BACKGROUND: SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHiLDREN
„Only in the last 25 years the issue of sexual abuse of children has come out of its full suppression back to the surface“, writes psychoanalyst Mathias Hirsch in his book „Psychoanalytische Traumatologie – Das Trauma in der Familie“ (Psychoanalytical Traumatology – The Trauma in Family). His book which extensively covers issue, serves as the basis of his research.
It’s important to mention that the following discussion gives a little insight into a complex topic. It is about the facts I find important for my movie.
One speaks of sexual abuse of children, wenn a person – usually a mother or father figure – abuses their educational power in order to gain sexual pleasure for themselves. It is already considered sexual abuse when, for example, a father watches his child in the shower and gets excited: The father-child relationship is already violated through that offence. Grave cases are those in which the culprit intimately touches or penetrates the child.
The exact prevalence of such abuses is difficult to know. There are indications that between one in three and one in ten children experience sexual abuse. But the exact prevalence is hard to know as such actions are often kept quiet or repressed by the affected people.
In his book Hirsch reports that neglected, unwelcome children are highly predestined to be sexually abused. They are considered to be worth nothing from the beginning so „one can do it with them“. (It is important to note here that neglect has nothing to do with the social status of the family. The neglect of children is in interpersonal relationship in particular the parents.)
Many victims report that they see themselves during the instance of abuse, concretely that means that they see themsleves from the outside – a dissociation of the body-self. A part of them splits itself of during the deed and so withdraw themselves from being victims. In other situations of duress the same process often occurs.
Additionally victims report, that they react oversensitively to aucustic and visual stimuli. Often these are specific sounds that are connected to the abuse – the sounds of the culprit and visual impressions during the abuse. As the dissociation of body-self these disorders of perception also occur in later situations of duress. They say the world is crowding in on them. This over-sensitivity can be read as a mechanism of protection by the victim, from further abuse.
The devastating thing about sexual abuse is not only that it is a crim but also that the victims are aroused due to physiological reaction. This is also why the deed is often misinterpreted not only by the culprit but also the victim. Many victims search for abuse again as adults as the unconciously believe it will end differently this time. That they will be loved not used. Children who have been abused also often suffer from a disturbed relation to sexuality in their adult life. Thus partnership can become very difficult.
Sexual abuse is often passed on over generations, because already the parents suffered similarly or as an unconcious act of remembering. Here the vicious circle becomes clear that is difficult to break. Psychotherapy is often necessary to overcome such traumatic experiences.
It would be easy to assume that a child that is sexually abused by the father would have a bad relationship with that parent, but this is in fact often not the case even while children fear the abuse. The culprit can be split into two people: the loving father and the bad man.
Also noteworthy is that the deed is not a father child relationship anymore but turns into th relationship to a lover. The child takes on the position of the mother.