>>>  Laatst gewijzigd: 15 augustus 2019  

Woorden en Beelden

Filosofie en de waan van de dag

Start Glossen Weblog Boeken Denkwerk

Waarden en seksualiteit


Historische en culturele perspectieven

Seksualiteit en ideologie

Seksualiteit en jongeren

Voorkant Clancy 'The trauma myth - The truth about the sexual abuse of children and its aftermath' Susan A. CLANCY
The trauma myth - The truth about the sexual abuse of children and its aftermath
New York: Basic Books, 2009; 236 blzn.; ISBN 978 04 6501 6884

A note to the reader

[De interviews zijn geanonimiseerd door namen en eventuele identificerende kenmerken te veranderen. Ik begrijp dat, maar het is altijd al de vraag op hoe je kunt controleren of interviews op een betrouwbare manier zijn afgenomen en dat wordt alleen maar sterker als ze geanonimiseerd zijn. Op het punt van validiteit kan bij interviews werkelijk alles fout gaan. Het taalgebruik dat de auteur gebruikt 'abuse', 'victim', 'crime', later 'perpetrator' is niet erg bemoedigend, vrees ik.]

(ix) Preface

"What Frank had to say to me was shocking. Beginning when he was nine years old, over a six-month period, he had sexual experiences with a middle-aged man who was a friend of Frank’s family. This was not the shocking part. Researchers in the sexual abuse field know that sexual abuse is common — that adults all too frequently exploit children for sexual purposes. What shocked me was how Frank said he reacted to the sexual abuse when it was happening to him. What gradually emerged, accompanied by long pauses, frequent sighs, half-finished sentences, and eventually tears, was that when the abuse was happening, Frank did not mind it. As a child, he loved this man, and he liked the attention this man gave to him. And sometimes what they were doing felt good. Occasionally he gave Frank baseball cards after the touching, and Frank looked forward to receiving them. When the man moved out of town, Frank felt upset. He missed him, the time they had spent together, and the attention he had received." [mijn nadruk] (xi-xii)

[Waarom dat woord 'geschokt'gebruiken, wat op onderliggende waarden en normen wijst? Wel, dat geeft Clancy meteen aan:]

"For over three decades, first the experts and then our communities have understood sexual abuse as a terrible experience for the child when it happens — as something invariably done against the will of a frightened child. But for Frank, when the sexual abuse was happening, it felt different." [mijn nadruk] (xii)

"Frank was referring to the fact that the childhood sexual experiences he had were not forced — because he had loved the man and enjoyed the time they spent together, Frank did not in any way fight or resist the sex. I had no idea how to answer his question." [mijn nadruk] (xiii)

[Desondanks roept dit de vraag op waarom Frank de eerste was die zo eerlijk durfde te zijn om schaamtevol te zeggen dat het seksuele contact dat hij op zijn negende jaar had met een vriend des huizes niet opgedrongen werd en dat hij het prettig vond. Waarom durfden anderen dat nooit uit te spreken? Waarschijnlijk juist omdat decennia lang door zogenaamde experts en door de media is geroepen hoe verschrikkelijk seksueel contact tussen een kind en een volwassene is en hoe besc hadigend die ervaring is voor het kind.]

Ze wist niet zo snel een antwoord op Franks vraag hoe vaak ervaringen als de zijne voorkwamen en voelde dat ze dat moest onderzoeken. Dat deed ze. Dit boek is het resultaat.

"Today, despite their best intentions, some professionals in the sexual abuse field have developed and fostered major misconceptions among the general public about this terrible crime — what it really is and how victims react to it. In their well-meaning efforts to raise awareness that sexual abuse is damaging and is never the child’s fault, they have chosen to emphasize characteristics and dynamics of abuse (such as trauma, fear, violence, force, and threats) that do not characterize the experiences that most victims have. As a consequence of this misplaced emphasis, professionals ignore and the public misunderstands the concerns, worries, and fears of millions of victims — people like Frank. These are instead overlooked, minimized, and denied. In the current cultural climate, telling the truth about sexual abuse — directly addressing what actually happens and how victims react to it — is difficult. Many professionals and victims’ advocates in the sexual abuse field worry that doing so will result in society’s blaming the victims or questioning the harm sexual abuse causes. But these worries are unfounded. Sexual abuse, as I will discuss at length in this book, is never the victims’ fault, and it most certainly damages them, but not for the reasons many of us have been led to believe." [mijn nadruk] (xiv-xv)

[Zeggen dat professionals het goed bedoelden is ook normatief en misschien wel veel te aardig: je kunt je namelijk ook afvragen hoe beschadigend de opvattingen van die experts zijn geweest voor het kind. Wordt die vraag hier gesteld? Dat zou wel moeten. Blijven praten in termen van 'terrible crime' en 'sexual abuse' helpt niet erg. Clancy stelt dus dat misbruik kinderen wel degelijk beschadigt, maar niet om de redenen die al die experts en zo naar voren brachten. Hopelijk komt ze met betrouwbare cijfers.]

(1) Introduction

"Child sexual abuse — a term mental health, legal, and criminal professionals commonly use to describe sexual experiences between adults and children — is astonishingly common."(1)

[Helaas is 'misbruik' geen neutrale beschrijvende term zoals zij suggereert, het is een waardengeladen negatief oordelende term. 'Volwassen' is hier iemand die boven de 18 is. Als je dat zo neemt is er ook sprake van seksueel misbruik als iemands van 19 vrijt met iemand van 17. Ja, dan komt 'seksueel misbruik' wel erg vaak voor natuurlijk.]

