Response to a story of sexual trauma found online

(These are excerpts from a post I wrote in April.)

I came across the following post through a WordPress plugin which brings up supposedly similar blog posts to link to in your own posts:

Now We Are Free by Lauren Shifflett

She writes of her sexual abuse and harassment by a youth leader in her church, but prefaces this with how she was bullied as a kid.  I saw similarities with my own experiences, but her comments are turned off (probably because people get mean), so I’m writing this blog response instead.

She, like me, was rejected as a girlfriend, but was a target of sexual harassment by her male peers.  This put all sorts of negative opinions of herself into her head.  She

couldn’t understand why ninety percent of boys found me repulsive and the remaining ten percent felt this strange need to expose themselves to me in some sexual way.

Same thing with me.  My first memory of sexual harassment was from Kindergarten.  I loved to wear dresses.  Every day I wore a dress, preferred them to pants.  Then one day on the way home from school, a couple of boys, smaller than I was, cornered me and kept lifting up my skirt and laughing.

My mother never understood why, all of a sudden, I insisted on wearing pants instead of dresses, because I never told her.

All first semester he’d been harassing me for being a Christian and having conservative values, even though I don’t recall saying a whole lot about them in class or much of anything, really, unless spoken to.

Other kids in Photography class joined in on the religious harassment, including a witch who told me her coven killed my cat (all I said was he went missing on Halloween and never came back), and one day started yelling at me that maybe God is the liar and the Devil is telling the truth–until a Jewish girl told her to quit it and leave me alone.

The one who used me, ripped me apart constantly, then criticized me for being too “negative” and reserved.  How could I feel more confident and open when he kept essentially telling me I was unloveable?

And yes, you internalize this.  I felt much as Lauren did.  I didn’t have a boyfriend at 15 like she did, so there was no sexual activity back then, but I do know how this makes you feel like you’re just a weirdo who no one will actually love, and ugly.  My mom got upset with me for not thinking I was pretty, but how could I think so when this is how I got treated?  I felt ugly…..

Read more here.

 

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Prevalence of porn leading to teenage girls forced into anal sex

Warning: Not for children.  Though teenage girls should see it.

My heart weeps at the thought that many young girls are now being put through what I was 20 years ago by my ex-husband Phil:

Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition by Allison Pearson

Some quotes:

A GP, let’s call her Sue, said: “I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.”

In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to.

“I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn’t confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress.

When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience, but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew that it hurt.

 

….[M]ore than four in 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in England say they have been coerced into sex acts, according to one of the largest European polls on teenage sexual experience.

Recent research by the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire found that a fifth of girls had suffered violence or intimidation from their teenage boyfriends, a high proportion of whom regularly viewed pornography, with one in five boys harbouring “extremely negative attitides towards women”.

 

Mature women can generally make up their own minds about what they are and aren’t prepared to do in bed. That is a private matter among consenting adults, although I don’t know a single woman who thinks that a man insisting on anal sex is anything other than a depersonalising act of aggression.

For inexperienced teenage girls it’s a different matter. Their whole sexting culture sends them one crude, insidious message: buggers must be choosers.

I went through this with Phil, only unlike these girls, I refused to let him do this, knowing that I did not have to.

In response, Phil accused me of always needing to have my own way.  He tried punishing me through no sex at all for refusing anal.  He even tried an elaborate hoax to try to influence me into doing what he wanted.

Phil sometimes forcefully tried to turn me over.  Once in the middle of things, he pulled out and tried to get in the other way.  It didn’t work well from the top, but his attempt still qualifies as “rape” according to modern legal definitions in Indiana, where this happened.

He said maybe in other countries, THIS is considered the “natural” way.  He pointed to sex scenes in Clan of the Cave Bear, but didn’t seem to understand that the Neanderthals in that book were NOT having anal sex.

He told me one of his ex-girlfriends claimed it was the most pleasurable kind of sex for a woman.

And no, he never heard of lube.  The pain was excruciating the one time I grudgingly allowed it, and the pain keeps on giving: Bowel movements are absolutely horrid afterwards.

Yet somehow, I was the “bad” one because I wasn’t properly submissive to my husband, who expected obedience.

He even told his best friend how badly I treated him; the friend then turned around and scolded me.

And yes, Phil was into porn, particularly Hustler.

