“the trauma myth” – part 2

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(part one be seen here)

The amazons book description states:

“Few would argue that the experience of sexual abuse is deeply traumatic for a child. But in this explosive new book, psychologist Susan Clancy reports on years of research and contends that it is not the abuse itself that causes trauma—but rather the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience. Clancy demonstrates that the most common feeling victims report is not fear or panic, but confusion. Because children don’t understand sexual encounters in the same ways that adults do, they normally accommodate their perpetrators— something they feel intensely ashamed about as adults. The professional assumptions about the nature of childhood trauma can harm victims by reinforcing these feelings. Survivors are thus victimized not only by their abusers but also by the industry dedicated to helping them. Path-breaking and controversial, The Trauma Myth empowers survivors to tell their own stories, and radically reshapes our understanding of abuse and its aftermath.”

The problem with this “theory” is that it confuses a lack of immediate response of a victim with a lack of harm or trauma. When trauma is defined only as stereotypical upset that leads many people to believe there was no trauma.

Some of those who sexually abuse children may enjoy terrorising them but others enjoy misusing the trust of a child, or grooming them. If complying resulted in the transformation of a parent’s persistent verbal abuse into caring words the child craves, the abuser will have trained the child to have a positive association with the harm. This is additional harm, not a reduction of harm.
This view also leads to bystanders deciding not to intercede because the child doesn’t seem to have stereotypical trauma and isn’t obviously afraid of the abuser.

What the research Clancy examines should teach those who want to help children is that we all need to understand that responses meant to help victims and survivors of sexual abuse need to be sensitive to this contrast between harm/trauma and upset.
The way people who are trying to help directly impact a child’s life can have that child preferring the harm they don’t understand to a frightening unknown. A child who has been harmed by those who supposedly care the most about their well-being may have difficulty believing that others won’t be as bad or worse. This does not mean that the sexual abuse they experienced was not in itself harmful.

Unfortunately, many people will assume that victims of sexual abuse were fully willing participants if they are more afraid of the unknown than they are of sexual abuse and cling to a sexual abuser.

Our society as a whole has serious problems in viewing any sexual abuse or rape victim who accommodates a sexual abuser as a real victim. Too many people confuse accommodation with freely given consent. Too many people have trouble viewing those who didn’t accommodate sex criminals as being real victims. This is a bit like how our society seems to have a level of disbelief surrounding domestic abuse on the basis of “if they were being hurt then why don’t they leave?”

Unfortunately it is part of the character of an abuser to not only convince the world that they are not doing anything but also to convince the victim that they deserve it, the world will blame them, the alternative is worse, that they really do love and care for them, and other such lies to manipulate the victim. This can sort of be compared to stockholm syndrome – another idea which society has issues with.

I think the best way to think of all this is that not everyone will react the same to a situration, not everyone shows the effects of trauma in the same way, and some people will actually go out of their way to hide the effects that events have had on them. But I refuse to believe for one second that this theory of child sexual abuse holds any weight, I also think that this theory is actually damaging to society; creating an atmosphere and basis for sexual predators and paedophiles to be able to get away with and even justify their crimes.

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Information about sexual predators

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So who are these sexual predators?

  • Males and Females
  • Young Adults, Middle-Aged Adults, and Seniors
  • Upper Class, Middle Class, and Disadvantaged
  • All Races & Ethnicities
  • Vocationally Diverse

In short, paedophilia, or adult sexual attraction to children, does not discriminate by race, gender, class, or age.

One child pornography sting operation by the U.S. Justice Department and Customs Postal Inspectors resulted in well over two hundred arrests. The occupations of those arrested was a virtual rainbow of American life, representing 44% of all occupations listed by the U.S. Department of Labour.

How many victims does a child molester average?

Interviews guaranteeing complete confidentiality and immunity from prosecution, conducted by Emory University psychiatrist Dr. Gene Abel, uncovered that:

  • Male offenders who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each.
  • Men who molested boys had an astonishing average of 150 victims each.
  • Only 3% of these crimes had ever been detected.

How do child molesters get into situations where they can exploit children?

Due to the nature of their sexual addiction, few paedophiles are able to resist their powerful urges to initiate contact with children and will go to great lengths to do so. Common strategies include:

  • Befriending parents, particularly single parents, to gain access to their children.
  • Offering babysitting services to overextended parents or caregivers.
  • Taking jobs and participating in community events that involve children.
  • Attending sporting events for children and/or offering to coach children’s sports.
  • Volunteering in youth organizations, offering to chaperone overnight trips.
  • Loitering in places children frequent – playgrounds, malls, game arcades, etc.
  • Spending time in Internet gaming and social communities, learning the online interests and lingo of youngsters.
  • Becoming foster parents.

What is the most common method used by child molesters?

The Affection Lure – Most victims of abuse are “groomed” over a period of weeks, months, or years. The Affection Lure is used both offline and online to seduce unsuspecting youngsters in need of love and attention. As child molesters have repeatedly said: When there’s a physically or emotionally absent parent in the picture, it makes the child more vulnerable than ever.

Which age group is most often targeted by child molesters?

In the interviews I conducted, the majority of molesters cited a preference for children on the brink of puberty. This is the age of sexual awakening, making it easy for molesters to prey on the sexual curiosity and ignorance of youngsters. To quote one of the predators I interviewed, “Give me a kid who knows nothing about sex, and you’ve given me my next victim.”

While parents are inclined to give pre-teen children more freedom and less supervision, this age group is actually the most vulnerable to abuse and abduction. One way to reduce the risk is to talk frankly and often to children about “the birds and the bees” and not allow child molesters to educate children for us.

