Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse perpetrated by mothers on their children, and Mother-Daughter sexual abuse, is a subject that many people have not even thought of or want to think of. It flies in the face of everything we believe, or have been taught to believe, about women and mothers. Some people don’t want to believe that female perpetrators of sexual abuse exist, and they certainly do not want to believe that a mother could sexually abuse her own children. One site, the Canadian Children’s Rights Council, said this about female offenders “The most common offenders are relatives, with mothers topping the list. But it could be anyone baby-sitters, neighbours or teachers.” (Note: My next post will discuss Mother-Son Sexual Abuse)

Back in 1997 there was a UK TV Program – Panorama that ran Monday 6th October 1997 called The Sexual Abuse by Women of Children and Teenagers. I will being using some transcripts from that show on here.

One of the victims on that show said something that is often said by many who are abused by their mother. She said:

I couldn’t understand how your own mother… You’ve got no one else to turn to. If it’s your dad doing it at least you’ve got some chance – your mother to try and talk to if she’s a good mum. But when you’ve got your mother doing it as well what chance have you got? No one’s going to believe you. There was no escape.

A commentator on the show made this remark:

Those survivors who tell me they have been sexually abused by both a woman and a man always tell me that it was more traumatic to be sexually abused by a woman – they feel more betrayed, they feel very angry, they feel the woman should have cared for them, should have loved them instead of abusing them. For some reason they expected it almost of the man, but never of the woman.

The website Making Daughters Safe Again said this:

Survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse have an added evil to contend with – the extreme isolation in feeling that they are the only survivors of this form of abuse, and that no one will believe them. These fears are not unfounded. Mother-daughter sexual abuse is a topic that receives little attention from researchers, support services, or the media. Survivors of mother-daughter sexual often report being met with disbelief or shock by friends, family, and even mental health care professionals, and survivors of other forms of sexual abuse. The fact that some mothers sexually abuse their daughters is an ugly, shattering thought. When it is your reality, it is infinitely worse.

I would note the same applies to Mother-Son sexual abuse as well. The sad thing is that when your mother sexually abuses you it is often the last, if ever, abuse that is ever treated among its victims. Out of all forms of sexual abuse I would say this is the most under-reported form there is. As a society we almost expect men/fathers to be able and capable of sexually abusing children. The opposite is true when it comes to women and especially mothers sexually abusing their own children.

Faith Allen on her blog Blooming Lotus writes:

Mother-daughter sexual abuse is a particularly vile form of sexual abuse that many people are unaware even exists. In the United States, mothers are often viewed as the self-sacrificing member of the family who repeatedly suffers on behalf of her children. While this description is certainly true of many mothers, it is not true of all.

Women who have suffered from mother-daughter sexual abuse often fear that nobody will believe that this form of abuse happened to them. Instead, they fear that others will believe they are “crazy.” Many people are judgmental of any opinion toward a mother that is not “warm and fuzzy.” In most cases, when a daughter speaks ill of her mother, people assume that the daughter is being ungrateful and does not appreciate all of the sacrifices that her mother made for her. In the case of mother-daughter sexual abuse, the sexual abuse survivor has every right to express anger toward her abuser. The abuser does not get a free pass just because she is her victim’s mother.

I find that the “mother” is often viewed and treated in one of two extremes when cases of abuse to their own children arise. They are either treated very lightly or very harshly or in some instances both. There seems to be little middle ground most of the time. We have a stereotype of what being a “mother” means. Making Daughters Safe Again website says “In our society, mothers are automatically given special status, and certain characteristics, such as “nurturing, caring, protective” are attributed to them.” I agree. “You have not spoken to your mom in years? Oh how awful. She is your mother and you at least ought to talk to her.” or “She is your mother and deserves your respect no matter what she has done.” Statements like that really irked me and still do.

How do you tell anyone that the one person in the whole world who is supposed to be there for you; who is supposed to be the caring one; who is supposed to be the nurturing one; who is supposed to be the one who is protective of you, is the one who is actually doing the abuse? Making Daughters Safe Again says it perfectly when they say “The truth is, at her core, a mother is a woman and a human being, and like any other human being, is capable of the same range of violence, hate and autonomous behavior. To view women or mothers any differently, is to not realize their full potential as human beings, for better or for worse.”

Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse

I want to start this section with some material from an article titled Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse: A Painful Topic:

This view of mothers, and even of all women, runs very deep in most cultures, and is linked with another assumption – that all women (and particularly mothers) are heterosexual.

Sexual abuse has nothing to do with the perpetrator’s sexuality or sexual identity; most abusers identify as heterosexual. Sexual abuse is not sex. Yet because of homophobia, same-sex sexual abuse is linked in most people’s minds with lesbian or gay sex. How often do we see in the newspapers exclaiming “lesbian sex abuser” but not “heterosexual sex abuser?” It is an ingrained presumption.

