“I’ve Never Spoken About This”

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by an older child, I compartmentalized many of my emotions and experiences for a long time. Only after hearing about other people’s experiences of CSA also involving other children (rather than an adult) did I begin to recognize what happened to be as a form of abuse.

Me as a child
Me holding a photo of myself as a young child

I first came across Vanessa Williams describing her experience. Before watching this video, I hadn’t realized molestation could be done by another child. So, I had categorized what happened to me as childhood exploration, even though I also knew it shouldn’t be happening. And, I similarly experienced a sexual awakening that led me to think I was responsible; that my own curiosity was at fault. In fact, even my subsequent relationships felt shameful to me, because they carried the legacy of abuse without me recognizing it.

It was reading Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness that I finally understood my desire for attention was exploited; that it wasn’t my fault. That as a gay child I was especially vulnerable to abuse. That the abuse shifted my belief system around intimacy, boundaries, my body, and much more.

Most recently, I came across Ser’Darius Blain talking about how long it took him to talk about it, about how (black) masculinity prevented him from processing his feelings, and how seeking counseling helped him finally forgive himself.

Because I heard these three people share their experiences and because I finally talked about the molestation in therapy, I have come to a place where I can fully acknowledge my own experience of repeated childhood sexual abuse when I was 5. I can finally accept and forgive myself (even though it wasn’t my fault). And, I know that I’m not alone. #MeToo

 

Vanessa Williams Opens Up About Being Molested as a Child | Oprah’s Master Class | OWN (YouTube)

“I knew it felt good but also something that should not be happening.”

“At that young age–having that happen to your body–it awakens your sexuality at an age where it shouldn’t be awakened.

I think that had that not happened in my life and I had an opportunity to have … a normal courtship with a boyfriend at 16 or whatever and have your normal first kiss, there wouldn’t have been that shame that was kind of always haunting me.

But, I think it made me more sexually promiscuous and and more curious at a younger age than I should have been.”

 

Redefining Readlness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

“…I liked the attention, the closeness, and the intimacy. … It was his attention, his wooing, that shifted my focus. And that was what I later learned that predators have in their arsenal of affections: They are able to make an isolated, outcast child feel special.” (p 44-45)

“It took me years to recognize, label, and acknowledge Derek’s actions as molestation. I made excuses for him, from blaming my femininity to blaming his age. He was young, so he didn’t know any better, I often thought. But blaming myself and making excuses for Derek didn’t allow me to uncover the facts about child sexual abuse. … Though I now have empathy for Derek and am aware of his emotional immaturity, that doesn’t negate the pain his actions inflicted on me over those two years in my childhood.” (p. 45)

“As a survivor of sexual abuse, I developed a belief system that shaped how I viewed myself: I can gain  attention through sexual acts; my worth lies in how good I can make someone else feel, even if that means I’m void of feeling; what I do in bed is shameful and secret, therefore I will remain in the dark, a constant shameful secret.” (p. 46-47)

“Derek didn’t command that I tell no one, that I keep what we did in his bed a secret. He knew I wouldn’t talk because I kept myself a secret… He could smell the isolation on me, and I was lured into believing the illusion that he truly saw me. I was a child, dependent, learning, unknowing, trusting, and willing to do what was asked of me to gain approval and affection.” (p. 47)

“Derek took something away from when when I was only eight years old and left me with a lifetime of murkiness surrounding issues of intimacy, sex, pain, love, boundaries, and ownership of my body.” (p. 47)

 

Ser’Darius Blain Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse (Now This News)

“You blame yourself for not getting yourself out of the situation.”

“Reading some of these accounts with the #MeToo movement, I can sympathize and empathize with some of the  victims and understand why they took so long to say something. Or some of the ones who didn’t say — haven’t, still haven’t said anything at all.”

“As a Black man, specifically, we’re only allowed two emotions. That’s happy or mad. We’re not allowed to be confused or conflicted… or sad or depressed.”

“You owe it to yourself to talk about, to get help, so you can live the fullest life you can possible live.”

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Video: I refuse to define God – Karen Armstrong on Oprah

Yet another Super Soul moment. Discussing God with Oprah, Karen says she refuses to define God. I love her reason! 

God is more than we can conceive.  -Karen Armstrong

Early morning sky in Hawai'i
Early morning sky in Hawai’i

Watch Karen’s insight here

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Soul-to-Soul-with-Karen-Armstrong-Video

Video: Mannequins modeled after differently-abled people

Capturing Pro Infirmis’s fascinating campaign “Because who is perfect? Get closer.”, this video shows what happens when mannequins are modeled after people with “scoliosis or brittle bone disease.” 

