Silence and Sexual Violence

This began as a com­ment in misia’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.

Cur­rent Mood: 😡angry
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4255

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top