Solidarity in the fight against Ritual Abuse and Torture
Solidarity in the fight against Ritual Abuse and Torture – Neil Brick
This presentation was given at the 2004 Association for Humanist Sociology Conference “Stirring up Solidarity: Humanists Working Together” on November 4, 2004
This presentation will cover the techniques used to develop solidarity in the anti-ritual abuse and anti-torture movement. Specific examples will be given about how research, education and conferences have been used to unite survivors and co-survivors in the fight against child abuse.
Solidarity to me means people working together toward a common goal. In this case, the common goal is stopping ritual abuse and helping those that have been ritually abused. Ritual abuse is abuse perpetrated on individuals in a ritualistic manner. It is usually repeated abuse. It may contain elements of mind control, torture, sexual and physical abuse, murder and maiming. When used by individuals, it may be used to control the victim, so that the victim either represses their memories and can be more easily used for nefarious purposes in the future. It is often used by groups to control individuals to play certain roles in a cult or group pornography settings. In extreme cases, purposeful alter personalities may be created to perform a variety of roles in the cult and/or group. These roles could include spiritual ones, operational ones and/or prostitutes in group settings.
To give an example of the development of individual advocacy, I wanted to give a brief history of my own advocacy from the perspective of the development of group solidarity.
In 1990, I moved away from most of my family, job, marriage and past. Upon working toward addiction withdrawal in several areas, I started to get all sorts of abuse memories, some incest, some ritual abuse. While looking for resources on the topic of ritual abuse, I realized there were very few resources, newsletters and conferences on the topic. It was very difficult to find help around this topic. There was some solidarity on the topic on the West coast (such as the newsletter Survivorship and the Los Angeles Ritual Abuse Task Force), but I didn’t have the financial resources or emotional strength at the time to reach most of these people. Then the false memory backlash came in the early 1990’s and appeared to eliminate at least part of these resources and solidarity. I continued to go to any kind of conference I could to connect with other people and learn more about the topic. I bought any newsletter or book on the topic I could find. I attended 12-step groups around the topic of incest and ritual abuse.
I found that fear was one problem that hindered the development of solidarity and group advocacy. Many people were afraid (and not without reason) that perpetrators may infiltrate certain groups and try to disrupt or destroy them, so that the cults and group pornographers wouldn’t lose members and that society in general wouldn’t be alerted to their existence. This did occur to some extent and many nonritual abuse survivors, regardless of the preponderance of data proving the existence of ritual abuse, started to believe it didn’t exist. This also hindered movement solidarity. Lack of social support due to the strong financial resources of such groups in the False Memory Syndrome movement (in my opinion, there is no scientific evidence for such a syndrome) and their apparent ease at accessing the public media, hurt the solidarity of ritual abuse survivors, who already feared connecting to others due to their individual traumatic past.
Part of recovery for ritual abuse survivors is learning how to reach out and trust others. Trust is an important part of solidarity. Without trust, it is much harder for people to work together. When people are able to work togther, they are also better able to grow and heal individually and together. Inherent in the nature of ritual abuse is the harm it causes in an individual’s psyche. Incest itself causes a schism between a child and others, due to the nature of the fact that the bond of trust is broken between the family member and child. This broken bond often carries into world social situations and may even carry into adulthood. Ritual abuse is much more malevolent in terms of its breaking trust bonds between victims and other individuals. Many rituals are developed to purposely cause survivors to no longer trust other people. An example of this could be: a cult member bonds with a child and is very friendly and loving to them. Suddenly, the cult member turns on the child and viciously rapes or beats them. This causes the child to become very wary of trusting others in the future, if the child is able to trust at all. This ritual may be repeated to insure that the lesson of no trusting is learned. Without trust, solidarity is very difficult, if not impossible.
Social skills are also a crucial part of being able to develop relationships where people can work together and trust each other. These skills may not develop in extremely malevolent childhood environments, where physical abuse, torture and incest are occurring regularly. Inappropriate parental role models may cause a child to emulate the wrong and/or negative social skills, making it very difficult for them to reach out to others as adults. Ritual abuse survivors may also be forced to isolate from other children, hindering the further development of social skills. This obviously would greatly hinder solidarity, as unrecovered ritual abuse survivors would be unable to work together to develop solidarity and group movements.
