In this 6-part series, Dr. Baker will provide a summary of the topics discussed in the book.
Bonded to the Abuser: Part 2
The second set of memoirs summarized and analyzed in “Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse” focus on sexual abuse of a child by a caregiver. Sexual abuse is both a criminal act and a child protection concern. From a child protection perspective, sexual abuse is defined as A) the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of any child to engage in or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct or B) the rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation, or incest with children. It is this last part of the definition that is reflected in the memoirs reviewed: sexual acts between a parent and a child.
An analysis of six memoirs written by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse reveals that – in addition to often being frightening and painful – the most profound aspect of the experience is that it violates the child’s basic sense of trust and safety. The parent who should be protecting the child takes advantage of the child’s trust in him. In involving the child in sexual acts, the parent is warping the child’s identity as damaged and dirty, guilty, and shameful. According to the adult survivors, while the sexual abuse event may be of limited duration, the “stain” of the abuse can last for years if not decades. The desire for the atonement of the abusive parent is in many respects an illusion which maintains that parent’s power and control over the abuse victim. Healing begins when the abuse victim (as a child or as an adult) forgives and accepts him- or herself and no longer needs the abusive parent to serve that function.
The New York Foundling’s Dr. Mel Schneiderman and Dr. Amy Baker are the authors of “Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse” – available May 16th. To purchase or view the book on Amazon.com please click here: Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse
To visit the author’s website: http://www.amyjlbaker.com/
Acknowledgments: Selected by Rowan and Littlefield for a book signing at the 2015 Book Expo of America