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The original trauma of being sexually abused or assaulted is horrible enough, but when your mother doesn’t believe you or protect you, you suffer a secondary trauma.
Here are some of my thoughts stemming from over 30 years of counseling women in psychotherapy.
Good morning, it’s Katherine Fabrizio with help for the adult daughter of the narcissistic or otherwise difficult mother trapped in the role of the good daughter.
So many women remain silent and never reveal that they were sexually abused or assaulted in the first place.
You know, this morning I was thinking about, with all the sexual assault and sexual abuse allegations in the news, what I see so much in my practice is the primary trauma of the original sexual assault or sexual abuse is horrific and terrible enough, and many women keep these incidents secret and carry them to their grave because they feel guilty.
Why do so many women remain silent?
They blame themselves if they were in, in a position… say they were in a place where they feel like they shouldn’t have been or they were dressed in a way that they feel like they shouldn’t have been or they were drinking or on and on and on and on- they put the blame on themselves.
So many women in this good daughter role are trained to please other people and be good, which many times involves not being sexual.
Lack of reporting sexual assault/abuse cuts right to the heart of the conflict women feel about their sexuality.
So many women feel ashamed of their sexuality at its core and mom doesn’t help. Mixed messages mothers give to daughters abound. Mom is conflicted, and therefore she passes these messages down to her daughter. “Look good but not too good.”
What happens when women speak up, and mom doesn’t protect them?
Many women don’t speak up, but sometimes they do and when they do … tell their mothers or the other women in their life and they’re not believed or they might be believed, but the mom says, and I’m going to quote from a comment I got from an article I wrote this week, ” I’ve got two kids to raise and, you know, I’m sorry your stepfather’s doing that to you, but there’s really nothing I can do. This is killing me. You’re making me choose.”
Oh, my God. From that particular client who sent in the comment this week, she, in particular, has lived with this her whole adult life and stayed close to a mother who never stood up for her and protected her.
Now I think it’s very complicated because women haven’t had the economic power that men have had. Some may, quote-unquote need to stay in that relationship.
I think it’s very complicated, but what I want to speak to is what it does to the daughters who dare to speak up.
I see this so many times… that they dare to speak up and are not believed or are not protected by their moms.
What message does it send when mothers don’t believe or don’t protect their own daughters?
I mean, what are they supposed to do with that? It sets them up for a lifetime of incredible internal conflict.
How are they supposed to go forward?
How are they supposed to look at men and, and decide, you know, what you do for a man and what you don’t do for man? When do you sell your soul? What kind of Faustian bargain have you entered into?
Many times it’s a mother who they’re taking care of, or they’re looking to for identity and role modeling. When this person becomes mute or overlooks it, or it’s, it’s just incredibly life damaging
This has to stop!
What can women do instead?
Yes, people should be allowed due process and all that, but when your daughter speaks up or your best friend speaks up, or women that you work with speaks up, you can take her seriously.
You can become curious. You can ask caring, inquisitive questions that don’t imply a “what did you do? You know, what was your part in it or don’t imply that because a person was drinking or wore a certain outfit or, went on a date that gives the man permission to force himself on her.
Or if it’s at work, and somebody’s in a higher position, they can say anything they want to somebody in a lower position.