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#43111 - 06/22/03 05:39 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Me, I make a distinction between cooperating in a sexually abusive situation and being sexually abused. The two can become easily confused even with adult hindsight many years later. Most perps will try to convince their victims that they cooperated, trying to salve what conscience they have and deny their responsibility if caught. This
is psychological & verbal sexual abuse.

Sex can be mutually abusive but not abuse of one by the other becuz it is mutual & consensual. Consensual is the key. IMNSHO a child cannot possibly be in a consensual sexual relationship with an adult.

It is important that we remember that SA, as Allender says, is not only physical sexual contact
of any kind, but is often also (or only) visual, verbal, or psychological.

According to Mic Hunter, sexual abuse (of children; also applies to anyone in a position of relative powerlessness in relation to someone else) can include:

  • The adult sexually touching the child
  • Having the child touch the adult sexually
  • Photographing the child for sexual purposes
  • Sexualized talk
  • Showing the child pornographic materials or making them available to the child
  • Making fun of or ridiculing the child's sexual development, pereferences, or organs
  • The adult exposing his or her genitals to the child for sexual gratification
  • Masturbating or otherwise being sexual in front of the child
  • Voyeurism
  • Forcing overly rigid rules on dress or overly revealing dress
  • Stripping to hit or spank, or getting sexual excitement out of hitting
  • Verbal and emotional abuse of a sexual nature
  • Having the child be sexual with animals
  • Engaging the child in prostitution
  • Witnessing others being sexually abused

("Abused Boys" pp 8 & 9)

Perhaps first we need to have a working definiton of SA so that we can know that we have in fact been sexually abused. From there maybe we can begin to take responsibility for any acting out by cooperating in a sexually abusive situation, while not blaming ourselves for any sexual abuse perpetrated against us.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#43112 - 06/22/03 07:27 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
ScottyTodd Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/12/03
Posts: 1561
Loc: Pennsylvania
Victor - Isn't it interesting that of the 15 items you listed, only 3 (as I count) engage the perp physically touching the victim sexually? So many victims feel if the perp didn't touch me nor I him/her, did sexual abuse occur? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry I got carried away...wait a minute...!!!!!
I had 5 more !'s left!

Howard

_________________________
If you think you can or you can't - you're right!.......anon
It's never too late to have a happy childhood!.....anon
You're very normal for the abnormal situation you've been through..............S. Todd

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#43113 - 06/22/03 10:43 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2260
Loc: Maryland USA
Howard,

I think the big thing about sexual abuse for society is the sexual part. As you pointed out, the symptoms of physical abuse are very similiar to those of sexual abuse. Trust issues, lack of confidence in your own perceptions, difficulty recognizing and expressing your own feelings, difficulty expressing any feelings appropriately are all symptoms of simply having an actively drinking alcoholic parent, too.

There are sexuality issues which don't necessarily come from the other kinds of abuse. But many things are in common in victims of all these various "flavors" of abuse.

Society needs to learn how to treat children. I was a kid when I read an interview with Gene Roddenberry where he said that "children's rights" would be the next big issue for society. That guy was onto something.

Thanks,

Joe

_________________________
"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#43114 - 06/22/03 10:46 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
Victor

Your link is not functional?

Quote:
(from "When Trust Is Lost: Healing for Victims of Sexual Abuse" by Dan Allendar, available free at http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/ds/cb922/intro (Yes it does have a Christian orientation but there is a lot of good info here for anyone.)
Ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#43115 - 06/22/03 10:58 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Victor and all,

You bring us an important, thought provoking topic for our discussion.

So many good things being said, and lots of challenging things, too, which is even more positive.

I know that there are, fortunately, those among us survivors who have careers directly involved with the social tragedy of sexual abuse. Lawyers, doctors, counselors and the list goes on. Their contribution is invaluable as professionals but probably even more so as survivors.

I am in none of these professions, though I am in a teaching position, so I guess I have to rethink that one.

Nevertheless I believe that my most important contribution to the definition of SA is what I have to offer in my role as a survivor of sexual abuse. The word survivor says it all.

I was there, it happened to me and only have made it this far with great difficulty. I have survived.

For me as a survivor, the primary focus of my interest is in recovering from the sexual abuse.
My personal recovery is the greatest contribution I can make to the recovery of others. I suspect this to be true of the doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs (me) among us.

