Confessions of an Incest Survivor: It Wasn’t All Bad. ~ Sister Shamu

Via on Oct 31, 2011
photo: val.pearl

When people learn that I was molested as a child, they tend to say, “That explains it”.

The promiscuity, the loose sexual boundaries, the Jerry Springer-like quality of my sexual indiscretions… they all tend to make sense when you look at the fact that my initiation into sex was pretty messed up. I had an ex-boyfriend once who said, with no small amount of embarrassment, that when he learned a girl was molested as a child there was a guilty sense of excitement. Sort of like: “Oh yeah! She’s a freak!” He hated that my innocence was taken from me, but recognized that he benefited from it.

Incest is one of those areas where everyone has an opinion. Most people hate pedophiles; most people feel sorry for children who have been molested; most people are horrified by the thought of relatives having sex. Hell, I didn’t even like typing the words “relatives having sex”. I’m not sure if it was my resistance to equating incest (an act most people see as violently sick and twisted) to sex (something less emotionally charged) or simply a reaction to the social taboo.

photo: independentman

The truth is that the trauma caused by experiencing sex with a relative at an early age is so much more convoluted and shocking than most people suspect that they would likely stare in horrified fascination at the bloody emotional wreckage, and then self-righteously blame the victim because they have no clue how to process something that goes against all reason. Allow me to elaborate:

I enjoyed being molested as a child. I liked it. I sought it out. I got jealous if my molester paid attention to anyone else. I was intrigued by being able to do adult things and knowing things that only adults knew. I loved being desired and I found power in my sexuality. I learned to be sexy at an early age and it gained me attention and favor that most women do not fully appreciate until their boobs begin to droop and their waistlines thicken.

While I recognize that my reaction to childhood abuse is not the only kind of reaction—others may act like people expect them to… hating sex, afraid of their sexuality, victim-like—my reaction is not an uncommon one. The true shame of being abused as a child is that you don’t feel about it the way you “should” feel about it. People want to pity you and when you don’t give them anything to pity, they say you are as sick as your molester.

The reason pedophiles get away with their abuse for so long is that they pick their victims well. It’s like they have a homing beacon that lights up when they are near a child who is lonely and neglected and desperate for love. It works because they give the child the very things it craves: attention, support, approval, respect and all the other things we associate with love. It also works because sex feels good. It feels good from the inside out. It doesn’t not feel good simply because you’re not old enough for it to feel good. It creeps most people out to think of a pre-pubescent child experiencing sexual pleasure, but they can and do so all the time… that is unless they get caught with their hands in their pants and get into trouble for it.

That being said, do I wish I hadn’t been molested? I spent my whole life trying to be normal. I had no clue what it was like to have platonic friends because I would wind up fucking them all sooner or later. My identity was so entangled with my sexuality that if you had taken that part of me away, there would have been precious little left. I lived with the shame of not feeling the way people expected me to feel for so long that I learned to hide the deepest parts of me even from myself. I was conditioned to believe that the truth would damn you and that lies protected the things you cherished. I learned to lie well.

photo: vtdainfo

If you noticed I didn’t really answer the question, you are perceptive. I don’t begrudge any of my experiences. They have made me who I am and some days I really like that person. Being molested has allowed me to explore issues of sexuality and right and wrong in a way that would have been difficult if I had not experienced it personally.

Of course, I would cut the penis off a pedophile in a heartbeat and chop it up with unholy glee into tiny little bits. I’m just saying.
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Sister Shamu (not her real name) is the former owner of Oops Mental Health Services (not its real name), which was a casualty of the unstable American healthcare system and an over-inflated ego. Now unemployed, Sister Shamu realizes that what she is qualified to do bares no resemblance to what she wants to do and has become preoccupied with confronting her slightly hostile and often devious Shadow Self by sharing intensely personal blogs and writing a novel that, like her, seems to be in a constant state of edit.

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25 Responses to “Confessions of an Incest Survivor: It Wasn’t All Bad. ~ Sister Shamu”

  1. Hope B. says:

    The information that you have been brave enough to share has made me better at my job of being a Child Targeted Case Manager. Because of what you have shared, I have been able to help other people in my field understand better this reaction to molestation. It has made me more sensitive to the needs of the children that I work with. I am now able to avoid putting unintentional shame into the heart of a child.

    I applaud your amazing heart.

    • SisterShamu says:

      Thank you. As a child, and even as an adult, often the people who were supposed to "help" me process and deal with my less than perfect childhood were the ones who understood the least. The assumption that my thoughts and feelings followed a predictable pattern meant that I was "handled" according to the assumptions. The unfortunate result was that I spent years dragging around irrepressible skeletons that would often become animated and dance a jig when I least expected them to. While entertaining, it would have been much more efficient and infinitely less shameful to have been able to deal with them honestly before they took on a life of their own.

