The scars of childhood sexual assault: how it's affected me 13 years later
I was a victim of sexual assault aged eight.
13 years later, I am just beginning to deal with it.
Where it began.
In spring of last year, I began to review my life. I went back as far as I could and tried to remember the stand-out events of my 21 years on the planet. In the wake of the Me Too and Times Up movements, I was conscious of one particular event that happened to me at the age of eight.
For most of my childhood and teenage years, I have had an unhealthy relationship with both my body and sexuality. Like most teens, I equated this to hormones and puberty. I had blocked out a year of my life, which I believe has affected and continues to affect my life to this day.
At eight years old, a boy in my class sexually assaulted me.
These events, have tormented me throughout my life. Now, I know what you are going to ask. How can a nine-year-old boy possibly sexually assault someone his own age? I asked myself that same question also. I am unsure of the motives but I am confident in remembering how I felt. How I continue to feel.
This boy manipulated me and used his popularity within the class to convince me to perform sexual acts on him in the school bathrooms. I was threatened that if I didn’t perform these acts that he would encourage other people in my class to bully me. This boy then performed sexual acts on me, acts which I didn’t understand and didn’t want to happen. I feared school, feared this boy. To initiate our “secret meetings” as he called them, he would give me a wink in class. This wink would encourage me to go to the bathroom and wait for him to show up.
For around two months, these meetings occurred weekly.
I felt physically sick attending school because this boy would continue to assault me and then proceed to mock my body.
These remarks and the feeling of utter emptiness affect my self-esteem and body confidence to this day.
I am aware that some reading this will question whether sexual assault is the right term to be calling these events. I understand that both myself and this boy were only eight and nine respectively. However, I reject claims that these encounters were in any way consensual. These encounters were not sexual experimentation. This boy used his popularity to manipulate and control me. Used sexual acts to overpower and damage me. What happened was assault and it has taken 13 years for me to understand this.
I write this, not to beg for sympathy, but to add fire to the voices of other victims. I do not wish to contact this boy or receive any form of apology. Sexual assault should not be taken likely. Sexual assault can happen at any age and to any gender.
As a gay man, I found it additionally hard to come to terms with my own sexual orientation, due to the fact my first same-sex experience (if you can call it that) was against my consent. For years I have been unable to process what happened. I have felt dirty, disgusting. Furthermore, I wish to inform others who may be going through similar experiences, that there is power within you. The world will listen. I didn’t talk to anyone about my experience, mostly down due to my lack of understanding of sex, sexuality and assault. I do not wish anyone else to go through this. To write this article has been one of the most frightening things I have ever done. What happened was not my fault.