February 11, 2021 Comments Off on Michael Salter – Organized Abuse
Organised abuse has been reported by child victims, adult survivors and a range of professionals for over thirty years. However, organised abuse remains poorly understood.
This website has been developed by criminologist Scientia Associate Professor Michael Salter who specialises in the study of organised abuse and complex trauma. The aim of the website is to disseminate reliable information about organised abuse to professionals, victims and survivors.
Scientia Associate Professor Michael Salter
I am the Scientia Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of New South Wales, Australia. I specialise in the study of organised sexual abuse. In addition to my work on complex trauma, I have researched and published widely on violence against women and children.
I sit on the Scientific Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. I am an Associate Editor of Child Abuse Review, the peer-reviewed journal of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and I sit on the editorial board of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation.
I act as a consultant and trainer to a range of non-government organisations and government departments at the state and national level. I am an expert advisor to the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Salter, M. and Hanson, E. (2021) “I need you all to understand how pervasive this issue is”: User efforts to regulate child sexual offending on social media. In Baily, J., Flynn, A. and Henry, N. The Emerald International Handbook of Technology-facilitated Violence and Abuse. Emerald Publishing.
Salter, M. (2018) Child sexual abuse, in Rennison, C.M., Dekeseredy, W. S., Hall-Sanchez, A. (Eds), Routledge International Handbook of Violence Studies, London and New York: Routledge
Salter, M. (2018) Finding a new narrative: Meaningful responses to ‘false memory’ disinformation, in Sinason, V. Memory in Dispute, Karnac: London.
Salter, M. (2018) Child sexual abuse. In Dekeseredy, W. and Dragiewicz, M. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology, Routledge: London and New York.
Salter, M. (2016) Organised child sexual abuse in the media. In Pontel, H. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Oxford University Press: Oxford and London.
Salter, M. (2008) Out of the shadows: Re-envisioning the debate on ritual abuse. In: Perskin. P. and Noblitt. R. (eds) Ritual abuse in the twenty-first century: Psychological, forensic, social and political considerations. Robert D. Reed: Brandon, OR.
Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief
Out of the shadows: Re-envisioning the debate on ritual abuse
2008 Michael Salter
Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse: Examining our History and Looking Forward
Michael Salter, PhD
I was a teenager when ritual abuse was first reported in Australia. A series of newspaper articles in the mid-1990s claimed that women were entering psychotherapy only to ‘recover’ memories of grotesque and improbable abuse.
The general thrust of coverage was that the movement against child abuse had gone too far, and that therapists and social workers were encouraging, and sometimes forcing, children and women to imagine abuse that had never happened. I was entirely unprepared when, only a few years after the publication of those articles, a friend began disclosing ritual abuse in the context of a paedophile ring. These disclosures occurred without facilitation or encouragement by a mental health professional, and they did not conform to mass media warnings about ‘false’ and ‘recovered’ memories. She had never ‘forgotten’ her abuse and she was reporting attacks in the present that left behind undeniable marks and injuries. Her disclosures set me on the path to a career as a criminologist specializing in the study of organized child sexual abuse. I now chair the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse Special Interest Group (RAMCOA) which is full of people just like me: people who unexpectedly encountered survivors of extreme abuse and have sought to understand and address their particular needs. The SIG includes an important cohort of therapists who are also survivors, driven by personal experience and professional commitment to provide care for others who share their history. Over the last few years, there’ve been moves afoot within the ISSTD to revisit and come to grips with the fractious legacies of the ‘memory wars’, including controversies over ritual abuse and mind control. I listened with great interest at the national ISSTD conference in Chicago this year as a number of ‘veterans’ of those wars shared their reflections on that time.
Michael Salter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Criminology and Scientia Fellow at the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales
Dr. Michael Salter is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Scientia Fellow at the School of Social Sciences at UNSW. Michael applies critical and feminist theory to the study of child sexual exploitation, gendered violence and complex trauma. He is leading two national studies: one on multi-sectorial constructions on complex trauma, and the second on the role of parents in the production of child exploitation material. Other current research projects include an analysis of perpetrator interventions in gendered violence and the role of technology in domestic violence. Michael sits on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, and he is Associate Editor of Child Abuse Review.
