Mother-Son sexual abuse

This is the follow up to the Mother-Daughter sexual abuse post. I started off doing these because of a communication I had with a reader. In talking he gave me permission to print (he read it before it appeared here) some of his story in hopes that other men will benefit from his speaking out. So I am summarizing and paraphrasing some of what he has told me. I am calling him Joe though that is not his name:

Joe was raised by a single mother and never knew who his biological father was or is. For most of his childhood things seemed to be “normal” to him. His mother appeared to have a lot of short term boyfriends but other than that things seemed fine. The sexual abuse by his mother did not begin until he was about 12 years old and started to enter puberty. That is when his life changed and his life became a nightmare of abuse and secrecy.

Joe told me that he felt trapped with no one to turn to for help. Joe did not think anyone would believe him even if he did tell someone and he was full of shame and guilt and secretly thought that this was all his fault and he had somehow caused his mother to be this way towards him.

Joe talked about hating himself and feeling horrible guilt around the fact that he felt hurt and betrayed by his mother but at the same time felt a close bond and love for his mother. Joe said that he felt like he must be crazy, that he must not really be a “man” because of the way he felt. Joe then added something that he said he has only told his wife. Joe stated what made it even more difficult was that when his mother would do sexual things with him his body responded and some of the things they did physically felt very good. He said that this was one of the most painful aspects still to try to come to terms with. How could I enjoy being sexual with my own mother he says he often asked himself and berated himself mentally about. Joe said that this part was “proof” to him that it was his doing and his fault. At least that is how he thought for many years and he admits to still thinking that sometimes.

Another issue that Joe described as being a very painful part of his abuse was his friends. Mainly his male friends. As a teen boy with teen friends he said he felt tormented anytime his mother was mentioned or appeared and so he tried to make sure no one ever saw her or knew she was his mother. Why? Because Joe said his mother was very attractive. Model attractive is how he described her. Joe said when his teen friends would see her they would make comments about how attractive she was and how “lucky” Joe was to have so a good looking mother and then the sexual comments would sometimes start along with teasing Joe. Little did they know that Joe was being sexually abused by his mother.

Joe also described the effect that his mothers looks had on people. He said that because she was so attractive she was able to use this to her advantage. She had numerous “boyfriends” as she would use them up and toss them away. She also did the same with her female friends and Joe related that she had as many “girlfriends” as she did boyfriends. Other people were just objects to be used by her to obtain what she wanted. This included Joe. Joe was able to escape from her when he moved out at 20 and he felt guilty for leaving and guilty for staying so long. Nothing he did seemed to be the right thing to do in his mind. That was over 3 decades ago. Joe was able to come to terms and seek help later in his life. Joe says he still is haunted by the memory and has to fight the guilt he feels over cutting off all contact with his mother, to the point where he does not know where she is or if she is even alive or dead.

There was a lot more I could have posted but what is there serves as a good example for this topic. Joe waited over 30 years before finally being able to seek help. Joe is not an isolated case as the rest of this post will show.

I found a recent article from the Vancouver Sun, Gerry Bellett , Canwest News Service, Tuesday, May 27, 2008 that I think very much needs reposting here:

3 in 4 B.C. boys on street sexually exploited by women

Vancouver Sun, Gerry Bellett , Canwest News Service, Tuesday, May 27, 2008

VANCOUVER – Canada’s largest study into the sexual exploitation of street kids and runaways has shattered some myths about who the abusers might be – with the most surprising finding being that many are women seeking sex with young males.

“Some youth in each gender were exploited by women with more than three out of four (79 per cent) sexually exploited males reporting exchanging sex for money or goods with a female,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, associate professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia and principal investigator for the study conducted by Vancouver’s McCreary Centre Society.

“I must admit it wasn’t something we were expecting.”

The results were drawn from interviews with 1,845 youth – some as young as 12 – in surveys taken across the province between 2000 and 2006.

The stereotypical model of the child being abused – a teenage female being sexually abused by a male – was wrong, said Saewyc.

Sexual exploitation is defined as youth under 19 trading sexual activities for money, drugs, gifts, food, services, shelter, transportation or anything similar.

This can include work in brothels, escort services, pornography and Internet sex but it also includes what’s described as “survival sex,” where a child provides sex in exchange for a place to sleep, a meal or a ride.

It found one in every three of children living on the street have been sexually abused although many didn’t seem aware that they had been exploited, said Saewyc.

“It’s a shocking number. The law is clear: any adult who has sex with children for any form of consideration is exploiting them and it’s illegal,” she said.

The study found 94 per cent of females reported they had been sexually exploited by men.

But the study found that young males were being preyed upon by sexual predators of both sexes, yet the social systems in place to deter and prevent sexual predation were only designed to help females and the criminal justice system wasn’t concerned with what was happening to young males.

“Women seeking young men and boys offer transportation or other things and some go to nightclubs and bars where they can pick up under-age youth. And a certain percentage have been picked up by couples,” she said.

Saewyc said it was indicative of the prevailing myths about sexual abuse that the rehabilitation program for persons arrested by police for attempting to buy sexual favours on the street was called “John School”.

“I think it’s time we had a Jane School. There should be an equal opportunity school for women predators,” she said.