This presumption is important to examine for many reasons. That the perpetrator is perceived to be lesbian fuels many people’s denial. Mothers can’t be lesbian, the thinking goes, therefore the abuse couldn’t have happened. On the other hand, some people may be more likely to believe that the abuse happened, precisely because they perceive the perpetrator to be lesbian. It confirms their belief that lesbians are child molestors. When this occurs people are far more outraged than they are with father-daughter sexual abuse because a female perpetrator of incest has violated the social expectations of women and mothers. Sadly, this reaction also points to how little we expect of fathers.

The author later points out something I said earlier in the post when she says:

People tend to feel far more conflicted and confused about mother-daughter sexual abuse – or female perpetrators generally – than they are about father-daughter sexual abuse (or male perpetrators). People respond with outright denial: “A mother wouldn’t do that sort of thing.” Others minimize the abuse: “How bad could it be? The abuser was a woman; she was probably gentle.” And still others vilify female perpetrators, viewing them as worse than male perpetrators because they are women or mothers.

She also talks about the Survivors and how the “mother” stereotype causes issues:

When survivors of mother-daughter incest are able to acknowledge the abuse they experienced, they often believe that there must be something terribly wrong or bad about them. “How could my own mother sexually abuse me?” This belief that they are bad comes from the myth that mothers are intrinsically caring and loving. If all mothers are loving to their children, the thinking goes, then there must be something really bad about the child whose mother abused them. It makes sense that a child would think this way, especially in a context loaded with societal myths about mothers. It’s easier for a child to believe that the abuse is her fault than to admit that the person who was supposed to love and protect her actually harmed her. Sadly, this way of thinking is carried into adulthood by many survivors, and it hurts them a great deal.

The Making Daughters Safe Again site has a lot of good information on this as well:

Mothers often sexually abuse in more than one way, and act independently. The sexual abuse can be violent and physically painful, and take place in the context of emotional and physical abuse as well.

Abusive acts experienced by daughters may include:

Digital penetration or insertion of objects into the vagina or anus being touched or fondled, or being made to touch or fondle another oral sex, giving or receiving unnecessary enemas, catheterizations, application of “medicine” to genitals being watched, or being forced to watch her mother bathe, dress, and/or masturbate verbal harassment concerning her sexual development or sexuality

They also said a few more things that really jumped out at me:

This form of abuse is about a mother’s distorted views about herself and her daughter.

The mother may find it unbearable to see any part of herself in her daughter, and displace her own anger and shame over her sexuality onto her daughter.

The mother often wishes to dominate and control her daughter, while also seeking emotional support from her, sometimes resulting in a reversal of roles.

The site goes on to talk about it being an under-reported crime and how less than 1% of its members reported ever getting any intervention as a child. I can understand that. Even if you do tell and are believed the system will often toss you right back into the same home with your abuser. Not to mention all the other feelings that go along with this. They go on to talk about a few reasons why this is and I want to comment on each of them:

- the extreme rarity of the offender seeking treatment, the victim reporting the abuse, or the authorities discovering the crime

Many of the offenders do not think there is anything wrong with them. I know one woman who had lost her children due to her sexually abusing them for over a decade made a comment outside a court room in which she, loudly, said “I am tired of people treating me as if I did something wrong. I did the best I could.” She views herself as the victim and believes she has done nothing wrong. And she never sought treatment because why seek treatment when nothing is wrong?

- therapists, social workers, doctors, teachers, etc. know very little about this form of abuse and/or do not consider it a possibility

I know I once spoke with a social worker who worked with sexual offenders and talked to her about female offenders. Her view was that they exist mainly because the men in their lives are the ones making them do it or because of sexual abuse they suffered themselves. How about when you go to an Emergency Room and they ask the “abuse” question? For those few that do take the time to do so privately how many do it with the mother present? Daughter shows signs of sexual abuse and who is the first person to pop into your mind as you read this? Father, Stepfather, Boyfriend, a male.

- perpetrators overwhelmingly appear like “normal” caring mothers

I already talked about how my own mother could persuade anyone that she was the best mother in the whole world and only cared for her little darling. And people just bought it. They wanted to believe it and did not even think to look beyond it. I had a reader tell me in his story (will be in the mother-son abuse post) that his mother was attractive and this played even more havoc. His friends would often comment to him how “lucky” he was to have a “hot mom” like that. He also talked about how because she was attractive she was able to manipulate people even more.

- lack of protection by physically or emotionally absent fathers OR abusive fathers

I find this one interesting. My own father could fit into the above statement. Sorta. He was like everyone else around us when it came to the “mother” stereotype. 90% of the abuse my mother did to me occurred when he was not around to see it. From his point of view he was her main target and only used me to get at him. So he would be gone from the home working or would “tune out” into his own little world when he was home. He did not do this to be emotionally absent to me, though that is the result, he did so to protect himself from her. I still have not told my father hardly anything that happened and may never do it. I do not blame him for not protecting me as he did not know I needed protecting from, of all people, my own mother.

