Sex abuse is confusing mentally, emotionally


To the Editor:

Reading The MV Times reporting of the recent childhood rape case can easily lead the reader to conclude that “the alleged victim” invented her story of sexual abuse as a way to hurt Carlos Stevenson and his family for some reason, which it did. The coverage of the rape case can also lead the reader to ask why “the alleged victim” made the claim in the first place. One thing is for certain. A child of this age does not simply make this stuff up. Let’s consider the possibility together that she did experience sexual assault and battery, by someone, between the ages of 10 and 13. The following statistics are from the U.S. Department of Justice: “About 20 million out of 112 million women (18 percent) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime … In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26 percent were in the age group of 12–14 years, and 34 percent were younger than 9 years.”

The trial focused on Carlos Stevenson’s alleged responsibility, as it was meant to, but if she in fact was sexually assaulted by someone, she may be protecting the person who actually did assault her. Her abuser would definitely have been someone who had access to her company, and apparently created enough secrecy to cover it up. Because of her own guilty feelings, or childhood fears of future assaults or punishments, she may have “forgotten” or displaced the complete memory.

No matter at what age a person is sexually abused, it is confusing mentally and emotionally. Childhood sexual abuse is especially painful and difficult. The perpetrator is often someone who is known and trusted. There can be threats against revealing the secret, and if he is accused he might deny responsibility. The “alleged victim” in this court case was a vulnerable, dependent, frightened child. She might easily have accused this man, who has been found innocent, in order to protect the real abuser and even herself from being punished when the truth comes out. We don’t know why she associated him with the horrors of her childhood sexual abuse, or how falsely accusing the wrong man could have displaced some of her pain. This does not excuse her, but may explain why she may have done it.

This “alleged victim” is now an adult, whose difficulties creating a healthy lifestyle could easily have originated in this painful childhood experience, which she kept secret inside while punishing herself with drugs and alcohol to escape the pain she does not understand. If so, she may know that the resolution of her problems is associated with this history.

The front-page Times coverage of this story helps to bring attention to a devastating social dysfunction that is part of the matrix of women’s issues. Women’s reproductive and economic rights are under attack at the state and federal levels. This new generation of reproductive-age women must stand up for themselves, fight for their rights, and remind the world that by the laws of nature, women are equal to men.

Sarah Nevin