“Part of the challenge is that young males are not seen as being exploited because they are not coming to the attention of the police and the police aren’t out there picking up the perpetrators. The system is set up to handle the sexual exploitation of young women, not young men,” she said.

Community research associate Jayson Anderson said most of the programs to deal with sexual exploitation were designed by women for women. “There’s really nothing out there for males. So we need programs for young boys,” he said.

I wanted to post that article because it is recent. A lot of the materials I have found on this subject are often older, from the 80’s and 90’s. It also was a study that was not looking at or for female abusers specifically.

Kali Munro in her article Male Sexual Abuse Victims of Female Perpetrators: Society’s Betrayal of Boys states this:

The reality that boys are sexually abused by women is not widely accepted. Some people view it as an impossible act – that a male can’t be sexually assaulted by a female – and others view it as sexually titillating. The existence of female perpetrators and male victims confronts many of our most firmly held beliefs about women, men, sexuality, power, and sexual assault. It challenges our very notions about what sex is.

It is common to see/hear people make comments like “he was lucky” or “I wish I had that happen to me when I was his age” and various other ones that run along the same sexist line. A 30 year old woman who is with a 14 year old boy is called “having sex” or an “affair” by many, even the media. Yet if it is a 30 year old man with a 14 year old girl he is called a child molester, pervert, pedophile etc. This double standard makes it all that much harder for male victims to speak up.

As Kali further states in her article:

If a female initiates sexual contact with a male, this is viewed as a rare and exciting opportunity that no man should let pass by; he should be grateful.

Given these commonly held beliefs, many people see nothing wrong with a woman pursuing a boy sexually. In fact, in some circles it is considered a good way to introduce boys to heterosexuality. Some fathers take their young sons to prostitutes with the mistaken belief that it is “good” for them. A number of movies, stories, jokes, and fantasies portray older women sexually “seducing” young boys in positive terms.

That is how it is viewed by many people. Want to get a lively discussion going ask someone what they think about a 14 year old girl being with a 30 year old male and then switch it. I am always amazed at how many people have no issue with the double standard. Things are slowly starting to change, very slowly, on this issue. We see more and more female teachers who have been caught abusing their students.

Most of what was said in the Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse posting can be applied here as well and because of that I am not going to re-post all the material from that post but rather urge people to read it as well.

I must say that I find the article that Kali Munro did to be well done. In the article Male Sexual Abuse Victims of Female Perpetrators: Society’s Betrayal of Boys she goes on to relate this:

Sadly, many men who were sexually abused by women are locked in silence, shame, and self-loathing. Society tells them that not only was their experience not abuse, but that they should have enjoyed it, and if they didn’t there must be something terribly wrong with them.

Even when their experiences are recognized as abuse, they may be viewed as having been “weak” or “not man enough” because they were unable to stop it, defend themselves, or put it behind them.

The myth that men can’t be victimized particularly by women is firmly entrenched in many cultures. Many men who dare acknowledge that they were sexually abused by women are cruelly laughed at and humiliated. Most do not dare say a word about it for fear of feeling any more ashamed than they already feel.

Many men who were sexually abused by women feel deeply ashamed of themselves, their sexuality, and their gender. Sadly and mistakenly, they believe that there must be something profoundly wrong with them that they were abused in this way. Some men defend against feeling this way by being in a constant state of anger or rage – one of the few emotions that are socially acceptable for men. Many male survivors cope with the abuse by drinking, using drugs, living recklessly, avoiding intimate relationships, numbing their feelings, dissociating, and becoming depressed, anxious or angry.

And consider this from the Canadian Children’s Rights Council:

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 another older article that people can download and distribute. It is called “The Invisible Boy:Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens” From Health Canada, National Clearinghouse on Family Violence and if you click the link you can get the .PDF file. Here are some portions of that article:

Despite the fact that over 300 books and articles on male victims have been published in the last 25 to 30 years, boys and teen males remain on the periphery of the discourse on child abuse. Few workshops about males can be found at most child abuse conferences and there are no specialized training programs for clinicians. Male-centred assessment is all but non-existent and treatment programs are rare. If we are talking about adult males, the problem is even greater. A sad example of this was witnessed recently in Toronto. After a broadcast of The Boys of St. Vincent, a film about the abuse of boys in a church-run orphanage, the Kids’ Help Phone received over 1 000 calls from distraught adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is tragic in a way no words can capture that these men had no place to turn to other than a children’s crisis line.

This is still true more than a decade later. If you are a man call a domestic violence shelter and ask them for help see what kind of resources are available for you and what kind of response you get from them. Call an abuse hot line and ask for specialized help for a man who has been abused by a woman. In many places in this country there is no help and no resources to deal with this.

The language we use in the current discourse on violence and abuse masks, minimizes or renders invisible certain realities for male victims. Terms such as “family violence” have become co-terminus with “violence toward women,” particularly on the part of husbands, fathers or other adult male figures. Male teens, boys, male seniors, male victims of sibling-on-sibling violence and female abusers disappear in this term.

This still occurs a decade later and reflects what I was discussing earlier. A 14 year old boy is having “sex” with a 30 year old woman and it was “consensual”. For example this sentence from a newspaper report about a 40 year old woman convicted of sexually abusing a 15 year old boy she was hired to babysit “The almost year-long relationship continued even after Ms. Collins and her family moved to Moncton in September 2004.” Relationship? The woman was given a 2 year sentence and served it in the community. Do you think a male offender who was babysitting a 15 year old girl and had sexually abused her in excess of 100 times would have gotten such a sentence? The stereotypes about women and mothers creeps into almost every aspect of how we perceive this issue.

