BETRAYAL

According to Shengold, “sexual abuse by a parent is more traumatic than by other individuals, due to the level of betrayal involved. In later relationships it is not unusual for survivors to evidence their ambivalence by vacillating between rage and passivity. Extreme dependence and an inablity to assess the trustworthiness of others are also common. In the absence of healing, prognosis for a good marriage is guarded, due to what Shengold  calls a “pseudorelatedness that disguises a deeply seated misrust of others based on experienced reality,” (Shengold, 1989, 315).

I remember the story my father told me about a man who was urging his child to jump in the water, assuring the child that she or he would be caught. Finally, in a leap of faith, the child jumped in and the father stepped aside and did not catch the child. My father said, “The lesson is, don’t ever trust anyone.” (p 176)

 From FALLOUT: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders (and Others) by moi

About Nan Mykel

At 79, I was just about to stop keeping a journal, but that felt like accepting that growth was finished. I don't want to be finished, yet! I'm 80 now, and struggling to communicate with you, if you'll come and set awhile. P.S. My how time flies! I'm 82 now.
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6 Responses to BETRAYAL

  1. Nan, that’s a useful insight. I’m nervous, though, about the descriptor “more”. I would say the dynamics are simply different. For example a child abused by a teacher who is theirs hero/ine. Or by a priest who is the conduit of their daily prayers to their Creator, who they love? Having said that I agree it’s about Trust. Not a word I understand, I’m afraid.

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    • Nan Mykel says:

      Yes, I agree that as stated by Shengold that is a bit confusing. I just clarified that these words were his own. I think he’s narrowing himself to the issue of broken trust. I don’t think I’m saying it very well. Finkelhor (1986) outlined four different damaging effects of Incest (powerlessness, damaged goods, betrayal and damage to the victim’s sexuality.) under the rubric of “incest” he included both blood and non-blood incest (to include such caregivers as babysitters, coaches, teachers, clergymen, etc.)

      When someone says “I don’t get mad, I get even,” it is likely that he or she has experienced betrayal. It is one of Finkelhor’s four factors in child sexual abuse, and carries with it anger, depression, clinging, impaired judgment of others, and isolation. When the child’s personhood is disregarded and they are related to only as a sex object, there is also bitterness. “At the moment of abuse, with its profound betrayal of relational and generational boundaries, illusion is forever smashed.” (Frawley-O’Dea 1997, 95).

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  2. bethanyk says:

    Abuse is appalling.

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  3. Thanks for clarification. I’ve often wondered whether there are any world leaders who have survived childhood abuse. Just a thought …..

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