Women deserve better than organizations bearing the names of racist rapists funding million dollar campaigns on subway trains. These wealthy middle aged white men tell us what to do with our bodies while they wage wars and kill other people's babies.
Malevolence takes a bite out off your spirit. Just sitting with it, just talking with people who consciously and deliberately exploit others, feels like being beaten. Over the years, l have seen many therapists burn out and leave the field entirely. [Refers to treating sex offenders, p6]
(Talking about the movement to deny the prevalence and effects of adult sexual exploitation of children) So what does this movement consist of? Who are the movers and shakers? Well molesters are in it, of course. There are web pages telling them how to defend themselves against accusations, to retain confidence about their ‘loving and natural’ feelings for children, with advice on what lawyers to approach, how to complain, how to harass those helping their children. Then there’s the Men’s Movements, their web pages throbbing with excitement if they find ‘proof’ of conspiracy between feminists, divorcing wives and therapists to victimise men, fathers and husbands. Then there are journalists. A few have been vitally important in the US and Britain in establishing the fightback, using their power and influence to distort the work of child protection professionals and campaign against children’s testimony. Then there are other journalists who dance in and out of the debates waggling their columns behind them, rarely observing basic journalistic manners, but who use this debate to service something else – a crack at the welfare state, standards, feminism, ‘touchy, feely, post-Diana victimhood’. Then there is the academic voice, landing in the middle of court cases or inquiries, offering ‘rational authority’. Then there is the government. During the entire period of discovery and denial, not one Cabinet minister made a statement about the prevalence of sexual abuse or the harm it caused. Finally there are the ‘retractors’. For this movement to take off, it had to have ‘human interest’ victims – the accused – and then a happy ending – the ‘retractors’. We are aware that those ‘retractors’ whose parents trail them to newspapers, television studios and conferences are struggling. Lest we forget, they recanted under palpable pressure.
Frosh (2002) has suggested that therapeutic spaces provide children and adults with the rare opportunity to articulate experiences that are otherwise excluded from the dominant symbolic order. However, since the 1990s, post-modern and post-structural theory has often been deployed in ways that attempt to ‘manage’ from; afar the perturbing disclosures of abuse and trauma that arise in therapeutic spaces (Frosh 2002). Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to organised abuse, where the testimony of girls and women has been deconstructed as symptoms of cultural hysteria (Showalter 1997) and the colonisation of women’s minds by therapeutic discourse (Hacking 1995). However, behind words and discourse, ‘a real world and real lives do exist, howsoever we interpret, construct and recycle accounts of these by a variety of symbolic means’ (Stanley 1993: 214). Summit (1994: 5) once described organised abuse as a ‘subject of smoke and mirrors’, observing the ways in which it has persistently defied conceptualisation or explanation. Explanations for serious or sadistic child sex offending have typically rested on psychiatric concepts of ‘paedophilia’ or particular psychological categories that have limited utility for the study of the cultures of sexual abuse that emerge in the families or institutions in which organised abuse takes pace. For those clinicians and researchers who take organised abuse seriously, their reliance upon individualistic rather than sociological explanations for child sexual abuse has left them unable to explain the emergence of coordinated, and often sadistic, multi—perpetrator sexual abuse in a range of contexts around the world.
From New Delhi to New York, from Durban to Rio; women and girls are been hunted down by rapists, abused by pedophiles and emotionally decapitated by a society that is becoming increasingly hostile to the womenfolk
Once, in a three-day taping that included several sadists, the material was so overwhelming that both the film crew and I got sick - I with a sinus infection, and the entire film crew with a flu so severe they had to delay their departure from the motel. Our immune systems had weakened, I believe, from the beating out souls had taken.
