“Don’t Talk About That Taboo Subject!” (Part Two)

I am still engaging in dialogue with the abuse survivor who thinks I ought to keep my mouth shut about victims of sexual abuse being sexually stimulated or otherwise enjoying some aspects of the abuse.

This person has implied that I “wasn’t physically scarred” by the incest. (By the way, her comments are being posted in a public forum for all to see. I am not disclosing anything confidential).

Putting aside the fact that presuming that I have not suffered was pulled out of thin air, by someone who does not know me and does not read my blog…..

The notion that children who experience physical pleasure with their abuser means they will not, or do not suffer, is one of the most stupid things I have ever read.

As a child, I was punished for masturbating, which was taught to me by my father. But more importantly, I was severely punished by my mother for wanting to be with my father -for going to him for the sexual abuse because he conditioned me to like it and to need it.

As a child, I was given all the blame by one of my siblings because my sibling thought I was the sexual aggressor, -that I was the guilty one.

Between my mother and sibling, I was outright made to feel like a worthless piece of shit child who deserved nothing but shame and blame.

Even more devastating for me was that, when I got older and became closer to an age where I could become pregnant, my father stopped paying sexual attention to me, and this was emotionally traumatic for me.

Mix that emotional trauma with the guilt and shame, and you have a cocktail for self-destruction.

As an adult, I developed eating disorders, migraine headaches, regular headaches, stomach aches, back pain, self-punishment issues, and became sexually promiscuous, and sexually dysfunctional. In addition, my only self-worth was based in my sexuality and attention from men.

I might even have suffered more from the pleasure in the abuse, than from the original rape, the betrayal, and the fear instilled in me from the death threats. Untold numbers of adult survivors of child sexual abuse, who experienced sexual pleasure have serious problems with substance abuse, compulsive gambling, and have killed themselves because of their inner torment.

People who hide from the truth, who do not allow the truth to be spoken, and who use personal insults to silence people like me, are implying that children who go through this are sick and should be ashamed of what they feel with their perpetrator. The sexual organs of children do not have a brain. Children cannot help but go through enjoyment, orgasms, (or for some) a desire for their perpetrator. Sometimes they even get jealous when their abuser turns to another child.

No matter what a child does to gain affection, “love,” attention, or pleasure, it is NEVER their fault, EVER. The perpetrator is 100% guilty and many people need to let go of their love for their perpetrator in order to see this. Many adults still feel a romantic love for their abuser. Like with me, I felt my father and I were lovers -like boyfriend and girlfriend. It took me a few years in therapy to eradicate the idea that I was an accomplice in the abuse because of any excitement or pleasurable feelings. I had to heal my inner need to see my father as my lover, and not the criminal child rapist he was.

When an abuse survivor places guilt or shame on their inner child, or accuse themselves of being ‘bad’ or ‘sick’ for taking pleasure in their physical body reacting to the sexual acts, it is like poison to the mind and body of that person.

Instead of condemning the little one inside, survivors can embrace that child. My personal message is that you would not blame a current child victim for feeling physical enjoyment, so you cannot blame yourself—you were once that child.

When I first began to have memories of sexual pleasure with my father, it was overwhelming. This was a heavy burden to carry around for three decades. The day those memories first emerged, I lay in a ball clutching my gut. I cried so hard, I thought I would stop breathing. The emotions were excruciating. I thought it would kill me to feel those truths, but I am stronger because of it. I can now write openly about it without an ounce of pain, shame, or guilt.

How liberating this is for me.

