“Much of the hidden world of sexual abuse is very nearly unbearable. Sexual touching, so often trivialized by words such as fondling or molestation (annoyance) , is only the physical expression of a climate of invasion, isolation, and abandonment. Sexual abuse is so developmentally toxic that it must be walled off and enshrouded in a kind of psychological cocoon, set aside from the mainstream of consciousness to remain dorgmant or to grow as it will, emerging unpredictably in some alien metamorphosis.” “Hidden Victims, Hidden Pain:Societal Avoidance of Child Sexual Abuse,” 30-60,. In Lasting Effectsof Child Sexual Abuse , edited by Gail Elizabeth Wyatt and Gloria Johnson Powell, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
FALLOUT: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders (And Others), plus her dream journal and drawings
Part I – MEN WHO COMMIT INCEST
Chapter 1 – Who Am I?
Chapter 2 – Why Did I Do It?
Chapter 3 – How Could I Do It?
Chapter 4 – Treatment
Chapter 5 – Hurdles in Treatment
Chapter 6 – Modus Operandi
Chapter 7 – Will I Do It Again?
Chapter 8. A Metaphor
Part II – BONDS THAT BIND
Chapter 9. The Trauma Bond
Chapter 10 My Trauma Bond
Chapter 11 The Sexual Bond
Part III – COMMUNITY AND FAMILY
Chapter 12 After Release, Then What?
Chapter 13 Protecting
Part IV – THE SURVIVORS
Chapter 14 The Fallout
Chapter 15 Powerlessness
Chapter 16 Damaged Goods
Chapter 17 Betrayal
Chapter 18 Traumagenic Sex
Chapter 19 The Monkey Wrench Effect
Part V – SHAME
Chapter 20 Freeing Shame
Part VI – THE MOTHERS
Chapter 21 Role of the Mother
Part VII – RECOVERY
Chapter 22 Getting to Okay
Chapter 23 Survival Manual
Part VIII – PROFESSIONAL REMARKS
Chapter 24 Survivor as Therapist
Part IX – FURTHER STEPS TOWARDS CLOSURE
Chapter 25 Letters
Chapter 26 Gestalt Goodbye to My Father and Epilogue
THE AUTHOR’S DREAM JOURNAL AND DIARY
Me and Mom
6 Weeks Old Today
Kneeling Fanged Male Angel
Crested Bird Man
Swiss Cheese (goodreads)
FINAL THOUGHTS (from the book)
Is an innocent, carefree childhood a thing of the past? Or was there ever really such a thing? Can there ever be one? Some readers may be surprised that I don’t give the victims advice as to whether to tell or not, but only suggest an alternative via escaping the incestuous situation. There are several reasons for this. First, the justice system is flawed; enough said. Second, the family suffers considerable economic hardship , often losing the house and car, both vital to its continued survival. Third, the victim experiences additional guilt. Fourth, too much taxpayer money is not only going down the drain, but in many instances doing harm, as inmates become hardened by the prison experience. Fifth, incarceration doesn’t seem to solve the problem.
HOW MANY INCEST OFFENDERS DO YOU THINK YOU KNOW?
Probably several, since only about five percent ever get reported. Most are men, and daughters are usually their victims. I can speak for both the daughter victim as well as the incestuous father, because I am an incest survivor and I also treated imprisoned sex offenders for twelve years. Many of them had molested their daughters, and less frequently their sons.
I had earned my degree and was a psychologist when I began work at the prison, but knew little about sex offender treatment. It was not covered in our graduate curriculum. The first and most important lesson I learned while working with these offenders was that they do not believe that they have harmed the victim! Since their child did not say “no” or cry or tell her mother, and because her young body physically responded to the touching, they convinced themselves that there was no harm done.
Incest doesn’t just “happen.” It is a common practice for a father to “groom” his daughter before sexually assaulting her. The father attempts to strengthen the parental bond with his daughter in order to make her more vulnerable to him. The more she comes to trust him the easier it is for him to transition into sexual touching. And the more she has come to trust him, the greater the negative impact on her future relationships. Looking back, I remember my father taking me out square dancing twice before beginning to molest me. It seemed a little strange, but my mother said she had nothing to wear.
REACHING INCESTERS IN THE COMMUNITY
Incest harms. Would fathers who care about their daughters molest them, or would the knowledge of the harm they were inflicting stop or prevent their behavior? Those fathers lucky enough to get treatment while in prison are educated about many of the areas in which the child is damaged. But what about the men who are struggling to deal with the temptation to molest their child, or who have acted but not been caught? They have no access to treatment due to the new reporting laws which make it mandatory for professionals to report any adult who sexually assaults a child to the authorities. (It is a sexual assault because the young are trained to obey adults and lack the knowledge to be able to give informed consent).
THE HEAVY SECRET
The incest perpetrator’s next move, after having groomed and molested the victim, is to insure that she doesn’t tell anyone. The child must “keep the secret” from everyone, or terrible things will happen, including threats of retribution upon her, divorce of the parents, her being removed from the family, etc. In my case, my father told me it was a capital offense in our state, which I took as meaning it would be the death penalty for him if I told. (It turns out he was lying, as I learned much later).
Not only do the reporting laws prevent unreported men from getting treatment, but remove any possible source of support for the victim’s struggle in deciding what to do. One of the negative results following sexual abuse by a family member is powerlessness. Some victims run away from home to escape the bind she finds herself in, only to be apprehended and returned home to the source of the abuse. Some victims marry early to escape the home situation. I have a suspicion that many young suicides are pursuing what they see as the only way out.
I struggled with the seemingly hopeless, no-win situation of many incest victims, and when I retired from the prison system I decided to write a book sharing the damage I myself experienced in order to demonstrate its destructiveness, but I fear I am failing in that pursuit. We the people do not like to think about, much less spend time reading and learning about, topics that are emotionally repellent. Our response is “gross!” and so we avoid the topic. Meanwhile, all over the world children are being betrayed by the very people who are expected to protect them, and the children are in many ways trapped. The resulting sense of powerlessness often becomes part of her adult personality. What if she does report the incest? There is something called the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome in which a child may report the incest, but then family pressure, threats and fear cause her to retract her statements and her charges are deemed to have been falsehoods. To be returned to a family under those conditions appears to be even worse.
Many complexities surround this issue. One child did not keep the secret, and her father died while he was in prison. The officer who called his home to report the death to his wife told me that in the background he could hear someone screaming and sobbing for her daddy.
The drawing above was accidentally left out of FALLOUT (it means that I was/am a little lopsided).