A Special Report: Raped by His Mother – A Victim Comes Forward

Oprah interviewed Gregg Milligan on her show this morning (watch full interview). To my surprise, and in contrast to her prior show about female abusers, Oprah did not treat Gregg’s abuse or female-perpetrated child rape as a novelty. Likewise, she did not make overt excuses for abusive women or give them a forum to present themselves as victims (although in this instance that could not occur as Gregg’s mother died several years ago).

That said, some moments did cause my eyebrows to go up. Oprah referred to abusers’ behavior as “seduction.” In context the word choice seems more like an attempt to demonstrate the damage the abuser caused rather than excusing it. “Seduction” carries much more weight and places responsibility on the abuser more than “grooming” does. However, “seduction” also carries the connotation that the seduced person willingly engaged in some part of the act. It also reflects how society excuses female sexual violence against boys and men. So while certainly applicable, “seduction” perhaps is not the best word.

The other moment occurred early in the show as Gregg described the violence his mother committed against him. In two segments Oprah tried to get Gregg to say the sexual abuse felt good. Oprah seemed emphatic about this, and it is unclear whether she did so because of her projecting her experiences on Gregg or because she may still not believe women could or would force a 10-year-old boy into vaginal intercourse.

Nevertheless, Gregg and his story are more important. Gregg talked about the severity of the abuse, how it began with physical violence and escalated to sexual violence. He spoke of how his mother would beat him if she did not reach an orgasm and how she would push him away and throw him out of her bedroom if she did. He shared how his mother would use two different tones of voice with him. Swearing and shouting preceded the physical abuse, while his mother spoke gently to him, saying “Mother needs you” before the sexual abuse. Eventually his mother, who prostituted herself occasionally, began to prostitute her son.

Gregg’s experiences were similar to many men I have spoken with and similar to my own. Gregg mentioned thinking the sex was consensual because his body would respond to stimulation. As a young child Gregg could try to prevent getting an erection, but as he got older his body responded as programmed to, and in his mind the erection denoted consent. Many boys and men think this, largely because they have no other frame of reference. The abuser usually will comment on it as well, reinforcing the false notion that boys can control their erections and that getting one means a boy wants the abuse to happen.

The sense of the betrayal is profound. As I got older, I noticed it took more effort to avoid an erection, and most of the time I failed to prevent it. I could not understand why my body would do something my mind clearly did not want to do. I also could not understand why I could will an erection to occur, but could not will it away. The worse was the orgasm and later ejaculation. Gregg hinted at the same thing during his interview, but could not get the words out without choking up. For me, the orgasm was the ultimate betrayal because I could not control it at all. When it occurred while being penetrated it was much worse because it felt more intense. I hated the sensation, and each time it occurred I felt like garbage.

Gregg also spoke about how the abuse made him feel. He mentioned something I experienced, but never mentioned to anyone. Gregg spoke about not being able to get rid of him mother’s smell. Even after the abuse her smell lingered on him. I did not think others experienced that. This happened to me occasionally, but it was particularly bad when I engaged in acts with my aunt. I could not get her scent or taste off me. Sometimes I would think that other kids or teachers could smell it on me or on my clothes.

Like many abusive households, it is not just one child who gets abused. Gregg’s sister April also shared how her mother would abuse her. Eventually, their mother went from prostituting herself to prostituting Gregg. When she attempted to do this to April, Gregg stepped in to prevent it, and he succeeded in making it next to impossible for his mother to sell his sister. Gregg would take the abuse instead. That too is something I understand, although unlike Gregg I failed at actually managing to protect anyone. I wanted to, but I could not keep my brothers and cousins from being hurt, even though I am the second oldest and that was my only real responsibility.

What Gregg’s story shows is how abusive women mask their actions behind a façade and behind people’s willingness to ignore child abuse. According to Gregg, his neighbors knew his mother’s reputation for prostituting herself and behaving belligerently in public. Instead of stepping in to help her children, the people told their own children to stay away from Gregg and his siblings. Even his older sisters did not step in to help until Gregg spent two weeks begging for them to come and get him and his siblings. While many child abusers look for situations like this or create them, abusive women receive more benefit of doubt and get a much greater pass than abusive men.

