A fantastic line borrowed from a song by Strange Advance, and so apropos.
I was sexually abused when I was young. I had the hardest time talking about this, admitting it, to anyone for a very long time. I was ashamed, humiliated, and just plain grossed-out. I mean, the "ewww!!" factor is pretty high when discussing most things sexual anyway, and if it's perverse or deviant, then even more so. I think this is part of what's wrong with American culture, an inability to be open and honest about things that make us uncomfortable, but I digress. I will say that an atmosphere of secrecy and denial, much like the current administration, allows evil to flourish.
I was abused by two men over the course of about ten years, from age five to about fifteen, when I was finally old enough to protect myself, make myself unavailable. I wasn't the only victim of these men. I'm pretty sure there were at least four others girls, possibly boys too, and the numbers could be much, much, higher, since these men were respected in the community, traveled internationally, and lived long lives. They had access to dozens, maybe hundreds, of children. I didn't do anything about the situation even after I was an adult, which might have contributed to my little brother's suicide, but I'll never know.
It's taken a long time to try and come to terms with what happened to me. For the most part, I tried not to think about it, to put it behind me and just live my life, but some things are not so easily gotten over. For the longest time, I didn't even think about the fact that I probably wasn't the only one, until I started to research and discovered that pedophiles typically have more than one victim, and that the profile of a serial abuser is a white, religious male. The publicity surrounding the scandals in the Catholic church helped, made me realize that it was more common than anyone wanted to admit, made me feel less ashamed and less alone. I didn't want to think of myself as wounded, because I so desperately wanted to be "normal," to have a happy, fabulous life, and so I denied the past. But as Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead, it isn't even passed."
I don't know if Mom was aware of what happened, she says she wasn't, that she had no idea, but who lets a grown man, a boyfriend, bathe with her five year old daughter? Someone, a friend of a friend, she'd known for weeks, maybe months at the time, not years. Of course, time of association doesn't really mean anything, abuse typically happens at the hands of a friend or family member. The spectre of the shadowy stranger, of "Chester the Molester" lurking around playgrounds simply isn't reality. And pedophiles recognize vulnerable children, seek out circumstances where their activities will go unnoticed or ignored. It's a hunter-prey situation, and the fact that my mother was tag-teamed by two men she trusted mitigates her culpability, at least in my mind. She doesn't go unpunished, though. I know part of my reticence to have children stems from my childhood. You were a bad mother, so no grandchildren for you!
Experiences shape you, mold your perceptions, and so effect future decisions. My stripping and Internet modeling, my desire to act, my passive-aggressive tendencies, I'm sure much of it comes from the lessons I was taught. I'm trying hard to create new patterns, new behaviors, new ways of being, but the past is sticky and old ruts are familiar if loathed. I can't, won't, let my future be dictated by the perversity and sickness of two fucked up old men, both dead now. I may be wounded, but I'm strong, and I can live with the scars.