Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Common Factors in Sexual Abuse

¡Hola! Everybody...
Whew! My major funder was visiting these past two days and she just informed me that she’s in favor of continuing another round of multi-year support!

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-=[ Common Factors in Sexual Abuse ]=-

The following sentence, posted as part of last Friday’s blog (click here for context), caused some people to lose what little grasp they had on reality:

It is important to understand that sexual fantasies about one’s children are normal. Many mothers, for example, report having such fantasies at least occasionally.”

They have twisted that sentence to mean that I have admitted to having sexual fantasies with my son and negatively commenting on everything from my writing, my profession, and a lot of other stupidity. The bottom line is that all these people have played out their sexual lives here in vulgar and public ways. That is the only fact not in dispute.

In families where sexual and physical abuse takes place, the erotic impulse is the first casualty of childhood development. Sexual abuse is associated with certain uniform family characteristics. Generally, physical contact, open demonstrations of affection, and talk of anything sexual are discouraged -- often in violent ways. Secrecy is the rule in such families. In that way, alcoholism, addiction, and physical and sexual abuse continue unabated. Oftentimes, childhood victims of sexual abuse recreate the same environments they were raised in when they become adults and start their own families.

In this way, the pattern of sexual abuse is recreated within each successive generation.

Let’s look at the attacks prompted by my writing about sexual fantasies. The persons leveling charges at me all have publicly admitted to being involved in abusive relationships or being sexually abused as children, or both. There is nothing funny about this, and my intention is not to belittle their experiences, but I think it goes a long way in explaining their disproportionately violent response to my assertion that sexual fantasies -- even taboo sexual fantasies - are not only harmless, but normal.

Saying this is nothing new. Freud first commented on child sexuality over a century ago and later theorists added to his body of work. Additionally, hard science has shown that their assertions are true. Children are sexual beings and if you add a negative connotation to the sexual aspect, that is because you view sex as dirty. If you look at a nude photo of a young child and say it’s dirty, then it is you who is attaching the dirt. if you’re turned on by child nudity, it’s not the nudity that’s wrong but your reaction to it.

The warped logic that asserts that a sexual fantasy makes a person a sexual deviant is, well, stupid. In this case, they are saying that because I stated that adults report having taboo sexual fantasies and that it is normal, that I must be a sexual abuser. I pointed out that literally thousands of people -- people who never sexually abuse -- have sexual fantasies that would make many of us cringe.

It’s really simple. Has anyone here ever read a horror or crime novel? Well, if you read a particularly graphic murder or rape scene, you have to consider that before a writer can write such a scene, they first have to imagine (or fantasize about) it. In fact, those familiar with the writing process know that writing is a very personal and intimate process. Having fantasized about and written a murder or rape scene, does it then follow that the writer is a murderer or a rapist? Some of the most powerful written works of art depict situations and scenes that are troubling to many individuals. Some of the greatest minds have written of incest, betrayal, horrific acts of abuse, sexually subversive acts, but it doesn’t follow that they are what they think or write.

An individual would have to be a moron to make such a claim, don’t you think? This is a simple point, one apparently lost on simple people.

The heart of the issue isn’t me or people who fantasize sexually, rather, it’s about the projections of the people reacting to what I have written. The tragic irony is that the monsters who prey on defenseless children share many character traits with ultra religious, inflexible individuals.

Numerous studies of child abuse show that parents who abuse their children were often deprived of genuine parental physical attention themselves during childhood, and as adults experience extremely unsatisfying sexual relationships. In other words, in the families where sexual abuse occurs, it is more likely they will express the same repressive values these people are expressing.

Looked at from this perspective, one can begin to understand why a woman would engage in a decades-long affair with a married man (and defend it), or a woman who has sexual affairs with men who steal from her and post her nude photos publicly in an attempt to humiliate her. Additionally, it can explain why the same woman admits to being hospitalized by another lover. In my experience such people have a history of family violence and sexual abuse.

Anyone see a pattern emerging?

Studies of cross-cultural child-rearing practices and evidence of neurological damage in anti-social individuals demonstrate that deprivation of bodily pleasure during infancy and adolescence and the repression of pleasure promote adult violence.

Patriarchal (male-dominated) religions that emphasize a high God who actively punishes any deviations in accepted human behavior commonly endorse anti-sexual and anti-pleasure value systems. As part of their anti-sexual values, these religions promote negative attitudes about the physical nurturance of infants and children. They also attempt to punish (as they were punished) adolescents and adults who indulge in behavior it they deem illicit.

Deprivation of bodily pleasure throughout life -- but particularly during the formative periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence -- is closely related with the level of war and violence in a society. On the other hand, cultures that promote nurturing in child-rearing, that are comfortable with the body, and with sexuality and pleasure, produce adults who exhibit less sexual dysfunction, promote gender and social equality, and a society that does not glorify slavery or war.

If you doubt me, note that the religious wackos of the far right today support the same attacks on contraception, homosexuality, and sexual freedom that Hitler espoused. Neo-religious fascists today support the bombing of abortion clinics and compare homosexual marriage to bestiality. I am sure many of the people here acting out hold similar values.

My point on Friday was two-fold: to show 1) that having a healthy relationship with our fantasies -- no matter how taboo-- leads to healthy and affirming sex lives, and 2) In developing a healthy sexuality, we are then better equipped to raise our children with respect, awareness, and honor to their sexual selves.



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