The mother of the girl responded by putting the daughter on birth control pills, so the father could continue to rape her without fear of impregnating her, and then giving her a copy of a novel to read about a female child who was born evil and committed various heinous crimes. I often hear of mothers of girls who were themselves sexually abused by their own fathers blithely allowing the old men to babysit their granddaughters with no one else present.
This is an obvious set up for the child to be abused, and seemingly a nicely-wrapped gift to the abusive men as well. Many people hear about such stories but refuse to believe them. The complete absence of dead or missing babies is, forgive the pun, a dead giveaway that nothing of the sort had ever really happened.
I have even heard these [expletive deleted] experts equate stories of child abuse with those individuals who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Talk about invalidating the victims of abuse!! First of all, the majority of abused children do not go on to abuse their own children. Some even decide never to have children for fear that they might become abusive to their own children just like their parents were.
Others go to the opposite extreme and become so overprotective of their children that they end up snuffing out their children's ability to grow up. And many others become model parents. Second, those who have suffered abuse themselves should, of all people, know how devastating it was. They should find this behavior even more reprehensible than does the average man or woman on the street.
How could they turn around and do this to their own babies? And yet they do. Such people do not generally come to therapy themselves to find out what drove them to act in such heinous ways, so therapists such as myself are left to theorize about the reasons for their behavior on the basis of descriptions and histories provided by their victims, and on the basis of discovering the family dynamics of those patients who have abused or neglected their children in much more subtle and far milder ways.
But sometimes speculation can generate very useful theories. With this caveat in mind, I present the role of monster. One clue as to the nature of the family dynamics of severe abusers is some of the public behavior of previously-abused individuals who form advocacy groups. Phil television show on September 18, featured the case of a mother who was accused by authorities of child endangerment because she had left her two year old child in a car for a couple of minutes to go 30 feet away to deposit some money in a Salvation Army can.
She had never lost sight of the child, and it was sleeting outside, and yet she was actually arrested. It seemed that many people could not differentiate between a light spanking and a vicious beating. Some sexual abuse statistics counted cases of parents stroking a child's leg. If someone even appeared to be trying to make sexual contact but did not, that has also been counted in some estimates. Fathers became afraid to hug their own daughters for fear of being accused of incest.
Why did those who actually were abused and their advocates exaggerate in such a manner? In a sense, they be trying to normalize and de-pathologize their parents' abusive behavior for this reason, and in so doing make their parents seem more human to them. Other people who claim to be abused end up making their families look reasonable and themselves look bad.
They often do that by making claims of abuse that are clearly not credible. Comedienne Roseanne Barr, for example, went public with abuse accusations against her parents, and claimed to have specific memories of being sexually abused by her father when she was only six months old. Since no one has or can have memories from this age, the public probably started to feel sorry for her put-upon parents rather Rosanne Barr than for her.
Of course, just because that particular "memory" was false does not prove that she was not a victim of child abuse at all. My theory about those severely abusive parents who were abused themselves as children and who later adopt the role of monster is that they are trying to protect their own parents from their own anger.
They say to themselves, in effect, that "If I'm just like them, who am I to criticize them? Occasionally abusers may even brag about their misdeeds so that other people are fooled into thinking they are actually proud of them and therefore hate them all the more. A man who had systematically sexually abused several members of his own family with devastating results was interviewed.
Ostensibly, he denied doing anything, despite the on-camera descriptions of his monstrous behavior by several of the involved family members. Yet he seemed strangely proud of himself. Such a man is not "in denial" about the evil he inflicted. He knows very well that what he did was wrong, and that seeming proud of it would turn him into "the man most hated in the universe" in the eyes of anyone watching the film. He was making himself into a "monster.
Despite their protests to the contrary, monsters want to believe that they deserve hatred from everyone. I believe they are trying to take the heat off their own abusive parents by playing the monster role. The monster is in effect saying, "It was OK that you abused me because look how awful I am. I clearly deserved whatever it was that you dished out to me. I even do the exact same things you did.
In fact, I did things to my kids that are actually much worse than what you did to me. Unfortunately, this does not make their children feel better about themselves. The idea that victims of parental abuse may want to protect their own parents and make their children hate them - a bizarrely altruistic rather than a selfish motive for their behavior - may seem at first to the reader to be far-fetched.
Readers of this blog know I believe that people will sacrifice themselves for their families of origin, and that they will even sacrifice their own children, as I discussed in my post about kin selection.