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24 Responses to “Don’t Talk About That Taboo Subject!” (Part Two)

  1. Miracle says:

    I still have not had the courage to confront my sister about what her husband of 30 years did to me in 1989 when I was 6. That’s as far back as I can remember anyway. My sister and her husband have never been able to bare children and I have often wondered if my sister new what her husband was doing to me and she loved him more than my innocence. I too was punished for masterbating or as my family said then “fooling with myself.” It was in the middle of the O.J. verdict which meant nothing to me I was ,7 or 8, my family as many other people were glued to the t.v. and I was in a chair at the den table just doing what had been done to my vagina by my sisters husband. I was pulled from the room by my sister-in-law (my siblings were all much older and entering into their adult lives with wives and husbands) and told that I was a nasty little girl and that my brother didnt want to have anything else to do with me for fear of being blamed for something he did not do. So, she knew something was wrong she just didn’t wanna know who as long as she was certain that it was not the man she had married and was expecting a child by. It was not of course, my brothers loved me, all three, until the day I was found to be fooling with myself. My whole family took a giant step back. No more brotherly hugs and tickling, no more candy and no more play time at their new homes where there new wives thought that they may be accused and have their lives ruined. No one ever ask “Is someone hurting or touching you?” It was M has to stay away from everyone cause she could accuse anyone. I did not want to accuse anyone, I wanted to tell the truth like I had always been taught. No one ask me. No one ever has, I believe they all knew. I believe that all the pizza and toys my sister went out to buy me while I stayed and “played” with her husband were her way of not seeing, I dont know. What bothers me the most is was she involved, did she arrange the times alone and the pizza take out runs, they delievered pizza in 1987-1990 and still to this day. I have a hatred in my heart that makes me think that she was never able to conceive because of her role in my nightmare. My sister and her husband bought me my first car. My sister set in the “drunk tank” with me at 16 when I got a DUI. My sister has done many, many things that feel like hush/sorry gifts. Everything but tell me that she knows what I went through and that she did not stop it. I am so fucked up from all this that I had to damn near kill myself with shooting up pain pills before I realized I just had to go. I have 2,000 miles between me and everything that I have ever known and over these last two years I have felt many moments of peace until I am alone. I do not have the means to hire a therapist and the local wellness center deals with folders that have your name on them they never ask if there is anything that I need or want to talk about and I am not going to force that conversation on anyone. I rambled a lot during this “comment” sorry. There are days when I need to talk but not to a persons face and see their eyes but just to know that their is someone who reads this and understands that we are out here, a hell of a lot of us. -M

    • Alethea says:

      Dear Miracle,

      I totally 100% get your fear of confronting your sister about what her husband did. I lived that fear in full blown physical and emotional symptoms.

      “I have often wondered if my sister new what her husband was doing to me and she loved him more than my innocence.”

      Being that human nature is geared towards self, not love, she might very well have. As painful as it is, that is a sad sad truth about human beings. Even the animal world is not that cruel.

      “So, she knew something was wrong she just didn’t wanna know who as long as she was certain that it was not the man she had married and was expecting a child by.”

      The root of the continuation of child sexual abuse….. She just didn’t want to know…even if….

      “I have a hatred in my heart that makes me think that she was never able to conceive because of her role in my nightmare. My sister and her husband bought me my first car. My sister set in the “drunk tank” with me at 16 when I got a DUI. My sister has done many, many things that feel like hush/sorry gifts.”

      Hush money/sorrys/gifts was my first thought when I read this.

      I have detailed my telling, confronting of my mother and bio family in my book. You might benefit from it because it tells exactly what I went through before I spoke to them, what happened when I did, and the strength I gained from doing so. I personally think that keeping the secret is far worse than many aspects of the abuse.

      Alethea

    • little nel says:

      Hi Miracle,

      I know how terrifying it is to tell about sexual abuse. It is one of those topics that nobody wants to hear about, especially when it’s true and the perp is a “respected” and “beloved” relative.

      I was sorry to hear that your sister was so cruel to you and made you out to be the “nasty” one and not her perp husband who was abusing you.

      I know how it is to feel “fucked up” mentally, emotionally and physically because of sexual abuse and the “cover up” techniques that perps use to keep up silent.

      Don’t give up on yourself. Hope and healing are in your grasp, no matter how crappy the memories make you feel.

  2. little nel says:

    Great post, Alethea!

    I can relate to your feelings of being made to feel like a piece of shit and being blamed for the abuse.

    I agree with anonymous 11:34’s response. It was well stated.

