I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Rape Isn't about Sex

I've heard that statement for at least thirty years. They go on to say, "It's about control."

Maybe it is.

I am not a therapist; however, as a survivor of sexual assault, I think it's more about compulsion—the perpetrators' obsessive needs. Or if control is the word, perhaps it refers to perpetrators struggling and failing to control their driving compulsions. The successful assault of a child temporarily satisfies their irresistible impulse.

Control sounds to me more like a reasoned, determined act to subjugate someone to their wills. In the act of rape, perpetrators are in control, but I don't see that as the issue. They're fixated on themselves—the driving force that leads to (momentary) sexual release.

In 2005, I had a lengthy conversation with a former perpetrator. He likened his behavior to someone who was addicted to cocaine. "The more I resisted, the stronger the drive. My thoughts constantly focused on boys."

He went into some detail, but he also said, "After every encounter, I detested myself. I knew it was wrong—but I did it anyway."

I don't write this to minimize the pain and trauma inflicted on us survivors. I write this because I'm learning compassion toward perpetrators—beginning with those who molested me. I don't excuse what they do, but seeing their actions as a form of addictive behavior evokes sympathy. I've been able to forgive because they are also victims of their own compulsive desires.

2 comments:

Roger Mann said...

I hear that quote a lot bandied around. I am not so sure. Some perps may get off on the control. Their lives may have been so controlled they crave the freedom to know the other side and get off on finally being the one IN control of that situation.

For others I suspect it is about lust and the stealing of innocence. I have heard others talk of their victims as being so beautifully innocent and their desire to remove that innocence. The specific thrill they received in taking that away. Perhaps because theirs was stolen, they are jealous, envious of it in a boy and get off on initiating him into the adult world of sex.

Bottom line I think it is more complicated than that. A boy having been raped and violently yanked out of childhood innocence when he grows up may just be stuck in that mentality and have a compulsion to re-enact that over and over again but in the other role now.

The human mind is very complicate and we can become conditioned like Pavlov's dogs to respond in weird ways unknowingly, hence the wide variety of fetishes.

Some who are abused never go on to abuse another. Some seem compelled to, and others may have simply taking an idle fantasy and discovered an opportunity in bringing that to life and taken it because they could not resist the chance to really see what it felt like. IDK

He heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it?

Andrew Schmutzer said...

I agree with various observations made here about compulsion, fetish-beauty, re-enactment, and even stealing. I think it's also significant that the traumatized brain can also "lock" that deviance in the age one was violated.

When I asked my perp why help was not sought out, he said he did not know how to stop. How does a child pay someone's debt with no resources? This is about more than just power...the mind can be deeply broken.

To be sure, explanations are not justifications.