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WackAMole
06-12-2007, 12:38 AM
Okay, I have a kind of complicated question and I'm hoping theres a child psychologist in the house who can possibly help me answer this.

This is the situation with one of my characters. She is divorced and has a young old child. At the age of 3 this child underwent some changes in behaviour and habits. IE: she was emotional, whiney, had recurrent nightmares and was difficult to potty train. During this time period, the mother was seeking help from a close friend about the childs behavioural changes. This friend, who also happened to be an abuse counselor for the state, said she would willingly interview the child as a favor, but if she noticed any indication there was abuse involved, she was a "mandatory reporter" and would have to report it.

In the meantime, before the meeting with this counselor happened, the child woke up at daycare screaming from a nightmare. The daycare teacher cuddles the child and asks what is wrong. the child says to the daycare provider "my daddy hurt me in the bum with a knife."

The daycare provider being a mandatory reporter also, reports the incident immediately to the police and the mother. Soon after, the child is subjected to a visit with the local sex abuse clinic. Through many interviews and physical examinations, it is determined that there is no solid evidence against this dad since the "knife" in question could have easily been a toy that dad patted her on the butt with etc etc. Because of the laws in the state, the social workers and police decline to attempt to press charges as there is a law that states no child can be taken to court more than once for allegations of sex abuse.

In the meantime, the local social worker contacts the father and basically counsels him on what is appropriate and what is not, letting him know exactly what happened.

The conundrum is this, now that no charges are being pressed, the mom is worried the child is being manipulated into "not talking." She is forced to release her children to the father for his visitation because there is no legal reason to keep the children away from their father.

Even though she knows it is nothing to be taken lightly, mom struggles with believing that the father is capable of this abuse. But being no dummy, she continues to take her child regularly to see a social worker. The area she struggles with as a mother is this: She believes it would have been better for the social worker not to have basically "warned" the father that there were suspicions. The father was abused as a child himself, and has issues with compulsions including pornography/sex related issues.

The child is now 4 years old and is very careful about what she says to mom, guarded where her father is concerned. Mom is worried that the child is being manipulated somehow by the father into "not telling".

From a psychologists standpoint, how would a psychologist deal with a child who was being manipulated like this in order to get them to talk about the abuse? What kind of manipulation tools do predators employ on young children?

I had lots of counsel on this from the Social work end, but I am stuck with the psychology part because frankly, I dont know any psychologists! heh Or should I be looking more into Child Psychiatry and what is the difference?

Any help much appreciated!

wordmonkey
06-12-2007, 02:04 AM
Some years ago I dated an abuse survivor.

I learned several things.

Abusers claim that the actions they do are based on love. This is a special kind of love. Kids are set up to accept love.

But it's a secret. A very special secret. No-one must know about the secret. If the secret were ever revealed there would be terrible consequences. Not for the adult, but for the child. Psychologically, my understanding of the situation is that THIS is the what causes the greatest block to resolving the psychological mess this kinda thing causes. Because implicit here, and this is further hammered home, is that the child is guilty of something. Ultimately the secret grows and with it the guilt.

The therapy my friend (it ultimately tore the relationship apart because I refused to conform to the norm of an abuse victim's chosen partners) went through revolved around her reliving these events and facing the fact that she was a victim without any power in the situation. That she had no actual guilt to feel.

Don't know if that helped any.

WackAMole
06-12-2007, 02:22 AM
Some years ago I dated an abuse survivor.

I learned several things.

Abusers claim that the actions they do are based on love. This is a special kind of love. Kids are set up to accept love.

But it's a secret. A very special secret. No-one must know about the secret. If the secret were ever revealed there would be terrible consequences. Not for the adult, but for the child. Psychologically, my understanding of the situation is that THIS is the what causes the greatest block to resolving the psychological mess this kinda thing causes. Because implicit here, and this is further hammered home, is that the child is guilty of something. Ultimately the secret grows and with it the guilt.

The therapy my friend (it ultimately tore the relationship apart because I refused to conform to the norm of an abuse victim's chosen partners) went through revolved around her reliving these events and facing the fact that she was a victim without any power in the situation. That she had no actual guilt to feel.

Don't know if that helped any.

Yes, it does help and thank you for posting.

