In some instances, even when crisis intervention has been intensive and appropriate, the mother and daughter are already so deeply estranged at the time of disclosure that the bond between them seems irreparable. In this situation, no useful purpose is served by trying to separate the mother and father and keep the daughter at home. The daughter has already been emotionally expelled from her family; removing her to protective custody is simply the concrete expression of the family reality.These are the cases which many agencies call their “tragedies.” This report of a child protective worker illustrates a case where removing the child from the home was the only reasonable course of action:Division of Family and Children’s Services received an anonymous telephone call on Sept. 14 from a man who stated that heoverheard Tracy W., age 8, of [address] tell his daughter of a forced oral-genital assault, allegedly perpetrated against this child by her mother’s boyfriend, one Raymond S.Two workers visited the W. home on Sept. 17. According to their report, Mrs. W. was heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time of the visit. Mrs. W. stated immediately that she was aware why the two workers wanted to see her, because Mr. S. had “hurt her little girl.” In the course of the interview, Mrs. W. acknowledged and described how Mr. S. had forced Tracy to have relations with him. Workers then interviewed Tracy and she verified what mother had stated. According to Mrs. W., Mr. S. admitted the sexual assault, claiming that he was drunk and not accountable for his actions. Mother then stated to workers that she banished Mr. S. from her home.I had my first contact with mother and child at their home on Sept. 20 and I subsequently saw this family once a week. Mother was usually intoxicated and drinking beer when I saw her. I met Mr. S. on my second visit. Mr. S. denied having had any sexual relations with Tracy. Mother explained that she had obtained a license and planned to marry Mr. S.On my third visit, Mrs. W. was again intoxicated and drinking despite my previous request that she not drink during my visit. Mother explained that Mr. S. had taken off to another state and she never wanted to see him again. On this visit mother demanded that Tracy tell me the details of her sexual involvement with Mr. S. On my fourth visit, Mr. S. and Mrs. S. were present. Mother explained that they had been married the previous Saturday. On my fifth visit, Mr. S. was not present. During our discussion, mother commented that “Bay was not the ﬁrst one who hadTracy.” After exploring this statement with mother and Tracy, it became clear that Tracy had been sexually exploited in the same manner at age six by another of Mrs. S.'s previous boyfriends.On my sixth visit, Mrs. S. stated that she could accept Tracy’s being placed with another family as long as it did not appear to Tracy that it was her mother’s decision to give her up. Mother also commented, “I wish the fuck I never had her.”It appears that Mrs. S. has had a number of other children all of whom have lived with other relatives or were in foster care for part of their lives. Tracy herself lived with a paternal aunt from birth to age ﬁve.
Since most sexual abuse begins well before puberty, preventive education, if it is to have any effect at all, should begin early in grade school. Ideally, information on sexual abuse should be integrated into a general curriculum of sex education. In those communities where the experiment has been tried, it has been shown conclusively that children can learnwhat they most need to know about sexual abuse, without becoming unduly frightened or developing generally negative sexual attitudes. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, for example, the Hennepin County Attorney's office developed an education program on sexual assault for elementary school children. The program was presented to all age groups in four different schools, some eight hundred children in all. The presentation opened with a performance by a children’s theater group, illustrating thedifference between affectionate touching, and exploitative touching. The children’s responses to the skits indicated that they understood the distinction very well indeed. Following the presentation, about one child in six disclosed a sexual experience with an adult, ranging from an encounter with an exhibitionist to involvement in incest. Most of the children,both boys and girls, had not told anyone prior to the classroom discussion. In addition to basic information on sexual relations and sexual assault, children need to know that they have the right to their own bodily integity.
It was Freud's ambition to discover the cause of hysteria, the archetypal female neurosis of his time. In his early investigations, he gained the trust and confidence of many women, who revealed their troubles to him.Time after time, Freud's patients, women from prosperous, conventional families, unburdened painful memories of childhood sexual encounters with men they had trusted: family friends, relatives, and fathers. Freud initially believed his patients and recognized the significance of their confessions. In 1896, with the publication of two works, The Aetiology of Hysteria and Studies on Hysteria, he announced that he had solved the mystery of the female neurosis. At the origin of every case of hysteria, Freud asserted, was a childhood sexual trauma.But Freud was never comfortable with this discovery, because of what it implied about the behavior of respectable family men. If his patients' reports were true, incest was not a rare abuse, confined to the poor and the mentally defective, but was endemic to the patriarchal family. Recognizing the implicit challenge to patriarchal values, Freud refused to identify fathers publicly as sexual aggressors. Though in his private correspondence he cited "seduction by the father" as the "essential point" in hysteria, he was never able to bring himself to make this statement in public. Scrupulously honest and courageous in other respects, Freud falsified his incest cases. In The Aetiology of Hysteria, Freud implausibly identified governessss, nurses, maids, and children of both sexes as the offenders. In Studies in Hysteria, he managed to name an uncle as the seducer in two cases. Many years later, Freud acknowledged that the "uncles" who had molested Rosaslia and Katharina were in fact their fathers. Though he had shown little reluctance to shock prudish sensibilities in other matters, Freud claimed that "discretion" had led him to suppress this essential information. Even though Freud had gone to such lengths to avoid publicly inculpating fathers, he remained so distressed by his seduction theory that within a year he repudiated it entirely. He concluded that his patients' numerous reports of sexual abuse were untrue. This conclusion was based not on any new evidence from patients, but rather on Freud's own growing unwillingness to believe that licentious behavior on the part of fathers could be so widespread. His correspondence of the period revealed that he was particularly troubled by awareness of his own incestuous wishes toward his daughter, and by suspicions of his father, who had died recently.p9-10