Now this next part is a piece that I have talked about and is something I have not only witnessed but experienced:

Male victims report great pain, frustration and some anger at not seeing their stories reflected in the public discourse on violence and abuse. Several large-scale Canadian studies about interpersonal violence conducted in the past several years have reported the findings pertaining to only female victims. Many academic papers written about victims of violence purport to be “balanced,” yet typically bring only a faint male “voice” to the analysis. From a conceptual standpoint, many also make the mistake of accepting and using, uncritically, a woman-centred-only model of victimization. Male victims also find much of this work dehumanizing and dismissive of their experiences. They feel many writers and thinkers in the field have delineated the boundaries of the discourse on violence and abuse – boundaries that leave males out.

Male victims frequently find that therapists, counsellors or other types of caregivers trained with female-centred models of victimization are unable to help them. Consequently, they are likely to simply abandon therapy, leaving unexplored many of the issues relating to their victimization experience and to their deeper healing.

Male victims, like female victims before them, have encountered their share of critics and detractors, people who refuse to believe them, ignore prevalence statistics, minimize the impact of abuse, appropriate and deny males a voice, or dismiss male victimization as a “red herring.” When prevalence statistics are given for male victimization, it is common to hear the response that the vast majority of abusers of males are other males, a belief which is simply not true. This comment is usually intended to frame male victimization as a “male problem.” It is also insensitive and perceived by male survivors as being victim-blaming. While challenges and criticisms to concepts and theories are valid, and an important part of the evolution and development of any field, denial, minimization and silencing is harmful, abusive and damaging to any victim.

I can say that this is the part that upsets me as much as anything else that happened and it still upsets me to this day.

Male victims walk a fine line between wanting to be heard and validated, to be supportive of female victims and to be pro-woman, while challenging assumptions they feel are biased stereotypes. Their challenges to some of these stereotypes are often met with accusations that they are misogynists, part of a “backlash” against feminism, or have a hidden agenda to undermine women’s gains. If any of these accusations are true, they must be confronted by all of us. But if they are based only on the fear that recognition of males as victims will threaten women’s gains, then that is the issue we should be discussing right up front, not minimizing male victims’ experiences in a competition to prove who has been harmed the most. Nonetheless, it is important for all of us to recognize that it may be difficult for many women to listen to male victims’ stories until they feel safe in this regard.

Sadly, male victims and their advocates risk a lot to challenge the status quo and experience much pressure to remain silent. It is ironic that the pressure males feel to remain silent replicates, at a social level, the same patterns of silencing, denial and minimization they experienced at the hands of their offenders. If we do not face the fact that we need to heal the “gendered wounds” of both women and men, then we will compromise the search for gender peace.

Finally, and perhaps the most important reason to re-vision our understanding, is because men and teen males are not, in any substantial way, joining women in the struggle to end all forms of interpersonal-violence. Part of the reason for this may be because males do not see their own stories reflected in public discussions about violence and abuse. If one were to rely solely on the media to convey the male experience, few stories would be known beyond the more sensational cases involving several church-run orphanages or provincial training schools. It is not uncommon to hear male students express resentment toward high school anti-violence curricula that presumes them to be abusers, harassers, rapists and sexual assaulters in waiting. Indeed, it is difficult to feel part of a collective social movement against violence when one’s own experiences are dismissed, excluded or minimized. It is evident from even a casual review of this material that much of it contains biased stereotypes and unchallenged assumptions about “male anger,” “male aggression” and “male sexuality.” All too often, these writers take as a starting point a caricature of the worst imaginable elements of “masculinity” and assume it applies to all male persons.

I concur fully with the above statement. I remember feeling this way myself when I was younger. I vividly remember being quite upset about the whole domestic violence/sexual abuse trainings and seminars I attended when I was younger. I could not understand why the double standard existed. Why minimize or discount one group’s pain and suffering while teaching about another groups pain and suffering? I also have seen something that is not mentioned much but I will mention it here. I have experienced men and women who are bitter against the opposite sex because of their experiences and this colors their every interaction.

This is even more of an issue for male victims. When boys are victimized, they tend to be seen as less in need of care and support (Watkins and Bentovim, 1992). They are also blamed more for their abuse (Burgess, 1985; Broussard and Wagner, 1988; Whatley and Riggio, 1993) and their offenders are held less accountable (Burgess, 1985). In one of the most troubling studies, Pierce and Pierce (1985) found that male victims, despite being subjected to more invasive types of abuse and more types of sexual acts than female victims, were 5 times less likely to be removed from their homes.

This piece from that article will hopefully shock some people. We in no way should deny or minimize what has happened to millions of women and girls. But we do need to also focus on male victims and give them the same respect and treatment options.

Males, generally, have more permission to be sexual persons in our society. A double standard of morality has been applied to males and female for centuries. The fact that there are no “positive” or flattering terms such as “sowing his wild oats,” “boys will be boys” or “ladies man” for females gives vivid illustration to this point. It is generally assumed that having “licence” to be a sexual person is an advantage. Males are seen to get power from obtaining or taking sex, women from withholding sex.

