Maternal Sexual Abuse: mothers sexually abusing their children – is that really a thing?

Alas, yes it is.

How do I know?

From research.

And from the fact that it happened to me.

My mother abused my brother and my sister and me in every way that it’s possible to abuse a child. Including sexual abuse.

She sexually abused us in a number of different ways, ways that evolved as we grew older.

Age-appropriate sexual abuse – imagine that.

My mother was not a pedophile. She was not turned on by children. She was not even a pedophile wannabe. But in her twisted malevolence she understood that abusing a child sexually is a magnificently effective way of breaking the child’s spirit. Child sexual abuse is often called soul murder.

Sexual abuse plunges a child into a world they are not developmentally, physically, or emotionally ready for. It robs them of personal and bodily agency. It brings childhood to a screeching halt. And it comes with a one/two punch.

The first punch is of course the abuse itself. The second punch is the shame. Anyone who is “capable” of abusing a child is essentially shameless. So it happens that the shame that rightfully belongs to the perpetrator gets absorbed and continually re-experienced by the victim. This process is now thought to be a physiological one, beyond the control and the consciousness of the victim/survivor.

Along with the dysregulation & hyperarousal that accompanies trauma, shame is perhaps the most agonizing emotion a human being can suffer. Guilt may indicate I did something bad; shame tells me I am bad. For abuse survivors, an overwhelming feeling of shame can be triggered by inconsequential events – forgetting homework, disagreeing with someone, or even awareness of one’s body.

Many maternal sexual abuse survivors manage to repress memories of the experience, preferring to take to the grave the knowledge that one’s mother could actually do things like that to them. Some survivors remember, but substitute their father as the abuser in their memories, as somehow that doesn’t seem to hurt quite as much.

In any and all of its iterations and permutations, child abuse is evil. Whether the perpetrator is evil, or an average awful person, it is evil. With its potential for destruction, it is on a par with waging war.

In our self-centered, gun-crazed, hatred-normalized culture, it may seem like the sexual abuse of children fits right in. Perhaps it does. Maybe malevolence is more congruent and logical than goodness and compassion. Perhaps it has always been thus.

However, if we fail to use our voices and all the strength of our will against the scourge of child sexual abuse, and if we allow it to remain in the shadows, it will continue to desecrate little bodies and murder little souls.

We tend to measure the health of our nation by the GNP, which measures goods produced, profits made, and business conducted. But the true health of a nation is found in how successfully its people live in community, and in how that nation responds to and cares for their most vulnerable.

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