Content Warning: Sexual abuse, pedophilia, self-harm, suicide
You said happy womxn’s day but did you read my story? This is to anyone who considers themselves a friend of mine, or to any womxn:
It’s the year 2020, and I am not the first nor last to write about this. It will largely be ignored by those who should read it, but I share it in the hopes that those who believe themselves innocent will wake up. Cowards won’t read this and will use the tone of the letter to invalidate the seriousness of the issue. This is to you, who is not a coward, and is willing to see the mistakes they have made, and want to do better. Because if you’re not raging fucking mad, then you’re not paying attention.
I could tell you about the first time I was abused in three acts. How the first time I revealed what happened to me, it was treated like not a big enough deal. The second time, now brainwashed, I too believed it was not a big deal. And the third time, finally, when the act was recognized, it was too late. The damage had been done, and I had grown up perpetuating rape culture* and normalizing pedophilia. I had grown up traumatized, had self-harmed, been suicidal, and grown up as a seemingly healthy adult that was actually living in constant crisis and was not able to sustain themselves. It was not my fault. What I do with my life now is my responsibility. But so many of my decisions were made as a sick person. As I try to heal myself, I see that you are sick too. I want to point it out, as your friend, in the hopes that you will choose to heal. Give you insight, and information. In my hurt, I hope you will listen to me, and change your behavior.
My abuse was the fault of those in my past.
It was the fault of my abuser, who did not see that he was ill and needed help.
It was the fault of my mother, who did not begin to unlearn rape culture soon enough.
It was the fault of the school, who did not insist I get help.
It was the fault of the society, who perpetuated rape culture and normalized pedophilia.
By the time we finally understood the gravity of the situation, I was a full adult, and had to unlearn all the garbage I had been taught, which, in turn, would make me lose the man I had known to be my dad for 28 years. It is quite a loss, to chose to tear away from the man who raised you –so lovingly, you thought—and replace him with the sick abuser he is. I would have much rather believed that what he had done was not that bad, except it was. It shaped my mind into a contorted self-loathing illness.
Everyone thought he was charming. Absolutely everyone who met him would tell you what a great dad he was, a great husband. So sweet, so soft. “I want to find a man like you” I would say. I wrote him a song about my undying love when he turned 60. Everyone thought he deserved it. Everyone. You would’ve thought so too. You would have thought he was a great man. That he was charming.
You would tell me people are complex, that it is not black and white. You would tell me that it is natural that when I put my full post-pubescent body in his arms, he would linger a little too long, caress a little too slowly. You would tell me, casually, that it is Man’s Nature to be predatory, not hearing yourself perpetuate the damage.
When this one girl tells you that your good friend beat her, you would tell her maybe she deserved it. Maybe it’s her fault. Because you do not want to be accountable.
When this other girl tells you that your boyfriend touched her you would tell her she’s exaggerating. Because you don’t want to have badly chosen your partner.
When her friend tells you she’s the victim of pedophilia you would ask her “what level of pedophilia?” Because you don’t want to confront the abuse in your family.
When the other girl says you “he kissed me while I was drunk” you’ll roll your eyes and say “who hasn’t” because that guy is your boss.
Because he’s charming. Because he’s such a nice guy. Because he’s your friend and let you stay at his house, he bought you drugs, he throws the best parties, he gets you drinks, he has tons of friends. Because he hired you, because he said sorry, because she’s such a nice guy, he didn’t mean it. Because he’s so attractive, because he makes you feel special, because he has money, because he’s soft, because he’s sweet, because he has power, because he makes you feel cool, because you love him, because he’s your family member.
Maybe you’re the victim of abuse too, and this is all you know. Maybe you don’t want to admit that you were abused. Maybe you, like my mother, can’t bare the thought that you chose an abuser. She unlearned her garbage out of love for her child. My mother who was taught by Latino culture, by our own family, by our friends and television. My mother continues to unlearn, and chooses to see, out of love for her children. Out of love for who are you defending your abusive friend or partner? Who are you protecting? The vulnerable? Or the abusers? Why?
I am healing and getting better. I am taking the steps that I need to feel complete, and not broken. I understand now how truly sick we all are. How our culture perpetuates abuse and pedophilia, and therefore we each perpetuate abuse and pedophilia. Whenever we force a child to touch an adult in greeting, we teach them they have no say or agency over their body, that politeness wins over their own physical comfort. Whenever we sexualize children by calling them sexy or insisting they have boyfriends and girlfriends. Whenever we tell a girl she’s exaggerating or don’t believe her. Whenever we defend someone who has been accused repeatedly.
I know all the Americas and Europe are rampant in this. I know in small towns we see it even more. You are guilty in this, because I have been as well. Unless you are actively educating children to have agency over their bodies and actively calling out abusers, not inviting them to your parties, changing your behavior and how you speak, I promise you, you are perpetuating rape culture. If you are latinx, like me, if you’re white or black, you absolutely need to be actively unlearning, because we have all been taught one way or another to defend the abuser.
You will tell me I’m over-exaggerating because I’m hurt. You will ignore this story, like you have so many countless others. You will continue to perpetuate damage. You will no longer be my friend, because my abuse will now also be in your hands. You have the power to believe someone. You have the power to change. You have the power to actively speak against the men in your town that have raped, beat, harassed, another human. You can protect and believe and provide a safe space for survivors of abuse. Your silence is violence. Your hypocrisy is abuse. Be brave, or be weak, like your friend the abuser. I’m sure you’re both charming.
*If you’d like to be more educated and unlearn the bullshit, I am grateful for your courage, and I’ve got your back. Resources below.
If you are a survivor and need resources in your specific country, please write me and I will help you find them.