Harvard Psychologist Says Children Are Not Always Abused “Against Their Will”

In this interview on Salon.com, the author of the highly criticized “The Trauma Myth,” Susan Clancy says:

“The idea of repression ultimately hurts victims. It reinforces the notion that sexual abuse is and should be a traumatic experience when it happens – something done against the will of the victims.”

No Ms. Clancy, what hurts victims and survivors of incest and child sexual abuse, is people like you, who have degree and a name like Harvard behind them, but who are so blinded by their own ignorance and biases – and maybe even bias because of those who fund their research- that they help perpetuate an atmosphere where those who want to abuse children, will molest them and say, ‘this won’t hurt you’ or `she won’t resist, because she likes it.’ Those who will rape children can say, `no one will believe you.’ (Because after-all, Clancy says child rape, forced oral copulation, and sodomy on a child is rare.)

Ms. Clancy, it was NOT MY WILL to be raped, molested, and abused. No child wants to be raped or penetrated with objects. Their body might respond favorably to on-going molestation (as the abuse progresses into conditioning and a form of `love’), but no child truly wants it because NO CHILD has the intelligent discrimination, or mental capacity to be willingly abused. And children are certainly not spiritually corrupted like adults are. Most children are subtly groomed, so their so-called “free will” to be abused is not their will at all, but a mental conditioning to be abused.

“The kids don’t know what’s going on, and they often enjoy it. They’re not going to resist.”

Clancy is not only unprofessional, her belief system is dangerous.

Clancy was asked, “What do you mean by the “trauma myth”?”

Clancy’s reply: “The title refers to the fact that although sexual abuse is usually portrayed by professionals and the media as a traumatic experience for the victims when it happens – meaning frightening, overwhelming, painful – it rarely is. Most victims do not understand they are being victimized, because they are too young to understand sex, the perpetrators are almost always people they know and trust, and violence or penetration rarely occurs.”

If this so-called mental health ‘professional’ feels that violence and penetration rarely occurs, she ought to update herself to the 20th and 21st centuries. She sounds like the people from the first half of the 20th century, who claimed that incest is rare.

Yes, I experienced pleasure and affection that I received from some of the abuse that I endured by my father, but it was mixed with fear. I knew that what was happening between my father and me was not okay. I knew as a child that it was unnatural. More importantly, I experienced a tremendous amount of pain and fear from being raped at age seven. I didn’t know what was happening to me and I thought I was dying. I could not move because I was being held down and straddled. I screamed for help and no one listened. My vagina felt as if a knife was penetrating it. When, as an adult, I remembered the rape, I re-lived my experience by clenching my teeth in my sleep so hard that I had to  have a root canal.

When my father forced me to perform fellatio at age three, I choked, gagged and cried from the pain and confusion. THAT Ms. Clancy is trauma. The rapes, abuse, and death threats induced decades of PTSD symptoms that eventually stopped my life and sent me to countless medical doctors and mental health experts.

Clancy says, “Most victims do not understand they are being victimized, because they are too young to understand sex, the perpetrators are almost always people they know and trust, and violence or penetration rarely occurs. “Confusion” is the most frequently reported word when victims are asked to describe what the experience was like. Confusion is a far cry from trauma.”

To say that violence or penetration rarely occurs is professionally negligent and outrageous, and I have news for Clancy; an adult with bad intentions placing their body or their hands up against, onto, into, or on top of a child is traumatizing emotionally, mentally, and physically. When it is a parent or trusted loved one –it is also a betrayal trauma. Human beings, especially children, have the remarkable ability to block out anything physically or emotionally traumatizing. However, this mechanism only lasts so long and one day the trauma will re-surface. In light of the fact that repression exists, many of the victims, who were interviewed for Clancy’s research, and who didn’t report trauma, may very well be blocking it out. However, because Clancy (contrary to stacks of research and corroborated cases) doesn’t believe in repression, then she didn’t allow for this fact to be included in her study. Thus, her conclusions are erroneous.

Clancey from the Salon.com interview: “Despite all of this media and research attention on sexual abuse for the last 30 years, I still don’t hear the answer to one question: What the…. is wrong with all of these men? Sexual abuse is not women; it’s men. Every once in a while a woman will sexually abuse,…”

This woman keeps getting more ignorant with every comment she makes. “Every once in a while?” Did it ever occur to this so-called mental health “professional” that because there is so much denial within society, and by the victims themselves, and so much deep-seated shame –that most victims of female sexual offenders will never speak about it? Does Clancy not realize that mother/daughter, sister/sister, grandmother/granddaughter incest is not rare but is rarely spoken of by society and by the victims?

“What is going on in society that so many men are choosing to get off on small children? I can find almost no studies on the subject. People will go into jails and interview a perpetrator, but most of these people don’t go to jail, and most of them aren’t caught.”

There are over 60 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America alone. Millions of them have been raped and sodomized, terrorized with objects inserted in their bodies, and forced into oral sex. In addition, 95% of victims never tell anyone, so how the hell can she claim that rape, oral rape, sodomy, violent penetration by men, and sexual abuse by a woman is rare?

Clancy: “….people exposed to horrifying events report that they often remember them all too well. Ask any child exposed to the recent earthquake in Haiti if they “repressed it.” None will. True trauma will always be remembered. “

Any mental health “expert” should know the major differences between what happened in Haiti, and victims of incest who repress their experience: If any child exposed to the earthquake were to be told by their family members that nothing happened to them, and if everyone in their family denied that any earthquake ever took place and acted as if nothing had ever happened while the earthquake was occurring,……and if all records and documentation of the earthquake were sealed, and if no one ever spoke of the earthquake again, I can guarantee you that the child would repress all of the trauma that they experienced, and even that the quake ever happened.