  3. Terrific post once again! Spot on. Good book to read is “Stolen Tomorrows” by Steven Levenkron talks about how sexual abuse at a young age actually changes the way your brain functions. I have experienced so much of your same emotions. I understand fully where you’re coming from. I masturbated at a very young age and have struggled with it my entire life, along with masochist fantasies, which I relate to the abuse. Thanks for being brave enough to share your deepest thoughts to help and relate to others.

    • Alethea says:

      Thank you J.D Burrows for posting. I truly appreciate the feedback and support.

      Although child abuse alters the brain, it can be reversed. This is what I do in therapy; I am re-writing the memories at the subconscious level. This alters the brain back to normalcy.

      • little nel says:

        “Although child abuse alters the brain, it can be reversed. This is what I do in therapy; I am re-writing the memories at the subconscious level. This alters the brain back to normalcy.”

        Are you saying that the brain accommodates child abuse to protect the child? And then can reverse the effects to accommodate recovery to protect the inner child as if the abuse never happened?

        • Alethea says:

          Hi Little Nel. I am playing catch up, but it is good to see you posting again. I always appreciate your insight and strength.

          The human brain does accommodate child abuse to protect the victim, in that, many victims float above the acts and observe them, dissociate from the acts through repression, and by allowing the victim to continue to relatively function in life even though these horrible and shameful things are happening.

          However, what I was referring to, is the numerous studies that show child abuse literally alters the brain chemistry and hormones. But what you and I do in therapy is re-program (or better yet, remove) the infected programming, and this literally heals those hormones and chemistry to their original health (prior to the abuse). The person who has this kind of therapy will always retain the *knowledge* of what happened to them, but the cells etc. being healed at the subconscious level means the abuse no longer affects them, or has power over them.

          This therapy works because the person is doing it at the subconscious level -at the same level as when the original abuse took place. The conscious mind cannot heal like the subconscious mind can.

          • little nel says:

            That was a great description of how the mind and subconscious mind react to trauma and the healing of traumatic experiences. Thank you for the clarity.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can completely understand why feeling pleasure from sexual abuse from your father is in more ways psychologically tortuous than if all you felt was brutal physical pain from it. At least with physical pain, there is a little less confusion in the child. Pleasure would cause the child to associate feeling good with being wrong. It is natural for a person to want to feel good. Incest is wrong. An adult sexually exploiting a child is wrong. But the pleasure a child feels is not wrong. It is perfectly natural to feel pleasure when you are stimulated. I think when it comes to explaining sexual abuse, some people have a hard time understanding that children have sexual organs can indeed feel sexual stimulation although they may not fully comprehend what it is… but even if it is pleasurable, that does NOT make it okay, sex between an adult and a child can never be consensual because of the inherent imbalance of power.

    In the bible, somewhere in there it says that separating two people who have a sexual bond is akin to “ripping flesh apart.” Any adult who has been in a relationship that has ended in heartbreak knows that this verse is not far off in its description of the devastation of not being sexually wanted anymore. Now if they imagined having to deal with such adult emotions of sexual attachment and rejection as a child… towards a parent? That’s too much that any child should ever handle. The perpetrator is wrong and the experience the child goes through should be understood as what would naturally be felt if anyone where subjected to the same circumstances. Sex and affection create a powerful bond, and what’s so tragic for child sex abuse victims is that in their life experience those things were used for evil and not love.

    Alethea, for you to go through what you went through and still be alive and well enough to articulate what you went through and help others going through similar situations is incredibly remarkable. Obviously the person who reacted so negatively to the truth you spoke is going through a lot and deserves compassion. Who knows, maybe what you said hit a truth inside of her own experience that she was not yet mentally equipped to handle so it triggered anger and denial. Or maybe her experience of abuse was only brutal and she could not understand how it could feel any thing other than that. I think in her mind she equated what you said about victims often enjoying abuse as a positive when she should have attempted to understand what you were saying and why instead of just reacting. It’s a hard concept for people to understand that physical pleasure can be psychologically damaging. But she is still wrong for attempting to silence you and invalidating your experiences.

