July 11, 2011
Mothers of Molestation Survivors:
New Book Offers Healing and Understanding for Mothers of Molested Children
When I was first asked to read this book, I felt resistant. I have read numerous memoirs by adult women about the sexual abuse they experienced as children and teenagers, and as important as those stories are, they can also be depressing.
Not “Mothers of Molestation Survivors,” however; while we all wish child molestation did not occur, I instantly found myself intrigued by the topic and the stories included. Kim Johnson tells it like it is by showing us that all mothers are not the same, and while most mothers would not wish their children to experience sexual child abuse, many of them do not know how to cope with it, sometimes putting their children unintentionally in harm’s way by being over-protective, and at other times, sadly, condoning, allowing, or denying the perpetrator’s behavior. I could understand a mother being over-protective, but certainly not being what Johnson calls a “co-perpetrator.” I found it all the more fascinating to get insight into the dysfunction of such families, and to realize the family cycles that surround such abuse.
In this revealing book, Johnson asks, “Who are the mothers of molestation survivors?” She asked this question herself to numerous mothers of molested children, as well as many mothers who had themselves been molested in childhood. As a licensed clinical social worker, Johnson has counseled many families through dealing with the after-effects of sexual child abuse. While she realizes the focus should be on the child, she also came to understand that the mothers needed help too, while few resources existed for them. Mothers tend to blame themselves, to feel it is their fault their child was harmed, or that they should have known. Johnson removes the blame by dispelling false beliefs, such as that a mother should know when her child is being abused. She also reveals that mothers of molestation survivors (MOMS as she calls them) have often been abused themselves.
Johnson analyzes different types of MOMS, based on numerous interviews with them and interviews with adults who were sexually abused as children; she even provides interviews with a few child molesters so parents will understand what to watch for. Johnson gets at the reasons why different mothers react the way they do, and she provides alternative decisions and suggestions for mothers to teach them to be resourceful and educated; she even addresses the difficult question of where God is in the midst of child abuse.
What makes “Mothers of Molestation Survivors” such a powerful book is not only that this topic has never been treated in book-length before, but the many first person stories of mothers that it includes. Many of the stories are shocking—they are all heartbreaking. Yet the book also offers hope for healing and transformation in the lives of mothers and their children.
I can’t sum it up any better than Marjorie McKinnon, herself a survivor of sexual child abuse and the mother of molestation survivors, when she states in the book’s foreword:
Here is a book the world needs, a book that addresses the needs of a lost member of the human race, the mothers of molested children. We are all so busy trying to help the little ones that we forget about the ones who gave birth to them. And yet, children of an untreated sexual child abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being abused themselves. We must help the mothers if we are going to save the children.
Finally, I applaud Kim Johnson for providing insight into this forgotten but alarmingly large group of the population. Johnson wants to do more than just write a book about the topic. She hopes her efforts will result in a national organization for mothers titled MOMS that will provide support similar to what Mothers Against Drunk Driving has done, and to create awareness, healing, and most importantly, prevention of future children being hurt.
For more information about Kim Johnson and “Mothers of Molestation Survivors” visit www.MothersofMolestationSurvivors.com.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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