“Do you want her? You can have her for 10 bucks.”
On another occasion… “Next?” He said as he walked out of the room into another filled with strange men. Laughter erupted. I wouldn’t come out.
How does a 16 year old girl maintain her composure through such piercing remarks? I don’t know how I sustained in those moments. The degradation of my innocence. Still a child, those words punctured me. My emotional growth was arrested I am sure. However, at the same time, I had to grow up immediately. I wrapped myself in a blanket of self soothe. I created tunnels in my mind so as not to see what was happening to me. I acclimated to trauma. I developed the craft of filtering what I saw and what I felt. It was my survival.
Even with this defense mechanism in place, my self worth and body image were pretty much destroyed. My first boyfriend (the one whose voice you heard in the beginning) laughed at me because my breasts were small. My second boyfriend implied on a regular basis that I was big, meaning fat. My third boyfriend, by the time I was 19, cared about neither of those things, but administered my first taste of domestic violence. Ironically, this guy was actually clean and usually sober.
By this point in my life, I felt nearly crushed on the inside. All that remained intact was my outside. My shell. Those defense mechanisms I used years before were locked away in some corner of my mind. I couldn’t find them to muster up the strength to crawl out of this depression. I couldn’t control my inside, but I could control my outside.
From early on in my childhood, I knew there was something different about how people treated me. In elementary school I was already a flirt. I was ‘boy crazy.” Fatherless, I craved male attention. In the 5th grade, all thirteen students which consisted of 7 girls and 6 boys, assembled a book. A project containing fun facts and details of our school year. It was filled with our accomplishments and attributes. One section, reminiscent of the high school senior commonplace, was titled “Voted Best.” While my peers were elected “Most likely to go to college” and “Best Speller,” next to my name and picture in this light blue bound book read the description “Prettiest Eyes.” That was it. Disappointment and anger filled me. Is that all they could come up with? The parents did all the voting. The mothers specifically. My mom was working. I don’t think the other mothers cared for the fact that I didn’t come from a traditional Christian household where the fathers worked and the moms stayed home and volunteered at the school during the day. They didn’t like me because I didn’t fall for the brainwashing about Jesus like their kids did. My face heated with embarrassment as I realized I was worth nothing more than my outward appearance. That moment impacted and molded countless struggles in my life. My expectations of myself have never been the same.
The next year in the 6th grade, my best friend and I were playing on the play ground at recess. One of the boys snapped my bra as he ran by me. I was the first girl in my class to wear a bra. However, as time passed, the other girls out grew me and my breasts grew at a snail’s pace. As expected, I screamed and ran. He and another boy chased me around. We all laughed. My best friend was sitting on the stairs to the building now. She looked at me and said, “You’re going to end up pregnant by 16.” That small sentence implied so much. I know my feelings were hurt, but I didn’t let it show. She was my best friend. How could she say that? That moment resonated so deep I don’t believe I was ever the same.
I sank into my apparent predestined role quite easily. My crush on my classmate was far more mature than our actual age. At 11, we were meeting behind the school building, kissing and looking at his father’s Playboy magazines he had taken from his house. I remember the tingly feeling that would shiver through me when I thought of him. I had that feeling the entire walk home after school until we reached my house. Those feelings were just as vivid as a child as they can be now. The other girls in my class were nothing like me. I was so different, almost beyond my years.
Still being a below average sized breasted woman, I can testify that if you know how to use the rest of your body, that doesn’t matter to most men. “More than a handful is too much,” I have heard on many occasions. I have often been insecure about my body, but that just makes more solid the fact that some force inside me takes over in the presence of any man that shows interest. A man is in fact powerless over a woman and her body.
After being controlled both emotionally and physically, nothing proved itself more freeing for me than to step into the role of my alter ego. I didn’t even know I had one. Myself, once a victim, turned the tables by being the one in control. It felt good. Being someone’s sex slave, being raped, being sold for drugs all translated into rage for me after a while.
The act of sex was all up to me. It was my turn to be selfish, and I had enough willing participants. When I was satisfied, we were done. I didn’t have to care about him finishing. It was a high. I was no longer a victim. He was. Whoever he was. Acting out in this way was my revenge. I said who, what, where, when and why. I made the rules and I could change my mind. I obtained a sick satisfaction, which ironically, I believe to be very healthy, in taking control of my own sexuality. I had to prove this to myself. I needed this to lift me up after being torn down.
A sex slave no more. Never again.