Table of Contents
Were you sexually abused? © Martyn Carruthers
We help people resolve negative emotions following sexual abuse.
We help people solve relationship problems and build family harmony.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse occurs when adults use children for sexual gratification. Sexual abuse may begin with kissing or fondling, and progress to intrusive sexual acts, such as oral sex, or vaginal or anal penetration.
Child Abuse may be combined with emotional abuse that destroys a child’s self-respect, for example repeated verbal abuse such as shouting, threats, and degrading or humiliating criticism, emotional incest and emotional blackmail.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault refers to sexual intercourse or attempted intercourse carried out against a person’s desire by the use or threat of physical force. Definitions of sexual violence and bullying often differ between countries.
What causes Sexual Perversions?
Theories about Sexual Assault & Perversion
1. Psychoanalytic Models
In 1895, Sigmund Freud wrote about the consequences of sexual abuse, claiming that boys are sexually attracted to their mothers, and girls to their fathers. Freud tried to explain sex offences – “castration anxiety is a failure to resolve an Oedipus Complex which causes feelings of sexual inadequacy and a need to be sexually dominant“. Hence sexual offences would be parenting failures. A hundred years later, Freud’s models still strongly influence psychiatrists.
The psychoanalytic model places the blame of childhood sexual abuse and incest on the child and the mother, (which may well represent Freud’s biography). Although widely used by psychiatrists, we find Freudian psychoanalytic models to be limited:
- Mothers and children are blamed for childhood sexual abuse, not the abusers.
- Does not explain father-son or mother-daughter sexual abuse, incest by other family members nor sexual assaults by neighbors, teachers, clergy or friends.
- Sex offenders or rapists are perceived as mentally sick, even though the majority of sexual offenders show no symptoms of other recognized mental illnesses.
2. Victim Encouragement
Victims are said to encourage rape through verbal and non-verbal behavior (e.g. by walking alone). A woman who accepts a dinner invitation or a lift home, or who visits a male friend at his home or who invites a male friend into her own home may be perceived by a rapist as a sex partner, and her actions rationalized as consent for sex. Verbal refusals of sex may be perceived by a rapist as “sex games” and be ignored.
- Men may force women to participate in sexual behavior
- The victim is blamed for the responsibility for sexual assault
- Men may deceive women and hide their intention to have sex
3. Family Dysfunction & Incest
Incest is seen as a symptom of a sick family, and all family members are considered responsible for allowing it to occur. In a dysfunctional family, incest may be covertly used to keep a family together. Family dysfunction theory has been adopted by many government authorities.
Users of this model see the mother as a dysfunctional wife who does not fulfill her husband’s sexual needs, or protect her children from him. She absents herself either emotionally or physically from her children by absence through work or illness, or by being emotionally aloof and/or sexually frigid.
Despite wide acceptance, the family dysfunction model:
- Does not explain other forms of sexual abuse
- Does not explain two thirds of child sexual abuse
- Minimizes or denies the devastating effects of incest on a child
- Regards incest as a symptom that keeps a dysfunctional family together
- Argues that a father imposes sexual demands on whoever does the housework
Mothers rarely ignore incest. In America, about 75% of mothers react to disclosed incest and 60% take immediate action, in contrast to the predictions of this model.
4. Psychological Models
Psychological models focus on identifying the personality profile and motivations of sex offenders. Some personality characteristics have been associated with sexual abusers.
- feelings of masculine inadequacy
- need to dominate and control family relationships
- introverted or withdrawn behavior (few or no friends)
- often adept at lies, evasions, excuses, justifications and blame
Research shows that abusers come from all social backgrounds; and do not suffer from known mental illnesses, nor do they necessarily have other criminal tendencies. This model perceives sexual abuse against women and children as normal male behavior.
5. Societal Models
Some say that social change can eliminate child abuse and sexual assault, by changing:
- the balance of power between men and women
- the balance of power between adults and children
- the abusers’ responsibility for sexual assaults
Societal models explain sexual assault in terms of social structures. Abuse is considered to be a facet of a patriarchal society, and sexual abuse and sexual assault are a result of legal, social, economic and political systems which support or enforce male dominance over women and children. These models predict that men …
- express dependency through sex
- see wives and children as property
- use sex to reconfirm their sense of self
- are stimulated by the genitals of preferred sexual objects
- desire sexual partners who are younger and smaller than themselves
This approach assigns responsibility to sexual abusers, but argues that socialization contributes to sexual abuse, and that women and children are passive, vulnerable and unable to resist.
6. Systemic Models
Our systemic psychology includes family dynamics about the victim, the abuser and the family as well as social and cultural factors. We provide a flexible framework which places responsibility with the abuser, while recognizing the influences of the abuser’s history, family and culture. This allows us to offer solutions for the victims and for the perpetrators of sexual abuse and sexual assault. We predict that:
- The abuser identified with a family member who was perceived as a victim
- At least one adult caretaker of the abuser was chronically sexually frustrated
- The abuser’s family did not allow conversation or discussion about sexual issues
- The abuser was abused, physically or emotionally, by an opposite sex caretaker
- Most female sexual abusers will be bonded to immature male caretakers
- Most male sexual abusers will be bonded to immature female caretakers
Sexual Abuse by Therapists & Health Professionals
Many of our clients are therapists, counselors, etc, and many of our clients described their interactions with previous therapists, counselors, etc.
I wanted my client to express her feelings … and she did so powerfully. At first I rejected her advances because I knew that she was reacting to her father. I discouraged this transference … I knew I should avoid any personal relationship with her … she
was so young … we made love anyway … then her mother reported me. Chicago
My doctor referred me to a therapist for depression. I quit when I saw that he was masturbating under his desk. I wanted to report him but I couldn’t work out how.
He is known to have affairs with clients but he is still in business. Canada
I went to a therapist after my divorce. He was obsessed with my sex life and details of an affair I had while I was married. He was obviously stimulated by what I told him. I felt dirty and soiled although he never touched me. Los Angeles
Some therapists argued that therapist-client sexual intimacies rarely harm clients; rather that such actions are generally inconsequential or beneficial; and that these intimacies do not constitute exploitation, nor abuse trust, power, prerogative, responsibility in therapeutic relationships.
Dr H. Greenwald (Shepard, 1971) wanted to study therapist-patient sexual intimacies:
In a survey of 4,800 therapists, Borys and Pope (1989) found that psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers engaged in sexual intimacies with their patients at equivalent rates.
We can help you clean up the mess
We help people prevent, alleviate or control the unpleasant consequences of sexual abuse and emotional incest. Contact us to change the emotional causes of sexual problems and other issues.