This began as a comment in ‘s journal.
I do believe that sexual violence is underreported, especially in men. I don’t believe that 100% of the female population has experienced sexual violence. I do think the “1 in 4 women” statistic is probably on the low side.
I don’t know any female who has reached adulthood without at least experiencing attempted sexual violence. Whether it’s the sexual harassment that seems to be accepted as “that’s just normal, boys will be boys!” in the school systems or overt rape attempts, every single one of them has experienced something. The vast majority of women with whom I’m close have experienced true sexual violence, but I know that’s likely a self-selecting crowd.
About shame: When I was in a psych hospital in 1991, I finally acknowledged that I was a victim of sexual violence. During a “community meeting” that included everyone in the adult ward (not the substance abuse division), one of the male patients mentioned his shock at learning how many women he knew had been sexually abused. As people spoke up, it became clear that every woman in that room had been attacked sexually.
One of the (male) social workers actually said that all of us had to take responsibility for the fact that we had been abused—that it was, in fact, partially our fault.
There was a stunned silence followed by cacophony. One of the nurses actually went to get some higher authority, and the meeting was ended. We never saw that guy again—but then found out he’d just been transferred to the child/adolescent ward!
If someone can get through the training to be a clinical social worker and have that attitude, you know it’s awfully ingrained in our society.
Because I talk openly about what happened to me, I make some people very uncomfortable. I don’t talk about it frequently, but if the subject comes up, I am very open about it. The same people who will back off and distance themselves, though, often come back to talk to me about it once they find that their child or someone close to them has, in fact, experienced sexual violence.
The subject of children and sexual violence came up somehow at a poly meet-n-greet a few months back. One couple had brought their 12-year-old son with them, despite having been told that it was entirely inappropriate to do so. I certainly didn’t get graphic but did baldly state that I was raped as a 3–4-year-old and that those experiences had a major effect on my life. The female in that couple didn’t leave then, or say a thing to me—but later attempted to get other people to ostracize me for being “inappropriate.” It didn’t work—I’m one of the founders of the group, and they’re quite new. She tried to make a fuss about not attending further events because of me—BFD.
Since she didn’t address me directly. All this information came to me third-hand. I didn’t have an opportunity to confront her directly about her attitude and honestly didn’t judge her worth the effort to do so. I don’t generally contact people privately when I haven’t had prior private contact with them.
Her attitude is far too common, though. Stay silent! I don’t want to think about it! I certainly don’t want my kid(s) to know this happens!
People who are abuse survivors1Those who haven’t been able to work through the effects. There’s strong evidence that shows that children who are able to tell someone about the abuse and who get appropriate, adequate treatment recover far better than those who are unable to reveal the abuse in a short period of time, or who do not get the treatment they need. (of any kind) are more likely than other people to be victimized in some way again because the damage affects their ability to maintain healthy boundaries. The same problem means that their children are also more likely to experience abuse—not necessarily from the parent, but from others from whom the child should have been protected. (Note: I’m having trouble finding the citation for these statistics at the moment, due to brain fog. I would greatly appreciate help in that respect.)
If for no other reason, abuse survivors should seek whatever help they need to heal in order to be better parents. They are under no obligation to take care of themselves, but dammit, they ARE obligated to protect their children.