The Conflicting Nature of Good Touch/Bad Touch


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I’m not sure what force it is within me that feels the need to share my experiences and thoughts with sexual abuse and assault but the force pushes hard against my heart and conscious. Perhaps that force is the little Sheena that says, “Don’t forget about me. Please be a voice for me. Please speak up and speak out for me.” Maybe that is what it is.

I was silenced for so many years that now, I have to be a warrior for the child within me. And I know that the things I may write may conjure up the worse for some of you. It is not my intent to trigger you, to bring back horrible memories or make you feel uncomfortable. It is my intent to turn the light on in my dark childhood bedroom that my ex step father felt so comfortable to abuse me in so many years ago. Although sometimes the lights were on and it was the middle of the day.

The last time my ex step father ever laid a hand on me was when I was fourteen years old. That’s almost twelve years ago. It seems so far away. I wonder why some memories are still so powerful, why some nightmares are still so scary, why some emotions are still so heated and why some triggers are still so intense. I can think of no explanation.

While Daniel C. Young Sr may not have physically touched me in over twelve years, he has still caused emotional trauma at times, he has stalked me at my family home, he has contacted me demanding forgiveness and he has flaunted his joy in never being held accountable for what he did although his full confession is on record. Ugh.

It is never my intent to put this experience “behind me.” I don’t believe that I should let it hinder me from living. It should not control my emotions. But I definitely don’t wish it away. This is part of my story and it has to be included.

It is alarming to me how many women and men and children end up victimized by sexual assault and abuse, molestation and incest. The hush hushness of the black community and the church community, notwithstanding Catholism, astounds me.

“baby you gots to let go and let god.”

“forgive and forget.”

“hush child and let god handle it.”

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God has empowered me to take a stand. So the well meaning advice of others, some of whom have experience the same trauma, is simply weird. It has to be talked about. Not enough people are talking about.

More than likely one of your friends has been raped. It simply is fact. Or molested. Someone’s daddy in your nice little church is touching their child inappropriately. It’s happening everyday to all sorts of people. Sexual crime and deviance is no respector of age, race, religious affiliation, gender or creed. Everyone is being fucked over by nasty people who don’t know what a healthy sexuality is like.

Because of this I believe that as it relates to incest, molestation and child abuse, from an early age, you must teach your children, your cousins, your nieces and nephews a deeper lesson than “good touch” and “bad touch.”

WANT TO KNOW WHY?

  1. Because sometimes the “bad” touch feels “good” so that is confusing.

I’m just going to put it out on the line here. For years I could not understand how after experiences the high of pleasure, I would feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. At first I thought this was because of my background in christianity and being taught that I’m the evil spawn of Eve. After I nixed that repressive ideology, I still felt the guilt and could not figure out why. Later I realized, when my ex step father would molest me, even though at times a part of me knew it was wrong, my body still registered it as pleasure. Whether its good touch or bad touch, if a man’s hand is stimulating your clitoris in a non aggressive gentle manner…your body is going to register it as good. So was it “good” touch or “bad” touch. My body said, “This is good,” and my mind was very very confused. What I knew, what I felt, and what i thought were all in conflict with each other.

2. Because sometimes “good” touch blurs into “bad” touch and where that line was crossed gets lost in the blur.

I remember that sometimes I would be geniunely playing with my step father and he might tickle me. He’d chase me around the house and tickle me and say silly things and it was fun. There was nothing inappropriate about it. Then he’d pin me down and tickle me, so that I could really feel it. But then..and I don’t remember the transition…then he’d be on top of me dry humping me, girating his erect penis against my body…fully clothed. And I don’t remember where the “good” touch turned into “bad” touch and at the time it was utterly confusing.