    • Alethea says:

      Dear anonymous,

      Thank you for taking so much time to write me. You are so right, feeling pleasure from sexual abuse is more psychologically tortuous than if all one feels is brutal physical pain. With physical pain, there is less confusion and physical pain heals.

      I spent many years in therapy healing the deep confusion caused by pleasure being associated with being wrong. This issue was especially magnified by the punishment instilled by my mother. So not only did I experience confusion and physical symptoms with regards to pleasure being bad, I also inflicted self-punishment for it, or feared pleasure because I feared being punished. Like, “what’s going to happen if I enjoy myself?” or, “Something bad will happen if I have fun,” or “God will punish me if I do something I enjoy.”

      “It is natural for a person to want to feel good. Incest is wrong. An adult sexually exploiting a child is wrong. But the pleasure a child feels is not wrong.”

      Very true words.

      Most people have a hard time understanding that children have sexual organs and can indeed feel sexual stimulation because society does not want to think that way. It is a highly disturbing topic that even abuse survivors don’t want to talk about it, and this is just fine for the average Joe Q person because they certainly don’t want to hear about it or talk about it.

      An adult forcing a child to have to deal with adult emotions of sexual attachment and rejection as a child is brutal on the child –very very difficult to heal, and difficult for it to come up in the first place. This part of my experience was buried deeply for many years. It did not truly surface consciously until over a decade of being in therapy. It showed itself in my issues with self-punishment, sex, food, and relationships…but it did not come into my mind consciously as something I could finally face consciously, until many years of therapy had passed.

      I know the person who reacted so negatively to the truth being spoken is going through a lot and deserves compassion, but this does not give that person a right to lash out at others with ugly, vindictive remarks. Like she recently told me out of the blue, for no reason, “Go ahead, have rough sex with your boyfriend and call him daddy! I don’t care!”

      For one thing, I am married, and only have sex with my husband, and she does not know me personally, and knows NOTHING about my sex life. She said this out of pure hatred for me daring to bring this topic up. No one, not even a wounded abuse survivor, has the right to treat another person that way.

      “Who knows, maybe what you said hit a truth inside of her own experience that she was not yet mentally equipped to handle so it triggered anger and denial. Or maybe her experience of abuse was only brutal and she could not understand how it could feel any thing other than that.”

      I suspect that it is the former, not the latter.

      “I think in her mind she equated what you said about victims often enjoying abuse as a positive when she should have attempted to understand what you were saying and why instead of just reacting. It’s a hard concept for people to understand that physical pleasure can be psychologically damaging.”

      This is exactly what was happening, but because she would not hear me, and I had to spend the entire conversation defending myself against her personal conclusions and personal attacks, I could not make headway with her long enough to get this point across. She was reading my position and responding with pure anger, not any sense of balance in trying to have true dialogue. I am going to try to direct her to my Blog so that she can read all these comments and maybe she will then understand.

      • Dear Alethea,

        I have been following your blog for some time with interest and am pleased to be able to read of such difficult experiences written from such an honest, thoughtful and balanced point of view. I feel this is evidence of the level of maturity you have attained through your healing process. It seems clear to me that despite the troubling events endured, unravelling the strands of trauma, confusion and psychological pain have made you more balanced than the average person – perhaps most evidently when it comes to understanding yourself as a complete and complex person.

        Unfortunately, some people respond to sexual trauma with adaptations that affect extensive areas of their personality such as emotional control, the ability to form secure attachments to significant others, pervasive distorted patterns of thinking and attribution, etc. Borderline Personality Disorder is a case in point, and other personality disorders have also been associated with traumatic events and their consequences. The person making these comments to you may be an unfortunate victim of this sort of adaptation to trauma, and as other readers have pointed out is probably also in need of compassion and understanding, despite the pain she inflicts upon others. Not all people heal in the same way, or have access to the processes that lead to healing.

        Thank you for your courage and resilience. The world needs to learn and educate itself about this difficult topic. I think your voice is accomplishing this by educating us through your own “heroine’s journey”.

