Before exploring the reality that there are pedophilic parents, families, and like-minded others who derive pleasure from inflicting ritual abuse-torture, it is useful to first present a continuum of parental pedophilic violence in order to challenge the myth that all parents are caring—a myth behind which pedophilic parents can hide.
Although ‘‘ephebophile’’ has been suggested as a term for perpetrators whose sexualized focus is the pubescent child (Paulson and Farragher 2002), for some parents there is no such age-specific demarcation— their sexualized violence is inflicted on their young children and extends into the children’s adulthood. For this reason the term ‘‘pedophile’’ will be used throughout this research paper to refer to adults, specifically parents or guardians, who inflict sexualized violence on their children at any age from infancy to eighteen years.
Pedophilia is not about ‘‘having sex’’ with a child. It is about a parent’s sexualized assault of his/her child. It is about a parent’s abuse of the position of power and the responsibilities entrusted to him/her to care for a child within the parent–child relationship, by exploiting the dependency needs of the child. It is about abusing adult superior size and knowledge. Depending on the age of the child, pedophilic parents can use grooming methods, such as tickling play, to break down the healthy physical touch boundaries of their children, gradually initiating sexualized touch and assaults. Threats, intimidation, coercion, mental-emotional manipulation, physical force, torture, or threatening to harm others or pets are tactics parents can use to hold their children silent captives. Neighborhoods, communities, and society at large embrace the role of parents to care for children; when the abuse of parental power is revealed, they too suffer, as their worldview is challenged, and they too experience a loss of trust and a sense of violation and vulnerability.
I. A Continuum of Parental Pedophilic Violence
II. Naming Ritual Abuse–Torture
III. The Modus Operandi for Ritual Abuse–Torture
IV. How Does a Ritual Abuse–Torture Family Present to Outsiders?
V. Victimization and Traumatization Responses
VI. Best Practice Interventions
I. A Continuum of Parental Pedophilic Violence
An infant girl goes home and becomes the victim of sexualized assault at the age of seven days. Her pedophilic perpetrator is her father, a music teacher, who describes his acts of sexualized violence as having sex with his daughter. By the time he is arrested, his daughter has endured seven years of victimization (United States Senate 1985a). In another home, in another country, a father sexually assaults his twelve-year-old mentally challenged son in his bed because he thinks no one will believe his son if he tells (Colley 2004). Across the ocean, in another home, a nine-year-old girl is tied up and her mouth is duct-taped so she cannot scream as she is raped by her father; he forces her to tell hospital staff that her bleeding was due to a fall on her bicycle (O’Brien 2003). Another father rapes his daughter when she is nine years old and again when she is a young woman of twenty-three (Blais 2005).
But the continuum of pedophilic parental violence can go beyond sexualized physical assault—it can progress into the production by some pedophilic parents of pedophilic pornography using their own or their neighbors’ children (Gillan 2003; United States Senate 1985b). For example, 90 percent of the child pornography recovered by the Sex Crimes Unit of the Toronto police involves interfamiliar violence against children and is made in ‘‘first-world’’ countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Lamberti 2002). Terrorization and horrification expand when parents harm animals, such as pet dogs, to produce pedophilic pornography involving bestiality (United States Senate 1985c).
Pushing the reality of parental pedophilic violence even further along the continuum raises the question: Do some assaults involve acts so cruel, inhumane, and degrading that they ought to be considered torture? The authors of this research paper believe so. For example, one father sexually assaulted his eldest son but also physically beat, scalded, burned, and forced all his children to eat their own vomit and excrement (Canadian Press News Service 1998). In another case, a religious father used beer bottles, sticks, and a fishing knife, as well as his penis, to rape his daughter (Montgomery 2003) and forced her two brothers to rape her at age four (Cherry 2002). In the hospital with ovarian cancer at age twenty-two, she was sexually assaulted in her hospital bed by her father (Cherry 2003).