However, sexual licence has serious consequences for male victims. It increases a boy’s susceptibility to sexual abuse by promoting or encouraging participation in sexual activities. It promotes secrecy because boys are afraid to report sexual experiences that go wrong for fear they are responsible and blameworthy. It affects our perceptions as professional caregivers, encourages victim blaming and supports minimization of the impact on victims of male-on-male sexual assault or female-perpetrated sexual assault. It causes males to expect female sexual contact. It promotes risk-taking sexual behaviour and creates expectations for males that they must be the initiators of sex and have sexual knowledge and experience.

When I write these posts I generally have one idea in mind and almost always end up rambling on and hopefully not losing people to much. I want to look at a few more pieces from that publication. It is an older publiciation but much of what is in it is still very much true today. If noting else in this post made sense I hope that the folllowing will. I wholeheartedly agree with what they have to say:

Our minimization and denial of male victimization so permeates our culture that it is in evidence everywhere from nursery rhymes, comic strips, comedy films, television programs and newspaper stories to academic research. We give male victims a message every day of their lives that they risk much by complaining.

Stated succinctly, if a male is victimized he deserved it, asked for it, or is lying. If he is injured, it is his own fault. If he cries or complains, we will not take him seriously or condone his “whining” because he is supposed to “take it like a man.” We will laugh at him. We will support him in the minimization of its impact. We will encourage him to accept responsibility for being victimized and teach him to ignore any feelings associated with his abuse. We will guilt and shame him to keep a stiff upper lip so he can “get on with it.”

When we give a message to boys and young men in any shape or form that their experience of violence and victimization is less important than that of girls and young women, we are teaching them a lesson about their value as persons. We also teach them that the use of violence toward males is legitimate. When we dismiss their pain, we do little to encourage boys and young men to listen to, and take seriously, women’s concerns about violence and victimization. When we diminish their experience or fail to hold their male and female abusers fully accountable, we support their continued victimization.

How Would Things Be Different if We Acknowledged Male Victims?

How would our society be different if we recognized and supported male victims? We would have to acknowledge how gender role conditioning denies boys a rich emotional life and cuts them off from whole parts of their essential selves. We would begin to understand how child-rearing practices in the form of emotional and physical withdrawal from sons “to toughen them up” early in their lives compromises their ability to form secure and nurturing attachments. We would begin to see how male gender itself is a risk factor that can magnify the effects of all forms of abuse and channel it in violent, aggressive and reckless acts directed toward the self or others. We would finally acknowledge the overwhelming research evidence concerning the amount of physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological maltreatment, neglect and corporal punishment of male children and teens by females, without minimization.

We would have to recognize that if there is a male gender dimension to many forms of overtly expressed violence, its causes need to be linked to the routine and normalized violence toward males prevalent in our society, violence in the form of child abuse and neglect, psychological maltreatment, corporal punishment and male-gender role socialization. We would finally realize that all the forms of violence toward boys and teen males discussed in this document are the common everyday lived experience of most males rather than the exception. We would no longer tolerate humorous or entertaining media images of males or females as victims of violence or biased journalism that fails to report the whole picture of child abuse and neglect and interpersonal, family and community violence.

We would recognize that regardless of our own theoretical starting points, male victims have their own voice, their own meanings for their experiences. If we remain ignorant of, overlook or fail to explore their stories, we will miss much of what we need to engage them in therapy and healing. We will construct for them the origins and courses of their difficulties. We will shape and mold them to the limitations of our own personal and professional world views. We will, through the use of our professional practices, reproduce the same dysfunctional and disempowering patterns of communication and relationship many of these males found in their families of origin or the environments in which they grew up.

We would recognize that solving the complex problem of violence in our society will never be achieved until all the stories and voices of victims of violence are heard, until men and women of good will begin to work side by side, and until the means of our collective struggle toward peace reflect respect, compassion and inclusion as our minimum standard. We will recognize, finally, that means are ends. It is in the selection of our means where we are most conscious and able to make inclusive decisions about our future direction. From a postmodernist perspective, in any inclusive process of consensus building toward some goal, one cannot see the end from the starting point. Thus, if the means we choose toward the creation of a more just society are anything but, we can only arrive back where we started.

Beginning with Ourselves as Adults

Perhaps, the greatest responsibility for the plight of boys and young men lies with adults. We are the ones who conduct single-gender and biased research. We are the ones who present to the media more political opinions about male victimization than provide objective, empirically-based information. We are the ones who help maintain biased stereotypes about boys and young men that keep them trapped in their silence. We are the ones who help reinforce in the public mind an image of strong and resilient male victims who are, in truth, human beings suffering in much pain, isolation and loneliness.

Adults, especially those who work in the child abuse field, are the eyes of Canadian society in this area of human suffering. It is up to us to speak against abuse and injustice, and for compassion and inclusion. If we do not open ourselves to self-criticism, conscientiously and continually reflect on our assumptions, methods and standards of practice, or allow ourselves to become trapped in rhetoric, then it is we who will become the ones who will pose the greatest threat to the credibility of the field.

So back to Joe. Another thing he mentioned was that he was reluctant to talk to anyone about this because one of the reactions he has gotten was to be blamed and called a pervert. Because he described his abuser as “attractive” it had to be his sick fantasy or his fault. Would he have gotten the same response had he been a girl?