The tough part about this story is realistically addressing a child who may/may not be being abused. She is young enough that from what I understand from my social work friends, it is very easy to manipulate them at that age out of fear of the consequences of "telling". Fears such as, "If you tell the police will come and get you," "If you tell then daddy will die." The trick is presenting a childs progress in written format.

How on earth can I make a believable enough set up, that this child eventually feels able to talk about what happened to them?

In talking to another friend about her child and her situation, she said the hardest thing in the world is not knowing how to get this child beyond the "fear" of telling. Instinctually, I think mothers know something isnt right.

But what methods do psychologists use to encourage children to not fear consequences? I want to present this believably and realistically and I have zero experience with it. Thus, I am attempting to bullshit my way through this by glomming off you professional types out there :P

Siddow
06-12-2007, 02:25 AM
At the age of 3 this child underwent some changes in behaviour and habits. IE: she was emotional, whiney, had recurrent nightmares and was difficult to potty train.

Not a child psychologist, but a mother of four, only one of whom has not passed the 3-year-old threshold, and I have to point out: this is not unusual behavior for that age, no matter the personality of the child at 1 or 2.

Even my 5 year old has started a new bedtime routine of "But MY room is full of BEES! Can I sleep in your bed?" :rolls eyes:

But, in a more helpful mode, have you thought about using drawings? I haven't put any of my kids into therapy (yet...), but don't psychologists use drawings on kids that age, since they're so lacking in verbal power? Give the kid some crayons, analyze the pictures they come up with. Draw something you love. Draw something you don't like. Draw a picture of you and Mommy. Now draw one of you and Daddy. I'd think if child and Mommy were at the park, but child and Daddy were under the covers in bed, it wouldn't even take a psychologist to figure that one out!

WackAMole
06-12-2007, 02:38 AM
Not a child psychologist, but a mother of four, only one of whom has not passed the 3-year-old threshold, and I have to point out: this is not unusual behavior for that age, no matter the personality of the child at 1 or 2.

Even my 5 year old has started a new bedtime routine of "But MY room is full of BEES! Can I sleep in your bed?" :rolls eyes:

But, in a more helpful mode, have you thought about using drawings? I haven't put any of my kids into therapy (yet...), but don't psychologists use drawings on kids that age, since they're so lacking in verbal power? Give the kid some crayons, analyze the pictures they come up with. Draw something you love. Draw something you don't like. Draw a picture of you and Mommy. Now draw one of you and Daddy. I'd think if child and Mommy were at the park, but child and Daddy were under the covers in bed, it wouldn't even take a psychologist to figure that one out!

Yes, well that is the part of the story I have done. And yes, in it, the social worker gave the child crayons and the child drew pictures, but of course, (because I cant make it that easy yet or id have to stop writing!) the picture was of a "knife" that strangely resembled that particular part of a mans anatomy but because it was drawn by this three year old, could also be construed as a knife. And yes, the social worker friend of mine explained those could all be normal symptoms for that age, but they are also pretty significant warning signs if they develop suddenly in a child of that age (I should say, a child that hasnt had any problems before).

Where I am in the story, is the mother has become fed up with "not knowing". She just doesnt know whats going on, and she isnt sure she believes something is going on, but at the same time, she is afraid that if she ignores the evasive patterns the child repeats when she has been to her fathers house, that she might be ignoring something far worse.

(JUST fyi..in the story ..the child is indeed being abused but what I really want to show, is how they eventually get the child to overcome her fears of telling someone.)

I hope I am explaining what I need ok :/

Siddow
06-12-2007, 03:03 AM
Where I am in the story, is the mother has become fed up with "not knowing". She just doesnt know whats going on, and she isnt sure she believes something is going on, but at the same time, she is afraid that if she ignores the evasive patterns the child repeats when she has been to her fathers house, that she might be ignoring something far worse.

(JUST fyi..in the story ..the child is indeed being abused but what I really want to show, is how they eventually get the child to overcome her fears of telling someone.)

I hope I am explaining what I need ok :/

I'm thinking something completely sick now, but I thought I'd throw it out here for you. Could the mother plant something in Daddy's house, a video camera, or even stuff a voice recorder in child's teddy bear that she always takes with her? That doesn't really get child to fess up, but it puts the mother in extreme danger of being found out, perhaps even caught in the house by the abusive Daddy when she rigs up the cameras.

