Hurts Me More Than You: Lynn’s Story

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Trigger warning for Hurts Me More Than You series: posts in this series may include detailed descriptions of corporal punishment and physical abuse and violence towards children.

Additional trigger warning for Lynn’s story: descriptions of sexual arousal due to corporal punishment.

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Lynn’s Story

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son” Proverbs 13:24

 “For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6

From my earliest memories, love and pain have been inter-mingled.  Hugs, kisses, painful blows, and stinging words blur one into the other.  As a child I was taught both explicitly and implicitly that love and pain are opposite sides of a single coin.

One cannot exist without the other, because, children are so very, very bad.

In our Christian, homeschool family, multiple spankings a day were a normal part of life for me and my four siblings.  Dowels, wooden spoons, belts and those slender, flexible, rods used to open and close mini blinds were all instruments of punishment.  Our pastor taught a lot about “biblical discipline”: the spanking should hurt (a lot); you should never hit your child in anger; you should not hit them anywhere but the buttocks; your child should feel loved and reconciled afterward.

He also taught that “biblical discipline” sometimes leaves “little marks” even hours after the punishment is inflicted.  He assured his congregation that this does not amount to abuse.

However, even these harsh teachings failed to line up with what I experienced at home.

My dad almost always spanked us in anger, often smacked us in the face (giving me a bloody lip on a few occasions) and occasionally used his large carpenter’s fingers to flick us repeatedly on the head until we screamed.  Sometimes the spankings would go on for what seemed like forever.  The one time my mom tried to intervene, my dad screamed at her to leave.  She later apologized to the whole family for being an unsubmissive wife.

The worst part of the abuse was not the physical pain, but the constant anxiety.  I couldn’t protect my siblings, and I couldn’t be perfect enough to avoid deserving punishment, so I lived in fear of the next mistake.  My dad loved the fact that he could produce such fear.  He would sometimes stomp up the stairs shouting, “Let the beatings begin!” carrying a heavy wooden mallet from my great grandfather’s farm.  He never hit us with it, but he enjoyed seeing the terror in our eyes. He delighted in telling stories of how he had hurt or scared other children. I believe my father is a sadist.[i]  Perhaps it shouldn’t be at all surprising that he raised a masochist.

It’s hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t aroused by images, descriptions or fantasies of being spanked, hit, or beaten.  However, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that the physical sensations I had been experiencing since I was a small child had anything to do with sex.

I was very young when the fantasies began—no older than six or seven.  I lived in a world full of pain (but not pain worthy of anyone’s attention), so I dreamed of the only different worlds I could imagine.  In one, I was in an orphanage, or had been kidnapped, or was a slave.  I was terribly mistreated.  Unlike what I experienced at home, the abuse in my fantasies was obviously bad enough to justifying running away or someone else coming to my rescue.  I wanted desperately to be rescued.

In the other fantasies, there was finally someone who punished me out of love, the way my pastor said they should—someone who genuinely hated causing me pain, but did it because they loved me so very deeply.  This was always a man whom I admired, trusted, and desired to please (unlike my father).  I always felt deeply ashamed of my need to be punished, but willingly subjected myself to his loving blows.  In these fantasies I felt safer, happier, and more loved than I ever did in real life.  This was the closest thing to emotional intimacy that fit into my worldview.

I thought I was imagining the way my father was supposed to treat me.

When I entertained these fantasies, my body always reacted to the images of being beaten or shamed.  I thought this is how everyone’s body responded to fear and shame.  Both of my fantasy worlds seemed so much better than my reality that I loved them.  But I also felt guilty for experiencing pleasure from scenarios that were so similar to what I hated most about my own life.  Real life spankings were terrifying, painful and humiliating.  Why did I willingly relive them over and over and over again? Still, it never entered my mind to think that my physical reaction was not a normal response to fear, guilt and shame.  My family never talked about sex.  My mom gave me the barest of details when I was 14, but I had never even heard of sexual arousal, much less had any idea of what it might feel like.

My first clue that my reaction was abnormal came when I was a sophomore in college.  The first time my boyfriend put his arm around my shoulders, I felt the same physical sensation I had always experienced when thinking about being punished.  I was surprised, but I chalked it up to being slightly afraid and feeling incredibly guilty for letting him “go too far.”

Later, I experienced my first orgasm while having a nightmare about being spanked.  I wasn’t entirely sure that what I had felt was sexual, since I was still almost completely clueless about sex, and there was nothing overtly sexual about my dream as far as I understood at the time. However, I began to suspect that something was wrong.

After I got married and became sexually active, my suspicions were confirmed.  I became incredibly conflicted about sex.  I loved the physical sensations and feeling so close to my husband, but the only way to climax was to allow the images of abuse to flood through my mind whenever I started to feel aroused.  I could fight them off, but doing so took so much mental energy that it distracted me.  When I did allow them to come, the enjoyment was always mixed with revulsion at the imagines in my head.  By this time, I had come to believe that my parents’ “discipline” was actually abusive and that the idea that someone must hurt me to truly love me was a lie.

