Thursday, September 24, 2009

Consensual Incest - What are your thoughts?

Many of you have probably heard about Mackenzie Phillips' new book High on Arrival which was released this week and is getting a lot of attention. The book is an autobiography of Phillips' life including drug use, acting career, famous family and incestuous relationship with her father. She was on Oprah yesterday and the Today show this morning among other interviews.

I didn't see Oprah yesterday but I did read a bit and see some clips on her website. Below are some excerpts.

"I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father. I don't remember how it started or, thankfully, how it ended ... Was it the first time? Had this happened before? I didn't know and don't. All I can say is that it was the first time I was aware of it. For a moment I was in my body, in that horrible truth, and then I slid back into a blackout. Your father is supposed to protect you. Your father is supposed to protect you, not f*** you."

Mackenzie says she was 17 or 18 years old the first time she remembers being raped by her father. At that time, she was known to millions as the child star of the hit sitcom One Day at a Time, but no one—not even her closest friends—knew what she was dealing with.

Soon after her rape, Mackenzie says she confronted her father. "I said, 'Look, we need to talk about how you raped me,'" she says. "And my dad said: 'Raped you? Don't you mean when we made love?' And, in that moment, I thought, 'Wow, I'm really on my own here.'"

"We're touring, and I begin waking up after drug-fueled events with my pants around my ankles and my father sleeping beside me," she says. "Again, [I thought]: 'Don't think. Don't look. Just keep going.' And this happened over time. It didn't happen every day. It didn't happen every week, but it certainly happened."

John's secret sexual relationship with his daughter lasted for 10 years. "It became a consensual relationship over time, and I know that I can't be the only one this has happened to," Mackenzie says. "Nobody's talking about this, and someone needs to put a face on not only nonconsensual incest but consensual incest, because I know it exists."

"I was old enough to know better, and, clearly from the way I talk about it in the book, I knew better," she says. "For me to try to make an excuse to justify this portion of my life would be for me to do a disservice to High on Arrival and to the people who have survived this throughout the world. I can't explain this away. It happened, and it's all in there."

What I would love to hear is what you think about her identification of what happened between her and her father initially as rape and then as a "consensual incestuous" relationship. Let us know - what is your reaction? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Wendy,

    I saw Mackenzie Phillips on the Today Show this morning and in short I appreciate her honesty and I think her book will speak for other incest survivors. She was really able to normalize the situation and her behavior. Although it may seem bizarre, I think it is completely understandable her relationship became consensual for a few reasons.

    First, in training we talk about rape survivors who have consensual sex with their perpetrators after an assault to regain control. She certainly could be doing that. Secondly, her behavior is a defense mechanism—like those suffering from Stockholm syndrome she (the victim) identifies with and is loyal to their abuser.

    Also, sometimes it is easier to change one's attitude about a situation than to actually change their situation. In her case it was easier to change her view of their relationship to consensual to stay sane and "happy" than to live for years being repeatedly assaulted.

    Lastly, lets not forget that incest adds a very complex element to an assault. This was her father, someone she trusted and was suppose to protect her, although inappropriate this is how they showed "love".

    I was really impressed with her poise despite the difficult topic. It looks like she is mentally in a good place. Good for her!