Here's the sick part: could the mother show pornography to the child to get her to admit, "That's what Daddy does"? And it involves children? And then Mommy gets put in jail for the ki ddie porn and Daddy gets the girl? (Sorry, I tend to go dark...)

Anyhooo...I'll shush now. No, wait! Has there been a medical exam? Can I read the book when you're done?

WackAMole
06-12-2007, 03:05 AM
I'm thinking something completely sick now, but I thought I'd throw it out here for you. Could the mother plant something in Daddy's house, a video camera, or even stuff a voice recorder in child's teddy bear that she always takes with her? That doesn't really get child to fess up, but it puts the mother in extreme danger of being found out, perhaps even caught in the house by the abusive Daddy when she rigs up the cameras.

Here's the sick part: could the mother show pornography to the child to get her to admit, "That's what Daddy does"? And it involves children? And then Mommy gets put in jail for the ki ddie porn and Daddy gets the girl? (Sorry, I tend to go dark...)

Anyhooo...I'll shush now. No, wait! Has there been a medical exam? Can I read the book when you're done?

LOL sure u can :) But it might be a while! I work full time and I write when I get the chance.

DeborahM
06-12-2007, 04:43 AM
The daycare provider being a mandatory reporter also, reports the incident immediately to the police and the mother. Soon after, the child is subjected to a visit with the local sex abuse clinic. Through many interviews and physical examinations, it is determined that there is no solid evidence against this dad since the "knife" in question could have easily been a toy that dad patted her on the butt with etc etc. Because of the laws in the state, the social workers and police decline to attempt to press charges as there is a law that states no child can be taken to court more than once for allegations of sex abuse.


From a psychologists standpoint, how would a psychologist deal with a child who was being manipulated like this in order to get them to talk about the abuse? What kind of manipulation tools do predators employ on young children?

I had lots of counsel on this from the Social work end, but I am stuck with the psychology part because frankly, I dont know any psychologists! heh Or should I be looking more into Child Psychiatry and what is the difference?

Any help much appreciated!


In quite a few states, the abused child would be taken to an abused child center where the child would be interviewed by a child psychologist trained in abuse. The interview would be videoed while a policeman, attorney from the DA's office, social worker, and/or another psychologist is watching. If they have any questions, or need an area expounded on, then the psychologist can cover the area. The child is interviewed only once, hence the video and not subjected to further questioning.

I know this really doesn't answer your question, but I thought I'd answer this one area.

Blurb
06-12-2007, 05:10 AM
The pyschologist would be very careful in dealing with a situation like this (I'm a pyschology Undergrad and work with special needs kids). A child that young is massively impressionable. A pyschologist would never ask a question along the lines of "is this what daddy does to you". It would be way to easy for the kid to answer yes, even if the father was in no way abusive, because the child did not understand the question or because that was the answer the child thought the psychologist wanted and the child did not understand the consequences of the answer.

Things like showing pictures of child porn then asking a bunch of question about the father could create a really strong association between the two and lead to false memories of abuse. No psychologist would do that (and if one did he'd lose his license real fast.)

The psychologist might very well have the child draw a weekend at daddy's house then a weekend at mommy's house and ask him to explain the pictures (not attaching value judgements to any answers). Lacking any physcial evidence that would probably be the end of it.

WackAMole
06-12-2007, 06:19 AM
So basically, if a psychologist suspects that a child is hiding something or being evasive at that age, they are pretty much limited to drawing pictures?

Geez, I guess I expected something more along the lines of a psychologist might have ways of talking to young children in normal conversation that would reveal more than what the child realized.

Interesting and sad subject nonetheless. And please, anyone else with any experience with this subject and/or professional knowledge please feel free to chime in! I love to pile all my info in one big dump and sift through it to help me piece together my direction.

Thanks again all of you who posted :)

WriterInChains
06-12-2007, 06:55 AM
Hiya Wack! :)

A child that age displaying a knowledge of things she shouldn't have --that's something a psychologist would latch onto, something they'd ask more questions about. Whether they use drawings or play with dolls -- abused kids just don't play the way other kids do. Go to the store & pick up a couple of dolls (Barbie & Ken, whatever), & just playing with them for a few minutes will give you some ideas, I'm sure. (Just be careful of the store cameras & employees!) I'm not a psychologist, but have known more than my share of unfortunate kids.