Just as doctors focus on the medical aspects of sexual abuse, and lawyers on the legal ramifications, my 'training' by experience is focussed on healing the damage inflicted by the abuser.

This is not a task to be taken lightly. None of the other highly trained professionals can offer the direct experience, personal, one-on-one contact of one survivor sharing with another.

Medical, legal and social organizations without exception recognize this personal identification with one another as an indispensable first step in recovery from the injurious effects of the abuse.

Let's face it. If we did not continue to suffer long after the abuse was over, by acting out, harming ourselves, our marriages and society in general, our abuse would not be of any great concern to anyone but a few us. If it didn't hurt so goddamned much we could have forgotten it.

But it does hurt that much. Enough to make us willing to speak the unspeakable truth; the truth that most people including us do not want to know.

We do not want to know it either and I personally went to great lengths in trying to damage my brain enough to erase the shame and guilt.

Other people have a choice. They can choose to ignore or diminish or attenuate all they want.

I can't. It has almost killed me more than once.
I don't want to look down the barrel of that loaded gun again to see if it still has bullets.

The reason society, through legal, medical and other agencies is concerned with child sexual abuse is because they have become aware of the tremendous cost in human life; the wasteful spending of human resources that comes as the result of the abuse.

Society has begun to act against abuse, because abuse is robbing society of some very valuable assets--us.

This site is such a great resource. I am so glad to have found it. I could not understand my own life; it made no sense. Putting the information
supplied by the professionals (all of which by the way comes from informants, patients, clients, like us) to bring light on my own experience is the only way that it has started to make sense.

So I would suggest that we as survivors can make an invaluable contribution to the coming to believe process that is occurring in society at large.

Without survivors, there would be no data for the experts. Without men brave enough to bear witness there would be no moral outrage. Without the tragic loss of youth and life, counted in bodies and psyches lost and damaged, society would NEVER act to recognize, prevent or help heal the sad legacy of male sexual abuse.

All of our efforts, when joined together will begin to banish this blight from our midst.

But it is the voice of the survivor that is the wake up call to the society at large, professionals or laymen. I was silent for too long. It is so good to have this safe forum to speak from.

So I would propose that one way to focus our efforts in this forum towards a definition of male sexual abuse specifically is from our own personal experience, strength and hope.

What happened to us, what it did to us and what we are like now is the most powerful tool for bringing the plight of the male sexual abuse victim to the forefront of public conciousness.

Our bodies, our psyches and our spirits corroded by the perfidious, corrupting attack of sexual abuse, become powerful exhibits, undeniable evidence in the calling to account of the sexual abusers and their enablers.

For me that would mean that I begin to recognize that my mother's boy friends who talked to me about screwing women when I was 7 or 8 was the early types of abuse in my life.

It is only now that I can see the germ of sexual abuse being introduced into my life by this talk. When later as a teenager, I was seduced by a man 4 times my age, I have to recognize in all justice that as a continuation of the talk of the man when I was 7 or 8.
The sex continued until I was over 21. That fact of going back for it, of wanting it after I was the age of majority is one false belief that kept me isolated and alone for so long.

So I reject that as a definition of abuse. No one should be abused--no matter what age, sex, orientation, state of inebriation. That after the fact of this recognition we as individuals may find it well advised to review any aspects of our conduct that might lead us to that abuse, does not negate the primary culpability of the abuser--whatever his age, status or state of mind.

Of course the law recognizes all manner of mitigating circumstances, but for the purposes of assigning responsibility these are not our primary concern.

If you expect me to go back to believing that because I was 21, that it would be helpful for me to take responsibility away from him, then I would refuse as a survivor. Since I was the one he seduced and molested for 5+ years, he must also take the responsibility then. I was his creature. He was the creator and must take the blame for his creatures.
Even if the legal, social or medical opinions
differ, for the sake of my own health, sanity and
life I must assert this fundamental protection.

For me, the ongoing nature of the problems caused in my life by the experience of sexual abuse, should be an important part of any definition.

For me as a survivor, my definitions of abuse must be in the context of what helps heal and what doesn't. The definition must be practical as well as true.

The way I understood what happened in my life
when I took all the responsiblity for the abuse,
DID NOT WORK. It almost killed me. A more humane and sane definition of abuse that allows me to feel, to become aware and to lay down the burden of guilt and shame the abuser piled on me
is what I have found here in the powerful testimony of my fellows.

