I’m just going to riff this post off the last because there’s something I mentioned that I feel needs a post all its own. First, I make no secrets about my past, and I make a lot of people uncomfortable, and they cannot understand why I would talk about such troubling things. Any “good person” would button up and think of the delicate emotional sensitivities of others first. Which is sad; how sexual problems aren’t centered around how I as the victim feel about my past, but how you as the sideline spectator feel when listening to me.
The reason I never think about your feelings and just shut up is that I was blackmailed into a sexual assault based on the things I was doing with other kids. They learned enough about me to use the truth against me, and all their talk about loving me went right out the window. They didn’t love me, they just wanted to abuse me too.
I remember being in a gender support group, and I’d said I was blackmailed. Another woman snidely commented “you were a CHILD. What could you have possibly done to be blackmailed?” It was flippant, and it showed how despite being trans, she was so sheltered, she couldn’t believe I’d done anything worthy of blackmail. I got pissed, and I said “I had sex with a six–” and that’s when the therapist jumped my shit and said “You shouldn’t make yourself so vulnerable.”
It was the second slap in my face in under 30 seconds, and I never went back to group therapy. It became clear that we weren’t meant to talk about the things that upset us. We weren’t supposed to talk about the abuse that made us afraid to transition, or that drove us crazy. We were supposed to talk about how hard life is when you have to shop for high-heeled shoes and can’t find your size. We were supposed to talk about how mean and unfair cisgender people are. But we were not meant to get support for the things that had left us broken and afraid of everyone else.
People who’ve heard my past often react with anger and attempts to silence me. They say dismissive things like “Get help.” And they never once stop to think that for some problems, there is no help. There can be no cure or healing when the “common sense” method of dealing with a problem is widespread denial that the problem exists.
I have sought help, time and time, and time again. Each time that I began talking about what other kids were doing to me, I’ve been stopped and told that my therapist or counselor didn’t believe me. Why? “Because children aren’t capable of such things.” From here, I’ve had therapists and counselors tell me what they “knew really happened.” And after that, I stopped seeking their help. How can you get help from someone saying “Lie to me about your past in a way that I’ll approve of”?
I talk about this stuff because the current methods of dealing with sex abuse are centered not around the victims or their abusers, but around the outrage of the moral majority. If an abuser talks about how they were themselves abused, no one hears that. They see the confessions of an abuser and scream, “YOU’RE NORMALIZING SEXUAL DEVIANCE! IF WE ACCEPT YOU, PEDOPHILES WILL RAPE MORE CHILDREN! RAPE! RAPE CULTURE! SHUT THIS CONVERSATION DOWN BECAUSE IT HURTS MY FEEL-FEELS!”
This is from people who have never been abused, but god damned if they don’t love every chance to scream about how angry abuse makes them. Lost under the din of all this screaming outrage is how this display of anger hurts the victims of abuse. At no time does anyone admit that their outrage is a public shaming of the victims as well as the abusers. At no time does anyone in the moral majority come to terms with their part in the cycle of abuse, which turns many past victims into future abusers.
Victims are separated from their abusers, and if this were the start of a slow therapy process to help the victims, it would be great. But for most people, fixing the problem begins and ends with the act of separation. If the victim does get “lucky enough” to see a therapist, odds are better that the therapist will harm the victim more than help them.
I’ve seen victims try to speak up in public, and then someone else will say things like “Well thank you for sharing. Now it’s best if you never talk about this again, because it makes us uncomfortable.” Helping victims deal with their pain isn’t part of your thought process when you say things like this. The whole thought process is: I don’t feel comfortable dealing with this problem, ergo, I must agree with the sentiment and tell the victim to just get over it.
Sex abuse is not like getting a scar, and eventually, you can’t remember where that white line came from. It’s like developing a limp. You never forget where that limp came from, and you can’t hide that limp from other people. But when people ask why you limp, they also regret asking, and they don’t want to know. They don’t want to help you deal with the limp. They just want to be left out of these “disturbing thoughts.”
