Posted by: daisy | 2008/10/03

child abuse, is it a mental problem?

My memory of the sexual abuse I got from my adoptive father as a child is vague. I only remember the explicit details of one occasion, I don' t think he ever penetrated me, maybe he tried once. My parents divorced long before that, the abuse happened when I was alone at home and he visited, not very often. I did not tell my mother. I know he did it to my sister as well.

A few short years later I was touched inappropriately a few times by my religious studies teacher as well. He was also sort of a boyfriend of my mom' s. She wasn' t a loose woman, besides my father, it' s the only other man I know of in her life. She said she won' t remarry because she can' t guarantee a good father for us kids.

This time I hinted about it to my mom but it seems she either went into denial or thought I' m imagining things. Maybe she confronted him but they still saw each other after that so I guess she must have believed his words.

As a teenager I lost my virginity young, my mom found out by reading my diary. She also saw what I had written about my dad and eventually asked me in passing about it. But she said it could not have happened because she was always around, I don' t recall trying to correct her, if she hadn' t read my diary I would never have told her. So we never spoke about it again, just as if never happened.

What can I say. I don' t have a problem with sex or affection towards men. I am " happily"  married, my husband is the only other person knows about it, it didn' t affect us, I guess. I am 33 now, I have a small child of my own.

Now as a mother, I know FOR SURE that if my child were to come to me with such an accusation, I would not have the brush it off attitude of my mom. Only now I am suddenly baffled as to why she behaved like she did? I never blame her for this. Both my parents are dead already. I always said I won' t bother attending my dad' s funeral (not coz of abuse, rather he is absent father), but when the day came, my mom insisted I go, and so I did. It sort of proves to me that she didn' t take that seriously.

MAYBE I masturbated a bit much as a kid, besides this, it seems this abuse never affected me at all. I' ve always had self esteem issues but I think that' s more because my upbringing and surroundings.

Is it normal for me not to be affected by these matters? I don' t feel dirty or anything. I don' t even hate the abusers. But I feel like, why do I have this attitude like I accept those things too easily.

I can' t even imagine having sexual feelings towards a child. Do all abusers have a mental problem? Why do they do it?

Am I fooling myself that it has not affected me? I feel that if I were to be raped at this age it will be a different matter, I won' t cope. Why as a kid it' s so easy for me to go on as normal? It just amazes me how different people react to the same situation. In some way I count myself lucky.

Recently I feel a bit depressed but not for this matter.

Sorry for the long letter.

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Our expert says:
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It does seem dificult, doesn't it, to understand how any mom or parent can ignore, deny or minimize a child's comments about experiencing abuse. Maybe the atmosphere has begun to change, but attitudes up to not long ago were unhelpful. Child abuse was considered to be very rare, and children were often assumed to be likely to make up stories like that even when nothing had happened. And women like moms were much less free to act, being more economically dependent on the man in their lives, and often scared to confront him about such reports, for fear of being discarded and being unable to manage on their own. So they really didn't want to hear the bad news, didn't dare let themselves believe it.
It is actually typical, as you describe, for someone to remember such events, though often not in great detail. Sometimes it may not seem as awful or worrisome to a child at the time as it seems to us later, reviewing the events with what we now know about abuse.
I'm pleased to hear that you have grown beyond these events without problems about sex and affection towards men. Fortunately, many people do. There is nothing wrong with you for NOT being very disturbed by this --- kids are far more resilient than most people give them credit for. YOu don't HAVE to be greatly disturbed by it --- it is important that we respect people for adapting as best they can to the various stresses of life and growing up, without trying to make certain reactions compulsory.
When your mo insisted that you attend your dad's funeral, it might indicate that she didn't take the abuse issues so seriously --- or she may just not have seen them as relevant, compared with the strong urge to do what would look right in the eyes of the community. Reactions differ because we as individuals differ, and because the acts themselves differ ; some are low-key, some conducted with great violence and aggression.

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