The Dangers of Sex Abuse Therapy

April 28th, 2008 by Stephen James

The standard ‘therapy’ for ‘sexually abused’ children and adolescents is not only pointless, but positively harmful when applied to those who have been involved in consensual relationships.

Try to put yourself into the mind of a child or adolescent who has been willingly involved in sex acts with an adult. You may already have been worrying about the taboo nature of what you were involved in. At the same time you are conscious of the fact that you could have said no, but didn’t. The relationship is discovered and you find yourself in therapy. The therapist tries to make you feel better about what happened by telling you that you were not responsible for it–it was all the adult’s fault. The unstated implication of this is that if you had been responsible you would have been a bad person, involved in something that society condemns. As it is, you weren’t responsible, so that’s OK. But you are not convinced. You could have said no, but chose not to. Maybe you mention this to the therapist. He rejects this. You couldn’t have been responsible, as you were just a child and didn’t know any better. Maybe you argue with the therapist a bit and try to explain that your own complicity in the events makes you feel bad–especially as the adult, of whom you were perhaps very fond, is now facing a jail sentence. The therapist will have none of it. It wasn’t your fault. All the responsibility lies with that wicked adult who is now getting what he deserves. Just accept that fact and you will feel OK. But you can’t accept it. You know what happened. After all, you were there! Now you are being told that you can stop feeling terrible provided you can convince yourself that you didn’t really consent. The trouble is you know you did! The one thing that could let you off the hook just isn’t true.

Is it possible to think of a more depressing and psychologically dangerous state of mind for a young person? Here perhaps is one explanation for why some young people who have been ‘sexually abused’ resort to suicide–not a reason that most people would have suspected.

How much more conducive to the psychological well-being of the young people concerned if a therapist could say to them something like this: ‘Lots of kids do what you did and enjoy it. You consented to it–so there’s no problem.’ Unlike the orthodox strategy, this wouldn’t involve denying something that the youngster knows very well to be true–her own complicity in the sexual activity. And, provided she trusts the therapist and is able to accept his point of view, its potential to relieve guilt will be enormous. It might even save lives.

2 Responses to “The Dangers of Sex Abuse Therapy”

  1. Daniel Lièvre Says:

    You are in agreement with one author:

    “But the very problem with these approaches is that they do attempt to
    impose a meaning that often directly contradicts the child’s own perception. While
    this kind of therapy may lead the child to reinterpret the event, often it does not,
    and many children firmly believe in their own power in and control over sexual
    encounters with adults. This is especially true of children who may have contributed
    to the continuation of the abuse by returning to the perpetrator’s home or
    by seeking gifts or rewards by engaging in sexual activities”.

    Angelides, GLQ, 2005.

  2. PiedPiper Says:

    The the-rapist and the social norm are the biggest child abusers causing severe damage by using guilt and shame to get there way this affects not just a few individuals but in some way effects everyone in that culture.

    Yes and it is depressing because just using logic and common sense you realise the errors in there judgements and wish that they realise this, but it seems the only ones who realise this are a select few.

Leave a Reply