A story of small childhood trauma that felt really very big.. and it’s affects on teenage years.
When I was a young girl, like kindergarten or something, a young boy showed himself to me.
He asked me to show myself back. I said no. He kept wanting me to look. I had been taught that ‘private parts’ were called ‘private’ for a reason. I continued to say no. He kept bugging me. He wanted me to touch him. I didn’t. I carpooled with this kid every day, and so the pestering didn’t stop. Eventually, I realized this boy was not going to listen to me ever… so I told my parents. I was terrified of getting in trouble, so it was a big move for me. I thought they’d be mad that I saw the boy’s ‘private parts’ because that was ‘bad’.
I told them. They cried. They gave me a stern talking to about how what happened wasn’t okay. Now, what happened after this is remembered differently between my parents and I. I remember getting spanked, so that I would remember that this was not okay. I remember my parents crying as they spanked me because they hated doing it so much. My parents remember me getting in trouble very soon AFTER this scenario – and spanking me for that other thing. I don’t know why the spanking happened; if my memory is correct or theirs. BUT either way, it was so soon after the incident that my adolescent brain associated it with the incident.
In my little brain – I was being punished for someone else mistreating/harassing me. Someone tried to get me to expose myself. Someone tried to get me to touch him. I said no. I got a stern talking to and a spanking. The spanking felt invasive; it was probably not the best punishment to be so close to a sexual harassment situation. It made me feel even more dehumanized and degraded. I didn’t tell my parents this. I remember the spanking made me feel angry. I could feel it closing my heart off to my parents. I felt betrayed. Like I could no longer trust them to be on my side.
On top of that – I never heard if he got in trouble or not. So in my head – the girl was punished for his mistake while HE didn’t get in any trouble at all for what he did. (He actually did get in trouble, I found out later. I just didn’t know this until over a decade later).
My brain attacked me with this scenario : Your fear isn’t important. Your voice isn’t important. Your feelings aren’t important.
Fast forward. Summer between G9 and G10.
I had just dumped my “first love” because of rumours that he had cheated on me. He had treated me very well. He had wanted to get more physical, but I didn’t feel ready to do anything other than kiss. I was very sad about the break up. I loved him. I felt like it was my fault that he cheated – because I didn’t give him what he wanted physically. I wanted to rebound and act out to cover my devastation, to cover up the sad.
Just before the school year started, I had a situation in the summer where I was sitting on a couch with a boy, and we were under a blanket. I had a crush on him. He took my hand and put it on his erection. I took my hand away. He put it back. I took it away. He put his hand on my bikini area. Even though I liked the boy – I did not want him to touch me because I didn’t feel ready. In this moment though, my mind and body jumped back to when I was young. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I took my hand away, again.
I still liked this boy. I think at this point in life I was quite used to boys harassing me. Boys being mean to get my attention. Boys grabbing me and trying to kiss me on the playground. So in my mind this was normal. My feelings weren’t important, remember? On top of that, since all the boys I’d ever liked (other than my family) either treated me awfully, OR treated me well but cheated if I wasn’t physical enough with them, I decided that I should choose the ones who treated me well enough (which, in turn, would mean I had to be physical, even if i didn’t want to be). I wanted the boy to like me back, so the next time he tried his stunt on me again, I complied. Soon after, he ended up leaving me because he was interested in my cousin, so then I learned that even when you comply, it’s still not enough. I felt used.
I remember being so confused. What did guys want from me???
Grade 10 starts.
I met a boy at the park. He was charming. He was with all his friends and they all came up to me on the swingset and started swinging with me. They wanted to hang out. I was in a place where I wanted to get over my first love AND the summer fling situation, so I set my eyes on one of the swingset boys and decided he was going to love me.
We were great friends for a couple months. Hung out every day. He respected me. He didn’t touch me. Then one day, the sparks flew and we finally made out. I became his girlfriend. Things went amazing for the first little while. Then Christmas time came.
He began to slip his hand under my pants one day while we were watching a movie. I think it was finding Nemo.
I had no idea what to do. I was scared to tell him no. I was shocked by what he was doing. If I didn’t comply, I knew he’d leave me. I didn’t know if I’d EVER find anyone who respected my body or would bother asking first. I didn’t know if those people existed. I didn’t speak. I didn’t move. I was a deer in headlights. My heart was racing. I was uncomfortable. He stopped. We finished the movie. Pretended like it didn’t happen.
A couple days later I brought it up. I had told him I didn’t want him to do that anymore – I didn’t feel ready.
The next time was a week or so later. This time, he decided to go all out. It was so aggressive and in such desperation that I froze immediately and entered that ‘deer in headlights’ / survival mode once again. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was in excruciating pain. I remember tears falling out of my eyes. He didn’t see them because it was so dark in the room.
Again, the next day, I told him that I didn’t want that anymore. He said okay.
What do you think happened?
Eventually, this whole thing started to eat me and my self worth. CONSTANTLY my voice was ignored – by a person I truly had felt safe with and thought loved me. I quickly spiralled down into a deep depression. I started self harming. Soon the pain and abuse he brought me was tolerated and I even sought it out because I hated myself so much. I thought I deserved it. So many times in my life already I tried to use my voice and it was ignored. I felt powerless. Like an object with no value. I started drinking. Excessively. Every night. When I couldn’t get my hands on alcohol from the store, I’d make it myself in my closet. I learned how on YouTube.
In February, my mom found my journal which had WAY too much detail about all the things happening to me and how it made me feel. She pulled me out of school in a heartbeat. She protected me with her life. She put me on house arrest until I sorted myself out. This was where healing between us began. Soon after I began to trust her again and we became best friends.
My relationship with both my parents turned up after this point. Around the same time, my mom got cancer which helped me become softer towards her and open my heart to her. I had also caught my dad in his drinking problem and because of that, he came clean to my family and was entirely honest and humble and dropped alcohol immediately. He owned everything he had done wrong and made a 180 turnaround.
Ironically, this inspired me to do the same.
When I saw how quickly a person can decide to live entirely differently, it gave me hope that I too could do that. In my time on house-arrest, I decided to turn everything around as well. I still struggled with depression for a while and wrestled with my self worth for a couple years after that, but I was taking steps forward, not backwards. I decided not to attend my grad year in person and instead stay home / join online school so that I could fully heal and become the person I want to become. To do that, I needed time to myself to reflect and explore. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, to date.
This was many years ago.. So long ago that it didn’t even feel like my own childhood. It feels like a story I’ve read somewhere. I got over the self hate and have an amazing relationship with myself. That didn’t come easily or quickly but it did eventually come. I have new struggles now of course, life goes on and new challenges appear.. But now I know that I am capable of turning things around no matter how low I am. I have hit “rock bottom’ a couple times, but I always reach a point where I realize that I am capable of pulling myself up. With the help and support of my family, and my God, I’ve overcome every battle so far and I plan on continuing to do so.
-Anonymous, Fraser Valley