TW: sexual assault, harassment, harming
This post is intense, and I can't believe that I am even typing this all out, but I think it is important to break free. I have never really spoken about this fully, because I did not realise the extent of what had been going on. None of my friends know about this and even if one person reads this, I am really nervous as to what one would think of me.
From the ages of 7-12, I had been sexually assaulted by someone who was a close family figure. I had actually not realised this until recently, so coming to terms with it has been intense for me. To be quite frank, I only realised the implications when I was asked if I wanted to speak about it or if I felt in danger of the person, only then did I think that it was not right. Moreover, if this actually gets published, the reason that it would be a big step, is because this feels like my dirty laundry being aired out, which is so scary.
However, this has put many things into place, many things that as someone like me would always feel awkward or ashamed to think about, but then again, I want to normalise this as a topic of conversation. Consequently, this has made me understand my triggers and responses to many "everyday things" in life, and why I am reluctant or uncomfortable to certain things. For example, I dislike hugs or many an affectionate touch, thinking about my body developing evoked a deep anxiety to me, I became recluse and did not really go to parties or gatherings, and sex or anything sexual was ultimately terrifying. I had made it a job to not know many things surrounding sex, and whilst at times during school, I would be ridiculed for it, the present me has come to terms with the fact that it was the barrier I made for myself - my coping mechanisms.
The fact my body was developing, and me being a bigger, chubbier girl, I would still be flabbergasted when I would be sexualised or be told to cover up, because of what I was wearing. Furthermore, my relationship with food had become very spiralled and my anxiety increased tenfold, but I never really made the connection. This event in my timeline of my life has triggered a lot of what I thought/now think about my identity as a woman, my sexual identity and my liberation to feeling good. I could not believe that this had happened to me when coming to terms with it and how I hid it and made myself feel.
Meanwhile, whilst females around me would want to feel good, start to feel liberated and express themselves, I was trying to safeguard my body and emotions by wearing tights, hiding my scars with cardigans, and not wearing anything that would show my blackened knees, my crooked legs and tops that would hide any form of cleavage. Even so, when getting into university and finding out about confidence and taking charge of your own body, within and outside, for some young women this included masturbation. This is something I had never really heard any womxn of colour or black womxn discuss, but if it was, it would regard a male. For some reason, it seemed taboo as if a woman cannot do the same to feel good, and it frustrated me. This is because of the fact that males can do things with no consequence at times, yet me and others who have experienced traumatic events feel shame or disgust at themselves.
Nevertheless, from the age of 21, I have wanted to take back any fight response to the "issues" I perceive about my body, and thinking I deserve to inflict pain onto it and treat it badly. In other words, I will admit that masturbation was to take back the fact that I felt the male gaze owned me or society's body ideal shaped my idealization of what womxn should look and feel like, when it really does not. After all, it should not be a crime to grow into yourself and pleasure yourself, whatever method is used for it. At this point, realising this particular event was a domino effect for many things that I saw as my reality, has affected me in recent months. An outcome of this is that it's made me quite scared as I still have a long way to go, in my relationship surrounding body confidence, sex and freedom, as it still does make me feel a type of way. In spite of this, I am taking back control and I don't want myself or anyone else who has experienced anything similar to be stated a victim. That is what the world wants us to think, especially when it comes to black females or any female - that we fall victim and are shrunk down for not fitting an ideal.
Even though this has not yet been reflected in society, and we are still fighting when speaking up, I have realised that it cannot take away from who I am becoming. Despite facing up to what I have been through, and yes, I am terrified that there are people out there that will know this - some of which are people I don't even know, I do not care anymore. This is me and yet, I shamed myself for feeling this way and punishing myself, when I did not need to. Therefore, for anyone reading this and feeling awkward about something, or that something is bad, it is not. You are a human being, you deserve to make yourself feel good and heal in any way possible, and that does not require a second opinion.
Lastly, I hope that females eventually can come to a place of no filter of speaking our minds, fighting for what we believe in, and normalising that society holds no bounds for what we can do. Yes, probably all of us have been violated by a male, and yes Lil Kim and Christina were right when they said we are not supposed to have an opinion because we are womxn, and it is because of this, that the standards of society has always been based on patriarchy. For one thing, periods are okay, not having a period is okay, facial hair from having PCOS is okay, needing time out from facing a condition is okay, wanting to have multiple sexual partners makes you no less of a woman, not wanting to get married or have children is okay, stop shaming transgender women, those who identify as non-binary or asexual, let girls wear as much makeup or none, accept that we gonna wear whatever we want, relationship or not and finally, masturbation is nothing to hide because it should not affect those on the outside - that is not your train to ride in.
Although this is still the case for many today, no more less for the young females being sexualised today, I am glad that there is more fight into being sexual for ourselves. Additionally, for those who are asexual know that there is power in who you are and expression in many forms of art, passion and skill - one highlighted well in the second season of Netflix's Sex Education.
The reason that I typed this out, was not to create sadness or pity, but I think a way for myself and others to see how progress can be made when you actually apply yourself into it. Whilst trauma and the world we see can be overwhelming, distressing and frankly shit, it takes power, authenticity and confidence, to find it within yourself, to take the steps to reclaim you. Events like this, can make your journey divert and come back round, hence making you think like you have wasted time, but you haven't. In fact, now you are raising the bar, and we should not dare feel ashamed due to it. As a result of time, growth and the partial progression of life, we can see that it is okay to work on a cycle, which could include many cycles, to get to who we want to be - and that is yourself; a self that you hope to break any pain or trauma, so you can feel life.
So, to conclude, shout out to the womxn on social media and in my life, for showing me that there is power in feminism, and more power in living in your body, and nurturing it well because we deserve to.
Oh, and lastly? We are gonna continue to stand our ground, because we cannot be held down any longer - we beautiful and we deserve to celebrate it.