I love you guys so much. And I just found you and perhaps I'll never even meet you. But I love you because of the way you let me feel about myself.

That love for one another, that way of understanding the way no one who hasn't survived sexual abuse can, is what must shape our contribution to a definition of sexual abuse.

It's in a way rather ironic. The story of our salvation is contained in the stories of our perdition.

So my definition continues to evolve as more of my life story becomes revealed to me. And for that reason I hope to continue to come back and listen and learn and continue to grow.

My definition of abuse and recovery will continue to grow. And so will I.

Victor, you really got me going on this one--the blood's pumping and I'm ready to testify.

But here, I know that I am "preaching to the choir"...you guys already believe. And with your support we can contribute our stories, show our scars, justify our tears and sorrow by helping others and society as a whole.

In my faith, I am taught that justice is more important than forgiveness.

What do you think? Is justice or the lack thereof a part of the definition of abuse?

Thanks for giving me the compassion and love I was unable to give myself. I hope I always remember to be grateful.

Your brother refusing to be defined by but willing to contribute to a definition of abuse, \:\)

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#43116 - 06/23/03 10:15 AM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
Friends, [>>>>>>TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!]

We need to share the details of our abuse most especially in arenas such as these where concerned parties are watching and gathering info for use in support of our progressive recoveries.
These parties, our saviors, have the power to help us change the course of events which transpired from our having been victimized, and to take that info, synthesize it into a public plan of action, and credibly establish a platform from which the stories of our emotional, psychological and spiritual devastation might be recounted. Our lives as survivors can be changed, the lives of future victims might not be aborted so tragically and with such far reaching results as we have known.
In light of this I respond to Victor's list and propose to supply the specific details of how each of the points in the list have occured for my experience. Perhaps this could become a new thread that might be better placed in a different forum, but if moderators choose to do so, then so be it. A tip of the hat ( yeah, I got the hat AND the T-shirt) to Mic:


  • The adult sexually touching the child; An older brother who was placed in charge took advantage of me and nearly all my 7 brothers and sisters, by initiating us sexually before our time. The abuse continued until he graduated from high school and left the home. Unless someone helps unpacks this, how will the world ever asses the extent of the damage that this caused?
  • Having the child touch the adult sexually;.....This occured as an ongoing part of the abuse
  • Photographing the child for sexual purposes.....N/A
  • Sexualized talk;..........My mother once said to me in a conversation "I never turned your father down". Another time she told me that she had discovered evidence that one of my younger brother's had been masturbating.
  • Showing the child pornographic materials or making them available to the child........N/A
  • Making fun of or ridiculing the child's sexual development, pereferences, or organs; Being gay, I always lived in fear of being discovered; it was the society in general that ridiculed my preferences. When I later came out, the parents further ridiculed this preference by being vacant about it and refusing to acknowledge it.
  • The adult exposing his or her genitals to the child for sexual gratification;...... Don't know what to make of this, but once as a small child I remember that my mother's mother came into the bathroom while I was drying myself off after taking a bath. Without knocking she came in, lifted her dress and prodeeded to use the toilet!? What the F***!
  • Masturbating or otherwise being sexual in front of the child;..... Older brother used to sit in my father's recliner when the parents were not home and masturbate through his jeans while the rest of us were sitting watching TV
  • Voyeurism; No incidences to report, but surely it follows that there was a lot of covert "watching" going on in this family.
  • Forcing overly rigid rules on dress or overly revealing dress;...... We were not allowed to be seen in public areas of the house in our underclothes. However, my father would sleep nude and leave the bedroom door open just a crack............. This was confusing and seemed incongruous to the puritanical rule of enforced modesty.
  • Stripping to hit or spank, or getting sexual excitement out of hitting;..... This was the parents favorite form of punishment. First, of course you had to fetch your instrument of torture, then you were told to drop your pants. there was a lot of cruelty involved.
  • Verbal and emotional abuse of a sexual nature;.....
    I found out about a romantic fling my mother was having one day when I discovered cards from her "lover" in her dresser drawer, I knew the guy and confronted him, and said it was "pure". Hell, I was only 15 and here I am asking about this.........
    Also, my younger sister was abused by a neighbor and the parents did absolutely nothing about it!
  • Having the child be sexual with animals;..... n/a
  • Engaging the child in prostitution;..... n/a
  • Witnessing others being sexually abused; ..... I frequently walked in on my older brother having sex with other siblings. It freaked me out.


