The author says that
The label “ritual abuse” is commonly applied to behaviors involving multi-offenders, multimotive sexual abuse, torture, programmed mind control, blood sacrifice, infanticide, or cannibalism, combined with symbols and artifacts of spiritual belief. (p. 1 of Introduction)
Although the definition of ritual abuse varies greatly and is affected by culture, religion, political climate, and history, the author stresses the abusive aspect of ritual abuse. He distinguishes ritual abuse, then, from ceremonies, religious rituals, or other activities that do not involve abuse.
A major theme of the book is that survivors’ stories of abuse should not be dismissed, for these stories often show many similarities of symptoms, feelings, and emotional states. The author emphasizes the need to examine survivors’ experience of disassociation. Throughout history there are many instances of abused people experiencing disassociation. The diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), which became popular in the 1990s, is a recent example of disassociation.
The author discusses many pertinent contemporary issues, such as false memory syndrome, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), repression, flashbacks, childhood amnesia, false accusations, and, of course, dissociation and MPD. These issues are considered in light of the conflicting view points among political groups, religious groups, scientists, educators, families, victims or survivors of ritualistic abuse, and the health professionals who treat them. The author concludes that we can conclude that ritual abuse occurs, that victims’ accounts may be factual, and that the problem of ritual abuse should be taken seriously.
This volume is a history book. It is tedious to read, but is well written and detailed. Although it is easy to get lost in the many historical events the author describes, we can all learn something about the depth and breadth of the ritual abuse problem.
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 18, 2001, page