I have been to a large number of workshops where mainly women revealed they had
been sexually abused as children, usually by their fathers. Statics suggest this
happens to one half of all women. This is an astoundingly frequent. It suggests the
behaviour is normal, in the sense of common. In our closest cousin,
the bonobo, this behaviour is universal. This leads me to speculate that his
behaviour must have some Darwinian survival value. In primitive times, if a male
selected his mate before she reached puberty, then jealously kept all other males
away from her he reaped two benefits:
- Any children would be his. He would not be cuckolded into raising another
- So long as he was monogamous, he would not catch any
STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) from his mate. This also protects his offspring
But what survival advantage is there in a father having sex with a pre-pubescent
daughter? All I can think of is this is less dangerous than having sex with some
other man’s mate.
People often put their lives on hold when they realise the seriousness of the
taboo they and their abuser broke when they had a sexual encounter. This painful
realisation usually happens many years after the actual event. The original event
could be as mild as clothed touching or kissing. The child might even have been the
instigator, or it could have been as traumatic as a violent rape.
Some of the things people do that don’t work to help an
abuse victim include:
- Tell them they are a powerless victim.
- Tell them they have been violated in a way unbelievably awful and unique.
- Tell them they have suffered psychological damage that will haunt them the rest
of their lives.
- Tell them the only option they have is to seek ten fold revenge. There is
nothing they can do to heal themselves.
- Tell them the perpetrator was not human, was far worse a criminal than Hannibal
Lector or Jeffrey Dahmer. The child had an enounter with an animal the like of
which the earth has never before seen. It was a complete fluke they even survived.
Your pity for them is infinite.
- Claiming this assault has made the victim permanently unclean and sexually
defective in eyes of all future partners and in the eyes of the loving god Jehovah
who now is forced to abandon the vicitum despite Jehoha’ infinite mercy.
Decry how dare the adult have done such a terrible thing to the victim.
In case after case, well meaning boobs end up doing far more psychological damage
than the original incident.
Some of the things people do that do work to help an abuse victim
- Remind them how common this is. The universe has not singled them out for
unusually cruel treatment, even though it is no picnic. This has happened to half
of women and somehow most of them find a way to deal with it.
- Remind them that as children they were not responsible for what happened. The
adult was. No matter what they did or what thoughts they had, the adult was the one
in charge. The adult is the one responsible.
- Get them to relive the traumatic incident, over and over until it gets boring,
perhaps using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).
- Encourage them to relive the event in imagination armed with the adult
understanding of the additional power and options they had as a child that they
were unaware of at the time. Encourage them to imagine using those powers to create
a different outcome.
- Reassure the victim that they can overcome this trauma. It is
just one of many unpleasant events they already survived.
- Encourage them to confront the abuser. If the abuser is dead or unavailable,
ask them to do it in imagination to release the anger, or to write the abuser a
letter, even if it cannot be delivered.
- Presenting this idea is exceedingly delicate, but remind them that at the time,
the event did not likely feel as traumatic as it appears now. Perhaps they did not
even cry at the time, so at the time, it felt less terrible than falling off a
bike. The extreme emotional pain was created later by the realisation of breaking a