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Archive for the ‘Sexual Abuse’ Category

PhotobucketFor those of you who haven’t heard yet, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of the 48 charges of child sexual abuse filed against him involving the abuse of 10 boys. For those of you unfamiliar with the case (many of my readers do not live in the United States), Jerry Sandusky was a well-known assistant college football coach who founded a charity for disadvantaged children. Several of these children (who are now adults) accused him of sexually abusing them. A jury believed their accounts, and Sandusky will be sentenced to prison soon.

I am wondering how readers are reacting to this verdict. My initial reaction is relief that juries will listen to the accounts of child abuse survivors even years after the abuse happened. Most children do not tell at the time that the abuse is taking place, which has effectively given many child abusers a “free pass.” As long as children must tell immediately after the child abuse happened to be believed, justice will never prevail because most children are too frightened to tell at the time the child abuse is happening.

I am also relieved that, according to the new accounts I am reading online, the public is supportive of Sandusky’s victims as well as the verdict. Can you imagine how much more difficult this situation would be if the press turned on the victims? My guess is that the victims are feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now. I am relieved that they are not feeling the need to justify themselves to the press.

I am grateful for the publicity that this case has generated because the general public doesn’t want to believe that anyone famous or that anyone who is active in charities for children can be a child abuser. This case is forcing the general public to acknowledge that being famous does not ensure that a person is safe around children, and it is also breaking through the denial that someone who does good things on the surface cannot also do bad things to children one-on-one.

I have spoken with numerous child abuse survivors over the years through this blog, at isurvive, and in person. Those who were abused by people who were pillars of the community often have an extra hurdle to overcome because they have been told their whole lives about what wonderful people their abusers are. I have spoken with child abuse survivors who were abused by pastors and missionaries – people who have done an enormous amount of good publicly but who made a child’s life a living hell at the same time. This duality really messes with a child abuse survivor’s head.

The Jerry Sandusky trial will (hopefully) help child abuse survivors who were abused by public “heroes” push through the hurdles of being harmed by someone who is beloved publicly. An abuser is an abuser regardless of his or her public face.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Orgasm during Rape or Other Form of Sexual Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I’ll tell you what [sexual abuse] is…it is a theft. Theft in every sense of the word. A recognition about the biology of young lives and sexuality and that our bodies are just NATURALLY WIRED TO RESPOND SEXUALLY…is NO EXCUSE for these monsters to take advantage of this. They impose upon a very real theft and imposition… ~ Brenda

I really like the term “theft” being applied to raping a child, which is what sexual abuse is. This is what bothers me so much about NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) trying to sell sexual contact between a man and a boy as consensual “love.” The boy does not know or appreciate what is being stolen from him, so he cannot consent to the sexual contact.

What was stolen from me when I was raped as a child? My innocence. The wonder about what sex might be like. My dreaming and hoping and thinking about what my first sexual experience might be like. My choice in pacing what I would like to experience now and what I would like to wait to experience. My choice of who my first sexual partner would be.

I have never experienced giving away a little more and a little more until I climax into bliss. Once I reached what was supposed to be the climax, a whole pile of dirty laundry fell all around me, ruining what should have been beautiful. I couldn’t figure out why that part of my body “dried up,” causing intercourse to be painful throughout my honeymoon.

A belief that sex is a way of expressing love has been stolen from me, and I don’t know if I will ever get it back. As my child moves into puberty, I want to tell him about the beauty and specialness of sex when I don’t believe in it myself. My ability to prepare him for what lies ahead is gone – I don’t know what it is like for a normal child to experience sexuality normally.

I have been married for two decades and continue to feel conflicted toward sex. I had multiple orgasms as a raped little girl – orgasms that made me feel sick to my stomach and hate myself – but they elude me in a loving marriage. An entire aspect of my life and marriage was stolen before I should have even known what sex was.

I am healing in this area and will continue to heal, but I will never get back what was stolen from me. Sex will alway be complicated and complex when it should be simple. What breaks my heart is having the wonder stolen. That must be such a beautiful part of coming of age, but I will never know because it was stolen from me.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Creepy basement (c) HekatekrisI heard on the radio yesterday that more alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky have come forward. According to this article, the New York Times reported that about 10 more alleged victims have come forward (which is consistent with what I heard on the radio) but that the Pennsylvania State Police have not confirmed the number. The police are interviewing these new accusers.

