Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Unspeakable Horror of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Language: Part One

The title, "The Unspeakable Horror of Childhood Sexual Abuse" sounds like an appropriate use of hyperbole, since "unspeakable" isn't factual, as this article speaks of the horrors of childhood sexual abuse.

This is not so. This is not to make a statement about just how bad childhood sexual abuse is by using hyperbolic language.

This is not my intention. My intention is to address, in Statement Analysis, why certain phrasing may be erroneously flagged as deceptive when it is not.  There is a tangible reason for its appearance and ways in which the analyst may discern it as such.

Hyperbole can be an effective and appropriate tool of communication in language, even as we flag it in Statement Analysis.  This is Part One.

Overuse of hyperbole speaks to weakness and even deception.  It shows a need to persuade that may have the opposite impact of the intention of the writer:  persuading the reader that the assertion isn't true, based upon its overuse.

How much is too much?  This depends upon the context and often comes down to the skill of the analyst in drawing a conclusion.

However, what if "unspeakable", that is, "without words" was literal?

In certain cases, this is precisely what we are looking at when we analyze the statement of an adult who has suffered childhood sexual abuse.

Childhood sexual abuse has devastating affects upon the victim.  It is not debated as statistics are overwhelming.

Adults who have been sexually abused in childhood suffer greatly. This suffering includes what we will see in life, and in the language (statements), so much so, that it becomes "the expected" in analysis of statements made by victims of childhood sexual abuse.

For this purpose, childhood sexual abuse will be abuse that includes sexual contact, sexualized environment (including exposure to pornography, sexualized conversation, etc) and even "play" that includes the touching of genitalia.  It will be pre-pubescent in scope, which is not to minimize the impact of adolescents nor adults who experience sexual abuse; it is only to limit the realm of the article as to explain why "unspeakable" is used here, and in analysis.

a.  Suicidal ideation, which does, at times, lead to attempts and suicide itself.

b.  Self-destructive tendencies, consistent with desire to end one's life or punish oneself.  This includes substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), and risky behavior (including promiscuity), as well as sabotaging one's own success (deliberately failing various elements of testing in life, including school and career).  In short, anything that "punishes" the victim, caused by the victim, is self destructive and often evident in teenaged girls who were sexually abused prior to the onset of adolescence.

c.  Guilt  The victim needs no one to say "you caused this", or "you were complicit with the perpetrator" as the victim will likely blame herself (or himself, though my focus is going to be on women for this article) The guilt is often heightened when the adult victim of childhood sexual abuse admits who perpetrated the sexual abuse.  The victim feels as if she "hurt" or brought harm to the perpetrator, merely by acknowledging what he did to her.  This is powerful and sometimes can be a dominant theme that often arises after she has raised her own children to adulthood.

The re-victimization, in spite of the victim's own guilt, does increase the suffering.  This re-victimization can come from many sources including well-meaning families, the natural denial and minimization that parents experience and exhibit, the court system that values her life in such cheap terms, the dismissive therapist or medial professional, and even the Statement Analyst who erroneously sees deception within the specific language of the victim.  Hence, an important and invaluable training element for all who treat or care for victims of childhood sexual abuse including professionals who investigate claims.

d.  Depression where the subject feels low energy, melancholy, listless, without hope, low interest in life, reduced sensitivity of taste buds, reduced ability to sense pleasure, etc. This can lead to many other issues (including substance abuse) where adrenaline is sought after.  Some teenaged girls will evidence depression by stopping eating, while others may eat and stuff themselves to appear "unattractive" to the abuser.

The food issue:  When a victim of childhood sexual abuse is a 16 year old girl, and is thin, and looks in the mirror and says how "fat" she is, we know that:

1.  Scientifically, she is not fat, obese, or overweight.  We can measure her weight, and we can measure her body fat content and  overall health, with scientific precision, by scientific conclusions.  She may "see" herself as "fat", but she is, scientifically, not fat.  She "feels" she is "fat", and this is not only wrong (incorrect), but it is a distinctly subjective measurement.

