Most people have the wrong idea when they hear about ritual abuse or cult abuse. Eyes roll, people immediately stop listening. They either write it off as a psychology fad from the 80s or a fabrication of people desperate for attention. Despite what many people think, ritual abuse is real and widespread. However, there is nothing mystical about ritual abuse–it is simply child abuse with a different coat of paint.
Humans often develop irrational beliefs and twist them to justify harmful behavior. It happens with religion, it happens in the secular world, it happens with radical politics of any sort, and it happens in our own personal lives. Some cultists honestly believe in the supernatural, but in the case of my abusers I think the cult aspect was a ruse. It was a game they played to mess with my head, just for fun. They got a kick out of scaring me. They also used the threat of magic to instill fear and keep me silent. Whether sincere or not, the metaphysical fictions people create are fascinating. I don’t understand how people get sucked into occultism and believe it to be real. The amount of psychological harm caused by this maladaptive thinking is practically fractal in nature. It just knots up into more and more twisted ways of thinking.
About a year or so ago I had a dream involving a staged sacrifice to a deity named “Baal”. I didn’t know what that meant and so I looked it up to discover it was actually a thing and not just random letters. The other night I had a dream about a Baphomet (Baphometic?) sex cult. I knew the name but didn’t know what it related to. There was a book in the dream with symbols that, after a little bit of research, appear similar to things I’ve seen about the Freemasons. These were both dreams filled with tiny pieces of fact regarding the abuse I suffered, and they prepared me for memories about to hit the surface.
There is nothing mystical about ritual abuse—it is simply child abuse with a different coat of paint.
I am an atheist, which makes it easier to deal with the cult memories as I recover them. I have read stories about religious people struggling to deal with the “satanic” symbolism and supposed mystical forces involved in cult abuse. I feel kind of bad for people who get trapped in the fiction. The abuse is bad enough on its own without bringing paranormal delusions into the mix.
The smoke and mirrors of cult abuse are a performance used to instill fear, create confusion, and destroy the credibility of the victim. (It’s no coincidence that ritual abuse sounds, on the surface, outlandish and improbable. Just as rape culture erases the credibility of women, more extreme types of abuse erase the credibility of their victims, enabling even worse offenses.) The ritual aspects are simply a show of power and a method of control. Abuse can be ritualized without occult symbolism; any repeated long-term abuse tends to become ritualized. The only real difference between “occult” abuse and “ordinary” abuse is the aesthetic. Religious imagery adds another layer of deception, covering up what is actually going on. Dissociation is necessary to maintain order in abusive systems, and that dissociation is propped up by magical thinking and trite supernatural symbolism.
Abuse is about power, so it is no surprise at all that child abusers find their way into the ranks of police, government, and business. A recent study showed that, in Ohio, the main buyers of trafficked people are law enforcement. (Businessmen come second, and the stereotypical scapegoat, drug dealers, follow in third place.) Abusers group together in positions of power until they control entire cities. Many of these groups use occult symbolism in their abuse–sometimes as a smokescreen, sometimes as a part of their religious mindset. It sounds like the plot of a thriller novel, but it is a reality throughout the United States. It is the inevitable outcome of abusers living in a hierarchical, predominantly religious social system.