- low physical evidence that can not be seen on routine physical examination

This one is often not even thought of by people. Sexual Abuse does not always leave evidence that a “rape kit” might pick up. It does not always leave signs that any form of sexual abuse happened at all.

- Abuse sometimes conducted under the guise of normal medical care or hygiene

Who is going to accuse a mother of sexually abusing her child when she claims she was giving him a bath and his/her little body just reacted?

What about the whole same sex issue that goes along with this? In the article Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse: A Painful Topic they have this to say:

Many people confuse same-sex sexual abuse with lesbian sex, thinking that the perpetrator and even the victim is lesbian, or was made lesbian by the abuse. None of this is true. Yet these myths continue to exist, and they confuse and haunt many survivors who live in fear and shame that they really are lesbian when they aren’t, or that their lesbian sexuality was caused by the abuse.

Being abused by her mother does not make a survivor a lesbian. Even if the survivor’s body physiologically responded to the sexual stimulation, this has nothing to do with sexuality. It is the body’s natural physiological response to stimulation, and has nothing to do with the survivor’s own sexual desires, or even consent. Sexual abuse effects a survivor’s comfort level with and responses to being a sexual person, but it does not cause her sexuality.

I know some sexual abuse survivors struggle with the struggle with the fact that their bodies reacted to a rape or other form of sexual abuse by responding in various ways and how hard this can be for a person to understand about themselves. Faith Allen talks about this some on her blog Blooming Lotus where she said:

People wrestle with whether the sexual abuse could have been “that bad” if they had an orgasm during it. Also, some people who first began having orgasms during sexual abuse as young children question whether this means that they were some sort of “bad seed” who brought the sexual abuse on themselves.

It is actually quite common for a person’s body to react to sexual abuse or rape with an orgasm. This does not mean that you wanted the sexual contact or that you enjoyed it. This is simply an indicator that your body was working the way it was designed to work.

Multiply this issue with the fact that it is happening with your own mother. Some specific concerns for survivors can be:

From Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse: A Painful Topic:

While survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse experience many of the same effects as other incest and sexual abuse survivors, they tend to have heightened difficulties with:

  • Naming their experience as abuse. This is particularly true in light of the myth that women do not sexually abuse children.
  • Identity. Many survivors have difficulty knowing that they are separate from and different than their perpetrators.
  • Boundaries. Many survivors have difficulty maintaining their boundaries, especially with other women. They may be overly flexible or overly rigid.
  • Self-blame. This is particularly true in light of the fact that they were abused by their mothers who are mythologized as all loving and caring.
  • Gender identity. Many survivors do not want to be a woman, have trouble identifying as women, or do not like what they perceive women to be, because the abuser was a woman.
  • Gender shame. Many survivors feel great shame about being a woman because of their identification with the perpetrator.
  • Body shame. Survivors often feel great shame about their bodies, particularly their bodies’ womanliness, because the perpetrator had a woman’s body.
  • Homophobic fears about one’s actual or perceived sexuality. Survivors are often very confused about the differences between sexual abuse and lesbian sexuality, and may believe the myth that abuse causes a survivor’s sexuality.
  • Longing to be loved. Survivors frequently have a profound need to be loved in the way that they were not as a child, and they may fear or be unable to accept it, particularly from other women.

From Making Daughters Safe Again:

  • confusion concerning sexual orientation (the majority of survivors are heterosexual)
  • may believe that she was targeted because she is lesbian (regardless of if she is or not)
  • may base her homosexual orientation on sexually abusive experiences, especially if she experienced a sexual response, or her mother had a sexual response
  • may falsely embrace heterosexuality as a rejection of female-female sexual experiences
  • a deep need for a mother; shame, guilt and very low trust and self-esteem
  • difficulty individuating from mother, feeling self is independent, whole
  • given a cruel, negative role model and distorted representations of being a woman and mother
  • confusion, rejection, and shame concerning her own sexual development as a female
  • uncertainty over being a mother, and how to appropriately raise and respond to a female child
  • the stigma from society; the lack of information, validation, understanding for this form of abuse

I wanted to finish out this post by discussing and posting pieces about females and physical/sadist acts. Some people can not stretch their minds to believe it happens so I want to post examples here to show that yes it does. Some readers may find these distressing so you may wish to skip them.

The following are examples taken from the UK TV Program – Panorama that ran Monday 6th October 1997 called The Sexual Abuse by Women of Children and Teenagers:

Narrator: Cheryl’s friend was just a 12 year old schoolboy. She was 19. Walking with him one evening she committed such a serious act of sexual indecency she went to prison for it.