Dr. Salter’s recent publications include:
Salter, M. (2020). Improved accountability: The role of perpetrator intervention systems.
Salter, M. (2020). “A deep wound under my heart”: Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence.
Salter, M., Robinson, K., Ullman, J., Denson, N., Ovenden, G., Noonan, K., & Bansel, P. (2019). Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Men’s Attitudes and Understandings of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. DOI: 10.1177/0886260519898433.
McPhillips, K., Salter, M., Roberts-Pedersen, E., & Kezelman, C. (2019). Understanding trauma as a system of psycho-social harm: Contributions from the Australian royal commission into child sex abuse. Child abuse & neglect, 99. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104232.
Salter, M. (2019). The transitional space of public inquiries: The case of the Royal Commission into Institutional Forms of Child Sexual Abuse. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. DOI: 10.1177/0004865819886634.
Salter, M. (2019). Online Justice in the Circuit of Capital: #MeToo, Marketization and the Deformation of Sexual Ethics. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-15213-0_20.
Dragiewicz, M., Harris, B., Woodlock, D., & Salter, M. (2019). Domestic violence and communication technology: Survivor experiences of intrusion, surveillance, and identity crime.
UNSW Sydney | UNSW · School of Social Sciences
My research is focused on violence against women, child abuse, primary prevention and complex forms of victimisation, including organised abuse and technologically-facilitated abuse.
Organised Sexual Abuse
By Michael Salter
Copyright Year 2013 1st Edition
Organised Sexual Abuse offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary investigation of this phenomenon. Since the early 1980s, social workers and mental health professionals around the globe have encountered clients reporting sexual abuse by organized groups or networks. These allegations have been amongst the most controversial in debates over child sexual abuse, raising many unanswered questions. Are reports of organized abuse factual or the product of moral panic and false memories? If these reports are true, what is the appropriate response? The fields of child protection and psychotherapy have been polarised over the issue. And, although cases of organized abuse continue to be uncovered, a reasoned and evidence-based analysis of the subject is long overdue.
Examining the existing evidence, and supplementing it with further qualitative research, in this book Michael Salter addresses: the relationship between sexual abuse and organized abuse; questions over the veracity of testimony; the gap between the policing response to sexual abuse and the realities of child sexual exploitation; the contexts in which sexually abusive groups develop and operate; the role of religion and ritual in subcultures of multi-perpetrator sexual abuse; as well as the experience of adults and children with histories of organized abuse in the criminal justice system and health system. Organized Sexual Abuse thus provides a definitive analysis that will be of immense value to those with professional and academic interests in this area.
“A deep wound under my heart”: Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence May 2020 Michael Salter
Responses to women who have experienced complex trauma need to be sensitive, coordinated and consistent between services and agencies to ensure women’s wellbeing and safety from violence. However, the development of shared frameworks of practice for addressing complex trauma has been forestalled by a lack of professional consensus and understanding…
Organized Sexual Abuse. Dr. Michael Salter
Today on the podcast, Michael Salter.
Michael is an Associate Professor in Criminology at Western Sydney University, Australia and specializes in the study of organized sexual abuse.
In addition to his work on complex trauma, Michael Salter has researched and published widely on violence against women and children.