3. Because sometimes “good” and “bad” isn’t the appropriate language to use.

Its a disservice to always measure actions by generalization. Morality is loose and “bad” in one context isn’t “bad” in another. I believe we have to be more explicit in our language. At times we have to be more appropriately vulgar however uncomfortable it may seem. Kids are more advanced that we think anyway and while we don’t want to say words like “erection” “masturbation” and “vagina”, it doesn’t help to dance around it. We also teach kids that if it is uncomfortable..hey that’s bad touch. That doesn’t always make sense. If my OB GYN is performing a routine procedure, at times it feels uncomfortable and according to all the language that is bad. But that isn’t bad touch. Good touch examples are always stated as a hug from your daddy because you trust him. Hmm, maybe they should say that a person you trust could touch you good and touch you bad. And no matter how much the good outweights the bad, the whole scenarios is just bad.

I was reading on Good Touch/Bad Touch K2 that “you can tell its a bad touch by the person’s face. They look uncomfortable.” That is SO confusing. Again, if my OB GYN has his/her hand up my vagina…I definitely have an uncomfortable face but the touch is good. They are making sure I don’t have cancer or some unusual growth or something. And there are people who are touching you “bad” and your face is NOT uncomfortable because you are devoid of any emotion.

We Are Teaching  Inadequate Signs and the Inadequate Language.

On one health care website, as I’m sure many others say as well, they attempt to teach you signs that its “bad” touch.

  • …if it hurts you. (it did not hurt when my ex step father did things to me. Unfortunately at times my body was actually stimulated)
  • …if someone touches you on your body where you don’t want to be touched. (seeing as to how many religions teach sexuality through repression, many children haven’t even considered where they want to be touched in the first place. This is why its important to teach a healthy sense of sexuality from an early age in age appropriate language so children have an understanding. I had no language to categorize what was happening. Only at the age of 12 after reading in some sort of sex book to learn about menstration, did I learn that i was being “molested.” That is because no one talked about sexuality.)
  • if the touch makes you feel scared or nervous. (One side effect of sexual abuse and assault is a void of emotions. Perhaps in order to cope with the trauma that is happening or the memory of it, our mind learns to separate from the body. So you wouldn’t have seen fear or nervousness on my face and I wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling nothing)
  • ..if a person forces you to touch him or her. (“force” is such a loose word. No, my ex step father never said, “You are going to let me molest you. You have no choice, I will lick your breast and fondle you.” He never “forced” me because he didn’t have to. There was enough subtext in our family and church that I knew to keep my mouth shut. We need to teach that “force” has many different heads)
  • if a person asks you not to tell anyone. (See above. Same thing. He never had to ask me to keep quiet. At times I was scared to speak anyway. At times I had no clue what the hell was happening to even give verbal confirmation of it anyway.)
  • ...if a person threatens to hurt you if you tell. (Again see above.)

So considering the typical signs taught about “bad” touch, can you see how it doesn’t help me and perhaps others really understand?

Let’s get back to the importance in teaching more depth beyond “good” touch and “bad” touch.

4. Because the actions involved in standing up against “bad touch” conflicts with many things we are taught about being a child, being a person, being within our culture and/or being religiously affiliated.

We need to make sure children are empowered. We need to make sure that they have a voice and those in authority, who we are taught to trust can sometimes do bad things as well. You should trust your family, the church, a cop..but all those people can do bad things too. In a small way we take away our kids voices. When they say something we don’t like. Instead of fully explaining their inappropriateness, we tell them to be quiet, that they are the child and should know their place. If you teach a child that, in order to get them to eat their broccoli at dinner, why do you think they would feel comfortable speaking up about their father molesting them?

We say tell a trusted individual but if the abuser is your own father, who else are you to tell? A teacher? But we are also told not to tell our family business? So is it okay to sometimes disobey my parents and tell a teacher my personal family business?

A huge example of “bad” touch conflicting with societal norms was found on Fugitivus. For the full article, follow the link.

If women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:

  • it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (“mean bitch”)
  • it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (“crazy bitch”)
  • it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (“stuck-up bitch”)
  • it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (“angry bitch”)
  • it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (“bitch got daddy issues”)
  • it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (“dyke bitch”)
  • it is not okay to raise your voice (“shrill bitch”)
  • it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (“mean dyke/frigid bitch”)

If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.

Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.

Women who are taught not to keep arguing are not going to keep saying “NO.”

Women who are taught that their needs and desires are not to be trusted, are fickle and wrong and are not to be interpreted by the woman herself, are not going to know how to argue with “but you liked kissing, I just thought…”

Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.

Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.

Women who are taught that certain established boundaries are frowned upon as too rigid and unnecessary are going to find themselves in situations that move further faster before they realize that their first impression was right, and they are in a dangerous room with a dangerous person.

People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men.

And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.

She didn’t fight back because you told her not to. Ever. Ever. You told her that was okay, and necessary, and right.

You didn’t give her a caveat. You didn’t say, “Unless…” You said, “Good for you, shutting up and backing down 99% of the time. Too bad that 1% of the time makes you a fucking whore who deserved it.”

Nobody obtains the superpower to behave dramatically differently during a frightening confrontation.

Women will behave the same way they have been taught to behave in all social, professional, and sexual interactions.

We have to get beyond “good” touch and “bad” touch. Do you get it? What are your suggestions? – SLY



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Showing 16 comments
  • LaDonna
    Reply

    This is something I think about a lot. My mother was molested by her stepfather and by her brother before she was old enough to have a period. These people were never prosecuted and were still around. My grandmother still speaks fondly of them. Many people think I am paranoid because I was raised to be distrusting of men and cautious about my surroundings. My mother has taught my nephew to be a talker and to tell her and my sister (his mother) everything. This is her way of trying to keep him safe.

    • SLY
      Reply

      It is very important that children know they have a voice and that it is ok to speak up. You never know who could be harming them in the most subtle way whether its by sexual abuse or a school bully. Paranoid and Distrusting are strong words. But I understand the sentiment. I try to be safe and very cautious about where I am at and those who I let into my life. I have younger siblings and would rip someone apart if they hurt them! I am grateful that through time, healing and personal growth though, that I was able to be at a place where I could have a healthy sense of self and have healthy friendships and relationships. I am sorry about the tragedies in your family and am grateful that you felt free to express yourself here. You are always welcomed here!

  • OneSurvivor
    Reply

    This is filled with good information. You make a very good point about how women are expected to act…and why that would contribute to being acquiescent during an assault.

    • SLY
      Reply

      I wish I could articulate it even more. But I am at a lost for words.

  • Amanda
    Reply

    This helped me a lot. I am 15 now. But about 10 years ago, I was outside playing on this giant rock that we played on everyday. My neightnor showed up. He was about 6 years older than me. He asked me if I didn’t let him touch me then I would never get to play there again. That place was special to me. So I don’t know why, but I pulled down my pants a little. And then he tolled me that I needed to pull it down enough for him to touch. I did it real quick then he touched me. It was so uncomfortable so I pulled up my pants and ran. I felt so bad and didn’t tell anyone until this past summer. I have a question. Was it my fault? I know I was 5 but I should have known better. It still haunts me to this day.

    • SLY
      Reply

      @Amanda. It is not your fault. You were five years old and this person was eleven. You were put in a difficult situation and I am sorry that that happened. The great thing about life is that despite what happens to us, no matter how bad it is, we can choose how we live our life now. I hope that you don’t feel guilty or haunted. That memory probably isn’t pleasant but just know that you are strong and brave. Especially for even being able to tell your story here and for telling someone last summer. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You were a young child and didn’t comprehend everything that was going on. There should have been adults there to help you and I’m sorry they were not. Just know you are wonderful, beautiful and amazing. Thank you for visiting here and I hope this helped.

  • AF
    Reply

    A superb and moving post that (in my opinion) highlights the fact that we should ALL stop being embarrassed and talk openly (as you have done) about such subjects.

    Sex is the only reason advanced species have developed on this planet and that, like everything else, has its problems and they need discussing. Children, and adults for that matter, who suffer abuse are NOT to blame or at fault – it is simply those who are older, or (by whatever means) in a position of power, that are the bad ones.

