Effects of girlhood sexual abuse last for decades, study finds

by FCM

i think most of us know this already, and believe it and that many of us are in the middle of experiencing the truth of this statement: the effects of girlhood sexual abuse, for the victims, last for decades.  clearly this is the case, but for some reason “researchers” are just coming up with conclusive proof of what millions (billions?) of girls and women across time and place already know and have always known: being sexually assaulted by men when we are very young is problematic for us.  it has the same effect on us that war has been shown to have on vietnam vets.  okay?  this is obvious, and the truth of this is finally being vetted and the mechanism of injury (how this works) is finally being parsed.

but is anyone willing to take the obvious next step here, and admit what millions of women already know and experience daily about the effects of this abuse: that men, all men, benefit from mens sexual abuse of girls, even men who arent abusers themselves?

from the article:

Researchers, who tracked a group of girls ranging in age from 6 to 16 at the start of the study in 1987 for the next 23 years, found that they had higher rates of depression and obesity, as well as problems with regulation of brain chemicals, among other issues, compared to a control group of girls who were not abused. […]

The racially-diverse group of 80 girls, who lived in the Washington, D.C., area, were victims of incest, broadly defined as suffering sexual abuse by a male living within the home. On average, the girls were abused for about two years prior to the abuse coming to the attention of child protective services. Some girls were abused when they were as young as age 2.

Compared to a non-abused control group, the researchers found the study participants, all of whom were provided three therapy sessions on average in group and individual settings, suffered severe effects during different stages of their lives, which affected their sexual and cognitive development, mental and physical health, as well as their brain chemical profile. Study participants were more likely to be sexually active at younger ages, have lower educational status, and have more mental health problems.

clearly, men who sexually abuse girls and women benefit from the abuse they perpetrate: they are sexually gratified by using girl children as masturbatory aids, and get off in every way imaginable from directly perpetrating sexual abuse, and abusing their male power.  thats obvious.

but all men benefit, dont they, even non-abusers, when these girls grow up and have “problems” that cause them to be “sexually active at younger ages” for example?  translation: these girls comprise a willing pool of victims on which to perpetrate PIV-centric sex, and they wont say no, or prosecute you for rape.  yay consent!  and if they are willing to do it for free, doing it for pay isnt that far a leap is it?  yay “non-coercive” prostitution!  yay porn!  clearly, all men benefit from the pool of sexually-available women created by other mens sexual abuse of young girls.

and for sexually abused girls who grow up to have chronic and disabling health problems from it, such as depression, obesity, and PTSD, or those who experience problematic or inadequate “cognitive development” well they arent really going to pose much of a threat to men by way of competition in universities or in the job market are they?  at least, theres a very high chance that women either arent going to be able to compete at this level, or that they will have to work exponentially harder than men and other non-abuse victims, to succeed at tasks that require focus, attention, and other skills and resources that girlhood sexual abuse specifically depletes.

and thats just for the women who werent also impregnated from either the abuse or from early “consensual” sex later on: those women are also forced into caretaking of unwanted children, which is known to impede womens success in both the job market and in college.

and women who luckily arent abused as girls benefit from less competition from other women in the workplace and universities too, but the thing about non-abused women is this: unlike men, non-abused women have nothing to gain sexually from other womens victimization.  they arent gratified by it.  and nonabused women escaped girlhood sexual abuse themselves purely by the luck of the draw: the men who lived in their households chose not to abuse them.  whereas nonabused men werent abused mostly by virtue of the fact that they were born male, not female, and men sure as hell arent going to become impregnated by it in any event.  ie. male privilege, versus female russian-roulette.  and when these men and women go on to have families of their own, its the men who are going to be the sexually-gratified abusers, not the women.  and its going to be the women who caretake their own children when they are abused, and are damaged and cannot effortlessly succeed as adults, not men.