2.  To acquiesce to her "feelings" or her perspective would be to take the subjective and call it objective.  It takes the scientific and dismisses it.  It exchanges fact for feeling.

                                       What are the consequences for such thinking?

 It would mean, in today's popular subjective standard:

To starve her to death, while calling her a hero, because "her reality" says she is "fat" while science says she is  thin, is to abuse her further.  

Even if it is in the name of "civil rights", and even if she is praised as "courageous" and becomes beloved across the world, it is abusive and the results will be her demise.  All the subjectivity in the world will not trump the scientific fact that what she "feels" is not what is, and the consequences are deadly and far reaching, especially when, not if, but when, this argument is applied to other areas of life, including childhood sexual abuse.  

e.  Anxiety that exceeds what most people experience in our uncertain lives.  This includes an overall feeling of doom, or sometimes described as living "a bad dream that does not end", so that the uncertainty is rarely ever given relief.  Since all of us feel anxious or even anxiety over the many dangers and uncertainties of life, there may be a lack of coping ability within the adult victim of childhood sexual abuse, that is not understood by the general population and there may be a very sound reason for it, scientifically, which we will not only seek to learn, but seek to understand as it enters her language.

Parental Issues

Most victims of childhood sexual abuse do not go on to molest their own children.  This is stat number one.

Stat number two is that most all parents who offend on their children were victims of some form of childhood sexual abuse.

It does not come from a vacuum.  This is why I wrote, "there is much more to the Duggars' story than what is told" as the expected minimization and denial have something behind them.

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse go on to become loving parents, but the successful ones are often those who recognize how easily they could fall into the "pendulum" of response:

f.  Failure to Protect is, sadly, sometimes the result of childhood sexual abuse.  The victim, as a mother, fails to protect her own children; perhaps unable to recognize the patterns before her.  The neglect can also come from depression, denial, or a feeling of inevitability; that is, a fatalistic, "I can't stop men, anyway" viewpoint.

g.  Hyper Vigilance of her children, so terrified that they may become victims, the mother actually sets up the child for bullying, as she is over protective and refuses to let her child learn how to negotiate life for himself or herself.  They inevitably instill anxiety into their own children.  Some mothers will chop off their daughters' hair, and dress them as "unfeminine" as possible, not wanting the child to appear "attractive" to the abuser.

Those who process, either through the assistance of trained professionals, or through their own journaling, have the best odds for success.  They will never be "healed", yet they may experience a great measure of healing in their lives.  The scars will always be there, but the 'sting' can be reduced, and for those who live successful productive lives, what is not known to the outside world is just how many days they went to work, wow'd employees with their productivity, but thought about killing themselves before they even got dressed for that day's work.

Only they know, and, sometimes, those who love them.  Yet the years of interviewing have taught me:

The victim of childhood sexual abuse, no matter how much she shares, and how marvelously emotionally intelligent and successful she is, suffers in ways of which she shares with none in this world. 

h.  Compromised Immune System.  I often say that cancer did not kill Susan Murphy Milano, but being raped by her father did. When she sacrificed herself to save her little sister from her father's rape, she did just that:  she sacrificed herself.  She did not simply let the rapist exhaust his rage upon her in saving her sister, she took upon herself a life time of suffering of which her body, with more energy than most of us, could not sustain the assaults of disease.  She literally laid down her life for another.

Susan wrote about her life in "hell", which, especially as I read its brutal, unedited form, was more than I could bear, as I had to, for a bit, walk away, compose myself, and return to the work she so much wanted and needed to share with the world.  Courage?  She had it in abundance.

We do not know how severely impacted a woman victim of childhood sexual abuse's immune system is, but those who work in the field, on behalf of victims, routinely report that they are more plagued with health issues than the general population.  What sounds incredible to us, is more common to victims, such as what I mentioned recently:  women who's limbs go numb, randomly, of whom doctors think are being foolish until it happens in the office.

