how could she not know? sex abuse under a mother’s nose
With Guest Stacey A. Lundgren
If maladies such as hypertension, diabetes and breast cancer can be called silent killers because they gradually consume you without serious symptoms in the early stages, put sexual abuse in a similar category but for another reason. Despite being highly prevalent in our society, we ignore sexual abuse the same as we do a beggar on the street. Meanwhile the spirit of the victim is destroyed. In this week’s episode of Wellness for the Real World, Dr. Veronica talks to Stacey A. Lundgren, who married a man who sexually abused their children, and later married another man who did the same to her second family.
“I wound up with two child molesters because there are millions of them,” says Lundgren, a member of the National Speakers’ Association and author of True Bucketfilling Stories: Legacies of Love. “And a lot of it is happening within the family.
“I believe that we are breeding, unknowingly, a tremendous and an increasing amount of sociopaths. A sociopath is someone that is totally narcissistic, has no conscious and has no empathy. But they’re highly intelligent usually. They know right from wrong — it’s just that they can’t do any wrong. I learned in hindsight that both of my husbands are sociopaths.”
She calls sex abuse “a cancer with fingers. It reaches out and taints everything around.”
Yet no one wants to talk about it. Instead we focus on disorders that affect far fewer children.
“Autism occurs in about 1 in 200 births,” Dr. Veronica tells listeners. “That’s about half of a percent. For us women over 35, having a child with an abnormality happens one in 20. That sounds absolutely huge but that’s about five percent. Sex abuse happens in one in two girls. That’s 50 percent and one in three boys, or 33 percent, that we know of.
“As you can see your child has a greater chance, before it is born, of being sexually abused than of having autism or Down’s syndrome or one of the other chromosomal abnormalities that we worry about. The problem with sex abuse in the United States is we are not talking about it and we think that it doesn’t happen to people like me. We think it doesn’t happen to nice families. It happens to those poor people, the trailer park trash.”
Dr. Veronica says the face of sex abuse is not Precious, the overweight, black teenager portrayed by Gabourey Sidibe in the award-winning film Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire.
“It’s not obese, poor black women with nasty, selfish black men who are the people perpetrating all of the sex abuse,” Dr. Veronica says. “It occurs in all socioeconomics and it’s a cover up. That cover up is criminal because what I’ve seen when I was a physician practicing, is that the people who were at the highest risk for not getting help were the people who were wealthy, educated, devoutly religious and white. If you see somebody in a family like that you have to wonder and realize that those kids are not calling the division of youth and family service on those types of families.”
Lundgren grew up in a “Leave it to Beaver” household with a stay-at-home-mom. There was no alcohol, drug or physical abuse and her parents didn’t fight. At 23, she married a 27-year-old mechanical engineer who would soon become an attorney. Two weeks into their marriage her husband became harsh, judgmental and bossy. Yet because he didn’t drink or hit her she stuck it out until he left her for another woman after 19 years of marriage. It wasn’t until their 16-year-old daughter became distant and started acting out by using drugs and partying that Lundgren became suspicious.
“I asked her if her father has ever touched her in an inappropriate way,” Lundgren said. “I couldn’t even believe the words came out of my mouth. I thought she would become angry with me and yell at me. She looked out of the window and started to cry. She said, “I don’t know.’ That was the beginning of the unfolding of the truth.”
Lundgren learned that not only had her then ex-husband been sexual abusing their daughter but he had started when the girl was just two years old, with fondling and oral sex.
“Many people think that if there’s no intercourse, it’s not that big of a deal but the trauma to the child is the same,” says Lundgren, who works with Bucket Fillers for Life, a character education company that teaches people how to be loving, kind and nice and was founded by her father. (It does not discuss sex abuse.) “This sounds awful but if it had been vaginal penetration, because I bathed her, I would have noticed that something was wrong.”
Yet now she had an explanation for her daughter’s middle-of-the-night vomiting episodes. Lundgren moved to a new city and several years later married a man 12 years her senior. The couple adopted three older children and one month after one daughter from Eastern Europe arrived, the father started sexually abusing her daily. Four months later he was arrested. He spent time in jail awaiting trial but received no punishment.
Not to blame her but one has to wonder if Lundgren and her husbands had healthy sex lives.
“Absolutely,” she says. “We had a wonderful sex life. We had not only a great sex life. In this (second) marriage, there was so much trust and bonding.”
Looking back, she thinks she learned to walk on eggshells around her mother, who suffered from depression.
“I believe that I attracted men in my life and was attracted to men who needed to have a wife that would be a doormat, that would make them look normal because she’s normal,” Lundgren said. “These are sociopaths by the way, which I didn’t know at the time. They have no empathy and no conscience. They are very clever and they were able to fool me… I didn’t know they were sexually abusing. I am going to stick with them and support them and hope that things are going to be better because that’s who I was.”
Her advice to women is to “trust your intuition, your gut, your spirit, whatever you want to call it. When we’re about to make a choice we can use our brain and our mind, which are great tools, or we can use our heart. Trust what your gut tells you. Did my gut tell me these were child molesters? Absolutely not. But what my gut told me was little signs that they were not what they pretended to be. That’s what you look for. Look for the phonies, the men or women that are pretending to be something that they’re not. That’s your clue. It doesn’t mean they’re child molesters. But it means you don’t want to be involved with them because at some point you’re going to find out who they really are. And that’s after you marry them.”
Her eldest daughter never crawled into her daddy’s lap or hugged him spontaneously like she did Lundgren. And although Lundgren overlooked her daughter’s vomiting she says people should look for “grooming behavior,” meaning when the perpetrator wants to entice the victim by giving them gifts or money. Telling your children not to talk to strangers doesn’t matter in most of these cases because they know the perpetrators.
“It’s important that people understand that they should not make their child deal with anybody that they don’t want to deal with. If they’re shy, if they’re persnickety, if they’re whatever, that’s their protective instinct and that might protect them from something horrible happening,” Dr. Veronica says. “We need to allow our children to use that protective instinct because it’s there in all of us. Mothers have fallen down on the job with trying to protect children. We need to get this back and trust our intuition and trust our children.”