A recently published survey by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection found that over 50% of adult survivors of child abuse imagery (“child porn”) were victimised in organised abuse. Importantly, the survey found that they were usually trafficked into organised abuse by their own parents.
Those of us who work with organised abuse survivors will not be surprised to hear this. Since the 1980s, clinicians and researchers have warned that parents are major players in organised abuse and the global production of child abuse material.
This is a message that many have been unable to hear. A number of journalists and academics claimed that these reports are evidence of “moral panic” and an epidemic of “false memories”.
There is now an extensive body of literature claiming that state authorities and other groups exaggerated allegations of organised abuse to expand their control and execute an ideological agenda.
This was a largely confected controversy. There is no evidence of an upsurge of baseless or rash prosecutions for child sexual abuse. Prosecutions rates or child sex offences remain low across all jurisdictions.
However, the debate over “false memories” effectively forestalled the development of any specialised response to organised sexual abuse.
The data has remained the same for almost thirty years now. The overlap between incest, organised abuse and the manufacture of child abuse material is undeniable.
The research by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection suggests that agencies are starting to pay attention to complex trauma and the extremes of sexual violence against children.
Addressing this problem will require us to move beyond disbelief and begin to interrogate the contexts and power dynamics that make the production of child abuse material possible.
Behind every child abuse image there is a story of a severely abused child. It's about time we started listening to those stories.