Cheryl: So I says to him, I says, we’ll walk the field way. So we started walking the field way and I sat down; he sat down. I pushed him back, pulled his trousers down, pulled mine down, then I had sexual intercourse with him … until someone was walking past with a dog.
Interviewer: And how long did this assault go on for?
Cheryl: About 15 minutes
Interviewer: Why did you do it in the first place?
Cheryl: ‘Cause I were feeling aroused. He was crying, shouting for his mum, he wanted to go home.
Interviewer: And what did you think when you saw him crying?
Cheryl: At that time I couldn’t think straight, so I just carried on.
Narrator: After she had raped the child, Cheryl realised that as a woman who had abused, she had broken one of society’s most serious taboos. She marched him to a railway bridge, believing there was only one option left to her.
Cheryl: Then I looked round to see if anything were coming.. such as transport, and there was nothing and I just pushed him over. I were thinking what have I done wrong?
Interviewer: Why did you push him?
Cheryl: Trying to frighten him – scare him so he wouldn’t tell what happened.
Interviewer: You could have killed him. Did you know that when you pushed him?
Cheryl: Yes
Narrator: The boy survived his fall from the bridge. Cheryl was sentenced to 18 months for indecent assault and grievous bodily harm.

Narrator: Chris Roberts, seen here in the 1980’s in a foster home, was removed from his own home because of physical abuse by his father. What the authorities didn’t even consider at the time was that his mother might be sexually abusing him.

Chris: There’s no way you can describe how unpleasant it was. You couldn’t put it into words. Imagine your worst nightmare come true; it probably doesn’t even come close to it. The earliest memory would be when I was probably about two and a half or three years old. Beatings, physical and sexual abuse, mental abuse, from both my mother and father. My mother would keep us away from playschool and my other two brothers from school and use us for her sexual perversions whilst our father was at work. When I was three I remember I was put into a children’s home.

Narrator: But Chris’s abuse was not to end there. On the weekly visits they were allowed to the home, his parents continued the abuse.

Chris: The supervision order wasn’t enforced. We’d be taken into a play room and our father would ram a chair up against the door and the abuse would carry on – on the property of the children’s home.
Interviewer: What sort of abuses happened in the home?
Chris: At this point in time my mother had lost a set of twins … can I stop for a minute please? [breaks down].
Narrator: Chris was told he was to blame for the twins death. His feelings of guilt helped ensure he would submit to yet more abuse.
Chris: There were many forms of abuse – physically, mentally and sexually. I had a mixture of mentally and sexually would be putting pornographic magazines into the children’s home where we’d be made to sit and look at the magazines whilst performing sexual acts with our mother, and our father joining in as well.
Narrator: Approximately one in every hundred girls in the population and one in every hundred boys in the population are sexually abused in their childhood by a woman. And that’s a vast number of victims that we are avoiding if we are not looking at the issue of women as sexual abusers.Victims trapped in the custody of their mothers as children, often only speak out after they’ve escaped. When they do, much of their testimony shatters the myth that women only sexually abuse if coerced by men.

Narrator: Lucy Jenner had a single mother. Lucy took the place of a husband in the bed she had to share every night.

Lucy: She would lock the door and after a certain time she would snap on the lights. Sometimes I tried to pretend to be asleep and it wouldn’t happen, but it didn’t make any difference. My mother would be behind me and I would be facing the wall. My mother would be around me and she pulled up a chair and she would say that she loved me and various other things and she would penetrate me vaginally and rectally with whatever she had.
Narrator: There was lasting damage, causing pain and bleeding even today a legacy of the abuse she’d endured.
Lucy: I think mainly it was the abuse that affected my bowel. I have a rectal prolapse which was a direct result of being penetrated with objects whatever when I was a child and was sexually abused by my mother.

Narrator: For 20 years no one saw what Sandra and Lesley Wilson endured. Their mother started to abuse them aged 5 and six, and continued even after they were married. When they threatened to go to the police she threatened to abuse their children. Sandra and Lesley’s mother was accompanied by their father in the abuse, but it was she who took the lead.

Sister: Mother always used to come in the bedroom and drag us out of bed. She never had any clothes on. You knew what was going to happen. I was made to do things. I was frightened. I was crying. I was told to shut up and I just had to get used to it.
Sister: You’d know when my mum was being really nice – you knew something was going to happen – you were going to get raped. It felt like it was every night – 2 or three times a week they both raped me.
Interviewer: Who started these sessions? Who was the dominant partner?
Sister: My mother. My mother always came to get me.
Sister: My dad was at work. I was cleaning the bath out and everything. All of a sudden my mum come in the bathroom and she pushed me flying, she grabbed my hair and dragged me into the bedroom and she made me do things you know to her satisfaction.
Sister: I couldn’t understand how your own mother… You’ve got no one else to turn to. If it’s your dad doing it at least you’ve got some chance – your mother to try and talk to if she’s a good mum. But when you’ve got your mother doing it as well what chance have you got? No one’s going to believe you. There was no escape.
Narrator: Sandra and Lesley’s father John Wildman was eventually sent to prison for 22 years. Maureen Wildman died shortly after being charged. It’s her abuse the girls say hurt them most.
Michelle Elliott: Those survivors who tell me they have been sexually abused by both a woman and a man always tell me that it was more traumatic to be sexually abused by a woman – they feel more betrayed, they feel very angry, they feel the woman should have cared for them, should have loved them instead of abusing them. For some reason they expected it almost of the man, but never of the woman.

