Is It Time for Truth & Reconciliation Around Sexual Violence?

Sexual abuse and violence is out of the closet and we are beginning to talk about an issue that has long been hidden. One of the advantages of having a president who bragged about his own misconduct, is that we are all forced to address these issues.  We all remember the Donald Trump’s words in the “Access Hollywood” tape.

It begins with audio of Mr. Trump speaking with Billy Bush, the former “Access Hollywood” host, on a bus. In the section that attracted the most attention, Mr. Trump referred to kissing women and grabbing them by their genitals without their consent.

Mr. Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Mr. Bush: Whatever you want.

Mr. Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, even after these comments were reported. Yet, the times are changing as more and more women come out and acknowledge, #metoo, and more men come out to believe and support them.

Despite strong support from President Trump, Roy Moore was defeated in Alabama. Doug Jones became the first Democrat in a generation to win a Senate seat in Alabama, beating Republican Roy Moore amid a firestorm of allegations that the GOP candidate had sexually abused teens.

If we want to end sexual abuse, we have to do more than defeat the men who abuse women. There needs to be a real dialogue between the men who are sexually abusive and the women who are abused by them. We’ve focused more on helping the women get the support and have the courage to step forward and acknowledge and talk about what happened to them. [Read more…]

Sexual Abuse is Out of the Closet: The Underlying Cycle and the Hidden Cause No One Wants to Talk About

We continue to be shocked when we learn about another case of sexual abuse perpetrated by powerful men. The names of rich and powerful abusers are well known to us and include Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Roy Moore.

A few, like Louis C.K., acknowledge their abusive behavior. “These stories are true,” C.K. said. “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d–k without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d–k isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”

Most, like movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, continue to deny the charges. A spokeswoman for Weinstein denied the rape allegations in a statement provided to CNN. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” the statement read. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”

As a therapist for nearly fifty years, I have treated many men who have abused women and I have treated men who have been abusers. I’ve also treated men who have abused other males and women who have abused boys and girls. What I have learned over the years is that nearly every person I have treated who has abused another person, were themselves abused when they are young. That doesn’t mean that every one who was abused, neglected, abandoned, or harmed as a child will go on to abuse others. It does mean that those who abuse others, were themselves abused in the past.

Here’s a story told to me by a fellow therapist, Richard Strozzi Heckler, author of In Search of the Warrior Spirit.

“I’m waiting in line at the post office, preparing to send a package to the East Coast. A young mother steps up to the counter, looking harried, and holding on to the hand of her two-year-old boy. He’s a cute little kid, but he’s restless and probably hungry. He tugs on her arm. ‘Mommy, let’s go, let’s go,’ he whines. She tells him to quiet down as she looks through her purse looking for money to pay for the stamps she has just purchased. The little boy puts his hand in her purse and pulls out her keys. She grabs them back. ‘That’s enough, now. Stop it.’ Her voice is shrill and she’s clearly losing patience. He continues looking in her purse.” Richard’s voice is calm, but as I listened I could picture the explosion that was about to happen. We’ve all seen these kinds of encounters before.

“Turning quickly, she slaps him hard across the face. ‘I told you to stop!’ she shrieks. The two people in front of me turn their heads away. The clerk at the desk smiles consolingly and passes her stamps across to her. [Read more…]