You Were Raped?!! Did You Like It?
I have branded this blog with three very important words: Real! Raw! And Necessary! These words define the type of stories that On The Jaye Spot chooses to tell. However, they are stories not just geared toward entertainment gossip. They are stories from real people. Who go through real things on a daily basis. I have a great friend who is a budding writer and developed story teller. Writing under the moniker Sunshine, she recently shared a very personal part of her life story on her blog, Restorative Notions. It chronicles her battle with molestation from her step father and the ramifications of a life lasting coping process that most survivors know all too well.
Within the article she shares this story with a dating friend of hers, who, quite shockingly, has some very interesting questions and statments to make:
"When did you start to like it?"
"Why didn't you tell your mom the first time?"
"I could understand a little more if it were your uncle or something..."
She goes on to explain that he simply did not understand. She did her best to help him to see things through the lense of a survivor of sexual abuse. In response, Sunshine had some great questions of her own:
"Why is it ok to question a survivors reasoning for telling, not telling, or the time frame it took to tell?"
"Why is it ok to question the body's natural reactions?"
This article leads me to share (once again) my own story and to challenge people, who will read either of these articles, to sit and think about what it means to be a survivor of sexual abuse, a friend or family member of someone who has been abused, or even a romantic partner being trusted enough to know such a part of a person's story.
I was seven years old when I was first molested by my cousin. I was, like many children, trusting, fun, vibrant, and had a childlike understanding that I was virtually safe from all hurt, harm, and danger. I was (and am still) unaware as to why my cousin chose me to expose such perversion, but in any case I was his target. My molestation lasted for three years. Periodically having to endure a teenage boy, with growing hormones, trying to find out who he was in the pit of a seven-year-olds stomach was more than enough to change the course of my life forever. Over that time I was manipulated and often forced to allow him, his best friend, and other family members to do a manner of things to me: Bondage, trains, fellatio, etc.
Blindfolded and left in a closet to play, "who's penis is it?" is part of the reason I had such a terrifying fear of the dark well into my teens. It is also the contributing factor why I am opposed to being tickeled; having hands (unpermitted) touching my body in order to cause it to react in ways I can not control. I had my frist train run on me at eight-years-old; one in many over the next two years. At the age of 10 I bravely (and terrifyingly) stood up to my cousin and said I no longer would allow him to hurt me. His face changing from warm to cold in a matter of seconds was the last day he (or anyone he involved) would ever touch me again. It would also be the beginning of a bed of lies, secrets, and death threats that were to come.
I was 26 years old when I took my story of abuse and channeled it into a raving one man show entitled, Closed Mouths Can't Sing: A Story of Abuse & Self-Discovery. It was an eight show performance (which, looking back at it, is intersting being that that was the number of years I was silent about the abuse) with over seven characters all played by me. It was the first time I would tell the world about my abuse in such a graphic and unedited way. Hundreds came to see it and I was touched by the amount of support that I recieved in doing that show. The stories that came forth after seeing it were more than heart warming. I had no idea the amount of people (specifically that I knew) who had survived, and in some cases still were surviving, sexual abuse. Voices were being found, people were speaking up and speaking out, and I was facing (for the first time) the fact that the very person who put my life on such a traumatic path would never be able to look me in the eyes and say, "I'm sorry. I hurt you and damaged you and I'm deeply sorry."
Till this day we do not speak and he denies it ever happening. I shared his name in my show (for which my life was threatened) because, as I explain in the show, his name became such poison to me. It represented pain and hurt and heartache. It represented nightmares and sexual confusion. It represented not knowing why he would do such a thing to me and NEVER say that he was sorry about it.
He recently had a child. And from the moment I found out I pray day in and day out that his little girl will NEVER know the horrific actions that her father put me through. I continue to tell my story, but I no longer mention his name. I do it for two very specific reasons:
One- his name no longer holds that power over me! So there is no reason for me to speak it in an effort to overcome any type of fear I once had.
Two- At the time of my show, he didn't have a baby. No one who would look up to him and have in him the same trust I had in him as a child. He didn't have a little piece of him to look after and protect. Now he does and I would hate to steal from his baby ANY idea/thought/feeling that her father can be anything less than her superman. No child should have to know that their parent (at one point in their life; whether admittingly or not) was a child molester. Especially if they've been nothing but a great parent in their life. If he ever comes to terms with it and chooses to tell his daughter about his past, in an effort to inform her that not everyone you trust is trustworthy, that will be his decision, not mine.
Many people question molestation for what it is and what it does. It IS NOT rape! Rape is brutal, often a one time event (but not always), but most importantly rape is an event understood by both parties that trust and manipulation are non factors in enacting such horrific behavior. Fear and an overpowering of someone are often the only things needed for rape to occur. Molestation takes time. It takes manipulation, persuasion, and most importantly a violation of what started out as a trust factor.
