Should a bachelor marry a sexual abuse victim who has a child from that abuse?

by Name Undisclosed
(Location Undisclosed)

Need Advice: 
Is it a wise decision for a bachelor to marry a child sexual abuse survivor who has a child from that abuse?????


Reply from Darlene: Before I can answer this question, I must first address a few underlying issues. One of the most important messages to understand is that child sexual abuse is NEVER the child's fault. The criminal acts committed against a child, female or male, are the sole responsibility of the offender. I want to be clear here, if you are asking the question above because you in some way believe that the woman who was sexually assaulted as a child and then gave birth to a child as a result of this sexual abuse is in some way sullied because it, then your mindset needs to change.

It is a reality that female children—and subsequently adult women—who come from patriarchal societies that view women as second class citizens are often blamed for the assaults they have no control over, including sexual assault. What's even worse is that in such societies, especially in societies that expect females to marry as virgins, women who were assaulted as children may be considered "tainted" and therefore unworthy of a husband. It is that much worse for the woman when she has conceived a child as a result of sexual assault, even if she herself was a child at the time of the assault. But not only does the mother in this case carry the societal burden and shame; her child does as well, especially if the child born of the assault is female. Unless and until societies such as these begin to understand that child abuse in any form is NOT the fault of the child, unless and until the traditional and cultural ways of thinking shift to one that is compassionate and empathetic toward the victim and punitive toward the offender, then child abuse in these countries have no hope of being eradicated.

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Aug 14, 2008
Onto your question...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

The fact that you know of the sexual abuse and resulting birth tells me that the woman you are referring to either trusts you implicitly as a suitor, or you are a very close to her otherwise (perhaps a good friend or a parent). Perhaps you are a friend to the suitor and as such have been taken into confidence by him. Since you did not disclose the nature of your relationship to this woman, for the purpose of answering the question, I must make an assumption that you are asking for yourself; and will therefore answer it on that basis.

You must go into such a marriage with your eyes wide open...

If people know of the circumstances of this woman's conception, there may be whispers and innuendoes. Be prepared for that. Protect her and her child from even the hint that you are doing her (and her child) a favour by marrying her; you are marrying her to be her loving husband and you are accepting the role of being a loving and nurturing father to her child because you love them BOTH. If you do not feel this way, do not marry her.

Adult survivors of child sexual abuse have emotional repercussions to deal with (more information about such repercussions can be found on this site at sexual abuse effects and emotional abuse effects). If you are to have an open and healthy relationship with this woman, you must understand these effects and how they can further affect your every day life together. If you do not have this understanding or you do not feel compassion for what this woman endured and the resulting consequences, do not marry her.

As her husband, loving this woman is only part of what your responsibility will be. She comes as a package deal. Accept that. Marrying her means loving her child unconditionally, regardless of how that child was conceived, regardless of the child's personality, regardless of the child's behaviours, past present and future. If you see this woman and/or her child as impure, ruined or in any way to blame for the crime committed against her, then do the woman and her precious child a favour and walk away. But if you DO love her and you DO love the child and are prepared to honour and cherish and protect them BOTH, then you may well be ready to marry such a woman.

In short, this is about you and your attitudes about such circumstances. You will do irreparable harm to this woman—and her child—if you go into a marriage with her with anything but pure love in your heart.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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