Narrator: The violence that often accompanies the abuse is also unexpected of a woman. Victims often report excessive force equivalent to if not greater than that of a man. This was the experience in a Newcastle taxi a year ago of a 15 year old girl. Her 33 year old aunt held her down and forced her to submit to oral sex by the driver as payment in kind. Angered by that and other sexual attacks by her aunt Paula Belisle, the victim has decided to speak out publicly about the abuse.
Louise: I was sitting watching the telly and I thought she was going into the toilet because she went out in the passage, She came back in and she had this chair leg cause it was on top of the electrical rad and then she just come over on the settee and put her hand over me mouth and pulling me pants down had her legs over my legs and she’s got like big fat legs, you know what I mean, well really really tight on my legs and I couldn’t move. She had a hand on me shoulder and a hand on me mouth and everything – just one hand though, and she was shoving the chair leg up us really really hard and I couldn’t hardly scream because she had her hand over me mouth. It was very painful, it was like I was having a bairn [baby]. And I was just crying – I was really upset I didn’t want me own aunty to do it to us. I thought men were animals, but women are just as bad – especially my own aunty doing that. I hate her. If I had the chance I’d kill her. I can’t stand her.
Narrator: Paula Belisle is now on probation. Louise says she has since threatened to kill her for going to the police.
Michelle Elliott: Women are supposed to be the gentler sex, women are supposed to be incapable of cruelty in a sense, and I would like as a woman to believe that. Unfortunately my experience with the survivors tells me that many of their abusers have been very sadistic to them. Cruelty that is almost unimaginable.

Narrator: In the early hours of one morning in South Wales last year the authorities drew up in a quiet street to a neat looking terrace house, looking to arrest a male abuser. Nothing prepared them for what they found. Child Protection Officers were to stumble on a den of professional pedophiles, but a den in which the mother was the prime abuser.

Margaret Harris:(South Wales Probation) It had all the appearances of a normal sort of terrace house from the outside, in a very ordinary community – a very proud community. And as you went in the front door it changed dramatically. The house was full of rubble and rubbish from floor to ceiling. The walls had been taken away right through to the point that you could see bare wires hanging down as though the house was still under construction. It gave the appearance of a house that was just designed really to completely disorientate the children. In the room where the family actually lived – that was where they videoing the children – they used two different cameras. The room where the computer was kept was full of rubbish and yet in this corner in a particular corner which had been sectioned off from the rest of the room was the most sophisticated equipment that you could imagine. There was a kitchen area where in the larder there were videos – pornographic videos. Hardly any food, just videos upon videos upon videos. We also then found under the floorboards home-made videos of the abuse of the children. They did what would almost be construed as a professional video, which we assumed would be for selling.
Narrator: The husband had filmed the videos, but his wife did the abusing. She took a lead role, sometimes reading from scripts, acting out scenes. Most of them involved her daughter videoed between the ages of eight and thirteen.
Margaret Harris: The older child was naked. Mother was naked. They strung up the older child and tied her, gagged her and string her up from a hook in the ceiling and beat her something like 100 times in about four minutes. They then laid her on the bed and further abused her. All the time mother was doing this, father was videoing the actual abuse. At the end of it all, at one point when the child was lying on the bed almost unconscious, mother and father sat on the edge of the bed and had a cup of tea together. I think that portrays very graphically the awful nature of this. To give it the name sexual abuse belies what actually happened in that house. It was torture. It was the most abhorrent torture I have ever seen.
Narrator: The mother used the Internet to feed her fantasies. Links to the North of England and the United States were stark evidence of leading female involvement in the sort of network of abusers normally associated with men. The father was taken away and jailed for life. The mother got a lesser 15 year sentence. Without the exceptional video evidence the authorities say because she was a woman she may not have been implicated at all.
Margaret Harris: Often when children are trying to tell us what’s happening to them, we are dependent on their stories and I do wonder with this child, if we hadn’t found the videos, and this child had simply told us what had happened it would have been beyond belief, and I do worry that no on would in fact have believed her. And I wonder therefore how many other children has this happened to, where they’ve either been too afraid to tell or if they have tried to tell they felt they weren’t being believed and have held back. Because what we know we know from the videos. The children still haven’t talked in full about the horrors that they encountered.
Narrator: Half the women in a recent survey of 50 convicted female sexual abusers said they derived sadistic pleasure from inflicting pain on victims. The research showed neither class nor age were barriers to their behaviour.

Those are just a few examples. Look at some of the statements that were made (some I bolded):

Those survivors who tell me they have been sexually abused by both a woman and a man always tell me that it was more traumatic to be sexually abused by a woman – they feel more betrayed, they feel very angry, they feel the woman should have cared for them, should have loved them instead of abusing them. For some reason they expected it almost of the man, but never of the woman.