Michael sits on the Scientific Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and is an associate editor of Child Abuse Review, the peer-reviewed journal of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Organized abuse in adulthood: Survivor and professional perspectives
In book: The Abused and the Abuser (pp.199-211)
Authors: Michael Salter UNSW Sydney
Malignant trauma and the invisibility of ritual abuse
June 2019 DOI: 10.33212/att.v13n1.2019.16
Authors: Michael Salter UNSW Sydney
This article draws on psychoanalytic theories of malignant trauma to explain the invisibility of ritual abuse. Ritual abuse refers to the misuse of rituals in the organised sexual abuse of children. Despite expanded recognition of the varieties of child maltreatment, ritual abuse remains largely invisible outside the trauma and dissociation field as a specific form of sexual exploitation. Presenting qualitative data from interview research with ritual abuse survivors and mental health specialists, this article argues that the trauma of ritual abuse and its invisibility are co-constitutive. The perpetration and denial of ritual abuse occur within a relational matrix of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders structured by the presymbolic dread of vulnerability and dependency. The simultaneity of perpetration and disavowal creates the conditions for the malignancy of ritual abuse, including the invisibility of victims and the intergenerational transmission of extreme abuse. The article examines how the provision of care to ritual abuse survivors can become contingent on its erasure, and reflects on the role of therapists and others in interrupting the metastases of malignant trauma and crafting cultural and moral frameworks to transform the dread at the core of ritual abuse.
Cultures of Abuse: ‘Sex Grooming’, Organised Abuse and Race in Rochdale, UK
June 2015 International Journal for Crime Justice and Social Democracy 4(2)
Authors: Michael Salter UNSW Sydney Selda Dagistanli Western Sydney University
Revelations of organised abuse by men of Asian heritage in the United Kingdom have become a recurrent feature of international media coverage of sexual abuse in recent years. This paper reflects on the similarities between the highly publicised ‘sex grooming’ prosecutions in Rochdale in 2012 and the allegations of organised abuse in Rochdale that emerged in 1990, when twenty children were taken into care after describing sadistic abuse by their parents and others. While these two cases differ in important aspects, this paper highlights the prominence of colonial ideologies of civilisation and barbarism in the investigation and media coverage of the two cases and the sublimation of the issue of child welfare. There are important cultural and normative antecedents to sexual violence but these have been misrepresented in debates over organised abuse as racial issues and attributed to ethnic minority communities. In contrast, the colonialist trope promulgating the fictional figure of the rational European has resulted in the denial of the cultural and normative dimensions of organised abuse in ethnic majority communities by attributing sexual violence to aberrant and sexually deviant individuals whose behaviours transgress the boundaries of accepted cultural norms. This paper emphasises how the implicit or explicit focus on race has served to obscure the power dynamics underlying both cases and the continuity of vulnerability that places children at risk of sexual and organised abuse.
Reducing Shame, Promoting Dignity: A Model for the Primary Prevention of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Recommended citation: Salter, M. & Hall, H. (2021) Reducing Shame, Promoting Dignity: A Model for the Primary Prevention of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Trauma Violence Abuse, forthcoming.
The recent inclusion of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) into the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11th revision is the culmination of over twenty five years of research and clinical practice. Since the early 1990s, it has been proposed that a complex variant of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be differentiated from classical PTSD by alterations in affect and behavioral regulation, interpersonal problems, dissociative symptoms, and somatizations (Herman, 1992). As clinical scholarship and research into CPTSD has developed, it has been linked to concepts of developmental and attachment trauma, recognizing the aetiological role of early onset abuse and neglect, and associated disruptions in the child-caregiver bond (Farina, Liotti, & Imperatori, 2019). Parallel scholarship into adverse childhood experiences links child-onset trauma to major social and public health challenges, including common mental and physical illnesses, entrenched poverty and criminality (Lambert, Meza, Martin, Fearey, & McLaughlin, 2017). In light of the evidence of the public health burden of CPSTD, Ford (2015) argues for population-level interventions to reduce the prevalence of CPTSD, otherwise “vulnerable individuals and entire populations are at risk for becoming trapped in intergenerational vicious cycles escalating danger, disadvantage, and dysregulation” (p 3).
Speaking out about child sexual abuse within the family
As France continues to grapple with how a top academic who allegedly sexually abused his stepson for years was able to act with impunity, we speak to Michael Salter, Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He says coercive sexual relationships with children were “the dark side of the sexual revolution” and that it’s vital to understand that sexual abuse of minors happens across all sectors of society. “Child sexual abuse is a public health crisis,” he tells us.