So far I have discussed three problems ritual abuse survivors may have when developing solidarity as a movement: fear, lack of trust and lack of social skills.
How can these problems be overcome ?
I will return back to my personal history to look for some answers.
In the mid 1990’s I did a phone interview with a ritual abuse newsletter called S.O.A.R. (Survivors of Abusive Rituals). This was published and even cited in an article I read. This showed me the power of the media in developing solidarity and awareness. It showed me that even though I went public, I was all right and didn’t need to constantly fear speaking out. I learned how to trust someone else with my story, which became their entire newsletter audience and I had a chance to work on my social skills in an interview situation.
In March of 1995, I decided to start my own newsletter called S.M.A.R.T. (Stop Mind control and Ritual abuse Today). Today I am working on the 60th addition of the newsletter and it has been published for almost ten years. I started publishing the newsletter to get my story out, I was unable to get it into most newsletters and there weren’t many newsletters out there on this topic anyway. I also wanted to develop awareness around the issue of ritual abuse as well as solidarity amongst survivors in the field. The publication of the newsletter has succeeded in uniting and supporting survivors throughout the world.
Personally, I learned to be braver (less fearful) with each issue I published. I realized I did not need to fear all the time, but only when it was appropriate to do so. I also learned how to trust other people, by publishing others’ stories and news releases. I also developed my social skills further, by learning how to more appropriately interact with other people.
In 1998, I had my first conference on the topic of ritual abuse, mind control and secretive organizations. This summer we are having our eighth. Many people have met at these conferences and have developed alliances and movements of their own. The act of getting together to learn and speak about such a difficult topic and break the social silence around these issues is a tremendous act of courage. These conferences have empowered many survivors that have attended or bought conference tapes or read the transcripts of the conference on the internet.
Bonds of trust developed between survivors, fear has diminished. Realizing that one does not need to suffer alone as a ritual abuse survivor, but instead can reach out to others and find commonalities between others and themselves has greatly helped survivors and me improve our social skills. We have learned that we do not need to fear talking about the abuse and that we can work together to fight this abuse.
Research and resources
The third way to help build solidarity in the ritual abuse movement is to reach out to similar fields and movements. Many other connected fields are also under attack from the false memory movement. These include the recovered memory field, the clergy abuse movement and the incest survivors’ movement. Each of the fields has a great deal of strength and numbers behind them. The recovered memory field has an incredible amount of data, research and journal articles showing the existence of recovered memory. The clergy abuse field has won many legal battles as well as has had an incredible amount of positive media coverage. The incest survivors’ movement has very large conferences and a large amount of literature published on their topics, including books, journal articles and newsletters. By joining with these movements and alerting these movements of our issues, we can all better fight in solidarity those that would prefer that our movements be discredited and our problems minimized.
One way to develop solidarity with these movements is to join their e-lists and keep up with the techniques they use and the issues they are facing. Another is to post on these lists, and let them know that we are working together to face a common opponent. The SMART newsletter and the psnews yahoogroups list attempts to link all of these resources together, so that members of all movements can keep up on the latest information and realize how common our battle really is.
An attack on one movement is in reality an attack on all movements. This is why the solidarity between movements is so crucial.
Returning to my own personal story, my work on this development of solidarity has helped me increase my trust, diminish my fear and improve my social skills greatly.
Connecting to other movements
In the last two years or so, I have been working with progressive movements to try to connect abuse issues with political ones. For my belief is that all issues are connected. That is one reason why I am speaking here today. The progressive philosophies of AHS fit with my philosophies of fighting child abuse. We must fight to stop all types of abuse and violence, be they war, crimes, social injustice or ritual abuse.
My hope is that all anti-violence movements will be able to work together to stop abuse in all of its forms. That children will also be included in the movement. And that the solidarity between movements can strengthen us all. Thank you.