      I applaud YOUR amazing heart for helping others to process their truths without guilt or shame.

  2. Writing Our Way Home Fiona Robyn says:

    As a psychotherapist I've often been witness to the relief that comes with hearing that it's 'OK' for the vulnerable person (usually a child) to be sexually aroused in an abusive situation – that this doesn't mean it's the more vulnerable person's fault, and it certainly doesn't make what the abuser did 'OK'. Thank you for your brave sharing.

    • SisterShamu says:

      Thank you. Validation is one of the most important things that can happen in the healing process. I heard a religious radio program about 5 years ago in which a woman who had been raped called in and was attempting to process what had happened. The "expert" being consulted asked her whether she fought her attackers and cried out for help. If she did not, according to the scriptures quoted, she was guilty of sin and needed to repent for her role in her rape.

      While it is appalling to me that this kind of "help" is sometimes still offered by well meaning (and misguided) people, luckily it is no longer the norm. Your supportive and insightful comments are proof of this. Thank you.

  3. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    brave, honest and refreshing piece. thanks.

  4. Job says:

    very compelling, as a man and survivor of incest I was not so fortunate to "liked" what was happening perhaps because the assailant was a man. If it was a woman perhaps I would think differently. It took me years, most of my life, to get rid of the internal shame and with that comes low self esteem and a bunch of other things. In other words I had to rediscover myself, let go of all the hurt and shame and start loving myself………….and to this day I can honestly say I'm proud of myself and love who I am.

    • SisterShamu says:

      Thank you so much for sharing. So many of us have similar experiences and the expectation is that we process them the same way. We do not. Freedom is found when we are able to let go and accept that we are exactly who we are supposed to be. I'm so glad that you have found freedom, and I am so glad that you have learned to love in spite of the hand you were dealt. You have a right to be proud.

  5. JMR says:

    As I have always come to expect – insight , refreshingly honest and right on target. It is so easy to automatically denounce reactions to a given situation with no consideration whatsoever for circumstances. Anyone can be a critic. It takes a truly open mind to see beyond the obvious and seek out the positive.

  6. kutbock says:

    I was molested by my cousin brother,Mac when I was 12 and I didn't stop him. When I was 16 my cousin Sam, confessed wanting me sexually and tried to touch my breasts and grab my ass. I want to hate Sam but I can't get myself to do it.

    I don't know if these incidents left a impression on me or not….am I not supposed to hate them? Even if they are my brothers they tried to cross the sacred line that defines the brother-sister relationship?I am 20 year old virgin and live in a orthodox society, I want to give my body and soul to the man I marry,the man I shall love.

    Than why do I like reading about people having sex or watching porn?? Am I also a sex-pervert like these two men??

  7. Jess says:

    I have never heard of it this way before it is deffently something intresting to read and something to know about.
    I'm 20 now but and I was 18, I let someone i knew thouch me, but i didnt do anything about it… i wanted to stop i knew that it shouldnt be done but i didnt do anything about it. I just let him do it….
    When I thought back on it i just got this feeling and i hated that feeling everytime I thought back at it… I defently fely very werid after it, I did not want to be around him at all…..
    I have gotten over it know and i have talked to him about it … but was I molested? I did look it up and it seems like I was i mean do feel like i was…. but was i really??

  8. misunderstood says:

    I would like to thank you for sharing this a friend sent me to this page in hopes that reading this would help me to under stand what i went through as a child and how it has effected my life and to under stand it is ok for me feel what i feel…. i have a long way to go!… but thank you!! i have a question any one feel free to comment !! as a child when this was going on i became dependent on this person to make me feel i guessed loved and to this day he is the only man i feel i ever really connected with..Is this normal to love some one who hurt you??

  9. Jack says:

    This is very enlightenin, I’m a man, I’m a perp, my victim was my much younger sister, I’m also a victim, my perp was an adult male, Scout leader, I’m not homosexual but I did recieve pleasure, it was and is still very confusing. I know my sister recieved sexual pleasure from me, but she’d never admig it. I was outcast from my family because my parents found out. I’m the bastard, she’s the victim, I conceeded, never told my story,
    it all happened In the 80s, I’ve lost everything and I feel sad.

  10. Monica says:

    Thank you for being so brave…I too look back and remember a feeling of power that the desire my abuser had for me gave me to wield. I was eleven and yet was able to seduce when I wanted to…When I enjoyed the sex it was tinged with hate making that the norm for the future relationships in my life…difficult for my partner to understand why I wanted it rough…thank you for highlighting this..I remember ruling the roost at home since I held the sexual power over my sisters and my stepmothers…I turned into a mini monster and it almost destroyed me. I've spent more time trying to grasp morality than most people as right and wrong were not even gray lines..

