Letter: Evidence of a ritual abuse survivor

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The Independent Online
Sir: I write to express my disgust at the enthusiastic and uncritical reception given to Jean La Fontaine's report ('Satanic abuse dismissed as 'myth' by government inquiry', 3 June). It's a great pity that the report's author declined to speak to adult survivors of ritual abuse and the people who care for them. She might have drawn totally different conclusions.

I survived abuse in a ritualistic setting and consider that there is an inappropriate fascination with the label 'satanic'. It was no less painful when my abusers dressed (as they sometimes did) as clowns than when they wore more traditional black robes. The disguises were equally effective in creating disorientation and confusion. They sometimes used occult paraphernalia to terrify and subdue their child victims: and dates such as Hallowe'en and Christmas supplied a ready excuse, and cover, for their warped idea of a party. It is irrelevant to me whether they believed in Satan or not.

This isn't my sick imagination. These events happened at real times in identifiable places and I'm told that the details I have disclosed are consistent with the memories of other survivors.

Acknowledging that I was a child victim of ritual abuse is the very last thing that I wanted to do and it's not something I talk publicly about. I'm a competent adult, going about a quiet and relatively normal career and maintaining relationships with my husband and friends. My GP believes me, the psychiatrists say I'm sane and my gynaecologist says there is physical evidence consistent with my memories. Before you dismiss me out of hand, consider what chance a child experiencing ritual abuse would have of being believed in a sceptical world.

Ritualistic abusers are exceedingly good at covering their tracks. It is not at all surprising that there have not been many successful prosecutions. However, I haven't yet given up hope of gathering enough evidence to prosecute my abusers.

Yours faithfully,

SUSAN MACDONALD

Edinburgh

3 June

The writer has asked us to change her name and address.

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