In these two examples, the degree of violence, degradation, and cruelty goes beyond the definition of abuse, passing into the reality of torture. The United Nations (1985) defines torture as ‘‘act[s] by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, [are] . . . intentionally inflicted . . . [as] an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.’’
The continuum flows deeper: A father of an eight-year-old daughter rents her out to various members of a pedophilic group for one hundred dollars a session. For another one hundred dollars, her father agrees to allow one visiting pedophile to keep his daughter in his motel room for the night. The pedophile described this night as ‘‘the height of my pedophilic experiences’’ (United States Senate 1985d). Another father, who drank and watched pornographic movies in his basement with his friends, forced his six-year-old daughter, whom he trained to mimic porn stars, to satisfy their pedophilic urges (Steed 1995). These fathers were involved in the pedophilic human trafficking of their daughters.
Women—mothers—are not invisible in the continuum of parental pedophilic violence. They cannot escape responsibility, nor can they hide behind the myth that all women are nurturers. A mother convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and for beating her daughters with belts and extension cords was aware her daughters were suffering sexualized assaults—one becoming pregnant—by her spouse. The mother was not only a pedophile, but a silent partner in her spouse’s sexualized assaults on her daughters (Associated Press 2004). Another mother pleaded guilty to the sexualized exploitation of her thirteen-year-old daughter with a twenty-one- year-old man (Canadian Press News Service 2004). She is a human trafficker.
One woman describes her childhood filled with physical and sexualized torture inflicted by her mother, whose torturous delights came from sticking large sticks, broken glass, candles, wooden spoons, an old-fashioned potato masher, coat hangers, pencils, lit cigarettes, and thorny rose stems into her vagina. As she was tied to a coffee table, the woman writes, her mother poked a knitting needle into her rectum, used scissors to clip her vaginal folds, and smeared her with dog feces. This woman believes her torture stopped at about age twelve. Although she believes that her victimization started in infancy, her toddler memories are clear— by age three, she was forced to participate in sexualized acts by her mother (Elliott 1993).
Finally, the parental pedophilic continuum ends with ritual abuse–torture. It involves organized transgenerational family and like-minded group violence against children, including pedophilic victimization. The transgenerational lineage can originate with one or both parents. In other words, an adult can marry into a ritual abuse–torture family unknowingly, and their children can become the next generation of victims. One can also become a child victim of ritual abuse–torture while being ‘‘cared for’’ by paid child care professionals. Testimonial evidence also suggests that outsiders sometimes connect with ritual abuse–torture families and groups to access vulnerable children preconditioned to withstand hard-core pedophilic victimization.
II. Naming Ritual Abuse–Torture
The term ritual abuse-torture comprises three descriptive words—torture, abuse, and ritual—each emphasizing one specific aspect of ritual abuse-torture victimization. There is much research and literature explaining both abuse and torture, so the experiential realities of these words cannot be denied. Being tortured and being abused are not interchangeable as words or experiences. Although torture can encompass ordeals of abuse, abuse does not encompass torture. There are differences.
For instance, from an intuitive perspective, if a person were forced to choose between becoming a victim of abuse or a victim of torture, which option would the person select? A person would probably choose abuse over torture because, if for no other reason, intuitively they know that the degree of atrocity is different.
From a child-as-victim perspective, parental pedophilic abuse can involve sexualized touching and oral, vaginal, penile, or anal assault and include threats, force, or weapons. Pedophilic torture, however, progresses beyond abusive assaults. Physical, sexualized, and mind-spirit child torture can include electric shocking to the genitals, nipples, anus, or mouth. It can involve clothespins attached to a little girl’s vaginal folds; it can involve objects forced into a child’s vagina, penis, anus, or mouth—such as guns, knives, fish hooks, hot light bulbs, hot pokers, lit candles, and sticks or other objects identified in the ordeals described above. Torture means the infliction of burning, cutting, hanging, and ramming injuries; it can mean that a child is given a razor and forced to self-cut to draw his or her own blood. Torturous pain and drugging are intentionally inflicted to force the child into dissociative states—a form of mind-spirit torture. This describes some differences in the degree of atrocities of the actions of parental pedophilic abusers versus torturers.
