Dissecting Disbelief: Possible Reasons for the Denial of the Existence of Ritual Abuse in the United Kingdom


When allegations of ritual abuse first came to light in the UK, they were met primarily with a ‘discourse of disbelief’ that left little room for the possibility accounts could be based in genuine experience. Despite convictions, recent criminological, sociological and psychological literature appears fixed on debunking ritual abuse’s existence through highly debated concepts such as ‘false memory’. This paper proposes three broad ‘reasons’ for the creation and maintenance of disbelief around ritual abuse, highlighting the importance of key cases in shaping press coverage of the issue during the 1980s and 1990s, and the role survivor advocates have played in distancing ritual abuse from established knowledge within both psychology and child protection. I argue that the tangibility of death and abject horror within survivor accounts, as well as the perceived religious motivations of perpetrators, make ritual abuse both experientially and conceptually alien to most members of late-modern societies.


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Published: 2015-07-01
Pages:77 to 93
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