This was also another point where Oprah slipped. As previously stated, Oprah did not overtly excuse female-perpetrated child rape, but she did covertly minimize it by framing Gregg’s mother as a “damaged, troubled woman.” It probably was not intentional, but one of the worst narratives that helps keep female abusers hidden is the notion that women who abuse were victims themselves and only abuse because of that or because they are crazy. That conveniently absolves them of any real responsibility for their actions by allowing abusive women to blame someone else or blame nature.

However, when one actually reads accounts from these women, the accounts read the same as accounts from abusive men. Women who rape children appear to be no more “crazy” than men, or emotionally stunted, abused or damaged. The excuses made happen not because women who rape children are actually rare or literally only abuse because of mental illness, but because the narrative in the psychological community has been for decades that only males abuse. Rather than acknowledging that perhaps the professionals overlooked or ignored female violence, these professionals essentially minimize it. They do not ask children taken from physically violent mothers whether any sexual abuse occurred, and they do not create an environment where abused boys and girls may feel safe enough to share that information.

Female sexual violence against children remains hidden and “rare” because the people supposedly to studying these kinds of problems do not want to admit they got it wrong.

Now, one can be certain that in the coming days several feminists will write about Gregg’s story. That is fine, however, this needs to be stated: it should not take an Oprah show before feminists will acknowledge female-perpetrated child rape.

Over the past year there have been several articles about female sexual violence, especially given the Sandra Cantu’s alleged rape and murder by Melissa Huckaby and Vanessa George’s arrest and conviction in the Britain. Yet few mainstream feminists discussed those articles. Feminists simply do not talk about female violence, and especially not female sexual violence – at least not unless feminists want to attack men’s rights groups.

It is time for that to change. Addressing female-perpetrated sexual violence should take a prominent role in the feminist movement because it is a women’s issue. Not only do women have greater access to children than men, but female-perpetrated violence appears to have a greater impact than male-perpetrated violence. People abused as children by women tend to have more mental health issues, relationship issues, drugs issues and a host of other problems than those abused by men. Also, a large percentage of those who abuse women were victimized by women as children. It is important for feminists not to create or perpetuate excuses for women who abuse. Even if feminists harbor negatives views about boys and men, feminists should be careful not to create a framework in which their ideology can so easily result in protecting female abusers or in the worse cases result in women abusing children.

It is fine if feminists acknowledge female-perpetrated violence following Oprah’s show, but the point is that it should not take a report from another feminist before they will actually care about or address the issue.

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19 thoughts on “A Special Report: Raped by His Mother – A Victim Comes Forward

  1. How typical.

    Oprah puts on this facade that she cares and yet she tries to excuse the abuse Gregg went through with typical talking points:

    “Seduction”

    “Your abuse felt good?”

    “Your mother is a damaged, troubled woman.”

    I knew this would happen. My mind foretold where this would head the minute it started processing Oprah’s apparent interest in male abuse victims.

    She’s no different from the extreme feminist, at the end of the day. Nor is she any different from the media’s depiction of male victims. There’s money to be made, advertisers to please, and an audience to placate.

    At least Tyra Banks actually gave the female abusers a piece of her mind. Oprah just parrots and projects because she’s faced with something she can’t possibly believe happens. Just like other “Caring” people.

    Nice try, Oprah. But I don’t buy your empathetic routine one bit. Your audience is female so I can understand your reluctance to acknowledge the basic fact that male victims have been abused. Period! Not “Seduced”! Their abusers “Troubled” mind doesn’t excuse their actions one bit!

  2. For the most part the interview was pretty fair. She did seem to actually care this time around rather than the way she acted several years ago. I do not think any of the comments she made were intended to dismiss female abusers. She had moments, but they only stood out because the interview was balanced. Tomorrow the interview will be posted on her site, so I will link to it. It is worth watching, if you can get through some of what Gregg talks about, because it was very powerful.

    One strange thing about the interview was that the camera never cut to the audience. I do not know why that happened, perhaps she had a format change over the years, but I found it odd that we never saw any of the audience members’ reactions.

  3. “Your abuse felt good?”

    Actually this is an important point to bring up, because the point has to be made that even if it felt good, it was abuse. I don’t see any other way to get to that.

    “Your mother is a damaged, troubled woman.”