Since our bodies fight off many diseases that are never diagnosed (since they do not manifest), we are not able, yet, to measure just how bad it is for a woman victim to be, in terms of life's daily health issues.

In interviewing adult victims of childhood sexual abuse, as well as interviewing social service professionals, treating psychologists, doctors, nurses, case workers, case managers, and other treatment teams, the impact is acute, no matter where it shows itself.

In Statement Analysis, we allow the woman victim's own words to guide us.  (Male victims often speak differently, and this will  be covered in a separate article).

There is no argument of the devastating affects upon women who were sexually abused in childhood.

We will need the woman, herself, to guide us, in the analysis.  There are indicators of veracity that are strong and universal, yet there are also indicators of veracity that are especially relevant in Statement Analysis of victims' statements.

We seek to answer the signals of veracity, the signals of sensitivity , as well as to learn the impact upon husbands, fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, and other loved ones, of the childhood sexual abuse, and will seek to learn if the age of the victim can be learned from the language the adult chooses to employ in describing the abuse.

Up Next:

Why is it "unspeakable"?

How does "unspeakable" impact Statement Analysis?

What causes some cases to be "unspeakable"?


Anonymous said...

“Childhood sexual abuse has devastating affects upon the victim. It is not debated as statistics are overwhelming.
There is no argument of the devastating affects upon women who were sexually abused in childhood.”

Removing those 3 sentences in my opinion does not weaken your argument. Including those 3 sentences makes me want to go seek out the statistics. They also lead me to wonder, has some person/organization actually created meaningful statistics. This wondering is also encouraged by this sentence “We do not know how severely impacted a woman victim of childhood sexual abuse's immune system is, but those who work in the field, on behalf of victims, routinely report that they are more plagued with health issues than the general population.”

That is a very vague claim, to be more plagued with health issues than the general population.

So the focus is women in this article.

trustmeigetit said...

Transcript out for the part of the interview with Jill and Jessa (Duggar)

Anonymous said...

What is your point, Anon @1:53? Are you just trying to create confusion where none exists?

What is wrong with you? Peter makes it clear that the focus of this article is on women who have been sexually abuse in childhood.

Wendy said...

Anonymous @1:53-
Here is a web site that will give you some statistics. You can also read about the risks, consequences, reporting, and conviction statistics.

I don't understand what you mean by "meaningful statistics." Do you mean is the data important and worth it? There isn't anything "vague" about it. Many survivors never report being abused because they don't want to be blamed or accused of lying, etc. You may want to do some reading on Sexual Abuse and it's outcome to get an idea of what children/adults have gone thorough and how they continue to deal with it.

**Peter did an interesting analysis on Woody Allen and his adopted daughter awhile back. I suggest you should read it.

Female adult survivors of child sexual abuse are nearly three times more likely to report substance use problems (40.5% versus 14% in general population)
Male adult CSA victims are 2.6 times more likely to report substance use problems (65% versus 25% in general population.)

FACT: Mental health problems are a common long-term consequence of child sexual abuse.
Adult women who were sexually abused as a child are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as women who were not sexually abused.
Adults with a history of child sexual abuse are more than twice as likely to report a suicide attempt.
Females who are sexually abused are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than females who are not sexually abused.
Among male survivors, more than 70% seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

FACT: Child sexual abuse is also associated with physical health problems in adulthood. It is theorized that this is a consequence of the substance abuse, mental health issues and other consequences that survivors of child sexual abuse face.
Generally, adult victims of child sexual abuse have higher rates of health care utilization and report significantly more health complaints compared to adults without a child sexual abuse history. This is true for both self-reported doctor’s visits and objective examination of medical records.

Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are at greater risk of a wide range of conditions that are non-life threatening and are potentially psychosomatic in nature. These include fibromyalgia, severe premenstrual syndrome, chronic headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and a wide range of reproductive and sexual health complaints, including excessive bleeding, amenorrhea, pain during intercourse and menstrual irregularity.
Adults with a history of child sexual abuse are 30% more likely than their non-abused peers to have a serious medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, stroke or hypertension.
Male sexual abuse survivors have twice the HIV-infection rate of non-abused males. In a study of HIV-infected 12 to 20 year olds, 41% reported a sexual abuse history.

