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The hidden abusers

By Phillip Hickox - posted Thursday, 24 February 2022

Grace Tame in her presentation to the National Press Club said that she was not only an advocate for women, but also an advocate for all survivors of child sexual abuse, many of whom she said were male.

We must preserve that nuance, every nuance, in our discussions. We cannot forget our boys, and we cannot forget out men - not only as welcome, equal participants in this ongoing conversation, and without ignoring many negative patriarchal customs - we cannot forget our boys and men who are fellow survivors of abuse.

In very rare occurrence for the ABC where the vast majority of reporting is through the gynocentric lens and male perspective is sadly lacking unless they are portrayed as abusers and perpetrators. They published an article based on the research being conducted by Ph'd student Lucetta Thomas 2015.


New research shedding light on sex abuse committed by mothers against their sons: reporter Tegan Osbourne

"The mother's archetypal role is as a nurturer and protector, but challenging new Australian research is shedding light on the little-known crime of mother-son sexual abuse."

Dr Miletski said a range of myths existed about mother-son sexual abuse that allowed a kind of taboo to persist - despite a greater societal understanding of child sexual abuse and rape against males in recent decades.

"Nobody wants to think about it, nobody wants to deal with it, nobody wants to research it, nobody wants to study, nobody wants to read about it," she said.

Dr Miletski said the next myth was that women could not be perpetrators of sexual abuse, a societal belief illustrated by the way in which the media often played down cases of women teachers having sex with male students.

How times do we hear; "that a mother could never sexually abuse her own child."

Dr Miletski a sex therapist said that even she found it difficult to accept the fact that it is possible for mothers to sexually abuse their own children. Even with her education and experience she still finds it difficult to believe what she was hearing from her client.

It's just so difficult for us to take it in, and accept that it can happen.

"I don't believe her! It's impossible" was the stunned reaction of a staff member to an elderly female patient who disclosed to her that her mother had sexually abused her as a child. The nursing staff member struggled with this disclosure made by a female patient as it caused her a cognitive conflict. A sense that this was not true, and that the female patient had somehow got it wrong. Even qualified Psychologist's struggle with this type of disclosure.


She asked me what I thought and I said that I would believe her, in my previous work in the field of Drug and Alcohol abuse, I had been told of mothers using their babies feet to masturbate. Of mothers digitally assaulting their daughters, sons who had incestuous relationships with their mothers.

The first time I was exposed to these claims, my first reaction was numbness, are they telling me the truth or pulling my leg? Part to the numbness response was how do I respond and it causes a cognitive conflict, especially when the vast majority of the literature is about men abusing children. Also I learnt from the people who came in for rehab, the ones who went to boarding school were often abused by the nuns. One man who was a farmer, could not even sleep in a normal room with doors and windows, he would sleep not in the house with his wife and children but in his shearing shed such was his trauma. He would anaesthetise himself nightly with alcohol.

In 1997 the BBC's program Panorama produced this documentary The Ultimate Taboo: Child Sexual abuse by women. It is interesting that the transcript of this documentary is not available on the BBC website, Transcripts of programs preceding and post are available.

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About the Author

Phillip Hickox is a retired critical care nurse.

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