Under hypnosis and during various other types of suggestive therapy, many individuals have eventually “recovered” memories of prolonged sexual, psychological, or physical abuse at the hands of devil worshipping adults. Often these memories date from an age of less than two years old, a time from which most memory experts agree that nothing can be remembered. This abuse often includes such elements as butchered infants, the breeding of babies for later sacriﬁce, ritual sexual abuse of children, drinking of blood, cannibalism, and sex orgies. This sort of recollection is nearly universal in victims of Dissociative Identity Disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder), so as apparent victims of that disorder grew in number, so did belief in satanic ritual abuse. In November 1987 Geraldo Rivera, then an ABC and now a Fox News correspondent, hosted a syndicated TV special on which he claimed that there are over 1 million devil worshippers in this country, most of them part of a highly organized, secretive network involved nationwide in ritual child abuse and grisly murders.
In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has uncovered no evidence whatsoever of such a network, and whether Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) actually even exists has been a controversial topic since about 1980. Thanks to media attention, most people in the United States and Canada believed during the late 1980s and early 1990s that SRA was widespread. Some promoters of the notion of SRA have estimated the number of Satanic murders annually in the United States to be as high as 60,000. If that is true, then it is a very serious problem on our hands, albeit an extremely well-kept secret, because that is about three times the total homicide rate for the entire country in most years. Also, despite the many recovered memories of thousands of sacriﬁced babies, nobody seems to have reported any of them missing, and no remains have turned up. There is, however, a near consensus among police and other investigators that it doesn’t exist at all.
Although this was a big story in the early 1990s, not much is heard about it anymore. Lack of evidence and the growth in awareness of how easily false memories are created have today convinced most people that SRA is not occurring. Even Geraldo Rivera, who once fanned the ﬂames of sensationalism so successfully, admitted on the air in December 1995 that he had been duped.
- Victor, J. S. Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend. Chicago: Open Court, 1993.