John Mc Gowan said...

OT Update:

Jessica Chambers’ Father Told “She Didn’t Die The Right Way”

Six months have passed since Jessica Chambers was burned alive.

Ever since his daughter's brutal murder, things have been difficult for Jessica's father. He sat down with FOX13 to discuss the trying times, along with the added grief he's had to take on.

“We are having a problem with my insurance company not wanting to pay off on my daughter because they said that she wasn't a student in school,” Ben Chambers said. “I have my insurance through Met Life, and they are not wanting to pay off now.”

>> Jessica Chambers Case Stretches Into The 6th Month

Major Barry Thompson, the lead investigator in the Chambers murder, says he's been told the payoff is being held because the murder remains unsolved.

Thompson wrote a letter on behalf of the Panola County Sheriff's Department. In it he clearly states Ben Chambers is not, nor has he ever been, a suspect. But Thompson did offer some insight into suspects when FOX13 met with him to do his first ever television interview

“I would say from a confidence standpoint, the team of investigators working on this case have a level of confidence that we have not had before now,” Major Thompson said.

But the clues stop there, leaving the investigation ongoing. Six months after his daughter was killed, there have been no arrests and Ben Chambers says he owes 10,000 in funeral expenses. As if fighting for his daughter's life insurance was not enough, he's facing more financial problems on another front.

“The car insurance, they wouldn't pay off because they say she wasn't killed by another car,” Chambers said.

So in the wake of his daughter's disturbing murder, this grieving father is left dumbfounded.

“You know, it's unbelievable how somebody can be murdered, but they say she didn't die the right way.”

Delilah said...

Thanks, Peter, for using Susan as an example and I have to agree with the fact that her circumstances caused her death long before cancer came around.

For more information on effects of childhood maltreatment in adulthood I recommend reading Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study another one of my clients told me about. Here's a link to the CDC for your readers who are interested:

Unknown said...

Anon is talking about workers in the field of children services The social workers and such. Not victims.

Idk why anon even bothered posting unless the point was to be argumentative

Anonymous said...

"Those who process, either through the assistance of trained professionals, or through their own journaling, have the best odds for success. They will never be "healed", yet they may experience a great measure of healing in their lives. The scars will always be there, but the 'sting' can be reduced, and for those who live successful productive lives, what is not known to the outside world is just how many days they went to work, wow'd employees with their productivity, but thought about killing themselves before they even got dressed for that day's work.

Only they know, and, sometimes, those who love them. Yet the years of interviewing have taught me:

The victim of childhood sexual abuse, no matter how much she shares, and how marvelously emotionally intelligent and successful she is, suffers in ways of which she shares with none in this world."

Peter, I feel you know me. I have worked so hard to get to where I am today, yet I still get triggered. I know it will never go away completely. The scars are with me for life. I still long for the mother I will never have. She died back in 1988 when she refused to help me and stayed with him.

Through the years of fighting the depression and the anxiety, on top of trying to make my family all happy by not rocking the boat, I developed fibromyalgia. I even fought through that pain to keep them in my life. I was so scared of losing them. In 2009, after a year of having trouble walking, I found out I have P.A.D, peripheral artery disease. I had to have a stent put in my left iliac artery. I was 35 years old. I could in the future end up losing my leg. I fully believe the stress was my main problem. This is what lead me to cutting my family out of my life. I couldn't take the stress anymore. I had a choice: stay in the family and die, or leave them behind and live. I choose life.

Peter, you are a great human being. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing you get to the truth of the matter. Thank you!!


C said...

My reply is for Amber. Amber your body is suffering in pain that doesn't have to remain. Your muscles, your interior are without proper values of inhaling/exhaling oxygen. Why? because you are conditioned this way, from as early as you cannot remember. Look up, read up, find information on breathing techniques.

