The other night, I caught part of a show on A&E about Satanic Ritual Abuse. This is the phenomenon by which people suddenly remember (sometimes spontaneously, but more often with the assistance of a hypnotherapist) horrendous abuses they suffered in their childhood-- physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and any other kind of abuse imaginable. In these cases it is remembered as being perpetuated (usually) by their parents, who are said to be worshippers of Satan.
I've got to give A&E tremendous credit for producing a show that showed both sides as fairly as possible. It was my own bias that colored my emotional responses.
You see, I think the vast majority of those who claim Satanic abuse are either victims of self-deception or are trying for attention (or both). There was an interview with an FBI assistant director who has investigated multitudes of purported abuse cases, who pointed out that there has not been one substantiated case of cultic abuse in the US, and that he is not aware of any substantiated cases in any other countries.
I'm not saying it has NEVER happened, but if it's as widespread as its believers claim, there is no possible way it could be completely unsubstantiated. There would be some evidence somewhere. People are clumsy, and there is no such thing as a perfect crime.
The real tragedy, to me, seemed to be in the families of those who claimed to be victims of Satanic abuse. There was a case in which a woman told her therapist that her sister and brother-in-law were planning to sacrifice their own son on the Vernal Equinox. The therapist by state law was required to report this as a clear and present danger. The police, though, did not investigate. They raided the home and took the kids away. It took months for the couple to clear their name and get their kids back. Why didn't the police do any investigation of any kind before taking the kids away? After these months of legal battles, the parents had to declare bankruptcy. They're held responsible for the court costs and the costs of their children's foster care, even though they were cleared of the sister's allegations.
A bizarre case came from a small church in Tulsa. The preacher there learned of the Satanic abuse "phenomenon" several years ago, and began to counsel his congregation in such ways that every single thing wrong with their lives was a direct result of having been Satanically abused in their childhoods. It was almost comical in its absurdity; all of the members of this group claimed to have been abused by the same man, the now-deceased father of one of the members. But this father had never lived in Tulsa or anywhere near it. Even group members who had grown up in completely different parts of the country claimed that this man had somehow abused them, and this stretched the credulity of even the neutral A&E interviewer. "Doesn't that seem strange to you?" he asked. The believers offered no explanations as to how this occurred, but simply claimed it was "the work of the Lord" that had brought them together.
It would have been comical, if not for the very real grief of one woman in the group. You see, the preacher forbids the "victims" from having any contact with their families of origin, because, as he puts it, it's not safe. The way he twists the tale, the more attached you are to your parents and the more you love them, the more horrendous your abuse must have been. There was one woman in the group who clearly missed her parents horribly, but was so convinced of the truth of the Satanic abuse, even though she remembered nothing but love from her childhood, that she would not speak to them.
They showed her sitting with her husband, a smug, smarmy-looking man who said primly that he KNEW there was something wrong with his wife's relationship with her parents because she was so attached to them, and that was why he had taken her to that preacher for counseling. He then proceeded to shame her on national TV by saying that she was still weak and under Satan's influence because she missed them.
If anyone on that entire program was doing evil, it would be that deluded, power-mad preacher in Tulsa.