It appears that across the pond the issue of female child rape has gained some traction. The recent case involving a ring of pedophiles, two of whom are female, and the recent statistics from ChildLine seem to have pushed this issue to the forefront in a way it has not happened before in the UK (and certainly not in the United States). It is doubtful that the tide will change overnight, but it certainly does appear to be changing. More people are taking this issue seriously, at least to the extent that they will believe women prey on children (even if those people still think the abuse is less harmful).
Another article about this matter presents one man’s account of how his abuse affected him:
Bill Jenkins’s memories of the childhood abuse he suffered are as sharp as the pain that accompanies them.
He remembers the diamond pattern on the linoleum bathroom floor tiles, the Moby Dick mural on the wall, the door handle which seemed so high up next to his six-year-old frame.
He vividly remembers, too, how he was expected to bath and touch his naked abuser, an ordeal which left him confused and ashamed, and changed the course of his life. ‘The vision in my head is crystal clear,’ he says.
What took place in the bathroom of that house in Sussex 50 years ago is shocking enough, but what makes it even harder to comprehend is that Bill’s abuser was his foster mother – a woman entrusted with caring for him when his own parents couldn’t.
‘My lasting feelings about my childhood are feelings of fear,’ says the 55-year-old from Thorpe in Surrey.
‘I was always frightened of her and what she forced me to endure affected the rest of my life, but as a society we have a mental block about female abusers. We are shocked when we see it happens. We can’t believe that women are capable of such things.’
He goes on to say later in the article:
Bill Jenkins, who channelled his anger about his own experiences into setting up Securus, a company selling internet protection software for schools and businesses, admits the abuse he suffered as a child had enormous implications in adulthood.
‘I didn’t realise for a long time that by instinct I was a woman hater, because my experience of this woman meant that I thought women were just to be used for sex,’ he says.
‘In my early years, that was it. I got married and had two children, but I couldn’t understand that a large part of marriage is based on friendship. I was never able to give myself totally to my wife. I always held back.’
Bill’s first marriage broke up and he has been married to his second wife for 20 years. ‘I was very open with her from the start,’ he says. ‘But even so, even being aware of that, I find it hard to give myself totally.’
He lives with the memory every day, but adds: ‘Being able to confront your demons is important. That’s the only way to put them behind you. I can’t change what went on, but accepting it helps you cope.
‘The past loses its power over you. I am happy to talk about it now because it helps me and I hope it helps others to seek help.’
Bill’s experiences are unfortunately not unique. Many boys and men suffer in silence, forced to cope with their pain, anger and fear alone. Often society focuses more on the aftermath of the abuse, such as Bill’s feelings towards women in response to his abuse, rather than focusing on the abuse itself. Granted, no one particularly wants to talk about the abuse itself, from those who suffered abuse to those who know and love them.
When I first shared my experience with my friends, I expected them to hate me. When I saw that they did not and instead cared about me, it frightened me and I was very careful about what I shared. Part of that was from my shock that anyone would feel that way towards me. The other was that I saw how much it hurt them to hear about what happened. I had never seen that kind of response from people who had not been through the same thing.
Nevertheless, those are the things that need to be talked about. Not necessarily in detail, but at least with enough information to show the impact being abused has. The fear Bill mentioned contradicts what people assume about female abusers. If it was harmless, if it had no real impact, why would this child be afraid? We have been conditioned to assume that sexual abuse must equal physical pain, yet it is not always or even predominantly the physical pain that is the most lasting. It is the psychological damage that often causes the most harm.
Likewise, we have been conditioned to assume that women equal safe and non-violent. Society does have a mental block when it comes to female abusers, and for a host of various reasons. However, it is not likely that people do not believe women are capable of such acts so much as people are unwilling to believe women are capable of such acts.
None of that, however, changes the impact female abuse has on the victims. It does not change the fear, the righteous anger, the shame, the self-blame. All of that remains whether people wish to address it or not. It does not change what those women do, either. Whether it is fondling a child, performing oral sex on a child, forcing the child to perform oral sex on her, forcing vaginal intercourse on the child or using her fingers or sex toys to penetrate a child, all those things still happen regardless of whether people wish to address them or not. What ignoring those things does is allow people to remain ignorant of “how” a woman can sexually abuse a child. In a strange twist of logic, people seemingly assume that if something is unimaginable it cannot and does not happen.
Unfortunately, that is not true. Unfortunately countless boys and girls are subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of women who force them to do a host of disgusting acts. The fear and the same and the anger are something no one, particularly not a child, should have to bear in silence.