    When such subjects as sex are discussed openly and honestly (even with children – within the capabilities of their comprehension of course) then we just might begin to protect the vulnerable. Knowledge IS power! Being “innocent” is a risk, not a virtue!

  • john
    Reply

    Do you know of any solutions for good touch bad touch? I only read problems. Thanks.

    • Sheena LaShay
      Reply

      @John, Hi John, if you read many of my other posts, you’ll find MANY examples of how to exhibit and teach healthy sexuality and sensuality for all ages. I recommend clicking the tab, “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” or “Sensuality | Sexuality” to find hundreds of post that move beyond just “problems.” Have a great day.

      • john
        Reply

        Thank you. Upon a quick browsing, I found an interesting mix of sex, abuse/healing testimonies, pro-sexual activity, anti-religion, and lots of pole dancing! It sounds like your solutions for sex abuse prevention mainly involve your view of a healthy understanding of sex and implementing it in family, social, or media areas.

        In reading some of your posts, I see a heavy call for unhindered erotic expression and a promotion for liberal sexual activity. At what point do these ideas run counter to the health of other people (e.g. child abuse or rape)? Do you think that over-indulging erotic desires can lead to abuse of self and others? The Great Porn Experiment and Your Brain on Porn presentations come to mind.

        In addition to sex, I would add love to the equation although I didn’t see much discussion on it in my browsing. When we move beyond eros to integrate agape in our thoughts and actions I think we can improve ourselves and society while reducing abuse. Since abuse often stems from selfishness and a focus on the self, agape moves us to give to others instead of take. Do you agree?

        We also have a growing mountain of sociological data that shows the psychological importance of fathers, mothers, and healthy family life to improve education, reduce crime, combat abuse, and facilitate the healthy development of each person in the family.

        Do you see fathers and mothers having central roles in a healthy understanding of sexuality? We’re seeing a growing movement seeking to downplay gender through the promotion of same-sex marriage. This of course eliminates one of the sexes in a parent structure. Could changing of the human family lead to unbalanced understandings of masculinity and femininity and thus sex and sexuality itself?

        Maybe these are future blog ideas and too long to answer here. Thank you for your time and writing!

        • Sheena LaShay
          Reply

          @John, Thanks for such a thoughtful reply. You’ve given me lots to write about and it probably would need to be its own post. Two things I did want to quickly address right now though are your comments on “liberal sexual activity” and the lack of discussion on love (eros & agape).

          1. I promote expression. If your form of expression is sensual, erotic, creative, spiritual or a mix of them all, I’m all for it. My emphasis on eroticism is because its my personal passion, something I enjoy and a huge part of my branding. Promoting expression is different than promoting “liberal sexual activity.” I’m not even sure how you would define the term and I don’t want to make assumptions.

          But its never my stance to tell everyone, teens and children included to just go out and have lots and lots of sex without any regard to anything. If you’ve gleaned that from my writing, I would say you’re missing the point of my writings. I wouldn’t even define my lifestyle as “liberal sexually active” life. I do promote a liberal sensual life. But that’s different. But whether someone wants to have no sex, tons of sex, selective sex, fetish sex, or any kind of sex, is not my business and I don’t judge them, so long as they are making that decision for themselves. So long as they are not causing harm to others. So long as they can live consistently according to their beliefs and take full responsibility for their actions. Those words are prevalent in my writings.

          In regards to a lack of finding discussions on love…. well, with that, I think you’ve just entirely missed the point in many of my writings and the people that I celebrate and what I’m about. I don’t just believe love needs to be applied to your views or activity as it relates to sex. I think love needs to be applied to every breath, every action, every friendship, every job, EVERYTHING. I’m not quite sure where that message was missed.

          As mentioned though, you’ve given me lots of material to think on, questions to answer and more to articulate and I’m grateful for it. I look forward to the dialogue.

          Oh one last thing, I’m not anti-religious. That’s a gross over simplification. If you actually want my views, call me sometime. My number is 347.470.5745.

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