This leaves one remaining word to be defined— ritual. Rituals organize, hence are to be understood for the organizational purposefulness they serve. They:
- Organize people and practices within families and societies. The use of organizing ritualisms is seen in play, work, the arts, and religion, for example. Rituals provide a framework for planned group gatherings and have a purpose, a leader, and followers (Daft 1995).
- Normalize and reinforce groupthink, beliefs, values, thoughts, perceptions, emotions, attitudes, motivations, and behaviors.
- Involve actions that strengthen group bonding.
- Design power and functionality within relationships such as: Does the parent believe his/ her child to be a possession versus a person, and treat the child as such?
Thus, a Sunday morning ritual for one father is whipping up buttermilk pancakes for his family (Bokma 2005). Children in the Brownies or Cub Scouts use ritualism in their group pledges. Martial arts participants ritually bow to each other before beginning their sparring match. Initiating a newly promoted manager into the upper echelons of a major organization might include the ritual of affording the new manager entry to the executive dining room. Historically, opera lovers, emperors, and popes were entertained by castrati singers— Italian boys castrated so that they would retain their boyhood voices in adulthood, allowing them to sing beyond the normal limits of the male vocal range, a ritual that did not wane until the 1950s (Carroll 2001). The ‘‘sky burial’’ rituals of Mahayana monks of China involve leaving the cut-up body of a deceased monk as a gift for the vultures (O’Neill 1993).
Rituals used by ritual abuse–torture families and groups also serve to organize—establishing family and group cohesiveness and connectiveness and normalizing the torture of children. To maintain control over child victims, family leaders commonly use omnipotence themes associated with the characterization of a devil—Satan, Lucifer—a bishop, or a high priestess. Children are taught that they are special when selected to be the ‘‘chosen one’’ for a ‘‘consumption ceremony,’’ a coded term used to disguise the planned pedophilic family and group rape and torture of the child. Manipulated to believe in the omnipotent power of the pedophile playing the role of Satan, the child is held in a state of horror, captivity, and enslavement. Therefore, rituals, as used in the term ritual abuse–torture, specifically function to organize the like-minded practices of family and group members’ heinous actions of child torture.
III. The Modus Operandi for Ritual Abuse–Torture
Changing the Landscape: Ending Violence—Achieving Equality, a study conducted by the Canadian Panel on Violence against Women (1993), is a credible report funded by the national government that names ‘‘ritual abuse’’ as a definite phenomenon of violence, identified as occurring in every region of Canada (p. 45). Pat Freeman Marshall, co-chair of the panel, stated that it heard stories of violence that she could relate only to the torture endured within prisoner-of-war camps (Cox 1992). ‘‘Tortured’’ was the word frequently used by women who spoke to the panel of their childhood ritual abuse victimization. Victimized persons repeatedly reported that they were tortured, so the term ‘‘ritual abuse’’ does not fit for them. Nor does that term comprehend the brutality, degradation, and dehumanization that one bears witness to when listening to the universal and transnational childhood stories of women, youth, and men involving both abuse and torture. Thus, the term ritual abuse–torture (RAT) was coined. A child, whether born into or taken into such families or groups, will endure the following violent ordeals in ways that reflect the idiosyncrasies of the perpetrators:
- Child abuse. Going without food, being forced to sleep on the floor without bedding, and being called ‘‘good for nothing’’ may accompany pedophilic assaults that occur night or day. In these families or groups there is no safe place for children—they may be finger-raped in the car on the way to school or raped in bed or on a cold, hard barn floor.
- Terrorization. Threatening, intimidating, and forcing the child to witness the harming of animals or other children delivers the message: ‘‘Don’t tell. If you do, this will happen to you.’’ If only one parent is involved in the ritual abuse–torture, he may threaten to kill the nonoffending parent.
