One long-standing argument put about by those determined to believe in the veracity of the Hampstead Satanic ritual abuse hoax is that RD’s children volunteer so much detail, and are so convincing in their speech, that they cannot possibly be lying. People like Kristie Sue Costa have argued vehemently that the Hampstead children were able to appear calm, rational, and articulate in the videos they were forced to make, because they had been abused for so long that it seemed “normal” to them.
This claim is not only ridiculous, but offensive to children who really have suffered long-term sexual, physical, or psychological abuse in childhood. It goes against all the clinical evidence that has been gathered on childhood victims of severe trauma, and makes a mockery of their experience.
We’ve discussed some aspects of this before.
In May, we looked at a study of children who had been confirmed to have suffered from sexual abuse, titled Why Didn’t They Tell Us? On Sexual Abuse in Child Pornography, which described the reality of interviewing children who’ve survived sexual abuse. One of the most striking differences between the interviews with bona fide child sexual abuse survivors and the children in the Hampstead SRA hoax is that the children who really had been abused were deeply reluctant to discuss their experiences, and would often simply say, “I don’t remember” in response to questions about the actual abuse.
Far from wanting to describe all the details of their memories of what had happened to them, as RD’s children seemed to do, the abused children found various ways to avoid describing the experience. The trauma they’d endured was not something they wished to revisit, and they only provided information which their interviewers already knew to be true: that is, they volunteered no more details than they had to.
This response makes sense, given what we know about the effects of trauma on the brains of children.
The Traumatic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse
In 1985, David Finkelhor and Angela Browne published a paper called “The Traumatic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse”, which set forth a model for how children were affected by the experience of sexual abuse. In this often-cited paper, they said:
The model proposed here postulates that the experience of sexual abuse can be analyzed in terms of four trauma-causing factors, or what we will call traumagenic dynamics – traumatic sexualization, betrayal, powerlessness, and stigmatization. These traumagenic dynamics are generalized dynamics, not necessarily unique to sexual abuse; they occur in other kinds of trauma. But the conjunction of these four dynamics in one set of circumstances is what makes the trauma of sexual abuse unique, different from such childhood traumas as the divorce of a child’s parents or even being the victim of physical child abuse.
These dynamics alter children’s cognitive and emotional orientation to the world, and create trauma by distorting children’s self-concept, world view, and affective capacities.
Finkelhor and Browne go on to describe the effects—such as “traumatic sexualisation” (sexual preoccupations and compulsions), revulsion, fear, anger, powerlessness, stigmatisation, sense of betrayal, hostility, clinginess—which sexually abused children can experience.
‘Malleable, not resilient’
More recent studies of the effects of trauma on children have shown that children who are exposed to long-term violence or threats of violence (such as being violently raped multiple times per week, as the Hampstead children alleged) experience certain effects on their developing brains. In a paper titled “INCUBATED IN TERROR: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the ‘Cycle of Violence‘”, author Bruce D. Perry states, “Children are not resilient; children are malleable”.
He means that contrary to the belief that children can experience long-term trauma and then somehow “bounce back” from it, it has been found that children’s brains are malleable—they are shaped and distorted by trauma, and will develop behaviours which, while adaptive during the time they’re being abused, can create all sorts of problems throughout their lives. For example, children who are exposed to chronic violence are more likely to be violent themselves. Perry writes:
If during development, this stress response apparatus are required to be persistently active, the stress response apparatus in the central nervous system will develop in response to constant threat. These stress-response neural systems (and all functions they mediate) will be overactive and hypersensitive. It is highly adaptive for an child growing up in a violent, chaotic environment to be hypersensitive to external stimuli, to be hyper-vigilant, and to be in a persistent stress response state.
Clinically, this is very easily seen in children who are exposed to chronic neurodevelopmental trauma (Perry, 1994a; Perry, 1995a). These children are frequently diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder (ADD with hyperactivity (Haddad et al., 1992). This is somewhat misleading, however. These children are hyper-viligant, they do not have a core abnormality of their capacity to attend to a given task. These children have behavioral impulsivity, and cognitive distortions all of which result from a use-dependent organization of the brain.
Of course, this is only one example of a behavioural change created by long-term violence; there are many others, but our main point is this: children do not escape from long-term sexual and physical abuse unaffected. And the younger the child is when the abuse starts, the more profound the effects.
Children with histories of long-term violence and/or sexual abuse may be easily “set off”, becoming angry or tearful with seemingly little provocation. They can struggle with knowing how to calm down, and may seem unpredictable, oppositional, volatile, or extreme. Children who have grown up fearing an abusive authority figure may respond to any perceived blame with defensiveness or anger; or they can take the opposite tack, becoming over-controlled, rigid, or unusually compliant with adults.
One would not expect to see children who’ve endured violence, repeated sexual assault, and the constant threat of physical pain since babyhood to appear as composed, articulate, and engaged as the Hampstead children did, both in the videos made en route to London from Morocco, and in the ensuing police interviews. Anyone with experience dealing with traumatised children would be very well aware that this behaviour simply would not be normal, given the alleged experiences these children were supposed to have endured.
In other words, in contrast to what the Hoaxtead mobsters would have us believe, children do not simply “grow accustomed” to the experience of long-term sexualised trauma, so that they are able to appear perfectly normal in all respects. Anyone claiming this is either displaying a stunning lack of intellectual honesty, or is not playing with a full deck.
This article was first published on 21 October 2017.