    Oprah is talking to the woman’s son, who still probably has a son’s loyalty to his mother. The point is to denounce the behavior to the victim without forcing him inot immediately denouncing and condemning his mother. That can come later. This is the opening. Oprah has her own expereince with this sexual abuse, although since it was from a step-father, it didn’t involve quite the same level of betrayal. She may very well know what she’s doing.

    “At least Tyra Banks actually gave the female abusers a piece of her mind. ”

    Generational difference, not quite so female chauvinist? Tyra Banks also has a diffenrnet communication style. She is very blunt, in a very controlled way.

  4. Actually this is an important point to bring up, because the point has to be made that even if it felt good, it was abuse. I don’t see any other way to get to that.

    I agree, but in context Gregg already stated that it did not feel good before Oprah asked him if it felt good. I understood the point she wanted to make, but emphasizing it using a person’s experience after the person said it did not feel good is not helpful.

    Oprah is talking to the woman’s son, who still probably has a son’s loyalty to his mother. The point is to denounce the behavior to the victim without forcing him inot immediately denouncing and condemning his mother. That can come later. This is the opening. Oprah has her own expereince with this sexual abuse, although since it was from a step-father, it didn’t involve quite the same level of betrayal. She may very well know what she’s doing.

    I can see it that way. However, the social narrative about female abusers is that they are always damaged or troubled and never really responsible for their acts. Abusing another person is a choice unless someone forces you to do it. Oprah did not add that kind of caveat, at least not as she made that comment. That is where my objection comes from. Her comment sounds like an excuse. The men she interviewed the week before were just as troubled, abused and damaged, but I doubt Oprah referred to them like that. That is the difference.

    Generational difference, not quite so female chauvinist? Tyra Banks also has a diffenrnet communication style. She is very blunt, in a very controlled way.

    I think it is that Tyra likely does not harbor the same views about men and women that Oprah does. Part of that may be generational, but it may also stem from the industry Tyra worked in and the kinds of things and people she may have been exposed to.

  5. Jim: “The point is to denounce the behavior to the victim without forcing him inot immediately denouncing and condemning his mother.”

    And do you see people doing it with male abusers? Nope. It’s always “He’s a monster. Lock him up and throw away the key!” I don’t understand why it’s okay to denounce the behaviour to the victim if it’s a male abused by a female and not for when addressing the needs of a female abuse victim. Do you really want this to continue, Jim? Or do you want the same level of condemenation male abusers get? Which is it?

  6. I noticed that Oprah started off talking about how female abusers were rare and appeared to be shocked when mentioning that mothers could be abusers. At first I was thinking that she was giving into the image of female sex abusers were rare until I simmered a bit a realized that she was talking about how they are rarely talked about not the same as rarely happening.

    Even if feminists harbor negatives views about boys and men, feminists should be careful not to create a framework in which their ideology can so easily result in protecting female abusers or in the worse cases result in women abusing children.

    I think that this is already happening and feminists, despite saying they are concerned about all people, are too quick to turn a deaf ear to such commentary.

    Now, one can be certain that in the coming days several feminists will write about Gregg’s story.

    While I wish it were not so I get the feeling that this just like the other examples you mention and others you don’t will not be brought up by feminists.

    The big problem with why abuses like Gregg’s and yours TS happen and are rarely brought up is because of society’s interpretation of sex and abuse. The dialogue on those subjects largely says that women cannot be abusers and that men cannot be victims (I think someone recently pointed to a blog where a particularly vile feminist flat out says that females can’t rape males, what a display of such mentality). Despite supposedly showing concern for all abuse victims people still run a gender check before deciding what to think about a situation.

  7. I noticed that Oprah started off talking about how female abusers were rare and appeared to be shocked when mentioning that mothers could be abusers. At first I was thinking that she was giving into the image of female sex abusers were rare until I simmered a bit a realized that she was talking about how they are rarely talked about not the same as rarely happening.

    One thing she mentioned that I think will get overlooked is that she could only think of one other instance in which a male victim shared that he was forced into vaginal intercourse with a woman. Oprah noted that before she stated this that male victims never talk about this sort of thing, which implied that she may think more male victims are raped, but feel too ashamed to state exactly what happened to them. It took me some time before I could tell my friends in detail what my aunt did. Strangely, I did not have this problem when talking about the things men did to me.

    While I wish it were not so I get the feeling that this just like the other examples you mention and others you don’t will not be brought up by feminists.

