The credibility of the “survivor movement” reached a higher level in the late 1980s when victims of sexual abuse perceived that American culture had changed significantly in their favor. Women rejoiced believing they were finally able to speak of their silent sexual abuses and that society was ready to listen and take action. Some voices were heard publicly – others privately.
Women, including me, had marched for equality and the right to be heard in the hot, summer streets of Washington D.C.. We carried banners and colorful flags and sang our songs for years – years that stretched into decades, but our time had come.
By the early 1990s, the survivor movement warped into the “victims” movement. It wasn’t a calculated change, but one that occurred when the psychology industry grasped onto the struggles of women who were sexually abused. Born from the marriage between vulnerable women and psychotherapy was repressed memory therapy. A new technique believed to help women recall buried memories of sexual abuse. The victim movement warped yet again when some women remembered satanic ritual abuse and other atrocities that included human sacrifices and violent torture.
Over the next decade, while women flooded therapist’s offices remembering all sorts of abuses, the large survivor movement took yet another turn that was not apparent until years later. After years of repressed memory therapy, an increasing number of women realized that the psychology industry took advantage of them when they were vulnerable and in need of medical care. In a variety of ways, many of came to understand that they had not been sexually abused, but had been led to believe so by overzealous therapists who refused to hear their protestations.
What happened to those of us swept into the psychotherapy machine? We were silenced. Women, silenced again. The women’s movement had been fractured by a tenacious psychotherapy beast unwilling, and by then, unable to back down and confess its wrongdoing. But this time the silencing was done by other women.
It was a difficult time for me because I as an activist, I fought in the streets of Washington with thousands of other women and now my voice was silenced. No one wanted to hear that I was coerced into believing I had been sexually abused when I had not been because it was feared that women who had been abused would once again be silenced and disregarded.
I don’t know if Americans understand the power, might, and influence of the psychology industry. The beast keeps many women in its claws by supporting and encouraging the “victim” mentality. This group of women will not relinquish their position in society as abuse survivors who demand understanding and support by the rest of us. By the increasing number of Internet blogs and groups alone, it is clear that some women will never be healed no matter how much therapy is received or to what depth therapists encourage them to fall.
The Warping of the American Women’s Movement by Jeanette Bartha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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