Qualitative and quantitative research with adults and children reporting ritual abuse has found that it occurs alongside other forms of organised abuse, particularly the manufacture of child abuse images (Scott 2001, Snow and Sorenson 1990, Waterman et al. 1993), and hence subsuming such non-ritualistic experiences under the moniker ‘ritual abuse’ is misleading at best and incendiary at worst. Moreover, it is unclear why an abusive group that invokes a religious or metaphysical mandate to abuse children should be considered as largely distinct from an abusive group that invokes a non-religious rationale to do so. The presumption evident amongst some authors writing on ritual abuse that a professed spiritual motivation for abusing children necessarily reflects the offenders actual motivation seems naïve at best, and at worst it risks colluding with the ways in which abusive groups obfuscate responsibility for their actions.
In this book we paint an unprecedented portrait of Britain’s first ‘false memory’ retraction and show that, like other ‘false memory’ cases which appeared in the public domain, memory itself was always a false trail – these women never forgot. We are not challenging people’s right to tell their own story and then to change it. But we do assert that the chance should be interpreted in the context that created it. Thousands of accounts of sexual and physical abuse in childhood cannot be explained by a pseudo-scientific ‘syndrome’. We have been shifted to the wrong debate, a debate about the malignancy of survivors and their allies, rather than those who have hurt them. That’s why the arguments have become so elusive. […]
The data on organised abuse has been simplified or distorted in an attempt force it to conform to mechanical psychological models of dissociative obedience or else to the psychiatric framework of ‘paedophilia’. Psychopathology alone is an inadequate explanation for environments in which sexual abuse has a social and symbolic function for groups of adults. Abusive groups do not emerge in a vacuum but rather they are formed within pre-existing social arrangements such as families, churches and schools.
Many professionals have to sign gagging clauses or face the sack if they speak out. The social worker and therapist was familiar with the scare that revelation brings to the survivor. […] We are in this story. It isn't ours, but we are in it nonetheless, not least because of the viscous campaign which has followed us over the last ten years. Any organisation with which we work may receive correspondence from the accused adults’ and ‘false memory’ movements. Some of these propagandists are confidentially dominating the professional and political arguments using new information technology to spread what we consider to be smears, innuendo and misinformation. P8 (refers to authors Beatrix Campbell & Judith Jones – a journalist and a social worker/therapist)
The discovery that detonated Cleveland is one of Britain’s great contributions to awareness of child abuse. In 1986 and 1987 the Leeds paediatricians Dr Jane Wynne and Dr Christopher Hobbs reported in the Lancet that they were seeing more children who were being buggered than battered. About 300 cases were corroborated. The children were young – two-thirds were pre-school children – and anal abuse was more common than vaginal penetration. They also noted that ‘boys and girls seem to be at similar risk’. Almost half of the children who suffered anal abuse also showed a sign written up in the forensic textbooks as ‘anal dilation’, an anus opening when it was supposed to stay shut; opening and expecting entry. What the paediatricians were observing was not an acute sign, the effect of a single intrusion – a spasm or seizure – but a sign that was telling a story about everyday life; the anatomy of adaption. Anal dilation seemed to describe the architecture of abuse: it allowed the body to receive an incoming object, regularly.
There are a range of useful and illuminating analyses of the media construction of organised abuse as it became front-page news in the 1980s and 1990s (Kitzinger 2004, Atmore 1997, Kelly 1998), but this book is focused on organised abuse as a criminal practice; as well as a discursive object of study, debate and disagreement. These two dimensions of this topic are inextricably linked because precisely where and how organised abuse is reported to take place is an important determinant of how it is understood. Prior to the 1980s, the predominant view of the police, psychiatrists and other authoritative professionals was that organised abuse occurred primarily outside the family where it was committed by extra-familial ‘paedophiles’. This conceptualisation; of organised abuse has received enduring community support to the present day, where concerns over children’s safety is often framed in terms of their vulnerability to manipulation by ‘paedophiles’ and ‘sex rings’. This view dovetails more generally with the medico-legal and media construction of the ‘paedophile as an external threat to the sanctity of the family and community (Cowburn and Dominelli 2001) but it is confounded by evidence that organised abuse and other forms of serious sexual abuse often originates in the home or in institutions, such as schools and churches, where adults have socially legitimate authority over children.