I love how the team transforms mannequins–which I usually find grossly unrealistic–into something so human. If you support diversity or embrace the beauty of humanity, it’s 5 minutes well spent.

Watch the video here

Video: Networking for Introverts – Susan Cain on MarieTV

In Marie’s most recent episode, she talks with Susan Cain, author of Quiet and leader of an introvert movement. (I’ve listened to the beginning of Quiet on audiobook, and so far I love it!) As someone who is not extroverted, I appreciated the networking advice from Susan. In particular, I love the idea of finding one kindred spirit at an event, rather than “making the rounds”.  I also love hearing Marie needs to veg out after a while at parties, because I cannot count the times at family gatherings when I’ve drifted off to a quiet corner.

Also, if you’re wondering if you are introverted or extroverted, check out the assessment. (I test somewhere between an ambivert and an introvert.)

Watch the interview here

Must Watch Video Of A Nice Guy Explaining How Normal It Has Become To Disrespect & Objectify Women

First off, this post almost exactly captures my own transition from the Bay Area to L.A. From my “cozy, little life in Northern California” to “soul-sucking traffic, feeling like you aren’t nearly thin/tan/beautiful/not-human enough, and endless conversations about which juice cleanse is the best”. And also how for two years I was constantly “muttering about how I missed the cold, NPR with my mom, and people who honked to say hello and not crush my spirit.” Having my own experience understood so well by another person is incredibly validating, so that’s reason #1 that I’m re-blogging this.

Number 2 is a little vain. I know the guy in the video at the end! We both attended UCLA, and I actually ended up at a Giants game with him by happenstance. I also bring this up–not just to brag about my proximity to internet celebrity–but to highlight that this guy is just a regular guy. I think I frequently forget that the people’s whose opinions and stories I encounter online, I forget that those people are real people. They aren’t actors in some movie called Life. They are people who went to school, who have friends, who live lives, and who on occasion go to baseball games with near-strangers. I like knowing this people are real people, too.

Thought Catalog

Last year, I packed up my entire cozy, little life in Northern California and moved to the city where all your dreams come true (if your dreams include soul-sucking traffic, feeling like you aren’t nearly thin/tan/beautiful/not-human enough, and endless conversations about which juice cleanse is the best): Los Angeles. Okay, it’s actually not THAT bad, but that article is for another time and another place (lamest cliff-hanger in the history of ever. You don’t care. Please care. Love me!).

Change of any kind tends to send my routine driven brain into total panic and I seek shelter in the two things that have always been a constant in my life: my bed and all 10 seasons of Friends.  However, one of the first friends (actual friend, sorry Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, Monica…) I made in Lalaland, and now I’m lucky enough to call her my roommate, refused to let…

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Video: Intimacy and humanity from strangers

In a very human photography project, Richard Renaldi–the last name makes me think Princess Diaries–asks strangers to pose together as if they were lovers, friends, or family. Afterwards, the video captures a few of the participants’ responses. The short video (2:34) is a great look at the barriers between us and our common humanity.

Check it out the post here

http://elitedaily.com/news/world/photographer-puts-two-strangers-together-for-intimate-photographs-and-the-results-are-surprising/

Original video here

Video & Article: The remarkable Malala and why she isn’t exceptional

As a firm believer in peace and education, I was instantly captivated by Malala Yousafzai. Her clear message of peace, equality, non-violence, and education is all the more remarkable because of her young age. If you haven’t heard her speak, I highly recommend her Daily Show appearance.  I think it’s clear she is deserving of the attention she has garnered.

After falling in love with what Malala has to say, I also recommend considering this article detailing the dangers of making her an “exceptional” person. Exceptionalism at first brush sounds benign. However, implicit in the word “exceptional” is the idea of being an exception or an anomaly. Malala is not an anomaly. She is not a solitary voice of reason in an otherwise violent culture. She is in fact the norm. Though more visible to the Western world, Malala is by no means the only girl, the only young person, the only Muslim, nor the only Pakastani to be speaking out against inequality and violence. This is to say that rather than being exceptional, Malala may better be seen as representative, and perhaps even moreso as what she is: a human with a beautiful message.

Malala on The Daily Show (my favorite part starts at 3:45) video

Article on Malala and appropriation: http://omidsafi.religionnews.com/2013/10/12/malala/