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Incest & Sexual Abuse–the Oldest Taboos

One of the oldest taboos in the civilized world may be that of incest. The Bible addresses this issue in 2 Samuel 13 with the story of Amnon and Tamar. Amnon was King David’s firstborn son. Tamar was his younger sister for whom he lusted. Amnon devised a plan to fake illness in order get the virgin Tamar to come to his residence to cook for him. He then lured her to his bedroom and raped her. Once finished, his lust turned to hatred. (This may be common in instances of incest, as it absolves the attacker of blame and places it on the victim. It also probably involves some transference of self-hatred as well.) He cast her out and shamed her. The passage says she “remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s home” (NKJV). Interestingly, it says that when David found out what Amnon had done, he was angry, but it doesn’t say that he took any action to provide justice for Tamar. That would have compounded the feelings of betrayal, injustice, and humiliation she must have felt. Several years later, Absalom murdered Amnon for his transgressions.

Approximately 90 percent of sexually abused children know their abuser. Incest is the cruelest betrayal of trust between a child and parent and understandably has emotionally devastating consequences. When an older sibling or relative is involved, it’s just a damaging. Sexually violating children is probably the worst evil most people will ever experience. When people who are supposed to protect you end up violating you, it is thoroughly destructive. Statistically one in three girls and one in six boys will suffer unwanted sexual experiences before the age of eighteen. That number is probably higher, as it is estimated that a high number of people never tell anyone they have been molested. Regardless, those conservative estimates alone translate into about 60 million people in our country having been victims of sexual abuse. Literally, everywhere you go, you will be in contact with someone who has suffered this fate. Look around you. In a room full of women, at least a third of them have been sexually abused as a child. This has to stop. If this is your legacy, you can stop it in your lineage by following some of the steps detailed throughout this book.

It’s estimated that up to 90 percent of all incest victims never tell anyone. Why? Because they are afraid of breaking up the family. Susan Forward and Craig Buck say, “Incest may be frightening, but the thought of being responsible for the destruction of the family is even worse.”

And the damage is even worse if the victim experiences any pleasure from these acts as their shame is magnified. Our bodies are designed to be sexual beings. In addition, it is biologically programmed to respond (often as a form of physical protection) to sexual acts even in cases of non-consent and assault. This causes many victims to feel responsible for the event. Understand, as a child you were always the victim, whether you derived pleasure or not. The adult is always the one to blame in those circumstances.

Additionally, people do not tell anyone because incest abusers are very adept at psychological manipulation and fear-mongering. They use threats and manipulation to keep their victims quiet.

Threats Used by Incest Abusers

Tell and I’ll kill you.

Tell and I’ll kill your parents/siblings/grandparents.

Tell and no one will believe you.

Tell and your mommy will be mad at (or hate) you.

Tell and people will think you are crazy.

Tell and I’ll go to jail and there won’t be anyone to support the family.

Survivors of incest often report feeling worthless, bad, dirty, and damaged. Depression is a common result of incest. Women especially may allow themselves to become overweight as adults. This serves two purposes: (a) she imagines it will keep men away from her, and (b) the body mass creates the illusion of power and strength. Like many victims of abuse, incest survivors frequently self-medicate their pain with drugs and alcohol.[i]

Men who have been sexually abused have a special set of challenges to deal with, as it strikes at the heart of their masculinity. Men are not supposed to be assaulted, vulnerable, dominated, raped, or controlled. They may feel emasculated or that they are destined to be a homosexual.

Men generally find themselves uncomfortable dealing with and expressing emotions. In part, it’s how they’re brought up. Any form of sexual abuse creates intense emotions. Here are some common emotions men feel in these situations:

  • Dehumanized—They feel like they have no value and constantly compare themselves to other men.
  • Shame—They transfer false shame and guilt to themselves.
  • Ambivalent—They can understand the emotion of anger, but not love. During the abuse they were feeling horrified and scared but also aroused. Their mind was saying, “This is not right,” but their body is designed to respond when stimulated.
  • Impotent—A word no man even wants to think about. They believe they have no voice—that no one will listen to them.
  • Disrespected—They don’t feel other men will respect them. That they will make fun of them. That they never measure up. Often they will become very promiscuous in an attempt to prove their masculinity (to themselves and the world).

Understand that incest affects its victims in very subtle and damaging ways. This is another type of abuse that may require very intense counseling in order to heal from. Don’t wait! The longer you put it off, the more difficult it becomes.

[i]Susan Forward, with Craig Buck, Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life (New York,: Bantam Books, 1989

 

Excerpted from Rick’s newest book, Overcoming Toxic Parenting: How to be a good parent when yours wasn’t, by Revell Publishing.

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Mars, Venus, and Pillow Talk