That theme appears to be quite common. The Making Daughters Safe Again site has a similar statment:

Many survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse have multiple abusers, both male and female. Regardless, the sexual abuse by their mothers often stands out as the hardest to accept and heal from, and the last abuse experiences to be remembered. The impact of that statement cannot be ignored.

They also point out something that I think is very sad and very important for people to remember:

As an adult, mother-daughter sexual abuse remains a taboo topic, even in sexual abuse survivor circles. Sometimes the experiences of mother-daughter sexual abuse survivors are not believed by survivors of male-female abuse, or are seen as “less than” because a mother was the perpetrator, and some believe that the abuse must have been gentle or just a misunderstanding. Realistically, there is a wide range of violence associated with mother-daughter sexual abuse, as with any other form of abuse.

In general, there is very little validation and support for this form of abuse, and the difficult process of healing is compounded by friends, family members, other sexual abuse survivors, and even therapists, being unaware of the problem and/or unwilling to listen to or believe the survivor.

That is also mentioned in the article Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse: A Painful Topic:

Abuse is never pleasant. However, mother-daughter sexual abuse seems to provoke particularly strong reactions in people, even those working in the area of trauma. Sometimes, when mother-daughter sexual abuse is acknowledged, people feel the need to say that it doesn’t happen as frequently as father-daughter sexual abuse, or that women aren’t as violent as men. Even if those things are true, it is not helpful information when listening to and understanding women who have been sexually abused by their mothers (or other women). If we want to create a safe environment for women to speak about their experiences, we need to talk and write about the fact that women and mothers do sexually abuse children. Only in that environment will survivors be truly free to tell their stories and heal themselves.

Ok so what about when you compound the abuse by doing so while using Religion? Recent cases in the news have brought this topic to light. How much more trauma does it add when your faith is used in conjunction with your abuse?

Finally there is this piece to consider. The Canadian Children’s Rights Council has this statement that people should consider:

Finally, there is an alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse by females in the backgrounds of rapists, sex offenders and sexually aggressive men – 59% (Petrovich and Templer, 1984), 66% (Groth, 1979) and 80% (Briere and Smiljanich, 1993).

There is a documentary called When Girls Do It: The Story of Female Sexual Predators that the Canadian Children’s Rights Council says they “recommend this video documentary to all law makers, police, child protection workers, educators, school teachers and organizations concerned about recognizing female sexual predators.”

I wanted to put one last thing on here and am doing it for me. Earlier I talked about that “but she is your mother” bit that irked and irks me. The Making Daughters Safe Again site has a little blurb in the FAQ that I wish more people would grasp. It says:

You should be nicer to your mother. She is your mother after all.

Yes, the woman is her mother, but she is also her abuser. Her mother forfeited her rights to participate in a mutually kind and giving relationship with her daughter when she abused her.

FYI – there is another post for those interested titled Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse II

I am adding a book list to this post for those that are interested in further reading:

A Mother’s Touch: Surviving Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse

The Last Secret: Daughter Sexually Abused by Mothers

Female Sexual Abuse of Children

Female Sex Offenders: What Therapists, Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services Need to Know

Perspectives on Female Sex Offending: A Culture of Denial

Women Who Sexually Abuse Children

Mother-Daughter Incest: A Guide for Helping Professionals

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12 thoughts on “Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse

  1. OUTSTANDING post!! This is the most comprehensive article that I have seen on mother-daughter sexual abuse. I am going to add a link on my blog.I have another book resource for you. It is called “When You’re Ready: A Woman’s Healing from Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse by Her Mother” by Kathy Evert and Inie Bijkerk. It is a combination of the abuse survivor’s journal and her therapist’s comments. I used to be a member of the forums on Making Daughters Safe Again and highly recommend that site as a resource for survivors of mdsa. Thank you for writing about such an important topic. – Faith Allen

  2. Thank you for writing this. I am in the US and have felt so utterly alone and empty because of the sexual abuse I suffered from my mother. I have never been able to shake the abuse but am working on it. Good luck to all of those women out there who have been in my shoes (or I in their’s). May your heart feel free and whole again.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I finally feel less alone; was sexually abused by my grandmother as a baby girl til the age of three. Joined an abuse survivors' forum for awhile but there seemed no one who could relate.

  4. What else could you say? Not every person has the exact same thoughts but it is good to see a diverse range of ways of looking at things, to put it crudely. Makes you sit back and question your own habits and preconceived ideas occasionally.

  5. Mars Hill woman gets 20 years for making child pornography of her own daughter

    Posted March 14, 2011

    BANGOR, Maine — A Mars Hill woman who molested her own 2-year-old daughter while videoconferencing with a stranger in England via a webcam was sentenced Monday in federal court to 20 years behind bars.

    Julie M. Carr, 33, was sentenced for production of child pornography in U.S. District Court in Bangor. When she pleaded guilty in February 2010, she admitted that she sent — from a laptop computer at her Mountain View Street residence to a man in the United Kingdom — four live videos of herself performing sex acts on her youngest daughter.