  11. Monica says:

    ..Using people and using sex to get to the top was natural for me, at 15 I had slept with all my uncles…most of my cousins and I kept everyone terrified via the threat of discovery…My father couldnt hide my belly though…I tortured him for a long time…so I had emotional closure, I took my revenge by taking my child with me and exposing the sordid truth of our family…obviously Im the black sheep of the family, crazy to realise I had to forgive myself to move on, I had to acknowledge that my survival had created coping mechanisms that I had to work to let go of. Strange journey, not many understand it. God bless you and all of us who do.

  12. Maria says:

    It took me a really long time to ever tell anyone what had happened because I was ashamed of myself. I never fully accepted it myself either because i didn't feel like those victims that you see on tv or hear about their wrecked childhood experiences. I felt the exact same way as you did and thought it was wrong. Its been so long since its happened yet I never had the courage to tell anyone or even look it up on google "i was molested and liked it" I searched it today and it lead me to you. I deeply appreciate that you were brave enough to post this. I cried tears of joy when I finished reading because I didn't feel alone. However, I don't think I will ever be brave enough to explain this to my friends and family. When I did mention there were tears and pity. Oh, how I hate the pity! I wanted to feel sad like I was expected to. Thank you so much !!!

  13. Me says:

    When I was a little boy I was molested by a little girl my age or slightly older. I guess that is better than it being an adult male, as I guess is the most common scenario, and well, OF COURSE I enjoyed it, but…

    Trust me, it was not some “fantasy”, not some “cool” thing where I was just some “lucky” little boy. I think some people might have the conception that it was — that since I wasn’t touched by a big bad man how bad could it actually be? Which actually kind of makes it worse, because I’m just as fucked up with the dysfunctional hypersexuality, but nobody is going to have the same the same level of sympathy of understanding for me as a girl who got molested by a man.

    On top of that, the worst part, which very few people will understand, is this fucks up your whole male-role mentality. It puts in your head this sense that you are the passive one and females are the aggressors and the initiators, because that was what you experienced and all you knew. So whereas perhaps molested females are very seductive and influential with the opposite sex it was quite the contrary for me — I couldn’t figure out why more little girls were not taking me in the closet and blowing me! Seriously.

    The females I did seem to attract early and life (and regretably still like maybe I am doing something unintentional I can’t help) were pushy and often cruel, older etc. AND I DO NOT FIND THESE WOMEN ATTRACTIVE AT ALL. I do not like being disrespected. My dad, you know, that is my hero, that is my role model, we think the same, and he is just traditional dominant alpha male role through and through… and so am I, being the badass “Who is your daddy?” mofo is what gets me off like none other… but what I like, and the signals I know I probably unintentionally put out there to these victimizing bitch women are at odds with each other, and that is the really fucked up part.

  14. Humbert says:

    If you have such an ambivalent reaction to your childhood experience, why do you conclude with such a vindictive swipe at paedophiles? Most paedophiles (a few sadists excepted) don't set out to cause harm to the children they love. Indeed, without wishing to excuse such encounters, you might see the adult partner as a victim too in this sort of (usually destructive) relationship. You seem to buy into our culture's myth of the predatory paedophile, while at the same time your own experience seems to testify against it. Unless you do think your 'abuser' was indeed predatory, exploitative, and selfish. Do you think that?

    • aunnielauren says:

      This post fostered some serious food for thought. My thoughts come from a context where there are no quotation marks around my abuser being, indeed, an abuser. Yes, pleasure was a part of my sexual experience with this abuser.

      I can accept that my abuser was hurt and miserable, a wounded human being. The adage "hurt people hurt people" rings true for me. I can relate to it. I have been seriously hurting for a long time. It seems more honest to say that I have been seriously hurting for most of my life, with wonderful moments of empowerment, self-knowledge, and joy punctuating it, rather than vice versa. I am well acquainted with experiences of depression, rage, and anxiety. And it is incredibly hard (so hard that part of my work now is simply to accept this truth) for me to take in that so much of this hurting that has had such a profound impact on my life comes from being sexually abused by my father. I know that to be true, but, as I recently told my therapist, "I don't want it to be relevant."

      At the same time, I am doggedly sex-positive, because I believe in promoting sexuality in a way that is honest, shame-free and blissful! So it's not lost on me as I read these intimate, thoughtful responses to an intimate, thoughtful entry that a lot of the pain in our shared experiences with sexuality is expounded by negative premises of desire, attraction, initiation and reception. I try to remove judgment as I accept what has been experienced by us, and ask myself,

      "What if it was just easier to accept that sex happens? What if it was just not such a terribly big deal that humans interact with their bodies in ways that are intimate, sexual, passionate, and reluctant, without it always falling neatly into boxes of (condemning) morality?"