- Human/animal brutality. Using violence against a pet instills terror, promotes silence, and helps establish totalitarian control over the child. One woman, for example, described being forced to watch her father burn her pet rabbits alive. Such cruelty prevents the child from forming attachments to pets or to anything as they are made to feel that they are to blame for the harm animals suffer. Perpetrators know that nonattachment keeps the child feeling isolated, abandoned, and alone in his/ her victimization. Another act of cruelty commonly forced onto animals and children is bestiality.
- Physical, sexualized, and mind–spirit tortures. There are no limitations to creative brutality. Tools useful for torturing, many commonly found in ordinary households, include belts, wooden bats, and wire clothes hangers useful for whipping and beating. Rope is used for tying children down, hanging them by their limbs, or looping around their necks. Knives, razor blades, and forks are cutting and scraping tools; hot spoons, hot stove elements, and lit cigarettes burn; toilet bowls, bath tubs, and sinks are used for holding the child’s head and face under water; cattle prods are for electric shocking; and pepper blown into the child’s eyes causes excruciating pain. Dog cages become child cages, a dog’s dish and food become the child’s dish and food, and a dog collar and leash control the child who is commanded to eat and be the dog she is told she is. Soiled cat litter, all forms of human bodily fluids— blood, urine, vomitus, semen, menstrual fluid, feces—are serviceable for smearing. Physical and sexualized pain, dehumanization, and degradation inflict fatal wounds upon the child’s relationship with herself, overwhelming her ability to cope, forcing her to have out-of-body experiences or to disconnect and dissociate. Feeling like an ‘‘it’’ and objectified further by enforced overdrugging, trained to self-harm, and schooled to be the ‘‘perfect victim,’’ the child faces a reality so severely altered and distorted that she becomes a danger to herself—at risk for suicide. All these torturous actions are directed by the ritual abuse–torture parent, family, or group in an attempt to destroy the humanness of the child victim. Such intentionally destructive actions are acts of human evil (Staub 1993).
- Pedophilia. Rampageous hard-core parental pedophilic violence can and does occur at any time. Weekends, holidays, and school breaks are ideal times for a child to ‘‘disappear’’; absences are explained as visits to relatives or trips to summer camp. When the victim is the perpetrator’s child, pedophilic victimization is convenient, happening right in the home, in commercial buildings owned by the perpetrator, in summer or winter cottages, campers, hotels, motels, on boats, farms, or simply outdoors.
- Necrophilia and necrophilic-like acts. The child victim may be overdrugged, hooded, choked, beaten, near-drowned, or suffocated into unconsciousness. Such experiences are often expressed by the child as ‘‘the darkness came.’’ This satisfies the ritual abuse-torturer’s need to express domination over life and death. Raping the child’s ‘‘dead-like’’ body gratifies the fiend’s hunger for sado-necrophilism.
- Horrification. Beyond a state of terror, horrification involves seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and experiencing heinous ordeals perpetrated without moral restraint. Horrification leaves the child speechless, voiceless, without verbal language, for there are no words that can describe horror. Shocked, shivering from the depth of inner coldness, the child’s body tremors in response to being family- and gang-raped and forced into pornographic bestiality with large animals, such as horses, which are known to be used in bestiality (Associated Press 2005; Chronicle- Herald 2004; LifeSiteNews 2005).
- Organized violent family and group gatherings. These gatherings are commonly coded as ‘‘rituals and ceremonies.’’ Ritual abuse-torturers intentionally use rituals to orchestrate pedophilic torture, which is the defining characteristic and central purpose for family and group gatherings.
- Suicide and other self-harming acts. Some children are forcibly taught, conditioned, or programmed to self-harm and self-cut as a way of ‘‘forgetting,’’ replacing ‘‘remembering’’ with pain—then pain and forgetting with relief. Depending on the practices of the ritual abuse–torture family or group, the degree of self-harm conditioning and programming can include forcing the child to practice ways of committing suicide. This tactic provides protection for the perpetrators. If they fear a child is telling, they can attempt to force the child into committing suicide to prevent being exposed.
