I like to bust stigmas around marriage, menopause, marijuana and motherhood.

Profile of a Child Abuser

childhood abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, parenting, children, abusive relationships, abuse

I want to thank this friend for sharing her story. I am not going to publish her name in order to respect her privacy and pain. I hope this story will help at least one person and if it does – it will be worth it.

Child abuse – a crime with no evidence

I am a person who has broken down. My consciousness sinking deeper into a place where my worst fears surfaced. It was my process of awakening. I broke open. Starting with just a sliver of information. One that didn’t have fact or reason. A piece of information that I was trained all my years to ignore.

I remembered that my father sexually abused me.

Flashes of images and phrases my unconsciousness repeated, over and over again until I heard it for what it was. My father abused me with a plan for denial that only a parent could convincingly teach their child. As much as my accomplishments in life didn’t make sense as a victim, it also made all the sense in the world.

The memories started to unravel. Years of smells, emotions and images pushed to the surface with almost elated urgency that I could actually hear. I spoke with my mother. My sister. My father. Hoping that I would get another piece of the puzzle that would explain how this couldn’t be true. Instead I met with their fury, their denial and their tears. Never once confirming my words. Showing me such odd reactions that they became anchors of truth in my realization that I was raised in a household of sexual violence.

My father is not in the standard referenced profiles of an abuser. He was a good man. A great provider. He was calm, kind, successful and caring. He had patience, was generous and many times thought of as having reached the pinnacle of fatherhood. The truth is that a man that is considered to be the perfect father can also be an abuser. And for the most part, I had a happy family. We had holiday dinners, long-conversations over glasses of wine and even inside jokes. Not exactly the typical profile of a family with abuse.

Parts of him were good; a good father, a good husband. And that made it all the more difficult to reconcile the two opposite realities. But that there is an ability to be ‘good’ doesn’t mean a man is not capable of abusing his child and carefully covering up his crimes. There is a deadly flaw in our naivety about the perpetrators in our lives. If they aren’t addicted to porn, pills and bankrupt – or shouting with uncontrollable tempers, than they can’t possibly be eligible for inclusion in the group of men who are inflicting others more devastating harm.

Does this mean we become suspicious of everyone? No. But it does increase the responsibility for what we see and hear or when we have those uneasy feelings, whether it is in our own family or in another’s.

I am a mother. Our gorgeous, brilliant children are incapable of knowing how to conceal their lives. While I can’t blame any particular person in my past, I find it nearly impossible to think that there wasn’t someone in my existence as a child who didn’t see or hear something that should have set off alarms. I was taught that sexual assault was play, so there must have been a time of innocence where I wouldn’t have known not to speak of it. Did no one listen?

I never formally charged my father for the simple reason that I knew I would never have the evidence necessary to win. Even writing this with the thought of one day publishing it leaves me with fear that he will come after me if for nothing else than for defamation of character. He would need to, to defend his carefully crafted world.

So I’ve chosen to publish this anonymously.

My parents continue with little repercussions, appalled that I would accuse my father of this, and to those who ask questions about why I have cut off our relationship, their response is that I’m crazy. A victim of false memories validated by a wrongful psychiatrist.

Easily sourced research on False Memory Syndrome and the Foundation that supports it shows that the theory has no value. Worse off, is that the Foundation was started in part by an man with questionable views on pedophilia and by the parents of a highly respected psychology professor, who, as an adult, remembered being sexually abused by her father in childhood. Both her parents denied her allegations, and they went on to formed the “False Memory Syndrome Foundation” in retaliation of the accusations, and in my opinion, to silence sexual abuse survivors and child victims.

I believe my father knew he was wrong. I believe he was scared that if he admitted his issues that he would be scorn and ripped from his family. I believe he didn’t have the forethought to realize that him not seeking help actually doomed me to that sentence. I ended up being the one who was ripped from the family and scorned. I now carry his burden. That’s not what a parent is wired to do. I know that now that I am a parent.

We protect our children. We will go to the end of our life if need be. Women run into burning houses to save their children, fathers are given legal forgiveness for killing the rapists of their daughters. We do not turn blind eyes to abuse or allow ourselves to justify reasons for using our child’s bodies for any kind of emotional or physical relief.

What proof do I have?

Not much besides my truth. No proof though….no evidence….no one else who has stepped forward. In fact, most people from that chapter of my life have stepped back. I see how it shatters more than just my family to admit that a man of my father’s stature could contain secrets so dark.

I have done what is necessary to move forward. There is healing in every step I take. The Gatehouse has been my solace, along with a tribe of supportive people who have walked into my life and beside me on this path. What keeps nagging me is the lack of dialogue out there. I am haunted by the thought that abuse like this continues. I am angry at the little amount of education that is publicly accessible about these men and how to help them. Or their victims.

Changes must be made to our system far and wide. I truly don’t even know where to start. I hope someone does, and I hope someone will. Why do I tell my story? I hope it will help make people aware that victims of childhood sexual assault may never have the evidence to proof their abuser guilty, but that doesn’t mean their experience isn’t true.

I hope it will encourage other men and women to believe their own truth. And I hope this draws awareness and support for the incredible work the Gatehouse does every day, relentlessly, unselfishly, and with great skill and compassion.

For more information visit The Gatehouse