its what we do with this information thats important, and radical feminists are the only ones who are being honest about who benefits from the status quo, including the rampant sexual abuse of girls, and why.  research showing the effects on women is only half the story, and the other half clearly is the effects on all men as a sexual class, those who abuse girls themselves and all men who benefit from it, and how all men are therefore deeply conflicted about what to do with the information and what specifically not to do.  ending sexual abuse of girls, by men, would be devastating to the status quo, and men individually and collectively will therefore work very hard to make sure it never ends.

the only people who remain relatively unconflicted here are women: we are the only ones who would gain more than we lost, if girlhood sexual abuse were to end.  the biggest challenge here, perhaps, is for women to admit the truth to themselves, including the fact that many of the men we love and depend on are abusers, or that they have everything to gain from womens utter and early demise at the hands of men.  and that any success our male partners have gained has been at our expense, and at the expense of women as a sexual class.  for straight and partnered women, this is quite a lot to take.  one thing that will help here, obviously, is to never become financially or emotionally dependant on one man, or on men as a sexual class, if you can help it.  once you depend on a man for your very survival, its just that much harder to admit the truth.


28 Responses to “Effects of girlhood sexual abuse last for decades, study finds”

  1. Yes! brilliant piece of work, FCM. Some women vehemently defend certain men, saying that not all men are sexual abusers. Maybe (and only maybe) that’s true. But far more importantly as you point out, every single man on the planet benefits from the men who do sexually abuse. Not the least of which is the man who is seen as a “nice guy/non-abuser” by those women who defend him. Those men get to live in a bubble of righteousness for simply not being an obvious sexual abuser. Aside from doing nothing about the constant reality of sexual abuse overall, this works as a cover for whatever that man does, thinks, says, believes, protects, defends, claims, and acts on that is just short of provable sexual abuse or assault. It gives him and every man like him a free pass and many men in that situation DO become sexual abusers, but all of them are able to play all kinds of sexual games, including harassment, joking about rape, threats of what could be, etc. because the sexual abusers in plain sight give them an out (“he’s not THAT bad” so it’s ok). Even if they don’t actually carry out sexual abuse, these men (and the women who defend them) are all enablers of men who sexually abuse because they prop up a fantasy world where it actually matters whether you’re a sexual abuser yourself or whether you just benefit from living in a society that is rampant with it. The men who ARE the sexual abusers just chalk up their behavior to being within an acceptable continuum and go on with their evil behavior.

  2. Great post, FCM! More fuel to the fire about why all women need to avoid PIV, too. It is a part of the hatred of women, and incest shows that clearly.

    In reading this, I asked, “how did they find the control group, the group who ‘were not sexually abused’?” Since there are likely only 10 females on earth who fit this description and they live in a remote matriarchal tribe that is being threatened by encroachment on their land. I am serious about this. Here’s the way they defined sexual abuse:

    “The racially-diverse group of 80 girls, who lived in the Washington, D.C., area, were victims of incest, broadly defined as suffering sexual abuse by a male living within the home. On average, the girls were abused for about two years prior to the abuse coming to the attention of child protective services. Some girls were abused when they were as young as age 2.”

    There is plenty of child sexual abuse perpetrated by males who do not live in the home, like uncles and neighbors. Even if a girl escapes direct abuse, she gets it indirectly in at least two other ways. First, she learns from other children what is going on and it is terrifying that this is happening. Second there is the threat of sexual abuse that permeates every aspect of a young girl’s culture. From the nasty boys who try to view girls in the locker room, to the idea that girls cannot do the things boys do since they might be sexually assaulted. In some countries, women cannot leave the house without a male relative by law. But in other countries it’s not a law, but girls learn by that it is never safe to private space, to move about by themselves, etc. This all is a part of a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse that all girls absorb. Some girls see it happening to other girls and judge them harshly for it. It keeps them from bonding with all other females to some extent and weakens them politically.