- Exploitation and trafficking. Within ritual abuse–torture families and groups, a child can be exploited and trafficked locally, nationally, or transnationally, ‘‘off-street’’ or ‘‘on-street.’’ Off-street exploitation—transportation and trafficking—happens when the child is taken to family and group gatherings to be victimized. Trafficking off-street also happens when outsiders—pedophiles who are not members of the ritual abuse-torture family or group—‘‘rent’’ the child. When the child’s body has developed, becoming unmarketable to pedophiles, the child might be forced by ritual abuse-torturers to work on-street. ‘‘In-house’’ or ‘‘on-site’’ trafficking happens when ritual abuse-torturers organize ‘‘a party’’ in their home, for example. Often forced into criminal activities such as drug trafficking, the child is also used in all forms of pornography.
IV. How Does a Ritual Abuse–Torture Family Present to Outsiders?
Ritual abuse–torture pedophilic parents have a unique modus operandi because they have unlimited access to their children, who are not seen to be in a state of captivity and enslavement, although they are. The home is rarely considered a site of victimization and human trafficking. Disappearances designed to look like vacations go unquestioned, and the transportation of the children in the family vehicle or on airplanes to cities such as Toronto or Washington are above suspicion.
Besides having the normalcy of family or guardianship as the perfect cover, ritual abuse-torturers are master manipulators, organizing their functionality into three relational dimensions. The first dimension is that of the community, and the false social face that perpetrators present to it; they would be the proverbial ‘‘last person’’ that someone would suspect of violent organized pedophilic crimes. A family involved in ritual abuse–torture may appear normal, even ideal, to an outsider. It can include parents with professional careers, who may be sociable and well respected in the community, entertain in their homes, volunteer in community groups, and be active in their children’s school and church activities. This all amounts to a grand performance for the outside world. The second dimension is domestic. The situation inside the family home can be violent or sociable depending on whether perpetrators or uninvolved neighbors/outsiders are present, respectively. The third dimension is exploitative, in that perpetrators may transform gatherings of the RAT family and group—the inner circle—into organized sex rings.
Corresponding to these three relational dimensions are the three realities that the victim of ritual abuse–torture must face. There is the community-face reality, as described above. A second reality— inside the family—is where incestuous violence can happen at any time, starting as early as when the child is an infant. Episodic domestic violence, threats with guns, and alcohol use may alternate with dinner parties. The parents may serve big meals and sit around the table talking and laughing with unsuspecting guests. However, when perpetrators are mixed with nonperpetrators at the table, the child knows that this is a dangerous situation for him or her. As a teenager, the victim may also be turned into a high school drug dealer by his or her own parents. The victim’s third reality is very secretive—an insider-circle reality of victimization at violent family and group ritual and ceremonial gatherings. Often forcibly drugged, the victim is transported to these gatherings by his or her parents or other group members, some they know and some they do not. Like the child’s parents, others involved in these gatherings may have professional careers and the respect of their communities. The child victim may be transported by plane to different group gatherings nationally and transnationally, discovering that there is an underground for this type of thing.
At these pedophilic necro-sadistic gatherings, the child victim survives much—nakedness, electric shocking, beatings, whippings, burns, being smeared with and forced to eat body fluids, being forced into bestiality, being leashed like a dog, made to walk on all fours, caged, encircled and repeatedly gang-raped by his or her parents and other women and men who may be dressed in costumes. The adults enjoy distorting the victim’s reality with lights or darkness, incense, chanting, silence or noise, drugging, fear, terror, and torture pain.
Horrified into speechlessness, overwhelmed into dissociative states in order to survive, the child is taken home and taught to self-cut and self-hit in order to forget what happened and to return to the first relational dimension: the belief that he or she has the most normal, wonderful family. Children in these situations do as they are told.
