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What constitues sexual abuse?
May 17, 2000
9:55 am
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Cici
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I have a question...

I've heard about the family bed and whatnot, where the children sleep with the parents. I thought, it must be ok if some family counselors are recommending it.

But I also read a book about childhood sexual abuse that implicated some mothers not with physical assault so much as mental sexual abuse. For example, case study, one woman was made to sleep in her mother's bed with her parents until she was 12 years old. She was also beaten and verbally abused by her mother, who had severe bipolar mood disorder that went untreated.

The woman went on to have normal relationships, but was treated several times for nervous breakdowns and dissociative periods where she would, in effect, loose touch with reality for up to but never over a week. She also had virtually no memories of her childhood. These sound like post traumatic stress syptoms, common in children who experienced sexual abuse, but her mother never touched her genitals or sexualized her.

What do you all think?

May 17, 2000
8:35 pm
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janes
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There are so many "schools of thought" on the family bed stuff.

I think it was definitly abnormal (for USA or other Western type nation) for her to MAKE her daughter sleep with her until 12.

MY kids always had their own beds but a nightmare or whatever would bring them into our bed and we just made room. The scaredy cat kid did it the longest. If I woke up enough I would move them back to their own space If not we all slept on.

Parents are supposed to be nurturers. WRONG touch (or words) are WRONG There is a line at which ABUSE begins.

Many third world families don't have separate rooms in their homes yet incest isn't happening either.

A nurturing family is a nurturing family. I don't think kids should be MADE to sleep with parents but I don't think it is a huge issue when the point is nurturing, warm family love.

Just my thoughts.

May 18, 2000
12:56 am
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Frieda
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Can't any abuse cause the symptoms you are referring to? (dissociation, nervous breakdowns, etc.) I imagine her mother had terrible times when she was abusive and confusing to her daughter, causing her to pocket off parts of her self, and lose control in some areas. It wouldn't have to be sexual abuse. Being forced to sleep in your parents bed that long could be abuse, even if nothing overtly sexual happened. Another question: Did she witness sex acts between her parents, or did they abstain for 12 years??? I don't think I understand "mental sexual abuse." Maybe purposeful exposure to pornography, or inappropriate discussions...? Hmmm...

May 18, 2000
9:15 am
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Cici
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See, this is my problem. The premise of the book is that more people may have experienced sexual abuse than previously thought. But I don't necessarily agree with that. Also, the woman could have suffered other traumas that we just don't know about, and being beaten and verbally abused can cause those symptoms, too.

Oh, the family was American, or at least living in America. Crucial point I forgot to mention, sorry!!

All I know is there were four children, this woman was the youngest adn she wasn't exposed to her parents having intercourse. But then again, who's to say they didn't have intercourse when she wasn't around...ie, during the day or whatever.

I think that doing this may retard your child's emotional development, though. I mean, facing your fears about sleeping alone is a turning point in a child's life. To delay that might've delayed her emotional development. I don't know. I mean, forcing a child to do something like that for 12 years has to be at least slightly damaging, but is that abuse?

May 18, 2000
10:30 am
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Frieda
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Maybe you could define abuse for me. Is it anything that causes damage, emotionslly, physically, intellectually? Because if so, I don't know any unabused folks! There must be something else to delineate, right?

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