    Usually I search for blog posts, but this time I will wait until the end of the week before looking. I do think Oprah’s show will get overlooked, although I would like to be proven wrong.

  8. No, I don’t want it to contrinue. I didn’t watch the interview, but I hope Oprah brought up the sick, broken excuse in order to destroy it. That’s the only valid reason to bring it up, so I hope she did use it. Well no, she didn’t. More of her usual misandry, by the backdoor this time. She’s still the same bigot I pegged her for a long time ago. too bad – she swings so much weight, I was hoping it might be good this time. No.

    To my mind a for a parent who is that sick and broken euthanisia is about the only treatment that is likely to be effective. Maybe Oprah could do that on one of her programs, by way of maing amends.

  9. Exactly my point, Jim. No excuses. Not for female abusers. None of this “But there must be a reason for why she did it.” Unless it’s applied to male abusers. I will not accept that line of reasoning until the double standard is exterminated and male criminals either get the same kid gloves treatment or female criminals are given the same standards male criminals get in the law and from society.

    If it’s about finding out why the perpratrator did it then I want it to apply to men and women. Not women alone.

  10. TS:

    Strangely, I did not have this problem when talking about the things men did to me.

    Not to put words in your mouth but I don’t think that is strange since despite assurances to the contrary people think of sexual abuse in a very gendered manner. When it comes to sex abuse, child or adult, the understanding is male=perp/female=victim.

  11. “It is time for that to change. Addressing female-perpetrated sexual violence should take a prominent role in the feminist movement because it is a women’s issue. Not only do women have greater access to children than men, but female-perpetrated violence appears to have a greater impact than male-perpetrated violence. People abused as children by women tend to have more mental health issues, relationship issues, drugs issues and a host of other problems than those abused by men. Also, a large percentage of those who abuse women were victimized by women as children. It is important for feminists not to create or perpetuate excuses for women who abuse. Even if feminists harbor negatives views about boys and men, feminists should be careful not to create a framework in which their ideology can so easily result in protecting female abusers or in the worse cases result in women abusing children.”

    “It is fine if feminists acknowledge female-perpetrated violence following Oprah’s show, but the point is that it should not take a report from another feminist before they will actually care about or address the issue.”

    A close assessment of (mainstream) feminist ideology will show that acknowledging female evil is anathema to feminism because the very foundation of feminist ideology is the fantasy that men are responsible for all evil throughout history and women are responsible for all good. Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young’s trilogy on misandry: Spreading Misandry, Legalizing Misandry and Sanctifying Misandry lays bare how false and hate-full ‘gender’-as- female feminism is as an ideology. Therefore, to call on feminists to surface ‘problematic’ realities which would utterly destroy their entire ideological platform seems somewhat unrealistic.

  12. Oprah did infact refer to Greg’s mother as a “Monster” earlier on in the interview. I’m not sure whether people have picked this comment up.

  13. I don’t understand the attack on feminism. I am a feminist and I completely agree with the OP that feminists need to be addressing this issue.

    Feminism isn’t based on the precept that women are better – it’s that women are EQUAL. All of the feminists I know reject male-bashing as a matter of course. They certainly wouldn’t hesitate to condemn this “mother”. Certainly there are women claiming to be feminists who hold to a different course, but if the base belief isn’t equality, then it’s actually some OTHER “ism” (female chauvansim, perhaps?). I not historically a big fan of Oprah, by the way.

    My heart goes out the Gregg as well as the OP of this piece. No one should ever have to endure such horrors.

  14. SS: You’re right on! I just finished reading the updated study on torture, ironically the results were published in “O” Magazine. In a clinical environment women were found to be equally as sadistic as men. Experts suggest men torture more because of opportunities exploited in war, police work, etc. The sad fact is women have plenty of opportunity to torture children and they do. Their own children and others. The vast majority of the truly horrific child abuse cases involve the mother acting alone or in conjunction with a paramour. Torture by a natural father acting without the mother is comparatively rare. Maternal child abuse, or Pathological Malnurturing as I call it, has risen 25% since 1985, according to the CDC. American women now kill more of their own children than any other mothers in the industrialized world. Not gonna’ hear THAT on Oprah any time soon!

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  16. A great many people refuse to accept anything that does not fit the little stereotype in their mind. I have come across many people who flatly refuse to accept that abuse by girls and women is even within the limits of the possible.

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