This was 20 years ago.  So this is not a new problem, but according to the above article, today’s Internet porn makes the problem far more prevalent–with girls who feel they HAVE to do these things.

A while back, I read a whole bunch of comments on some article online that claimed that lots of women love this kind of sex, and basically made detractors sound like prudes.

I’ve also read that the modern trend to be “clean-shaven” in unnatural places comes from the prevalence of porn.  I was once sexually harassed on the Internet by a guy who said he likes his women clean-shaven.  I never told him whether I was or wasn’t; he just attacked without provocation.

Yet my best friend Richard–friends with this guy–accused me of being “ridiculous” because, a year later, I still did not want to hear this guy’s name, and because “the Internet isn’t real [harassment].”

I’m teaching my son to NOT treat girls like this.  I tell him Girls are People, NOT TOOLS for guys’ pleasure.

My stories are hardly isolated.  So I keep them here on the Net to help other girls realize they don’t have to put up with this crap:

The story of Phil

Sexual harassment by Richard’s friend: Here and Here

 

 

 

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We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–January 1995, Part 4

Mike started eating one banana per day, usually at lunch.  I think it was a health thing.  It seemed to make him bouncier than usual.

****

My dad sent us an old modem to hook up to Pearl’s computer.  It was 2400 baud, already ancient by then, when 14.4K was top of the line.  He also sent his old, outdated copy of Procomm, without all the fun perks of the later versions.  It was fine for Pearl’s 8088 computer, which didn’t have Windows.

We just needed a phone cord and someone to help us hook the thing up.  It wasn’t a simple box like our first modems were, but confusing and intimidating: you actually put it in the computer.

Mike’s friend Brent came over one night to install the modem, after January 27 and before February 7.  I had a lot of fun chatting with Brent about AOL and modems and such as he set everything up.

I think there were no problems putting the modem in, but when Brent tried to use his introductory AOL disc, it refused to work.  Mike tried calling the tech support number, but was put on hold for an excruciatingly long time.

When he finally got to talk to someone, it didn’t help.  Somehow, Brent finally figured out the problem and got the disc to work.

We were now in business.  Dad gave me two S– BBS numbers from one of his computer magazines.  One may have been for Spatula City, a once-popular BBS run by Jennifer’s boyfriend Jason.  The other was for TCB.

Spatula City was more an old-style BBS, but this TCB amazed us.  It amazed Pearl and Sharon because they’d never been on BBS’s before, but it amazed me because I’d never seen such a fun BBS before.  Even PanOptic Net (Dr. Who-based BBS in South Bend) had never been like this.

It also charged a fee, unlike any other BBS I’d ever used more than once.  The old-style, free BBS’s like Spatula City and PanOptic Net were now on the decline, because BBS’s were starting to include expensive Internet access and multiple lines.

TCB hadn’t yet gotten up to twenty-some lines, but it was already close.  Every other BBS I ever used, could only allow one user on at one time.

The commands were easy to use, much easier than on PanOptic Net.  You could go into Teleconference and find colorful letters, fun action words, and tons of people.

Sharon and Pearl sat there “oohing” and “aahing” as I set up a demo account and explored the BBS.  (In those days, TCB let you do almost everything in the short-term demo account, before you decided whether or not to set up a paying account.  Later on, the demo class allowed for very little, and wasn’t fun at all.)

Jason also helped us out, telling us about other BBS’s and giving us his Spatula City handle, Antilles.  Spatula City wasn’t working right for a few days, so we didn’t get to see why it was so popular.

Jason also told us my ex Peter ran a board named Dementia.  He warned us that if we found a Red Dwarf on TCB, it was him.  (This is a fake handle.  I think Peter got his actual handle from Babylon 5.)

He said all this with an ominous tone, as if he thought Peter was scary.  I don’t know if he knew about my history with Peter, but he might have, because he was now dating my old pledge sister Jennifer and used to date Cindy and Catherine.

****

Pearl, Sharon and I got home one night fall semester, possibly from an InterVarsity activity, and Tara said, “Pearl, some guy named Shawn called.”

We were all like, Shawn?  Shawn???  There’s a blast from the past!

We sure weren’t expecting to hear from HIM!

He probably called Pearl again, and must have gotten my number from her.  He called me later, and we had a long conversation about how our lives had gone since he left.  He said he was on Prozac now.  He sounded a slightly deranged sort of happy.

He said, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in about two years, and no one seems interested in dating me.”