For anyone who doesn’t understand why other people step forward once an abuser has been accused, the reason is that the victims are now more likely to be believed. Even when someone is sexually abused by a “nobody,” the victim risks not being believed. Nobody wants to believe that abuse happens, and the victim is the one who gets interrogated first – not only by the police but by family and friends of both the victim and the abuser.

When and where did it happen? How many times? What exactly did he do to you? Did you tell anyone when it happened? Why not? Why are you telling now? Are you sure it happened? You say this happened over a decade ago – Are you sure this really happened? I believe you believe it happened, but have you considered that you might have mental health issues? Are you sure you didn’t just dream this?

These are questions faced by any child abuse survivor who speaks out in adulthood, even when the abuser is not a celebrity. Imagine what it must be like for boys – many of whom were lured in through a charity reaching out to disadvantaged children – to stand up against a local hero. Heck, a “football god” to many! Who would have believed them?

Also, how many of these boys grew up believing that they were Sandusky’s only victims? How many believed there was something fundamentally “wrong” with them, explaining why they were abused? Once the silence has been shattered, many victims have the courage to step forward publicly and say, “It happened to me, too.”

These young men stepping forward are not doing it for five minutes of fame. They are finding the courage to stand up against the person who took away their innocence. As more victims come forward, it will be more difficult to deny the truth of what happened regardless of how powerful or famous the abuser is.

I hope that all of Sandusky’s victims are getting therapy to help them heal, and I hope that receiving public validation that the abuse DID happen helps them along their healing journeys.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am reading Jodi Picoult’s book, The Tenth Circle, for my book club. I did not know that this was a book about teen rape when we decided to read this book. If I had, I would have voted to read another book this month. I am slammed with my new job and won’t come up for air until June 2, so this is not the best timing for reading a book about rape.

Nevertheless, I am reading it while I work out at the gym in the early mornings, and I am enjoying it despite its serious content. The book delves into the many facets of teen rape. You have a 14-year-old girl who was dating a 17-year-old boy with her parents’ consent (which I, personally, cannot imagine supporting as a parent). He broke up with her. This was her first crush, and she is having a hard time getting over him, so she follows her best friend’s stupid advice to make him jealous by engaging in dangerous behaviors.

In a nutshell, the 14-year-old girl attends a sex party at her friend’s house (where the ex-boyfriend is invited). They are playing the “Rainbow Game” – a game I had never heard of but will now be preventing my son from going to any unsupervised parties!! – where each girl wears a different colored lipstick and performs oral sex on different boys. The boy sporting the most colors on his “rainbow” wins the game. Yuck!

Anyhow, the girl participates in the “game” one time and then throws up. After everyone else leaves, it is just her, the 14-year-old friend, the ex-boyfriend, and another 17-year-old boy. The girl is wearing a sheer shirt, low-rise jeans with no underwear, and plays strip poker with the boys. The other couple goes upstairs. One thing leads to another. The girl just wants to kiss and make out (“second base”) with her ex-boyfriend. He interprets all of the above as consent to sex and rapes her. The rest of the book (or at least as far as I have read) explores the many facets of this scenario – sadly one that happens frequently at teen parties and on college campuses.

The 14-year-old girl never said yes to sex and was a virgin. Her reaction to the sexual contact is the same as other rape victims – deep shame, feeling dirty, dressing in baggy clothing, insomnia, etc. There is no question that her reaction is of one a rape victim.

The 17-year-old boy was at a sex party where all of the girls (including the 14-year-old girl) were providing all of the boys with oral sex. She was in a sheer blouse with no underwear, kissing him, and taking off her bra for him. Both had also been drinking. From his perspective, all was consensual. His reaction is dumbfounded.

How can the same act be absolutely devastating to one party and viewed as completely consensual by the other? I was in a similar situation with an ex-boyfriend in college (minus the sex party – we were alone in his dorm room talking about whether we could work things out). He took things farther than I wanted. I dissociated. He performed intercourse on my body – something I did not want, did not ask for, and had repeatedly told him that I was not ready for because I believed I was a virgin. He saw it as consensual. I gained 30 lbs and experienced numerous trauma aftereffects. I was terrified of him and was never alone with him again. He expressed befuddlement at my “rejection” since we had finally “consummated” our relationship.

How can the same act between the two parties involved be so different? How could he truly believe that sex was consensual when her reaction was with trauma?

