So many questions come to mind after MacKenzie Phillips shocking relation on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Not only was it shocking to hear that her father had sex with her. Even more shocking is that she calls their 10 year sexual relationship consensual.
Phillipâ€™s former stepmother, Genevieve Waite , in a statement to the Oprah show, said "I am stunned by Mackenzie's terrible allegations about her father. I would often complain about her overly familiar attitudes towards him, and he said it was just her way. John was a good man. He was incapable, no matter how drunk or drugged he was, to have sexual relations with his own child."
Talk about pure denial. First of all, the relationship that MacKenzie Phillips had with her father was not consensual. He gave her drugs to which she became addicted. He raped her in her sleep. He was her father, which gave him power over her by virtue of that relationship. Phillips talks about regaining consciousness the morning after he first raped her. She told Oprah, "I started very early on in my life compartmentalizing, boxing away difficult memories. And this was the mother of all difficult experiences," she says. This is not the statement of someone who has had consensual sex. This is the statement of someone who has been victimized.
Genevieve Waite is also in denial if she believes that a man is too â€œgoodâ€ to have a sexual relationship with his child, regardless of being drunk or drugged. I canâ€™t help but wonder if everyone in MacKenzie Phillipâ€™s life was in such denial. This man gave her drugs as early as age 11. He taught her how to shoot up as well. Why would anyone be so naÃ¯ve as to think a man who would do this is too â€œgoodâ€ to rape his own daughter?
As a person who was sexually abused by my own father as a teenager for 8 years of my life, I know what it is like to live life keeping a secret such as this. Your mind plays tricks on you. You feel shame and guilt. You start thinking that you are doing something to invite such unwelcome attention from your own father, because this is easier than believing your own father would rape you. You start to hate yourself. You start to wonder if everyone is staring at you, for surely you must look different to them. You live in fear. You are afraid to tell anyone because you do not want to be responsible for breaking up your family. Despite the abuse, you still love your father because there are good childhood memories mixed in with the awful memories. You realize that everyone else thinks your father is a wonderful man, and you start to wonder if you are the one who is delusional. Because he is your father, you still long for his approval, and will do what you need to do to get it. You may grit your teeth during it. You may do whatever it takes to erase your emotional and physical pain (including drugs). You become a shell of a person, and get to the point you no longer even know who you are anymore.
Sometimes you get the courage to tell someone, which is what I did at age 15. Sometimes the person will not believe you. My mother did not believe me and left me to suffer through 3 more years of hell. When I asked my own father why he was molesting me, his response to me was, â€œMolesting you? I am just showing you a little affection.â€ Similarly, when MacKenzie Phillips confronted her father about raping her, she told Oprah that her father responded â€œRaped you? Donâ€™t you mean when we made love?â€ Two very similar responses from 2 different abusers.
It saddens me to hear MacKenzie Phillips and those around her call her relationship with her father an â€œaffairâ€ or a â€œconsensual relationshipâ€. It wasnâ€™t. Just because a person does not scream or protest or run to the police does not mean it was consensual. There are so many underlying dynamics.
A word of advice...if you are married to a man and you have the slightest hint of a reason to believe he is sexually abusing your child, you must put your responsibility to your child over your love for your husband. It wonâ€™t be easy. It may be the most difficult thing you have ever done, but you may be saving your child from a lifetime of mental and emotional anguish.