“Recovered memory therapy” does not refer to an actual therapy. It’s a pejorative term invented by “false memory” advocate Richard Ofshe in 1993. Nobody has ever trained in or practiced RMT because it doesn’t exist, except in the fevered imaginations of false memory advocates.
Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher, Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief, NCRJ Reveals Itself
February 13, 2013 Comments Off on Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher, Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief, NCRJ Reveals Itself
Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher
By MARK OPPENHEIMER and IAN LOVETT
February 11, 2013
Since arriving in Los Angeles from Japan in 1962, the Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki, who is 105 years old, has taught thousands of Americans at his two Zen centers in the area and one in New Mexico. He has influenced thousands more enlightenment seekers through a chain of some 30 affiliated Zen centers from the Puget Sound to Princeton to Berlin. And he is known as a Buddhist teacher of Leonard Cohen, the poet and songwriter.
Mr. Sasaki has also, according to an investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders, released in January, groped and sexually harassed female students for decades, taking advantage of their loyalty to a famously charismatic roshi, or master….
Such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism. Several other teachers have been accused of misconduct recently, notably Eido Shimano, who in 2010 was asked to resign from the Zen Studies Society in Manhattan over allegations that he had sex with students. Critics and victims have pointed to a Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism, and to the quasi-religious worship of the Zen master, who can easily abuse his status.
Disaffected students wrote letters to the board of one of Mr. Sasaki’s Zen centers as early as 1991. Yet it was only last November, when Eshu Martin, a Zen priest who studied under Mr. Sasaki from 1997 to 2008, posted a letter to SweepingZen.com, a popular Web site, that the wider Zen world noticed.
Mr. Martin, now a Zen abbot in Victoria, British Columbia, accused Mr. Sasaki of a “career of misconduct,” from “frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students” to “sexually coercive after-hours ‘tea’ meetings, to affairs,” as well as interfering in his students’ marriages. Soon thereafter, the independent “witnessing council” of noted Zen teachers began interviewing 25 current or former students of Mr. Sasaki.
Some former students are now speaking out, including seven interviewed for this article, and their stories provide insight into the culture of Rinzai-ji and the other places where Mr. Sasaki taught. Women say they were encouraged to believe that being touched by Mr. Sasaki was part of their Zen training. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/world/asia/zen-buddhists-roiled-by-accusations-against-teacher.html
Report on Joshu Sasaki Allegations
An independent Council of Buddhist leaders investigated allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Joshu Sasaki, who has taught thousands of American at his two Zen centers in California and New Mexico. Published: February 11, 2013
On Authority by Alan Hozan Senauke with Jan Chozen Bays and Grace Myoan Schireson
When ongoing questions of misuse of sexuality or power unfold in a spiritual community, it is rarely a matter of one person’s actions. Reading through the painful and heartfelt accounts documenting Joshu Sasaki’s sexual relationships with students at Rinzaiji down through the years, we see how, knowingly and unknowingly, the community was drawn into an open secret, and people’s ability to practice the
dharma suffered. Despite individual and collective attempts to address boundaries, repentance, and rectification, these behaviors appear to have continued over more than four decades. We have reports that those who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed, or otherwise punished. Understanding that our practice is to bear what is unbearable and not to turn away from reality, how could this be so? We suggest it has something to do with a view of spiritual authority and “enlightenment” that we in the West have created in the name of Zen. To be fair, this is not just a problem of Zen. It arises in various Buddhist communities, and more widely in other religious
congregations. We are unfortunately susceptible to enthrallment, which is hardly “seeing things as they really are.” http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/12/us/Joshu-Sasaki-investigation-report.html
Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Medicine
University of New South Wales
Organised abuse refers to any incident of child sexual abuse in which multiple adults act in a coordinated or premeditated way to sexually abuse multiple children.1 Although it is a relatively infrequent form of sexual abuse, organised abuse has been amongst the most incendiary issues in debates on child sexual abuse over the last thirty years (see Brown, Scheflin et al. 1998; Kitzinger 2004). This paper will explore how organised abuse came to play a central role in conflicts over the signification of child sexual abuse. As narratives of sexual violence have gained increasingly
legitimacy in the public eye, it seems that organised abuse has come to represent a new frontier of disbelief….