    “What you have done, Ms. Carr, is violate the most basic bond of society — the bond between a mother and her child, the bond between a mother and her daughter,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock told her just before imposing the sentence.

    “I feel it is incumbent upon me to protect … the people who can’t protect themselves,” he added.

    The video chats that contained the sexual abuse occurred between June 9 and June 11, 2009, and were sent to a man in West Midlands, England, who recorded them. Nicholas J. Wilde, now 20, was being investigated in another child pornography case when law enforcement officers in his country found the video webcast recordings that were traced to Carr in Mars Hill.

    Two days later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Maine State Police troopers searched Carr’s home and interviewed her. She admitted to sending the explicit videos, saying Wilde “conned” her into doing it, according to court documents.

    “She did it to shut him up,” Woodcock said while reviewing verbally the facts in the case. “This is a mystery. Here is a man in England, on the Internet. The Englishman is not to blame for her doing it; she is.”

    Wilde, who was arrested June 11, 2009, by West Midlands Police, was sentenced to four years and eight months in jail for “inciting a mother in the U.S. to abuse her own child” and distributing indecent images, according to a report by the BBC in February 2010.

    A memory stick seized at Wilde’s home contained footage of Carr abusing her young child at Wilde’s direction, and other child pornography with children as young as 18 months, the report states.

    Wilde, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was ordered to sign the sex offenders register and was ordered to serve his sentence at a young offenders institution. He is banned from working with children for life, according to the BBC.

    The one piece of good news in the child sexual abuse case is that Wilde did not disseminate Carr’s videos over the Internet, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Lowell told Woodcock on Monday.

    “She was a mouse click away from distributing those images all around the world,” he said.

    Lowell thanked local and English law enforcement for their quick action to stop the international Internet crime. Carr’s four children, her three daughters and a son, were removed from her custody after her arrest. All needed counselling, he said.

    “The children are doing well,” Lowell said. “In a real way her children have been rescued and saved.”

    Carr’s three daughters were all under the age of 4 when she was arrested. She made the sexually abusive live-chat videos of her youngest daughter, who was 34 months old at the time and still in diapers, Woodcock noted.

    Wilde and Carr met on an Internet-based dating site, court documents state, and he chose the youngest daughter because she was the cutest, Woodcock said.

    Woodcock said that as a federal judge he has seen many child pornography cases, but none has risen to the depraved level of Carr’s.

    “I’ll tell you, unequivocally, that yours is the worst case I’ve ever seen,” he said.

    “I have always thought possession was bad enough, but production is another level of evil,” Woodcock added. “It never crossed my mind that [the person making the child porn] would be the child’s mother. The most natural response, after revulsion, is protecting the child.”

    In addition to the 20 years in prison, Woodcock also sentenced Carr to 10 years of supervised release. He added a number of additional conditions for after her release from prison. They include monitoring of her computer and Internet use and a ban on alcohol and drug use. Carr also will be required to register as a sex offender.

    Carr, who was dressed in dark blue jail garb, addressed the court before being sentenced.

    “I am sorry,” she said. “I never meant to hurt anyone in my family. I regret it.”

    Carr also was indicted by the Aroostook County grand jury on Sept. 11, 2009, on two charges of gross sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor in connection with the Internet child pornography investigation. Lowell told Woodcock that she would be sentenced in Aroostook County Superior Court on those charges in the next week or so and the sentence would be concurrent with her federal time in prison.

    Carr has been held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton since her arrest 21 months ago.

    http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/03/14/news/bangor/mars-hill-woman-gets-20-years-for-making-child-pornography-of-her-own-daughter/

  6. This is a great post. It’s particularly challenging to include the element of sexual abuse in my experience because it was mostly physical abuse done in the context that I am terribly sexually flawed.

    We say seeing women as sexually flawed and in need of control for how they dress, and behave can cause men to abuse; yet I think it creates a dynamic where women can get away with abuse as well, and even moreso. If a man takes indecent liberties with a woman under the idea he needs to control her it’s abusive. If a woman assaults another woman because she’s a whore, it can be seen as “corrective.” And all the other elements of abuse get hidden in with the idea it’s corrective punishment.

    There is much more I want to say but I don’t want to stress out over it.

    It’s just something I have noticed that my treatment was considered “corrective” when my mother did it. Abusive if a man did it.

    There are so many elements of manipulation in my mother’s behavior. Yet I see the same sort of manipulative behavior getting rewarded in women ie. backstabbing, slagging other women to men. It’s just not accepted it can get so ugly.

  7. Child Abuse, Gender and Society

    http://www.amazon.com/Child-Gender-Society-Routledge-Research/dp/041588294X

    The Legacy of Gender Issues

    The women’s movement has, regardless of the considerable variety of feminist standpoints, attributed incest to the socialisation of men in terms of masculinity, power, and aggression. They challenged the notion of family dysfunction and mother blaming by the suggestion that abusive behaviour occurred because of the asymmetry of power in terms of age and gender.

