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Ritual abuse, why the path to police and justice is not so simple

This article was published as an opinion article in Nederlands Dagblad of November 27, 2020

Ritual satanic abuse is a theme that is finally somewhat on the social agenda since the documentary on this subject by Argos (Argos, NPO1, 27 June). Like some other colleagues I have been treating clients for many years who come from this horrible world or are still trapped in it. Recently, in the context of intervision, I was called by a colleague. She told me about a torture of a client where she was 'reprogrammed'. The 'instrument' she described that was used for this torture, looked exactly like what I saw on some pictures in threatening emails that I myself regularly receive since one of my clients breaks free from the grip of a satanic cult. These include texts like "which of your children shall I choose?". I am often asked why I do not report these threats. The answer is quite simple: the police will not be able to do anything with the threatening mails I receive, without the cooperation of my client. This network works very professionally and the idea that only the mail address will lead us to the people who pull the strings is an illusion. If the mail address can be traced, there is a big chance that it ends up with another victim, who doesn't dare to talk just like my client. Then a report from my side only causes more misery. So why doesn't my client, or any other victim, report the crime? The answer to this question is much more complex. I would like to take the reader into the world of a victim.

Deliberately created mistrust

Imagine, you are born into a family of which grandfather, grandmother, parent(s) and many uncles and aunts are involved in weekly satan worship including ritualistic forms of sexual abuse. In addition, you are trained from an early age to be a sex slave. To achieve this goal, you are systematically tortured at a very young age with methods such as waterboarding, gang rape, suffocation, and being locked up and buried in a coffin for a long time. Your brain is still developing, and under these extreme conditions parts of your personality split off to bear some of the suffering. In these personality parts the traumatic memories are stored in a frozen state, as it were. This allows another part of the person, who 'does' ordinary daily life, to live on, albeit with large 'gaps' in her perception of time. In psychological terms, a dissociative personality disorder arises.

Some perpetrators see you in church on Sundays, family members regularly pick you up from school for 'dentist appointments'. Almost every weekend you have to stay with grandpa and grandma. Sometimes you spend the weekend on a mattress in the shed where many men 'drop by'. At other times, you have to watch grandpa having strangulation sex with grandma. One day, two men who look like policemen come and talk to you in a friendly way, provoke you to tell about grandpa, and when they succeed, after a lot of effort, they turn around and rape you like a leaf (see section). After that, as a young child, you see many times people in police uniforms, other kinds of uniforms and suits who participate in rituals or pedosexual practices. At a deep level in your personality, fear and distrust of anything that wears a (police) uniform or suit is anchored in this way.

You grow up, end up with a series of desperate suicide attempts at 14.e   into a psychiatric clinic. Well-meaning social workers encourage you to report the abuse by one of your uncles, the only thing you dare to say. When you are in this safer environment for a longer period of time you dare, encouraged by the social workers, to take this step. Several times you speak with two interested detectives who seem to take you seriously. After a number of times, when you are at home for the weekend, you are accused of betraying the police and are severely tortured. You have no idea how your aggressors could have known that you had reported it. For you, yet another proof that the cult is all-powerful and you will never be able to escape. You retract the report, claiming that you made the whole thing up.

My client's failed report at the age of 14 is not an isolated case. Recently, Caleidoscoop, a national association for people with a dissociative disorder, presented to the Dutch Parliament a booklet containing many stories of victims of sexual and ritual abuse, about disastrous reports. The book also shows that a large group of victims have no confidence whatsoever in the National Expertise Bureau for Special Cases (LEBZ), the police body consulted in cases of ritual abuse. (Former) members of this body do not even hesitate to publicly deny the existence of ritual abuse, as Mr. Van Koppen (legal psychologist) recently did in this newspaper.


At a time when a victim is trying to break free, this satanic cult has many very strong means of blackmail. Victims usually have family members who are also caught up in the cult. For people who derive sexual pleasure from the extreme suffering of children, and for whom a human being is a disposable commodity, this offers great opportunities to blackmail someone who wants to report a crime or get out.

But probably the strongest factor that binds victims to the cult is the fact that from an early age they are made complicit in their crimes. This fact is reported by many victims, also in the Argos investigation. It starts with the age of 2/3, having to hold a knife when a murder is committed, holding another child who is raped ('you didn't hold your friend properly, she resisted when we raped her, and that's why she is dead now'), having to 'choose' a victim. This devolves into having to 'commit' murders and rape children, even as adults, in heavily dissociated states. The malicious creativity of the perpetrators is so great, that when they refuse, they always think up something even worse. Do you, as an 8 year old, refuse to rape a 6 year old child? Then we rape the child, and that hurts her much more, and we rape you too. Photos and videos are made of these 'offender' moments, as respondents from the Argos study also indicated.

Battle of the Titans

Now that my client wants to break free from their stranglehold, threatening to go to the police with this is a very powerful tool to nip these attempts in the bud. Images are sent to me that refer to this, evoking extreme feelings of guilt and shame. The accompanying texts contain trigger words that also set automatic reactions in motion. The split personality part that was present at the events and carries the memories and feelings of this, feels compelled to return to obedience to the cult, in order to protect other parts of the personality from these horrible memories. More torture, sex work and forced crimes with new movies will follow. The courageous victim who does not give in and does not commit suicide, has to fight over and over again a titanic battle with herself to face the photos and movies and with them the 'perpetrator's' memories as a whole person. She also has to endure the real possibility that one day the cult will indeed find a way to pass on her 'perpetrator's' photos to the police, without running too much of a risk herself. In their texts to my client they suggest that this will certainly succeed, for example in this one: 'Unexpectedly I'm at your door and see/ soon in prison you'll be stuck and I'll be free/I'll fuck you every day as groggy as the night/and ask anyone who wants to join me to be active/you won't be safe for a minute anymore we'll always get you/honeymoon and slave, niggers and slugs/I'm coming to get you!' For my client this is a very believable scenario, she feels extremely guilty and knows the power of the cult. In doing so, in the world of some of my client's personality parts, prison equates to a place where cult rules 24/7 and is therefore a place of unending horror.  