    So, even those girls who are supposedly free of sexual abuse are still going to have damage to their brains, their socioeconomic status, their education levels, etc. What this study shows is that incest victims are much more damaged by sexual abuse. I am not minimizing this tragedy for girls who are damaged by incest compared to others who are not. But I am saying it is a problem for all girls and women, not just a smaller group. It’s like some women have really horrible PTSD and the rest of us have secondary PTSD.

  3. And women wonder why I’m a separatist.

    Tell me how you are going to protect female children other than having them be born in a permanently female-only space. *necessary disclaimer* : I am not a pro-natalist. No female child will be safe until males constitute less than 20% of the human population.

  4. “never become financially or emotionally dependant on one man, or on men as a sexual class, if you can help it.”

    I feel this is the best takeaway message here. Society seems to be set up to create that dependence, what with dating culture and the media and so forth.

    Speaking as a molestation survivor, I think after what happened to me happened, I looked around at the way boys and men act and realized it was nothing to be rewarded with my approval or dependence.

    This Fourth of July I think I will declare independence from this societal system.

  5. FCM made a very interesting point, that if women ever become dependent financially on any man, then the stakes become so high at that point, that they have to deny this entire reality even to themselves. The truth of this would be incredibly hard for het women to deal with.

    Every time I have radical feminist debates with straight women… it happens now and then, and I am always surprised at the knee jerk reaction EVERY time… “hey women do this too…” “not all men are bad” but almost never do they express outrage WITH ME.
    One woman even popped up with this incredible comment: “But my husband walks down the street and men come on to him and grab at him all the time… they think he is gay when he’s not.” (I’m very sure the guy really is not gay btw). What she was responding to was my discussion of why I like all female spaces, and do not want to interact with men socially if I can help it…”Why do you support the people who molest rape and harass women?” And she popped up with that weird response.
    Totally confused, I said: “So gay men are lesbians?” This caught her out in a blatant homophic trap…because she wasn’t thinking gay men and lesbians were radically different… her take was gay people (lesbians included) do this sort of thing.

    Weird… for straight women to face up to this is monumental. Later in the discussion, she came around… “Hey I don’t have men in my home, so I don’t have to defend them or defer to them…” Light bulb… she had a husband and two sons, so she was already stuck in a system she had to defend. She even said: “Oh, well you gain no benefit from men, you don’t need them the way I do.” I found the comment surprisingly honest and very revealing.
    Great article btw…

  6. It’s also important to point out that dependancy on men includes the workplace setting as well.
    It’s often difficult for a woman to admit that the success of the company she works for depends on the sweat and blood of women in the third world, especially in the food and clothing industry.
    So it doesn’t matter how good she is at marketing, banking, finance, (law is an exception) P.R…. because almost every corporation in the West *depends* *on* the vulnerability and cheap labour of women somewhere else.. whether it’s the supermarket check-outs in the rich countries, or out on the fields in Africa, or in the garment factories of India.
    Revolution anyone?

  7. Relying on male bosses and colleagues to treat us or any woman fairly is always misplaced, as workplace sexual harassment shows. being dependent on one man or any man or men as a sexual class is always, always a terrible idea, but its always sold as a romantic ideal, or its the only option in the case of many workplaces and entire professions. its horrifying.

  8. yes, I remember your post on that at femonade..Reading Right Wing Women really brought home the fact that there is nowhere to escape *to* . In the U.K recently, a woman has been sacked from the department store, Harrods, for refusing to wear make up.

    HUsbands can’t sack their wives for that, but then again, they can, and do, sack them for refusing to have PIV.

    If a woman loses her job she can’t plan an escape fund to leave an abusive spouse, can’t pay her rent, can’t feed the kids….
    It’s lose-lose.
    As we’ve discussed before, the only way out is the female group living set-up and support networks.

  9. Thanks for the link, CBL! I’ve been reading about trait equality in the employment sector! That make-up article is on point.

    Speaking the truth about aggregate male behavior is silenced by all means possible. As a result, female loyalty to even a single male functionally requires similar loyalty to males as a class– otherwise she risks being branded as a man-hater and a hysteric. Can’t she SEE that her bf/husband/father/brother isn’t like that?? Then what’s the problem, huh? By acknowledging even one exception, she becomes obliged invest herself in the social reform of all other men– because it’s possible and she KNOWS it! YAY!

