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Home arrow False and "Recovered" Memories arrow Satanic Ritual Abuse arrow Hysteria for a New Millenium, Satanic Child Abuse and Recovered Memories

Hysteria for a New Millenium, Satanic Child Abuse and Recovered Memories

Article Index
Hysteria for a New Millenium, Satanic Child Abuse and Recovered Memories
Repressed and Recovered Memories
The History of Satanic and Sexual Panics
The Dangers of Childhood -
Abuse and Power
The Crimina Excepts of Our Time
Social Change and the Urban Myths
of Our Times
Social Urban Myths of the Past
Social Forces and Current Urban Myths
Christian Fundamentalists Fight Satanic Hysteria
Other Forces Behind The Panic
Fundamentalist Feminists and Sexual Panic
What Is Going On Here
The Real Victims of Satanic Abuse
End Notes and Resources
Author Note

by Sharma Oliver, copyright Sharma Oliver 1995

If you wish to reprint this article in another publication, copy or distribute it in any way, you must first contact Sharma Oliver at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to obtain permission. All rights are reserved.

There are no satanic ritual child abuse cults

A pretty bold statement? How about this one: It is not possible to experience horrible abuse over the course of several years, such abuse including being forced to participate in rape, murder and cannibalism, completely forget about it and then, with the help of a therapist, support group or instruction book, suddenly remember it in shocking detail. Those who claim this scenario is possible ignore both scientific research and the fact that those "recovered" memories, while full of lurid sexual and other abuse, neglect to include details that could prove that the events took place. Current research on the brain, and memory, simply does not support the idea that a person could forget years of hideous experiences and remember them later. Some of these "recovered" memories have also contained information that is possible to disprove, for example remembered abuse set in the attic of a house that does not have an attic.

As far as "satanic ritual abuse" by Devil-worshipping cults goes, a study funded by National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), completed in the fall of 1994, asked 6900 psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, and 4655 district attorneys, child protective services and police organizations, how many cases of the satanic ritual abuse they had ever found. While they reported over 12,000 accusations, not one actual, proven instance that even slightly approached the stories reported by "survivors" turned up. There were a few cases of individual criminals who claimed their crimes were satanically inspired as part of an argument that they were not responsible for their crimes, a few instances of gangs of drug dealers led by individuals who used what they claimed were satanic rituals to control the gang and supposedly protect it, one case of a married couple who practiced what might be considered magickal/sexual rites involving themselves and their underage son and quite a few incidents of vandalism and minor crimes committed by small groups of teenagers who were doing the usual teenage rebellious stuff. The study found no evidence of any sort of organized ritual abuse networks, intergenerational groups or international groups. A similar study in Great Britain of 84 cases of child sexual abuse spanning three years that involved accusations of satanic abuse also found zero evidence of the existence of any sort of satanic activity.

The existence of satanic child abuse cults, like the "alligators in the sewers" and the "Kentucky fried rats," is an urban myth, a story widely believed to be true that is not. Such stories serve to externalize societal fears and teach people what to guard against. To date, there is absolutely no evidence for satanic ritual child abuse cults. However, it is impossible to prove that something that did not happen, did not happen.

The Ontario Centre for Religious Tolerance maintains a webpage which deals with ritual abuse, recovered memory and etc. for those who wish to learn more.