Mother Daughter Incest: Society’s Taboo Subject

 

Female Sexual Abuse: The Untold Story of Society’s Last Taboo

~Report by Charlotte Philby

“Sharon Hall is a small, timid figure with wide brown eyes that dart nervously between the floor and her hands as she speaks.

During our conversation, her sentences fluctuate between slow, fractured prose and sudden, spluttering outbursts as her words fall over each other in a fight to assemble.

It has been almost 10 years since Sharon last tried to speak about the childhood memories she has spent much of her life trying to suppress – and that particular encounter, as we shall see, left her feeling sorrily dejected. The experience of sharing her story today she describes as a gruelling rite of passage, one she feared would prove too painful to complete:

“Every moment I feel the effects of what I went through,” she starts in a small, raspy voice, pausing briefly to brush an imaginary strand of hair from her cheek, before continuing, “I’ve been trapped by my past for all these years. Being able to finally talk about it is strangely exhilarating.”

The story that Sharon, who is now 40, has been unable to tell before today is one that few would wish to hear: from as far back as she can remember until the day she left home at the age of 16, Sharon, an only child, was sexually abused by her mother. The particulars of her abuse are too horrific to bear repeating in detail; this was sustained sexual violence, which she suffered silently at the hands of the one person who was supposed to love and protect her above all others.

Sharon’s ordeal went undetected for her entire childhood, despite her becoming increasingly withdrawn over the years; her weight fell to below six stone by the age of 15, and she had few if any friends at school. The problem was, she says, that even if others had suspected something was wrong, few would have guessed what it was – and fewer still would have wanted to know the whole truth.

“I did try telling my doctor once,” she says, blinking heavily, pulling at her shirt, “but it’s like I said, no one really wants to know that.”

It was at the age of 30, when she became pregnant with her own daughter, that Sharon finally summoned the courage to speak to her GP for the first time about what had happened to her. Her fear was that if she didn’t seek help to overcome her issues, they could in turn have a damaging effect on her unborn child.

But her doctor’s response was: “Don’t be silly, mothers don’t sexually abuse children. You’re understandably worried about becoming a parent yourself, but don’t let your imagination run away with you.”

And it seems this reaction is all too common.

While researching this piece, I spoke to a number of adults – men and women – who as children endured horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and female carers.

Very few of them had ever had a chance to tell their story before, and the effect of keeping their experiences to themselves for so long has had a disastrous effect on their mental state.

Sharon’s mental scars are manifest in her serious anorexia and agoraphobia, and the effect on her daughter has been devastating, too; Debbie, who is now 10, suffers from severe panic attacks and low self- esteem. “The problem,” Sharon explains, “was that I never knew how to bond with Debbie. I was terrified of even touching her.”

Sharon says that she might have learned to cope better if she had been given the help she so desperately needed when she approached her doctor before her child was born.

“You can’t imagine how deflating it is after all those years of keeping your disgusting secret to finally get the courage to tell someone and then be told that you’re making it up,” she recalls. “But the worst thing about it is that even though my mother is now dead – and never even met her granddaughter – she has managed to ruin my daughter’s childhood too.”

Very few have ever before felt able to talk about the abuse because they feared they would not be believed – and those who have already come forward, to a doctor or therapist, have usually had their worst fears realised.

One man, now 60 years old, recalls: “When I tried to tell my therapist of my abuse when I was 35, I was told: ‘You are having fantasies about your mother and you need more therapy to deal with that.’ In reality, my mother had been physically and sexually abusing me for as long as I can remember. The abuse was horrific, including beatings and sadomasochistic sex.”

Another victim recalls how she had been sexually abused by her babysitter between the ages of six and 10. She explains: “I actually thought all babysitters did that to kids until we got another babysitter. When I tried to get her to have oral sex with me she told my mother and I got into trouble. Believe me, from then on I kept it a secret.”

Sexual abuse is usually understood as something bound up with issues of male aggression and power, and the idea of a female abuser totally undermines this well-established belief. Then there is a further problem in getting female abuse recognized; many people simply don’t understand how – practically – a woman could abuse.

Understandably, this is a sensitive and highly emotive subject, the fallout from which Michele Elliott of Kidscape has witnessed at first hand. In 1992, she held a conference in London while compiling her book on the subject of female sexual abuse. She recalls how 30 women turned up to disrupt her address:

“They stood up and started yelling about how terrible it was that I was detracting from the fact that male power was to blame. It is very disappointing when you encounter such extreme and closed-minded reactions. I was simply responding to what victims had told me.”

And such closed-mindedness is rife in the criminal- justice system too, Hilary Aldridge confirms: “There is a tendency in the courts to see the woman as a victim of a male counterpart.” But this isn’t always the case by any means.

Even when there is a male co-offender, this doesn’t automatically mean that the female partner is an unwilling accomplice.

Indeed, one of the most disturbing aspects of child abuse committed by women is that – according to studies by independent researchers and highly respected charities – the large majority of it takes place in the home. Aldridge asserts that 60 per cent of cases take place within the family unit – and “women who abuse children regularly do so in the guise of normal, basic care”. This, of course, is part of what makes it so hard to detect.