  10. The myth of male exceptionalism… (thanks UP) is a peculiar fall back position anytime a lesbian radical feminist brings up her inherent distaste for men. The biggest shockeroo things I can say is “I hate men” or “I think separatism is a legitimate political philosophy.” Say those two things and 1) het women go nuts and freak 2) lesbians go nuts and the conversation ends.

    I find it interesting that in a world where women wear tatoos, advocate BDSM, and think gender queer etc. is hunky dory, the mere mention of separatism seems shocking. Insults go flying over the mythical man hating lesbians of the 70s, gay men still recall NOT being allowed in women’s space, and the experience STILL galls them. Saying NO to men is the most radical thing any woman can do, but when lesbians do it, even other lesbians defend men. So this shows me that all women seem very invested in patriarchy and the myth of male exceptionalism. It’s so programmed that breaking free of this I think would be similar to breaking free of cult indoctrination. Patriarchy IS a cult. Women have to believe in it or else. If you can have every weird belief system on earth (witness all “major’ religions… hey and elephant god statue sits on a shelf in the American owned yoga studio down the street..)…but mention separatism or say that men are a danger to women… whoa, “not all men are like that!” Hey I didn’t say all, I said men as a class, men as a group… and just the description of a social structure is fine if it is Marxist, or Buddhist, or Muslim…. but say MEN are a social class just as working people are a class, then elephant god is going to get mad on ya!

  11. Female sexual abuse last for a lifetime, and I am convinced that it is a primary tool in undermining potential female revolution, and also making sure that the prostitution class of women and porn “stars” will always be readily available.
    Every time I meet a woman who says she can’t remember her childhood, I know I am dealing with an abuse survivor. And women give hints. Is it common for human beings not to remember their childhoods? We could debate if you can remember age 4 or age 2— but to say you cannot remember your childhood? Imagine being so abused that this is your only defense, and think of men as a class willfully destroying the childhoods of little girls? Then think of them blather a sermon in a pulpit at a cathedral. Think of a catholic priest who was silenced by the vatican because he dared to advocate for women priests, but the sexual abuse of children?

    So women as a class have to lose their memories…. women as a class have to be silently terrorized behind closed doors, so that no police force can protect them. Think of how devious a social system like that is, and then think of women marrying the class that does this to them. Think of the mothers who can’t even defend their little girls because the monster is the food and shelter provider, and he gets supreme pleasure from terrorizing both his wife and daughter. He can be the biggest looser in the world, but he can be lord, master and terrorizer of his little castle of horrors. Then imagine that the article above or the “recent” study about the true affects of childhood sexual abuse of girls “gets discovered.” Or that hey, 1993, we need to end marital rape! Marital? Rape? I remember the mid-1970s when I first heard that term. Probably Susan Brownmiller, and I couldn’t grasp it. It took me awhile to get that one little concept!

  12. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among peoples, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that women are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of women; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

    Not up to the SCUM manifesto, but appropriate for Independence Day, I think.

  13. “Think of the mothers who can’t even defend their little girls because the monster is the food and shelter provider”

    The saddest stories you will ever come across are those told by women who were not believed by their mothers when they tried to talk about childhood sexual abuse. And then you look at the mother’s life and you have to ask yourself WTF she was supposed to do. Where was she supposed to go? There is no way a monster like that would not have his wife under a reign of terror too. Add in cognitive dissonance, and you have yet another mother-daughter relationship destroyed by the patriarchy. The mother is just another victim in an endless sea of female victims of men’s crimes, backed up by the institutions they created to support their evil.