From my own experience with abuse -- the kid won't tell unless you break them. Every kid's breaking point is different, but cajoling probably won't do it. Remember how everything was bigger than life when you were a kid? The fear of telling is so ingrained, it's such a part of their identity, they might not tell anyone until they realize as an adult that it shouldn't have happened. Also, they may display PTSD symptoms, or depression/anxiety symptoms. Not just sexual abuse, this goes for all kinds.

PM me if more details would help.
~C

P.S. Not all kids get aggressive in this kind of situation -- in fact, most I've known have gone the other route, even boys. They retreat into their own world & pay VERY close attention to everything going on outside it, especially adults. This pre-occupation is one reason that kids sometimes seem to revert to younger behavior; they're working so hard just to get from one moment to the next they don't have much brainpower left over for normal things, and are easily overwhelmed. Suspicion and self-protection don't necessarily appear as aggression, especially in kids.

wordmonkey
06-12-2007, 07:37 AM
Also what tends to happen is that second personality comes to the fore in an abuse victim. This is often a very aggressive, combative personality. To the best of my knowledge, this ISN'T split personality in the Hollywood sense.

The basic purpose of this other side is to protect the victim. This personality kicks in to take the abuse. What tends to happen is this side then starts to appear at anytime the person feels threatened. Then it starts to look for threats where they aren't so it can protect the victim side.

(Basically it CANNOT protect the victim, and carries that guilt, so looks to justify itself by seeking ways to prove itself. This then becomes a self-defeating cycle and is partly the reason why abuse victims gravitate towards abusive people time and again. Also, as the person grows old, the other side stays the basic same age. You will see a very clear childish tone of voice and body posture appear at times like this.)

I'm not sure I'm really explaining this very well, but I thought it might help to understand where the aggression comes from.

But as has been pointed out already, kids start to push the limits and rebel at this age too. See how far they can push things until they get a REAL "no!"

My understanding is that to crack this, you need a very safe place. The secret and guilt are a BIG block to get past, and when you start poking (poor choice of words) into this, the aggressive side will come out because this is all very nasty and scary, so to combat the threat, the defence mechanism starts up. This "protector" needs to be gotten past. Until this is done, you wouldn't get to the real victim.

frimble3
06-12-2007, 10:39 AM
I know this isn't where your story seems to be going, but based on your description, the poor kid could be pulled in two directions, as far as being manipulated by adults. Daddy may be coaching the child to keep quiet, keep the secret from Mommy. But there could be a lot of pressure on the child to give Mommy what she seems to want. Especially if the poor kid doesn't really know what's going on. But Daddy doesn't want the child to talk about their 'little games', and Mommy seems really eager to hear that the two of them played certain specific games together.A neutral counsellor who wants to figure out what actually happened could be a blessing for the child, but someone who keeps dragging out the anatomically correct abuse-dolls at every opportunity could do a lot of damage. To both the parents and child.

WackAMole
06-12-2007, 08:44 PM
I know this isn't where your story seems to be going, but based on your description, the poor kid could be pulled in two directions, as far as being manipulated by adults. Daddy may be coaching the child to keep quiet, keep the secret from Mommy. But there could be a lot of pressure on the child to give Mommy what she seems to want. Especially if the poor kid doesn't really know what's going on. But Daddy doesn't want the child to talk about their 'little games', and Mommy seems really eager to hear that the two of them played certain specific games together.A neutral counsellor who wants to figure out what actually happened could be a blessing for the child, but someone who keeps dragging out the anatomically correct abuse-dolls at every opportunity could do a lot of damage. To both the parents and child.

This brings up a very interesting point and is definitely something that would help lend credibility to writing this kind of story. Thanks for the post!

Wordmonkey, can you give me examples of what that "safe place" for a child might be?

Also any hypothetical scenarios regarding the way a psychologist might interact with this child would be really helpful!

Thanks everyone once again for the help!

wordmonkey
06-12-2007, 10:03 PM
Wordmonkey, can you give me examples of what that "safe place" for a child might be?

My understanding is that the safe place is as much a psychological place as it is a physical place.

