Abuse deniers claim support they don’t have

There are some lurking here at the moment, talking about false sexual abuse claims and the “sexual abuse industry”, and using these ideas to suggest ACC should be introducing hoops for sexual abuse survivors to jump through in order to get access to counselling.

The usual methods that some use to discredit and minimise sexual violence.  No surprises these comments have popped up in defence of Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith, whose work and ideological stance on sexual violence I posted on a while back.

Some are also claiming their views of the sexual abuse “industry” are shared by organisations with expertise in the area.

To quote one of the posters with my notes in bold:

It’s true that never-ending counselling is not the best treatment for injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse……(later qualified slightly by inserting the words “probably” before the word “true” and “always” before the words “the best treatment”)…….

I think that the MHF (Mental Health Foundation) supports the new clinical pathways because the MHF supports better access to mental health treatment and management.

This turns out to be misleading.  To quote the Mental Health Foundation directly, in a public letter they wrote to Minister Nick Smith about the changes to ACC: 

We believe the current proposal to be a significant tightening of the support available to victims.  The suffering of sexual abuse victims if not healed remains as part of the community, with a range of negative connotations for generations.

They specifically raise concerns over the need to diagnose “mental injury” linked to a DSM IV diagnosis; the initial assessment to be done over just two sessions and the limited nature of counselling, to just 16 sessions.

Looks like the Mental Health Foundation, just like counsellors, psychotherapists, sexual violence agencies and survivors, can see this new pathway is unethical and will cause long term harm.

But Nick Smith plans only to review it after six months.

2 thoughts on “Abuse deniers claim support they don’t have

  1. Hi Luddite
    My views aren’t about the “sexual abuse industry”, they’re about the dangers of labelling mental illness as something to fear having diagnosed despite it ocurring in the context of this debate. Naturally if diagnosis results in shorter counselling relationships for those that need long ones there’s something to worry about, but I’m always going to take exception to anyone claiming that a diagnosis of mental illness will as a natural consequence be bad for everyone (as has been suggested by NZAP in regard to wider social benefits like getting mortgages and employment, rather than in the context of possibly shortening longterm counselling where it is helpful to those struggling to cope with the effects of sexual abuse).
    I agree that for those for whom the system is working, and who are already receiving good help, a diagnosis of mental illness should not be necessary. I like to think the facts of the injury would have already been well established by qualified and sympathetic counsellors and that these counsellors will continue to provide longterm help to those that benefit from it.
    I agree with the sentiment from the Mental Health Foundation that “The suffering of sexual abuse victims if not healed remains as part of the community, with a range of negative connotations for generations.” I take it to mean ALL sufferers. Not just the ones that have been, or are currently, getting good treatment and funded support. Making it harder for acc funded “survivors” to continue to get valuable support is a very, very bad thing. You’ll get no disagreement from me there!
    But for me, and the people I know, long term counselling around our abuse is a repulsive thought. In some of us this is vehement, in others just really depressing. We’re looking for strategies for coping with the things we can’t change as a result of the abuse and are adamant (due to our experiences of these things or the nature of the abuse) it is not psychotherapy or sexual abuse counselling.
    I don’t agree that that ACC should take away the supports that work for the “survivors” that benefit from it, I take exception to the assumptions that ALL sufferers will be negatively affected by the changes when in fact it’s the ones that are currently well served and vocal about it.
    Where there’s been no practical help for the other kind of (not well served, less vocal about it)sufferer before, may be there’ll be some practical help now. So it seems, I’ll let you know if the psych path gets me any relief.

    I agree with you that people shouldn’t be made to “jump through hoops” to qualify for counselling if that is the context they are able to get support in.

    To be clear, I am not defending Dr Goodyear-Smith in any capacity. My post simply said it’s to be expected (as in it’s not really a shock to see)that she has strong alliance to her husband and that I have to assume she’s monitored by peers and professional boundaries. Maybe I can’t handle the alternative to that assumption!
    I’m aware of her background and that the people that have known her intimately are never going to take any formal action against her – I’m not aware of anyone laying any complaints against her anyway. Perversely, her descriptions of the “sexual abuse industry” and work with “false allegations” and “alleged perpetrators” are likely to keep any such people silent forever.
    Very frustrating.
    Please, Luddite, reconsider your assumption that I am at all allied to that.
    Finally, thank you for even writing about it, it’s a complex topic alright and full of unintended generalisations that compromise healthy debate.
    Good on you.

  2. I just wanted to say thank-you for all your analysis and coverage of this issue. It’s been really thorough and that kind of coverage is really needed.

    I had four months of ACC funded counselling after my attack. Without it I don’t think I would be alive today.

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