When I told Pearl about this later, we both said, “Girlfriend?”  The only girlfriend he could have had two years ago was me!  I thought he always told me I wasn’t his girlfriend?

Pearl said, “That’s fishy.  Maybe it shows there was something going on there.  Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?”

I said, “If he didn’t think of me as a girlfriend before, then why did he call me one, now?”

“I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”

A few years later, I read an article in Mademoiselle or Glamour magazine about this very phenomenon. The author had been in several situations where the guy would never say, while they were dating, that they were actually dating or seeing each other or hanging out or anything, or introduce her to friends as anything but a friend.  But years later he’d refer to her as an ex-girlfriend!  So it happens.

But back to the phone call.  While I sat at the desk in my room, I told him about the spiritual marriage.  It came up because, when he mentioned things we’d done, I said it could have been much worse but it wasn’t.

I told Shawn we were common-law married, so he wouldn’t think less of me for “giving it up without a wedding ring.”

(I heard that phrase on The Cosby Show once, the fantasy episode in which the men started getting pregnant and not the women.  Hey!  The men in the opening news segment got pregnant in Oconomowoc, WI, close to where I live now!  🙂  )

Shawn said, “So now there are only a few virgins left at Roanoke!” Meaning a few of my friends–and not me anymore.

Shawn was one person I could talk to about these things.  We had stirred up the fire between ourselves; now I had gone on to another guy with that fire still burning.

Shawn didn’t try to get back with me now that I was single again, but that was just as well, because I had moved on–and would soon meet the love of my life.

Shawn called me again the week of January 22, at one in the morning.  Sharon was asleep at the time, and not too happy about having to jump down off her bed to answer the phone.  I took the phone into the hall, and whispered,

“You shouldn’t call so late, Shawn!”

He said, “You always stayed up late before.”

“But I’m not rooming with Clarissa anymore.  I have roommates now who can hear me talk on the phone!”  (Reminder: Clarissa was mostly deaf and took out her hearing aid at night.)

I talked low on the phone, so my roommates wouldn’t get woken up.

At some point he started asking me, “What is sex like?”

When I told him, I could hear in his voice that it was turning him on.  It creeped me out, like I was his 1-900-phone-sex operator.

He kept asking me questions about it, so I said, “Why do you keep asking me these questions?”

Finally, the conversation finished.  Of course, that was nothing compared to those conversations we used to have till 3, 4, or 5 am!

He had called us in the first place because I sent him a Christmas card; I believe he called the switchboard to get our new phone numbers.  He called again the next night because I couldn’t talk to him at one in the morning.

I asked, “Why are you calling me all of a sudden?  I thought you said you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

He said, “After my brother died, I decided I’d better try to keep the friends I have.”

****

The Vampire never wrote me, though he said he’d try to write every week.  And I couldn’t write him unless he wrote me, because I didn’t have his address.  He shouldn’t have lost mine, since he wrote it in a notebook with all his BBS numbers, and he probably guarded that notebook well.  Oh, well, 20 years later I finally found him on Facebook.  🙂

****

We finally had another party in the apartment, possibly on January 21.  It was a big one, and fun.  We played games in two rooms, and had pizza and chips and pop.  (No, we never had wild, drunken revels.  Who needs those to have fun?)  Someone even brought Jenga.  We wanted the party to be big and take up several rooms, each with a different activity, just as Tanya’s Halloween party did.

I decided to sit out during Taboo.  Charles did the same because he didn’t like Taboo.  But I did because we played it every time we had a party at Roanoke, so I knew practically all the answers now.

I’d called one long-lost friend over Christmas Break.  Her mom answered and sounded shocked that an old friend from high school was calling.  I left a message; however, my friend never called back.  I don’t know why.

I wrote to her, my middle school friend Josh and another old high school friend; no letters came in reply.  When I found Josh online over Spring Break, he said he sent letters and cards to high school classmates, too, but none of them answered.

He said about my other friend, “I’m sure he’ll write ya,” but he didn’t–and neither did anybody else.  I wrote other letters to my male friend, but he didn’t answer those, either.

But funny how times change: I later found all of them on Facebook.  No longer do we have to depend on the old method of exchanging letters or phone calls to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in years, friends who may forget who you are or forget to call/write back, or never get your note.

It’s even better than the old Internet standby of e-mail, which can also be easily forgotten.  Facebook is much better because you can interact with your old friends with immediacy, even if you have not seen them in 20 years and live far apart.