I want to see the effects of abuse publicized to all the world, so that unhealthy shame around this issue might begin to subside. It will not be until we become vocal, and let out the BIG secrets, that we will begin to establish credibility, initiate a new consciouness around the whole subject of sex, and create new legislation that will cause people to think twice before thinking that they can get away with these and other types of behaviors. Once others begin to understand how they have been sexually abused then true healing can begin.

I have to admit that in this post I have triggered myself, so I need to slink off and lick some wounds. Thanks for the opportunity to share,

Ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#43117 - 06/23/03 11:18 AM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
OK, guys, I've had some time to digest some of this stuff, so I'm going to make a real effort to be concise: \:D

Topic: Why Define Sexual Abuse?

1) Because others are busy already defining sexual abuse, constantly, everyday.

2) It is vital to my recovery and others that the VOICE of the survivor be the primary source of knowledge informing all efforts at definition.

A definition of sexual abuse must: (tentative only)

Be as inclusive as possible.

Be seen above all in the context of recovery/healing for victims and then society.

Be informed primarily by the story of those who have survived.

Be such that no further harm be caused any victim.

Be always mindful that the definition of abuse is of utmost importance to survivors.

Be concerned more by justice than by poorly defined personal concepts of forgiveness.

Victor, you've really put the focus where it can do a lot of good.

My suggestion would be that as male survivors of sexual abuse, we continue to record and post out own personal histories (thanks for that Ron); using these stories as a knowledge base from which to extract patterns, commonalities etc.

Working from that incredibly powerful resource, create OUR, the survivors definition of abuse.

People can argue over theories and contend about interpretations, but our experiences form an unassailable base from which the SURVIVORS definition of abuse can help heal and comfort those affected.

Let others in the world who help define sexual abuse have access to our 'definition by experience': let this be what shapes others attempts at more narrow (legalistic, medical etc) definitions.

It's like I have learned that "minor surgery" is only "minor" to the people not having it!

Simply, our definition of abuse, whatever form it may take, should/will be the FUNDAMENTAL, PRIMARY, GENERATIVE locus from which the world at large understands (defines) the sexual abuse of males.

Otherwise, we risk cutting off parts of our lives that don't happen to fit the definitions imposed by those for whom it is but a theory.

Ron, what a great idea.

Victor, what about making a list of characteristics, traits, general impressions gathered from our own personal experiences here on this site?

We could form a data base which we could be very sure of. Then begin to extrapolate
parameters and exclude some false beliefs.

This is a good topic; not just for discussion, but for action.

Back for a second cup, Joe.

Have a good one, y'all

You're the best.

ONWARD TOWARDS THE
"SURVIVORS DEFINITION OF ABUSE"!!!

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#43118 - 06/23/03 07:13 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2260
Loc: Maryland USA
TRIGGER WARNING

Quote:
I am writing about people and their pain. My definition is based on what people have told me
hurt them.
This much comes from Mic Hunter's book. The stuff that Victor quotes is based on things from real survivors, so we're off to a good start.

Injustice is very much part of any definition I could devise. I knew what happened was wrong. To me Justice deals with questions of right and wrong, and justice, Dept of deals with legal and illegal. Two very different things to my mind.

Pain is part of the definition. Physical pain, emotional pain, enduring pain.

Obviously, the victim has to see the abuse as something which involves or affects his sexuality to be sexual abuse, as opposed to something else. When he grabbed my balls I knew there was something sexual going on. When he dragged me around like a f****ng rag doll, no, like a blow up sex toy doll, I knew something sexual was going on. But it wasn't sex, it was abuse of sex. Damn, I got so confused. I'm still confused.

Fear is part of the definition. Fear of losing a relationship, or the fear that comes over a boy who wonders if the night cap will be his own death in a squalid apartment. Then no one can tell what just happened.

I don't know why this is all coming out now, but it is. I'll try again later to post something more constructive. Maybe it's just too much caffeine. \:\)

Thanks,

Joe

_________________________
"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#43119 - 06/23/03 07:26 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
There's mentions here of some things that might well be considered "side issues" by many of us, the sort of parental behaviours, peer behaviours etc that might not seem terribly important in the big picture - but maybe they were.

