Being sexually abused really fucks your brain up. It fucks with your sense of (healthy) boundaries, your sense of self and blurs the line between your own desires vs another’s demands/expectations. When my abuse started I genuinely had no idea it was wrong. It was a slow “grooming” that was loving/playful and targeted my deeply curious nature. Truthfully a bit of it felt good, and I enjoyed and craved the attention that no one else was giving me.
I was 8 though and once I recognized what was happening was wrong I was strongly and deeply conflicted. So much so that I truly believe that inner turmoil fractured my psyche as much as the abuse itself. Having to reconcile in my brain how to accept something society deemed unacceptable while sometimes enjoying it, while needing the affection, while not feeling in control of the situation or knowing how to stop it…… if I wanted to stop it and did I want to? It was all so very fucking confusing. I have a hard time reconciling it now let alone at that age.
I know I blocked a lot of it out. I know there were parts I absolutely detested. I know this abuse is the reason why I can’t have foreign objects of any kind, not even dildos in my vagina, because in trying to get me to accept his penis he started with smaller household objects first. I know when I had the small chance to get away from him I did everything in my power to do so…. without ever telling anyone about it beyond my boyfriends and generally only when I had to be in the presence of that person so that my behavior didn’t appear even slightly odd.
I had so much guilt associated with my own abuse. I took so much credit for it and I didn’t understand why. There was so much shame in it for me that in order to combat it I swung in the opposite direction. I not only embraced my sexuality using it to obtain affection and attention, but eventually I learned to truly relish it.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of bad came from the abuse. It put me in the tethers of more abusive men and chaotic behavior. It spiraled me into a deep depression and several suicide attempts. It made me lash out in ways no one understood because no one knew. I have a lot of things to thank for not letting me sink into a depth I could not crawl out of; my strong mother, my intelligence and spirit, God and a myriad of strangers and bit players who came to my aid when no one else was there.
So it probably comes as no surprise that I can easily separate my body from my mind/spirit/soul. When someone insults or abuses or chastises me in my physical form I can easily let it go because I learned from my abuse to compartmentalize things. in my mind my physical body is the least thing that’s me about me….and yet it is the most visible part of me. It is the part that seems to gets the most reaction out of people.
I’ve been thinking this morning of the last time I was raped. I was drunk at a hotel after my ex-husbands work party. He was passed out in the room and I was in my bathing suit hoping to go to the jacuzzi. I met this young guy somewhere along the way and we roamed the hotel drinking and talking. We ended up in this secluded veranda area when he pounced on me and pinned me down. He moved my bathing suit to enter me and initially I was like “fuck….. I’m so drunk… this is happening?? Again!! Really??!?” and I said “don’t get me pregnant” and then let him pump into me until I started to get angered…. enraged actually and I pushed him away with all my force. We wrestled for what seemed like minutes on end until he realized I was not going to give up.
It ended and the rest is cut into fragments of memories. Not having keys to get back into the room, having to find my glasses that flew off my face when he smacked me with his arm while fighting back, telling my husband what happened the next morning over a nasty hangover. It was more uneventful than I make it out to be. I suppose being predisposed to abuse just normalizes it more than I can explain.
I guess also the fact that my own husband didn’t seem to care just helped solidify how trivial an event it was. I honestly haven’t given it much thought since then; at least not consciously so. Shit happens. Drunk shit happens even more. I’m not justifying it. It’s just reality in this society. In a rape culture…. rape happens…. frequently. Go figure.
But that’s not the point of this post. My original point is that I still sometimes put myself in situations of vulnerability….. minus the alcohol. Because I like to think I’m in control. I like to think the majority of what happens to me I want to have or at least consciously let happen to me. Truthfully that simply isn’t the case. I’m not sure in this world that will ever be the case.
In a world where sex is a commodity….. the lines between right and wrong, between normal and indecent blur too easily. People seem to be able to justify their own behavior to themselves without a second thought. People talk the talk and don’t walk the walk…. and who is held accountable? Rarely the rich. Rarely the powerful. Rarely those in control of the framing of it. Rarely…. rarely…. rarely anyone. And if you knew how often rape (incest, sodomy, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual coercion, sexuality based discrimination, etc.) happens you’d agree with me.
We live in a world of sexploitation. Maybe it’s changing. Maybe it’s getting a light shown on it. Maybe it’s a reckoning of accountability. I say maybe because as long as the most marginalized keep being marginalized, as long as the most vulnerable keep being targeted, as long as those with privilege and power keep doing as they please, as long as we live in a world where the truth doesn’t matter and accountability is only enforced for some people then it’s all for nought.
You’d think all this would depress me. It doesn’t. All I can do is focus on the few things that I have control over. The things that make me happy. The things that make this life worth living. I have a new mantra I’ve been focusing on lately: L.A.V.E. Stands for:
These are the things I focus on for myself and for those I can bring this too; my loved ones, my friends, family, clients, etc. and I send some to you. May your day be full of LAVE.