      There's that kind of lofty, appealing, nobody-gets-hurt philosophy that, in some moments, can help me rise above the shades of shame around sex, but it fails to exist in a vacuum. It's right beside the conviction that As Hurt As I Am, As Broken As I May Feel Sometimes, I'll Be Damned If I Ever Do What Was Done To Me Because I Know Where That Pain Can Lead, and My Feelings Will Never Justify Harming Someone The Way I Was Harmed.

      Sex is messy, and I know I've been hurt (and have hurt others) in sexual relationships in ways that, honestly, I think are appropriate. Broken hearts happen. Trying things that turn out to not work out after all, happens. Sometimes pain results from experimentation, and we don't always need to curse the experiment.

      But what I experienced was selfish. It was damaging. I believe my abuser would have to be incredible fearful and in denial to himself to deny the damage that has been caused by his actions (and this is what has been the case). And I have a degree of compassion for him, and even though I don't know for sure, I believe I can imagine some of the circumstances and feelings that may have led him to behave as he did. A thing that can be understood doesn't automatically become justified, however. It's just…maybe a little more understood.

      Which is a big reason why, as many different thoughts and feelings as this thread evokes, this post has been so important. Understanding may not excuse things, but it does play a massive role in healing. Thank you, Sister Shamu, for shedding a gift of light on this experience that so miserably stays hidden in the dark.

  15. aunnielauren says:

    Sister Shamu, I am so glad you shared this. I have such a hard time being honest with myself, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your honesty. It helps me feel like I'm connecting with myself; what a gift! High five,
    Aunnie

  16. Fleur Gardiner says:

    aAfter reading tbe above very honest and revealing thoughts,

    I would like to address or pose a different question :-

    What about girls like me who are part of the old fashioned clan

    systems that still exist to this day, (like some Romani people) who

    celebrate a girl’s 14th birthday as becoming a woman. It being

    customary for such girls to lose their virginity at age 14, it being

    the fathers duty to de-flower his daughters. A celebration is

    attended by the whole family on such occasions as it did for myself

    and my two older sisters. We grew up knowing the ideals and

    traditions of our system and accepted them without question.

    Are we tben victims of abuse, as we do not believe any abuse

    took place. We all live fairly normal lives – with one exception, the

    one being myself.. I will gladly explain further when and if asked.

    Thanks for redng

  17. Day says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    When I was 6, my mum's brother asked me to come into a tent with him and 'fix' him. He played it out like a game – he was a robot, I was a nurse, and I had to suck on his parts to make him better. I remember enjoying the game, I remember feeling good, and that I wanted to do it again afterwards.

    I've been sexually active since then, and got into situations where I've felt like shit afterward, but been so horny that I felt I couldn't say no to it.

    Touching a child, abusing the power balance, is disgusting, but I feel just as bad for enjoying it, and for still finding it arousing now, to think about myself in similar sexual situations – myself being abused by an abuser, being told what to do.

    More than one person has gotten off on my re-telling of the story, and asked me to play out the situation again. It upsets me that I didn't say no, and that I have had emotional attachments to these people.

    I feel as though I don't want to leave the house sometimes, because of my hyper-sexuality and desires.

    You writing this has made me feel less monster-like, and I want to hug you. Thank you so much.

  18. PG Portland says:

    I feel validated!

    My first remembered experience was at age 7 with my 5 year old sister. The problem still in my mind is that I really don't know who taught us, but from that day forward until I was 14, sex was a normal part of my day. Someone had to have taught us, since we knew what we were doing in this first remembered experience.

    Fast forward to later when I am now a parent. I have only daughters. Through an act of amazing grace, I did not perpetuate the problem. I knew there should be boundaries, but didn't know where they were. Somehow, they got to adult life unaffected.

    My relationships with women had until recently been ones where I had been manipulated by those similarly scarred. I recognized the problem finally. The biggest take away from all of this is having no sense of innocence. I wonder at children who can just play, that the sexuality dynamic is not even part of their thoughts at a young age.

    People actually do lose their minds over the whole idea of incest, having no personal experience with it. I wish there was a way to actually have a conversation, where we could discuss their childhood, to get a sense of what it felt like to not know about or want sex in elementary school.

    Meanwhile, it's nice to finally find somewhere I am understood.

  19. Pauline says:

    I understand what you wrote it was the same for me too.It started very young for me too my uncle love me so much that he could help himself. Do he did it with me and I enjoyed it so much that I used to beg for it from him and if he wasn't there I showed my brothers what to do to me.

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