Wouldn’t a vigilant parent be able to detect a child molester, just by their actions?

Not necessarily. Always remember:

  • Paedophiles are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and likeable.
  • Paedophiles target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life – their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies.
  • Paedophiles are professional con artists and are expert at getting children and families to trust them.
  • Paedophiles will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

Do kids and teens ever sexually abuse other children?

Sadly, yes – and many of these juvenile offenders are victims of sexual abuse themselves. A U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that:

  • 23% of all sexual offenders were under the age of 18.
  • 40% of offenders of victims under age 6 were themselves juveniles
  • 13% were 7-11 years old; 27% were 12-17 years old.
  • 39% of the offenders of victims ages 7-11 were juveniles.
  • 27% of the offenders of victims ages 12 -17 were juveniles.

What types of assaults were these?

Juvenile offenders under the age of 12 were responsible for:

  • 23% of forcible sodomies
  • 19% of forcible fondlings
  • 17% of sexual assaults with an object
  • 7% of forcible rapes

Juvenile offenders ages 12 – 18 were responsible for:

  • 36% of forcible sodomies
  • 27% of forcible fondlings
  • 23% of sexual assaults with an object
  • 17% of forcible rapes

When and where do these assaults usually happen?

The peak time for juvenile assaults was 3 pm, after school. Other spikes in the number of incidents were at the traditional meal times of 8 am, noon and 6 pm. Most of these assaults happened in the home of the victim, the home of the offender, or another residence.

How many of these assaults were by family members?

  • 49% of offenders of victims under age 6 were family members.
  • 42% of offenders of victims ages 7-11 were family members.
  • 24% of offenders of victims ages 12 – 17 were family members.

Are there groups of organized paedophiles that prey on children?

Yes. Small groups of militant and highly organized child molesters operate worldwide through paedophile organisations, whose members claim genuine concern for the welfare of children. The actual number of members in these organisations is unknown, though their power is evident. One paedophile organisation’s newsletter correctly identified ten sting operations in five different states. Another exposed and compromised four federal sting operations. Clearly, these organisations have connections.

What are their beliefs and goals?

In general, these groups believe that sex with children is harmless; some even claim that sexual relations are healthy for children. Their goals include decriminalising child molestation and lowering the age of consent.

Where do they meet?

In addition to attending paedophile conferences and conventions, members now meet primarily via the Internet where they may swap methods, success stories, even names, descriptions, and images of children. Since the early 1980’s, they have exploited the Internet to communicate with one another, spreading their propaganda to anyone who will listen.

Aren’t their activities illegal?

Most paedophile groups and members are careful to keep their public activities within the realm of protected civil liberties.

In 2006, a new political party (PNVD) was established in the Netherlands. Commonly referred to as “the Paedophile Party,” it seeks to lower the age of consent from 16 to 12. Opponents had asked The Hague District Court to bar the party from registering for national elections, but Judge H. Hofhuis ruled: “Freedom of expression, freedom … of association, including the freedom to set up a political party, can be seen as the basis for a democratic society.”

Are these paedophile groups a real threat?

While the average child molester does not belong to a paedophile organization, but we would be foolish not to take seriously any group whose members are committed to sexual activity with children.

Women, poverty and sex trafficking

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The burden of caring for the family often rests more heavily on the mother. She likely works longer hours and may well be the only provider. In some rural areas of Africa, nearly half the families are headed by women. In some localities in the Western world, a significant proportion of families are headed by the female.

Furthermore, especially in developing countries, women traditionally handle some of the most laborious jobs, such as fetching water and firewood. Deforestation and overgrazing have made these tasks much more difficult. In some drought-plagued countries, women spend three or more hours every day searching for firewood and four hours a day fetching water. Only when this drudgery is done can they begin to do the work that is expected of them in the home or on the land.

Obviously, both men and women suffer in countries where poverty, hunger, or strife is the daily fare. But women suffer disproportionately. Will this situation ever change? Are there any real prospects that one day women everywhere will be treated with respect and consideration? Is there anything women can do now to improve their lot?

Every year an estimated one million children—mostly girls—are forced or sold into prostitution. Araya, who comes from Southeast Asia, recalls what happened to some of her classmates. “Kulvadee became a prostitute when she was only 13. She was a nice girl, but her mother often got drunk and used to play poker, so she had no time to care for her daughter. Kulvadee’s mother encouraged her to earn money by going out with men, and before long, she was working as a prostitute. Sivun, another pupil in my class, came from the north of the country. She was just 12 when her parents sent her to the capital to work as a prostitute. She had to work for two years to pay off the contract signed by her parents. Sivun and Kulvadee are not unusual—5 out of the 15 girls in my class became prostitutes.”

There are millions of youngsters like Sivun and Kulvadee. “The sex industry is a huge market with its own momentum,” laments Wassyla Tamzali, of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). “Selling a 14-year-old girl has become so commonplace, it is banal.” And once these girls are sold into sexual slavery, paying off their purchase price may prove almost impossible. Manju, whose father sold her when she was 12, still owed $300 (U.S.) after seven years of prostitution. “There was nothing I could do—I was trapped,” she explains.

Escaping AIDS may be nearly as difficult for the girls as escaping the pimps who enslave them. A survey conducted in Southeast Asia indicated that 33% of these child prostitutes were infected with AIDS. As long as the five-billion-dollar prostitution industry flourishes, it is likely that these girls will continue to suffer.

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