Monday, May 16, 2016

Is Ongoing Victim Status Warranted?

While searching Twitter for Dr. Laura stuff, it became apparent that the last call she took at the end of today's first hour got on the nerves of several people on Twitter, and likely a lot of other people in the audience who didn't take to Twitter.

If you catch the podcast, it started  at 40:23 and is from "Linn" (not sure of the spelling, but a woman). She's 57, and she said she has two older brothers, one of them being two years older. She went on to say that when she was 11 and/or 12, (making him 13/14), he did some sexual things with/to her for a couple of years, about half a dozen times.

Generally, and it was consistent for this call, Dr. Laura notes that if there is less than four years age difference between teens/preteens and there isn't threats or force or anything along those lines, the therapeutic community tends to look at these things not as abuse, but as mutual messing around out of adolescent or childhood curiosity (although, Dr. Laura noted that a lot of feminist/victim-bent counselors would feed into the caller's perspective of it all being horrendous abuse on the part of her brother).

The caller said she would freeze, and that she knew it was wrong. She also said she'd "blocked out" some of it. Those are the "magic words" for Dr. Laura, who dismisses (as, now, do many therapists) "repressed/recovered" memories. She notes that there are a lot of military people with PTSD that wish they had the ability to repress memories. I'd like to believe Dr. Laura is right, but I also wonder if SOME people can repress memories and others "can't".

Anyway, Dr. Laura noted that they were close in age, and also gave the caller a chance to throw in if her brother had been threatening or forceful or whatever, but the caller didn't. Clearly, Dr. Laura expected that if the caller was entirely a victim (rather than being somewhat curious or horny herself), she would have done something after the first or second time... told someone, screamed, fought with him... something. The caller did say there was a time she walked away, but the rest of the time she said she was "frozen".

Dr. Laura referred to the situation as "complicated". She wasn't "blaming the victim". She was, from what I can tell, trying to depict a difference from reluctant, but willing participation in sex play and actually being forced or manipulated in an assault.

If I understood correctly, the caller waited until she was 45 to write a letter and read it to her brother. If he was truly predatory then he likely went on to abuse others. So that's a lot of time for him to go without anyone calling him out. At some point, someone who has been abused has a responsibility to protect others.

Did Dr. Laura botch this call? I don't think so. I can believe that the caller genuinely feels victimized and is still suffering as a result, but the question is why does she feel that way? Perhaps if she'd gotten the right help sooner, she'd be much better off now. Was her brother a predator, or just a curious boy? All we have is what the caller said, and she said she'd "freeze" and didn't tell anyone. I don't know... if I'd been that age and someone was doing something to me, I know I would  have told someone, unless it wasn't predatory and was mutual. But we're not all the same, are we? 11/12 is a little old to stay silent, I think, unless there's a whole 'nother story to what was going on in that family.

I never had any desire to do anything with my siblings. I never looked at them that way. Nothing ever happened between us. I was shy and modest. But as therapists know, childhood/adolescent messing around does happen between some siblings. It can be wrong without being a criminal or abusive matter.

1 comment:

  1. good read. I like your thoughts. I think Dr Laura was maybe trying to get out that maybe she felt more shame on herself for being a participant in incest that she needed to put blame on the other party in order for her to cope with her own demons. But this is only a POSSIBILITY and requires a lot of thought. I just feel that maybe it was a bit too abrupt for Dr. Laura to say over the air w/ millions listening that was like "you liked it" - which I guess is what people should expect when they call.
    Also 45 yrs is a long time to keep bringing it up. In hindsight, not diminishing this woman's scars, but as a third party it seems like 2 kids exploring their sexuality, and body parts and even what he did was wrong, you could say he didn't know what he was really doing - in way of knowing what rape/molestation is. And I think as an adult it's a thought to consider. He acknowledged and accepted the blame. She doesn't have to forgive him but I think it should be enough to either make a judgement to cut him out completely or just be amicable for the family. And keep it at that and for both of them to stop bringing it up.
    The fact that he sent a new letter, makes me feel like he still feels really bad for what happened, that if it wasn't cut and dry, she didn't want it to happen, that a reasonable person would understand.
    But like you stated, if it was a molestation type thing then maybe there were other victims. Since he reopened the topic and she found this post and was still unsure if she should forgive him- I'd find out if he did this to anyone else and if there was a considerable age gap. If so, then she was a victim of a devious mind, rather than a young kids curiosty.

    But as I'm writing this stuff comes to mind.. I had a hard time giving a name to what happened to me, which was: a boy I was dating and had sex with often, raped me. And just because you give consent once, doesn't mean it always stands. I was OK for the other times but this time it wasn't. I wasn't threatened with my life at the time. I didn't kick and scream. I said no, repeatedly, and told him to stop but when he didn't. I felt my trust was broken which paralized me. I remember feeling betrayed and crying at this occurring. He was actually a year younger than me. But I don't think any age difference matters in this case, so should it matter with the caller?

    Overall, as neither of us actually had to deal with this situation (the caller with Dr Laura), that maybe it wasn't a topic that could be discussed rationally over a 4 minute phone call. And rather require more time, get more personal, and have some more compassion.

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