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Overcoming the World, Part 1 – Fame and Systemic Abuse

What a world it has become.  Headlines scream off the page at us:

Parents Arrested After Allegedly Forcing Girl, 5, to OD on Soda [1].

Doctor convicted of endangering stepdaughter in “waterboarding” Trial[2].

Couple Arrested for Enslaving Teen Girl[3].


Certainly, fame and affluence do not assure the safety of children.  Melvin Morse – the doctor mentioned above – had appeared on “Oprah” and “Good Morning America”. Fame may, in fact, foster a sense of entitlement on the part of some predators. They come to believe the prohibition against abuse is for lesser mortals.

And fame seems to provide an exemption of sorts from basic standards of morality.

Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, continues to maintain that the filmmaker sexually assaulted her, some two decades ago [4]. Allen was never prosecuted [5A] [5B].

Woody Allen, you may remember, was, also, involved sexually with Soon-Yi Previn, 35 years his junior. Soon-Yi (whom Allen later married) was another adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, a woman with whom Allen had a longterm relationship. Allen has been quoted as saying, “What was the scandal?…There was no scandal…” [6].

Overseas, BBC star Jimmy Savile was repeatedly investigated, but never prosecuted either. Only after his death was it revealed that Savile had abused a staggering 400 children or more, often while they were hospital patients [7].  The possibility of a wider British pedophile ring with influential members protected from prosecution is still being explored.

The California trial of ex-football player Darren Sharper for rape should be instructive. Sharper is under investigation for a total of seven rapes in four states [8]. Assuming the allegations against him to be true, Sharper felt no compunction about drugging women in order to have sex with them.


Systemic abuse may be even more appalling. The public is by now familiar with the Catholic Church sex scandal. In “Secrets of the Vatican,” the investigative program, Frontline, recently exposed the culture of corruption which allowed sexual perversion to flourish [9]. But the Catholic Church is not alone in this.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women


Whatever our life experience, nearly all of us wonder at some time or other whether we are normal.  Those of us bearing the physical and emotional scars of child abuse or domestic violence are especially sensitive on this topic.  We feel responsible for the scars, as if they were somehow character flaws.

The term “normal” suggests that differences from average are defects, even the scars resulting from trauma.  In reality, “normal” covers an enormously wide range of behavior, differing from culture to culture, and age to age.

Chances are that all the following would view themselves as normal:  polygamists, monks, strippers, con men, psychics, lion tamers, astrologers, tattoo artists, arms dealers, cave divers, UFO enthusiasts, and Wall Street bankers.

We have different tolerances for risk from one another. We have different appetites from one another. We have different aptitudes and interests from one another.  And we adhere to different moral standards from one another.

The test for hospital release is posing no reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to self or others.  A more relevant inquiry for abuse victims might be whether a particular behavior is effective for achieving their intended goals or not.

If it is done or conceived of by humans, it is human.  Not necessarily laudable or even legal, but human.


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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women