****

Astrid began sending me letters because I mentioned that I wanted some.  I didn’t mean letters of the alphabet, but she began sending me one alphabet letter at a time through the on-campus mail, until all together they made up a quote from her new poster.  I’d have to find all the letters to tell you what the quote was.

Pearl and Sharon decided to stay another year and take on another major, because they didn’t want to leave Roanoke yet.  I, on the other hand, was sick of Roanoke, and didn’t want to do this.  And it would have meant more money to pay back in student loans.

****

On the 27th, I wrote to my friend Becky,

Sometimes these days I feel like several of my friends, who know about the common-law thing, are judging me.  The things they say–It’s as if they mean, “You’ve done a terrible thing–premarital you-know-what–and we thought you were more moral than us!  You’ve fallen, fallen!”

It makes me want to grab them and say, “Hey!  According to my research, it was a common-law marriage!  I didn’t sleep with him until we were c-l married, so it wasn’t premarital or anything!  Stop talking to me like I’m a fallen woman!”

–Since, after all, we began calling ourselves married, which is all you have to do. I’ve told them that, but they still talk this way.  I don’t believe I’ve broken God’s commandments because we were c-l married, but when they judge me, I feel like I have.  It really frustrates me.

I won’t write what Becky replied, because it’s private.  But she and Catherine were both far more understanding.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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Pregnancy Scare–for real this time–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 6

Along with Mike, I liked Peter’s former friend Randy, and wondered if he liked me.  As for Phil–I didn’t like him all that much.  I hated him, in fact.  It would take a lot for him to get me back, if he were to try.

I couldn’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving Break and get away from all this, all these problems.

I had the same comfort as during the Peter-situation long ago–that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

On the 18th, Dad was to pick me up to take me home.  He wasn’t supposed to arrive until about 6pm, so I asked Mike to study with me for Intro to Christianity.  Can you believe we had a test on the 28th, the first day of class after Thanksgiving Break?

When Mike showed up, he brought a high school friend, Brent.  He was all excited because he finally had a male friend again, not just us girls.  (I guess Phil no longer counted as his friend, after the way Phil treated me.)

I think Dad arrived more than ten minutes after Mike did.  Mike cried, “Hello, Nyssa’s dad!”  He amused my dad with his usual silliness.

Catherine later said that everyone in the world was destined to meet Mike, since he seemed to know everybody we ran into out and about.

I hoped to finally type up much of my novel/Senior Writing Project on the computer while at home for Thanksgiving.  I planned to do some major typing then and over Christmas.

I couldn’t get enough chapters to Counselor Dude because I forgot my Jerisland discs (3 1/2 discs, which the young people call old-fashioned, but we called newfangled).  I couldn’t type up the files for the first few weeks.  I was also still writing the novel.

Counselor Dude understood; he said we’d get the project done a little late, especially since he still would have to read it and it was big, but I would get a grade.

Writing the last chapters during the fall semester was burdensome and melancholy at times, but at the same time, a way to get away from the Phil-situation.  I could escape to the island.

While reading shelves with Sharon, not only did I find some interesting books on marriage and Egyptian hieroglyphics, but also Darwin’s book on coral atolls.  This was the book referenced by Collier’s Encyclopedia in the article “Atoll,” which I mentioned in the February 1994 chapter.

I also used my Botany books to find the identities of the trees and plants, which the article only called by their scientific names, and which were in no other books I could find.

And now, as of 2007, I can just plug any of these names in Google and find out what they are!  I love the Internet!

Benny was now brought home and put in my younger brother’s old room, where he eventually became my niece’s toy.  For several years, looking at this stuffed rabbit made me sad, even after moving on, and even though Peter’s presents no longer bothered me.  That’s how bad an impression Phil made on me.

Some songs from the time: “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots; “Verse Chorus Verse” by Nirvana; “Love is Deeper Than Touch,” a Christian song from the summer by Andy Landis; “Over You” by David Meece; Gary Chapman’s “Heal Me,” which I could identify with.  (Check out these lyrics.  And that was long before the well-publicized divorce from Amy Grant!)

On the 20th, I spent many fun hours with my high school friend Becky.  It was good to enjoy myself and get away from the problems at school.  She’d had guy problems lately, and said I was better company than a guy.

