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Houston Breakthrough, April 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, April 1979 - Page 21. April 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 26, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1324/show/1316.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(April 1979). Houston Breakthrough, April 1979 - Page 21. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1324/show/1316

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, April 1979 - Page 21, April 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 26, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1324/show/1316.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, April 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date April 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 21
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File Name femin_201109_549at.jpg
Transcript madness Sexual abuse and violence within the home are driving their women victims crazy, and some women are finally talking about it and getting angry. Angry is healthier than crazy. This is the message mental health speakers presented at a two-day symposium on "Sexual Exploitation and Craziness," last month at the University of Houston Clear Lake City (UH/CLC) campus. Dr. Phyllis Chesler, psychologist and author, and Dr. Nanette Bruckner, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, UH/CLC, expressed their anger and rage at a society dominated by men who use sexual exploitation to maintain power over women. They said rape, sexual abuse and violence in the home are used to control women and keep them dependent. Susan Forward, psychiatric social worker and author from California, shocked her audience with statistics showing a high rate of previous incestuous experiences among adult women and men. Incest occurs in one out of 10 families. The American Humane Society estimates one out of every four children will have some negative sexual experiences before the age of 18, and that 40 percent of these will be incestuous. Two out of every five women and one out of every 20 men have experienced incest. She said these experiences cause extreme guilt and a sense of worthless- ness in all victims and lead many to drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts, prostitution, child and wife abuse, and problems with their own sexual gratification. Over 400 persons—mental health professionals, child welfare workers, teachers, police and probation officers- attended the conference to learn about the relationship between sexual exploitation and related emotional disturbances. The conference was co-sponsored by the Adult Mental Health Advisory Council of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County and the School of Human Sciences and Humanities at UH/CLC. "Patriarchal society is what accounts for passivity, masochism, low self-esteem, self-denigration and what we might call craziness among women," Chesler charged in her opening address. "Women are primed to commit incest, to be raped without fighting back or killing, to be sexually abused from a young age and all their lives, and to have a total lack of sexual pleasure. This is what creates depression and passivity among them." Chesler, the author of several books including Women and Madness and All About Men: A Psychosexual Meditation and numerous journal articles, has done research in the field of mental illness and women. Her research and that of other women psychologists shows that being depressed, passive, overly dependent and masochistic is not healthy mentally. Society, however, forces women into these behaviors and considers them to be "crazy" if they do not conform to these "feminine" roles and try to break out. In 1972, Chesler wrote, "What we consider madness, whether it appears in women or men, is the acting out of the devalued female role or the total or partial rejection of one's sex-role stereotype." Chesler also said that the more women learn to put up with being overtly devalued, the weaker they become. "We become weaker through sexual exploitation and socialization as a child. This by Hildegard Warner "Madness is the acting out of the devalued female role or the rejection of one's sex role stereo type/7 leaves us with less defenses against problems we encounter in our lives because we are women." One of the ways men also dominate and devalue women is through rape, Bruckner noted. "Rape is a political, not a sexual act, designed to instill fear and distrust in women," Bruckner charged. "Rape is terrorism which limits the freedom of women and makes them more dependent on men. It is not an act of uncontrollable lust, but an act of possession designed to create fear." Although men use fear of rape ana assault on the streets to keep women within the home, statistics show that 46.1 percent of all major crimes against women are committed in the home, Bruckner added. Most murders occur in the home-wives and husbands killing each other. Police calls about domestic disturbances and violence in the home exceed the total number of other calls for murder and other violent crimes. Giving statistics from major cities throughout the nation, Bruckner said wife abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in the country. In many cases of rape and violence against women, society has put the blame on the woman by saying she asked for it. Bruckner said this is what is causing mental and behavioral problems for women. "When I listen to a client I do not always look into that client for her behaviors, but look into the society and the world we live in for the social values which are causing her craziness,''' Bruckner said. Incest is another form of sexual exploitation within the home which causes an extreme sense of guilt. This is one of the least known and most misunderstood experiences, because society has yet to openly speak about it and recognize its existence. "Incest is unquestionably the most secretive and most misunderstood human experience," psychiatric social worker Susan Forward said to the conference participants. "The universal result of incest is guilt. The victims feel dirty, freaky, worthless, and that they are totally, 100 percent responsible for the incest. "Because of these feelings, they often get into self-punitive behaviors—drug abuse, alcoholism, male and female prostitution or other promiscuous behavior, child or wife abuse, rape, inability to achieve orgasm or performing incest upon their own children." Forward sees many of these individuals at a sexual abuse treatment center of which she is co-director in Van Nuys, California. From her experiences in working with adults who have had mental problems resulting from childhood incestuous situations, she has written a highly acclaimed book, Betrayal of Innocence. Forward cited statistics illustrating the high incidence of mental and social problems resulting from incest. • At treatment houses for alcoholism, battered women and rape victims, well over one-half of the women had been abused as children. •A study of convicted rapists in New Jersey showed 70 percent were incest victims (abused by their fathers) as children. •A Masters and Johnson study revealed that 80 percent of non-orgasmic women were incest victims. •Over one-half of the teenage runaways in Los Angeles are victims of incest, according to one report. •During a rape workshop at Houston's Branard House, a residential treatment center for adults with severe psychiatric disturbances, every client present admitted to having incestuous experiences as a child. Many of Forward's incest clients come into therapy initially because they are depressed, suicidal, or have alcohol or marriage problems. "These individuals are programmed to be victims," Forward said. "They set themselves up to fail at their jobs, in their marriages or whatever roles they are in. "They will not volunteer information about their previous incestuous experiences; the therapist must ask. Most of the people will reply, 'How did you know?' " Mental health workers should not be afraid to ask clients about this. "You are doing the client a service to get her to say this for herself," Forward said. Most of the people who receive proper psychiatric therapy for this problem can be helped. "There is an enormous amount of hope in dealing with these people, no matter what their ages are. You cannot believe what can happen with a little therapy, once this comes out of the person," Forward said. But she warned, "Incest is a wound that never disappears. Scar tissue forms to cover it." Bringing incest out into the open is the only way to stop it and to alleviate the tremendous guilt shared by the aggressors and their victims, Forward said. "Society's incest taboo is more effective in preventing the disclosure of incest than in preventing the act itself," Forward charged. "Because of the emphasis on the taboo, both victims and aggressors are often too intimida.ted by the possibility of exposure to seek help. So incest symptoms fester and create problems with wide-ranging social impact." "We must make rape and incest speak- able crimes as we have done here," Bruckner challenged the audience at the end of her talk. "Women are coming forward; statistics are coming out." Susan Forward, Phyllis Chesler and Nanette Bruckner are talking about the unspeakable and misunderstood subjects of incest and mental health for women. They are being heard and they are making a difference. Hildegard Warner is a UH journalism student and an intern at Breakthrough. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH APRIL 1979 HOUOHHTXAHJlfl V\ 21 <M