As many of you already know, I have been working with Ken Singer as editor for his forthcoming book for male survivors about dealing with the continuing control and influence that abusers can often have over our thoughts and behaviors. It’s been great working with him on this book and i think it will be an important read for all of us. Below you can see Ken’s introduction and the Table of Contents, so you can get an idea of what the book will cover. Ken asked me to post this since he was off to the airport and did not have enough time to put this up himself.
On thing you can perhaps help us with is this. Right now we don’t have a very good title: “Recognizing the Enemy: a Guide for Understanding Sexual Abusers (and the Hold They May Have on You)”. The aim of the book isn’t understanding abusers just for its own sake, but with the aim of breaking that hold. If you have any ideas for a better title after reading the contents we would be grateful if you could let us have them.
This book is different from the many books published for adult survivors of sexual abuse. The symptoms and consequences of abuse have been written about many times, providing the good advice that “it wasn’t your (the survivor’s) fault”. However, many survivors, especially men, may believe that it was their fault for “allowing” the abuse to take place, not fighting back or not reporting the abuse. This feeling persists because, despite efforts by the survivor and others to reduce the sense of blame in the victim, the role of the abuser has not been examined for what it was. The goal of this book is to help male survivors and those supporting them to understand how abusers are able to do what they do. It will also help the survivor understand how the perpetrator manipulated and conned the victim into a belief system that can perpetuate that feeling of victimization in the survivor’s mind for many years after the abuse took place.
Perpetrators have been characterized in terms of their selfishness, cruelty, betrayal, lack of empathy, and other factors that from an emotional standpoint often reinforce their power over their victims. A clear example of this can be seen in the story one survivor told me about how, at the age of 56, he was finally able to disclose to his parents what had happened to him as a child. A few days later, sitting with close family members in an entirely safe setting, he was suddenly overwhelmed by fear and panicked. When his father asked him what was wrong he replied, “I’m afraid it will start all over again. I can’t make him stop.” The fact that this survivor knew the abuser had been dead for more than a decade had not weakened his lingering power over him.
As long as the perpetrator remains a feared and powerful specter to the victim, he (or she) can still emotionally control the survivor long after the abuse has stopped. So one of my goals in writing this book is to provide you with a better understanding of how sexual perpetrators manipulate their child (and adult) victims and create tapes of helplessness in the survivor’s mind that can endure for many years.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Breaking the Power of the Abuser
Dynamics of Abuse
Chapter 2 – Abuse and Your Brain
The Brain’s Response to Trauma
Memories and the Survivor of Sexual Abuse
Special Ways the Brain Reacts to Sexual Abuse
Strategies in Therapy
Chapter 3 – Questions Often Asked by Survivors and Their Families
Was I Abused?
What If I Liked It?
Is Abuse Always Abusive?
Was It Abuse If the Abuser Was a Woman?
If I Sexually Responded to a Man Does That Mean I’m Gay?
Am I Gay If I Think about Penises a Lot?
Will Being Abused Turn Me into an Abuser?
Why Can’t I Become Intimate of Sexual with Another Person?
Is the Abuse My Fault If I “Took a Bullet” for My Siblings
What If the Abuser is a Family Member?
How Could S/he Do This to Me?
Why Wasn’t I Protected?
Why Wasn’t I Believed?
If the Abuser Was a Relative, Should I Forgive and Move On?
When I Hear Stories That Sound So Much Worse Than Mine, Can That Mean That My Case Wasn’t Abuse or Wasn’t So Bad?
Chapter 4 – How Do Abusers Do It?
Who “Caused” the Abuse?
Factors of Vulnerability
Larger than Life
Chapter 5 – Different Kinds of Abusers
The Adult Family Member
The Sex Educator
The Adult in Authority
Pedophiles and Hebophiles (or Ephebophiles)
Type I – the Nurturer
Type II – the Sexual Mentor
Type III – the Predator
The Female Abuser
Types of Female Abusers
Socially Inadequate Abusers
Aggressive or Delinquent Abusers
What Is Sex Offense-Specific Treatment
Chapter 6 – How They Make It Okay to Do What They Do?
Power and Control
From Victim to Victimizer
Blaming the Victim
Barriers to Sexual Abuse
It Doesn’t “Just Happen”
Chapter 7 – What Kept You from Telling?
Consent, Coercion, Cooperation, and Compliance
The Issues Around Disclosure
Chapter 8 – Why “Demonizing” Keeps Them Powerful
Fear Can Make the Abuser More Powerful
They Fear You
Chapter 9 – Where is That Anger Coming From?
Other Emotions Lead to Anger
Anger at the Perpetrator v. Anger at the World
Who Is in Charge?
Chapter 10 – For the Parent of Abused Children or Adults
When You First Find Out
Should You Force a Child into Treatment?
When the Abuser is a Sibling
Protecting the Story
When Your Adult Child Discloses
Chapter 11 – For Family and Friends of the Adult Survivor
Relating and Communicating
Pornography and Masturbation
When Things Get Rough
Chapter 12 – Sexual Issues and Problems Caused by Abuse
The Pre-School Child
Abuse and the Pre-School Child
The Normal Young School-Age Child
Abuse and the Young School-Age Child
The Normal Pre-Adolescent Child
Sexual Abuse and the Pre-Adolescent
Effects on the Pre-Pubescent Child
Adolescence and Abuse
Effects on Arousal
Reactions to Abuse for the Teenage Boy
The Longer-Term Problem
Chapter 13 – Self-Defeating and Self-Destructive Behaviors
The First Step
Deciding to Change
Chapter 14 – Disclosure and Confrontation
Goals for Disclosure
Confrontation with the Perpetrator
Writing a Letter
Get It in Writing
Writing but not Sending
If the Perpetrator is Dead or Whereabouts Unknown
Chapter 15 – A Successful Disclosure
A Broken Relationship
Planning the Disclosure
The Disclosure and After
Food for Thought
Chapter 16 – A Successful Confrontation and Reconciliation
Jake and Steve’s Correspondence
Chapter 17 – Forgiveness versus “Moving On” or “Letting Go”
“Guilting” into Forgiveness
Empowerment through Eviction
Chapter 18 – Sexual Acting Out
Abuse Reactive Behavior
Abusing in Adolescence
Possible Rules of Thumb
Thoughts and Fantasies of Abusing Others
Chapter 19 – The Rings of Hell
Behaviors That Affect Others
Sexually Abusive Behaviors
How Severely Should Child Abuse Be Punished?
Chapter 20 – Fear of Dentists and Doctors
Chapter 21 – So, Now What?
It’s About Control
Appendix – A Consumer’s Guide to Selecting a Therapist
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me. (Woody Guthrie)