For me my first sexual experience was when I was about 4 yo and standing wide eyed looking into a toy shop window, my parents were close by looking in another shop window and keeping an eye on me.

A man stood alongside me wearing a long coat, took my hand and placed it inside the coat and on his penis.
My dad saw that 'something' was going on and came rushing over and the man fled. So far so good.
But I don't remember having anything explained to me, maybe they did, but knowing my parents I somehow doubt it. They protected me, but failed to prepare me for any future instances by their silence.

And the silence continued, they never mentioned sex in any shape or form in my presence, not to this day.
So the next older boy who engaged me in sex games when I was about 7 or 8 yo went unchallenged.

The abuse when I started boarding school at 11 yo was probably a foregone conclusion, and it was only my resistance ( why or how I resisted is a mystery but I did ) that led to a brutal gang rape that convinced me that resistance was futile, and the abuse continued until I was 16.

Possibly my 'resistance' was all my own doing, because I had no idea of good or bad sex, I had no idea of sex period !
The early, pre rape, experiences I have never really counted in my history of abuse, I mentioned them in therapy but didn't dwell or work on them. They've never featured in my many and varied sexual fantasies.
But they were abuse, I know that. But was my ignorance, and lack of education, also an abuse ?

I think it might well be, I apportion 'blame' on the cold and unemotional upbringing I had, even though I know I was loved and cared for - it was never shown and demonstrated.
It wasn't a deliberate abuse, and I'm loathed to call it that really, it was just the way my parents were. It was all they knew, and the life they lived at the time didn't tell them any different.

I guess I'm asking "is the ignorance that allows sexual abuse, abuse in it's own right ?"

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#43120 - 06/23/03 10:28 PM Re: Why Define Sexual Abuse?
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
Dave,

Quote:
Originally posted by Lloydy:
There's mentions here of some things that might well be considered "side issues" by many of us, the sort of parental behaviours, peer behaviours etc that might not seem terribly important in the big picture - but maybe they were.
I find this statement to be unsettling. This smacks of the same type of remarks that I have heard all my life; remarks which basically have served to reduce the systemic responsibility, and attribute it solely to the deranged imagination or perception of the victim. Who is to say what constitutes abuse for another? I bought into that all my life and suffered as I tried to refrain from vomiting out their "truth", like a bad meal on Fear Factor. In finally accepting that I was not "crazy" I have received a whole lot of freedom.
Older "in charge" males [whether they are brothers or not] are not peers, and in the system in which I was reared authoritarianism and power ruled with an iron fist. The older abusing brother was dubbed "The Captain" by the parental unit and their parents. My remembrance of a few details [however hazy and incomplete] does not in any way begin to denote the scope of this horror factory. And any rape is not about sex, but about power. We're talking about this issue of the sexual abuse of boys as if it somehow exists in a vacuum. I would venture to say, and I dislike absolutes, that in all probablility all sexual abuses contain the element of a lack of balance of power. That is not an original idea, but I know from personal experience that this is the real issue. Sexual abuse is but one possible result of a power hungry ego wielding its unrelenting scabbard, but it is one that has effected all of us who have found our way to the forum. And it is the one that is the original focus of this thread.
Where we find an obstacle is in the discussion of it outside of the vacuum as a stand alone issue and placing in the context of its relationship to personal experience. We need to talk about the general, but we can't shy away from the specifics however unpalatable or seemingly insignificant they may be from our own personal viewpoint . Sure, when Vic first introduced his groundbreaking work, its ideas were so fresh that it needed to be focused as an issue that stood on its own. Discussing it as adjunct to other issues would have made the work far too cumbersome, and the value of it would have been diluted. His putting it in terms where the common person could begin to comprehend its subject engaged the culture in a discussin of its best kept secret.
However, with the hindsight we now have, we must begin to synthesize all of the knowledge and work that has been accomplished since its inception. And in that synthesis we must include generalities but also the detailed specifics of real people and their personal experiences. What better place to do that than here?

I suppose the statement from which I quoted could have been miscontrued by me as meaning something you did not intend. I apologize if that is so, but just to be on the safe side, and to exercise my right to speak, as as well exorcise my own demons as they emerged, I felt compelled to speak in support of the last words:

Quote:
- but maybe they were. [/QB]
Sincerely,

Ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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