The Monstrous Face of Denial

The powerful article, The Human Face of Denial, tells the story of  Stacy Miller who has degrees with honors, has published a book, taught college, and held high positions in a large company. While Stacey was the president of the PTA, the mother of two children, and married for twenty-five years, she began to “slide toward insanity.”

Stacy started to show signs of dissociating. When inner voices began to haunt her she turned to books in order to find answers. At one point she even came across The Courage to Heal, but felt that the book had nothing to do with her so she didn’t purchase it. Two weeks later she bought it on impulse. Stacey felt the book might make interesting reading one day. The day she bought the book she was involved in a train wreck and while the train was being repaired, she read The Courage to Heal in order to pass the time. The book triggered memories of child sexual abuse by her father which included fondling of the genitals, adult-like kissing on the mouth, and that her father showed her his penis. Later she remembered more severe abuse, which may have included rape or some kind of vaginal penetration.

When the first memories came back (Stacey describes them as “blips”) she immediately thought it was idiotic. Stacey could not believe she was having these images of her father so she quickly began to replace the horrible thoughts with happy memories.

Stacey’s inner truth would not allow her to lie to herself and she eventually confronted her parents. They both denied the accusations. Her father, who was a highly intelligent, charming, and respected man in his field, acted confused and saddened by her accusations. However, when he had been diagnosed with cancer her father began to die and the truth came alive. He confessed to the sexual abuse in letters to his daughter. Typical of perpetrators, he minimized what he did by trying to make it seem innocent –as if he had been ‘helping’ Stacey. He told her that on more than one occasion he crept into her bedroom at night, and without waking her, he “gently” slid his hand between her legs in order to “widen her vagina.” He explained away the sexual assaults by saying he did it so she would not feel pain or discomfort when she made love to her future husband.

This is the epitome of child sexual abusers. When you call them on their shit, they deny it. Then, if it is convenient for them, they admit to having done something wrong, but that their acts were only to ‘help’ the child. I would not call this the human face of denial. I would call it the monstrous face of denial.

Notes: Stacy Miller “The Human Face of Denial” Treating Abuse Today July/August, September/October 1995, Page 39-42

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