As mandatory reporting laws and community awareness drove an increase its child protection investigations throughout the 1980s, some children began to disclose premeditated, sadistic and organised abuse by their parents, relatives and other caregivers such as priests and teachers (Hechler 1988). Adults in psychotherapy described similar experiences. The dichotomies that had previously associated organised abuse with the dangerous, external ‘Other’ had been breached, and the incendiary debate that followed is an illustration of the depth of the collective desire to see them restored. Campbell (1988) noted the paradox that, whilst journalists and politicians often demand that the authorities respond more decisively in response to a ‘crisis’ of sexual abuse, the action that is taken is then subsequently construed as a ‘crisis’. There has been a particularly pronounced tendency of the public reception to allegations of organised abuse. The removal of children from their parents due to disclosures of organised abuse, the provision of mental health care to survivors of organised abuse, police investigations of allegations of organised abuse and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of organised abuse have all generated their own controversies. These were disagreements that were cloaked in the vocabulary of science and objectivity but nonetheless were played out in sensationalised fashion on primetime television, glossy news magazines and populist books, drawing textual analysis. The role of therapy and social work in the construction of testimony of abuse and trauma. in particular, has come under sustained postmodern attack. Frosh (2002) has suggested that therapeutic spaces provide children and adults with the rare opportunity to articulate experiences that are otherwise excluded from the dominant symbolic order. However, since the 1990s, post-modern and post-structural theory has often been deployed in ways that attempt to ‘manage’ from; afar the perturbing disclosures of abuse and trauma that arise in therapeutic spaces (Frosh 2002). Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to organised abuse, where the testimony of girls and women has been deconstructed as symptoms of cultural hysteria (Showalter 1997) and the colonisation of women’s minds by therapeutic discourse (Hacking 1995). However, behind words and discourse, ‘a real world and real lives do exist, howsoever we interpret, construct and recycle accounts of these by a variety of symbolic means’ (Stanley 1993: 214). Summit (1994: 5) once described organised abuse as a ‘subject of smoke and mirrors’, observing the ways in which it has persistently defied conceptualisation or explanation.
Like the psychological model outlined above, the psychiatric understanding of ’organised paedophilia’ is a framework that is focused primarily on individual psychological factors and overlooks the role of violence in criminal groups and the contexts in which such groups emerge. The underlying assumption of literature on ‘organised paedophilia’ is that members of sexually abusive groups are motivated by a pathological sexual interest in children but this does not accord with evidence that suggests that abusive groups can simultaneously abuse children and women. It is increasingly recognised that sexual offenders may not specialise in one particular victim category, and a significant proportion of child sexual abusers have also offended against adults (Cann et al. 2007, Heil et al. 2003). Furthermore, many of the behaviours of abusive groups appear to be designed to elicit fear and pain from the victim rather than to generate sexual pleasure for the perpetrator per se., are not mutually exclusive, but there is a sadistic dimension to organised abuse that is not explicable as ‘paedophilic’. A survivor of organised abuse from Belgium, Regina Louf, made this point clearly when she said: I find the expression ‘paedophile network’ misleading. For me paedophiles are those men who go to playgrounds or swimming pools, priests…I certainly don't want to exonerate them, but I would rather have paedophiles than the types we were involved with. There were men who never touched the children. Whether you were five, ten, or fifteen didn’t matter. What mattered to them was sex, power, experience. To do things they would never have tried with their own wives. Among them were some real sadists. (Louf quoted in Bulte and de Conick 1998) A credible theoretical account of organised abuse must necessarily (a) account for the available empirical evidence of organised abuse, (b) address the complex patterns of abuse and violence evident in sexually abusive groups, and (c) explain the ways in which sexually abusive groups form in a range of contexts, including families and institutions.