Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CSA - the elephant in the bedroom for adult relationships

The biggest hidden issue in adult romantic or sexual relationships, in my opinion, is child sexual abuse (CSA). Since a third of women and a sixth of men have been sexually victimized in childhood, it stands to reason that the effects of the victimization will carry on to the adult relationships that survivors have. This leads to physical problems like painful sex, and when a true partner (someone who is a peer) has sex with the CSA survivor, that sex can trigger the original abuse - leaving the partner in the position of revictimizing the survivor.

Another problem in adult relationships is the confusion of sex with love. This means that the woman (or man) will become sexually active because she believes that the sex partners she encounters love her, when in fact, they are using her in a similar manner as the original perpetrator used her during childhood.

If the CSA victim was abused by a member of the same sex, then this may lead to sexual identity confusion. Issues associated with adult aftereffects of male-on-male sexual abuse are explored here. Issues regarding woman on woman abuse are tackled in the book "The Last Secret - Daughters Sexually Abused By Mothers" by Bobbie Rosencrans.

If a woman (or man) hasn't gotten over earlier sexual abuse, can there be so much damage as to preclude the possibility of a consensual relationship? According to some researchers, this may be the case. Zurbriggen and Freyd (2003) said that if "consensual sex decision mechanisms" are damaged, then there cannot be consensual sex, even though coercion may not be involved. Damaged Consensual Sex Decision Mechanisms, according to Zurbriggen and Freyd, are "inaccurate beliefs, unhealthy cognitions about the self, a lack of access to one's internal affective state, and the presence of risk seeking decision rules."

Minimization of CSA's impact on adult sexual relationships is widespread. The damage of CSA does not stop with the victim reaching adulthood. According to these statistics, CSA survivors have a 60% chance of sexual revictimization in adulthood, and a 49% chance of being a DV victim. A 1998 study by Koss & Dinero stated that 2/3's of adult rape victims have a CSA history, as contrasted with 20% of the women without an adult vicitmization history.

Child molesters not only groom their victims for sexual abuse, but "pre-groom" their victims for adult victimization. Perpetrators who target victims of any age know prey from a distance. Suceptibility to revictimization takes place for reasons outlines in the link above. According to this survivor, the predators who take advantage of the CSA victim in adulthood are doing so from a position of power in the same manner as the original child molester did.

Predators seek power and control over their victim. “Power- The ability to control the behavior of others even against their will.” (Sociology Fourth Edition 1990)

Predators will use any means to dominate their victim. Most children lack the intelligence and physical strength to combat an adult predator. Trickery, praise, isolation, threats, pain, torture, blackmail are only a few means of control. And some adults lack the ability to combat a predator, especially if the adult was a victim as a child. An adult victim can become trapped and helpless just like a child.) And may revert back to their known survival tactics of the child victim.

A predator will physically attack a victim but a predator will also emotionally attack the victim and everyone else. Emotional attacks are very deceptive in nature and are done in full sight of everyone. It is the cooing, sweetness, complementary, smiling, showing great concern for others, or paying oh so special attention to others or to a certain person.

Predators display such warmth and speak loving kindness to their victim(s). And will display enthusiastic interest in their victim’s job, hobbies, field of study, or any interest of the victim; the predator will also be enthralled with the same thing(s).

In short, CSA can leave victims vulnerable to what could best be seen as adult sexual predation. Adult sexual predation, as explained above, and adult grooming serve the exact same purpose as child molestation - power and control over a victim. Adults who victimize other adults seek to entangle them in relationships which should never be though of as anything but an extension of CSA dynamics into adulthood.

Child sexual abuse can lead to many issues with trust, trustworthiness, and revictimization not just as children or teens, but also as adults. These detrimental effects are yet another in a string of reasons why child sexual abuse must be countered.

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