FVPCC (Family Violence Prevention Coordinating Committee)

(1991. September 16).


Family violence: Prevention in the 1990s.

Christchurch, New Zealand.


Conference Proceedings,

Two Volumes. Wellington, FVPCC.


Vol.2. Pages  6-7.





Ritual Abuse is physical, sexual and psychological abuse that is systematic, ceremonial and public


Ritual abuse rarely consists of a single episode. It usually involves repeated abuse over an extended period of time.


Ritual abuse is usually carried out by members of a cult. It is public. The purpose of the ritual elements of the abuse seem threefold: -


1/  Rituals in some groups are part of a shared belief or worship system into which the victim is being indoctrinated.


2/  Rituals are used to intimidate victims into silence


3/  Ritual elements (eg devil worship, animal or human sacrifice) seem so unbelievable that the victims/survivors are not seen as credible, making prosecution very difficult.


The psychological abuse which is inflicted as part of ritual abuse causes severe mental and emotional suffering. Victims are subjected to profound terror as well as to mind control techniques so severe that most victims dissociate their memories of the experience and lose their sense of free will.


Ritual abuse victims are physically abused to the point of torture.


The sexual abuse of ritual victims is unusually brutal, sadistic and humiliating. It seems intended as a means of gaining total dominance over the victim, as well as being an end in itself.


Another aspect of ritual abuse is that the child will invariably have been forced to abuse others in rituals. This means that the ritual abuse victim is more likely than other victims/survivors of sexual assault to molest others, especially if there has been no recognition of and healing from, that child's victimisation.


Both during and after the abuse, most victims/survivors are in a state of mind control and dissociation in which disclosure is extremely difficult.






Ritual abuse is known to occur as an integral part of the life of some families in which one or both parents participate together with their extended family or other group. These groups are typically satanic in their symbols and beliefs.


Children from as young as a few weeks old are severely abused throughout their childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. Children have no respite from their abusers. There is no safe place.


Not much is known at this time in Aotearoa/New Zealand, about ritual abuse that has occurred outside the family. In the United states, ritual abuse occurs without parents knowing, at pre-schools, day-care centres, churches, summer camps, and at the hands of baby-sitters and neighbours. It is likely to be so here in this country. Children are subjected to ritual and indoctrination to convert them to the belief or worship system of the group, and are abused with ritual and intimidation to terrorise them into silence.


Ritual abuse of adolescents and participation by adolescents in the ritualised abuse of others can take place in family or school settings, or in youth gangs that orient themselves towards a self-styled satanism or other ritualism, and violence.


Many adults who are victims and perpetrators of ritual abuse come under the influence of such beliefs and practices in their childhood or adolescence and membership of the cult has become a way of life.


The dissociation that occurs and the development of a cult personality means that such adults are often working (and are likely to be middle-class, prominent) members of society whose identity as members of satanic or other cults is not known outside the cult. Some abuse, infiltrate, and/or recruit for the cult in the context of their jobs.


Some adolescents or adults would tend to join cults later in life enticed by sexual promiscuity and perversion, the availability of illicit drugs, the promise of money and the satanic spirituality oriented towards power and moral license.






Ritual Abuse:    

Report of the Ritual Abuse task Force,

Los Angeles County Commission for Women, March 91


Accounts of Ritual Abuse Survivors, Wellington 91


Ritual Action Group

P.O. Box 11-626


August '91