I experienced countless physical symptoms from being sexually abused as a child, but many of the most serious, were based in the guilt from sexual pleasure that I often felt with my abusers. I still think that much of society does not know about, or does not want to know about the high number of children who enjoy the sexual aspect of the abuse, especially when the victim was very young at the time of the abuse.
Sex crimes investigator, Rod Norland, said the worst part of his investigations into child pornography, was witnessing the children who looked as if they were enjoying the acts.
Retired FBI agent, Ken Lanning, has made some pretty bold statements about children being sexually abused. The anti-child pornography unit in Baltimore is called, “Innocent Images,” but Lanning feels this is a misnomer. Lanning believes that the name aids society’s denial system about children taking pleasure in being sexually abused. Lanning goes even further by stating that it is a misconception for the public to see children “as wholly innocent creatures.”
During a seminar on child pornography, Lanning also stated: “The idealization of children denies the humanity of children. We think of them as little angels. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy. So when we find children who have the nerve to behave like human beings, we hold it against them.”
I don’t think most people “hold it against” the child when they have a good experience with being touched or fondled, or for some, while having sexual intercourse with an adult. There are certainly twisted individuals who blame the child. Many mothers blame their daughters and call them sexual aggressors, my own mother included. But reasonable people don’t blame the child –that is, once they allow themselves to hear the truth. The real task is getting society to know about the amount of pleasure that kids have with their perpetrators. Society continues to be shocked every time they hear about a child having had fun with their abuser, sexual enjoyment, or even orgasms.
In each new case, people figuratively put their fingers in their ears and say, “I don’t want to hear about that, let’s move on.” They quickly change the subject to something they can handle. This allows their denial system to kick back in each time, so with each new instance, they are once again shocked. Most people don’t hold it against the child, but they also try to get the child or survivor to change the subject, or “let it go.” But that’s about society’s self-comfort; not for the child to feel better.
Even many survivors themselves don’t want to know. Many people deny any enjoyment in the sexual abuse until much later in their healing process. It took me a couple of years in therapy to face that I sometimes liked having sex with my father –that I wanted it. When I finally remembered this aspect of the incest, it was one of the most wretched moments of my life. I clutched my stomach and lay in a ball of emotional pain. I wanted to die. I wailed; but not because of the memory itself, but because I knew it was true.
Most people don’t realize how serious the guilt can be for the victim. Many children grow with such rage at themselves for having enjoyed the sexual pleasure, that they self-mutilate, and or, deliberately cut themselves as teens or adults. Many of them cut their genitals in an effort to literally cut away the offending flesh.
For me, the physical manifestation of my guilt was headaches, migraine headaches, depression, acne on the inside of my upper thighs near my vagina, irregular heart beat, severe gas pains, chronic back pain, stomach aches, and my relationship with food was so severe that I am certain I would have been diagnosed with several eating disorders had I told doctors about my daily painful experiences with food.
Lanning, who spent 20 years with the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy in Virgina, says that most people have an idea of child pornography as a creepy predator who abuses sweet little children, but he says that most child porn cases are more complex than that. While the public perceives the typical victim of child porn as a sad little girl holding a teddy bear, Lanning said, “the more typical case is a 12-year-old boy with a smile on his face.”
I get what Lanning is trying to say, but he is wrong in the way he put it. Children are wholly innocent creatures. No matter what their body does, or how the attention, gifts, or being treated special makes them feel; children are 100% innocent.