Sharon Hall, whose abuse by her mother went unnoticed for her entire childhood, knows all too well the devastating effects of being forced to suffer in silence. “If I’d had just the smallest impression that I’d be believed,” she says, “I might have had the guts to come forward.” The reality, she says, is that no one wanted to know what she was going through, and even today we continue to switch ourselves off from the suffering of an unknown number of children across the country.

If we are to have any chance at all of saving those children who are suffering now and those who will no doubt be suffering in the future, she says, the best place to start is by opening our eyes to the abuse going on around us.

“I never had the chance to come to terms with what happened, and not only has my life been ruined, but so in turn has my daughter’s,” Sharon concludes. “All I hope now is that by coming forward and raising awareness of this issue, that I might in some small way be able to help those children for whom it isn’t too late.”

Further Reading: ordinaryevil- Breaking Social Taboos About Female-Female Child Sexual Abuse

and

ordinaryevil- The Sacred Monster

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10 Responses to Mother Daughter Incest: Society’s Taboo Subject

  1. Marjie Douty says:

    wow, thank you. I needed to read that. I now know the difference between what my mother did to me and what is ok but I still slip into that place where I tell myself it was not so bad, or ok. So, thank you!

  2. Solita says:

    Hi Alethea, (I apologize in advance for any typos and my badly written english. It isn’t my first language). Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Your blog has helped me to confront the unresolved issues I have buried in me for 30 years. I’m not going to deny that I’ve been seriously triggered by many of the articles in here, nevertheless, I’m grateful I found you, because they have done what many failed therapy sessions couldn’t do for me all these years.

    I’m a 35 years old female, sexually abused by a female live in babysitter. This went on several years (until she got bored of me, I guess). I’d blocked the memories of the abuse until the past two years when I started to remember vividly what happened to me. It was because of the triggers: I hated color green (the color I was wearing a couple of times when she asked me to undress for her while she masturbated), I hated the color orange (the color of the bedsheets when I remember laying on her bed with her on top of me or while doing things to each other). I’ve always hated my mother’s cousin, and now I know it is because her voice and accent is almost the same as hers… Lots of triggers I haven’t even identified until recently.

    The thing with all this and what you have said about abuse perpetrated by the same sex, is that it has helped me a lot. I’ve always felt like a freak. I’m attracted to both, males and females. I’m more inclined to have emotional relationships (frienship, romantic and sexual) with men, but I’m sexually attracted to women as well. So understading the origin of this behaviour is making feel (finally) at peace with myself. I don’t see it (now) as a terrible thing, I never felt like a inocent victim, maybe because like you, I remember feeling aroused and experienced pleasure then, and even now when I think about it. I feel so embarased to admit this and to write about it, but it is the true.

    My road to recovery is still long, since I’m still processing what I’ve become after what happened. I was diagnosed severe depression (I been in a mental institution because of this), I used to cut myself and suffered from bulimia and anorexia. But I’ve refused to feel like a victim and let what happened to me as a child to define the person I am today. I’m decided to accept ME and fight with all I have left.

    Please, keep talking about same sex abuse, especially female on females. It is brutal, but for those of us who are survivors of it, it’s a blessing to find a place where finally somebady has the courage to speak about it.

    Your strenght is inspiring and uncomensurable for people like me. God bless you.

    • Alethea says:

      Solita,

      Your English writing is great…very well understood.

      It brings me great joy to know that my Blog has helped you so much.

      My articles will trigger anyone who has experienced anything similar to what is written, or even one word or a photo can trigger someone. But there are hundreds of things that can trigger someone in their every day life, so we can never avoid triggers by hiding from them. They will come when we least expect it, and are often unknown to the conscious mind.

      You are NOT a freak, and there is nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about, because it is your perpetrator who should be wearing the shame on her face. SHE is the one who violated a child, and SHE is the one who owns the guilt and embarrassment.

      Have you ever thought of writing her a letter?

      I am so happy that my articles help you, but if you would allow me, I would like to help you further by telling you that YOU are NOT your body, and YOU ARE NOT your body’s reaction to women. That is NOT WHO YOU TRULY ARE.
      I must be honest with you, because I speak to your soul, not to your personality. You will never be in true peace if you remain attracted to, and in relationships with women.

      Depression is anger turned inward on yourself. Your anger might be based in anger at yourself –your true self fighting the false idea that you are truly bi-sexual. Bulimia and anorexia are linked to child sexual abuse, and both are completely curable, as is the depression.

      The eating disorders could be directly linked to the female-female sexual abuse. I speak from personal experience, as I have suffered from a tremendous amount of problems with food that were directly linked to the sexual abuse by my mother.

      I do find it interesting that you happened to mention that your abuse stopped you say because, “she got bored of me, I guess.” This is a Freudian Slip because it is indicative of possible inner feelings of anger at your babysitter for the abuse stopping. MANY MANY children, including me, have told on their abuser, or have become distraught when the abuse STOPPED.

