I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth: I’m not scared to admit my abusers taught me about romance and sexuality. I never thought I would reply to that with: I’m not guilty anymore that a good portion of my knowledge of my body and sexual endeavors come from my abusers. I never thought I would finalize: And I own it.
At age 14, when the molestation started, I hated myself, my body and everything around me. I didn’t want anyone to touch me and I panicked when something brushed up against me. I wore baggy, heavy clothing to hide my body from myself. My body wasn’t a temple, it was Hell. My body was not mine. I felt his touches, his gazes and his breath on my skin; it made me sob on the floor, my arms wrapped around myself.
I was not in my body, my body was an entirely different entity.
By age 19, I had an orgasm. By age 19, I was introduced to an amazing device called a vibrator by an ex-boyfriend. He was surprised, upset even, to learn I had never given myself an orgasm because I felt dirty, guilty and ashamed to even stand naked in front of a mirror, much less orgasm.
He bought me what would become my best boyfriend, ever. I never even opened it from the package ( a year later ) until my therapist suggested I pleasure myself to teach myself that it’s okay to orgasm. And there I learned I was an incredibly sexual person. I would have multiple orgasms in one night, enjoying the buzz, the high, the love for myself. But then I would fall, becoming guilt-ridden and feeling disgusting and horrible for liking the feeling.
What I learned in therapy after breaking down, crying to my therapist that in the beginning of the abuse, it was actually enjoyable, began my change. “Every molestation victim I have seen in my 20 years has said that to me. That doesn’t make it all right, that just simply means your body was physically reacting to a naturally beautiful experience that was dirtied by an abuser. That doesn’t mean the abuse was justified; that just means your body was reacting to a good feeling with another good feeling. You are not to blame.”
I sat back and realized I had heard other molestation survivors say the same, and they felt just as guilty as I was feeling. But compared to many of them, I was experiencing an exciting and healthy sex life with myself, only feeling guilty afterwards because of my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorder mingling together to create a perfect storm of guilt and shame. Many of them were still in the stage of baggy clothing and never getting naked unless they had to, many didn’t have a sex life and all but one had never made themselves orgasm. The group was astounded that I could do what I did.
That surely didn’t stop me, though. I continued, making small, but extraordinary steps, to a healthy, sexual relationship with my body and myself and as an extension, with the father of my child.
However, it didn’t fully sink in until recently, at age 20: a good portion of what I was doing with the guy was taught to me as a young teen. Where to touch, what to say, what to do in (fill in the blank situation), how to let go, how to do the things most people learn with consensual, loving partners, my abuser taught me. As tears involuntarily started to form and my PTSD started to tear through my hazy brain, I stopped myself and thought, “Seriously? Why? Why should I feel ashamed about something I have no control over?” It replied, “Because what happened was disgusting.” We can all agree it was, thank you; no brainer. “But again, why go into panic mode?” It replied, “Because it’s not how you’re supposed to learn these things. You just can’t do it that way, so don’t do it at all.”
No, that’s isn’t how I’m supposed to learn those things; this is undeniable. But why should I never do anything sexual, with a partner, or myself, because I was molested? Why should I feel guilty? Why should I feel like I’m a horrible being for knowing these things? I can’t unlearn them and I can’t ignore what I just know. So no, I will continue to pleasure myself and any given partner I choose, both parties following the three important rules of sex: non-harmful, consensual and safe.
I have those three rules down to a T; I’m doing nothing wrong and I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise.
I own my abuse. I own my body. I own my sexuality.
“My sexuality.” That’s important, because although I was molested from 14 to 15, I’m nearly 21 and I’m a sexual person. Sexual abuse happened to me; I am not the sexual abuse. I know how to touch, where to touch, what to say, what to do; I can either look at that like it’s the worst thing in the world, or I can look at it as undeniable, can’t-get-away-from-it-so-let’s-just-accept-it, knowledge. You fight it all your life, or you give in and say, “Yeah, that happened, and I love to freaking orgasm now.”
And the moment I accepted that a good portion of my sexual and romantic knowledge came from my abuser, and that I’m not a disgusting person for simply having that knowledge, I smiled.
I don’t have to fight my past or what I know; it’s part of me, not all of me. And somehow, I have found peace in my simple, yet profound (as my therapist said) acceptance of my past abuse and my present sexuality.