“What therapists in the sexual abuse field refer to as repression is actually simple forgetting.~ Clancy

Hmmm. My “simple forgetting” induced years of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, abnormal fears, personality disorders, eating disorders, phobias, panic attacks, rage, years of insomnia, nightmares, worthlessness, vaginal pain of unknown origin, jaw clenching, choking for no reason, and an illness that created a whole host of debilitating and frightening physical problems -all of which were a part of my life long before ever seeking therapy. “Simple forgetting” does not induce the hell that I experienced. I have healed from all of these problems. People don’t heal from “false memories.”

To read my original article on this subject, click here

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6 Responses to Harvard Psychologist Says Children Are Not Always Abused “Against Their Will”

  1. Homer says:

    A lot of this really is nonsense. An entire industry has arisen to exploit the “victim” status of children who have experienced some form of sexual activity with adults. These aren’t psychiatrists or PhD clinical psychologists, for the most part. They’re the strip-mall counselors with maybe a BA or a master’s degree in psychology, or maybe social workers, or maybe just plain quacks. They take girls who’ve had this kind of experience, not violent and not injurious and usually pleasant, and convinced them that they’re now victims, they’ll be dependent for life, and so on. This is the true traumatizing of most of these girls.

    This is not to say that violent assaults, beatings, physical injury, true rape are excusable. But the continued exploitation of young girls whose experiences aren’t like that is, or should be, criminal.

    It takes a cynical zealot to want to convince a young girl who’s experienced her first orgasm at the hands of a caring, gentle man that she’s been abused and is now a life-long victim. Shame on all who make their living committing this kind of abuse.

    • aletheamarinanova says:

      What exactly is nonsense “Homer?”

      “It takes a cynical zealot to want to convince a young girl who’s experienced her first orgasm at the hands of a caring, gentle man that she’s been abused…”

      This is a pretty disgusting statement. She has been sexually abused. She does not have to wear a label of victim her whole life or to be physically or emotionally sick because of it, but SHE HAS BEEN sexually violated by an adult who crossed boundaries, stole her right to have her first orgasm with whom she chose, and who forced their will on a child. I don’t care how “caring and gentle” the child MOLESTER is.

  2. The myth is that there is no trauma. Clancy claims the child is “confused” and not traumatized. Yet, almost all of the research in the field contradicts this. Child abuse trauma: theory and treatment of the lasting effects By John Briere http://books.google.com/books?id=2iY-9WEwk1kC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    She also claims that recovered memory doesn’t exist. Yet, many studies show that not only does it exist, but that it is often accurate. There are legal cases that back this up, including the recent Paul Shanley case decided in Massachusetts.

    Websites citing journal articles proving the veracity of recovered memory include :






  3. I want to begin by saying that I understand that you don’t agree that Clancy’s theories explain your abuse. Rightly so because your abuse was very traumatic when you experienced it. What happened to you was wrong. Period.

    Having said that, her theory explains the way I experienced my abuse. As I sat and read her entire book it resonated deeper than anything else I have ever read or heard about childhood sexual abuse. For the first time, I felt like someone else got what happened to me. Even though it wasn’t traumatic at the time, what happened to me was wrong too.

    In fact that is her entire point. She is not discounting what happened to you, she believes the trauma model works when sexual abuse was traumatic at the time. She is merely pointing out that many children out there who were sexually abused were not abused the way you were. We weren’t frightened or scared when it was happening.

    I wasn’t. I revealed in the attention, the praise, the gifts. At the time and in the months after my abuse came to light, I didn’t believe it was abuse (though I know now that it was). The man who abused me had never threatened me, he never held me down, he made sure I enjoyed myself and never felt pain. Yes, he had groomed me. But even 6 years later I still feel like I wanted it. And I feel guilty because of it. In truth there were days when I sought my abuser out for sex. What happened to me was wrong, but I would never use the word traumatic to describe my abuse. I was confused, but not traumatize. The abuse only became traumatic after it was all over with the understanding that it was wrong and why it was wrong. Its really been the 6 years since the abuse and not the 2 years of abuse that was traumatizing.

    I may not agree with every line in the book, particularly when lines are taken out of context. But please don’t ignore the spirit of the book. Because there are people, victims, children for whom her book is valid. Her point is that societal understanding of sexual abuse of children should not be one size fits all. The way you were abused was not the way I was abused. And just because your understanding of your abuse is not the same as mine, should not and doesn’t not mean that the abuse that either of us suffered is any less valid.

    • aletheamarinanova says:

      I understand what you are saying Broken, and I already know that many children ‘enjoy’ the abuse and ask for sex from their abuser because I also experienced that. However, Clancy’s stance on repression, and her saying that children are often “willingly” abused is a serious problem. In addition, her assertion that rape and other extreme child sexual abuse is “rare” flies in the face of common sense, statistics, and millions of survivors of this kind of abuse.

      Her book has correct information (that children are not always traumatized and often take pleasure in sexual abuse) mixed with misinformation, disinformation and untruths. She and her book are untrustworthy sources for abuse survivors.

  4. Keith Smith says:

    My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet suburbs of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

    I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. He was arrested and indicted but never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

    In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

    Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

    Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

    Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

    My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at http://www.Amazon.com

    For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

    For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at http://www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

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