"Explicit or implicit in these explanations is the underlying assumption that there is something unique about the present, that something specific about today’s time and culture allows so much abuse to occur. But this is not the case."(2)

"This “equal-opportunity” nature of sexual abuse has a lot to do with the fact that the vast majority of abusers (about 90 percent of them) are men we know and trust — family members, friends, teachers, sports coaches, camp counselors, piano teachers, rabbis, and priests. The notion that most sexual abusers are weird and sick strangers (the “bogey man theory”) is plain wrong." [mijn nadruk] (3)

"Not only is sexual abuse common, but it is damaging to those who experience it. (...) analysis of data from both clinical and nonclinical samples reveals strong and consistent associations between the experience of early sexual contact with an adult and a host of adverse adult outcomes."(4)

[Vaag. Hoezo? Kan dat allemaal niet net zo goed teruggevoerd worden op een veroordelende maatschappij en beroepsgroep, iets waar je als 'slachtoffer' tegen aan moet boksen zodat je je moet schamen voor wat je meegemaakt hebt, , zodat je het zelfs nooit eerlijk zou kunnen zeggen als je het wél prettig vond?]

"So what is the precise nature of the psychological pain and problems victims report in the after math of sexual abuse?
The answer might sound like a no-brainer: If you experience psychological distress after sexual abuse, then the sexual abuse must be the cause. But it is not actually that simple. What, specifically, about the abuse has triggered the distress? Does it have to do with objective characteristics of the abuse (for example, how many times it happened or whether penetration was involved)? Does it have to do with subjective characteristics about the abuse (how painful, frightening, or shocking it was)? Perhaps it has less to do with the actual abuse and more to do with, say, the particular child (how old he or she was and how genetically predisposed to long-term psychological problems) or the environment the abuse occurred in (one characterized by poverty, physical abuse, or neglect). Maybe it has to do with the cognitive or social consequences of the abuse (how the victim’s family or health professionals handled it or how the victim understood or conceptualized it later on in life). There are numerous ways to understand how and why sexual abuse damages victims. For decades, however, the main focus has centered on one — the incident itself."(5-6)

[Dat lijken me zinvolle relativeringen. Wat ze nu dus gaat aanpakken is de trauma-insteek die zich richt op het incident van de seksuele ervaring. Die zou de schade veroorzaken.]

"In a nutshell, the idea is that sexual abuse damages victims not due to the particular nature of the victim, the environment, or the consequences of abuse but to the abuse experience itself. Sexual abuse damages victims, the theory goes, because it is a traumatic experience for the child when it happens." [mijn nadruk] (6)

"However, the way professionals in psychology define a traumatic event is clear: It is either objectively life threatening when it occurs (like getting shot at) or subjectively results in the same kind of intense fear, horror, or helplessness that objectively life-threatening events arouse. According to the dominant theoretical framework, sexual abuse, like other traumatic experiences, damages victims because it is a frightening, horrifying, overwhelming, or painful event when it happens."(7)

"Although increasingly many professionals and researchers in the sexual abuse field acknowledge that other factors not specifically related to the abuse might have something to do with harmful consequences, the main emphasis of much of the research has been firmly on the abuse. For at least three decades, the notion that the effects of sexual abuse flow from their traumatic character remains largely unchallenged. Any sexual contact between children and adults is understood to be invariably awful for the child — an experience characterized by force, oppression, fear, and helplessness." [mijn nadruk] (10)

"If you Google “child sexual abuse,” as hundreds of thousands of people do every year, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website is among the first returned for public access. The main page concerning child sexual abuse clearly states, “No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old . . . will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.”
Today, sexual abuse is very rarely described without the word “trauma” or without the implication that the experience involved fear and violence. Treatment centers are referred to as trauma centers. Sexual acts against children are described as “sexual assaults” or “violent encounters.” In the words of Lenore Terr, child sexual abuse is a “horrible external event in childhood . . . rendering the young person temporarily helpless and breaking past ordinary coping and defensive operations.” Another tremendously influential researcher, Denise Gelinas, states, “There is little doubt that abuse constitutes a major trauma for the child, one which confuses and profoundly threatens. . . . The most predominant reported affect is fear.”" [mijn nadruk] (11)

"As a consequence, many researchers studying the psychological impact of sexual abuse do not even bother to ask victims detailed questions as to whether the experience was traumatic when it happened; they just assume it was. Like rape or combat, sexual abuse automatically “counts” as a traumatic experience." [mijn nadruk] (12)

"In fact, the assumption of trauma is so inculcated into most professionals that if a victim does not report the abuse as a horrific experience when it happened, they often assume that the wrong questions were asked or the victim is misremembering the actual events." [mijn nadruk] (12)

"Not surprisingly, when we read about sexua[Uiteraard zeiden ze dat in een wereld waarin je niets anders mag zeggen ... Boeiend is dat ze de oorzaken van die beschadiging niet in traumatische ervaringen zoeken. De vraag wordt dus: waarin dan wel?]l abuse in the news, watch a feature about it on TV, or witness it in the movies, it is almost always in the context of lurid, sensational stories having to do with subjects like the rape of choir boys by pale, wet-eyed Catholic priests, Internet stalkers luring young children for sex through their e-mails, international sex trafficking of young Latinos and Brazilians, and the rape of infants in daycare centers."(14-15)

[De aanpak van professionals en media is dus eindeloos normatief en bevooroordeeld. En bij de media ook stomweg sensatiebelust.]

Haar persoonlijke insteek wordt beschreven vanaf p.15.