I strongly suspect that the existence of this 'offender' footage is the main reason that evidence, which is there in the form of emails, messages, pictures of injuries etc;, is so often discarded by victims. The personality parts that know about the 'offender's' memories throw them away in moments of extreme panic. After all, evidence against the cult is indirect evidence against themselves. A fair amount of processing of one's own horrific memories is required to help the personality parts work together and break through this panic reaction.  

Involvement of senior staff

But there is more that makes it very difficult to report this. Like many victims, my client also indicates that many high-ranking people are involved in ritual abuse and affiliated sadistic (pedo) sex networks, sometimes by choice, sometimes through blackmail. She tells how, as a teenager, she had to attend parties with high-ranking people where alcohol and drugs were abundantly present. Her explicit assignment was to seduce a certain person for sex in a place where this was filmed by hidden cameras. She sometimes witnessed how these images were used to force the person to commit further crimes. Respondents in the Argos study indicated that the perpetrators included politicians, judges, public prosecutors, lawyers and doctors. In addition, police officers, teachers (and babysitting/other professions with children), clergymen and persons working in the media are also included. It is striking that this also concerns people with influence who are not generally known, for example through television. Moreover, various respondents pointed to the same people, not only when it comes to people who are well-known, but also when it comes to perpetrators about whom nothing is to be found online. My client adds that these are people from the Netherlands and abroad, and also employees of the AIVD, professors, the financial world, hotel owners and owners of porn sites, therapists and other social workers (e.g. child protection workers). For victims this reality is another massive obstacle to report. Besides: they also follow the news. They also see reports of the failed denunciations of pedosexual crimes that have been made in recent decades against high-ranking figures, such as that of Vincent Leenders and the story of the failed denunciation of the girl Lisa (Argos, 8 December 2018). They also hear of the rolodex investigation, where an investigation into pedosexual offences of 4 high-ranking people at the judiciary was without a chance at an early stage because one of them had been leaked from on high (e.g. Trouw, 5 March 2014). This confirms for them the omnipotence of the network. In addition, the penalties for sexual abuse in the event of a conviction are often very low (see e.g. Algemeen Dagblad, February 11, 2020), which creates justified fear of retaliation after release.

Non-punishment principle of trafficking in human beings

It may be clear that many victims of this cult, who have not been released by them in adulthood, find themselves in a stranglehold. Support from therapists and a strong network that understands what is going on and stands firmly beside someone is essential. But social awareness and understanding of the extreme methods of coercion and blackmail is also needed, as well as thinking through the consequences of these methods for the administration of justice in relation to forced crimes. In the field of human trafficking, the non-prosecution and non-punishment principle is used in Europe in cases of human trafficking in which victims are forced to commit crimes. The practices of Dutch satanic cults linked to pedosexual networks can justifiably be seen as the most extreme form of human trafficking and exploitation. Not only the body is considered a possession, but also the soul and spirit of the victim are shattered by having to commit horrible acts that would never have been chosen in freedom. If the principles of non-prosecution and non-punishment are applied to crimes committed in this context by Dutch victims, and this knowledge is disseminated, I suspect that this could be the key to freedom for many victims.

Section: children's experience with 'police'

I was brought into a room and Grandpa left. Two policemen were sitting at a table and told me to sit down. One policeman had a big bear with him and said that I probably wanted to hold it. I wanted to hold it, but didn't dare to say it for fear of what would happen next. He put the bear in my hands and it felt very soft. It comforted me.

He told me that he knew Grandpa wasn't good for me and that we were going to talk about that and that he would never tell Grandpa. He was there to help me and it would never become clear that I had told him things. As naive as a small child can be, I believed it, despite the fact that my grandfather had brought me in there and the officers were talking to him quite kindly. I didn't start speaking out of turn. The officer asked if it was true that Grandpa sometimes did things that hurt me between my legs. I said nothing. The officer told me again that he really wants to help me, but that it is very important to be honest, so they can help other children that this does not happen to them. With me there was a switch. I wanted to help others so that grandpa would not hurt them either and I nodded. After this he asked the question again. Does grandpa sometimes hurt you between your legs. I nodded yes. The questions continued and I started to say more and more until we came to killing a girl in the group while doing rituals. You are not guilty he said and he came to me and gave me a hug. At the moment I tried to accept the hug, in one blow the whole atmosphere changed and his arm around me became a noose. He pulled the bear out of my arms, threw me on the table and started to take off my clothes. The cop raped me right there on the table while yelling that I'm a disgusting slut and a dirty traitor and that if I didn't get it by now I'd better be dead. Grandpa never lies and you always do. Everything you say nobody believes. The next time you pull this crap you're dead, he said, as the other cop strangled me with his hands. I went there knocked out and woke up in the car of grandpa. So little girl, are we going to be normal from now on, grandpa said. I said good yes, relaxed and timid, but my fear was so great.