Victims end up isolated and alone, and they’re made to feel ashamed for all sexual thoughts. Healthy sexuality versus unhealthy is irrelevant. All that matters is “What happened is all bad, so stop talking about it and upsetting us.”
People who accept this shame internalize their guilt, and they can’t talk about having “shameful thoughts.” And don’t lie to yourselves and say you try to understand, or that you want to help. I’ve had people approach me pretending to want to help, only to turn around and attack me because I wouldn’t indulge their sheltered ideas on treating sex abuse. I’ve been hurt more by people trying to help me than I ever had by my abusers.
If a victim falls and becomes an abuser, there is no way to get help. If they seek help from a therapist, they’ll be drugged to ensure that they have no sexual thoughts at all. This kind of therapy isn’t meant to help. It’s meant to shut a person’s sexuality down and render them incapable of any relationships, even healthy relationships with people their own age.
If an abuser goes to the police? God help them. They have great odds of being arrested, tried, and sent to a prison so they can be raped over and over. No one ever feels bad about that. Here’s this guy, and he was raped from the age of 7. So when he becomes an abuser, society’s answer is to have him raped again. And the people who know nothing CHEER about a rape victim being raped again and again.
The moral majority is sick, and they do more to harm the victims of abuse than the abusers do. By saying this, I’m sure some people will comment “I guess you want to join NAMBLA, sicko.” Yes, because my desire to see better treatment for the victims of sexual abuse is the exact same thing as wanting healthy normal kids to be paired with a pervert. I don’t want to normalize sexual abuse. I want normal people to acknowledge their part in making these problems worse.
I suppose that’s another reason why I can never let this kind of topic go. It’s because the conversation is dictated by people who have not been abused, but who feel the need to tell the victims how to feel. The same churches who protect child abusers are the people who wave the family values flag and tell everyone else how to feel about abuse. Children are told how they “surely must have done something to draw the attention of their abuser.” They are told that their abuser is pure evil, and that it’s best to just never think about what happened. In other words, “Even though you’ve developed this limp, don’t you ever think about where it came from.”
“Well god damn, Zoe,” you say, “You make it sound like there is no way to help, so we might as well not bother.” Actually, there might be positive ways to help us. What I’m saying is, your outrage cannot ever solve the problem. Your outrage is part of what turns victims into abusers. Maybe that’s part of the reason why some of you shout as loudly as you do that someone ought to do something about this growing problem. It’s because in shouting, you never have to hear the victims talk about what they think. In shouting, you relieve yourself of the guilt for failing to protect people from harm. Your outrage may not do anything at all to help, but you do it anyway because it’s easier to be mad than it is to deal with a complex problem.
So, this is why I keep bringing up my past. This is why my books are full of squicky topics. Because in the face of all this useless outrage, someone needed to keep repeating the truth: this isn’t about you and your feel-feels. You can center our abuse around your outrage all you want, and all you do is take attention away from the people who still need help. You can wrap yourself up in your sheltered outrage like a big old security blanket, and by shutting down the discussion before it ever starts, you will make the next generation of abusers. You’ll blame them for not knowing better, but where the hell were they supposed to learn a healthy mentality when none of you people are able to act as positive role models?
I have no doubt that I’ll anger more people by suggesting that your anger is misplaced, and I’m certain that my continued outspoken behavior is harming my chances of becoming a big-time bestselling author. But if I had to choose between telling the truth and pleasing the moral majority, I’d choose telling the truth.
So, I’m getting off my soap box. Feel free to take the box around to your friends and tell them I’m sick and wrong. I am sick, and I have been ever since little boys began beating me with the blessings of the adults. I’ve been sick ever since the moral majority declared me an enemy for being born queer, and everything else I’ve done is a result of the daily, unrelenting torture of sheltered bullies who are praised by the moral majority. So don’t expect me to see your side of this when you’ll never take the time to walk a mile with my limp.