"To me, as for most of us, sexual abuse is a painful topic to think about. The idea that adults use children for sexual purposes is, quite frankly, morally and physically revolting. I assumed child victims would feel the same way."(15)

[De hele formulering is al normatief en is doordrenkt met dat trauma-denken. Je zou kunnen zeggen dat iemand die dat zo ervaart nooit objectief onderzoek kan doen naar seksuele ervaringen van jongeren met volwassenen. De kunst is om afstand te nemen van die onderbuikgevoelens en conditioneringen en jezelf vragen te blijven stellen.]

Zoals die zij stelt: traumatische ervaringen worden in zijn algemeenheid niet vergeten zo blijkt, waarom zouden 'slachtoffers van seksueel misbruik' ze dan wél vergeten? Ze kreeg de kans onderzoek te gaan doen naar die kwestie. Ze beschrijft hoe ze 200 personen bij elkaar kreeg om te interviewen die niet al in therapie waren (om vertekening te voorkomen)


"Almost every victim I spoke with reported that their childhood sexual experiences had damaged them. As the sexual abuse research I was familiar with predicted, they commonly experienced symptoms of psychological disorders (...) They believed that what happened to them had negatively affected their lives and their relationships with others. (...)
The second commonality between the victims I did not expect. In striking contrast to the assumptions of the traumatogenic model, whatever was causing the psychological and cognitive damage these victims reported had nothing to do with trauma; very few victims reported any fear, shock, force, or violence at the time the abuse occurred." [mijn nadruk] (22)

[Uiteraard zeiden ze dat in een wereld waarin je niets anders mag zeggen ... Boeiend is dat ze de oorzaken van die beschadiging niet in traumatische ervaringen zoeken. De vraag wordt dus: waarin dan wel?]

(23) 1 What Was It Like When It Happened?

Eerst vertelt Clancy over 'Erin Taylor', haar eerste interviewee in dat project. Erin geeft duidelijk niet het beeld van iemand die getraumatiseerd is en dat verbaast de onderzoeker (die opgeleid is binnen een wereld waarin iedereen het nog over seksueel misbruik als trauma had). Erin legt uit:

"“What I mean is that I did not understand what sex was. I did not understand what he was asking me to do. I did not know why he would want me to do that, to touch him there, to put that in my mouth. I did not know anything, at all, about sexual matters. I supposed I had led a sheltered life. He said it was normal and I chose to believe him.”(...)
“I could tell by the way he was acting that this was something I wasn’t supposed to talk about — and once the front door opened while we were doing it, he jumped up really fast so I could tell we were doing something wrong.”"(29)

Maar ze besluit dat hij er blij van wordt en dat vond ze een fijn idee.

"In the absence of necessary information (for example, what sex was and why his behavior was wrong, what the long-term consequences might be for her or for him if anyone found out), she made the best choice she could. At the end of the interview, Erin said she was glad she made time to come in, that it felt cathartic to talk about the sexual abuse and “finally get it off her chest.” I felt differently. Nothing went as I had expected. What Erin told me made no sense. It was a terrible experience for me even to hear about the details of her abuse — shocking, revolting, heartbreaking — so why was it not more terrible for her when it actually happened?" [mijn nadruk] (31)

[De manier waarop de therapeut dit verhaal opvat zit weer vol normatieve vooroordelen. Hoe kan iemand een beetje open en objectief interviewen als die persoon met dit soort gevoelens naar het verhaal luistert en vanuit dit soort waarden en normen dat verhaal interpreteert?]

Over Carole:

"Like Erin and Samuel, from an objective perspective, she was clearly abused — an adult engaged in sexual activities with her when she was young. But from a subjective perspective, as a child, she did not see it as abuse. She trusted the perpetrator, and what he was doing did not hurt. She had no idea what sex was. While she could sense it was wrong, she was not quite sure. She figured the best course of action was just to go along with what was being done to her." [mijn nadruk] (36)

"In fact, less than 10 percent of the participants reported experiencing their abuse as traumatic, terrifying, overwhelming, life-threatening, or shocking at the time it happened.
And why was it not traumatic? Usually the perpetrator was someone they knew, admired, loved, and trusted
— not, as one victim put it, “a freak wearing a hockey mask and carrying a knife.” In addition, what this person asked them to do did not hurt — it almost always involved touching or kissing of the genitals — and it was not accompanied by force or aggression." [mijn nadruk] (37)

"Initially, from my perspective as a researcher and academic, it did not matter that they knew, liked, or trusted the perpetrator. It did not matter that no force or aggression was used. The experiences were still horrible, and listening to the details filled me with fear, shock, and revulsion. As an adult I understood that the events occurring were sexual in nature, very wrong, and an egregious violation of a child’s rights. But I was forced to confront, over and over again, the perspective of the child being abused. I had to get out of my own head and into theirs (as children) and see that their reactions to these experiences were different. Victims said that since they did not understand what the perpetrator was doing or asking them to do, they had no way to process or make sense of sexually toned encounters. The word used by 92 percent of the victims when asked to describe how they were feeling? Confusion." [mijn nadruk] (38)

[Dat zou tijd worden, nietwaar. Al die normatieve oordelen, hoe subjectief .... Uiteraard moet je in de huid van de geïnterviewde kruipen en door hun ogen kijken.]

"So what did they do? In stark contrast to everything I had come to believe about sexual abuse, they did not fight it. It was not done against their will. They went along — did what was asked of them. In their own words, they “participated,” “consented,” and “allowed it.” In fact, of those who sensed the behavior was wrong, only 5 percent tried to stop it — by saying no, running away, or telling a parent. Why? The trauma theory holds that a child will only participate in abuse if forced, threatened, or explicitly coerced. This was true in a very small minority of cases. Most of the victims I spoke with had very different motivations. According to them, they did not resist the abuse for three reasons.
First of all, they told me that when they were children, adults often asked them to do things they did not really understand or want to do.(...)
Second, not only are kids routinely asked to do things they do not understand or like, but they are told to listen to adults—especially adults in positions of authority.(...)
Now add this third factor to further complicate matters: The abusers often conferred “rewards” on their victims for saying yes." [mijn nadruk] (41-43)

Meestal betrof dat laatste de extra aandacht. Soms ook dat het lekker voelde:

"Some subjects — in no cases victims of penetration — reported that they responded sexually to what happened to them, that sometimes it felt good."(44)

"In short, even though many victims sensed that what was happening was wrong, they found it very difficult to say no. Considering the abuse from their perspective, this began to make sense to me. They were not quite sure why it was wrong. The perpetrator was someone they had been told to listen to. On top of all that, the victims often benefited from saying yes."(46)

[Ze blijft maar benadrukken dat het seksuele contact als 'verkeerd' werd ervaren. Blijkbaar heeft ze daar een erg grote behoefte aan. Ze kan niet bedenken dat al die reacties die duidelijk maken dat dat contact 'stiekem' was, 'niet mocht', 'geheim moest blijven', 'verkeerd was' voortkomen uit een context waarin seks tussen volwassenen en kinderen als een misdaad wordt opgevat. Stel je voor dat dat geaccepteerd gedrag was, dan hadden de 'perpetrators' niet die ongemakkelijke reacties en hadden de kinderen dus niet het idee dat het verkeerd was. Het is niet objectief verkeerd gedrag, het is verkeerd gedrag in die maatschappelijke context. Als je dat niet ziet heb je het belangrijkste niet begrepen.]

[Ik mis in de beschrijving van de positieve beloning: dat kinderen nieuwsgierig zijn naar seks en er zo van alles over op steken; dat ze het leuk vinden om een spel mee te spelen; dat ze imiteren wat ze zagen bij hun eigen ouders of bij andere volwassenen. Daarbij kan het initiatief dus ook van kinderen komen. Typisch is dat in de hier gegeven voorbeelden het initiatief altijd van de volwassenen komt en dat zelfs kinderen tussen de tien en twaalf jaar niets van seks lijken te weten, wat ik erg vreemd vind.]

(47) 2 The Truth About Sexual Abuse

De trauma-deskundigen vonden natuurlijk dat er iets vreemds was aan de geïnterviewden, een toevallige slechte selectie misschien. Of anders lag het wel aan de slechte interviewtechniek. Eentje zei:

"In short, according to this trauma expert, the victims who spoke to me did not report any trauma because the abuse was so traumatic that they had dissociated when it was happening and as a consequence could not remember it correctly."(54)

"Yet, it seemed the assumption that sexual abuse is traumatic was itself “unfalsifiable.” Anything a victim said that ran counter to the trauma theory professionals in the trauma field reinterpreted to support it instead. The theory could not be proven wrong. It appeared victims could say nothing that would make experts believe them."(56)

[En zo heb je natuurlijk altijd gelijk. Zo'n benadering is zóóó normatief ... Het moet gewoon traumatisch zijn, maar waarom? Omdat de psyciater of psycholoog dat vindt, omdat die zelf geschokt zijn. Maar er is niets wetenschappelijks aan zo'n opvatting.]

"I did not question that sexual abuse is related to adult psychological damage. Thirty years of solid research indicated that this was the case."(57)

['Solid research' van het niveau dat de trauma-experts verricht hebben? Hoeveel van dat onderzoek is nu echt betrouwbaar en valide, waarom is het zo degelijk en wetenschappelijk verantwoord dan? De eerder beschreven voorbeelden van theorieën en onderzoek ernaar wekken weinig vertrouwen.]

De vraag is dus wat er werkelijk gebeurde tijdens het 'seksueel misbruik'.

"Given the wide acceptance of the trauma assumption about sexual abuse, one might suppose that thousands of studies had asked victims this question. I discovered that this is not the case. As one researcher puts it, “The systematic exploration of the subjective experience of minors involved in sexual contact with adults, contacts of either positive or negative quality, has generally been absent from the literature.” After weeks on Medline and Psychinfo (the two most widely used databases in the fields of psychiatry and psychology), I found approximately twenty published studies conducted within the last one hundred years that asked victims specifically to describe what their abuse was like when it happened." [mijn nadruk] (57)

"While the methodology of these studies differed wildly in terms of the questions asked and how the data were analyzed, the takeaway is fairly consistent. Sexual abuse, for many victims, is not a traumatic experience when it happens. While most report sexual abuse as a negative experience, the word “negative” is simply not synonymous with terror, horror, fear, or pain." [mijn nadruk] (60-61)

"Our “horizon of expectations” is likely subject to strong influence by the moral and even psychological revulsion many of us feel when we think about adults using innocent children for sexual purposes. We project these feelings onto the victims and assume they see the world in the same way." [mijn nadruk] (65)

[Ook bijzonder normatief en ik vraag me opnieuw af hoe deze mensen met dat soort insteek wetenschappelijk onderzoek kunnen doen dat redelijk objectief en betrouwbaar is.]

"When it comes to sex, they [de kinderen - GdG] do not understand the full meaning of sexual activities and behavior until late in childhood, usually just prior to the early stages of adolescence. Until then, children have only a dim sense of adult sexuality. Due to their age and level of development, they are cognitively unable to grasp the meaning of sexual encounters. They cannot understand sex or sexually toned encounters like adults can." [mijn nadruk] (66)

[Deze alinea hangt echt aan elkaar van vaagheden. Wat is 'understand the full meaning of sex', wat is 'a dim sense of adult sex', welk levensjaar is 'late in childhood etc.' Waarom wordt de nadruk gelegd op het begrijpen van volwassen sexualiteit? Kinderen hebben hun eigen seksualiteit, weten wat lekker voelt en wat niet, masturberen soms al op jonge leeftijd. Los daarvan krijgen ze via bladen en tv en tegenwoordig ook Internet duizend signalen en beelden van die volwassen seks, van wat sexy wordt gevonden, en noem maar op. Over wat voor groepen kinderen heeft Clancy het eigenlijk, dat ze niet voorgelicht lijken te zijn en zogenaamd niets weten?]

"The onus of responsibility for these crimes is 100 percent on the perpetrator. Unlike the child, the perpetrator fully understands what is going on, he knows that it is wrong (at least by societal standards, if not his own), and he decides to do it anyway. Although it is rarely articulated in such blunt terms, he decides that his own sexual needs and desires are more important than propriety, rules, regulations, common morality, or a child’s well-being."(72-73)

[Let op het taalgebruik - 'crime', 'perpetrator'. En het is weer normatief: seksueel contact tussen volwassenen en kinderen is hoe dan ook 'verkeerd' en tast het welzijn van kinderen aan.]

"Many of us, especially parents, might not want to have to consider that our children might be confused about and susceptible to sexual advances from adults. We might react with denial (impossible!) or outrage (how can you say such a thing!). But for our children’s sake, we need to get past both reactions. Perpetrators are well aware of children’s vulnerability; they are well aware that children will not get it, that they can offer confused, innocent kids certain things in exchange for sex. As a small but consistent (and very frightening) body of evidence shows, perpetrators specifically seek out and woo children who might be particularly vulnerable to abuse — for example, those who lack parental supervision or seem emotionally or physically neglected."(73-74)

[Het opgeroepen beeld is 'seksueel misbruik door volwassenen' van onschuldige onwetende kwetsbare kinderen. De rol van de kinderen wordt daardoor niet goed onderzocht.]

(77) 3 The Politics of Sexual Abuse

De reacties op haar onderzoek waren heftig en negatief. Ze kreeg allerlei verwijten over zich heen. Ze zou pedofielen verdedigen en stellen dat seksueel misbruik geen problemen veroorzaakt.

[Nou, dat is klinkklare onzin natuurlijk. Als je goed leest weet je beter. Ze doet juist haar uiterste best om niet die indruk te wekken.]

"Such reactions made no sense. I never once questioned whether sexual abuse hurt victims. In fact, I spent years listening to heartbreaking stories about how these childhood experiences left a lasting imprint on their lives, relationships, and sense of self. I had never suggested that sexual abuse was not a crime; from my perspective, there was no doubt it was a reprehensible one. And as I discussed in chapter 2, I could not have been clearer that victims are not at fault."(78)

[Ze heeft gelijk.]

"I had been so focused on why a popular scientific theory was wrong that I overlooked a perhaps more important question: Why did so many well-trained and dedicated professionals appear to think it was right?"(79)

"In short, it was time to stop focusing on the fact the trauma theory was wrong. Instead, I needed to focus on the social, cultural, and political forces that gave rise to it and the purposes the theory served for those who promoted and legitimized it." [mijn nadruk] (80)

[Heel goed. Maar hetzelfde kan altijd gezegd worden van elke theorie of benadering, dus ook van die haar zelf.]

Het trauma-model is ontstaan in de jaren 1980. Daarvóór werd (het voorkomen van) seksueel misbruik gebagatelliseerd, de term bestond niet eens.

"The belief that sexual abuse did not harm victims was so widespread that for most of the twentieth century, the term sexual abuse did not even exist. When cases of adults having sex with children emerged in the criminal and court systems, they were often referred to as “sexual offenses” against children."(83-84)

"In fact, between 1930 and 1970, the literature was rife with case studies of “seductive children” or “pathologically needy” children. In short, based on their observation that children rarely resist the sexual abuse, professionals concluded that the acts were, in some way, the children’s fault. As Benjamin Karpman opined in 1954, “Generally the fact that a particular girl is the victim is not accident: there is something in her background, personality or family situation that predisposes her participation.”"(86)

"The professional conclusion for most of the twentieth century was consistent and clear. When victims reported sexual abuse, reactions included disbelief, blame, and minimization."(86)

Totdat de vrouwenbeweging en het feminisme de mannelijke dominantie aan de kaak stelden, ook in al die onderzoeken en opvattingen over seksueel misbruik van vroeger.

"On April 17, 1971, Florence Rush took the podium at the New York Radical Feminists’ first conference on rape to address not adult rape but child molestation. During the talk she quoted from past research on sexual abuse and argued that almost all the existing studies on the subject needed to be discarded; they were biased and flawed, conducted by men committed to covering up and continuing their sexual aggression against girls. At the end of her address, she cried out to a wildly supportive audience that a new approach to sexual abuse was necessary, “a new attitude — one that acknowledges the harm that sexual abuse causes and does not blame the victims.”"(90)

"In short, according to feminists, the offender is always 100 percent culpable for his behavior; they attacked any research or theory that suggested otherwise (for example, research emphasizing the fact that children sometimes comply and/or rarely resist their abuse) as negatively biased.(...)
The feminists involved in this crusade had an interesting challenge to overcome: how to explain the fact that victims themselves said that they rarely resisted the abuse, that they often participated, and that most chose not to report what happened and kept silent about their experiences? The feminist solution was to conceptualize sexual abuse as a violent crime, to treat sexual abuse the same way they treated rape." [mijn nadruk] (91)

"In short, rape was the feminist movement’s initial paradigm from which to establish views about the sexual abuse of children."(92)

[En dat is dus niet in overeenstemming met de feiten. Het is een ideologie, een geloof.]

