CN: mentions of child sexual abuse
Poltergeists are thought to be ghosts or spirits which cause alarming disturbances. One of the most famous British Poltergeist cases in the history books comes in the form of the Enfield Poltergeist case, which I’ve written about here before.
Poltergeist cases sit on the rarer end of the ghost experience spectrum. See, your bog-standard ghost can cause disturbances too, and is said to move things around, misplace things, cause sensations such as cold spots, make noises and so on. A Poltergeist, on the other hand, is a bit more sinister because they’re said to be attracted to people and all of the activity associated with them seems to be centred around this individual. More often than not, it’s a child going through puberty or a young adult, and usually, the cases are not as clear cut as they first appear.
Due to this element in these cases, an ethical approach to any Poltergeist case is absolutely paramount because there is so very much which can go wrong. And I’m not talking “paranormal-ly wrong”, either. The people at the centre of Poltergeist cases may be displaying symptoms of underlying biological, psychological or social issues. Amateur paranormal researchers need to tread very carefully in order to not cause more harm than good.
Not only that, but adults who are involved in the case (such as care workers, parents, family friends etc.) need to be really careful about who they invite into the home to investigate the alleged paranormal activity. There are so many people who present themselves as paranormal experts who, at first appearances, might seem to be the very people to help, but are actually the last people you should think about inviting into your home.
When it comes to Poltergeists, it isn’t always the Poltergeist that you should fear the most.
It was recently reported that Jason Love- a self-styled “Poltergeist expert”, “demonologist” and “exorcist”, was convicted for sexually abusing children. The Daily Record reports that he ‘faces a lengthy jail term after being convicted of five charges including indecent assault and lewd and libidinous conduct …’ involving ‘… three boys during a 12 year reign of abuse’.
This self-styled “paranormal expert” is exactly the sort of self-presenting hero that people might reach out to for help if they think they have a Poltergeist or ghost. When you consider the fact that pubescent children are usually the focus for alleged Poltergeist activity, the potential for further abuse at the hands of this convicted child abuser is chilling. People- usually children and young adults -in the most vulnerable of positions, could have been placed in further harms way and it genuinely chills me to the bone to think about.
Worse still, this isn’t the first case of a ghost hunter being convicted for sexually abusing children. In 2010, the president of Hull Paranormal Ghost Society, Robert Taylor, was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years for raping a 13-year-old boy on eight occasions.
In 2015, “ghost hunter” David Gillchrist was found guilty of sex offences involving children. In 2017, Timothy Smith- a Tunbridge Wells ghost hunter –was convicted for 16 child sex offences. In the same year Andrew Auster, who ran a ghost hunt business in York, was jailed for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.
The abuse meted out at the hands of these men may not have been done while they worked on ghost hunts. However, the potential for these terrible people to come into contact with children in vulnerable positions is terrifying.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to stop such people presenting themselves as paranormal experts and holding these positions of trust. However, there are things that we can all do to try and stop such people from coming into contact with those having distressing experiences.
For example, not dismissing those who reach out about their paranormal experiences is a huge first step. Just talking to people who have experienced weird things can help so much because some people just need to be heard.
If someone seems distressed and you think they need medical help, you should speak to them about this and encourage them to seek it out for themselves. There’s a great guide on the Mind website about dealing with such situations. Mind also have a good guide for how to help someone in a crisis.
Personally, I’ve been investigating paranormal claims for over a decade. In all this time, I’ve only ever had to make the decision to seek help for someone I was concerned about on one occasion. In this instance, I called the Mind infoline.
That said, not everybody reporting Poltergeist activity is experiencing psychological issues. Just proposing potential alternative explanations for what they are experiencing can help them. Alternatively, pointing them towards an established organisation who have registered investigators that might be able to help is probably the best course of action. I would recommend the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) or the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP).