WARNING: Extremely personal post. And yes, the pic is me as a child.
Many people are saying that those coming out about sexual abuse from Weinstein and Spacey are making it up.
They say they are just jumping on the bandwagon. They are accusing the victims of being the predators, “cashing in” on the publicity.
“If it really happened, why didn’t they report it back then?” Of course, most if not all of those naysaying were never abused. You need to understand the psychology behind these things. The human mind doesn’t always react logically when:
1.) it is immature (which is why we have an age of consent) and 2.) it has suffered trauma. Physical and sexual abuse create psychological problems. PTSD for these situations is real. A victim can blame themselves for what happened for years, if not their entire life. Fear of judgment is a powerful silencer.
As I stated in a previous post, I was sexually abused by my babysitter and her friends when I was seven years old. This went on for the entire year of the first grade.
While I won’t go into details here, I will say it started with her showing me a playboy magazine and asking me if I wanted to do things that, “only grown-ups do.”
She eventually started bringing her friends in, and I was never allowed to speak during these sessions. Essentially, I was treated as a puppet. I kept my mouth shut about it each time afterward because I knew what we were doing was wrong, and she told me that if I told anyone, I’d get in trouble.
I was seven. I didn’t understand.
Back then, kids were not warned about such things. “Say no, then go, and tell,” was still years away. It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t get in trouble, she would.
I told a few friends in confidence over the years but didn’t tell my mother until I was 17. She didn’t want to believe it—not because of any nefarious reasons, but because it was a very different time (70s-80s), and she couldn’t come to terms with the idea that she had left her son with someone who abused him. She felt responsible—when it was, in fact, no way her fault. How could she know? It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that she accepted it.
In addition to the sexual abuse at seven, I had a teacher the next year in the second grade (Sister Rosemary) who physically and psychologically abused me.
I will give more details on this one. She used me as an example to keep the other kids in line. She hung me by my collar in the closet. Made me sit in the wastepaper basket under her desk as she crumpled papers and threw them at me. Swung me around the classroom by my hair.
She ruled by fear.
I didn’t tell my parents because I thought that since this is a person of authority, and I’m in this much trouble at school, telling my parents would mean I’d get beat and punished at home.
A completely fear-based response.
To make it worse, at the end of the school year she told the entire class that the only reason I was graduating to the third grade was that she “couldn’t stand another year” with me. Nevermind that my grades weren’t bad.
Because I was picked on in class, I started getting beaten on by bullies after school as well. That lasted way past the second grade.
In college, I took a creative writing class that was geared towards telling your experiences in life. I wrote about what happened to me with my babysitter.
We had to read the stories out loud for discussion. I was stunned at the reactions. Guys were trying to high five me because I “got laid when I was seven.” They thought I had bragging rights.
Would their reactions have been different if I’d been a woman, or were people just callous all around?
Eventually, I felt it was best to just swept all these things under the carpet– it was so long ago, so what. Damage was done, and I couldn’t do anything to take it away. Forget it and move on. But it didn’t go away. It affected everything.
I’ve suffered from PTSD all my life. Sister Rosemary’s physical and psychological abuse combined with the prolonged sexual abuse from my babysitter and her friends severely damaged my self-confidence. It filled me with self-doubt and loathing.
It has colored my relationships and gotten me involved with many women who have abused and used me over the years.
To say it made it hard for me to get ahead in life is an understatement. I didn’t fit in with other people. Regular jobs and a regular life didn’t work for me.
I have spent much of my life not feeling comfortable in my own skin. But I work at it. I’ve been in therapy several times over the years. I see why I react certain ways to things and try to stay on the right path.
I am lucky enough to have found my voice and made my way in creative endeavors. I have dedicated my life to it. I have my books. I express myself in my writing. Share my feelings and try to heal. And while people who know me have known about this for some time, this is my first real public expression of it. More than 35 years later. People who judge these things are why the abused don’t come forward. How long ago these things happened doesn’t matter. The time to listen is now.
Andrew. E. C. Gaska
Brett Schenker has posted some helpful links that people who don’t get it should check out. I recommend you peruse them.