I hated feeling aroused by those images.  I had no idea how to maintain a healthy sex life. 

Today, six years into marriage, I still struggle.  I already deal with nightmares about not being able to protect myself and my siblings from my dad.  I don’t want to have daydreams of the same.  However, I have been in therapy for the past nine months, and I hold on to hope that perhaps one day I will be free of the chains.

I strongly believe that frequent spankings and the message that love requires causing pain to the object of one’s love—both of which are so prevalent in conservative homeschooling circles—played a significant role in the development of this disorder.[ii]  After all, who could ever think that repeatedly hitting a child on an erogenous zone of the body would not have a sexual impact?

I cannot be sure that I would have had the same reaction if the spanking in my family had not been as abusive as it was, or if I had not tried to imagine the “loving spanking” that my pastor promised.  Personally, I don’t think any of the supposed benefits of are worth the risk.[iii]  However, even if it isn’t interpreted sexually, the message that “someone who doesn’t hurt me doesn’t love me” is an extremely toxic.

It prepares young victims who already believe the lies that every abuser is waiting to tell them.

Notes:

[i] I am using the term “sadist” loosely.  I know that my dad enjoys causing fear and pain to children, but I don’t know the nature of that pleasure.  While I suspect that it is sexual, I have no direct proof of this.

[ii] When arousal from physical pain or humiliation, or fantasies of such things, causes significant distress to the individual, it is considered a paraphilic disorder.

[iii] I personally think that hitting any person of any age on any part of their body is wrong unless it is in self-defense or the defense of someone else.

Hurts Me More Than You: Polly’s Story

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Trigger warning for Hurts Me More Than You series: posts in this series may include detailed descriptions of corporal punishment and physical abuse and violence towards children.

Additional content warning for Polly’s story: descriptions of sexual arousal from corporal punishment.

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Polly’s Story

My mother hitting me in the face with a vacuum cord and giving me a bloody lip, and then apologizing that “she was aiming for my leg.” Screaming at her that good parents don’t hit their kids with vacuum cords. Then guilt as she cried and my father said I made her feel like a bad mother. Having a massive bruise as an elementary student and my mother clinically asking my Father which spanking it was from. It wasn’t from being spanked, but because they often were no one would believe me and told me they were sure I deserved it even if they didn’t know what it was from.

Wooden Spoons, Paint Stirrers, Cooing utensils, Chopsticks, Dowel Rods, Hangers, Hands…

Pretty much everything that COULD be used to hit a child was. Nothing was sacred. Listening to my baby brother scream and scream as they laid into him. Listening to them tell him if he screamed the police would come and put them in jail and then everyone would blame him, so stop screaming. Trying to hide the evidence of something my little siblings had done wrong because I didn’t want them to get “spanked”.

Even when my little brother threw a tonka truck at my face, trying to hide the blood that was streaming down because I knew they would beat him. Screaming into pillows, biting my arms, scratching my face, anything to stop my heart from ripping apart as I listen to them. Holding them as they shake afterwards. Spending over a decade planning out how I would go into my father’s room at night and stab him to death. Anything to stop my siblings from getting hurt. Guilt that I didn’t kill him. Guilt that I didn’t tell anyone. But who would I tell? Everyone had bruises. Everyone had welts. It was part of growing up. Guilt as I grew up and spent more and more hours outside of the house, so I didn’t have to live in the oppression and pain. Guilt that I got married and left them behind. Guilt. Pain. Anger. Desperation. Hopelessness. You asked how it makes me feel to remember and there it is. Hopeless. Desperate. Afraid. Ashamed. Guilty.

I was 6 years old the first time I told my mother “I like being spanked”, to which she replied “Then, I’ll make sure to go harder.” 

I quickly recanted and said I was “just being silly”, but even at 6 I knew that even though I hated them hurting me, and I despised my siblings being hurt, there was something exciting about it. Not while it was happening, but on the “long walk to the bathroom”, watching them pick an implement, comparing marks with my sister later in the day”…didn’t everyone get butterflies in their tummy and “have to pee” when they were scared. That’s what it was, right? I was scared. And yet it wasn’t scary at all when I read it or saw it when it wasn’t coupled by anger. It was exciting.

