Letter: Satanic abuse: let us not forget the real victims

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The Independent Online
Sir: With regard to the recent articles about satanic sexual child abuse, I fear there is now a danger that the controversy over the matter distracts from the real question in such cases - which is, has abuse taken place?

My work with children, both abused and suffering from other problems, has shown me how much children rely on what adults tell them. Therefore, if adults tell them nice stories about heaven, or nasty ones about hell, they will believe them. It seems very likely to me that groups of paedophiles would be quite capable of spicing up their usual vile repertoire with stories of dead babies and devil worship.

Whether many of the adults involved really believe in Satan seems unlikely in this irreligious age, but if they passed around a glass of animal blood, telling the children to drink the baby's blood, then the children will believe that that is what the glass really contains. If perverse adults choose to dress up as devils and perform strange sexual rituals to Satan, then the poor children will believe in Satan. Does this mean that the children are indulging in make-

believe and are unreliable witnesses? Or does it mean that they have been brain-washed by their abusers, rather than their foster carers and therapists?

Let us keep our eye on the main fact - abuse is abuse.

Yours sincerely,

JUDITH TRAVERS

London, SE3

5 May

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