        Thank you.

        • Alethea says:

          Dear Miguel,

          Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and to offer your support for me and my healing. The therapy I receive has allowed me to heal the most painful and uncomfortable truths of abuse, and of myself, but to also be a more balanced person in every aspect of my life.

          I also responded to the sexual trauma with adaptations that affected extensive areas of my personality, emotional control, the ability to form secure attachments to others, pervasive distorted patterns of thinking and attribution, etc. I am sure that another mental health professional would have labeled me with “borderline personality disorder” or “personality disorder” but my therapist does not use these terms. These terms only define people, place them in a box, and label them with something that “needs to be treated with drugs.” They DO NOT need to be treated with drugs.

          By God’s Grace, I have healed from the above problems.

          I agree that the person who made these comments to me was most likely a victim of this sort of adaptation to trauma, but she refused to see how that trauma was causing her to lash out at me for merely speaking the ugly truths that probably caused her to behave as she did with me in the first place. She chose to be ugly, vindictive, and use personal insults to protect herself. That is the EGO-SELF. The ego-self attacks others, and it is not okay to do so.

  5. mary says:

    Can you write an article that details the sexual dysfunction in adult relationships that child sexual abuse can cause? Adult intimacy for me is all kinds of f*cked up. I typically feel completely numb during consensual adult sex. But as soon as I allow myself feel any kind of pleasurable sensation, I go through a whole host of horrible emotions and urges. I lose my appetite, I can’t look myself in the mirror, I get the strong urge to self mutilate. A strong sense of inner torment and guilt I cannot understand nor live with… so I start drinking or get into a dissociative state. I also feel a very strong irrational hate for my partner but at the same time a powerful need for them. The only thing I can seem to do to end the triggered anguish and intense guilt is to completely drop the person out of my life and forget anything sexual happened. Up until I start a new relationship and the cycle happens all over again. I wonder to myself if I will ever enjoy sex like a normal person would. I know that as a kid, I never saw the abuse as abuse. I remember even asking to be touched down there. I sometimes feel like there are things that have happened to me that I’m repressing but at the same time I would be too scared to remember… so I just accept society’s label as being “bipolar” or born mentally ill, defective. But I notice a pattern with the things and dynamics that trigger my depressive states and I can’t help the feeling there is a logical reason to why I am the way I am.

    • Alethea says:

      Dear Mary,

      Thank you for writing.

      Although I am currently finishing up my plans to soon publish my first book, an article that details the sexual dysfunction in adult relationships caused by child sexual abuse sounds like a great idea.

      I too struggled terribly with sexual dysfunction. Feeling numb, or checked out, during consensual adult sex is not only common but very understandable.

      “…as soon as I allow myself feel any kind of pleasurable sensation, I go through a whole host of horrible emotions and urges. I lose my appetite, I can’t look myself in the mirror, I get the strong urge to self mutilate. A strong sense of inner torment and guilt I cannot understand nor live with… so I start drinking or get into a dissociative state.”

      Mary, this is SO common. Have you examined your experience with your abuser as possibly having been very pleasurable at times? Forgive me, I can’t recall what you have already posted on my Blog about your abuse. But if the possibility exists, or if you already recall having had orgasms with your abuser, or having enjoyed the sexual stimulation, then this would most likely be the root of the adult consensual sex experiences you described above.

      Don’t ever accept society’s label as being “bipolar” or “born mentally ill, defective.” You WERE NOT BORN DEFECTIVE. Nor are you mentally ill, and I hate labels like “bipolar” because it puts the person in a box and makes it seem like they have to live that way for the rest of their life. Besides, every human being has extreme highs and lows, but it is abuse, and especially sexual abuse, which dramatically increases those highs and lows in a person. The abuse has altered your brain chemistry and hormones…you do not have a “disorder,” you just need to heal the part of your subconscious mind that is causing the chemicals in your brain to go haywire when triggered.

      • Sexual dysfunction for me swings the other way. I’ve never really been “turned off” by sex as much as I think I’m overly wired to like sex. It goes from one extreme to the other and varies, I think, per abused person.

