01Jun04j Dutch report: satanic abuse does not exist
Quote: "In none of the reported cases actual ritual abuse could be shown. From the investigations in England it has become clear that there too it cannot be concluded that ritual abuse happens. [...] From what police representatives have said and from the literature it appears that ritual abuse never was established. There are good grounds to doubt whether the phenomenon occurs actually in the form in which it is described in the stories."
REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP RITUAL ABUSE
April 1994 Ministry of Justice Direction of Constitutional and
Summary and conclusions.
a. Method of work
The Working Group Ritual Abuse has oriented itself in the subject, using the existing literature in this country and foreign countries and the results of research in this and other countries. Furthermore the Working Group has investigated to which degree ritual abuse occurs in The Netherlands, which ways and means the government has to react adequately, in this comprised the means of therapeutic care and informing police and prosecutor about cases, partly with a view to possible further investigations.
b. Definition of terms
On the basis of the available literature the Working Group has determined the characteristics of ritual abuse, and has arrived at a definition of terms. It was concluded that fear is a crucial element in the stories about ritual abuse. The most characteristic in the stories and the way they distinguish themselves from other stories about sexual abuse (organised or not) is their gruesome character, a perverse sexual sadism. Taking this into account the Working Group has arrived at the following definition, without wanting to make a pronouncement on the credibility of the stories of ritual abuse: sexual sadism, surrounded by rituals, and performed in groups against several children in combination with extreme forms of physical violence and threats.
c. Investigation conducted.
To investigate the problem, the Working Group has spoken to a number of people, namely therapists and social workers and police about whom is known
that they have experience in the subject; the aim was to take stock of the most important cases of reported ritual abuse. Also the Working Group has tried to get information that is as accurate as possible about the phenomenon of ritual abuse. In this connection two members of the Working Group have paid a short visit to a researcher in the United Kingdom of ritual abuse. Also were studied police reports and prosecutor's reports about cases in which ritual abuse is mentioned. In contacts with therapists the Working Group has been told that on this moment there are in The Netherlands several tens of people (children and adults) who have - verbally and non-verbally - indicated that they were victim or had been victim of ritual abuse. The stories of these persons are characterised by existing and observable excessive fears or psychiatric disorders. In none of the reported cases actual ritual abuse could be shown. From the investigations in England it has become clear that there too it cannot be concluded that ritual abuse happens.
From what police representatives have said and from the literature it appears that ritual abuse never was established. There are good grounds to doubt whether the phenomenon occurs actually in the form in which it is described in the stories. If one assumes the extent and character of ritual abuse as it is established on the basis of the previous mentioned stories to the Working Group and also heard - as rumors - elsewhere Working Group, then it is almost impossible that no forensic evidence is found. There should have been found with high probability at least some technical traces of evidence. But now this is not the case the Working Group thinks that there is little chance
that the stories about the abuse are veridical 'in full extent'. A number of possible explanations is given for the generation of stories about ritual abuse. The Working Group does not have indications that stories of victims and therapists are not honest. On the contrary, therapists and their clients are bona fides in what they tell and believe and in both groups doubt and belief struggle for priority. The fact that no provable cases have been demonstrated, does not mean that it has been incontrovertibly proved that ritual abuse does not occur. In any case the Working Group considers it very well possible that there are very serious cases of sexual child abuse but that the question whether this should be termed ritual is less important. The Working Group has pointed out that in a number of cases the 'improbable or untrue story' has replaced the 'true and probable story' about sexual abuse by parents or caretakers - or other traumatic experiences - during youth.
e. Youth health care, youth protection and mental health care.
The Working Group pays also attention to specific problems of children about whom ritual abuse is reported by youth care organisations. In youth care the most adequate treatment is still being sought. Very careful diagnosis is of great importance. It is clear however, that in a number of the cases there is or has been serious abuse and maltreatment of the children. For the help a long lasting treatment is necessary in a family replacement situation that has the functions of a shelter, treatment and education, with extra youth psychiatric treatment. Existing treatment centers in the youth help organisations are not equipped for this. Treatment of such children takes also place in clinics for child and youth psychiatric care. This treatment is followed by an evaluation committee.
The Working Group thinks that in case of suspicions of serious abuse or mistreatment there should be a rule that these suspicions should be reported to the Child Protection Council and also the BVA.
f. Professional secrecy and the privilege of non-disclosure.
The Working Group bases its analysis on the medical professional secrecy. This cannot be applied without changes to the situation of all therapists, but the latter do have a professional secrecy based on their professional ethics. Professional secrecy has two aspects: the duty of silence and the privilege of non-disclosure. It was concluded that the duty of silence is the ''property'' of the patient or client and not of the therapist. The duty of silence is not absolute. A number of circumstances can necessitate the breaking of silence. This can happen when the patient gives permission or in case of a conflict of duties. The judge can test whether one can appeal to the privilege of non-disclosure. The BVA is created to signal and treat cases of child abuse while protecting the professional secrecy in a responsible way. About cases the BVA's advice is asked in anonymous form, so this does not constitute a violation of the professional secrecy. Finally the law BIG is discussed. Under this law disciplinary courts will be created for clinical psychologists and psychotherapists. The breaking of professional secrecy can be tested in these courts.