How do you write about something that people are afraid to see? How to you expose an undermining, but insidious practice? How do you change peoples’ minds? How does a civilization heal from the wounds of abuse?
Girls sexually abused by their mothers, like girls who are not sexually abused by their mothers, often identify strongly with their mothers. This can make it challenging for a girl who has been abused to see her mother as an abuser. Additionally, it can be complicated when a mother has sexual abused her daughter and provided her care that is healthy. This can make it particularly difficult for the girl to discern the difference between abuse and care. After all, she only knows the experience she has had and it is a blend of abuse and care. Children, and many adults, tend to think of matters such as these in extremes – either a mother is an abuser, or she is a caretaker.
It is natural for a girl to look at her mother as a template for herself as mother. Girls who have been sexually abused by their mothers may fear that they will sexual abuse their own children. This can lead them to feel inadequate and fearful as mothers themselves. What otherwise may have been a healthy relationship, is burdened by the fear of incompetence and potential harm. While the cycle of abuse may or may not prevail, interpersonal relationship experiences of intimacy and trust are compromised. Without the opportunity to heal, the wound of abuse is paid forward.
Tami Boehle-Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBBCH, HTP, a licensed psychotherapist at attentiontoliving.com has challenged herself in 2016 to post week about the unpopular topic of abuse. Learn more about Tami at attentiontoliving.com