(The following is the 10th in a series of posts related to my re-reading of Miss America by Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayal and Unconditional Love, by Marilyn Van Derbur.)
Continuing from my previous post, some further thoughts on the matter of the abuser’s “facade” and of the “facade” of the abuser’s family:
– The world of wrought-iron tables and pleasant conversation of the adults in my golf course dream wasn’t simply some cover, consciously designed and maintained for the express purpose of concealing the child sexual abuse that was occurring within my family but had its own integrity, its own reality that sought to maintain itself quite apart from the question of whether any such abuse was occurring or not.
– Just as a major genuine, authentic part of Ms. Van Derbur’s father’s life involved his various roles as a Denver community leader in various respects, so a major, authentic part my father’s life involved his roles as a professor at Vanderbilt University and as a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, so that their actions, in these roles, were every bit as genuine and authentic as their actions when they were sexually abusing their children.
– I’ve often wondered whether my father’s case involved his have some sort of split personality, with him literally, at least in many cases, not remembering his acts of child sexual abuse while leading the “normal” parts of his existence—when, for example, he would be teaching or otherwise fulfilling his professorial duties at Vanderbilt, attending church, having sex with my mother, or presiding over a family dinner.
– With specific regard to a child sexual abuser’s sex life, a child sexual abuser may genuinely and thoroughly enjoy having non-abusive sexual relations with adults—such relations not being a false front in the least but, rather, as much a part of the abuser’s core sexual identity and behavior as his / her sexually abusive behavior with children.
– Of course, the possibility of rank hypocrisy exists. For example, a politician or other community leader who is committing child sexual abuse might vigorously endorse legislative and other efforts having as their central aim the curbing of child sexual abuse; the same such leader—as was the case with Ms. Van Derbur’s father—might serve on the board of an organization dedicated to the proper care of foster children. But even in cases such as these, the child sexual abuser may, from their own standpoint, perceive no contradiction, either because, in some cases, they have succeeded in largely or entirely compartmentalizing that aspect of their life involving child sexual abuse, keeping it separate from the other aspects of their life, or because, in other cases, they have succeeding in rationalizing their abuse to such a degree as to perceive it as being somehow beneficial to the child or children they are abusing.
The outer “facade” of normalcy is often, to a substantial degree anyway, bogus only to the degree that it is perceived or assumed to be representative of the entirety of the abuser’s and abuser’s family’s existence.