Breaking the Circle
of Satanic Ritual Abuse
Recognizing and Recovering
From the Hidden Trauma
Minneapolis: CompCare Publishers, 1992
Many cult members are highly sophisticated in the art of mind control and torture.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to stay measured and cautious while exploring the possibility of cult abuse in someone’s background, whether you’re a therapist or a friend. If you get to the core of the problem too fast, and the person doesn’t have a strong support network, as, for instance, a number of friends in Twelve Step self-help, you risk losing that person because of cult programming.
Even if the person has telling dreams, and other symptoms are coming to the surface as well, this doesn’t mean she or he is ready yet to face the possibility, let alone the reality, of satanic cult abuse.
An example of the satanic cult programming came up in a conversation I had recently with a therapist in Ohio. He is working with a client struggling with satanic cult flashbacks from her childhood.
One of the client’s memories was that, as a child of four, during one of the ceremonies, a small incision was made in her stomach. Then one of the cult members told the girl they were placing an eye—that’s right, an eye—of another cult member in her stomach.
That eye, they told her, would watch her the rest of her life, would know her every move. And if she should ever talk about the cult in any way, she would be found and killed by the cult.
Certainly, the story about implanting the eye may sound ludicrous to an adult, but to a child of four, it’s all very real—and threatening. And a message like that, recorded in the unconscious, doesn’t reverse on its own.
As a mild analogy: Do you remember as a child your parents telling you something that was out of their parental “universal truth” file? You know, a collection of statements that aren’t based in reality, but are imparted to you as truth, with all-too-dead-serious inflections. One day, when I was about six years old, I spilled some salt. My mother solemnly and oh-so-authoritatively said, “You know, whenever someone spills salt, it’s an omen they are destined to get into some type of fight or argument during that day.” Now how inane is that, right? Yet to this day, every time I spill salt, guess what my first thought is?
So magnify that about a hundred times and you can imagine what was going on in this cult victim’s unconscious anytime she came close to having the memories, not to mention having to talk about them—even in the confidential setting of a therapist’s office.
What’s more, when someone is being threatened with death by people they’ve watched actually kill, the threat hardly seems idle.
To take this a step further, many survivors report that they were forced sometimes to participate in the murders. Knives, for instance, were placed in young children’s hands, then a cult member’s overlapping hand would help push the knife down into the victim.
This makes the youth feel like an accomplice, and if you’re a child, you believe you are an accomplice. This tactic further ensures silence, as well as helps to block the memories.
A woman who grew up in Indiana … Initially, when the girl was a young child, her mother would wake her and they would practice carving into frozen and thawed chickens and turkeys at two or three in the morning.
Later, she would be forced to help kill animals … And also in her youth, finally, she reports having had to help kill two humans … This woman was in therapy almost three years before any memories of the cult started to surface.
According to the Child Abuse and Neglect Journal article mentioned earlier, out of the thirty-seven patients reporting cult ritual abuse in that particular study, thirty-one reported witnessing and being forced to participate in human adult and infant sacrifice.
In 1988, the Los Angeles County Commission for Women established a task force to deal specifically with ritual abuse. The task force includes lawyers, therapists, law enforcement people, social service workers, victims, and family and friends of victims.
In one section of a Ritual Abuse pamphlet they’ve published, they list some of the types of threats and brainwashing they’ve heard reported by victims. The following are a few examples:
Threats of punishment, torture, mutilation, or death of the victim, the victim’s family, or pets.
Victims are told it is futile to disclose because “no one will believe you.”
Children are threatened with the parents perhaps no longer wanting them, and that the cult will become the child’s new family.
Victims are sworn to secrecy, again, under the penalty of death. They are subjected to mind control regarding how to harm themselves, or even commit suicide, rather than to remember or disclose cult activities.
The Danger of Suicide …
If you have a serious concern that someone, anyone, is suicidal, … contact your community mental health agency immediately, They can connect the person with professionals specifically trained in suicide intervention. …
Crossover Ritual Abuse
and the “Marionette Syndrome”
Some therapists are beginning to see in their ritual abuse patients an alarming indication that some may have been abused by a combination of techniques inherent in more than one destructive cult or group, and that some of this abuse apparently is intended to turn people psychologically and physiologically into “puppets” for the group.
A certified therapist in the Midwest, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, said that some clients who had memories of being abused during cult religious ceremonies also had memories of being abused in laboratory-like settings. This laboratory abuse is seen as being “experimental.”
This therapist, who regularly presents seminars on ritual abuse, said survivors have remembered being hooked to electrodes and administered a series of shocks in, for instance, an apparent attempt to curb their “affect”—to make them emotionally numb or robotic.
The electroshock techniques recalled by survivors also indicate that some are designed to set up muscle reactions as a response to cues. That is, if a person is cued psychologically, or even physically within the limits of an electromagnetic field, certain facial expressions or arm movements, for example, may be activated.
In conjunction with these techniques, some survivors remember being trained relentlessly to be more assertive or aggressive.
The therapist said she believes these techniques to be characteristic of some ethnic/religious “supremacy” groups or other special-focus groups. She also believes that the experimental nature of this abuse may indicate that some groups actually have been attempting to program “special” people, as was the documented intent of human experiments carried out by Nazi doctors during World War II.
The phenomenon of certain survivors having memories both of ceremonial ritual abuse and of experimental, laboratory-based abuse may also indicate that some groups network to relay information about abusive behavior modification and other programming techniques.
This therapist said that she has observed reported “cross-over” abuse with her own case load as well as in other cases for which she has served as a consultant. She said it has also been reported by other therapists she’s talked with around the country.
Holly Hector, noting that the effects of this kind of behavior modification abuse are sometimes referred to as “the marionette syndrome,” agreed that crossover abuse is being seen with increased frequency by therapists working with ritual abuse survivors. As therapy has progressed in the past few years with several of her clients who are satanic ritual abuse survivors, symptoms of “the marionette syndrome” also have surfaced. Besides the electroshock techniques, Holly Hector said survivors report having memories of surgical procedures—of being operated on. She said some therapists surmise that this is related, at least in part, to medical experimentation.
Ms. Hector also reported that, in recovery, more than one of these survivors’ alter personalities claim they remember being programmed to assassinate people in powerful political positions if cued.
Ms. Hector said that, in her counseling experience, people exposed to crossover abuse have been the most difficult survivors to work with because of the complexity of the abuse and the layers of intricate programming. She also believes that more and more “marionette syndrome” reports will come to light as more ritual abuse survivors seek recovery. Ms. Hector believes there is grave cause for concern about who actually may be involved with these kinds of abuses.[Note:1]