      Have ever read Grace’s article about her sister’s sexual abuse of her? Note that Grace went through a lot of pain when her sister stopped the sexual abuse.

      Your continued attraction to women could be rooted in your babysitter’s stopping the abuse. But that is NOT for me to say. The answers are within you. Only you know the truth inside you.

      You say you refuse to feel like a victim and let what happened define you, but IT IS defining you if you continue to identify with the part of your brain that thinks it is sexually attracted to women. THAT is the abuse, NOT YOU.

      Solita, your strength is inspiring to me, and your willingness to post to me and to be so honest with me, is driving me to continue on in this direction.

      I struggled VERY HARD to post this article as I did, and to write and post The Sacred Monster, because there is a huge part of me that wants to just finish therapy, and move on with my life –move on from talking about same-sex child sexual abuse. It is THE hardest thing to openly admit. It is morally incriminating when one is still harboring the shame and guilt. But I now know who deserves to wear the shame and guilt. I now know WHO was/still is? morally corrupt, and it’s not me. It’s my mother.

      So if my honesty can help others, then I will continue on, and will try and help others as much as I can.

      So THANK YOU Solita for writing me this comment.

      God Bless you too.
      Alethea

      • Solita says:

        Hi Alethea, Thank you for writing back!

        I wish I had the chance to tell to her face or write a letter about how she affected me. But it is not longer possible since she was killed violently several years ago in a robery. She was pregnant, can you believe it?. This must be God getting even somehow… At least, she was held accountable for her sins in this life.

        I’ve read Grace’s story also and it has made think a lot about myself. I just don’t know how to handle what I feel inside. The guilt, the confusion. Therapy hasn’t helped really. You must see the stupid faces of these psychiatrists when I have to stop them in the middle of their preconceived speeches about bad MEN abusing kids to clarify I was abused by a WOMAN. It is ridiculous and frustrating. That’s why I decided to seek help around by myself, and finally found you: someone who understands, tells it like it is and can be a good example on how to handle things…

        My best wishes for you on your healing process, take your time and don’t feel preassure to come here. You have done a lot for many of us already setting this blog and telling your story!

        • KevinF says:

          Great conversation, Solita and Alethea. Very triggering and enlightening. Alethea, I feel that lots of people read your blog but never make themselves known or comment. So, juts because you don’t receive lots of comments/replies doesn’t mean that people aren’t being triggered and helped by this blog every day.

          • Alethea says:

            Thank you Kevin. You have commented about something I needed to read.

            I often feel like my articles go unread or aren’t helping anyone, or I am missing the mark…whatever, because so few comments come in.

            Don’t feel obligated to comment more often, I just needed to read your words, because they are so true.

            THANK YOU.
            ~Alethea

        • Alethea says:

          Dear Solita,

          How incredibly sad for the unborn child that it was murdered so violently.

          Yes, there is a law of cause and effect that exists in the universe. But just know that it is NOT God doing it to us. It is God’s law, and it runs the Universe, but it is not God taking the action. It was her soul. We punish ourselves through our own path of cause and effect. Her soul knew that her cause and effect moment in time was due. She walked into that situation because it was her time.

          You might try writing out that letter anyway and writing it with all the hatred and cuss words you like. You will never send it, so it’s okay to just express it ALL. Let loose. Do it when you instinctually feel like you need to just sit down and do it. Don’t try and force the letter, but write it one day. Feel your emotions, and cry your eyes out if you want to.

          Then burn it. (safely)

          ~Alethea

  3. KevinF says:

    Excellent article, Alethea. It’s very important that this issue is more publicised. The mainstream (lamestream) media and discourse for a number of years has been strongly influenced by political correctness and feminism and the adult white man is identified and presented as the source/root of all evil.

    Coming from a family where the mother was a violent abusive mood-swinging loon at home and of course, a wonderful pillar of society and ‘street angel’ in public, I have a lifetime’s experience of the deceit and duplicity that characterises these women. And the real and complex sadism that they’re into. The father of the family, by the way, was an absent, weak religionaholic.
    The response I got to speaking to anyone was exactly the same as Sharon’s above – just told to ‘shut up and go away’.

    On a positive note for the future, there are some signs of change. A lot of women sexual abusers (nuns and others) have been identified and outed by recent judicial inquiries into physical/sexual abuse of children in institutions and ‘homes’ in Ireland and Australia. Also, female teachers are now beginning to be prosecuted more widely for sexually assaulting boys, rather than just being ignored and laughed about as before.
    So hopefully things can improve as time goes on.

    • Alethea says:

      Thank you Kevin.

      The mainstream media in the United States is also strongly influenced by political correctness, ‘social correctness,’ feminism, and gay and lesbianism. It is also strongly influenced to run a non-God campaign, under the guise of “spirituality.” It also strongly pushes the notion that women are to be uplifted as nurturing, good mothers, and with no capability to be evil or to be corrupt in their minds (read: “women are all victims”)

      I also see a shift in women sexual abusers, and women who protect abusers now being prosecuted and given prison time.

      I think there should be a civil penalty for those who ignored or laughed at victims.

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