    This is why I believe Greer when she said “Feminism that is not mothers’ feminism is no feminism at all”

    We have to get all these women *away* from men by providing them with the means to support themselves.. I don’t think het women are too opposed to this idea, SheilaG. Just look around at the sheer volume of single mothers. Isn’t it something like 70% of households with children are headed by a woman? The statistics are covered up and played down by the mass media.
    Analysts and therapists then pull out all the stops by attempting to convince women to find another man when their relationship breaks down.. but many het women do not fall for it. They will happily tell you, “Never again. I feel FREE”

  14. Sigh, I feel so happy when I read all these intelligent, incisive, eloquent, empowering, energising articles and comments, and so sad that I don’t know anyone in my real life that thinks or speaks like this. Where are you all? I have never, ever, felt safe expressing the deep and abiding rage I have towards this patriarchal world: not even to my female friends. I’ve spent decades in therapy to “cure” me of my “misandry” and shameful disinclination to follow the expected path of the hetero female into the hetero-normative nuclear-family. The fact that I am not a lesbian seems to have most people in a pickle. Well f*ck you, shrinks, I just f*cking hate men! I have no respect for them. Frankly, they disgust me! I haven’t had a relationship with a man for ten years and I intend not to ever again. I’ve never even had the guts to say that. People always respond smugly that I am either trying to protect myself from rejection, or that I “just haven’t met the right man yet”. Apparently I’m just going to trip over and fall in love one day and I’ll look back at all my silly feminist ideas and laugh. Well F*CK YOU! I don’t need to be cured, I don’t need to meet the right man to free me of my cynicism, I don’t even need to have been the victim of childhood sexual abuse in the traditional sense. I am just a woman who just sees the world for what it is, and I am furious.

  15. Thanks sea. You reminded me of a seinfeld episode where Elaine screams “I’m not a lesbian! I hate men, but I’m not a lesbian!” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (That’s also a seinfeldism).

    You might want to check out Sheila Jeffreys’ book “the spinster and her enemies.” Sounds like its right up your alley. It’s available used on amazon.

  16. Hi sea, I’ve been reading Betty McLellan’s book Psychoppression, about feminist psychotherapy. Feminist psychotherapy is different in that it includes an understanding of the oppression of women as part of the therapy. I’m just partway through, but it is clear what is wrong with psychotherapy that does not include this as an active part of the therapy. One of the points in her book is that even therapy that is done by feminst therapists is going to add to oppression if it is done within a frame of any of the common therapies. Therapy needs to include an understanding of, analysis of, and education about the oppression of women.

    When I read your post, I thought about how different it would be if your therapy had been done like this. Another aspect is the power differential built into the therapist-patient relationship that is part of patriarchy. This is one reason that some feminists would like to throw out therapy altogether. Betty says that therapy is still important for women, especially given that women are traumatized by rape, beatings, etc.

    I discovered Betty’s work on this blog in an early article where she asks The Question on Nobody’s Lips, “What is it about men?”

  17. Thank you, FCM and KatieS. I will look up both those books (Sheila IS my sister) – I’ve just finished “Pornland” by Gail Dines and am now reading “Sexual Politics” by Kate Millet. Along with the great posts and comments on this blog, I still can’t get enough radical feminism! I think that actually it may be feminism – not therapy – that sets me free.

    On therapy:

    I have found it is extremely difficult to get in to see a female psychiatrist in Australia, because they’re few and in demand. While I have seen many well-meaning female psychologists, it is clear to me that they’re trained and practiced in patriarchal medicine Thus therapy reinforces the problem without ever identifying it. The problem for the therapist seems always to be this: my experiences during childhood and lack of positive male role models have damaged me; so far so true. But that damage is defined as a wilful disobedience to and pathological hatred of men; ie my inability or unwillingness to fit into the patriarchal structure of the world. The goal therefore was to cure me; to ‘bring me around’ to the idea that my experiences were isolated, unusual and unlikely to repeat, presumably so I could frolic off into the distance, find myself a husband and have lots of PIV sex and procreate.