There are many blanket statements and facts about rape/molestation that, for some, mean nothing and for others validate everything. I can only share with you my own experience. I trusted my cousin becuase he was family. I trusted that being older meant he knew better; that he would never lead me to a place that would cause me emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The first time was painful, unbearable, tragically horrific. Yet, when he slowed down, talked me through it, carressed me and told me to just "relax, I'm not going to hurt you," it was that foundation of family trust that I leaned on to believe that he was telling me the truth. When my body reacted in such a way that I felt physical pleasure, I was confused and unexperiecned in filtering physical reaction from emotional trauma. However, when he asked me not to tell anyone (and I didn't) it wasn't trust in him that held my lips. It was the manipulation of that trust that he used to introduce a fear into a child that says, "If YOU tell, YOU will be in trouble." I was afraid that I (not him) had done something wrong. I was afraid that he would be angry with me and that this doorway he had opened for me (to allow me to experience a physical stimulant that I had never before known; entrusted with a secret, however perverted) would be closed forever. And it was for these reasons, even AFTER I stood up for myself, that it took five more years before I told anyone.
It's amazing how much molestation and rape (and the revealing of such) can cause for people on the outside to make it ALL about THEM! The question of, "why didn't you tell me/them?" causes for a person who has experienced such trauma to be put in the VERY seat they were trying to avoid in that time (however long) of silence. The seat of GUILT and BLAME! It also puts the focus on the person asking the question NOT on the well being of the abused. Remember, it's not always about you!!!
That one question can cause someone to feel like they did something wrong. I, personally didn't say anything for those eight years because the shame was too great. On one hand I HATED feeling the physical pain and the fear. Yet, on the other hand my body physically enjoyed the stimulation. Having your first orgasm at seven years old (well before you even understand what that is) and not being able to separate what your body feels from what your heart feels, is like removing a piece of glass from a deep, embedded wound: Messy, scary, and painful for the the person with the wound! Furthermore to assume that a person "liked it" is to say that their emotional state of being and psychological state of being are connected, and in agreement, to what is happening to them physically.
I stand with Sunshine when she asks why a suvivors time frame in telling or not telling becomes the question!
Think about going to the doctor. You know that you have to go. You trust (because of their position) that they know what they're doing and what they're talking about. They give you shots and test you in all kinds of uncomfortable ways to make sure that you are ok. Right?
Well, I haven't met a man yet (sexual fetishes aside) who enjoyed having a tube stuffed down his penis or a finger shoved up his rear! I haven't met a woman who enjoys having some medical professional probe her vagina or mash her breasts between two plates of glass. So if said man/woman ejaculates from said test does that physical stimulation equate to enjoyment? Did they WANT to ejaculate? Did they go to the doctor with the intention of having an orgasm? I HIGHLY DOUBT IT!
The shame and embarrassment that many victims of sexual abuse feel (myself included) is like being stripped naked, thrown into a cold bath, taken out, and having fresh, warm cow dung poored all over you. THEN they open a curtain to have everyone you know staring at you! You're not in a postion to want to face anyone. You simply want to go home, clean yourself off and cry from the embarrassment and emotional/psychological scarring. I can remember bathing as a child; scrubbing my skin so hard that it would begin to bleed because all I wanted to do was wipe off the shame.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it seems ok to blame the vicitm. To blame a person's attire for a sexual attack. To elude that because an oragsm has occured that said victim must have enjoyed it thereby making it a consentual expeirence. The reality is, the subject of molestation/rape and the speaking out of it's victims, means aknowledging that it happens WAY too often with WAY too many people we trust! It means acknowledging that people in positions of power are NOT the moral and kind persona's they portray; that some of them are perverted victimizers who use fear and manipulation as tactics to remain in position and still hurt other people.
I share this with EVERY silent victim out there: YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME!!!! A mistake of having one too many cocktails or a sexy outfit does NOT give someone else the right to violate you! If you have been a victim and are afraid to speak out I urge you to look for resources in your area that can help you. Find someone you can truly trust and tell them!!! The power that rapists and molesters have is in the fear....when you overcome that fear you take away their power!
And if you are a friend, relative, or significant other to someone who has experienced sexual abuse, do your best to educate yourself. Don't allow your lack of understanding to spew things that could very well make someone feel as though you're blaming them for something someone else did to them.
For more info on Rape and Molestation (as well as resources) please visit www.RAINN.org
To read Sunshines full article CLICK HERE!
Main Photo courtesy of @StopMolestation on Twitter
Additional photo from WhoTheHellDoesSheThinkSheIs.com