Lets look at this article from ABC News 20/20 called Double Standard When It Comes to Underage Sex?

Movies and television often portray having sex with an older woman as an exciting conquest. The Comedy Central show “South Park” shows police officers impressed that an elementary school student slept with an attractive teacher. One cop jokes to the another, “The crime is she isn’t doing it with me!”

When one of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” slept with a high school student, all season the student was shown as a lucky guy, never as someone who Eva Longoria’s character Gabrielle was sexually exploiting.

“There’s definitely a double standard,” said child psychologist Lisa Boesky. “Parents tend to see their girls as fragile, vulnerable, more in need of protection … When it comes to their boys, there’s kind of this message of, ‘Be careful out there.’ They may even purchase some condoms for them, or basically tell them to be safe and don’t get anybody pregnant.”

But this double standard is a mistake, say many researchers, because boys are vulnerable too.

Although most boys who had sex with older women said the experience was positive, those same boys are also more likely to have emotional and sexual problems later.

“They may drink a lot, they may get into drugs, they may start seeing prostitutes, they may gamble … they may be sexually dysfunctional,” said New York psychologist Dr. Richard Garner, who treats victims of sex abuse. “A whole string of things like that, none of which seem in their own mind to be related to the idea that they were sexual victims, which is very hard for a boy to say he was.”

And that, he says, is why many boys say the experience was positive.

“To say I was sexually victimized is to say, ‘I’m not male’ and boys aren’t likely to do that.”

Or this article from the Seattle Times: Female sex offenders reveal cultural double standard

The decadelong wave of sexual offenses committed by women — teachers in particular have exposed a cultural double standard: The public is more willing to accept the female abuser’s claim that she had a “relationship” with the victim. And in cases in which the male is a teenager, the sexual abuse is more likely to be dismissed as a rite of passage. The questionable, yet overriding assumption, is that women predators are somehow different from men.

“Men are demonized, women are diagnosed. Men are beasts, but women are troubled or mentally ill,” said media scholar Matthew Felling in an interview with Fox News. In fact, accounts of women sexual offenders are often more titillating than harsh. Felling calls the news coverage of young, attractive teachers involved with their students “part crime drama, part Penthouse letter.”

And if you truly want to see where our society is consider this next piece from that article (and note how the paper even says she began a “sexual relationship”):

The current awareness of women predators began with Mary K. Letourneau, a 34-year-old elementary-school teacher and a married mother of four, who in 1996 began a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old former student, Vili Fualaau. Letourneau eventually had two children with him and served more than seven years in prison. She resumed contact with Fualaau, by then an adult, after she was released. While a male offender might have been publicly shunned, Letourneau’s 2005 wedding to Fualaau was covered by “Entertainment Tonight.”

Think about what the reaction would be if a television show would air this if the roles were switched and it was a 34 year old male and 12 year old girl.

Female predators’ crimes are often attributed to marital problems, depression, loneliness, immaturity or self-esteem issues. Letourneau was reported to have “a loveless marriage” and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Not only do we look at female offenders differently, so do the offenders themselves. Women predators are more likely to see the abuse as a romantic relationship. Letourneau told CNN’s Larry King that she and Fualaau had a “deep spiritual oneness” before they were ever sexual, and that she did not consider herself a sexual predator.

Go speak with a few pedophiles and they will say the same thing. They do not see themselves as a sexual predator and they “love” the children and feel they have a deep bond with them. they have a “deep bond” with them only in their own minds because they refuse to see past themselves.

Dr. Leigh Baker, a clinical psychologist in Colorado, interviewed hundreds of male and female predators for her book “Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators.” All were incarcerated at the time, and their stories help form her theory that there are four types of predators: inadequate, narcissistic, anti-social and pedophile.

An inadequate adult (and predator) has trouble forming attachments with other adults and is most comfortable with children, she says. A narcissist loves him- or herself to the detriment of others; someone who’s anti-social doesn’t abide by society’s rules; and a pedophile is sexually aroused by children.

While some women are pedophiles and some men do profess their love for the children they sexually abuse, women are more likely to “couch it as a relationship,” according to Baker. Men are more likely to be serial pedophiles; women seek that “deep spiritual oneness” that Letourneau says she found.

The traits women predators exhibit — seeing themselves as a victim, low self-esteem, a sense of inadequacy, needing to be the center of attention, putting their own need for a connection before common sense — probably place most women predators into two of Baker’s four categories.

“My suspicion is if you took a large enough number of female predators, they would fall into all four types. But, we know women are less anti-social than men, and there are fewer female pedophiles, so I think most women are narcissistic or inadequate types of predators.”

There are signs of the inadequate, the narcissist and the anti-social predator in Letourneau. She formed an inappropriate bond with a 12-year old, ignoring society’s mores and the well-being of her own four children.

While I may not fully agree with Dr. Baker on everything, she does raise some good points. The article goes on to make some other good points:

To watch NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” you’d think all predators are men. The series uses decoys on the Internet to lure men hoping to hook up with underage teens. Robert Weiss, executive director and founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, who provided his expertise in one of the episodes, says sexual compulsions on the Internet are male-dominated.

I wanted to make a comment on this. By not discussing or showing female offenders these type of shows only further reinforce the myths and stereotypes. Not to mention that the “predators” that are being caught are the stupid ones or the compulsive ones. The article then goes on to say this:

Then there is the ultimate double standard: The wink wink, nudge nudge, of boys getting their sexual initiation from grown women.

