Is childhood sexual abuse the new normal?

I’d value your input and thoughts on this post.

It comes following the revelations this week of abuse by people in positions of trust in the football leagues in the UK. This, coupled with the election of Donald Trump makes me ask

“Is childhood sexual abuse the new normal?”

Do listen …

the recording poses a series of interesting questions such as

  1. Is it easier to find people who have been abused than people who haven’t been abused?
  2. Will society get bored and start to say “Oh for heaven’s sake it happens all the time”?
  3. If so many people have been abused I’m wondering how society functions at all … or maybe it doesn’t (function)
  4. The US has a President elect who used to grope women and make light of it .. clearly it just doesn’t matter to millions of people over there
  5. Are we as a society more interested in the “monster” than the Survivor?
  6. Does society, collectively, have more interest in retribution than redress for the Survivor?

I know it’s not a zero sum game—but these are questions that need answers.

One thing I do know and I can say with absolute certainty is this: I feel sad and cheated that I cannot ever look at a father and young daughter without seeing the father as twisted. I “see” abuse everywhere. That is truly sickening and sad. It has destroyed my vision of any such thing as paternal love for a daughter.

But then again, if abuse is indeed the new normal, perhaps I’m over reacting. I just can’t get my head round it …… truth be known I’m sinking here!

What do you think? Is abuse the new normal?

What is the impact of all these revelations on Survivors?

Should we fight to keep the subject on the public agenda—or is it time that we just let go?

 

 

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Nan Mykel says:

    We cant let go! I’ve had some postings on incest where not one person has wanted to see it. I wrote a book on incest and my public library did not want to cooperate on a presentation. If we give in to the “new normal” we are abandoning the children,,,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree… it’s a struggle but we must persevere if we can! Interest to hear about the response to your book. Can I ask how recent that incident was?

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      1. Nan Mykel says:

        Serena, I’m not clear which post you are replying to or what “incident”–the library or the incest? The incest was when I was ten, .The incest was 71 years ago, and I began treating sex offenders 34 years ago. My book was published 2014 by Create Space, an Amazon subsidiary.Almost no one purchased it, but then I’m not into marketing. Thanks for asking.

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  2. Bonsai says:

    This is a tricky question. When people began talking openly about their gayness, it spread little by little down the line to teens with younger and younger people coming out. If we began opening up about such horrific experiences pertaining to child sex abuse, we must be clear to stigmatize and shame the abusers. We must be clear to make the abusers nearly sub-human (treating them of course), but we cannot make it seem at all normal.

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    1. Yes. That’s a useful approach to remember: that it’s the abusers who should be stigmatized and shamed. You know I’d never seen my father as someone who should be shamed… I need to work on that.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
      Serena

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bonsai says:

        I want to clarify something. When I wrote “shamed” I meant more in the sense of “the public in general who participates in such activities.” I believe in forgiveness if a person is sincere and asks for it, but the activity itself, child sexual abuse, participating in pedophilia etc. has to be outright shamed in all of its aspects. Victims speaking up helps say, it’s not normal period. Keep speaking and writing!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello again and thank you. Yes I too believe in forgiveness. And in most cases would agree that we need to separate the behaviour from the person. It’s just that, for me, I really need to unpack my father. He’s dead now. But I never really dealt with him and he was the abuser. In his case he went on to a) rubbish me and devalue me; b) deny. deny. deny.
          I have all sorts of evidence in written form which I’ve now found which is a bizarre comfort: it helps me with the “oh she’s making all of this up and one day I’ll wake up from the nightmare” type thinking. It’s also bizarre because my body holds the scars and is a potent witness to the evidence …
          So, yes,shame the behaviour definitely. Shame the perpetrator–maybe, maybe. Forgiveness: yes!
          Take care and I look forward to your posts too.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Bonsai says:

            How horrible not to have the acknowledgement and justice. My ex has been in prison 10 years for molesting our daughter

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          2. Bonsai says:

            Oh…but he doesn’t acknowledge it was wrong. It was natural in his warped culturally tainted mind.

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  3. I think that you pose some very difficult questions. I agree with a previous post – I suspect that any sort of abuse – sexual or otherwise – is not any more or less prevalent but its visibility and the willingness of affected individuals and the media to report it gives it more prevalence – this can both sensationalise and desensitise! Whilst on the whole this openness is a good thing there are inherent dangers one being that it can give us a distorted view of the world. We are not all abused, all men are not rapists or abusers and most fathers don’t abuse their children – it just feels like it when the papers and the media are full of these reports and this is our lived experience.

    I don’t think that its necessarily easier to find people who have been abused than those that haven’t – it’s just that ‘nothing bad happened to me’ just isn’t news. I do think that there is a danger of desensitisation and ‘abuse fatigue’ – we see the same affect with disaster reporting, there’s a point at which people just don’t/can’t care any more! The media as well like a horror story so, often, the victim is not the news but the victimiser is. There’s a sort of fascination with the perpetrator – whether it’s Jack the Ripper, Fred West, Myra Hindley or whoever.

    Can there ever be redress? As another poster said ‘one cannot go back and be another child’ and retribution / punishment is so much easier and makes us feel better as if we had done something / resolved the issue / made it go away but of course we haven’t and nothing is resolved and it hasn’t gone away.