Several years ago I was asked to speak at a large men’s conference. Besides speaking from the main stage I was scheduled to give two breakout sessions. One of the breakout sessions was on the topic of my book, Becoming Your Spouse’s Better Half. Upon arriving at the venue I discovered from the participant guide that the event producers had advertised this workshop as “How to get more sex in your marriage.” Needless to say, about 580 out of the 600 men in attendance showed up at the workshop. The twenty who didn’t come were the teenage boys who were forced (somewhat reluctantly) to attend the workshop on sexual purity.
Rather than discussing just the act of sex, though, I talked mostly about a woman’s needs and how best to fulfill them. I told them that understanding a woman’s need for romance would be a key factor in having an enjoyable sex life – that women are physically stimulated through romance because it meets their need to feel cherished and loved. To be romanced is to feel special and valuable. To be romanced is to be pursued. Nearly all women derive some self-esteem or sense of worth from knowing a man wants and desires her. It makes her feel loved and attractive. When her need for non-sexual affection is met she is more able to respond with physical affection.
I explained that many women are unable to separate sex from the context of their daily lives and relationships. It seemed strange to some of them that if they’d recently been arguing with their spouse or the kids were sick, they weren’t likely find their wives in the mood for sex. While men use sex to heal the problems of life, women are just the opposite. In fact many women report that if the house is messy or the dishes dirty, they are unable to relax and concentrate on having sexual relations.
I let the men know their wives need to hear them speak words such as “I love you” and “You’re beautiful” daily. When a woman hears confirmation that her man loves her and finds her beautiful, she is more likely to be sexually responsive. She needs to hear these things frequently. Most women are insecure about their appearance. They mentally magnify any imperfections or flaws they perceive in their physical appearance. I use the word perceive because what a woman perceives and what others see can be two different things. It’s a great mystery that even the world’s most beautiful women can think they are ugly or can have features they are insecure about. These negative whispers in her ear are strategies by the evil one to strike her where it hurts most and she is most vulnerable.
As I discussed the need to actually “talk” to their wives, I could see an almost pained expression come over the faces of the men. I reassured them by letting them know that sometimes it was equally important to just listen to a woman without trying to solve her problems.
Frankly, the men were pretty stoic during the presentation. I hadn’t presented this workshop before so I didn’t know what to expect. But surprisingly, many came to me afterwards, some with tears in their eyes, and expressed genuine thanks for the epiphanies they had received regarding their wives’ needs. I have since received a half-dozen emails from men at the conference commenting on how much, according to their wives, the information I shared has already improved their marriages.
I believe the average guy is sincerely confused about his wife’s needs and how to fulfill them. Women are pretty complex creatures to most men. Every man I know wants to make his wife happy, and most guys would be willing to do whatever it takes – provided they knew what to do. Rather than advice from a Lothario’s perspective (which is what most secular books in our culture promote), we need to teach men (young and old) practical, common sense advice on how to fulfill their wives’ deepest needs – to create harmony, joy, and contentment in the lives of their spouses.

And if they happen to get a more fulfilling sex life because of it – well, so be it!

To find out more about Rick’s books or speaking schedule go to:  www.betterdads.net 

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Get More Sex from Your Marriage!

I was recently asked to speak at a large men’s conference. Besides speaking from the main stage I was scheduled to give two breakout sessions as well. One of the breakout sessions was on the topic of my newest book, Becoming Your Spouse’s Better Half. Upon arriving at the venue I looked at the participant guide and discovered that the event producers had promoted this workshop as a “how to get more sex in your marriage” event. Needless to say about 580 out of the 600 men in attendance showed up at the workshop. The twenty who didn’t come were the teenage boys who were forced (somewhat reluctantly) to attend the workshop on sexual purity.

However, rather than discuss sex during the workshop, I talked mostly about a woman’s true needs and how best to fulfill them. For instance I talked about how romance is a key factor in having an enjoyable sex life for women–that women are physically stimulated through romance because it meets their key needs of feeling cherished and loved. To be romanced is to feel special and of value. To be romanced is to be pursued. It makes a woman feel loved and attractive. When a woman’s need for non-sexual affection is met she is programmed to respond with physical affection. Nearly all women derive at least some self-esteem or self-value from being desired and wanted by a man.

I also explained how many women are unable to separate sex from the context of their daily lives and relationships. That might sound strange to us men, but know that if you have been arguing with your wife or if the kids are sick, she is not likely to be in the mood for sex. And while men use sex to heal the problems of life, women are just the opposite. In fact many women report that if the house is messy or the dishes dirty they are unable to relax and concentrate on having sexual relations.
I also told the men the importance of speaking words that their wives need to hear such as “I love you” and “You’re beautiful.” When a woman feels beautiful she is more likely to be sexually responsive. A wife needs to hear several things daily. She needs confirmation that her man loves her, and she needs to know he finds her beautiful. She needs to hear those things frequently to allay her fears and insecurities. Most women are very insecure about their appearance. She magnifies in her mind any perceived imperfections or flaws in her physical appearance. I use the word perceived because they are usually just that—figments of her imagination. The great mystery is that even the world’s most beautiful women think they are ugly or have features they are insecure about. These negative whispers in her ear are strategies by the evil one to strike her where she is most vulnerable and where it hurts most.

As we discussed the need to actually “talk” to their wives you could see an almost pained expression come over the faces of the men. I reassured them by talking about the importance of just listening to a woman and not trying to solve her problems.

Frankly, the men were pretty stoic during the entire presentation. I had not given this workshop before so I did not know what to expect. But surprisingly to me were how many men came up to me afterwards, many with tears in their eyes, and expressed genuine thanks at the epiphanies they had received regarding their wives’ needs. I have since received half-dozen emails from men at the conference commenting on, according to their wives, how much the information I shared has already improved their marriages.

I believe the average guy is sincerely confused about his wife’s needs and how to fulfill them. Women are complex creatures to most men. Every man I know wants to make his wife happy, and most guys would be willing to do whatever it takes—provided they knew what to do! Rather than advice from a Lothario’s perspective (which is what most books in our culture promote), we need to teach men (young and old) down to earth, practical, common sense advice on how to fulfill their wives’ deepest needs, thus creating harmony, joy, and contentment in the lives of their spouses. And if they happen to get a more fulfilling sex life because of it—so be it!