The Move from Blame the Victim to Blame the Helper

This weekend’s conference is 2010 Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference, August 2010 in Connecticut. Some of our goals are to help stop future occurrences of ritual  abuse, to help survivors of ritual abuse, to name the groups that have participated in alleged illegal  activities and to unite those working to stop ritual abuse. This weekend, you will get to hear a variety of speakers talk about ritual abuse, secretive organizations and mind control from different perspectives, showing the possible connections between them. Thanks.

Please use caution while reading this presentation.  It may be very triggering. All accusations are alleged. The conference is educational and not intended as therapy or treatment.

Neil Brick is a survivor of Masonic based Ritual Abuse and MK-ULTRA. He is the editor of S.M.A.R.T. – A Ritual Abuse Newsletter. His topics today is “The Move from Blame the Victim to Blame the Helper.”

Historically speaking, the credibility of the accounts of child abuse and trauma victims stories have been attacked in various ways. Untrue statements were made that rape victims asked for the abuse or that children somehow deserved to be abused or were attracting abusers. Children and women were seen as property or lower in status. Now most people know these ideas are false and that child abuse and rape do exist.

In the last thirty years, it has been more difficult to attack the fact that child abuse does exist and that it is a horrible crime with horrible consequences. The attacks on child abuse victims stories have moved in part from attacking the victim to attacking the helper.  This way, support systems for child abuse survivors are decreased and those lending credibility to their stories are falsely discredited.

This presentation will highlight some of the major attacks on those defending child abuse survivors. I myself have been attacked, but I have decided to fight those attacking me for the sake of making sure that child abuse in all its forms is stopped.

I will detail four of the most famous attacks on clinicians in the last 20 years, those of Bennett Braun, Judith Peterson, David Calof and Anna Salter. There have been many others.

Bennett Braun

Bennett Braun was a famous doctor that worked in the field of dissociation and trauma in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  He created the BASK Model of Dissociation, a model for understanding and healing dissociation that is still used by some today.

After legal attacks in the 1990’s, he agreed to a two-year suspension of his medical license in October 1999 and was given five years probation after accusations by a former patient. Braun had stated that he didn’t contest his license suspension and $5,000 fine because he was exhausted financially, emotionally and physically. He said he spent about $500,000 to initially fight the disciplinary case. (From : Disciplined doctor licensed in Montana – Associated Press – October 16, 2003 By Bob Anez)

Information on this is from our website and other sources.  These may be very triggering.

Candidate accused by former patient by Thomas R. O’Donnell – Des Moines Register – 10/28/98 – “A former Iowan who won a $10.6 million settlement from a Chicago hospital and two psychiatrists said the diagnosis of multiple personalities and repressed memories of satanic cults that led to her lawsuit originated with a West Des Moines clinical social worker. But the social worker, Ann-Marie Baughman, now a Polk County legislative candidate, said that when she started counseling Patricia Burgus in 1982, Burgus was a troubled woman who was threatening to kill herself and others. Burgus…also was displaying behavior that Baughman could not understand. “It was the physical changes more than just the verbal expressions of what she was telling me” that led Baughman to conclude she was seeing multiple personalities. The “muscles in her face would all relax . . . and she would just look different. It was just the eeriest thing….But suggestions that Braun somehow planted the horrific memories in Burgus’ head are wrong, Baughman said, because they started surfacing during her sessions with Burgus in Des Moines….In the settlement, reached last fall after six years of litigation, neither the hospital nor the psychiatrists, Braun and Elva Poznanski, admitted fault. Braun has said his insurance company settled over his objections.”

Here’s a summary of the research on Burgus v. Braun et al that was presented by a researcher at the 2002 International Society for the Study of Dissociation conference in Baltimore….In 1993 the Burgus family filed a malpractice lawsuit against Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Dr. Elva Poznanski, the boys” psychiatrist, and Dr. Bennett Braun, Pat’s psychiatrist…Before her hospitalization at Rush in 1983, Pat spent most days in bed in with the curtains drawn, unable to care for herself. She threatened to kill herself and others. Her husband came home for lunch to make sure the boys were fed. She became convinced that the doctor who did her tubal ligation had implanted a fetus during the surgery. She approached mothers of infant daughters, asking them if they would trade their daughter for her infant son, Mikey. Pat entered Rush diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Upon admission Pat was agitated and incoherent. During her first month on the unit and before she was placed on meds, Pat told staff “I’m switching [personalities] out of control today. I’m doing so much switching today I can’t believe it.” Pat testified that the rapid switching decreased over time as her medications were increased….Other patients said they recognized her from her participation in cult-related criminal activities. At the time of her release from Rush in 1987 Pat was more stable and integrated. Did Pat’s psychiatrist implant false memories as Pat has claimed? On January 17, 1997, a defense attorney asked Pat about the source of her memories. Pat repeatedly conceded that she had originated all the memories herself. Her psychiatrist did not implant any memories. He had simply passed on to her what the other patients had reported.”

Judith Peterson

Judith Peterson is another clinician with others that was attacked.  She successfully fought off her accuser and won her case.

“The Search for Satan”: Fourteen Years Later By Lynn Crook, M.Ed. (this article also discusses the Braun/Burgus case)

Mary Shanley sued Peterson and Shanley’s mental health care providers were indicted on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Rusty Hardin discredited virtually all of the claims Shanley had made in “Search.” Shanley acknowledged she recalled memories of cult abuse long before she met the defendants, and could not name any false memories that Peterson had supposedly implanted. The government rested its case after five months. All charges against the five defendants were then dismissed.