You within your childhood lived on pins and needles, walking on broken glass, this anxiety to become your normal. Shallow breathing to be your Adult bodies standard. Oxygen depletion causes a myriad of health issues, locked up muscles being one. When in youth you shallow breathing it's a defense mechanism, it is. What happens is when you shallow breathe, you cannot process what is ongoing around you. The human response of fight and or flight practically becomes non existent. It's what was done to you, and or what wasn't in your own control, your body adapted to this to thrive " not truly breathing" as it's not I breathe to survive: it became for you, I shallow breathe. That at one point you within your youth, you became speechless. This to be another area of why your body is behaving as it is. This is interior mindful inflicted, your body is reactive within.

Your adult body is screaming for oxygen. Seek out information on Breathing. Look up Voluntary and Involuntary breathing within how the human body recreates itself upon childhood trauma. You are able, you can do this on your own, " learning how to breathe" -you in control, you to renew yourself without pharma controlling you. As you are a voice- needed loudly in this world.

You are Here, Present,


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your thoughtful post. I'm sure you are correct. I smoke. Have since I was being molested actually. I'm sure it's a compound of all that has led to my bodies decline. I want to quit.

I was also born with an extremely rare vascular disorder. Only around 250 cases have been reported in the world. It's called "Blue Rubber Bleb Nevus Syndrome" It's a genetic disorder that causes malformed blood vessels to come to the surface of the skin. They become sores, some of which are very painful to the touch, they feel like raw nerves. Most of the cases that have been diagnosed begin in childhood. The skin sores are not what is the cause of concern but the fact that it can cause malformed vessels internally, mainly in the GI tract. In the GI tract they are more likely to bleed and cause anemia or at worst a need for blood transfusions. I was a mild case apparently, my skin sores didn't appear until I was in my teens. They got worse with each of my pregnancies. In fact I didn't even know what it was until they finally figured it out at the end of 2013.

I've had a friend talk me into starting a blog. I had it open to the public but was posting some rageful things about my mother and decided to close it. I haven't posted on it in awhile. I titled it "the body never lies". I may open it again. Peter is right. Writing does help. I just cringe when I think of getting people who only wish to argue or tell me I'm wrong. :(

Thank you again for your post.

Anonymous said...

anybody else find this housekeepers statement kinda suspect?

Anonymous said...

Vicki said-

OT: Anyone see this?

Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP was asked on CNN this morning if she was Black.

Reporter: "Are you black"?
(hesitation for a few seconds) She said "I don't even know what that means"....

Too funny! She has kinky black hair, but other than that she doesn't look black.

Anonymous said...

I agree with her, that it's hard to know what "black" means. who can really define it in finite terms? there are no specific black chromosomes, medically race eludes quantifiable categorization. if a person appears and identifies as black - what else is there.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure there is no medical or scientifically quantifiable categorization that identifies black as being black?

If this is so, how is it that medical examiners can identify whether an unidentified corpse is black, white, indian, aisian, or whatever?

Also, when a body is so badly decomposed it is next to impossible to identify whether it is male or female; yet medical examiners can determine not only the race of the body but through DNA can determine whether the body is male or female.

BTW, this is also the reason Bruce Jenner cannot change his gender identity. To my knowledge there are only TWO kinds of DNA; male and female. He can have all the sex change operations his little heart desires; however, if medical science is correct, he was born with male DNA and he will die with male DNA. Sorry about that ole Brucie boy. Like it or not, you are what you are.

Pisces Dreamer said...

I would add to the list of non-life-threatening conditions for women:

Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Chronic Migraines
Vaginismus (involuntary seizing of vaginal muscles)

I don't have studies to cite -- only my experience as both a sexual health educator who works with survivors, and my personal survival of CSA.

Anonymous said...

Anon @2:20 yesterday; I did not personally find anything suspicious about the surviving housekeepers' statement in re the Washington, D.C. mansion murders.