"Is sexual abuse really in the same category of crime as violent rape? According to what victims have said, not really. It is far more complex and multifaceted. But as sociologist Joel Best has noted, such “domain expansion” has important rhetorical benefits, allowing “claims makers” to build new claims on an established foundation, to delay controversy over peripheral issues, and to galvanize professional and societal attention to the topic."(93)

"Such initiatives drew an increasing number of professionals into the child abuse and protection “industry.”"(93)

"The professional and societal attention that sexual abuse garnered was unprecedented. It not only represented a massive quantitative increase from the past but collectively signaled a complete and total break from the theoretical orientation that characterized earlier attention. It was a new perspective oriented toward harm and victim innocence, one that developed not as a rational response to any solid data but because of politics. In fact, at the urging of feminists, all existing scientific research on the nonharmful nature of sexual abuse or on participant victims was either discarded or ignored, thrown out not on methodological but on moral grounds. It was assumed to be “biased against victims” and even “conducted by male professionals committed to the systematic denial and suppression of sexual abuse.” The body of research that subsequently emerged to take its place effectively erased the past. The new emphasis was squarely on violence, force, and psychological harm." [mijn nadruk] (94-95)

Er kwamen allerlei nieuwe studies.

"In keeping with the new perspective, these studies implied that sexual abuse directly caused these problems, but, as psychologists themselves often noted, this could not yet be proven."(95)

"...it could not be demonstrated that the abuse was their immediate source. One of the first axioms that statistics students learn is that correlation does not imply causation. Childhood sexual abuse (A) and psychological problems (B) were found to be related. Feminists, child-protection advocates, and many professionals were assuming that A causes B. However, as professionals in the past had believed, it was possible that B causes A. Alternatively, it was also possible that some other factor (C) that was not being explored (say, for example, childhood neglect or family dysfunction) was causally related to both.
Feminists, child-protection advocates, and other constituencies committed to helping victims wanted, ideally, to find a direct relationship between abuse and psychological problems. That way, it could be conclusively proven that sexual abuse is harmful, and in stark contrast to professionals’ past beliefs, the victim was in no way to blame." [mijn nadruk] (96)

"Framing sexual abuse as a traumatic event and conceptualizing the harm of sexual abuse as a form of posttraumatic stress disorder conferred clear advantages on sexual abuse victims’ advocates."(101)

"In short, by constructing the trauma model, clinicians and researchers were able to reconcile a psychiatric science with a collective story of a blameless and harmed victim. As formulated, the trauma model supported victims’ innocence by locating harm in the conditions of the experience itself." [mijn nadruk] (102)

"The reason the truth matters — the reason advocacy is, in fact, best based on truth — is that our lies about sexual abuse are not helping victims."(108)

"Today, victims still feel ignored, they still rarely speak out about the crimes against them, and when they do, they are still disbelieved and blamed."(109)

(111) 4 Why the Trauma Myth Damages Victims

Hoe het was op het moment van misbruik zelf blijkt niet zo belangrijk als door de trauma-aanhangers gedacht, er lijkt geen relatie te bestaan met latere psychosociale problemen. De perceptie verandert door de tijd.

"The problem is that today, after more than twenty-five years, predictions based on the trauma model have not proved accurate. Characteristics of the sexual abuse experience related to trauma (like how frightening it was, whether penetration or force was involved, and how many times it happened) do not do a good job of forecasting the significance of the victim’s psychological harm in the after math. There appears to be no direct, linear relationship between the severity of the abuse and the psychosocial difficulties victims experience in adulthood. Worst of all, we have developed no clearly effective treatments for sexual abuse victims:
They continue to suffer from psychological and social problems in the aftermath, and mental health professionals still have not reached a consensus as to exactly why or what precisely to do to help them recover. It is thus not surprising that recently some medical health professionals have begun to ask what “twenty years of passionate rhetoric about trauma” has actually accomplished for victims.
This state of affairs, I would argue, is far from surprising. How can trauma be the cause of harm if most victims say that the abuse was not traumatic when it happened? Indeed, professionals should have paid more attention to what victims had to say from the beginning. A growing number of scholars in the sexual abuse field are coming to agree that understanding how and why sexual abuse damages victims probably has little to do with the actual abuse and a lot to do with what happens in its aftermath." [mijn nadruk] [mijn nadruk] (112-113)

"By the end of the study, the data were clear. Although sexual abuse was not a particularly awful experience for the victims when it happened, looking back on it, from their perspective as adults, it was awful — ratings of shock, horror, disgust, and even fear were all high. Obviously, perceptions of abuse when it occurs and when victims look back on it years later are entirely different." [mijn nadruk] (115)

Waarom is dat zo? Waarom is de perceptie dan totaal veranderd?

[Nou, in ieder geval omdat er eindeloos veel invloeden hebben plaats gevonden die die ervaringen normatief veroordeelden en als schokkend neerzetten. Niet zo vreemd dan dat de 'slachtoffers' die normatieve veroordelende kijk op hun ervaringen ook overnamen. Ik denk niet dat dat de uitleg hier wordt.]

