Friday, 27 November 2009

Child Sexual Abuse - A Family Dysfunction

I am going to be referencing the study below in this blog entry:-
Child sexual abuse: a marker or magnifying glass for family dysfunction?
Nancy D. Kellogg
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA
The Social Science Journal 39 (2002) 569–582
Every victim of child sex abuse has a different story to tell. One of the key features in my own experience was the role I played within the family as a whole, and how dysfunctional the family was.
I found this study a while back describing how the family set up and dynamics, not only have as a big a part to play, in how the abuse is carried out, but also in the prognosis and recovery of the child in question.It regards the abuse not as being performed by a single perpetrator, but by the family as a whole.
This obviously does not apply to everyone, but it does to me.
Reasons Why The Kids Don't Disclose The Abuse

My abuse started by my father when I was under 5 years old. I didn't disclose until I was 16 yrs old. Why?

Well the top 5 points in the article shown, cover my reasons.

I feared the lack of back up from my mother, because she already seemed to know, and was hostile towards me as a child, and well into my thirties.
The fear of the consequences for telling, came from both the physical violence shown by both parents towards me, which worsened with every year.
But if I did tell someone, what would happen? fears were realised unfortunately

The role of the Mother
The mother is often the first adult told.It was in my case too.
"The mother of the sexually abused child not only plays a pivotal role in the child's likelihood of disclosure,but also in the risk factors that give rise to the abuse"

I knew telling her was the right thing to do, but she made it so hard for  me to do so.She treated me as a rival for my father's attention, which she does admit to now, not that it really helps now.
When I did tell her, she emotionally blackmailed me not to tell, and not to report it to anyone.She even went as far as making me lie to a child psychiatrist who wanted to have Dad removed. Mum sat there the whole time ensuring I did no such thing. Her sanity, financial security, job,my sister's future, were all put to me as reasons why not to tell
This was one of the most damaging experiences of my life.When I was beaten unconcious in front of her, I was sent away, not Dad.Once he knew she wouldn't report him, he bought her a house and took her on holiday.
I withdrew, and became someone else.
Adult Centred Families
It took me years to work out what happened. How could I have been victimised like this, with all the other members of the family complicit in the abuse, and maintenance of my role as the family punch bag
The article purports that there are child centred and adult centred families, where the rights of the child come last. Then there are secure and insecure families, where the threat of violence, and unpredictable parental behaviour is present.Sometimes there is substance abuse too

In my situation it was a very adult centred , insecure household, with a set up which suited both parents, if truth be told. No-one ever told on Dad, until 2004, 16 yrs after I first disclosed the abuse to my mother.
I hope that as time goes on the role of the rest of the family, and especially the "non-abusive" parent is given more attention, especially legally.
For too long, it is assumed that they are equal victims, when that is not always the case.They sometimes know well in advance what is going on, and get something out of  it.Not really the sign of a nurturing parent is it.
And when the abuser is finally put away, you are left with the supposed victim parent, who you know full well, was never really a victim at all.....


  1. i just wanted to say, i am so sorry for your suffering. it is very sad that parents can be so cruel and damaging to their own child.
    i have different issues with my mother and she has damaged my self esteem all my life and i am 47 years. and i feel guilty for not visiting her, especially now since she is alone. but she continues to critize everything about me, still.
    i hope that you are now in a better place.

  2. Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it. I know what you mean about the guilt on one hand, and dealing with the scars they left you with on the other.
    I am in a better place now thanks, it just helps me sometimes to write itdown and make sense of it all.
    *Hugs Back*

  3. I'm so sorry. This so cruel and unfair. I'm happy to hear that you are better now.


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