A therapist will spends some time getting to know the kid, and build a connection and level of trust. What is basically happening is that to get to the victim (and the truth) the therapist must get past the aggressive protector, who is the bouncer from hell. Because the child was abused, the protector failed, so it will go to great lengths to prove how important it is NOW.

To give you an example from an older abuse survivor (and that terminology is VERY important to people who are going through or have come through the other end of this experience, a victim has no power and regardless of whether the abuse happened years ao or last week, theya re still at the mercy of the abuser. A survivor has lived through the experience).

We would go out for a walk in the park. Nice summer day, just a great day to go feed the ducks. So there we are, strolling along and I see someone walking in the opposite direction. She no-one special, never seen her before, but she has this cool summer hat on and I think to myself, that would look great on my girlfriend. "Hey," I say. "What do you think to that hat? I think it would really suit you. Maybe we should look for one for you?"

This triggers a melt-down.

"WHY? Do you like her? Do you want me to look like her? Do you want to screw her? Do you know her? You do know her, don't you? Is she better than me? Does she do things in bed that I won't? Is that it? She lets you do stuff to her that I won't? She's a slut and that's what you like, right? Well why don't you just f**k off and screw her then? Go on!"

Seriously.

Now even knowing what is happening in her head and knowing WHY that is happening, it still hurts. (Which is why the relationship ultimately broke down. Not because I couldn't take that anymore - though it was a horrible thing to go through (yet nothing to what she went through), but because she recognised what was happening and decided that she would stop her therapy to stop being so sensative. That was the point at which I walked away to force her back to getting well.) But what is happening is the protector wants to prove that it IS good at protecting and in the above example has just revealed me to be the horrible ass the protector knew all along. And it follows that if I lied about THIS, I would lie about everything and thus I MUST be an abuser.

So a therapist will usually be female in this situation (males are the usual abuser - though obviously not always). She will work hard to be unthreatening. Voice levels will be moderated. Body language will be very controlled and there will be a complete lack of sudden movements. They will expect outbursts and aggression and abusive behavor and language. What they are dealing with a is a very wild, very hostile, near primal protector. This must be convinced that it did no wrong. It did NOT fail because it was never able to succeed. Once a therapist has developed a level of trust they will slowly and carefully begin to go through all the abusive experiences that the survivor can and during the recounting of each event the therapist must get the survivor (and the protector-side) to see that they were the victim and were powerless. They carry no guilt.

However, I think what's happening here is that we are talking about two different things. And partly that's due to my experiences being with someone older. You are looking for a way to find out IF the child has been abused and I am mostly talking about what happens AFTER that has been determined. The start would probably be the same though. Safe place.

But I would also agree with the post that said the strain on the child would be incredible. Take any kid that is just learning about secrets. Father's Day is coming up and my wife is planning something with my eldest. It's a big deal for him. And when I offered him a dollar the other day to tell me the secret, he was terribly torn. Now I was just teasing him, and I didn't really want to know, and he kinda knew this, but still, you could see the cogs turning as he tried to work out how to please both mom AND dad.

Now add into that the fact that we aren't talking about a new tie, but rather Mommy REALLY wants to know what Lucy did with Daddy this weekend and Daddy told Lucy that their special game (which will evolve into Lucy's special game, thus putting the onus on her) that shows just how much he loves her, MUST stay a secret, because even though it just shows how special Lucy is and how much Daddy loves her, Mommy would say it was VERY NAUGHTY and would be VERY CROSS. Mommy made Daddy move away from the house, if Lucy told Mommy about the secret, Mommy might make Lucy go away too. And that's only the start of it.

There are few things I consider more evil than people who do this.

I should also point out that showing porn to an abuse victim is a terrible idea. Sex isn't sex, as a healthy person sees, it to an abuse victim. They couldn't watch it in anything like a clinical manner and say, "Yes, he touched me there." It would likely trigger the protector and any trust the person showing the porn might have had, would be completely destroyed, however well intentioned the idea might have been.

I should also point out that it also screws up the meaning of love. The abuser does this because he loves the kid. It likely hurts, it's a terrible secret, and it just gets worse as the guilt increases, implications become more evident to the kid, and the threats to keep the secret increase.

So someone says, "I love you." And with that, what the protector adds is "...and because I love you, I will abuse you and use you and degrade you and hurt you, because you are naughty and disgusting and vile and worthless and a complete nothing who is lucky to have me."

