Consensual? Really, Mackenzie?

I have worked with many women who have been abused sexually by family members: brothers, fathers, and uncles. For some of them, the abuse started when they were little, for some when they were older. For many of them, the abuse went on for years, and for some, well into their twenties. Sexual abuse by a person who inherently has emotional power over you is simply that: abuse. There is an emotional power differential inherent in the father-daughter relationship at any age. Drugs and alcohol can help create a dangerous environment where boundaries of all types can be crossed.

I was saddened and disturbed when I read the way Mackenzie Phillips framed the original sexual abuse by her father, and then went on to call future sexual contact “consensual.” She reports having woken up from a drug blackout to find her father, John Phillips, having sex with her. He was raping her in her sleep, and she still hasn’t defined the act for what it was: rape. Mackenzie then calls the future sexual encounters with her father consensual. Consensual with a “dad” that shot heroin into his young daughter’s veins, and with her in a drugged and drunk state, took advantage of her sexually.

She never emotionally had a chance to consent to any of this obviously abusive behavior on her father’s part. She appears to still be protecting him in the way she talks about the sexual acts. This is classic victim behavior; in some way, she needed to make what he did to her OK by now couching it in terms of consensual sex. It seems she is also unsure if there had been sexual contact before even that time.

It is clear that Mackenzie Phillips has been struggling for much of her life with drug addiction and celebrity. Most of this was brought into her life by the lack of early intervention by her parents, and the active drugging behavior from her father beginning at a very young age. The Phillips’ home was a quagmire of dysfunction just ripe for abuse to occur.

With these revelations, it seems even clearer that Mackenzie had a dark, shameful secret that she was trying to withhold for a very long time. Often, drug and alcohol abuse is used to numb one’s feelings, to stop experiencing the pain and shame of one’s life circumstances.

Mackenzie Phillips’ father, John Phillips, was a narcissist who was only interested in gratifying his own needs, even at the expense of getting his daughter addicted to drugs and having sex with her. What has me concerned now is the still numbed experience Mackenzie appears to be having in regards to this inappropriate and abusive behavior by her father.

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Copyright 2013, Dr. Michelle Golland. All Rights Reserved.