"Victims reconceptualized the formerly “confusing and weird experiences” and understood them for what they were — sexual in nature and clearly wrong. Only at this point — when the sexual abuse is fully apprehended — does it begin to damage victims." [mijn nadruk] (116)

[Het oordeel 'voor wat ze waren' is normatief, doet alsof het oordeel dat volgt objectief en universeel waar is. Dat is het niet. Het was 'seksueel' - dat is een wat vage feitelijke constatering - en 'het was duidelijk verkeerd' - dat is een waardeoordeel van de auteur, een normatieve positie die ergens vandaan komt, van de media, van de samenleving, etc. Is er nu niemand die terugkijkend op haar ervaringen concludeert: het was niet normaal, niet passend ('appropiate'), maar ik heb er geen last van gehad, dus ...? Belangrijk: eerst is er de reconceptualisatie en pas dan ontstaan de problemen. Het beeld dat in het vervolg wordt neergezet: de 'dader' gebruikt iemand voor zijn eigen gerief, hij houdt niet van degene met wie hij seksuele handelingen verrichte ook al leek dat vroeger wel zo - 'slachtoffers' beschrijven veel positieve dingen als 'hij had aandacht voor me' 'hij vond me mooi' en zo meer. Omdat in de latere perceptie het etiket 'seks' en 'seksueel misbruik' gebruikt gaan worden kan en mag dat blijkbaar niet waar zijn. Dan werden dingen door de daders alleen gezegd om te manipuleren en dingen voor elkaar te krijgen. Ik betwijfel of dat waar is. Het is niet aantoonbaar wel of niet waar trouwens.]

"One thing did not vary: only at this point — when victims understood the abuse as such, once they had reconceptualized these formerly ambiguous and confusing events— did the experience become psychologically traumatic and begin to exert its negative effects. And, in stark contrast to our collective understandings of abuse, these effects do not appear to be immediate and direct, and they have nothing to do with any “emotional overload” at the time of the abuse (fear for physical safety on the victim’s part). Rather, they are indirect, part of a process, and they have to do with the negative ways in which victims come to feel about other people and themselves. First and foremost, they feel betrayed."(121-122)

"Considering the degree and extent of the betrayal victims felt, I expected anger at the perpetrator to be a common reaction. Yet only 5 percent spontaneously reported feeling angry at their abuser. Why would the victim of a crime punishable in almost any court system in the world not be angry at the perpetrator? According to victims, it is because they turned the anger inward. Most, to a shocking extent, blamed themselves."(127)

[Dit is echt bijzonder oppervlakkig en suggestief. Het antwoord op de vraag kan ook zijn: omdat het niet zo erg en schokkend was, omdat het eigenlijk wel mee viel, en dergelijke meer. Of - nog meer tegen het zere been van de auteur en vele andere auteurs - omdat de 'slachtoffers' eigenlijk geen slachtoffers waren en er - zoals al vaker aangeduid - gewoon in mee gingen. En zo'n stelling 'ze waren niet boos op de 'dader' omdat ze hun boosheid op zichzelf richtten' is totaal onbewijsbaar en vaag.
In haar weergaves van de interviews komt erg vaak het woord 'heartbreaking' naar voren, met ander woorden: de auteur is de hele tijd waardeoordelen aan het geven.]

"Researchers rarely articulate, however, a consistent explanation for why victims feel so guilty. If, as trauma researchers have stressed for the last twenty-five years, sexual abuse is something done to a victim against his or her will, why would so many victims feel at fault? Some professionals are content to let this remain a mystery. Others proffer such explanations as that perpetrators explicitly told victims that the abuse was their fault, or perhaps victims want to feel like it was their fault because they feel loyal to their abusers, or they prefer feeling guilty over believing they were totally helpless and had no control over their environment. Regarding this latter explanation, David Spiegel, a tremendously influential sexual abuse researcher, notes that most victims “blame themselves inappropriately for situations over which they had no control. Oddly, it is less painful to think you brought a tragedy upon yourself than to face your vulnerability to mistreatment.” Judith Herman offers another explanation entirely: The guilt victims report may actually be a symptom of a new psychiatric disorder she calls complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (one caused by prolonged exposure to interpersonal trauma)."(131-132)

"None of these explanations even comes close to matching the one most victims give. I’ve found that victims have a pretty clear reason, one that has nothing to do with anything the perpetrator told them, anything they unconsciously want to believe, or any irrational or psychiatrically disordered thinking on their part. Ironically, many of us find their answer too “politically incorrect” to address or discuss. Victims say they feel guilty because the abuse was not done against their will. From their perspective, they feel that they allowed it to happen." [mijn nadruk] (132)

"Of course, as we all know, children do not have enough information to understand or respond appropriately to the sexual situations they are put in. To reiterate an earlier point, for this reason sexual abuse is never, under any circumstances, the child’s fault. Legally, you cannot consent if you do not have enough information to make an informed decision. But when it comes to the victims’ experience of sexual abuse, what is technically, legally correct is irrelevant." [mijn nadruk] (133)

['As we all know' is een argumentum ad auctoritatem. De auteur gaat er opnieuw van uit dat kinderen niet weten dat het om seks gaat, dat ze geen informatie over seks hebben, dat ze niet weten wat er op zo'n moment gebeurt en dus nooit schuldig kunnen zijn. Nou, lijkt me sterk. Of misschien niet in de VS.]

"I have found that the degree of guilt victims feel in the aftermath of sexual abuse is indeed strongly related to the degree of trauma experienced during the abuse when it happened. Specifically, the less traumatic (forceful, frightening, threatening) the abuse was while it occurred, the more guilt and self-blame the victims report later on. Those victims whose abuse involved force or violence usually report the least guilt. In such cases, the victims know it was not their fault."(135)

"Victims who report no trauma at all during the abuse (for example, those who loved the perpetrator, enjoyed the attention, or occasionally welcomed the contact) feel extremely guilty." [mijn nadruk] (135-136)

[Ja, hoe zou dat nu komen? Het normatieve kader zegt dat je niet van vormen van seks kunt genieten als je een kind bent, dus schaam je je later kapot als je dat wel deed. Gek, hè?]

