I know this title comes off as clickbait, but believe me, it isn’t. So to help clarify this point, let’s take a step back and do some Trauma 101.
When we speak about abuse, there are two ways in which abuse occurs. What I mean by that is that abuse can be an invasion or an abandonment. Invasion is where something happens that should NOT have happened. In contrast, abandonment is where something does not happen where it should have. To sum up, Mark Laaser says, “If the boundaries in a family have become too loose, emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual boundaries are crossed. This is an invasion. If the boundaries in a family have become too rigid, family members do not get the love, attention, nurturing, or information they need to thrive. This is abandonment.” Invasion and abandonment happen in all kinds of abuse, i.e., emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and even cultural. Yes, that was not a typo; there is such thing as spiritual abuse, sadly. This post speaks more towards sexual abuse, but other posts will hopefully address these different kinds of abuse.
In short, invasive sexual abuse is when the genitals, or area of the genitals, are touched or penetrated in a non-consensual way. Usually, it is by someone who has physical or emotional power over the abused. Remember, I’m talking about abuse, not assault. Rape can be either an assault, i.e., a one-time thing or abuse. Repetition usually marks abuse. There are more indirect ways in which a person can be invasively sexually abused. Such as kissing, hugging, touching, lap sitting, and tickling, which, according to Laaser, have the same effect as direct sexual abuse. Other types of invasive sexual abuse include teasing someone about their body, sexual humor, and sexual misinformation.
It’s important to realize that not all sexual abuse is invasive and that the abandonment type of sexual abuse is still harmful. This type of sexual abuse comes in not having healthy intimacy modeled and not being given appropriate information about sex. Laaser poses these questions, “Ask yourself, What messages would you receive about sex if your family never talked about it? Would it be hard for you to imagine, biologically, how you even got here if your parents never touched each other, seemed affectionate, or mentioned the word sex? Would you feel afraid about your physical and sexual development if you had no one to talk to?” Unfortunately, if you come from an immigrant family, these questions probably apply to you.
The effect of abandonment sexual abuse is that a person ends up having no view of sex. The dilemma comes in when we’re in middle school and high school and begin to go through puberty. Our bodies change, and our sexual drive ignites. If we don’t have someone who will talk to us, then we’ll look in all the wrong places, i.e., friends, classmates, or the internet for information. That will only lead to distorted thinking of sex and intimacy instead of a godly and healthy view of sex.
In my field and with the population I work with, sex addicts have very distorted views of sex. A person who suffered abandonment in sexual abuse has no one to talk to, which only prevents sex addicts from getting the help they unquestionably need. So if you are the type of parent or servant in a church that does not want to talk about sex and porn, then I challenge you to think, are you genuinely protecting our children and youth?