“Society sees it as they got ‘lucky’ ” to receive a sexual initiation from a woman, according to Dr. Keith Kaufman, chairman of the department of psychology at Portland State University. “But their brain maturation isn’t complete. Boys aren’t in a position to give consent to a sexual relationship. Girls see it as abusive much more quickly. Boys won’t want to see themselves as a victim.”

There is a prevailing sense that boys are not harmed by sexual liaisons with older women. It’s called the “Mrs. Robinson Syndrome,” after the character in the 1967 film “The Graduate.” But Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson’s target, wasn’t a child; he was in his 20s, had just graduated from college and was contemplating that career in plastics.

“We tend to see the female teacher-male student relationship as less abusive and less harmful psychologically,” according to Dr. Susan G. Kornstein, a psychiatrist and director of the Institute for Women’s Health and the Mood Disorders Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. “But in fact, a sexual relationship between a female teacher and a male student can be just as harmful and can have both short- and long-term consequences on the child’s emotional stability and psychological and sexual development.”

Boys who have sex with grown women are anything but “lucky.” “It is always abuse,” says Dr. Kaufman.

My final point is that we in no way should deny or minimize what has happened to millions of women and girls. But we also need to focus on male victims and give them the same respect and treatment options.


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11 thoughts on “Mother-Son sexual abuse

  1. An extract from “Offence-Related Interpretative Bias in Female Child Molesters: A Preliminary Study” by Theresa A. Gannon & Mariamne Rose (University of Kent)

    “Beech et al.’s (inpress) study suggests two plausible schemas for exploration. The first assumes that FCMs (female child molesters) have developed a schema that men are dangerous leading them to misinterpret men’s ambiguous social behavior as threatening and powerful. Certainly, the development of such a schema would seem plausible given the wealth of domestic abusive experiences typically reported by young FCMs (Gannon, et al., 2008). Presumably such a schema could play an etiological effect in female perpetrated abuse since, if women over perceive threat from male adults, they may be more inclined to perceive intimacy with younger males as favourable.”

    Here is a case of “Mother-Son sexual abuse” (maternal incest) from the UK that does seem to suggest that some female child sexual offenders (molesters) have indeed developed a “threat/fear of men” schema as suggested in the study:-

    Mother jailed after sex with son

    Published: 18/01/2008

    A CAMBRIDGESHIRE mother who had sex with her own son has been jailed for six years.

    After almost a decade of suffering, the boy’s ordeal only came to light when he sent a letter to his headmaster revealing the systematic abuse at the hands of the lone parent.

    The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has also been disqualified from working with children for life, made the subject of a 10-year sexual offences prevention order and put on the sex offender register.

    She was convicted of four offences of indecency with a child, which she denied, after a five day trial at Cambridge Crown Court in December.

    Judge Anthony Bate told her: “This was a gross breach of trust.”

    The woman appeared at Huntingdon Crown Court for sentence this week, and the court heard she had carried out sex acts with the boy, now 15, over a number of years.

    From the ages of five to 14, the boy was subjected to a horrific ordeal in which he was forced to commit sexual acts with his mother.

    She became more sexually demanding as he got older.

    By the age of 12 he was being forced to have full sex with his mother, which carried on for a further two years.

    Last year the boy plucked up the courage to ask for help and he wrote a letter to the headmaster of his school.

    In the letter the 14-year-old poured his heart out to the teacher about the abuse he had suffered for nine years. It was then that the police and social services were called in.

    Judge Bate said the woman had used the child as a “sexual plaything” in a life with few friends after her husband left. [He said that in evidence she had told how men “frightened the life out of her.”] (schema)

    Mark Shelley, defending, said the mother, who was of previous good character, was a lonely woman and that the case was a rare one.

    He urged the shortest prison sentence possible and said the sex offender would face an isolated time in custody because of the nature of her crimes and would be unable to take part in group sessions.

    A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said they dealt with the case immediately it came to light.

    He said: “It is a tragic case where the boy suffered in silence for many years and as soon as he raised his concerns we took immediate action which prevented further contact with the woman.”

  2. [“The first assumes that FCMs (female child molesters) have developed a schema that men are dangerous leading them to misinterpret men’s ambiguous social behavior as threatening and powerful. Certainly, the development of such a schema would seem plausible given the wealth of domestic abusive experiences typically reported by young FCMs (Gannon, et al., 2008).”]

    Found a very interesting comment on an unofficial UK website associated with Sarah’s Law (The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme) that yet again seems to confirm the plausibility of above quoted schema:-

    [username censored] said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    “are there any answers for the above questions, because I’m a single parent to 4 children, i have been thru domestic violence and im very wary of men, how do we know to trust them? how can I check if my boyfriend has any convictions with children or anyone? have met him online but i dont know if he could be safe with my children????? I live in [location censored] does Sarahs law exist here yet???”

  3. Redford man gets life for enticing moms to molest their children online

    A Redford Township man who manipulated women in three states into molesting their own children and then letting him watch the sex acts online is going to prison for the rest of his life.

    Steven Demink, 41, a former car salesman, was sentenced in federal court in Detroit today, four months after pleading guilty to his role in an Internet sex scheme that involved the abuse of 12 children by seven mothers – all at the behest of Demink.

