My ten year old son was watching an episode of “Oprah” with me today. The topic was drug addiction and the young rehabilitated ex-actor mentioned how being molested as a child sent him into a terrible downward spiral. The question came immediately: “What’s molested?” I tried to stay calm, already thinking ahead that the conversation might lead to my having to admit to being molested as a child. I simply said, “It’s when someone touches you where they shouldn’t.” He asked, “You mean like being raped?”
I had to explain the difference. Something else grabbed his attention, the conversation ended right there and I realized again how innocent this particular ten year old is. While around the world kids not much older than him are having sex, this little boy has grown up so safe and so sheltered that he didn’t know what molested meant. On the one hand it’s a blessing that he’s so unaware of his own sexuality still, so naïve and so childlike and pure. On the other hand, it’s a huge problem. It made me realize how much he still has to learn about this often terrible but sometimes wonderful world we live in, how many things I still had to teach him. In our very near future as a family linger discussions about Aids, condoms, sex, pregnancy… And I wonder: shouldn’t I have talked about these things with him much, much earlier?
My thoughts went far back to when I was ten, then called Standard Two. The very next year I played Strip Poker with a bunch of girls and got threatened with being expelled when we got caught. It was the first year I kissed someone. During many breaks my friends and I giggled about the different kinds of condoms we had bought. Not one of us had ever had to use one, but not one of us would admit to that. We boasted about our imaginary sexual exploits and it was about then that I started suspecting I might be more interested in girls than in boys. I was a far cry from this little ten year old boy who played outside on his bike all around and around the house most of today.
I remember my granny catching me lying face down on the carpet, pressing and rubbing my fully clothed pubic bone on the carpet, looking for that warm, tingly sensation between my legs. I was masturbating. I was all of six. I wasn’t normal.
Being sexually abused awakens sexual feelings in children at a far younger age than they would have developed naturally. My earliest memory of feeling aroused takes me back to being about five; my last memory of being brought close to climax by the same family member is of when I was around 12. The bastard never made me come, but he himself ejaculated many, many times. How very unfair.
I have a twisted sense of humour when it comes to sex. I don’t think I can be blamed. I have good reason to be twisted. But do I have good reason to be gay? Are my being abused as a child and my being a gay adult directly related? Just one of many questions I have been asked and have asked myself over the years. The answers are never the same twice in a row. It’s all quite confusing.
Feeling violated, degraded and damaged fits having been raped aggressively or assaulted violently. But what if the abuser, the incest instigator is kind, gentle, loving and his hands warm, soft, his penetration smooth although too big and too hard? What if the child’s body responds with feelings of wanting more?
Well, I went looking for more. When the abuse ended I went into withdrawal and started having sexual encounters with as many guys as possible. I was in Standard 7 and they ranged from my own age to being in their early twenties. I never had full penetrative sex with any of them – I was always shit-scared – but I allowed, no: I initiated everything else. Without any exceptions I always walked away feeling relieved at not actually being raped, but also frustrated at still wanting more. It only ever changed when I got involved with a woman.
My piece of writing is probably quite jumbled, but the point I’d like to make is that being sexually abused, assaulted or raped, whether violently or gently, always leaves the victim filled with self-doubt. Let’s tell our children about the possible danger lurking in the hands and pants of every other person. Remember: the evil-doers are not always strangers, or adults, or men, or black, or rich. They’re just always on the prowl.