    One of the more sensible comments I heard on the radio was somebody talking about needing to address historic events but that our focus should be on empowering the current and emerging generations to exercise control and know how to stop / report the abuse at an earlier stage or even before it happens and to force the authorities to be more aware of their responsibility to act. Easier to say than do and there is a danger of locating the blame on the victim because they didn’t say ‘no’ loudly enough or quickly enough but I do feel that our being able to say ‘it was not my fault’, ‘I am not guilty’, ‘I will not be your victim’ are all important in protecting vulnerable people and perhaps a positive of all this publicity is that a generation of young men (and young women) will not wait half a lifetime to come forward and the perpetrators can be removed that much more quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow that’s a great response. Thank you. Yes it’s useful to consider this question alongside disasters, famines and the like–where we suffer “fatigue” and become desensitised.
      I also like the reminder that “not all men are rapists” and the distorted view of the world we get if we rely on the media to reflect and report news that represents a good cross-section of society. So yes–in that way it’s not surprising that it is reported and sensationalised.
      The subject of empowering future generations is important: I was at a dinner recently where everyone threw their hands up in despair and said “There’s nothing we can do about abuse that happens in the home and behind close doors”. I did manage to whisper / mumble something about empowering young people but I could also see that it wasn’t the time or the place to push the point.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. kimmysurviving says:

    I will be glad to comment on your last question. As far as I am concerned, yes “we should fight to keep the subject on the public agenda”.
    I think, in part, we as survivors of sexual abuse are just coming out into the open, and just like the first time we revealed what happened to us to our parents, it’s a weak voice that we are speaking our truths from. We can be unsure of our part in the abuse accepting responsibility for where is it not ours.
    We are in the beginnings of revealing the horror of childhood sexual abuse. If we forget to focus on what happened to us, we can become too identified with protecting others. The others being the general public who don’t want to hear what happened (the deniers). The parents or guardians who didn’t protect us. We will in effect be repeating our past of protecting the criminals. While trying to protect ourselves from revisiting the full horrors we endured and now understandably want to minimize.

    In our fear of harming others like we were harmed, we minimize what happened to us and the harm it caused and make others more important. When any of us speak out about what happened, (I don’t intend any pressure here) we speak out for the millions of children who have experienced similar poisonous upbringings.

    Our healing depends on revealing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you–I will remember your last sentence. It’s hard though sometimes. Really hard!

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  5. I think more women are coming forward even if it is years later. And an attitude of women being lessor than men in every way still exists. Things change but ever slowly.

    Though not a statistician, it is my view that CSA hasn’t increased in incidence but is being talked about more…finally. But it is not enough, more needs to done. I wish you could be on a radio show weekly and talk. That is how others will begin to learn the very deep and everlasting changes that happen to a child, by hearing the struggles survivors face daily and often for their entire lives.

    Secrecy and shame keep children now grown into women quiet. That is how and why others don’t understand. Because they have not heard the true pain and devastation caused by CSA. And when someone is brave enough to speak out they are often attacked because others don’t want to hear. They need to hear anyway.

    I understand how your perceptions are forever changed and how trust is forever stolen. My guards are also ever present. Love is not allowed in, no feelings of softness, warmth or vulnerability. My grandchildren easily pass through the gates, moat, castle guards and castle walls… and my cat; my sons and husband too, and a rare friend but not so easily.

    Some things are irrevocably changed becoming the bedrock of my personality. Not trusting and being ‘on guard’ is one of them. One cannot go back and be another child who was loved, protected and cuddled innocently with purity. One will always be who she is and have to deal with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Patricia I agree with all you say. Your words give me courage to continue to speak out. And courage to realise how important this is. “One cannot go back and be another child”… that brings tears to my eyes: yet I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the connection with you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It always comforts me to hear your voice. I am sorry for the tears but I get them.

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  6. Laura Black says:

    So many tough questions, and so many without real answers. I totally understand how you’re feeling, it’s something I have grappled with a bit myself and got nowhere. Sometimes I think that if it happens so much and so many people aren’t completely broken like me, than am I a massive failure? How come they can all manage and I can’t? But then I think there are so many people who struggle silently and never have the opportunity to really face things and feel them.

    As far as ‘normal’ goes, I think there is a degree of normalisation happening. It’s ironic that the increased media attention to abuse seems to be desensitising people to it. But then that happens with anything shocking. It has an impact while it’s new and sensational. Then people get used to it. I suppose that can be a good thing too; if that normalisation means more victims can come forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Laura… if we can encourage more people to come forward and encourage society to bear witness then our work is worthwhile too. Thanks for stopping by my blog again!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure it’s the new normal as such, but perhaps it’s that nowadays there’s more awareness? Sexual abuse is a horrific thing, and I think the vast majority of people would agree with me. Although when people don’t stand up for victims, that’s utterly devastating and disgusting, there’s a whole army of us out there who will fight tooth and nail for their justice. So don’t be too disheartened, the good in the world far outnumber the bad

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I need to remind myself that the good in the world far outnumber the bad. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

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