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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A reader asked if I have ever written a blog about how to deal with having been pregnant by your abuser. The answer is no, so I am going to write about this topic today. I am infertile, so I (obviously) have never gotten pregnant through rape. This means that I cannot talk about what it feels like firsthand. However, I can share a few insights that I have picked up along the way from other people who have either gotten pregnant by rape or were conceived by rape. I hope that others who have gotten pregnant by rape will post supportive comments.

I know one child abuse survivor who became pregnant by rape in her teens. Her abuse started when she was around eight years old, so she did not split into alter parts. She always remembered numerous abuses and assumed that she remembered all. Recovering the memory of having become pregnant by her abuser and being forced to have an abortion was incredibly traumatizing for her. The rapes, the pregnancy, and the abortion were all three different levels of trauma for her.

I read the story of another woman who became pregnant by rape. She chose to give birth to the baby (rather than abort) and place the baby for adoption. While her growing belly was a constant reminder of the rape, she also recognized that the baby was also “half her,” and she loved the baby despite the baby’s beginnings. She wrote her story from a place of peace – of seeing her baby as the good that came out of such a horrible situation. She also felt good about the happiness that the baby brought to its adoptive parents.

I have spoken online with adult adoptees who were conceived by rape. (They absolutely loathe the term “product of rape,” so don’t use it.) Most of them were placed into adoptive homes, but they struggle to come to terms with knowing that their conception was through a violent act. They also struggle with knowing that half of their DNA came from a rapist.

No matter how you approach the topic of pregnancy through rape, it is going to be painful. The conception and birth of a baby should be a wonderfully joyous occasion, but conception by rape changes that dynamic. I cannot imagine the horror of having a baby growing in my body as a constant reminder of the rape(s), and I also cannot imagine having to face a crisis pregnancy with all of the decisions and possible stigma by the people in my life.

As with any other trauma, different women work through pregnancy through rape in different ways. Some choose to abort – some regret the decision while others are grateful for this option. Some choose to place the baby for adoption – again, some regret the decision while others find peace. Some choose to parent the baby. This comes with its own mix of joys (the love of your child) and struggles (seeing a physical resemblance between your baby and your rapist). Crisis pregnancy is never easy, and a crisis pregnancy through rape is even more challenging. My advice is to talk with a therapist about a crisis pregnancy through rape and talk through your feelings as well as all of your options.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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A reader sent me the following link. I am thrilled that such a large pedophile ring has been broken!

Police say international pedophile ring smashed

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My blog entry yesterday about the man who encouraged women over the Internet to sexually abuse their own children on camera and send the footage to him got me thinking about another topic I don’t think I have addressed on this blog. Several child abuse survivors have told me about mothers who did not abuse them directly but, instead, prostituted the child out for money or drugs. Sadly, this scenario happens much more frequently than people want to talk about, and the mother’s betrayal is extremely damaging to the child. (The same comment applies if it was the father, sibling, or anyone else who profited from the child being abused by a third party.)

When I was an active member on Isurvive, I became close online friends with one woman whose mother prostituted her out for drugs Even though her mother did not directly sexually abuse her, we had so much in common in our feelings toward our mothers. The level of betrayal she felt at being “sold” for drugs was the same level of betrayal that I felt at being sexually abused directly by my mother. Both of us struggled with an enormous amount of rage toward our mothers, and we walked hand in hand through the healing process together. This form of sexual abuse is very emotionally damaging to the child.

Other abused children are prostituted out for other reasons. I, myself, was prostituted out by a child pornography and prostitution ring that disguised itself as a satanic cult. I suspect the reason for this was (1) to protect the identities of the abusers; and (2) to discredit me if I ever told anyone about it. The difference between my situation and my online friend’s situation is that (I believe) the ones profiting from the child prostitution and pornography were S & L, my most sadistic abusers, rather than my mother. While what I suffered was terrible, the added layer of your own mother being the one to profit from prostituting out a child makes the betrayal even deeper.

If someone you loved received money or drugs in return for allowing someone to sexually abuse you, you are not alone. Sadly, this happens a lot. When someone suffers from an addiction, he or she will sometimes do anything to get the next fix. People mostly think of people with addiction problems committing robbery or perhaps prostituting out themselves, but children are sometimes the commodity that is sought by those providing the drugs. Of course, not every addict will do something so despicable, but some do. Those who were abused due to this scenario need our loving support.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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