Sunday, April 17, 2016

"I Was Sexually Abused."

Introduction

What I am about to say will likely evoke a reaction from you, whether you have dealt with sexual abuse/assault or not. That is not the point or the intent. If you can make it past the next paragraph and get to the questions, and read this entire post, then you are a fantastic person, even if you disagree with what I am about to say.

The Facts

I was sexually abused when I was three by a large hairy man when he removed my pants and performed oral sex on me. The abuse was not all that traumatic, except in how it affected my beliefs and what I thought about myself. I was sexually abused around seven or eight years old when a teenager my parents respected exposed his penis to me. I was sexually abused when I was twelve when my mother put lotion on my penis.

Debrief

Those are factual statements. They are not intended to cause sympathy, distress, or otherwise evoke an emotional response in you, dear reader. I put them out there, in the context of this post, because that is where they belong: In the context of this post. I have experience with abuse, on both sides. That is why this blog, and my aims at primary prevention, exist. Do not dare to tell me you are sorry for what I have gone through. If you want to respond, then do so by discussing this issue. Talk about it with people. Bring it up. That is how you can honor the part of me that was lost when I was abused. However, do not pity me or get emotional. I forbid it.

My experience with abuse does not make me an expert. When I share that I have been abused, I share it to say, "I have some experience with this." I do not share it to shame. I quote from many resources that are experts in the area of child sexual abuse precisely because I am not an expert. I do not believe that having been abused, and having abused, mean that you should automatically believe what I say. They do not lend me automatic credibility, nor should they.

Bring It Up? On The Internet?

However, from time to time, I do bring it up in a discussion with someone who rants and raves about perverts and pedophiles and how sick they are. I do it to make a point: There are many victims of child sexual abuse that have moved on from it, and turned it into a positive driving force for change. This is not done out of anger, because that is not healthy. It is done out of an ongoing desire to see a system and a world where the issues and topics are discussed openly, honestly, civilly, and rationally. The discussions, for the sake of our children, must remain civil and rational and free from emotive responses.

It is an incredibly difficult topic to be rational about. I understand that. However, I must point out that many policies and a lot of stigma and damage have been done by reacting out of pure emotion. The policies we currently have in place do not protect children because they were never tested for efficacy. They were whipped up in a frenzy of emotive politics.

How is it used?

I have seen a fair number of people in comment boards, social media, and other outlets saying that they have been abused. I think in many cases they are factual statements. However, also in many cases I think they are intended as statements that discourage further discussion, or conversation enders, if you will. They can also be used to claim expert status, as if to say, "Because I was sexually abused, I know what all sexual abuse is about." I saw one person using it to claim moral superiority over a pedophile.

I have also seen the statement as a way of calling attention to one's self, or their organization. I suspect that there is money to be made in being the subject of the public's pity. I also suspect that there is an element of pride to some of these organizations. I have done my best to ensure that my motivation will never be financial, which is why this blog does not have ads set up (unless Google is putting them there without my knowledge). I have done my best to make sure that the point of these posts, of this blog, of TNF 13, is about the primary prevention of child sexual abuse, not about me.

Use With Care

In short, I think that when that statement is used, it must be used with care. I have intentionally avoided using it in several instances because I thought it could come across as 'pity me'. I have used it to test how someone will react to it, and to see if they were capable of setting their emotions aside to have a rational discussion. They blocked me rather than continuing the conversation, which shows me they are unwilling to contribute to a solution.

Are you willing to discuss these issues? Will you think calmly, rationally, and openly consider ideas? Will you base those ideas on the facts around the issues? Or will you pretend that the culprits of abuse fit a stereotypical mold and hide from the inconvenient truths about child sexual abuse? Will you put organization, money, and politics aside to look at what works and what does not? Will you discuss this rationally to come up with ideas and solutions based in fact?

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