should be at the forefront of this and seek allies amongst all who wish to respect human rights.
In the above description I mainly focused on the faith of Israel and the church because especially the satanist cults are complete counter-movements thereof. Much less is known about the other world religions. It does not mean that Israel and the Church stand on their own against these violent practices. There are many examples of support derived from other visions of life, which do recognize human rights and also act on them. Therefore and on that basis, a broad alliance of care is possible and desirable.
When thinking about help for clients reporting such matters, a number of complications emerge. It concerns complex damage that cannot be healed in the short term. This means long-term treatment for which there is often no budget and manpower available. The taboo on the subject also ensures that it does not come within the scope of care providers (and of policymakers and policypayers) – and thus it simply does not exist. In a sense, this also applies to pastoral care from the churches. On the other hand, at least part of the church is aware of the power and effects of evil and is not necessarily sceptical of the reported phenomena. There are developments in the field of spiritual liberation, where prayer and liturgy are used to help individuals find freedom. The Roman Catholic Church has an established liturgy to remove the burden of occult and/or satanic influence. * Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam, ISBN 8820989514, 9788820989514 * In addition, there is regularly well-intended basic support for life from the churches without directly addressing the underlying problem. This is understandable and in any case a positive step towards the benefit of the clients. But it is not enough. The complexity of suffering and damage requires a stronger collaboration, in which all disciplines should make their contribution. Psychotherapy performed by expert and experienced counselors is essential. There must be good cooperation between the church authorities and these therapists. A similar plea can be found with Van der Kamp, who, in his religious pastoral care, has devoted himself with a great deal of effort to people under the spell of cults . * Van der Kamp W., Demonie & Psychiatrie ISBN 9789490254094 *
Soul care and soul counselors
The Church has a long tradition of care for people’s lives. This is called pastoral care or soul care. It concerns the totality of life seen in the light of the Bible and eternity. I will not say that it has always been flawless, on the contrary, sometimes counseling was and is more a means of indoctrination and the exercise of power than real life help. The sexual abuse committed within church contexts conclusively shows that some “pastoral care” did serious harm rather than give help, security, and comfort. This should motivate us even more to look for ways and means to assist this group of clients. That is why it is important that in the first place the field of vision of pastors (and other care providers) is broadened in order to be able to notice the symptoms of this reality. In addition, it is necessary to achieve a differentiation in pastoral care. Some pastors feel they cross their own boundaries and support base when they want to offer more than practical and basic help. Others can go beyond and offer an open and listening attitude towards the complexity of the ritual violence. In this regard, information and training seem obvious and necessary. It is important to be alert for relevant signs and symptoms. It is also essential to build a support network that is multidisciplinary and cooperates fully with the regular authorities. By default that means that political policy needs to align with budgeting for care. In connection with this we need to recognize the danger of going solo. Collaboration and peer review or intervision are safety measures to avoid that you as a counselor become caught up in the complexity of ritual violence.
How does this impact me?
That is the question I occasionally ask myself as a pastor and minister. There have been times when I, as I struggled to help the other person, felt like fighting a losing battle. The image of a highly organized, criminal and downright devilish group can be quite impressive. The result was that I sometimes felt a depressing tiredness, a helplessness that made clear commitment to the other extremely difficult. On the other hand, I do have a basic confidence in the power of Jesus Christ, in the effect of God’s Spirit and in the power of the truth, which wants and must be said. Because the truth sets you free. I have seen that happen literally quite a few times. I have found myself hungry and thirsty for justice. I am not trying to usurp the blessing of one of the Beatitudes – it is how I experience it. Justice may be done to people who have been horribly wronged. And even the smallest amount of honest attention is part of that. I can play a modest role in this and every time a client comes to live more freely I experience the liberating power of Jesus Christ, who is the truth in person. For me that is sufficient motivation to continue, but also a constant criterion to test my actions. In addition, I experience being part of the group of people that together form Kenniscentrum TGG, as a particularly rich support. I find the intervision and further training that I receive from them indispensable and extremely valuable. That helps to keep going.
A starting point for the church?
Where should this start? From what position would an road of support be passable? Engaging in a verbal battle over what is and is not reality is not really helpful to victims. The reports are real. The suffering of victims is real. The growing stream of requests for help is real. Let’s start from that and make sure we at least learn the content of the stories. The condition is that there is a willingness to step over the initial obstacles, collectively and individually, and really listen and look for a route of peace and liberation. Fortunately, there are also examples of this. Fortunately, within the Christian faith there are plenty incentives to offer help; that is hopeful, provided it is done in a well-considered manner and well thought through, and in conjunction with others.
The requests for help from people who are or have been trapped in organized violence are increasing, more than ever. The reports from various sources show great similarities and a recognizable internal pattern of power and violence exercised over the weak. This requires an adequate approach, in which church and pastor cannot pretend that reality is unrealistic. This demands thorough research and cooperation in a broad sense. It requires a broader training from which judicious help can expand. This needs people who are prepared to be committed to those who have been damaged by this kind of violence.
Anne de Vries
De Vries A., (2005) De ideologie van het Satanisme https://kenniscentrumtgg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ideologie-satanisme.pdf
Marinkelle A.B., (2005) Ritueel misbruik: ervaringen van hulpverleners en hun cliënten
Sackheim D.K. & Devine S.E., (1992) Out of Darkness, ISBN 0-669-26962-X
Stichting Alternatief Beraad, www.alternatiefberaad.nl
Stichting Alternatief Beraad, (2005) Rapportage van een onderzoek (vervolg) https://kenniscentrumtgg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Rapportage-vervolg-april-2011.pdf