    Criminal charges also were filed against the mothers, two of whom have pleaded guilty. The mothers live in New Hampshire, Florida and Idaho.

    Demink’s indictment was the result of a U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement investigation that spanned from Idaho to Florida to Virginia, and involved the arrest of four mothers.

    **Authorities said the case originated at a bus stop in Idaho, when in December 2009 a grandmother asked her 5-year-old grandson if he had fun the night before while visiting his mother.

    “The boy surprisingly said no. The boy told his grandmother that his mother forced him to undress,” and then molested him, court records show. The boy’s disclosure spurred the investigation into a mysterious man named Dalton St. Clair, who turned out to be Demink.**

    “Demink’s manipulative and predatory actions give new meaning to the word depravity. Demink stole the innocence from these children in the most harmful of ways by orchestrating the mothers to be the instrument of their sexual abuse” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit.

    **Mother-Son sexual abuse disclosure

  4. By virtue of their gender, female sexual offenders are often seen as non-threatening. Further, because of social construction of perceived power relationships, young male victims can be seen as dominant when they have sex with an adult female. Not only can this situation lead to a lack of recognition of the damage done by such relationships, it can also lead to under-reporting. It should be noted that regardless of how the sexual contact was defined by the victim, it is still likely to have a negative impact.

    Impact on Victims of Female Abuse

    Case Study: Andy was sexually abused by his mother from infancy until he was
    17 years old. He never perceived it as sexual abuse. He says ‘My mother loved me
    the only way she knew how. She would never hurt me, she was my mother. I could have stopped it if I had wanted to but I kind of liked it really. It never did me any harm’. Andy is now 34. He is serving a life sentence for rape and murder of a woman. He served a previous 9-year sentence for the rape of an older woman. He was in and out of juvenile facilities from the age of 12, mainly for violent acts, glue sniffing and drug-related offences. He also sexually abused two of his younger siblings.

    Extract from: Female Sexual Offenders: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment – Understanding the Prevalence of Female-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse and the Impact of That Abuse on Victims

  5. Some resources for mother-son sexual abuse:

    Gartner, Richard B. (2005). Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse (Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)

    Hislop, Julia (2001). Female Sex Offenders: What Therapists, Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services Need to Know (Ravensdale, Washington: Issues Press)

    “Sexual Abuse of Males: Prevalence, Possible Lasting Effects and Resources.”
    Jim Hopper, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School

    Miletski, Hani. (2007). Mother-Son Incest: The Unthinkable Broken Taboo Persists (An Updated and Revised Overview of Findings East West Publishing, LLC)

    God Must Be Sleeping by Gregg Tyler Milligan

  6. It appears odd that our western society with a nearly universal foundation in Judeo-Christian teachings would not think that a male could be a victim in the case of a female seducing the male. Take for instance the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Adam is clearly seduced and is the victim. Where did this anti-biblical notion arise that a man can’t be sexually victimized by a woman? I think I’ll go have an apple.

  7. Lowell woman pleads guilty to raping 4 sons
    By Associated Press

    A Lowell (Massachusetts) woman whose conviction was overturned by the state Appeals Court last month has pleaded guilty to allegations that she and her husband drugged and raped their four sons in 1997.

    Nancy Adkinson pleaded guilty Tuesday to several counts of child rape, indecent assault and battery on a child as well as distributing cocaine to a minor.

    A Middlesex Superior Court judge sentenced the 49-year-old woman to 15 to 16 years in prison, all deemed served.

    She was also ordered to have no contact with the victims, unless they initiate contact.

    Adkinson’s original conviction was overturned last month after the Appeals Court ruled that her Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated and she may have been incompetent to stand trial.

    The appeals court confirmed her husband’s conviction.

  8. Woman who raped son will serve at least 20 years in prison

    A 45-year-old woman must serve decades in state prison for raping her own son and making him live in squalor for years, a Luzerne County judge ruled Monday.

    During a sentencing hearing, Judge Tina Polachek Gartley deemed Carol Hann a “sexually violent predator” and ordered her to jail for up to 41½ years.

    Hann was convicted in December of rape of a child, criminal conspiracy, incest, corruption of minors and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    Gartley ordered Hann to serve a separate sentence on each charge, not concurrent sentences that would allow her to serve one or more of the sentences at the same time. In all, Gartley ordered Hann imprisoned for 20 years, 9 months to 41 years, 6 months.

    As part of her sentence, Hann is forbidden from any contact with her son, Gartley ruled.

    If Hann is ever released from prison, she will not have unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18 and must register as a sex offender for life, per the conditions of the state police Megan’s Law, the judge said.

  9. Gil S (2014) Male Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by a Male or Female Perpetrator. J Trauma Stress Disor Treat 3:3. doi:10.4172/2324-8947.1000128

    The findings of the study confirm that CSA of males by females can no
    longer be overlooked or be regarded as a marginal phenomenon. It is
    clear that the reported rates of male CSA by females are consistently underestimated, in part, due to the shame, guilt, and stigma attached
    to such exposure. Indeed, it has been found that welfare workers are
    less likely to substantiate cases involving male victims, and many CSA
    victims might go unrecognized [3,26,36]. Even though the males in
    the study sample have received therapy, having disclosed their CSA
    history, many others would benefit from further research and efforts
    by professionals to locate and treat them.

