Are we all condemned to live in 'cycles of abuse'?

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The abhorrence virtually all of us feel towards paedophilia makes it very difficult to have a balanced, dispassionate discussion about its harmful impact on young people. [...]

It is important to realise that much of the conventional wisdom on the impact of abusive behaviour is driven by moral revulsion rather than by disinterested research. Of course, it is entirely legitimate morally to condemn behaviour that society deems evil. But moral condemnation should not be confused with a medical diagnosis. Nor is it an alternative to seeking and gaining clarity on the matter at hand. We do no favours to those who have suffered at the hands of adult predators if we treat them as the casualties of a moral drama. [...]

The diagnosis that child sexual abuse causes long-term psychological damage is influenced by today's 'cycle of abuse' theories. This model, which says there is an intergenerational transmission of violence, is one of the most uncontested themes of the modern-day literature on family violence. [...]

Since Hacking wrote his study (in 1995), cycle of abuse theories have strengthened their grip on the public's imagination. Yet when society embraces a prejudice that masquerades as research, it inevitably loses its way. Too many sensible people feel that this prejudice cannot be questioned. Which is why we need to have a more open-minded discussion about this difficult subject. Clarity about the consequences of abuse and its differential impact is in the best interests of those who have experienced it.

source: Article 'Are we all condemned to live in 'cycles of abuse'?' by Frank Furedi;; spiked; 5 November 2012