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***** sexual abuse triggers*****

Some people have a difficult time understanding how a woman can sexually abuse a child. This is probably because the made-for-TV movies tend to focus upon men who sexually abuse girls, and people have an understanding about what is involved in rape. Women can sexually abuse both boys and girls in a number of ways.

Most of my female abusers sexually abused me through oral sex, both forcing it upon me and forcing me to perform it upon them. They can fondle the child, just as a male abuser can. Many (but certainly not all) female abusers give children unnecessary enemas. Some will insert objects into a child’s various orifices. All of these abuses can be inflicted upon both boys and girls.

Many survivors of sexual abuse by female abusers have a difficult time labeling what they have suffered. Over at Making Daughters Safe Again, we had a discussion going about whether a woman can “rape” a child. We concluded that she can. Rape is not about a male body part being inserted into a female orifice – it is about a more powerful person (whether male or female) assaulting a weaker person (a child for the purposes of this discussion) in a sexual manner.

One person really wanted to embrace the term “rape” because that word captures the trauma involved much better than any other word in the English language. When a female abuser is forcing a child to endure oral sex, the child is not merely being “molested” (which means “to bother, interfere with, annoy”). The child is being violated in a traumatizing way.

I have been raped by both men and women, and all forms of rape are traumatizing. Whenever an abuser assaults a child, the trauma is overwhelming. The fact that the abuser is female instead of male does not make the trauma any less painful. Sexual assault is sexual assault whether it is inflicted by a man or a woman.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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