V. Victimization and Traumatization Responses
Those who work with victims of ritual abuse–torture listen to women, men, and children tell of massive debilitating childhood victimization. They hear victims’ expressions of shame, guilt, self-blame, self-hatred, worthlessness, objectification, dehumanization, of feeling non-human, robotized, disgusted at their bodies for becoming biologically and physiologically aroused in response to the sexualized violations inflicted on them. They also express anxiety, fear, and terror that they might harbor the evil of their perpetrators within themselves. Victimized and hurting, they struggle to sever a dangerous mixture of attachments—their child–parent bond mixed with the Stockholm syndrome paradox; the connective and cohesive bond of belonging ‘‘to the family’’; and the conditioned-programmed torture bond that drives their urges to experience pain and degradation, to self-cut and commit suicide should they become ‘‘a traitor’’ by telling on the family.
Learning from persons who tell of their ritual abuse–torture ordeals will help social service providers identify ways to recognize the presenting behaviors of children who are being harmed; this will in turn help them promote early interventions. Depending on their age, children harmed by pedophilic ritual abuse–torturers disclose their victimization, in complex ways. Behaviorally, victims can present as extremely compliant children constantly attempting to please, terrified of taking initiatives for fear they will do wrong and be victimized as a consequence. Or they may express their hurt through displays of anger and aggression, including acting out their victimization on animals, other children, or nonoffending adults. For example, one woman told the authors of this research paper that when she was a child, she went up to her nonoffending grandfather and started to unzip his pants. Having been forced to endure constant repetitive oral rape by her father, the outsider men he trafficked her to, and pedophiles in the ritual abuse–torture family and group, she had anticipated that her grandfather would expect the same. She expressed how confusing it was for her to see her grandfather’s shocked response and hear him tell her that this behavior was inappropriate.
Little is known of the emotional victimization responses of infants or toddlers; however, nurses have seen fear and terror expressed in the eyes of infants subjected to painful intrusive medical interventions. This same ‘‘look of fear and terror’’ response would likely be triggered in infants or toddlers who had endured being repeatedly finger and object-raped whenever their diapers were changed. Seeing this look of terror is likely pleasurable and satisfying to the parent, family, and group pedophilic perpetrators because victimized women have reported that their torturers often said to them that they like to see the terror in their eyes. Physical responses include pallor and anemia due to repeated blood loss from sexualized abuse and torture or a failure to thrive from neglect and the withholding of nourishment.
Although this research paper is focused on children, some women suffer ongoing harassment and are stalked and assaulted. Additionally, victimized persons agonize over the likelihood that their pornographic images may remain in circulation, exploited by pedophiles and pornographers.
As the continuum of pedophilic violence that can be committed within guardian or parent–child relationships is acknowledged, the ability to identify children of all ages who are being ritually abused and tortured will continue to develop. Below are additional ways in which children’s suffering may be revealed:
- Memory attacks, or flashbacks, may occur. The authors of this research paper have coined the term memory attacks because horrific memories do attack, obliterating the present and reinflicting all the feelings of torture pain, of being cut, burned, or gang-raped. The victimized person’s body can even reexpress previous physical injuries: Welts, bruises, burning rashes, and vaginal or anal bleeding may appear suddenly, then suddenly or gradually disappear. These reexperiences can last a few minutes, hours, or days. Child-victims might reexperience their victimization as daymares or nightmares—glimpses into their horror.
- Dissociative language may be evident when a child refers to him/herself as ‘‘you’’ versus ‘‘I’’ or objectifies parts of his/her body by referring to them as ‘‘the’’ body, ‘‘the’’ head, ‘‘the’’ hand, etc. (Sarson and MacDonald 2005).
- ‘‘Accidents’’ such as falling out of a window, drowning, or running out in front of a car may indicate acts of suicidality because victimized adults have reported early-age suicide attempts, some occurring before age five.
- Vague reasons for frequent school absenteeism can be covers for a child being too injured to be seen publicly.
- Fearing people dressed in costumes or uniforms can relate to costumes worn by adults during the child’s victimization.
- A child might use the term ‘‘monster’’ when referring to the perpetrator’s penis or vagina.
