(The following is the 14th 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 with Chapter 2 of Miss America By Day, one paragraph begins:
The night child [the phrase Ms. Van Derbur uses to describe the part of her that experienced the abuse, in contrast to “the day child,” which, having no memory of the abuse, functioned during the other, normal parts of her day-to-day life as a child] tried everything to keep my father out.
And goes on to describe several stratagems she employed in an effort to keep her father from sexually abusing her, such as opening the windows of her bedroom during winter to make the room freezing cold and, thereby, as unwelcoming as possible; hanging a sign she’d taken from a passenger train on her bedroom door that said, “Please go ‘way and let me sleep”; not taking a bath for days to make herself as smelly as possible; and, as a teenager, wearing Kotex even on nights when she didn’t have her period.
The result of her efforts?
It never stopped him. . . . It didn’t stop him. . . . It didn’t stop him. . . . It didn’t stop him.
Such manic relentlessness on the part of a child sexual abuser in carrying out their abuse is, to my knowledge, quite typical, and, most importantly, in my opinion, reflects the abuser’s utter obliviousness to—and / or utter lack of caring for—the wishes of the child. The abuser, in their completely ego-centric mind state when carrying out their abuse, may attempt to rationalize their actions, including any use of force, by viewing the abused child’s resistance as a barrier that merits being broken through in order to enable the child to experience sexual pleasure. Such seems indicated in the case of Ms. Van Derbur’s father when, the efforts of what could be thought of as her first line of defense (noted above) having failed, he would proceed with his abuse, in response to which Ms. Van Derbur would resort to her second line of defense—attempting to completely shut down her body:
Sometimes I would like on my stomach, tighten my legs and my buttocks, and bring my arms up across my breasts, tightly against my sides.
In response to which Ms. Van Derbur’s father would . . .
. . . slowly begin to rub my back gently, rhythmically and then slowly he would begin to force his hands between my upper arms and my body. Forcefully. Powerfully. Until his hands were fondling my newly forming breasts.
And in response to Ms. Van Derbur’s further attempts to shut down—”I would fight with every ounce of my being to not feel anything he was doing. My mantra was ‘shut down.’ Shut all feelings down.”— her father would say, “Just let go. Just go with it,” in response to which, Ms. Van Derbur writes, “I would tighten my body and then I would tight it more.”
But her father would continue.
Could any disregard for a child’s clear wishes be more blatant?
Whatever the abuser’s particular rationalization or set of rationalizations for their abuse—whether it be that they are teaching the child they’re abusing to experience sexual pleasure, that they’re punishing the child for some wrong committed (as was the case with my father, when he raped me when I was nine, as I describe in Preludes), or something else—it typically shares in common with other rationalizations this blatant disregard of the wishes of the child that the abuse cease immediately.