Lauren Book says that when she was sexually abused as a child by her family’s nanny — from the time she was 11 until 17 — she was too fearful to tell her parents and younger sister and brother.
“I knew what was happening was wrong. But I didn’t know how to stop it,” says Book, 27. “Who would believe me?”Now an advocate for sexual abuse victims and the founder of the Lauren’s Kids Foundation, which raises awareness of the issue and provides education tools for prevention, Book says that her siblings continue to suffer from the fallout of learning about her abuse.
Book says she sympathizes with the children of Baseball Hall of Fame writer Bill Conlin, who has been accused of molesting his children’s friends and other kids during the 1970s. Book says that in many of these cases, it is not at all uncommon for children on both sides — children of the alleged abuser and the victims themselves — to forever be scarred by the acts of a pedophile.
“I’ve come across several cases of men or women who will not assault their own children, but will have children bring friends over so they can molest them,” Book says. “That’s the pathology of a child molester. The entire family system suffers as a result.”
Conlin, 77, retired from his long-time Philadelphia Daily News columnist position on Tuesday, hours before a Philadelphia Inquirer story detailed the allegations of four alleged victims of Conlin, including his niece. Two of the alleged victims, brother and sister Kevin and Karen Healey, were friends of Conlin’s children. Two more alleged victims have come forward to accuse Conlin.
Two experts in sex abuse cases told the Daily News that children of abusers cannot escape the stigma of the horrific actions carried out by their relatives.
“It’s devastating. We talk about secondary or associate victims. You have the offender and the primary victim. The members of families on both sides are also victims,” said Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist and the director of consultation and training at the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis. “Kids (of pedophiles) feel ashamed. Their friends trash them. Sex crimes are seen by many people as worse than murder, and the idea that your parent is the worst form of life can be devastating.”
John Giugliano is a clinical social worker specializing in early childhood trauma and has his own private practice in Philadelphia. Giugliano says that sexual abuse is “very divisive” for the families of abusers. In cases of incest — when the victim is a member of the abuser’s family — family members have torn loyalties between the abuser and the victim. Pedophiles can be very charming people.
“Some people blame the child for ruining their family if they come forward,” Giugliano said.
Lauren Book’s father, Ronald, says that while their nanny abused only Lauren, his middle and youngest children continue to deal with an “inherited bundle of baggage.” His daughter has battled eating disorders and self-mutilation, while his son has had numerous personal issues. The nanny, Waldina Flores, is serving a 25-year sentence in Florida state prison for sexual battery.
“The whole family unit suffers,” Ronald Book says.
Source: NY Daily News