Over Break I read Clotel: Or The President’s Daughter by William Wells Brown, the first novel written by an African-American black person, for American Lit.  The cover said it was “written and published by an escaped slave in 1853.”  Clotel was part black, the child of Thomas Jefferson.

She had a spiritual marriage with a white man.  This was the only way she could marry a white man, or marry anyone for that matter, since even slave marriages weren’t legally recognized.

The novelist considered her spiritual marriage a true marriage, and when the man left her to marry a rich white woman, he called him an adulterer.

I looked at this and saw my own situation: deserted by a man who said he was my husband.

I also considered Phil to be an adulterer if he ever slept with or married another.  This has since changed, of course, though I still consider him my first husband.

Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving.  I was so looking forward to Thanksgiving week, to being home and away from all the crap going on at school.  But since I got home, I kept remembering Phil being there, living with my parents and me.  This saddened me.

I kept wondering if I was pregnant, looking in Dad’s CD-Rom encyclopedia for definitions of “common-law marriage,” how I could tell if I was pregnant and what the baby would look like now if I was pregnant, reading medical journals, and wondering if it would harm the baby to sit in front of the computer too much.  This all saddened me.

And on Thanksgiving I saw my brother and his wife–still together, of course, having gotten married that summer while Phil and I were engaged.  Even seeing their happiness while I was so sad, saddened me.  I wondered if I’d ever be in their place.

This sucked.  Now I just wanted to go back to school, and was glad I soon would.

My period started on day fifty-three!!! of my cycle, the latest I’d been in the past calendar year.  My usual cycle was about thirty-five days long, so you can see why this made me so anxious.  It turned out to be a normal, five-day period.

No, I didn’t try to get pregnant.  I would never have done such a thing just to keep Phil in my life.  And I’d had a period since the last time I was with him.

But you can imagine that skipping a period makes you anxious, makes you wonder if you had twin eggs and only one came out as a period, makes you wonder if it’s possible to have a period while pregnant.  And, well, it has been known to happen, especially in the first trimester….

And, well, fraternal twins with different fathers also happen for real.  And I heard twins were in my family, and knew nothing about hormonal imbalances.

So it was within the realm of possibility for me to have had two eggs, one which was fertilized, the other not.  Or for me to still have a period while pregnant.  My fear was justified.

On the 21st, I wrote in my diary:

I think I might be pregnant…this is the 15th day–two weeks–since my period was supposed to start.

And, according to Becky, it is possible to have at least one more period while you’re pregnant, and she knows people who’ve had several.

It’s usually due to birth control pills, but her mom had gone off the Pill and still had several periods before she knew she was five months pregnant with Becky.

Pregnant with the child of the husband who deserted me.  What am I supposed to do now, if I am?  I don’t want to miscarry–I hope I don’t.  Unwanted pregnancy or not, a miscarriage is so sad.  And I certainly wouldn’t abort it.

On the 25th, I wrote:

My period finally started about ten minutes ago.  I did a bunch of research into the subject this week [ online and on the computer ], trying to see if pregnancy was possible or not, and could only come to the conclusion that maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t.

If I was, it was a twin; if I wasn’t, psychological stress pushed off ovulation.  [ I didn’t yet know about the hormonal imbalance which actually has caused me many period problems over the years. ]

On Sunday, November 27, my parents and I returned to Roanoke.  On my way out the door, I stopped at the top of the basement stairs and looked down to my little kitty Hazel, who sat and stared at me from the foot of the stairs.

(We now used the door there as a main door instead of the back door, because my parents put a new carpet in the family room and didn’t want it to get dirty.)

I felt I’d never see her again.  Was I going to die from sadness or in a car crash that day?

Back at school, I mentioned the feeling to Sharon; she said maybe Hazel was going to die.  As it turned out, Hazel and I both lived to see each other on Christmas Break, but after that, I never saw her again.

She died of an undetermined illness which made her bald and skinny, possibly diabetes.  (She did love those Twinkies, after all.)

Who did my parents and I see at Marc’s Restaurant in S–?  Persephone and her parents!  (They also would have been returning from Indiana.)  The wait staff seated us just a table or two apart.  Persephone and I looked at each other and laughed.

So now my parents knew what she looked like.  At least she was just with her parents, and not with Phil.  However, the sight of her reminded me of the pain I was going back to.  By the way, this Marc’s soon became Annie’s Restaurant.  I don’t know what it is now.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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