Along with the trust issues, one of the hardest parts to deal with is the feeling of not being believed or supported, especially by your own grandparents and extended family. When I have been through so much pain and hurt and have to live with the scars every day, I get angry knowing that others think it is all made up or they brush it off because my cousin was a teenager. I was ten when I was first sexually abused by my cousin, and a majority of my relatives have taken the perpetrator's side. I have cried many times about everything and how my relatives gave no support or love to me as a kid when this all came out. Not one relative ever came up to that innocent little girl I was and said I am sorry for what you went through or I am here for you. Instead they said hurtful things: Oh he was young. That is what kids do. It is not like he was some older man you didn't know. Why does age make a difference? It is a sick way of thinking. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. What is wrong with this picture? It brings tears to my eyes the way my relatives have reacted to this and cannot accept the truth. Denial is where they would rather stay.
Society gives the image of sexual violators as weird, ugly, anti-social, alcoholics. Society gives the impression that violators kidnap children are out of their homes and take them to some wooded area and abandon them after the violation. Society gives the impression that everyone hates people who violate children. If all of these myths were true, healing would not be as challenging as it is. Half of our healing is about the actual abuse. The other half is about how survivors fit into society in the face of the myths that people hold in order to make themselves feel safe. The truth is that 80% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members. Yet we rarely hear the word “incest”. The word is too ugly and the truth is too scary. Think about what would happen if we ran a campaign to end incest instead of childhood sexual abuse. The number one place that children should know they are safe is in their homes. As it stands, as long as violators keep sexual abuse within the family, the chances of repercussion by anyone is pretty low. Wives won’t leave violating husbands, mothers won’t kick their violating children out of the home, and violating grandparents still get invited to holiday dinners. It is time to start cleaning house. If we stop incest first, then we will strengthen our cause against all sexual abuse.
For every group, malevolence is always somewhere else. Maybe we understand at this point in history that it can occur at night in darkened rooms where small children sleep. However, surely not in academia. Surely lying and deception do not occur among people who go to conferences, who write books, who testify in court, and who have PhDs.At one point I complained to a Florida judge that I was astonished to an expert witness lying on the stand [about child sexual abuse research]. I thought one had to tell the truth in court. I thought if someone didn't, she didn't get her milk and cookies. I thought God came down and plucked someone right out of the witness stand if he lied in court. I thought a lying expert witness would step out of court and get hit by a bus. A wiser woman than I, the judge's answer was, “Silly you.Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter. Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998
The people who support and defend those accused of child sexual abuse indiscriminately, those who join organizations dedicated to defending people who are accused of child sexual abuse with no screening whatsoever to keep out those who are guilty as charged are likewise not necessarily people engaged in an objective search for the truth. Some of them can and do use deceit, trickery, misstated research, harassment, intimidation, and charges of laundering federal money to silence their opponents.Those of us who are the recipients of bogus lawsuits and frivolous ethics charges and phony phone calls and pickets outside our offices must know more than the research to survive such tactics. We must know something about endurance and about the importance of refusing to be intimidated.Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter. Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998
It is acknowledged that father-daughter incest occurs on a large scale in the United States. Sexual abuse has now been included in child abuse legislation. A conservative estimate is that more than 1 million women have been sexually victimized by their fathers or other male relatives, but the true figure probably is much higher. Many victims still fear reporting incest, and families continued to collude to keep the situation secret. Issues of family privacy and autonomy remain troublesome even when incest is reported and must be resolved for treatment to be effective. Mary de Chesnay J. Psychosoc. Nurs. Med. Health Sep. 22:9-16 Sept 1984 reprinted in Talbott's 1986 edition
interview from Ross E. Cheit about The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children (Oxford University Press, February 2014).In the foreword to your book you mention a book titled Satan’s Silence was the catalyst for your research. Tell us about that. Cheit: Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker solidified the witch-hunt narrative in their 1995 book, Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt, which included some of these cases. I was initially skeptical of the book’s argument for personal reasons. It seemed implausible to me that we had overreacted to child abuse because everything in my own personal history said we hadn’t. When I read the book closely, my skepticism increased. Satan’s Silence has been widely reviewed as meticulously researched. As someone with legal training, I looked for how many citations referred to the trial transcripts. The answer was almost none. Readers were also persuaded by long list of [presumably innocent] convicted sex offenders to whom they dedicated the book. If I’m dedicating a book to fifty-four people, all of whom I think have been falsely convicted, I’m going to mention every one of these cases somewhere in the book. Most weren’t mentioned at all beyond that dedication. The witch-hunt narrative is so sparsely documented that it’s shocking.
We must know something about malevolence, about how to recognize it, and about how not to make excuses for it. We must know that we cannot expect fair play.That is, perhaps, most crucial of all. Those of us who practice in this field must face the implications of the fact that we are dealing with sexual abuse. Child sex offenders-people who exploit children’s bodies and betray their trust-are not going to hesitate to lie outright. This is obvious but nonetheless frequently seems to catch people by surprise.Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter. Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2 June 1998