Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.
Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Christina” is a pseudonym.
Trigger warnings: the following story contains descriptions of physical and sibling sexual abuse of a child.
“I know a bad word.”
I was seven, standing in the bathtub and my mom was washing my hair.
“Tell me what it is.”
“I don’t want to say it.”
“Tell me what it is or else I’ll spank you.”
I was petrified, my heart was racing a mile a minute. I couldn’t tell mom; I was afraid of being punished for even knowing the word. I was shaking and crying. My mother took out the hot-glue stick that we were regularly beaten with and proceeded to spank me there in the bathtub. Between each swat she would order, “tell me!” until, sick with fear and pain, I told her.
The dirty word: Bra.
Hello, my name is Christina. My purpose for writing this today is to help those who have gone through something similar to me and to spread awareness to those who haven’t.
Growing up, my mother told us nothing about sex. Nothing. As girls, she didn’t educate us about having your period, bras, body changes, nothing.
I was introduced to sex when my brother molested me on Christmas day when I was eight years old. He was only eleven at the time and I write this with his permission. In the last year my brother told me stories of what led up to that day. He was only four years old when our mother would “spank” him until bruises formed for “touching his penis”. Other than these beatings he had received no sexual education at all when he stumbled across pornography on the internet. He didn’t even know the word pornography when he described to me what he had seen. I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was wrong. I was too scared to tell anyone what happened on Christmas, so I kept quiet for four months. In the meantime my brother had molested my little sisters as well, and I knew about it. I told my brother not to hurt my sisters anymore, so when it didn’t stop I finally got up the courage to tell my older sister.
My sister told my mom, who called our youth pastor for help.
Our youth pastor called Child Protective Services, and my brother was removed from the home.
He lived in foster care for a year and we weren’t allowed to see him during that time. When he finally came home things were awkward between us for a while, but when we were willing to open up to each other he was able to apologize, and we were able to talk openly about what happened. If I wasn’t terrified to go to my mom for help, the whole situation might have been prevented. My mom was not a person I could go to with my fears and questions. She never talked about sex, and never made us feel that we could talk with her about whatever we needed to talk about.
I thought I had cancer. I was eleven and scared to death. After weeks of worrying I built up the courage to talk to my mom. I told her I was developing these lumps.
Her exact words were, “welcome to adulthood.” Nothing else.
I lay awake that night and put the pieces together. I wasn’t dying after all. In the months that followed I stole my sister’s bra, and on three separate occasions I shoplifted bras from stores. During that time I kept dropping hints to mom, but she made it awkward, and I was so nervous. My mother never made herself available for any serious conversations. Even when approached, she would make the conversation as short and surface as possible. Finally, at age thirteen, I got up the courage to confront her. I told her how I had been shoplifting and taking from my sisters and her reply was, “why didn’t you tell me I needed to take you shopping?” I told her that she made it hard for me, but she wouldn’t listen. She waited seven months before she took me bra shopping for the first time.
I began to watch pornography regularly when I was eleven.
I don’t know how to tell you why. I would go to great lengths to be able to access a computer with internet. I began to masturbate. It was an unsaid rule in our household that anything sexual outside of marriage was evil. Because of this, I felt guilty for masturbating, I felt like I was defying God. I prayed to God, promising that I would never masturbate again. The next day I broke that promise. I felt like shit, like I had let God down. I was weighed down with a load of guilt. I felt I deserved death.
I was prepared to hang myself; the only thing that kept me from tightening the rope was the thought that if I left them, my little sisters will go through exactly what I did, and I want to be around to prevent that from happening.
When I was fourteen I tried to be open with my mother. I told her what I went through as a pre-teen and a teen, and her response was to send me to therapy; she didn’t want to handle me herself. One day on the drive home I was trying to explain to her how she wasn’t there to help me as a kid going into my teenage years, but she refuses to listen. We start talking about masturbation, and she tells me anything sexual outside of marriage is wrong. There I was, opening up to my mother and sharing how I tried to hang myself as an eleven year old because I felt so guilty, and she contributes to my guilt, telling me that what I did was wrong. No comfort, no empathy, no help. Just guilt. I ask her, “from a biblical perspective, how is it wrong?” She can’t answer me.
I pushed the question, and she finally told me, “you need to move out. I don’t want you around your little sisters.”
I am no longer living with my mom. I feel free to talk about masturbation, sex, and gender expression with my siblings, something I never felt I could do before. My brother and I have had conversations I never saw us having. Today I am inspired to help others, and I feel more confident about how I want to raise my children. My mother lost custody of my younger sisters in August and I know that they have a brighter future ahead of them.
I am so grateful that they will never experience what I did.
My sister has also written about her sexual education, the link to it is here.