De traumatheorie werkt negatief voor de 'slachtoffers' van misbruik. Omdat er meestal geen sprake is van trauma denken de 'slachtoffers' dat ze zelf aan dat misbruik meegewerkt hebben en voelen ze zich schuldig.

"Because of the trauma myth, I am aware of no public information campaigns that say, “Kids don’t know enough to say no.” There are no books telling victims, “You let it happen, and it’s okay. This is normal. You were too good to know bad.” I know of no newspaper stories in which the victim comes forth after years to press charges and explicitly says, “I would have done it earlier, but I just didn’t understand I was abused until now.” Today, as a function of the mental health field’s relentless emphasis on trauma, force, and violence and the subsequent embargo on any real-world, practical information about the reality of sexual abuse, most victims’ experiences slip under the radar — their stories are ignored, dismissed, overlooked, or denied by the very people who purport to be trying to help them." [mijn nadruk] (139-140)

"I cannot offer a clear theoretical model as to exactly how and why sexual abuse damages victims. It is beyond the scope of my research. I can say with great confidence, however, that based on what victims have to say, the trauma theory needs to go. It is not a good fit for most cases of sexual abuse."(142)

(149) 5 How the Trauma Myth Silences Victims

Ondanks alle aandacht voor seksueel misbruik in de huidige samenleving, spreken eindeloos veel 'slachtoffers' zich nooit uit.

"Instead of talking, however, victims report engaging in two common coping mechanisms: avoidance (trying not to think about the abuse) and suppression (trying to forget about it)."(155)

"The negative consequences of silence extend far beyond victims. Since the vast majority of crimes are never reported, the vast majority of perpetrators go unidentified and unpunished. Instead, according to a consistent body of data, they often commit similar offenses with other children."(159)

"We idealistically assume that as victims become empowered to speak out, other people will respond appropriately and support them. Unfortunately, in the real world, this is not the case. According to victims, when they do speak out (most often to family members), the following three reactions invariably occur." [mijn nadruk] (160)

Ongeloof en ontkenning

"Victims are particularly likely to face disbelief in cases in which the perpetrator appears trustworthy, respectable, and successful."(161)

Of: Waarom heb je dat dan niet meteen gezegd?
Of: Ik zou dat gemerkt hebben, dat kan niet waar zijn (van de kant van ouders met name).
Of: Je therapeuten hebben je dat ingefluisterd.

[Wat ook weer niet zo'n rare gedachte is, daar bestaan inmiddels immers vele voorbeelden van.]

Victim blaming

Het was je eigen schuld, je hebt het aangemoedigd.

"Here are the words of Lauretta Bender, an eminent researcher in the child sexual abuse field, from 1937: “These children undoubtedly do not deserve completely the cloak of innocence with which they have been endowed by moralists, social reformists and legislation. Frequently we consider the possibility that the child might have been the actual seducer rather than the one innocently seduced.”
In fact, this tendency to ascribe blame to victims, to place some or all the moral opprobrium for these crimes onto the child, was a main impetus behind the social movement feminists and child welfare advocates began in the 1970s. Unfortunately, it is still alive and well today. Most studies on blame attribution indicate that culpability continues to be distributed between the child and the offender." [mijn nadruk] (165)


Het is niet zo belangrijk, vergeet het, waarom wil je er nu nog op terugkomen, relativeer het.

[Misschien is dat laatste helemaal niet zo'n slecht idee. Veel mensen maken wat er gebeurd is té belangrijk.]

(179) Conclusion

Een uitgebreide samenvatting van het boek, met name van de kritiek op de traumatheorie. En daarnaast:

"At the same time, over the years I have witnessed a troubling and terrible reality: Many of us do not want to face the abuse that occurs right in our own backyards. With great conviction, we talk about how we must confront perpetrators and punish them to the highest degree. We talk about how, if our child were ever abused, we would do everything we could to call out this catastrophic event. Yet when push comes to shove, we deny it. We come up with reasons why we should not confront it — why it would complicate matters to report a brother, a grandfather, or a teacher we have come to trust with our children.
I’ve heard too many women, when pressed, admit that they would have trouble sending their husband to jail if they found out he was abusing a young child: “I know, I know, it’s wrong, but what do you want me to do? It’s my husband. I love him.”
Too many people talk about their own goals and consider the effects of speaking up, should something happen. We think about our own careers (“What would the people in my office think? I’m finally up for a promotion”), about the people in our towns with whom we could no longer associate (“He’s been the teacher here for thirty years. Everyone knows him. . . . He’s an important part of this community”), about the fact that a sexual abuse arrest or trial would be in all the newspapers (“I couldn’t bear to have our dirty laundry spread all over”). We think about having to confront our own worst fears: “Are other people going to think I was a bad mother? That there is something wrong with my child? Our family?” Many of us think that the victim might not be believed and that the allegations might be tough to prove: “Is it really worth all the pain it’s going to cause . . . raising attention to it?” We do not want to think about the horror of being betrayed by someone we have trusted, the shame and stigma that would follow if we had to speak out about it, or the painful disruptions to social networks and lives. So, these crimes often remain shrouded in secrecy." [mijn nadruk] (196-197)

"We do not want to know the truth about sexual abuse. Powerful cognitive and psychological incentives exist to blind us from a truth that, if acknowledged, would disrupt the lives of many people. Like the victim, we would have to suffer. Is it possible that deep down we feel it is better if victims feel betrayed, guilty, and ashamed so that we do not have to?"(201)

Start  ||   Glossen  ||   Weblog  ||   Boeken  ||   Denkwerk