The Pathology Of Child Sexual Abuse
Many people cast a skeptical eye on alleged child sexual abuse victims who wait so long to come forward. They assume that these alleged victims are accusers who are making it up stories, blaming what were at most "minor incidents" for their current troubles.
Richard B. Gartner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who is also the author of "Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse,” writes in the New York Times:
…Many people cast a skeptical eye on those who wait so long to reveal instances of child [sexual] abuse, particularly when it happened to them as teenagers. They assume that accusers are making it up, blaming what were at most minor incidents for their troubles.
But in my decades of experience working with abuse victims, I have found that men spend years putting their emotions in a deep freeze or masking post-traumatic reactions with self-defeating behaviors like compulsive gambling and substance abuse. Eventually, they are forced by internal or external events to find treatment.
I once conducted a training seminar about how to treat men with histories of sexual abuse. One student, a semiretired social worker in his 70s, asked a barrage of questions and was consistently derisive of what he saw as other people's overly emotional reactions to the horrifying histories.
Another participant finally criticized him for derailing the conversation. He was silent for a long moment. Then he began to weep.
Between sobs, he poured out the story of his own childhood sexual trauma. In the 60 or more years since, he had barely hinted about it to anyone, and the years of silence had left him isolated in unemotional, unsatisfying adult intimate relationships.
He was, sadly, typical of male abuse victims. Even in 2012, we are socialized to think that "real men" should be resilient, and certainly not victims. For a man to acknowledge sexual victimhood, even to himself, is to say he is not really male.
What's more, conventional wisdom says abuse turns a boy gay, despite strong evidence to the contrary. Straight boys wonder why they were chosen for sexual victimization, afraid they might be gay. Gay boys may feel rushed into defining themselves as gay or decide that abuse caused their orientation, complicating their ability to develop positive identities as gay men.
Even worse, perhaps, and again without evidence, common folklore tells us that sexually abused boys almost inevitably grow up to be sexually abusing men. This terrifies a male victim, even if he has no thought of becoming a sexual predator. He worries he may become predatory without volition or warning, or that others will assume he is an abuser if they know his history.…
Gartner goes on to note that the Child Victims Act, also known as the Markey Bill, which would extend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimesr five more years and would also create a one-year window for adults (up to age 53 in the bill's latest iteration) to bring charges against their alleged abusers.
The Markey Bill has passed the New York State Assembly four times but has each time been blocked from reaching the floor of the New York State Senate, "largely thanks to fierce lobbying by the Roman Catholic Church," Gartner writes.
What Gartner doesn't write is that the Church's partners in blocking the Markey Bill are the haredi umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America and an arm of the Satmar hasidic movement.
Chabad has supported the positions of Agudath Israel and Satmar on this issue while working hard to appear as if it isn't directly involved in blocking Markey.