Here we are again. Hello back if you’ve been following. Hello and welcome if you are new to my journey.
On yesterday’s part of the journey I realized (formally) that I have sexual issues. This was the first of four chapters of part one of the journey, which is “becoming aware”. This is the part I am still at.
Today I will look at the second chapter of “becoming aware”, which is called “acknowledging the abuse”.
The central statement of this chapter is that it’s important, but not always easy to recognize sexual encounters as having been (or being) abusive when they really were (or are). It says that the areas important to acknowledging sexual abuse are:
- Understanding sexual abuse.
- Overcoming blocks to recognize sexual abuse.
- Remembering sexual abuse.
- Telling others about the abuse.
The book deals with all of those separately and at quite some length, so it’s too overwhelming for me to work through everything at once. Therefore I’ll start with the first item on the list.
1. Understanding sexual abuse
I know from experience that sexual abuse comes in many shades. The book confirms that and provides information on various different kinds of sexual abuse, to make it easier to recognize sexual abuse. It names and explains all those kinds of abuse, which can overlap. I’ll mark the ones that I think apply to me with an (X):
- getting involved in sexual acts as a child with other children
- incest (X)
- molestation (X)
- stranger rape
- date or acquaintance rape (X)
- marital rape
- sexual assault
- exhibitionism or exposure (X)
- voyeurism (X)
- obscene phone calls or e-mail massages
- sadistic sexual abuse (X)
- sexual exploitation (X)
- sexual harassment
- gender attack
- gay bashing
- sexual violence (X)
Phew. To be honest it gives me no little shivers to see that many X-marks there. I have a strong tendency, almost an urge, to downplay the gravity of the sexual abuse I experienced. All those X-marks don’t really agree with that, so I have a hard time not going back and erasing most of them, only leaving one or two. So maybe while I have no problems with acknowledging that I was sexually abused, I do have problems with acknowledging the seriousness of it. Ah well. That’s probably why there is a chapter that is called ‘acknowledging’. I’ll leave all X-marks and see what happens.
Anyway, the book also names four key features of sexual abuse to determine if sexual abuse took place:
a) lacking ability to consent
b) betrayal of a trusted relationship
c) violence or control
d) that you felt abused
For me, personally, those are all true. I don’t think a child can in any way consent to sexual activity with her stepfather, and I have memory snippets around from when I was very young, like three or four years old, so I wasn’t even anywhere near being able to consent. I think if someone who’s supposed to be a parent gets sexually involved with his stepdaughter that is a betrayal of a trusted relationship – except that I can’t recall ever trusting either him or my mother. I also have memories of violence and control and yes, I felt abused. At least in a certain way. I don’t know.
I grew up believing that that’s what girls are there for, period. My mom knew about it, it happened openly within the family. It wasn’t ever really hidden. That’s so sick. But it made that I didn’t feel abused, but more like I was a bad girl for not liking it. Gosh, and then it seems like I DID like it, but didn’t like it at the same time. It’s so confusing. Everything moves around in my head, this way and that, while I think, and I go from ‘I felt abused’ to ‘I never felt abused’ to ‘I hated it’ to ‘but I liked it’ to ‘crap, nothing makes sense’ within seconds. It’s all a jumble and it feels like crap and makes all those conflicting sexual thoughts come up. In one moment I feel like if somebody wanted to fuck me right now, I’d want it too, and the next I feel awful and want nothing to do with it. 😦
Sigh. But I guess the bottom line is that I can probably safely say that I have been sexually abused. And probably a lot more than I want to acknowledge. Acknowledging that seems like a first good step for today. The rest is probably still riddled with blocks. At least it feels that way. And I will look at the blocks, too, I promise. Tomorrow.
Missed the past episodes of the journey? Here they are:
MALTZ, Wendy (2012): The Sexual Healing Journey. A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse; Third Edition; Harper Collins. New York.