By 8 I was sneaking my mother’s parenting books, looking up the word spanking in the encyclopedia and dictionary. Anytime someone was spanked in a book I would read it over and over and over. I wanted to discuss spankings for hours with my friends, but they didn’t have the same response as me. They were more like “Everyone gets spanked, it’s not a big deal.” By 9 or 10 I started to hold back on talking about it, I might mention it casually “Oh yeah, did you know they actually mentioned spanking in that book… it’s so… Biblical.”, but mostly I kept it to myself. And I was ashamed. I did not connect it as something sexual until my late teens/early 20’s. I just thought of it as another aspect of my weirdness, I never fit in with the pure sweet little homeschool girls, so another level of “Polly is a weird one” was expected. I tried to hold back my excitement over spanking, it wasn’t any different than holding back my bubbly outgoing loud personality, it was just another thing that made me different and “bad”.

I was in my late teens the first time I read a spanking story on the internet. I felt so happy and free I cried tears of joy. I wasn’t alone!

There were other people like me who just loved reading and writing and thinking about spankings. I stayed up until 6amjust reading and reading. But I couldn’t figure out why it had a disclaimer on it “We do not condone the spanking of real children, this is only fantasy”. I woke up the next day to reread when all of the sudden the disclaimer made sense. “Fantasy” meant sexual. “Fantasy” meant fetish.

I was a freak.

I was a sinful, disgusting, gross freak, and maybe even a pedophile because it only turned me on when the person had no choice and all of the “adult spankings” I could Google were fun and flirty. They didn’t even hurt. So they didn’t make me excited. I threw up. I confessed to my friends. Later in life I confessed to my Bible study leaders. But I couldn’t stop. I would go awhile and then was right back to it.

Eventually, I found “Christian Domestic Discipline” sites where the husbands would spank and punish their wives in other ways. Again I felt relief and happiness that I was not alone, and there were not children involved, so maybe I wasn’t actually a pedophile — just a freak. There were other people like me in the world. But again, I felt shame. By this point I had started rejecting much of the “patriarchial bs” that I had believed for most of my life, I was a proud “feminist”, God made men and women equal, and a woman who allowed a man to hit or demean her wasn’t free. So for me to not only allow a man to hit me, but actively seek it out. That didn’t flow. Plus, it was still a sin. It still defiled the marriage bed… or did it? Well, it didn’t matter because *I* was a single virgin. I had never been kissed. I had no business having any sexual thoughts or desires and this was obviously sexual.

I was also a self-injurer (bulimia for a few years and then cutting), and that was shameful, but at least it wasn’t sexual.

When I was in my mid-20’s I was asked to be courted, and I said yes. And on our second date I said these fateful words “I have always wanted a man who would spank me” and he said “and I have always wanted a woman who would let me.” We have had many MANY ups and downs, but we have been married for several years now. And my love for spanking hasn’t diminished a bit. At times there are still twinges of “how can something that destroyed so many childhoods turn me on”, but overall I have accepted that consent is the key here.

As a little kid I couldn’t consent.

I couldn’t say “stop, don’t, RED”, and now I can. I enjoy giving up the control at times, but if I am ever feeling like I can’t handle this or don’t want this I hold the power to stop it. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Hurts Me More Than You: Deborah and Janet’s Stories

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Trigger warning for Hurts Me More Than You series: posts in this series may include detailed descriptions of corporal punishment and physical abuse and violence towards children.

Additional content warning for Deborah and Janet’s stories: descriptions of sexual arousal and sexual abuse from corporal punishment.

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Deborah’s Story

I always felt traumatized by spanking whether it was me or someone else. When I was really young I would try to get my teenage brother in trouble but to be fair he tried to get me in trouble a lot too and teased me a lot. Once I got to be a couple years older I didn’t ever want to get people in trouble. Somehow, it just seemed so much worse for them to get spanked than most things they might do to annoy me.

Anyway, even though my parents generally only hit me once, it was done/threatened for all kinds of things from the look on my face, to not closing a door carefully enough that would often slam itself shut when the window was open, to a vague statement from my mom to my dad about not getting a lot done for him that day because she had to take care of me and teach me school at eight years old.

Sometimes I even got smacked without verbal warning while sitting on my dad’s lap if I was sitting in a way that hurt him and I didn’t realize it.

I got spanked pretty much every day from before I was old enough to remember until I hit puberty at ten. Then I got lectured pretty much every day and spanked sometimes. The last time I got spanked, I was fourteen. I cried all day because I felt completely degraded. I had worked so hard to become a competent homemaker and learn to be a proper submissive woman only to find I would still be hit if I had an opinion. It didn’t really hurt that much, but inside it was devastating.

The worst part of getting spanked was never the humiliation or the pain or the endless guilt and self-loathing or even the forced hugs and prayers. The worst part was that every single time I got spanked, I would get turned on. A lot of people hear this and say something along the lines of, “Well that is why you should never spank someone past puberty.” I have news for you. It didn’t start at puberty. If it had, I might have been able to understand that it was something sexual or weird. It started by my earliest memories of being spanked. I remember it every time I remember getting spanked. I just thought it was part of the deal. It wasn’t until I learned about sexual arousal as an adult that I understood it.

