This post is about child sexual abuse.
I have many experiences in my past that make me cringe, but this morning, I was thinking about my sexual experience. I have a lot of it. I was a prostitute. Even when I wasn’t a prostitute, I was promiscuous as hell.
I have not a clue how many people I’ve had sex with. It’s probably somewhere in the multiple hundreds. Even as a non-prostitute, those kind of numbers make people call women out as whores or sluts or any number of impolite epithets.
Men who’ve slept with several hundred women, on the other hand, aren’t called whores. They’re called players and given high fives. They’re even looked up to as “pick-up artists” and asked for advice.
There is a sexual double standard. I’ve experienced it first-hand. Most men suddenly become delicate snow-white flowers and recoil from you in horror when you tell them you’ve slept with a lot of men, especially if you tell them that you once got paid for it. Men often expect women to have sexual experience, but they don’t want to know how we got it. They want us to know how through immaculate knowledge.
Let’s get one thing straight here. I am in no way boasting or proud of the number of people I’ve slept with. That number is a sign of being very, very broken for a lot of years. It makes me cringe because of how blind I was. I was molested as a child and that number is my result. Other people have different results, but making that number grow was one of mine. Promiscuity is just one of the possible outcomes of child sexual abuse.
I ignored the abuse and so did my parents. They never got me any help and we never talked about it. After I told my parents what was happening in my room late at night and they didn’t believe me, I never talked about it again. My family’s denial made it seem like it was perfectly normal. Sexual assault is just what grownups do. So, when I became a grownup, that’s what I did. Had I been born a man, there’s a very good chance that I might be a rapist. I just didn’t know how to take no for an answer.
The abuse that no one wanted to talk about festered inside of me. We all pretended it never happened, but you cannot just pretend that sexual abuse didn’t happen. Even if you never think about it, it changes you. Deep in my consciousness, the sexual abuse took root and shifted my world forever like a big tree breaks a sidewalk from underneath.
For most of my life, I didn’t acknowledge that I lost my virginity at seven years old. To this day, even though I have accepted it now, when people ask me how old I was when I lost my virginity, I instinctively say fifteen as if that’s the truth. It isn’t, but people don’t want to hear seven; they want to hear seventeen. There has to be a “teen” in there somewhere so they can compare and contrast. Seven would stop them in their tracks and they’d form all sorts of assumptions based on five little letters. I don’t say seven. I’ve never said seven; I say fifteen even though it’s a lie.
At seven years old, I was given a primer on how to properly please a man when I still thought boys were gross. While most of my contemporaries were playing with Barbies, I was on my way to becoming a whore. It never got any better. It only got worse until, at eighteen, I found myself exchanging my body for drugs and money to buy drugs. Unchecked sexual abuse will kill you if you let it.
I confused sex with love. Men show that they love you by tying you up, gagging you and sticking things in you, right? That’s what he taught me. He told me he loved me, and without any support, help or basis for comparison, I believed it.
I thought that by choosing who, how and when to have sex, I was in control, when in fact, I was very much out of it. I gave myself a high five with every new conquest. I didn’t realize that I had not escaped the monster. I had not overpowered the monster; I had just turned into one myself. I turned into someone who had to have sex with everyone all the time because that is love. Love is abuse. Abuse is love.
Once I realized that I was a monster, I shut down entirely. I walled myself up. I cried alone inside my walls for that little girl who never got to play with Barbies and for the promiscuous teen turned whore she became. And I got very, very angry. I stewed in my anger. I shook with rage at a world and a family that would allow such evil to happen and not do a damn thing about it. He was never prosecuted. He was never even charged. No one went to the police. It just never happened.
He is still alive. He is still free. He still lives near my family. He has kids of his own now, and that thought sickens me and fills me with fury. It makes me want to hop on a plane and hit him again and again, very slowly, so he can feel every hit until he finally expires with the full knowledge of what he did and why he is dying alone with no one to help him, but I don’t. And I won’t. I won’t take the last step towards becoming a monster. I won’t let him turn me into that, but dammit, the fact that he’s still out there and has children of his own makes me furious.
My family could have stopped it. They could have stopped it from happening to me had they believed my big confession, but they let it continue. They could have stopped him from hurting anyone else. They could have given me justice and the help I so desperately needed, but they did nothing. They set the monster free and they watched me turn into a monster myself. That, I cannot ever forgive.
He stole my virginity and turned me into a liar. He killed the person I would have been without his torture. He left me with survivor’s guilt, feeling for all of those children who came after me, including his own. He stole my childhood. He ripped my family away from me forever. I never trusted anyone completely ever again. He replaced my innocence with total isolation, so much hate and a confused sense of sexuality that I’m still trying to sort out. I have some twisted kinks he gave me that fill me with shame. He led me inexorably down a path to a past that makes me cringe and my family helped him take me there. It all makes me cringe, but I don’t ignore it anymore.
Child sexual abuse never goes away. Ignoring it only makes it worse. I spent the bulk of my life denying it, pretending it never happened, and it warped me in ways that, as a full-grown adult, I’m only now realizing. I am still recognizing patterns in my behavior as a result of abuse. Every time I see a new one, it fills me with disgust, but every new discovery is a victory, because it brings me one step closer to freeing myself from the monsters once and for all.
In the United States and Canada, call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).