    Along the same lines, the findings of the study clearly suggest that
    the perpetrator’s gender is a differentiating factor in the profile of
    abuse among male CSA victims, and their reactions to it. Therefore,
    research and clinical attention must be tailored to each specific group.
    Public awareness of CSA of girls by their fathers or other close male
    relatives has increased significantly in recent years, showing that
    environmental alertness enables high rates of early identification
    and protection. The results of the present study, however, illustrate
    that CSA, particularly by female perpetrators, might be difficult to
    detect, as it occurs within a seemingly intact relationship with no
    visible evidence of the child’s resistance or distress. Indeed, intimacy
    between a mother and child is likely to be perceived positively and
    will rarely evoke suspicion by the environment, especially if the
    victims use latent coping strategies.

    Thus, more sensitive means of identifying certain cases of CSA are
    needed based on a deeper exploration of its various forms. Education
    in this field should focus on differentiating between appropriate and
    inappropriate behaviors, not only with a stranger, but also in the
    context of what should seemingly be the most secure domain—the
    mother—child relationship.

  10. Re: “Gil S (2014) Male Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by a Male or Female Perpetrator. J Trauma Stress Disor Treat 3:3. doi:10.4172/2324-8947.1000128”

    Thanks for posting that, FM. I appreciate the author’s attempts to study this, but several aspects of their conclusions are puzzling to me.

    First of all, all one has to do is spend a little time online or on this site to see myriad examples of FSA’s using violence – particularly mothers and stepmothers. I find it concerning that none of the study participants reported this, and it gives me pause.

    Re: their conclusions of ‘less damage to victims of FSA than MSA’, I’m puzzled by that as well. Perhaps they needed to have put a little more effort into getting behind the responses of the FSA survivors to check them for any other trends/factors that may have influenced their response – such as repression? When you put their answers alongside the responses of “Andy” in the study cited above, there is a very big disconnect. It makes you wonder just how far below the surface they looked.

    From the research article above:

    “The victims of male perpetrators exhibited higher levels of fear
    of exposure, fear of attack, and fear of one’s own destructiveness,
    reflecting direct prolonged reactivity to the abuse. […] Accordingly, their levels of neuroticism, PTSD and dissociative symptoms, and frequency of psychiatric
    diagnoses, were indeed higher than male victims abused by female

    Contrast this with the case study of “Andy” you quoted above:

    “Case Study: Andy was sexually abused by his mother from infancy until he was 17 years old. He never perceived it as sexual abuse. He says ‘My mother loved me the only way she knew how. She would never hurt me, she was my mother. I could have stopped it if I had wanted to but I kind of liked it really. It never did me any harm’. Andy is now 34. He is serving a life sentence for rape and murder of a woman. He served a previous 9-year sentence for the rape of an older woman. He was in and out of juvenile facilities from the age of 12, mainly for violent acts, glue sniffing and drug-related offences. He also sexually abused two of his younger siblings.”

    I’m struck by the possible similarity between “Andy’s” responses and the results for the male victims of FSA in the study; I wonder if the researchers assessed their subjects’ actual lives for evidence of discrepancy or concurrence with their reported answers.

    I’m also struck by the discrepancy between these two paragraphs in the study:

    The results of the present study, however, illustrate
    that CSA, particularly by female perpetrators, might be difficult to
    detect, as it occurs within a seemingly intact relationship with no
    visible evidence of the child’s resistance or distress. Indeed, intimacy
    between a mother and child is likely to be perceived positively and
    will rarely evoke suspicion by the environment, especially if the
    victims use latent coping strategies.”

    “Indeed, it has been found that welfare workers are
    less likely to substantiate cases involving male victims”

    It seems to me that until the latter is resolved, we’re never going to made a dent on the former.

    Lastly, in this study the age of the victim’s first SA was earlier for male abusers than female abusers. Again, this doesn’t accord with other studies I’ve seen of female abusers (which state that their victims on average are children of a much younger age than male abusers), nor with Andy’s case study above, which started in his infancy.

    I’m wondering if studies like this are peer reviewed, and if they are, if the significant discrepancies with other research are considered.

  11. You can look at the post and study on here titled “The Long-Term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse by Female Perpetrators: A Qualitative Study of Male and Female Victims.” The findings in it are interesting and some of them have been replicated in other studies.

    The problem with doing research in this type of area is that there are sooooooo many variables that can impact how the results/answers come out. Just look at the difference between the CDC and the National Crime Victimization Survey done by the Justice Department. The differences are quite striking. (CDC estimates that 2 million women were raped in 2011 and almost 7 million were victims of some other form of sexual violence. While the NCVS estimates for that year were 283,000 rapes and sexual assaults.) Everything from how a question is worded to how a term is defined to researcher bias, and more all play a part in studies. That is why no one study by itself is conclusive. Look at the studies you and FM mention. The Long Term study stated “93% reported that the sexual abuse was highly damaging and difficult to recover from:” and ” all of the victims who reported sexual abuse by men and women declared that the sexual abuse by women was more harmful and more damaging than the sexual abuse by men.”

    The simple fact is that every survivor and their experience is unique unto themselves and there is a wide variety of outcomes and responses. This is also one reason why we try to put all the research we can find on the topic here in one place.

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