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Society in Deep Denial - Sexual Child Abuse

By Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD

Are you shocked, sickened and dismayed by the Michael Jackson verdict? I am not shocked, but I am significantly sickened and dismayed that society is in denial about what constitutes sexual child abuse.

The truth is, we cannot have empathy toward abused children until we can honestly acknowledge the mistreatment from our own childhood experiences and examine the shortcomings of our own parents. To the extent we feel compelled to defend our parents and guard their secrets of abuse, we will do the same for others. We will look the other way. By continually insisting that we “turned out okay,” no matter how our parents might have abused us, we are reassuring ourselves and diverting our attention from deeply hidden unpleasant memories.

This is why, when someone says, your emotional pain is directly connected to the physical and/or sexual abuse you experienced, many people react as though a door barricaded since infancy has been smashed open. This barricaded, unconscious door has prevented people from committing the most dangerous, most unpardonable act of disloyalty imaginable, disloyalty to ones parents. People are afraid that by opening the door they might all through into an abyss—abandoned and cut off from any possibility of reconciliation with the parents they love. The fear is irrational. Denial—about what was done to our generation and, now, what we are doing and allowing to be done to the next generation—is the real danger and the real sin.

Society is in deep denial about:

• a sex offender’s ruse, their cunning distortion of the truth and their insidious ability to con people into believing they are innocent and/or the beleaguered party. i.e. Michael Jackson’s attorney was successful in convincing the jury that this family’s motive was extortion. Or worse that society has sexual hang ups about adults sleeping or bathing with children.
• what constitutes sexual child abuse. The definition of sexual child abuse is decided on the merits of each case rather than a ’standard definition.’ No other criminal act against another person is decided on a case by case basis. For example: If a person points a loaded gun at another person’s head and says, "If you move, I will shoot you." That is considered a threat of attempted murder. If a person says, "I will kill you." That is considered a threat of attempted murder. In the case of sexual child abuse, not only can a person sexually abuse a child and be acquitted of any wrong doing, the definition is changed based on the person accused, and on a ‘he said, he said or he said, she said basis.

Unless, and until society adjudicates sexual child abuse charges on the merits of the standard child sexual abuse definition, sex offenders will abuse children under society’s nose without fear of being arrested or found guilty.

The standard definition of sexual child abuse was first set forth by E. Sue Blume in her book, Secret Survivors.

"Incest [sexual abuse] is both sexual abuse and an abuse of power. It is violence that does not require force. The victim is being used by another, treated in a way that is not wanted or not appropriate by a person with whom a different relationship is required.
It is abuse because it does not take into consideration the needs or wishes of the child; rather, it meets the needs of the other person at the child’s expense. If the experience has sexual meaning for another person, in lieu of a nurturing purpose for the benefit of the child, it is abuse. If it is unwanted or inappropriate for her/his age or the relationship, it is abuse. Incest [sexual abuse] can occur through words, sounds, or even exposure of the child to sights or acts that are sexual but do not involve her/him. If she/he is forced to see what she/he does not want to see, for instance, by an exhibitionist, it is abuse. If a child is forced into an experience that is sexual in content or overtones, that is abuse. As long as the child is induced into sexual activity with someone who is in a position of greater power, whether that power is derived through the perpetrator’s age, size, status or relationship, the act is abusive. A child who cannot refuse, or who believes she/he cannot refuse, is a child who has been violated." E. Sue Blume, Secret Survivors

The unbelievable truth: Pedophiles/ Ephebophiles conduct themselves as average and ordinary to the world. He or she may be a leader in the church; the community; or business. Pedophiles/ Ephebophiles seldom fit a classic stereotype education, socioeconomic status, career or culture. Furthermore, sexual abuse/incest is more difficult to believe or accept when the person we like, admire, love, and/or marry is the perpetrator. This is precisely why Jackson's family, fans and the uninformed can unequivocally believe he could not possibly be an Ephebophile – having a sexual attraction to adolescents.

Pedophiles/Ephebophiles are cunning predators with a honed mode of operation. They are experts at manipulation, thus escaping adult reality. They feel entitled, justifying their actions as loving; not harming the child. They expend considerable energy maintaining this illusion to themselves and others. They create a persona of goodness beyond reproach. They go to great lengths to present themselves as exemplary people, who love children. Jackson's defense attorney, Mesereau, invoked this convoluted logic in response to the judge's ruling that previous accounts of sexual abuse claims, which were settled, was admissible. Mesereau countered, "He [Jackson] also has spent millions on children with AIDS. We can drown them with examples of where Mr. Jackson has been so benevolent, so generous, so charitable, so giving for good causes, that it will make their theory look silly."

Mesereau's statement exemplifies, that anyone who sees through the perpetrator's facade is met with admonishment and rebuke for being critical, irrational, racist, out-to-get the person, and/or jealous. The perpetrator is the family and society's emperor with no clothes. "I know my son, and this is ridiculous," Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, said in an interview on CBS "The Early Show." She said people who believe Michael is guilty "don't know him." Jackson's father, said his son was beloved around the world but had trouble in the United States because of racism. He said the accuser's motives were clear: "It's about money."

Even more frightening Pedophiles/Ephebophiles do not hold beliefs reflecting society's moral and ethical values. Therefore, coupled with the child's innocence and trust of the abuser usually pressure or violence is seldom required. Thus, the perpetrator can unequivocally state, 'I love children. Never-ever. I could never harm a child or anyone. It's not in my heart. It's not who I am.'? --Michael Jackson, 1993.

There is another insidious aspect to Jackson's contact with adolescents: He unequivocally declares his relationship with young boys is 'sweet and innocent' and admonishes anyone for believing it is sexual. Many people are mesmerized by his celebrity, and blindly condone his abuse of adolescent boys as ‘loving children.’

Using the definition of sexual abuse, Jackson's befriending adolescent boys under the guise of helping them with a life threatening illness or recapturing his own lost childhood and/or sleeping with them, albeit, he slept on the floor and the child slept in his bed, is in and of itself sexual abuse.

About the author:
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD specializes in Family issues, including verbal, physical and sexual abuse prevention and recovery. Author of If I'd Only Known...Sexual Abuse in or out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention www.gen-assist.com/book.asp

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