  6. PDD says:

    There are other survivors with similar stories and memories. Yet there are folks who refuse to believe such things as CSA exists. I have an acquaintance who believes Sandusky is innocent, because she “refuses to live in a world where things like abuse exist”. This acquaintance thinks everyone should keep their mouths shut when it comes to discussing CSA, it’s just too naughty of a topic.

    Wow….

    I also was blamed, by my father & sister, as a child, preteen, teen, young adult, now. I was the true abuser, even as a little boy, against my poor, helpless, saintly mother (which I’ve given more details in other posts). The first time I could admit to myself it was incest, like you, I wept. I remain deeply revolted & disgusted that I had sexual pleasure from the experiences. I feel damaged and dirty every time I think of the pleasure; clearly I still harbor significant shame, embarrassment, & self loathing. Perhaps I wish I were physically scarred by it; at least I’d be healed by now, 4 decades later.

    • Alethea says:

      Dear PDD,

      “I have an acquaintance who believes Sandusky is innocent, because she “refuses to live in a world where things like abuse exist”. This acquaintance thinks everyone should keep their mouths shut when it comes to discussing CSA, it’s just too naughty of a topic.”

      I hope you tell this woman that she is contributing to child sexual abuse with her denial, ignorance and desire for people to keep quiet about CSA. If it doesn’t exist, then what is “naughty?” People like her disgust me because she and those who think like her give the signal to child abusers: “It’s perfectly fine to go ahead and do what you do because I don’t believe in it anyway, and won’t say anything, and won’t allow your victim to say anything either.”

      PDD, even if you can’t say this to your acquaintance, you can tell this woman that I personally say this to her. You can even read my comment to her if you like.

      “Perhaps I wish I were physically scarred by it; at least I’d be healed by now, 4 decades later.”

      Very true. My heart goes out to you PDD. Mother/son, mother/daughter incest is profoundly difficult on the victim.

  7. I have been reading your blog for a very long time. I understand and agree with you. Many survivors of incest go through life with guilt and shame because they felt sexually stimulated during the abuse. This was not my case because every time I was raped It was very brutal. But I have studied and been an advocate for many years and this is the number one problem that survivors struggle with throughout their lives.

    • Alethea says:

      Thanks so much Cecibel for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your mentioning that in your work you have seen this as the number one problem survivors struggle with throughout their lives.

  8. Kristy says:

    You speak the truth. We CAN both love and hate our abusers, and even have sexual arousal from them when we abhor the act with them.
    We are only human alas!

  9. Aoife says:

    Well said. I respect and admire the informative writing in your blog. You are a bright, brave soul and I thank you for shinning a light on the darkness of incest. That hidden shame caused so many deaths. I thank you for excercising your right to speak your truth. Your articles have made a big difference to me and my recovery. I am recovering in Ireland where despite having a major incest problem we have no official resources dealing with incest. I attend a private therapist. I really appreciate your honest sharing and your contributing to the web on this topic. It has made a huge impact on my talking honestly in therapy and lifting more shame.
    It has taken me a few years to find a therapist who believed me and also confirmed it was never my fault. Up to that I got lost in many places where people asked me to take responsibilty for my actions even as a child being abused! This mentality is ludicrous! As is the comment you are referring to in this course. I know that I nearly took my own life as I felt I could never speak about the confusion of liking the abuse!

    From a very grateful fellow survivor in Ireland, a million thank you’s 🙂

    • Alethea says:

      Aoife,

      I am so grateful that you took the time to respond to me.

      You are so right…The hidden shame has caused many deaths. I think more abuse survivor suicides are caused by the shame and guilt than from the trauma, fear and betrayal.

      I can’t thank you enough for expressing your good experience with reading my Blog.

      I am happy to know you are getting help with your private therapist. I am blown away at how many terrible therapists there are, and that people have even told you to take “responsibility for your actions” as a child being abused. Human beings blow my mind every day, and not in a good way.

      A million thank you’s back to you for replying to my post.

      Alethea

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