- A child may present with or have a history of early-age sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies or abortions, or show abandon for high-risk behaviors such as dangerous driving and the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
- A child’s narrative about the treatment of pets can disclose a link between violence within the family and animal cruelty; there can be high pet losses in violent households (Ascione and Arkow 1999).
VI. Best Practice Interventions
No single or series of responses shared above is proof that a child has been or is a victim of ritual abuse–torture. The child, in his or her totality and relationships with other persons and animals, needs to be considered before an impression statement can be made.
Best practices include:
1. An evidence-based approach. Investigating children’s disclosure means listening to them tell their stories as free narratives, giving as much detail as possible. Asking children to draw pictures of their victimizing and traumatizing ordeals often adds clarity to the narrative. Having listened to and watched children draw such pictures, the authors were surprised at how effective and transformative this process can be. In our experience, when children talked about the first drawings in detail, later drawings were often void of these details, suggesting that the children had resolved some of the emotional hurt. Using audio and video documentation to record their first narrative might protect children from losing their information and prevents the need for repetitive disclosures. Collecting forensic evidence and conducting physical examinations using photo-documentation, if victimization is current, are necessary interventions, as children’s bodies begin healing immediately after sexualized assaults (Heger et al. 2002). Knowledgeable listeners and investigators on ritual abuse–torture are vital.
2. It’s not sex—it’s violence. It is common to hear or read statements such as: ‘‘The father had anal or vaginal sex with the child’’ or ‘‘His mother gave him oral sex.’’ Anal, vaginal, penile, or oral rape is not about ‘‘having sex.’’ These are sexualized assaults against children—pedophilic crimes—and ought to be named as such. Reframing language is important because words carry meanings that hold harmful myths and distortions in place within society. To continue to use the words ‘‘sex with children’’ results in at least four negative reinforcing social and relational distortions:
a. The disregard for the human rights and special needs of children to be protected from pedophilic crimes
b. The minimization of the harm pedophilic crimes inflict upon children
c. The sexualization of adult or parent–child relationships
d. The normalization of pedophilic crimes against children.
3. Disreality. A word coined to describe the process of keeping horrific realities, such as ritual abuse–torture, at a distance, disreality can reinforce myths such as the belief that only strangers are pedophiles, ignoring the fact that some parents are also pedophiles. Developing a worldview that acknowledges the continuum of pedophilic violence that can exist within some parent–child, family, and group relationships will accelerate civil society’s ability to protect children.
4. Educating children. Pedophilic parents, families, and groups normalize the violence they inflict upon a child. Children need to be part of the solution, with educational opportunities that inform them:
a. about the differences between healthy and pedophilic adult or parent–child relationships, including the varied types of pedophilic violence that can occur;
b. that it is never a child’s fault—a child is not to be blamed for the pedophilic crime an adult or parent commits;
c. not to hate their bodies for responding to pedophilic assaults. It is not their bodies’ fault—pedophiles use this response to trick children into feeling ashamed and guilty so they will remain silent;
d. that it is healthy to be scared and hurt when they are being harmed, even if adults/parents try to manipulate them into believing that they are bad or weak if they cry or scream;
e. that pedophilic violence is not about teaching children about sex—it is a crime;
f. that adult or parent pedophiles will try to trick children into not telling. Some manipulative tricks are: telling children that they will destroy the family or that no one will believe them if they tell; making children feel that they are to blame; making children feel special so that the pedophilic assaults become a special secret.
Laws specific to ritual abuse–torture are required to hold perpetrators responsible. Dissolving myths and distortions and developing knowledgeable language will help promote understanding of ritual abuse–torture ordeals. Healing is enhanced when a victimized child’s ordeals are truthfully named, thus validated, and when laws provide the child with the opportunity to seek justice for the actual crime he or she has survived. Embracing victimized children means acknowledging ritual abuse–torture as ‘‘an emerging human rights violation and a newly acknowledged form of torture that is inflicted by ‘non-state actors’ [parents, relatives, like-minded others] onto the girl or boy infant, toddler, child, youth’’ (Sarson and MacDonald 2004).
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