    Thus, both the feminists and the child protectionists excluded most female abusers. The child protectionists blamed the mother when incest occurred, not because she had committed an abusive act but because she failed to protect the victim. The feminists claimed sexual abuse as a gender issue concerned with ideas of socialisation, male roles, and masculinity.

    The importance of these two approaches, as we will see within this book, is that they form the backdrop upon which much of current child protection practice is based, and they legitimise social stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that can become a stumbling block to understanding female perpetrators.

    As a result of these converging views, there has been considerable opposition to any research or discourse concerning the sexual abuse of children by women. Even amongst survivors there is an understanding that the dominant view of heterosexuality, femininity, and masculinity forms stumbling blocks to the acceptance of familial female perpetrators and especially sexual acts between mothers and daughters.

  8. “I know one woman who had lost her children due to her sexually abusing them for over a decade made a comment outside a court room in which she, loudly, said “I am tired of people treating me as if I did something wrong. I did the best I could.” She views herself as the victim and believes she has done nothing wrong. And she never sought treatment because why seek treatment when nothing is wrong?”

    This also jumped out at me, as I was just reading an article the other day about a female sex offender who got caught with webcasting the sexual abuse of a toddler.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2011/06/14/wdr-leamington-council-wants-dahle-moved.html

    In the news interview she stated she did not like children sexually, and it was just a “one-time thing.”

    Is it the view that women are often innocent, that makes these women latch onto the idea that they’re more forgivable? Or is it just predators/ sociopathic mindset to easily excuse oneself for, and commit the crime in such a way that, that unless they are physically sexually abusing the child, it’s not so bad?

  9. Female Sexual Offenders: Theory, Assessment and Treatment

    Professional Responses

    From interview data with (similar) professionals, Bunting found that her interviewees lacked an acceptance that women may play an equal role in or even initiate the sexually offending behaviour, and had a general lack of awareness on issues of female-perpetrated child sexual abuse (Bunting, 2005).

    Case example: A woman disclosed that she was sexually abusing her daughter
    to her general practitioner (GP). The physician, worried for her mental health, referred her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed the woman as having a psychotic episode and prescribed her medication. The child was never interviewed or referred to Social Services. The abuse came to professional attention 2 years later when her ex-husband was being investigated for sexually abusing his daughter. The woman then admitted again that she was the perpetrator of the abuse.

    This example demonstrates how, when given incontrovertible evidence of sexual
    abuse by women, most groups of professionals make every effort to minimise the
    offending, see the women as less culpable and perceive the abuse as harmless and
    even attribute responsibility to the victim (Denov, 2001; Kite & Tyson, 2004). These
    views are often supported in the literature guiding professional practice (Denov,
    2003b).

  10. Aloha mom who sexually abused her kids, including a severely disabled teen, sentenced to long prison term

    A federal judge this afternoon sentenced an Aloha mom to 45 years in prison, describing her sexual abuse of her 6-year-old daughter and severely disabled 14-year-old son as the worst such conduct he has seen.

    During a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Ford’s lawyer asked Haggerty to sentence her client to 29 years.

    **Lisa Hay noted that an expert had described her client as a very low risk for committing such a crime again. Hay pointed out that Ford also was described as a devoted mom who sacrificed for her children. And she said her client, who suffers from a learning disability that clouds her judgment, was heavily influenced by Marceau, a sexual predator.

    [**Note the attribution of incest to the socialization of men in terms of masculinity, power, and aggression thus making every effort to minimize the culpability & harm of the mother's involvement in this case by her defense lawyer, Lisa Hay.]

    Government prosecutor Gary Sussman sought a 46-year sentence. He bristled at the suggestion Ford was a victim, saying there were only two victims in the case — a 6-year-old girl and a teen-age boy who has cerebral palsy, breathes with a respirator and can’t lift a finger to protect himself.

    “Those are the victims in this case,” Sussman told Haggerty. “Is Lisa Ford a victim here? I think not.”

    http://www.oregonlive.com/aloha/index.ssf/2011/07/aloha_mom_who_sexually_abused_her_kids_including_a_severely_disabled_teen_sentenced_to_long_prison_t.html

  11. Mother convicted in child porn case

    A woman who took sexually explicit photos of her two young daughters pleaded guilty to federal child porn charges Monday.

    Donna Mary Zauner, 44, no permanent address, admitted using the two girls, aged 2 and 6 at the time, to produce “pornographic digital images.” Her guilty plea to a single charge of producing child pornography carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, with a potential 30-year maximum.

    http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/article_8266c16e-bd47-11e0-a992-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1TykTJdrr

    http://www.fbi.gov/minneapolis/press-releases/2011/woman-pleads-guilty-to-producing-child-pornography-delaware-man-sentenced-on-similar-charges

  12. An Abusive Mother’s hatred for her daughter is overwheming. This is killing the loving and caring Father. Her abusive nature has separated the Father from his Family. What scares me the most is….. that Her abusive nature is showing up in my young son’s personality.

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