Imagine how disgusting it would be to grow up thinking something was normal only to find out that your parents were causing you to be sexually aroused while hurting you on a daily basis for your entire childhood and occasionally in your teens.

The trauma this caused me really can’t be properly described. I don’t have the words to explain how it feels to this day.

So to anyone considering spanking their children, just please, please don’t. It is not worth the risk to their bodies or their emotional and sexual health. Sure it may not affect every child this way, but if it does affect your child that way you will probably never know and never be able to even say you are sorry much less make it right. It is a form of sexual abuse to some children at least and now you know it.

Why would you take the risk of sexually abusing your own child?

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Janet’s Story

I was being spanked for squirming while being spanked for getting mad while being spanked for throwing my math book on the floor because I desperately wanted to understand but no one could explain in words I could grasp.

Sure, throwing a textbook on the floor and sobbing in frustrated rage isn’t going to further my education. But neither is spanking my eight year old self for expressing my utter rage that I didn’t have someone who could help me understand. I desperately wanted to learn and most things came easy for me, but math wasn’t that way.

It had been easy for my mom in grade school and high school, so she didn’t have the words to explain to my stumped mind. When I would slam my book shut and cry because the frustration was so great I physically hurt, I was ushered into the bedroom, my skirt hiked up, my underwear dragged down, and I was spanked – first for one thing, then another, then another. Compound spankings lasting sometimes as long as an hour were a common element of my growing up years. I can remember getting five, six, even seven separate spankings all in a row because each time I wouldn’t fully “surrender.” I remember my mom sobbing while she spanked me, saying how she just wanted me to submit — all I needed to do was let her break my will and it would be over. Too bad breaking wasn’t my cup of tea.

First it was a fiberglass stick, until it got too short to sting because it had been broken over my bare backside too many times. Then it was a wooden spoon. Several, actually, because they kept breaking too.

Different families have different methods for how they spank. Some say pants on, some say pants off. Some determine it based on how severe the infraction was. For me it was always sans-underwear, no matter what.

For a young child raised in the extreme end of purity culture (short sleeves were immodest until my parents “loosened up” and allowed them when I was around 10), demanding that your child strip naked from the waist down for punishment (often doing it herself) was incredibly confusing and embarrassing. In retrospect, being naked in front of my mother or father was worse for me than the spanking itself, because it was so ingrained in me that good Christian girls must cover themselves from neck to wrist to ankle.

Spankings became a time when I was not only physically hurt, but also forced against my will to show my body — something that only the wicked hell-bound world did.

My early childhood memories are a strange jumble and sometimes I wonder if I’ve really remembered everything correctly. Were the spankings really that bad? Really that scarring? Sometimes I’m tempted to pass memories off as creative embellishment, since I have a vibrant imagination.

But then I remember the two things that began so young I can’t remember a time without them: spankings and masturbation. Maybe there wasn’t a link at the very beginning – somewhere around the age of two or three, I think – but there was soon enough. I masturbated to self-soothe after spankings. Then, whenever I was trying to survive those moments in which I waited in dread of the impending spanking. Eventually I did it when I was frustrated too, or just plain bored.

I began to imagine being spanked to arouse myself (though it’s weird to type the word “arouse” since I had no grasp of what was even happening). I pictured myself being forced to strip, doing things that I hated, that made me feel sick, vulnerable, and ashamed, feeling the burning hits on my bottom. I imagined it in vivid detail as I would touch my little five year old body. Yes, you read that right: five. Maybe I imagined it even earlier than that – I don’t remember. But it went on for years.

Before I knew the slightest thing about sexuality I’d already spent nearly ten years masturbating to the equivalent of BDSM fantasies — all inspired by the spankings I endured.

I still can’t find the words to express what that childhood was like. Whatever your personal opinion is on BDSM, I think we can all agree that it’s not healthy in the context of a five year old’s everyday imagination! It’s taken me years to break that mental link between physical pain/humiliation and sexuality.

Of course my parents knew none of this. They caught me masturbating once or twice and were at a complete loss for what to do. I think they probably tried to deny that I was even masturbating. Nor did they know what to do when they discovered that at the age of nine I was making out with other girls my age. “That’s a sin,” they would say, “don’t do that.” They probably prayed and cried a lot, and talked in hushed tones about what to do, but they never made the connection in their mind. They still don’t know why I did it or what I

My parents really did love me and I know they were only spanking me because they thought that’s what God wanted them to do. Would they even believe me now if I told them? I don’t blame them as much as I blame the generally held belief among fundamentalist Christians that if you spank your children nothing will go wrong. Something went very wrong with me.

So tell me, readers:

Am I the only one who laid in bed at night masturbating to the thought of my parents forcing me to strip from the waist down and lay down defenseless in front of them so they could spank me? Am I as alone as I feel?