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Trauma: Was this my fault

Your past trauma is your own story and nobody can take away your truth.

This is mine:

Disclaimer: When I was 16 something happened to me that shouldn’t have. To this day, I’m not sure what to call it. Sexual trauma? Rape? Or just a really bad experience? On one hand I want to call it rape. For some reason I resist this label, as if what happened wasn’t as big of a deal as I think it is. In other words, I feel I am not deserving to classify what happened to me as rape. Even as I write this, I understand how messed up that sentence is. So, for the purpose of getting me through today’s post, I will use the word “trauma” to label the morning I had sex for the first time.

Trauma: Was this my fault?

For many, many years I believed the trauma was my fault. The first person to point this out was me – right before it happened. On this particular morning, my resolve to push him off of me wasn’t there. Every morning was the same with him and I would tell myself, I’m glad we didn’t have sex while I was drunk but I really don’t want to have sex right now. And then I thought about how many times I ripped my shirt off in front of him, drunkenly demanding him to have sex with me. His response was always the same. He would say, “I want to have sex with you when you’re sober.” My immature brain kind of liked that part. He is such a gentleman! That is, until the next morning when he would roll over onto me and try to have sex with me. So long story short I decided I was getting what I deserved.

I deserved my trauma because of my actions.

The next affirmations I needed to solidify my new sense of self-worth was to be told I’m a “stupid girl” by my mom and be emotionally shunned by my dad. To this day, it hurts me to see how my parents take my pain, my traumas, and make it about themselves. This is exactly what happened a few weeks after my trauma. My mom’s first reaction was to yell at me then run up the stairs, sobbing. Now, I understand the news was probably unexpected. I, too, have received my share of unexpected news as a parent. As a mom now in similar shoes to my own mother all those years ago, her reaction to my trauma makes so little sense to me that if I think about it for too long I will just cry.

As a 16-year old girl, I believed the trauma to be my fault which sent me on a downward spiral of sex shame.

Through my marriage and personal education, I figured out a few things I want to share with you. First, sex shame exists, even in the must subtle ways. For me, it started as a little girl when I learned that grown ups could sexualize my body based on how I sat in a chair. As I got older, the church taught me how I dress, including whether my undergarments accidentally show or not, could easily give me the sinful label of slut. In adulthood, I choose to fight all of these stigmas because they do not have a place in my Christian faith.

Second, The solution to overcoming this all too common issue is to talk about it, like reading this blog. Shame only ever breeds in silence. Once you can realize you’re not alone in the struggle, some of the pressure can lift off your spirit. Then, as you lean into your brave vulnerability you will start to share your story with a spouse, a friend, maybe even a small group at some point. This is how you truly break through the confines of purity culture and sexual shame.

Now in my 30s, I realize that my trauma was and is not my fault.

How could it be? I was 16 years old. The 18-year old “man” on top of me was too heavy for me to push off – not that he asked for any kind of consent in the first place. His hands did all the talking as he pried my tight, tense legs apart to gain access he would otherwise have been denied. Not one word was spoken until after the deed was over. He rolled onto his back, lit his cigarette, and said, “You’re bleeding.” In other words, he nailed this conquest. I was the long con.

What happened to me should not have happened.
I did not deserve what happened.
It is not in any way my fault

Yet even as I write those words, I question myself.

What is that?

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