WackAMole
06-13-2007, 02:35 AM
Thanks again wordmonkey. VERY helpful!

JoniBGoode
07-04-2007, 04:07 AM
This is pretty late -- sorry, I just saw the thread. One very common technique that psychologists use with children that young is play therapy. The psychologist will have a play house and a wide variety of dolls-- Moms, Dads, babies, boys, girls, etc -- all to scale. The psychologist will encourage the child to play with the dolls and make up stories about what they do.

Children who have been abused physically, emotionally or sexually will often act out scenes of such abuse during their "play." They do so both because it seems normal to them, and as a way of revealing information without "telling." Normally, a child who has been sexually abused will spontaneously exhibit knowledge of sex acts that are not age appropriate, during play. Usually, as time progresses, the child will actually act out any abuse they have experienced, as a way of dealing with it.

Meanwhile, at other times during the therapy sessions, the psycholgist will gradually develop trust by encouraging the youngster to talk about anything that's bothering them, establishing the therapy sessions as a "safe place."

In a successful treatment, depending upon the child's age, eventually they will reach a point where they can admit to the therapist that the "make believe" scenes they are acting out are real.

The psychologist may also use play therapy to act out more positive scenes during therapy. For example, the therapist may show a policeman or authority figure making an abuser stop. Or, they may act out more positive interactions between the dolls.

Young children can often relate to this type of therapy even when words are still dangerous, clumsy and confusing.

By the way, the therapist could be a psychologist or a psychiartist. The major difference is that a psychiartist is an M.D. and can prescribe drugs, while a psychologist is a PhD who cannot describe drugs. Often treatments are similar. (Psychologists have a saying that a psychiartist is someone who has studied medicine for x years and the mind for three years, while psychologists are someone who has studied the mind for 9 to 12 years. For what it's worth.)

mommyjo2
07-07-2007, 06:52 AM
You might want to read "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin DeBecker. It is about protecting our children from abuse of many kinds, and he details several MO's that abusers use. While your at it, read his first book "The Gift of Fear", just for yourself and also insight into the motivations of ...less savory... people.

JoNightshade
07-07-2007, 08:40 AM
The one question I have here is with the kid's age. Three year olds, in my experience (and I'm not a mother) are extremely transparent and virtually incapable of hiding anything. Particularly if someone is trying to get them to NOT say something. Ever tried to get a three year old NOT to blurt out something they heard you say? Over and over? Active deception just isn't in their mental capacity at that point. The best they can do is look at you with wide eyes when you ask them if they did something naughty. So if the kid is three, the only way it would really work for me is if the kid is naturally very reserved and quiet. Maybe she doesn't talk very much and is quite shy.

The "hiding" part would work if the kid was older... maybe four, probably closer to five would be better. I have a cousin who was sexually abused at age 5/6. She is EXTREMELY smart and I would say even sly, but still couldn't manage to pull the wool over her parents' eyes for very long, even with someone manipulating her. They noticed the difference in her attitude/play.

Marina Snow
07-09-2007, 03:48 AM
The daycare teacher cuddles the child and asks what is wrong. the child says to the daycare provider "my daddy hurt me in the bum with a knife."

The father was abused as a child himself, and has issues with compulsions including pornography/sex related issues.

As an incest survivor who was sexually abused by my father, and who has done a lot of research, I can say that there is a possibility the child was raped and she used the word "knife" for a penis because when you are a child it feels like a knife to be raped with a large penis.

The father's issues with compulsions, porn, and sex-related things, as well as his own history of abuse are RED FLAGS.

I hope that the mother is vigilant, but she needs to be careful because judges award FULL custody to many child molester fathers when the mother gets too hysterical with little evidence.

It is very possible that if there has been abuse, the father is threatening the child with death or the death of a loved one or pet if she tells the secret. This means she will not disclose the abuse unless she feels absolutely safe to do so. Another complicated and delicate issue would be if she is experiencing pleasure from the abuse. This is COMMON and I went through this with my father. Even though he raped me, he also did things that made me feel good and children can enjoy the attention and affection from the abuser. She may not disclose anything because at this point she might not want it to stop, or may not want to put daddy in prison.

Best of luck to you.