During a period in which women and children’s testimony of incest and sexual abuse were gaining an increasingly sympathetic hearing, lobby groups of people accused of child abuse construed and positioned “ritual abuse” as the new frontier of disbelief. The term “ritual abuse” arose from child protection and psychotherapy practice with adults and children disclosing organised abuse, only to be discursively encircled by backlash groups with the rhetoric of “recovered memories”, “false allegations” and “moral panic”. Seeking to recast the debate on child abuse according to an older politics of disbelief, these groups and activists attempted to characterise sexual abuse testimony, as a whole, through the lens of “ritual abuse”:…
It does not take much effort to understand why people accused of child sexual abuse may engage in a vigorous defence of their innocence, nor why they might be joined by professional defence experts that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year defending them. What does bear explaining is the purchase that their rhetoric found in the media, academia and the broader community. It seems that many Australian journalists and academics held deep seated concerns about the credibility of women and children as reliable witnesses to their own lives. After a period of relatively sympathetic media coverage on sexual violence, organised abuse was used as a frame
through which concerns about women and children’s testimony could be made legitimate again. The impact of this rhetorical strategy on the lives of adults and children with a history of organised abuse has yet to be measured, however, the controversy that has been the hallmark of the politics of disbelief has effectively displaced reasoned consideration of the challenges posed by organised and ritual abuse. It seems that reports of organised abuse can be overlooked, ignored, or displaced onto minority groups, but it is too troubling a subject to approach directly without a framework of disbelief. Over the last thirty years, that framework has been in ready supply, stemming both from the long-standing medico-legal tradition of denial, and from the activism of lobby groups of people accused of sexual abuse.
Proceedings of the 2nd Australian & New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference
19 – 20 June 2008 Sydney, Australia
Presented by the Crime & Justice Research Network and the
Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Network
Edited by Chris Cunneen & Michael Salter
Published by The Crime and Justice Research Network
University of New South Wales
ISBN: 9780646507378 (pdf)
NCRJ Reveals Itself
February 9th, 2013
There was a powerful article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine on January 27 about the devastating effects of child pornography on victims whose images have been spread around the world on the Internet. It is the kind of article that would seem to generate only sympathy and concern for victims. But the “National Center for Reason and Justice” proved otherwise. This…organization used the occasion to question whether real harms occurred and to smear Dr. Joyanna Silberg, one of the therapists named in the article. In a letter to the New York Times, published on the NCRJ website, the president of the organization, defense lawyer Michael Snedeker, claimed that “Joyanna Silberg, the therapist of one young woman in the story, is notorious for advocating the debunked myth of satanic ritual child abuse.” Snedeker also asserted that “obsessive attention paid to victims can paradoxically make their feelings of trauma worse, or even cause them in the first place.” He closed by expressing concern about giving “pseudoscientific, dangerous therapists another gravy train.”
These statements are wrong in every particular. Dr. Silberg is not even the therapist for the woman she mentions in the story! That woman lives in another city. Dr. Silberg merely conducted assesments for the purpose of litigation. Dr. Silberg did not receive a percentage of any legal judgments, nor has she received any payment other than the set fees for conducting an evaluation. The insinuation that she may have engaged in therapy that made the woman worse is beyond false, it is defamatory….It is clear from the article that what Snedeker calls “feelings of trauma” were hardly caused by the therapists in this case. They were caused by the appalling actions of those who took these images and disseminated them. Moreover, Dr. Silberg has never advocated or endorsed anything pertaining to satanic ritual abuse. Instead, she is apparently a target for these smears because she has spoken up for victims of sexual abuse through the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence.