Owning my sex, even after the abuse
TW: sexual abuse/assault
Two months after the abuse stopped, I needed to get back in the game. There was an itch south of the border that had to be scratched. I was almost 15 and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I chose the perfect candidate; my ‘on again and off again’ 17 year old boyfriend who lived on the floor below ours. I felt he could do the job so I set the date for the next afternoon when my mother went to work. He came by and we hang out and made small talk. After some time he abruptly stopped and faced me, keeping his eyes on the floor he confessed ’I did not think you would want to have sex after all you have been through with this stuff’.
I would have loved to learn earlier that there was no shame. Victims of sexual assault have a right to feel aroused, to want sex again, to want to be loved and touched and held.
Before this, I had never understood when people told me not to feel shame about my sexual assault. However, in those five subsequent seconds it took me to steer the embarrassed boy out of the door, I felt it: the shame. It cloaked me like a shroud. He was not the last person to shame me, every lover I asked to tie, bite, choke or wax me looked at me with the same concern, spoke a version of the same words. With time I attached this shame to myself, when I scrolled through Pornhub or watched an erotic movie, when I felt that itch between my legs or wanted a stranger across the road.
I would have loved to learn earlier that there was no shame. Victims of sexual assault have a right to feel aroused, to want sex again, to want to be loved and touched and held. Sometimes the shame we feel is public, carried by the whispers flowing from people around us and sometimes it is private, with a lover, or with yourself. Shame is okay, it is expected, but it does not have to stay. The statement ‘do not feel shame’ is overlooked by the people tasked with walking us through our journeys towards healing. This has caused some of us our lives, our sanity and our mental health.
So I say again,
Do not feel shame.
For more on this read how to support someone who has gone through abuse and also this Everyday feminist article about supporting someone who has been the victim of same sex sexual abuse.
This piece forms part of the #QueeringTheCloak series which is part of a larger project exploring sexual, emotional and physical violence in queer women spaces on the continent. The project seeks to essentially ‘pull back the cloak’ on shame and silence around this violence.
For all the articles and pieces on #QueeringTheCloak click here.
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