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.
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.”