Penguin Queen
07-09-2007, 04:18 AM
The one question I have here is with the kid's age. Three year olds, in my experience (and I'm not a mother) are extremely transparent and virtually incapable of hiding anything. Particularly if someone is trying to get them to NOT say something. Ever tried to get a three year old NOT to blurt out something they heard you say? Over and over? Active deception just isn't in their mental capacity at that point. The best they can do is look at you with wide eyes when you ask them if they did something naughty.


Yes, but this is different. For a start, as a small child, you dont have the words for what has happened to you. You dont have the words for either the actions, nor most of the body parts involved; and as sure as hell not for the huge swirling mass of overwhelming emotions it will have caused in you.
If the child were minded to speak (after having been told not to, either with threats like someone has already mentoined ("If you tell, I will kill you"); or with even more insidious ones (like "If you tell, daddy get hurt")); what they wouldn come up with would be something like, "Daddy hurt me", which can easily be explained away by saying she has been smacked or something. :(

Plus there is the fear and shame in the child itself, because they know that what happens to them isnt right, but since it's their father or mother who's doing this, it can't be wrong, because they wouldnt just hurt a chlid like this for no reason. Children are extremely egocentric (not in a bad way, they just are), and will usually assume that whatever bad happens is their fault anyway; even more so with something that doesnt make sense, like unprovoked pain and/or weird "games" that they are told to keep secret. So to try and make sense - and to regain some control - they will assume that what happens is somehow their fault. And they will feel horrible and ashamed. That is also a very powerful disincentive to talking about it.


Oh, and...


The father was abused as a child himself, and has issues with compulsions including pornography/sex related issues.

While it is true that many abusers have themselves been abused, it is not the case that being an abuse survivor makes one an abuser.
Most of us would rather cut off our limbs than ever hurt anyone like that.

wordmonkey
07-09-2007, 07:35 PM
Yes, but this is different. For a start, as a small child, you dont have the words for what has happened to you. You
{snipped by me}
feel horrible and ashamed. That is also a very powerful disincentive to talking about it.

I was gonna post this, but you beat me to it.


While it is true that many abusers have themselves been abused, it is not the case that being an abuse survivor makes one an abuser.
Most of us would rather cut off our limbs than ever hurt anyone like that.

That's a good point, but I would say there's a difference between a "survivor" than a victim. A survivor is usually someone who has gone through some therapy/counceling.

Penguin Queen
07-09-2007, 11:04 PM
<...>I would say there's a difference between a "survivor" than a victim. A survivor is usually someone who has gone through some therapy/counceling.

I would strongly agree that theres a difference between survivor and victim - actrually, the more I come to think about it, a cruicial differenc,e but I wouldnt tie it to therapy. Rather, to outlook on life: Victim, you brood on the past and cling to the harm thats been done to you. Survivor: you look ahead into the rest of your like, your life, and as much as possibloe dont let the harm of the past harm your present & future.
I know a little boy in Argentina who was horrendously abused and neglected by his birth mother, left to sleep outside with the dogs, made drunk to make him stop asking for food when he was hungry. He was lucky, and somebody noticed, and took him out of there when he was six and gave him to a woman who now fosters him. He's not had any therapy; he knows what happened to him & he knows he can talk about it, but he's never talked to a social worker, let alone a dedicated child psychologist. He's definitely a survivor; he has his rage and sometimes it erupts, but he can love, he looks at poeple and decides whom he trusts, he wants a future, he is hugely ambitious.
I met him last year for just a few days (I stayed with his foster mother) and we bonded like hell. :) (Here's a pic of him (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penguin_queen/739030036/))

Er. I got a bit carried away there, sorry. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon11.gif

wordmonkey
07-10-2007, 12:14 AM
Reason I suggested therapy as being a point of divergence, was that you are given the tools to become the survivor.

If you fail to seek that out, whether you re-enact the abuse, or simply remain a victim of it, it's still there controlling you.

I should probably say again, that I am speaking from a point of being the partner of an abused person, not abused myself. So one should take that into account. There are somethings which I can never relate to in a personal way. That said (and I am seeking no sympathy here, because I have come through the other side) I also believe that loved ones of an abused person have things to resolve as well. It really does spiral out beyond where it starts in many insidious ways.

And for my money, if you wanna go on about a great little kid who has been through the ringer, I'd fight anyone here who had a problem with it, for ya. ;)