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Archive for August 25th, 2010

This week, I have been talking about ways that child abusers sometimes “groom” their victims and make the child feel responsible for the sexual abuse. Children who have been groomed for sexual abuse and feel responsible often struggle with an enormous amount of shame. Because they feel responsible for the abuse, they have ambivalent feelings about whether they were, in fact, victims and whether they have the right to heal.

I have interacted with numerous sexual abuse survivors who feel responsible for the sexual abuse. I have had women tell me that they “chose” the sexual abuse when they were only 5 or 6 years old, so they cannot hate their abuser for the sexual contact. Numerous sexual abuse survivors have told me that they initiated the sexual contact as a child and are, therefore, responsible for it.

Please hear me – a child cannot initiate a sexual relationship with an adult. Period. Any sexual contact between and adult and a child is always the adult’s fault – ALWAYS!

Children who have not gone through puberty do not have sex drives. They do not have a desire, interest, or even knowledge of sexual relationships. Any prepubescent child who desires sexual interactions with others only gets that way from being sexually abused. It simply does not happen otherwise. Puberty is what awakens sexual desire in a child. Until a child’s body goes through puberty, there is nothing to stimulate a desire for a sexual relationship.

That being said, babies are born into the world in bodies that have been designed to grow into having sexual desires after puberty awakens that desire. The “hard wiring” is already there, so child abusers can stimulate a child’s body to cause it to orgasm prematurely. Once a child’s body has been stimulated prematurely like this, the body’s reaction is completely out of synch with the child’s emotional maturity and needs, which wreaks havoc in the child.

This is doubly an issue when the only positive attention that the child receives is intermixed with the sexual abuse. Then you have a child who wants to meet her emotional needs to feel loved and special who must endure abuse in order to get it. The child does not want the sexual contact – she wants the attention – but it all gets jumbled up in her head. Then, she grows into an adult who believes that she invited the sexual contact when what she really did was try to meet her very normal emotional needs (to feel loved and special) at a very high price. Wanting to be loved is not the same thing as wanting to have sexual contact, but the abuser makes the child believe that they are the same, causing the child to experience deep shame for “wanting” the abuse.

Sexual abuse is one big mind-f@#$ to a child. A child is never responsible for the sexual abuse, and the resulting mind-f@#$ is yet another way that the abuser hurts the child.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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