    What I am starting to learn, through feminism, is that frankly, this is ridiculous. It’s not that I just hadn’t found the right therapist; rather that therapy is part of the very same tradition that oppressed me in the first place! Bless those poor, ignorant female psychologists who tried to help me – I hope they one day discover radical feminism too. In the meantime, THANK YOU, and keep up this wonderful, life-saving blog.

  18. Sharing! A video of a talk by Sheila Jeffries on Kate Millet’s “Sexual Politics”, the book she credits for making her a feminist, and that she laments has been largely excluded from the canon of significant social theorists, unlikely to feature in university syllabuses or in book shops. Enjoy!


  19. thanks for the jeffreys video sea. i watched it just now, its about 40 mins and well worth it as usual. i appreciate how jeffreys sets up the segment on misogynist quote-mining from doodly literature by saying that we react negatively to these quotes because of the sexual politics they describe…they do NOT describe SEX, but misogyny and political woman-hatred. so true. kind of a like a “trigger warning” but for actual feminists.

  20. .Great video, thanks, sea! I could relate to what she said about how she tried to like those “intellectual” books by Lawrence and Miller. I tried, too, but could never read very far into them. I was quite young but even then I just thought these men were very strange and not intellectual or revolutionary at all. Really, they seemed odd and creepy to me. I got talked into attending an intellectual “artsy” film of this “sex” genre once, and walked out early into it, it was so disgusting and violent. I can’t remember walking out of other films if they were boring or something, I just perserved hoping they’d improve. Also, Freud is discounted today, but back then his ideas were taken very seriously. These ideas were in movies and literature and seen as intellectual, hard to understand, and very important. In fact, they were bullshit. Freud, of course, covered up the girlhood sexual abuse of his clients who were from rich and powerful families. In this way, he gained power and credibility.

    Sheila really does a brilliant job of explicating the insidious creep of pornography into common culture based and shows how it has been a direct reaction to the gains women have made beginning with the first wave feminists. The degree to which it permeates all culture today is truly bizzare, but she makes clear the paths it has taken.

  21. I really resonate with this post and wanted to add that men ensure that many work place environments are absolutely impossible for traumatised women to survive in, never mind get promoted or last long term. It’s hard enough for any women to survive in certain work environments, but particularly women who have been abused by men. In particular, I find the ‘professionalism’ in government sector impossible. Things that are normal for women who are traumatised are almost a crime in these environments. For example, displaying signs of anxiety, panic, sadness, withdrawal, self harm, fear (particularly of males) and any other ongoing response to living day to day with trauma, are all considered ‘unprofessional’ and used against women, no matter how good their work performance, to ensure that it is the men and not the women who will climb the ladder the quickest. And then men in power perform the whole scratching their heads and ignorantly questioning why the workplace, particularly leadership, is all males (in my industry only 5% of CEO’s are women). They perform the whole ‘we treat all people the same’ type thing, which goes unquestioned. I think dealing with trauma should come under equal opps protection, and measures put in place to ensure that women can have space to deal with trauma, of course better still, women do not have to live with such trauma and work place culture is not male centred.

  22. Thanks AMC. That’s just completely true.

  23. Not to forget that sexually or physically abusing boys as kids also creates a pool of abusers in later life – the more boys are damaged in childhood, the higher the probability that, once entered dominant status as a male adult, they will become violent and abusive to women and benefit in turn from abuse of women, girls, boys and other beings subordinate to him. This doesn’t mean all abusers have been abused, and all abused boys become abusers, but there’s a strong correlation.

    I’m not saying this to “what about the men”, simply to point that it also forms part of the many patriarchal strategies to maintain the status quo.

  24. They had to do a study to figure this out? That speaks volumes..

    personally I have a long list of problems that I know for sure are related to being a girlhood survivor of sexual abuse/incest. PTSD, eating disorder, selfharming, panic disorder, insomnia, depression, chronic illness, etc..

  25. “never become financially or emotionally dependant on one man, or on men as a sexual class, if you can help it.”

    amen amen amen

  26. I wish I could help it… :C


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