child of God, wife, mother, recovering anorexic who longs to see the beauty in herself that she sees in the world around her

Monday, May 16, 2011

the same question, AGAIN

I've got something on my mind.  There is a question I have been asked many times over the last 8 months that is really starting to bother me.  The last person to ask me this question was genuinely trying to understand but just couldn't and so kept asking it over and over again.  I'm going to try to explain.  Maybe it will never make sense but I have to try because I am getting more and more hurt and angry every time it is asked.  So here goes........

Quick background to this question/story.  When I was 17 I had a job in fast food and had a creep for a boss.  Let's just call him "Fred" for the purposes of story telling.  Fred ended up molesting me and trying to force me to have sex with him.  It started with him reaching his arm a little closer than necessary across me to get something.  Then it was untying my apron strings and then smacking my butt with a towel when he would walk past.  Before long he was following me into the walk in freezer and putting his hand up my shirt or down my pants.  I was already scared to go in the freezer anyway but knowing he would follow me and completely shut the door and then make disgusting comments and touch me, made my fear escalate.

There was a lot of inappropriateness that went on but I think I've given enough info for you to get the gist.  One day one of my friends at work asked when I became a home wrecker.  He told me Fred was married and his wife had just delivered their 2nd baby a few days earlier.  I was overcome by shame.  I confronted him and finally quit my job just to get away from his way too many hands.

So the question so many people feel  the need to ask, "Why did you allow it to go on?  Were you just pleased to have the attentions of an older man?"  Let me answer that as politely as I can.


There is a certain amount of blame that people want to place and since they don't understand why I didn't say no to him, then it must be because I enjoyed to some degree the physical attention he showed me.  I realize that I may explain it and those same people will still not understand and will continue to think that I just wanted to say I could hook a man twice my age.  It is possible that it may never make sense to someone who has not walked through my life, but I have to try.  I'm tired of feeling like others view it as completely my fault, that I'm just the slutty girl they saw me as in high school.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I endured many years of violent sexual abuse as a child.  I wasn't allowed to say no, otherwise I got hurt.  I wasn't allowed to talk about it because no one really believed that it could be happening.  I came to accept it as my life and as my normal.  Sex wasn't supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  Sex meant finding my happy place and enduring so that the physical hurt was to a minimum.  I learned to believe that sexual performance was my only worth.  Obviously I wasn't worth protecting or nurturing so sex must have been why I was created, created to fill another's need.

I acted out on that feeling quite a bit in my high school years.  I allowed a lot of guys to do a lot of things that I never wanted them to do but somehow while it made me feel dirty, it at the same time made me feel valuable.  The world of sexual abuse leaves a wretched dichotomy of emotions.  So because of that, I can see why some have asked me about my part in the relationship with Fred.  But I have to say with all honesty, I hated him and I hated his touch.  I never felt valuable when he touched me.  It reminded me of the abuse days, it wasn't something I solicited, it was something thrust on me.  

I actually had a huge crush on one of my other co-workers and Fred's behavior towards me sent unwanted messages to the boy that I did want touching me.  I didn't know how to tell him no though.  He was bigger than me, older than me and in a position of authority over me.  I turned off my brain when he started molesting and found my mental safe spot.  I never encouraged his affections.  I was never flattered by his affections.  The last time I saw him, his affections turned violent as well, by slamming me into a car.

No, I never felt flattered by his attention.  I often felt confused and terrified.  The last person who asked me that question added even more salt to the wound.  He asked, "But why didn't you stop him?  You knew pre-marital sex was wrong.  You heard it in youth group and Bible class (I went to a small private school).  You knew God didn't approve so why did you keep allowing this to go on?"   The answer I wished I would have had when I was talking to this person came to me later that night.

If I say the sun is square and the grass is purple, does that make it so?  Just because someone says something to be true doesn't mean it is.  People once said the world to be flat.  Once it was said that tomatoes were poisonous.  Just because someone has preached something at you your whole life, doesn't mean that you know it to be truth.  I may have heard the words that pre-marital sex was bad but what I internalized was "Sex is bad and you experienced sex from a young child, so therefore you must also be bad."  Too often the problem with the church's message about sex, is that it leaves those of us who did experience it in a way other than how it was intended, discarded and feeling like we are dirty.  There is no room for second chances in the world I grew up in.

Yes, I allowed and encouraged a lot of touching with guys in my late high school years.  No, Fred was NOT someone who I encouraged or enjoyed, just someone I allowed.  I think I may scream if another person asks me if I allowed it because I was flattered.  I allowed a lot of things to happen to my body because I never knew it was MY body and I could protect it.  I allowed a lot of hurt in my life because I never learned that my body was beautiful and worth waiting for.  I allowed a lot of touches that should have never happened because I didn't know that it wasn't normal because it was my normal.


  1. Oh my goodness. I can't believe that this person from your church actually dared to question you about this experience (or any experiences that you have had in this arena!) Molestation, sexual harassment, unwanted touch, rape...THESE are the things that go against God's plan, and they certainly aren't the same thing as consenting to premarital sex! I have also experienced sexual harassment, though not to the same degree you have (in the form of unwanted comments and propositions at my first job and in the form of unwanted touch at my high school) and still to this day feel like those experiences affect me and my feelings of safety as well as my comfort level with my sexuality. These experiences taught me that the world is not safe and that I am vulnerable, and they also made me feel helpless--because how do you respond to something like that? Like you, I finally just quit my job after a failed attempt to advocate for myself. I just needed to get away...yet it seems I never have completely gotten away from that experience or the knowledge that there are men out there who don't wait for consent, who don't care how their actions makes you feel, who take what they want with no regard for the scars it will leave. The healed part of me says, though, that just because they aren't following God's plan for sex doesn't mean I'm not. You aren't alone with struggling with these feelings but you AREN'T to blame for the "normal" that existed for you. The people who did those things to you are. You show inspiring strength and wisdom in this post and it's neat to read how much God has obviously healed you from these experiences. Not to say it's 100% gone, but you obviously have the right perspective on who is to blame, whereas that person from your church doesn't.

  2. Sarah, thank you so much for understanding! Trying to explain that to the MALE therapist assigned to me at the hospital was torture. I finally told him that I refused to talk to him any longer and that I would only talk if assigned a female therapist.

    When I wrote this post, I was wondering if I would just be blowing hot air to make myself feel better or if someone would see my heart through it. Thanks for seeing my heart.

    There is going to come a day that FL is going to HAVE to be in my line of travels so we can meet and talk face to face!

  3. I agree :) I think I understand your heart through this and I can definitely relate to it. I also think that our Lord has a very special heart for people who have been hurt in this way. I think about the woman caught in adultery or the woman at the well and wonder what had happened to them to get where they were. They might have just willfully sinned, but there also may have been experiences that led them to their provocative behavior. Either way, all He did was love...

  4. I as well see your heart, and my heart aches to know you went through such pain and confusion and hurt. You are such a fighter. <3