I do find it tragic that no one had any actual suspicions that something horrible was going on inside the home all during the time the family and the other housekeeper were being terrorized. There are now suspicions that they were being held captive and tormented even longer than was first suspected by investigators, which would mean they were being held as hostages and threatened from late afternoon and evening for the first night, then all day the next day and that night too before the fire was observed. This would indicate they were being held inside that home for at least eighteen hours or longer before the fire was reported and they were found murdered.

Collectively they must have known a lot of people, many on a personal basis, including their two older daughters who were away at private schools; but no one they would have had normal contact with realized something wasn't right in that house who could have sent law enforcement by there to make a welfare check on them? Also, the husband had a lot of business related contacts from the businesses he owned and operated, including employees, yet no one from any of these businesses realized something was wrong?

The husband of the murdered housekeeper did become concerned and tried to make contact with her, even going by the residence, but wasn't so concerned that he called police to investigate. (I'm sure he must feel terrible now, I know I would). I can understand that he didn't want to arouse problems with his wifes' employer so he accepted the explanation he was given; also that the surviving housekeeper, who, although the 'not to come to work' instructions were out of the ordinary from her normal routine, didn't question the strangeness of her calls from the home, but it does seem that someone could have picked up on some sort of signal that all was not well inside that home.

Another thing that doesn't make sense to me is, why only $40,000? $40,000 isn't much money to demand from a man who was as wealthy as this affluent family was. $40,000 is mere peanuts for someone like this hugely successful executive and multi-business owner to quickly raise. He could have easily pulled together far more money than this. It seems to me that there is more to these murders than just the small amount of money, and just the fact that the suspect had once worked at the iron works company; wouldn't you think?

It's the small amount of money involved that makes me suspicious of why this family was murdered. What was it that you found suspicious about the surviving housekeepers' comments?

Anonymous said...

Dear Amber,

Carmen is right about her comments to you concerning your lack of oxygen, which affects your body (and in many ways the sharpness of your brain potential) and is very vital to your over all well-being. You being a smoker adds to your lack of clean oxygen; this is not criticism, it is a fact. Just practicing deep breathing will help but it will not entirely alleviate this problem as you cannot deep breathe enough, or in your sleep, or at all the many other times when you are not remembering to do it. Lack of proper clean oxygen can (and does) lead to a stroke or heart attack, without warning.

If you have not already done so, go to see a pulmonary physician, and if you can afford it, or have insurance that might help to defray the cost, request an overnight sleep clinic evaluation. The readings from your sleep clinic evaluation will show that you have a lack of oxygen; these evaluations do not just show sleep apnea, they also show other breathing problems where there is a lack of oxygen. Adequate oxygen to your extremities will also help to clear your skin or at least to bring the lesions under control when you have a flare up. Proper oxygen is vital to our daily functioning and healing. If I (and Carmen) are correct, and I think we are; you need to use a portable oxygen machine at night while sleeping.

It is not cumbersome at all. (I have to use one due to my own smoking related problems). It is just a little portable machine on rollers with a long tube running from it and a little attachment that fits just inside your nostrils, which will pump clean consistent air into your nostrils and lungs while you are sleeping. (The machine is placed in a separate room so that the noise does not disturb you or others).

It is not bothersome at all; you quickly adjust to the little thingie in your nose and don't even notice that it is there. It is not like the old fashioned oxygen tanks people used to lug around, it is compressed reprocessed air. It draws the air from the room it is sitting in, recirculates and purifies it, transferring the clean air into your passages and lungs. (Continuing to smoke does not affect the machine at all, even while the thingie is in your nose). I promise you, you will begin to feel much better during the day time, and will sleep better too. If you take naps sometimes, use it then as well.

More to follow (later) re highly successful treatment for fibromyalgia.... It's all in the diet. It works! Permanently.

Anonymous said...

Peter, did you know Susan personally and socially? Do you know if her son ever reached out to her before she passed on? Or her sister? Her life story was so tragic, right up to the end.

I didn't know her but my heart really went out to her in her suffering and the tragic story of her life as a child and in later years too. She was a beautiful and a lovely woman, God bless her soul, may she RIP.

ima.grandma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.