Hanging Together or Hanging Separately: Facing the Dilemma of Colleagues Charged with Implanting False Memories (from Treating Abuse Today, May/June 1997, Vol 7 No 3,) by Judith A. Peterson, PhD, and Martha C. Dean, PhD, “…In these increasingly litigious times, mental health professionals have taken a stance of neutrality towards colleagues charged with implanting false memories. We suggest a more reasoned approach: Inform ourselves about the actual allegations in these cases and take an empirically-based pro-active stance to insure the future of our profession.”

David Calof

David Calof was another clinician that was attacked. He was the editor/publisher of Treating Abuse Today in the 1990’s.

In the article:
Calof, D.L. (1998). Notes from a practice under siege: Harassment, defamation, and intimidation in the name of science, Ethics and Behavior, 8(2) pp. 161-187.

He documents some of the earlier attacks on himself and his practice.

I have practiced psychotherapy, family therapy, and hypnotherapy for over 25 years without a single board complaint or law suit by a client.  For over three years, however, a group of proponents of the false memory syndrome (FMS) hypothesis, including members, officials, and supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc., have waged a multi-modal campaign of harassment and defamation directed against me, my clinical clients, my staff, my family, and others connected to me.  I have neither treated these harassers or their families, nor had any professional or personal dealings with any of them; I am not related in any way to the disclosures of memories of sexual abuse in these families.  Nonetheless, this group disrupts my professional and personal life and threatens to drive me out of business.  In this article, I describe practicing psychotherapy under a state of siege and places the campaign against me in the context of a much broader effort in the FMS movement to denigrate, defame, and harass clinicians, lecturers, writers, and researchers identified with the abuse and trauma treatment communities….

No client has ever brought a law suit or a board complaint against me.  In fact, in January 1997, the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Health (my professional regulatory authority) appointed me to an advisory group to help the Department evaluate a sudden rash of third-party complaints against therapists alleging that they have implanted false memories of sexual abuse in dissociative disordered clients.

From 1992 to 1997, TAT under my editorship published several articles by a number of respected professionals who seriously questioned the false memory syndrome (FMS) hypothesis and the methodology, ethics, and assertions of those who were rapidly pushing the concept into the public consciousness.  During that time, not one person from the FMS movement contacted me to refute the specific points made in the articles or to present any research that would prove even a single case of this allegedly “epidemic” syndrome.

Instead of a reasoned response to the published articles, for nearly three years proponents of the so-called FMS hypothesis–including members, officials, and supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc. (FMSF)–have waged a campaign of harassment, defamation, and psychological terrorism against me, my clients, staff, family, and other innocent people connected with me.  These clearly are intended to (a) intimidate me and anyone associated with me; (b) terrorize and deter access to my psychotherapy clients; (c) encumber my resources; and (d) destroy my reputation publicly, in the business community, among my professional colleagues, and within national and international professional organizations.

Before describing this highly orchestrated campaign, let me emphasize that I have never treated any member of this group or their families, and do not have any relationships to any of my counseling clients.  Neither have I consulted to their cases nor do I bear any relation to the disclosures of memories of sexual abuse in their families.  I had no prior dealings with any of this group before they began showing up at my offices with offensive and defamatory signs early in 1995.

The severe harassment against David Calof even included an assault of one of his staff members.  This is one of the most severe and well documented attacks on clinicians by false memory proponents.

Anna Salter

Anna Salter was a researcher who in part exposed Ralph Underwager research inaccuracies. This was in the late 1980’s, before Underwager’s famous interview with Paidika, which caused his resignation from the FMSF professional advisory board.  Underwager had helped found two organizations, VOCAL and the FMSF.  Information on Underwager and court cases is at

Interview in Amsterdam in June 1991 by “Paidika,” Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Geraci.

PAIDIKA: Is choosing paedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individuals?
RALPH UNDERWAGER: Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I have come to know more about and understand people who choose paedophilia is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is usually an essentially negative definition. Paedophiles spend a lot of time and energy defending their choice. I don’t think that a paedophile needs to do that. Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian and as a theologian, I believe it is God’s will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can say: “This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I’ve made.”
Paedophiles are too defensive.

Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter    Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998 , pages 115 – 124  Abstract – In 1988 I began a report on the accuracy of expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases utilizing Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield as a case study (Wakefield & Underwager, 1988). In response, Underwager and Wakefield began a campaign of harassment and intimidation, which included multiple lawsuits; an ethics charge; phony (and secretly taped) phone calls; and ad hominem attacks, including one that I was laundering federal grant monies. The harassment and intimidation failed as the author refused demands to retract. In addition, the lawsuits and ethics charges were dismissed. Lessons learned from the experience are discussed.

Anna Salter makes several important points when fighting the backlash:
“The argument between the field of child sexual abuse and the backlash against survivors is not an academic debate between two well meaning groups equally invested in ascertaining truth. It is not an academic debate at all; it is a political fight.” P. 121 “What wins political fights is organization and stamina and a refusal to be intimidated.” P. 122 “It is important to refuse to be intimidated.”   P. 123

She ends her article with a quote from Margaret Atwood’s poem “Solicit” which ends with “Tell the truth when you can.”

Fighting back and supporting each other are the most important things we can do when fighting the backlash. Whenever we stop fighting, the backlash  wins. Every time we refuse to defend ourselves in a public forum, the backlash and its factual inaccuracies are taken as fact by the public. Every time we ignore a request to help another clinician or advocate to fight the backlash, we all lose. Children lose and child abuse continues.

So let’s fight back. For the sake of all child abuse survivors, their helpers and the future generations of children.