EMBATTLED child sex abuse advocate Liz Mullinar has alarmed supporters with disturbing claims about satanic ritual abuse in response to allegations against her Heal for Life centre.
In a statement yesterday Ms Mullinar claimed 10 per cent of abuse victims at Heal for Life, or more than 500 people, reported being victims of satanic ritual abuse.
In her only interview yesterday she told the Newcastle Herald satanic ritual abuse was where children were sexually assaulted ‘‘in the name of Satan’’, then told ‘‘You are bad, you are evil, and you belong to Satan’’.
‘‘For me, because this is my truth, I’m not going to deny it because it sounds just too bizarre,’’ she said.
‘‘If it’s in the name of Satan, I can tell you it does terrible things to your head.
‘‘It’s a group of people who sexually abuse children, do it in the name of Satan and that’s what they call themselves.
‘‘It’s not a big deal. It’s just the way it is.’’
Ms Mullinar rejected accusations her Christian beliefs and public statements about being a victim of satanic abuse influenced people at the centre.
‘‘It’s nonsense that I would ever try to say to someone that they were the victim of satanic ritual abuse,’’ she said.
The comments were made after a highly critical ABC 7.30 report alleging inadequate training of volunteer carers and routine self harm at Heal for Life’s Mayumarri centre at Cessnock.
Former carers and former Heal for Life board member, benefactor and developer Graham Oborn called for the organisation to be investigated.
‘‘I feel very let down. I feel angry. I want to see a solution to it,’’ Mr Oborn said.
Ms Mullinar denied allegations abuse victims were indirectly encouraged to self harm by methods used during the centre’s programs.
‘‘Self harm is self abuse. Any suggestion that we would encourage self harm is absolutely wrong,’’ she said.
The centre had increased training and support for abuse victims who became volunteer carers after complaints from former carers to the Health Care Complaints Commission, and an independent evaluation endorsed by the Heal for Life board, she said.
A psychologist provided training every six weeks. Four facilitators with counsellor training ran programs. The centre employed a counsellor for two days a week to support the carers.
But Ms Mullinar said Mayumarri was ‘‘a place where everyone is on their own healing journey’’.
‘‘We don’t do counselling here. This is not a psychiatric hospital.’’
Ms Mullinar cried while talking about watching the 7.30 program, and criticised the former carers who had complained about the centre.
If she was asked to leave in the interests of the centre ‘‘I would do so immediately’’.
‘‘All I care about, my passion, is helping survivors of child abuse.’’
Dr Christine Edwards, who has a PhD in psychology science and has completed a number of evaluations of Heal for Life, said Ms Mullinar’s comments about satanic ritual abuse and the lack of a team of health professionals in the organisation left the organisation, and Ms Mullinar, vulnerable to criticism.
‘‘She’s a strongly religious person. With the belief in God comes the belief in Satan, but when she’s put in government submissions for funding I’ve said straight out to her, ‘Don’t write about satanic ritual abuse because there’s not enough evidence to support it. You don’t want people to think you’re a ratbag’.’’
Dr Edwards said Heal for Life provided ‘‘a very important service’’.
‘‘There is nowhere else people can go for a week or two weeks to work through their problems.
‘‘There needs to be a team of professional people go in to support the volunteers, and that doesn’t happen at Heal for Life.
‘‘Liz is a force unto herself. Without her there’d be a lot of people worse off. I think it would be a terrible shame if it was closed down, but I think there are ways they could improve the organisation.’’