Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Intimate partner sexual abuse - no intimacy, no partnership, just abuse, manipulation, and grooming

In the 18th Century, Voltaire, writing about the Holy Roman Empire, described it as “neither holy, Roman, or an empire.” In the same matter, the term “intimate partner sexual abuse” is oxymoronic. Truly intimate partners cannot sexual abuse each other.

Sexual abusers cannot be in love with or have intimacy with their victims, regardless of the age of the victim, marital status, or whether the abuse is illegal or simply immoral. An abusive relationship is abuse under all circumstances, whether it’s the 30 year old man with the 10 year old girl or the same manipulative 30 year old man with a previously abused 30 year old woman. It’s just the illegality which differs.

Newspapers and even anti-sexual assault advocates often refer to abusive relationships as “intimate partner sexual abuse” or say that the victim was beaten by her “boyfriend.” Often times the victims of such attacks are still in “love” with their abusers and the abuser says that he is “in love” with his victim.

The terms “love,” “partner,” and “intimate,” do not and CANNOT accurately describe what happens in any abusive relationship. As a matter of fact, these terms applied to abusive relationships insult the people in sexual or romantic relationships who are true partners, non-manipulative, and non-abusive. Same age molestation by adults against other adults is a more accurate way to describe these dynamics.

Love doesn’t mean lying to your “partner” or her family. It does not mean seducing her, then once you’ve got her away from her friends and family, entrapping her and changing her boundaries (sexual and otherwise) to meet your selfish and perverted needs.

A wedding ring is supposed to be a symbol of commitment, not an expensive prop which means, “I’ve groomed her enough so she’ll do what I want her to, when I want.” A person who loves their partner will protect her not just from accidental harm and slights, but from harm (accidental or deliberate) she may suffer by others. Lovers have the best interest of their partner in mind at all times. They never seek to harm their partners in any way, and particularly not willfully!

Intimacy means being honest with one’s partner. When there is deception, whether by having affairs (emotional or physical), denial of one’s true intent for seeking the sexual relationships/encounters, there can never be true intimacy because the abuser always hides the fact that he plans to abuse, cheat on, or otherwise betray his victim from her.

In truly intimate relationships, there are no hidden agendas, and both partners seek the other’s welfare. One “partner” does not try to dominate, manipulate, or change their victim’s boundaries. Neither are there other violations or betrayals of trust because trust violations destroy intimacy.

Partners mean parity, because the terms “par” and “parity” implies equality and working together. Abusers by definition have power over their victims, whether the power is formal (as a teacher with her student or a therapist with his patient) or informal (as an abusive sexual “partner,” whether a “boyfriend” or husband. Abusers are by definition selfish, because they only have their own needs in mind. The predator may appear to be interested in his “partner,” but that’s feigned. His real agenda will come out when he can’t feign kindness or love anymore.

In a way, informal abusers are more insidious because they create power differences which did not formally exist before they met their victim. There can never be parity in an abusive relationship, just like there can never be abuse in a true partnership, so abusers can never be partners because power, selfishness, and control motivates all abusers of any stripe. The term “intimate partner sexual abuse” is an oxymoron because any type of abuse and “intimate partners” can’t coexist.

If the terms “love,” “partner,” and “intimate” do not fit abusive relationships, what terms do fit? I have some suggestions below.

To pervert means to corrupt, as in the phrase “perversion of justice,” so any abuser is technically a pervert, even if they cannot be legally charged as one or put on the List if convicted. It means slapping her, belittling her, or coercing her by using tactics which are the same tactics molesters use on kids, modified to fit adult victims.

To manipulate means to lead on one, like a puppet master.

A groomer leads one to believe that there is a real, genuine relationship without coercion, manipulation, lies, or force, when if fact, the latter concepts are being applied. Unfortunately, the term “grooming” is used mostly to refer to under-18s being lured or led into relationships that only suit the adult abuser’s power, control, and sexual needs.

What difference is there between
this relationship and a relationship between a 27 year old woman and a sexually manipulative 37 year old woman? Only the age of the victim and the legality of the encounters. The 27 year old victim usually has 10 years more experience than the 17 year old in sexual/romance matters, but that just means a less damaging abusive encounter, because most 27 year olds have more experience and coping skills as adults than 17 year olds.

Regardless of age or legality, the fact that coping skills (beside those needed to get over a breakup) are needed in the first place means that the sexual relationship damaged a victim. Morality doesn’t change. The selfish motivations of the abuser/manipulator/predator have not changed. Only the law and the age of the victim has changed. Not the victim’s vulnerability.

If you are being beaten or forced/pressured into unwanted sexual (or other activity), you are being controlled and manipulated by a sexual predator, the same as if you were a 15 year old with an thirtysomething adult or a prison inmate with a guard. The reason your “partner” (more accurately groomer or abuser) is with you is because he seeks power and control, not because he “loves” you or cares for you. If there was anything other than what power he could get changing and violating your boundaries, he would not be trying to change them in the 1st place!

When there are power differences, the adult or minor status of the victim does not matter. Only the assault or betrayal of trust does. A sexual predator who targets a 30 year old woman, whether through the guise of a husband, a therapist, or a date, has the same mindset as the predator who targets the 15 year old girl. In all three cases, there is a victim and a perpetrator.

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