Goldschmidt Case Shows Need to Address Sexual Abuse Openly

Article excerpt

Byline: Gary Crum

The death, at age 49, of the victim of Neil Goldschmidt's sexual abuse has engendered articles (Register- Guard, Feb. 13) and commentaries relating to this particular case and sexual abuse in general. Such discussion exposes many of the myths and misunderstandings relating to sexual abuse, and it highlights our cultural discomfort when addressing the issue.

Usually, it seems we first deny that such a "good" man would engage in such despicable acts: "Why, he's an upstanding teacher, coach, priest, counselor, neighbor, friend, stepfather, uncle or grandfather, and would never do such a thing!" It's simply "unthinkable." We often accuse the victim of lying to hurt someone who has been "so good" to her or him.

Then, if those accusations are established as fact, we shift to defend the involved adult as the "victim" of a "vixen seductress." It's not an unfair assessment to suggest that frequently our reaction to cases of such sexual abuse and our treatment of the victims of that abuse exacerbate the damage suffered by the juvenile victim.

Sexual victimization all too frequently dominates the future life of the victim. Virtually all male sex offenders were first victims of sexual abuse. Moreover, most male victimization is homosexual abuse, and victims face issues of sexual identity as well as victimization.

Not all victims of sexual abuse become offenders. But without extensive counseling and therapy, the probability of future offending behavior is depressingly high.

When victims receive such help before they become offenders themselves, the prognosis is hopeful. However, all long-term studies of male sexual offender treatment demonstrate a disturbingly high level of recidivism once a victim becomes an offender himself. Early intervention is absolutely crucial for the well-being of the victim.

Female victims frequently develop a "victim's stance," viewing themselves as having no real control of their lives and their relationships with males.

They often become sexually manipulative and seductive in relating to men. Their victimization was based on a trust relationship with an adult male who had the controlling role in that relationship. They learned to accept their subservient role and, without extensive therapy to change that worldview, they will repeat the same kind of relationships throughout their lives.

Their offender controlled their relationship, treated them as a sex object and in many different ways rewarded them for accepting such a role. …