Satanic abuse no myth, say experts
Source: By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent
30th Apr 2000
A specially commissioned government report will this week conclude
that satanic abuse does take place in Britain. It will say that its
victims have suffered actual abuse and are not suffering from "false
memory syndrome". The report, ordered by the Department of Health, focuses
on the experiences of 50 "survivors". Compiled by Dr John Hale, director
of the Portman Clinic in London, and psychotherapist Valerie Sinason,
it will reopen the debate which started a decade ago with testimonies
from children in Nottingham, Rochdale and Orkney.
Its findings contradict the claims of a report ordered by the Conservative
government in 1994, which concluded that satanic abuse was a "myth".
It follows the growing concern of child protection agencies, and the
Government, over organised child abuse.
Last week, it emerged that police were investigating the alleged sexual
and physical abuse of up to 4,000 children in care homes and council-run
homes in Devon.
Ms Sinason, who has treated 126 ritual abuse survivors, said yesterday
that in many cases children were tortured by being held under water
or made to believe they had witnessed the murder of infants as part
of the satanic ritual.
"Some children are born for the purpose of abuse and are not registered
on birth certificates," she added. "The abusers use trickery to convince
children they have taken part in murder. This increases the power of
The report will point to the difficulty of bringing prosecutions because
of the problems of putting abused children into the witness box. There
are currently at least five cases involving ritual abuse in the hands
Lee Moore, a barrister who founded the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers,
and was himself a victim of ritual abuse, said it was hard to persuade
people to give evidence, particularly after the 1994 report claiming
satanic abuse was a myth perpetuated by social workers.
The latest report was welcomed by Dr Joan Coleman, a Surrey psychiatrist
who has spent 14 years treating victims. "A lot of children are born
into satanic families who indulge in this ritual abuse," she said. "It's
only now that child sexual abuse is being exposed that people are beginning
to believe ritual abuse exists."
The report will be studied by John Hutton, the health department minister
with responsibility for child protection. He is expected to order an
investigation into its findings.
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