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.”
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?
- 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