Thursday, March 3, 2016


The movie, "SPOTLIGHT" winning the #Oscar for Best Picture was more than a victory for the producers, directors, actors and journalists acknowledged in the film. It was a victory for victims of child sexual abuse. As a victim, I was thrilled to see this happen. And coupled with what I wrote in my previous post regarding #Lady Gaga telling the world it doesn't know how we feel until it happens to you, it's given me real hope that maybe, just maybe, awareness of child sexual abuse will indeed increase as more of us share our own stories and break the hideous silence surrounding abuse.

But how quickly will that awareness increase? How many more movies like "Spotlight" or the documentary, "The Hunting Ground", or songs like Lady Gaga's will it take to get the message across that rape, at any age, under any circumstances, regardless of culture or religion is NOT okay?! What will it take for victims to speak up without fear of reprisal and/or rejection by their own families? Look at Lady Gaga for instance: she opened up about the rape in 2014. But according to THIS ARTICLE, her grandmother and Aunt Sheri didn't find out about it until her performance at the Oscars. No surprise there for us other victims of sexual abuse: I told no-one that my father had sexually abused me for nearly 45 years! For pete's sake, I was 65 when I finally spoke up! Am I unusual? Not at all. More likely the norm. And I know that for a fact from the many who have told me about it in my public talks on sexual violence and in my private Facebook group. While shame keeps us from speaking up, much of the time it's our fear of the humiliation and shame such disclosure will dump on our families. So to protect them, we remain the sacrificial lambs on the altars of silence.

Speaking of altars, while the film, "Spotlight" put the spotlight on the Catholic Church, I think it would be dreadfully narrow-minded of those interested in this subject of abuse by the clergy to limit their finger pointing to the Catholic Church. Just pick up the book I've been reading and studying for a year now, "BREAKING THEIR WILL: SHEDDING THE LIGHT ON RELIGIOUS CHILD MALTREATMENT" and prepare to be horrified, even shocked by the degree, range and reasons for the abuse of children in ALL organized religions. What an eye-opener! And what you will read, if you dare, will make you want to vomit. No religion is "clean" when it comes to child sexual abuse. What's more...and don't get all uptight at me for saying this...much of the abuse is based on the teachings of the Bible and all the other "holy" books depending on which religion one follows. If I had the time and space here, there are so many sections of "Breaking their Will..." that I have highlighted, mulled over and would love to share. But I'd rather suggest one buy the book and read it for yourself. And speaking of books, you might also like to read "SPLIT" by a former nun, Mary Dispenza. That link will take you to my review of Mary's book on my other website. (Mary must be rejoicing, as I am, about the Oscar for "Spotlight").

Oh I could go on an on here but I'll summarize my feelings on religion and sexual abuse of children with this quote I found HERE:

We should not attempt to mould human sexuality around otherworldly religious ideals. Sexual dysfunction always results. Psychologists and sociologists have noted the association between extreme religious fervour and psycho-sexual problems (the former causing the latter)

No, I'm not saying religious belief is behind ALL childhood sexual abuse. Not at all...and it certainly wasn't a factor in my father's sexual abuse of me. But sadly, it is a justification too many give for abusing children sexually and every other way. When you factor in religion, along with narcissism and the sense of entitlement too many men have when it comes to women's bodies and minds, well, we have one hell of a long way to go yet in shining the spotlight on child sexual abuse, let alone eradicating it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


"You don't know how it feels till it happens to you" belted Lady Gaga at the 88th Academy Awards as a throng of sexual assault victim/survivors joined her onstage. When she was done, the cameras panned over the faces of Hollywood celebrities and caught the tears brimming in their eyes.

 As I listened and watched, I asked myself "Will this do it?" Can Lady Gaga reach the millions with the message that I, a non-celebrity, a child victim of incest, who kept quiet about what happened to me for nearly 45 years shared in my book "No Tears for my Father"? Someone, somewhere must get the message across that non-consensual sex is rape! 

Before Lady Gaga sang, Joe Biden took the stage to urge us all to pledge our support for the countless numbers of victims of rape on College campuses. We could do this by visiting the website at IT'S ON US where we pledge to do the following: 

1. To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault
2. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur
3. To intervene in situations where sexual consent has not or cannot be given
4. To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. 

The pledge is a wonderful idea, a step in the right direction for students on college campuses. But is there any hope it might raise awareness of those other victims of sexual abuse, the children, the ones being abused in their own homes. 

There is no question: all rape is horrid for victims of any age. But is there any rape that compares to that of a child by a member of their own family in their own homes? I think not. Taking each point of the pledge above into consideration in relation to child sexual abuse by family members, I ask you:

1. Will that father, grandfather, stepfather, brother or other family member who rapes a daughter, grand-daughter, step-daughter, sister, son or brother not once, but repeatedly, day after day, for years in their own homes accept, or even care that the child didn't consent? My father certainly didn't. 

2. Will the general public ever recognize, admit to the reality that sexual abuse, namely incest, is happening in our homes, maybe right next door. Will the neighbours, teachers, clergy "identify a situation in which sexual assault may occur"? Does anyone want to admit, identify that home can be the ideal situation for sexual assault to occur? We victims know better. 

3. Will people "intervene in home situations where sexual consent has not or cannot be given". Will even the mother whose child has just told her that Daddy is doing something bad to her believe her child? Will she intervene or even have the courage to ask her husband or father (the grandfather) about what her child has claimed? Ask the victims of incest what response they got from mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and other relatives when they dared to speak up. Many of those victims were told to never mention it again! And they didn't.  As a result, the family itself allowed the non-consensual sex to continue. 

4. Is it even possible to "create an environment in the home in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported?" Incest exists in so many cultures. It continues through generations because incest is a family affair: what happens in the family, stays in the family. 

How wonderful it would be if all it took was someone like me sharing my true story of incest and getting folks to sign a pledge to bring about change. But I'm not famous. I'm not Lady Gaga or Joe Biden. I can't reach millions with one song. I reach small groups of people here and there, and sure, it all helps raise awareness. But for every one who buys my book, "No Tears for my Father" and reads it, 2-3 times as many tell me there's no way they could read that: the details, the horror, the ugliness is too much to handle. Tell me about it! It's easier not to know than to know. And even if you do read the book, as Gaga sings, "You don't know how it feels till it happens to you." What you hope is it never will happen to you or your son or daughter. 

It's On Us is a wonderful and necessary project and is a great beginning. But it will take a lot more than Lady Gaga singing her song and letting us know she too has been a victim of rape to help the children being raped, not on college campuses but in their own homes by those they should be able to trust most: their immediate family members. These children are doubly raped: by the abuser and by the family that denies the abuse. As Joe Biden said at the Oscars: "We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man like the survivors that you see tonight will have to ask themselves, 'What did I do?' They did nothing wrong."

That is exactly the message in my books, except my focus is the children. While I can never reach the millions that Lady Gaga and Joe Biden did, by sharing this blog post you can help me reach a few more than I have already. Every little bit helps. Thanks for reading and sharing. Your comments are welcomed. 

Viga Boland is a speaker and the author of a Trilogy based on a true story of incest: