Posts Tagged ‘child sexual abuse’

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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For the last couple of days, I have been talking about issues with sex after childhood sexual abuse. Several people have posted comments on these blog entries. Paul also wrote about this topic on his blog here. Paul’s coverage of the topic cited different sources that got me thinking a lot about this aspect of healing.

Sexual healing has been one of the biggest hurdles for me. I have been married for a very long time, so my options have been either to buck it up and have sex or divorce. (Hub is definitely not willing to have a sex-free marriage.) I bought the book The Sexual Healing Journey a few years ago, but I still have not read it. I have been very resistant to opening the can of worms involved in healing myself sexually. Instead, I have relied on lots of dissociation to get through it.

Some events have transpired recently that have me thinking that I might be able to heal this area of my life. This is the first time that I have even considered this aspect of my life being capable of healing. Other sexual abuse survivors have told me that I could heal this area, but I frankly did not believe them. I thought I was too defective in this area, so why even bother?

I have never talked about this before, so it is hard to write, but I am going to throw it out there. Here are some of my big sticking points.

1. I don’t know what I like, so I don’t know how to communicate that to my husband. I never liked anything as a kid, and my opinion on what was being done was irrelevant, so I feel completely in the dark about having a “this is what I like” discussion since I don’t know what I do like.

2. I have a hard time taking any initiative because, as a child, my job was to let others do what they wanted with my body. So, I am just passive – along for the ride – rather than an active participant. I just flee my body through dissociation and hope it ends quickly.

3. A part of myself feels like I am betraying myself if I let myself enjoy it. If an orgasm is “good,” then what was the problem when I was a kid? Yes, I get the difference intellectually, but the little girl inside feels like an orgasm is a betrayal of myself.

4. I am afraid to awaken this part of myself because, from what I understand, sex is a “need.” I don’t want to “need” sex because then I will have to rely on another person to meet this need. I would rather not have the need then have to rely on another person to meet it. Again, I know intellectually that my husband is happy to meet this need as often as I want it, but there is a part of myself that is grateful that I don’t “need” sex.

5. I sometimes just want my body to be mine. For my entire life, my body has been someone else’s to use. Sometimes I just want a sabbatical in which I get to have the exclusive say over my body. (Yes, I know that I can say no to my husband, but that is choosing to end my marriage if I want to go for months without sex, and I am not ready to do that.)

These are just some of the issues I wrestle with when I even bother to think about healing that part of myself. I frequently think it is not worth the effort. Can anyone relate?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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