Two Austrian sisters say their father locked them up and both sexually and physically abused them for over 40 years. Now 45 and 53 years old, they lived under this tyranny nearly their entire lives, as reported by The Guardian.
The father, identified as Gottfried W. (Austrians don’t fully identify suspects) threatened his daughters with a pitchfork, a stick, and firearms, repeatedly threatening to kill them if they resisted. The sisters also have mental deficiencies, which the violence may have caused or worsened, further enabling the abuse. Gottfried also forbade contact with the outside world. All of this left the women withdrawn and dependent.
Yet last May the older sister fought an attempted rape, knocking down her now 80-year-old father. Both sisters fled. Days later a social worker discovered Gottfried on the floor. The sisters have been taken in by social services and are receiving psychiatric treatment.
The case only became public last week.
It is all so reminiscent of another Austrian, Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned and raped his daughter in a dark, windowless cellar, where he forced her to live for 24 years.
Makes you wonder what’s up with Austria. Yet in a country of over eight million these cases are the only two of this kind. You might actually expect the opposite in this country. Men who commit incest tend toward authoritarianism (unlike Austrians generally, who came in dead last on a scale measuring autocratic leadership styles) and believe children should obey parents at all times.
But the two men who so savagely raped their daughters fit the profile well. Gottfried
continually bossed and threatened his entire family, while Josef’s children described him as a “dominating tyrant” who frequently beat them.
In incestuous families, there is usually little affection and the mother’s role is often reduced, often due to physical or mental illness. Again, true of these two families.
As a repeatedly abused victim herself, Gottfried’s wife was unable to help her daughters. Josef’s wife was unaware of the cell her husband had built to hold their daughter, and so was unable to intervene. Even as babies were born, Josef simply told his wife that their long lost daughter had left the babies at their doorstep.
Men who commit incest believe that men are entitled to fulfill whatever sexual desires they might have. And they see children as sex objects.
When I first heard complaints about sexual objectification I didn’t get it. I didn’t know what a sex object was. I thought feminists were complaining about grown women and men just being sexy. And the world seemed a bit dull to me without a little sexiness, which I define more broadly than the narrow notions that tie women in knots.
Later I came to understand that when a person is seen as a sex object she (usually) is seen as an OBJECT. A thing. An object thing that is all about sex, and little else. A sex object is not seen as having feelings, a life, dreams, human potential. A sex object exists to satisfy someone else’s purposes. In these fathers’ behaviors we find the more brutal outcomes of this way of seeing.
No, the problem isn’t Austria. The problem isn’t men. The problem is patriarchy, manifested in male dominance over women and girls and less powerful men and boys, sexual objectification and the disempowerment of women.