let's talk about sexual assault, sexual abuse and all the shit that's all over the news right now, particularly the hashtags #metoo
as a survivor i've been both glad to see this discussion happening again and struggling with the amount of trauma out there no matter where i go online and often in person too. but it's important to talk about and i'm having an angry day so i'm going to share some of my history as personal stories do matter...
stop here if you want to avoid triggers - it's ok, you do not need to read this if it's going to hurt you.#metoo
the first time i 'had sex' it was my thirteenth birthday. a thirty something year old man, A, had been waiting for me to turn 13 as he felt that was old enough, and after my family fed me cake etc and everyone went to bed he came into my room and took what he wanted. he silenced me with threats that if i told anyone i'd be in trouble, that what we had was special but needed to be hidden. later on he started threatening my little sister too if i didn't continue to aquiesce.
his facial hair was scratchy. the first time i was kissed was gross (pretty sure that was before 13 but it was A too). he held my arms tight, silenced my wimpers with his hand or his mouth, forced himself into me, and told me if there was blood in the bed to pretend i'd gotten my period (i had yet to have a period at that point but at least i knew what it was). i felt like it was my fault, that i deserved this (xian school was not a good place to be a girl in the 70s) and i believed his threats. i tried to avoid him, but he had access and this continued until after i left for college at 17. i did try to tell my mom once, but she didn't believe me and blamed me for coming onto him - so - we did not have a decent relationship until i was in my 30s.
fuck... these memories. i have some pretty severe memory loss issues - the last time i was on the east coast, i got on an elevator with my father, sister, etc and didn't know who they were. but i can still see As face so clearly; sometimes i'll see someone who looks like him (light haired hipsters with bushy 70s mustaches and long hair can be scary) and wonder how he found me until i remember he died years ago. #meat14
there's always been a lot of bullshit about young women being fast/easy and allowing themselves to be 'taken advantage of'. but here's the thing - young women are not adults, we can both explore our sexuality and still be children, and we should not be shamed or blamed for that.
at 12-13ish i started working at a friend's family's restaurant as a waitress - long skirts, tuxedo shirts, bow ties, vests, heels. and i was going to private xian school complete with the hideous plaid jumper and tights as a uniform plus braces and headgear and coke bottle glasses. i was bullied daily for my appearance, my mixed-race, my bookishness. i sang in the school choir, had a 4.0 but didn't study much, and worked mostly weekends for money toward college. as long as i got good grades no adults noticed me much.
at the same time thank fuck i fell into hanging out with some of my fellow waitstaff at the restaurant. because they introduced me to the nyc punk/alternative & gay club scenes. i was super shy, but i loved the music and dancing so i'd sneak out to clubs with them frequently (divorced parents who couldn't stand each other for the win - i told mom i'd be at dad's, dad assumed i was at home). eventually as i got more comfortable if i had a few drinks i might even talk to new people or pick someone up - in some part of my brain it felt good although the sex itself was frequently meh. i'm quite certain that a lot of those pick-ups were problematic at best on both sides - 'too drunk to fuck' was a truism, and i was way underage but passing for 18 was easy back then.
the people i slept with made me feel desired for the right reasons - while there were age differences we were part of the same community and it was a way of reasserting control over my sexuality - and we were all passing for 18-20 and looked it. and the dancing/community - thank fuck for giving me someplace to put all that rage and hurt and sometimes find joy; it took me a long time but clubbing gave me an in to self control and eventually peace with who i am. i'm sure if my school or parents ever found out what i was doing then i'd have been ostracised as a slut, a bad influence, blamed for my own trauma and the actions i was taking to deal with it. fortunately they were oblivious, i was too smart for my own good, and i got lucky - while i saw too much death from drugs and hiv/aids i was one of the few who survived.
also fortunately other than A, i wasn't raped or more than occasionally groped or harrassed by some pervert (usually on the bus or subway or a jerk at school) until i went away to college. once again, a xian school was not a good or safe place for me to be (i eventually found some other freaks at college but it was a shitty place/time until i moved to the DC area), and i was raped more than once by 'friends'. but the thing is, the scene we built of punks and freaks, misfits and queer kids while imperfect was safe for me; it was the thing that saved me from myself and continues to be home.
thanks to all of you who were there for me (and still are) as i grew into myself. as i went though the stage of getting really heavy and hating myself for how i looked in sub-conscious self defense against what was being done to me by A. who stood by and helped me learn to channel my rage in non-harmful ways and who forgave me for failing in relationship after relationship until i figured out that i am queer and non-monogamous and how to make that work in practice. to my friends lovers who've heard or read bits of this story and empathised - especially when i woke up from a nightmare and needed to be held until i came down and felt safe enough to go back to sleep.
i am a survivor - not just once but multiple times (like many survivors my history put me more at risk later on). i am proud of who i've become, but sometimes it's fucking hard and i'm certain i made some less than stellar choices while i was failing at dealing with my past. i am sorry if you were on the receiving end of any of that.