I’ve never been the type of woman who is attracted to a guy who showers me with gifts, fancy dinners, or anything money can buy. Nor do I desire to be pursued by a man haunted by his past demons and his need for control. (the plot of Fifty Shades of Grey)
I’ve already experienced those type of men.
Power hungry, manipulative, abusive, wealthy men.
Both who didn’t consider me or my friends.
Both with a sexual agenda.
When I was 7, a rich man bought me dolls and dresses, thanks to a lady who took me and another girl out shopping during the day while he worked. We got to pick out whatever we wanted. No limits, just gifts and more gifts. But then at night, the man returned and we paid the price. He claimed he was helping us with our homesickness. Trapped under sheets, I was marked by those dark nights. And I kept silent. For 9 years.
When I was 13, a deeply disturbed man paid me to photograph a porn session. In the polaroid pictures were images of him and my best friend. She was twelve. We were both paid in tens and twenties, each according to our roles. My friend made more, but she lost more too: her virginity. Neither one of us knew what responding to a phone call about teen modeling would bring us. The terror was beyond what I can explain. No where to run or hide. Second floor, balcony. Nude bodies. Facial hair. Images I cannot erase to this day. A mental battle to remain calm and survive. A fight to focus on my hurting friend and whisper words of comfort. Hoping we weren’t forever kidnapped. Unsure of where we were or what might happen next. Hoping to be dropped back off to our bikes so we could peddle our way home and hide.
Thankfully we made it back home, but not without major side effects from trauma.
(I’ve purposely left details out of both stories for brevity’s sake. Plus you get the picture. No more need to paint.)
The effects of both of these incidents have affected me most of my life. Not to mention the many smaller incidents that have reminded me I’m a sexual target. Last year, I had a setback and things got worse for me. I felt myself struggling more and nothing seems to lift this time. All my prior ammo and self care didn’t work anymore. Books. Prayers. Music. Walks. No change, still darkness. Triggers were everywhere and I wanted lasting relief. I was tired and desperate. So I finally called a counselor/therapist for the mental angst I’ve fought off and on all my life. I found out that my silenced childhood trauma developed into PTSD. (This information is news to many of my friends and family right now. I’m not the type who talks about what I’m going through when I’m going through it. I’m private and self-protective. I need my safety–even from well meaning people–in order to heal. Please forgive me if you’re one of the people who wishes you knew sooner. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you by my secrecy.)
Anyway to have a new understanding on myself and why I couldn’t move on and why I continued to battle inside my head helped.. No wonder I’ve been so anxious. No wonder I startle at a sneeze and freak out (in my head) if I see a parked car with a man inside by my house (in daylight). No wonder my body always hurt, it’s always been on red alert, ready for a crisis. Tense. No wonder I prefer to stay home and feel safe versus actively participate in real life. No wonder I struggle to commit. I have to have full freedom to escape, hide, rest, reboot. I need huge measures of grace and freedom in relationships to feel safe. No wonder I feel different than others and more dramatic and dark in my thinking. No wonder it’s been easier to stay quiet and smile than talk. Who wants to hear the mental angst of a person who is often terrified for no real good reason? My heart goes out to our servicemen and women who suffer long after the war.
The good news is today I have renewed hope. I’ve fought hard for months to work through my healing and recovery. I’ve processed my hidden pain so I can live in my today with more peace and less overwhelm. Thankfully I’m no longer tormented by chronic hypervigilance(major breakthrough just 3 weeks away), shame and negative self talk. I have amazingly helpful revelations about myself and my past experiences now. I get it. My whole life makes sense for once. I see meaning in my suffering and I can use my voice to help others. Yay! I am freer today than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Truly. What a gift to my sanity. What relief.
Why do I mention my abuse story today?
Because there is a time to silent and a time to speak.
To survive sexual abuse at such young ages, I had no choice, but to be silent or risk who knows what else. But today I’m a 46 year old married woman with a godly husband and two kids, ages 17 and 21. (Both who can see the movie if they want to, but I’m sure they won’t.)
And now I can speak.
Truth is I have nothing to lose by speaking up now. After all, I’ve already lost enough of my life to past abuse through my private mental suffering, trying to survive. If people judge me now for sharing, then so be it. I’ve judged myself longer than anyone else has or probably ever will.
I don’t share my story to glamorize abuse. And I do not want or desire your pity (I’m more than a survivor. I’m an overcomer! Yes, I am.). I share to say that people with emotional issues are sick and need help–and we are not IT. We aren’t their pawn to play or their lover to be spanked. We aren’t for them to manipulate or abuse in the name of finding healing love. Our relationship with a sick person will never change or heal him or her. We aren’t their savior. People change when they choose to seek help, not when they “use someone” as their way to mental wellness.
The story line of Fifty Shades of Grey is so unrealistic in that respect. Sick people need serious professional help, not a human life to use as a violent, sex toy. I’m appalled by this fantasy, love story that leads to healing and redemption.
Actually I hate the fact that writing this blog post brings more light to the Fifty Shades of Grey book/ movie. It already has enough publicity. I’d rather NOT make people more curious. But I fully believe there are many of us who are called to the battleground of this issue and we must hold our ground and speak up.
Because maybe, just maybe, someone who is on the verge of an abusive relationship will say goodbye before its too late.
Maybe the 20 year old woman who plans on seeing the movie with her boyfriend will choose to skip it because she realizes the film may trigger her past sexual abuse. Maybe she’ll call a counselor instead. (Odds are there will be both men and women, teens or adults, watching this movie who’ve experienced sexual abuse. We have no idea how they will be affected. It’s a huge risk. A simple $10 ticket could lead to days, weeks, months, or years worth of renewed trauma symptoms. Who’s in?)
Maybe someone who currently believes that being overpowered physically and taken advantage of sexually spells love will stop and think, and consider their God-given worth and choose to say no more. Not one more day. I’m setting a boundary and walking away.
“I’m worth more.”
Take back your dignity, because love does not use or abuse another. Love does not manipulate using money and gifts.
True love is so much more. So much better even if it’s steady, stable, or boring at times. Don’t be fooled by the lure of lust, heartache, and heated, wild and abusive passion.
Believe me, I know what it’s like to be bought, manipulated and abused by Mr. Rich Nice Guys. Not interested. No, thank you. Not a good love story, no matter how creative you package it.
I’m not buying it.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Added thoughts: I feel led to share my struggles with PTSD now (publicly) because I cannot imagine actually PAYING to watch a woman be seduced and abused. People have no idea what sexual abuse can do to the psyche. Even with a desire to improve sex in marriage, I’m still not into this idea to spice up the bedroom. People who are trapped, blindfolded, handcuffed to beds, or spanked, can have a trauma experience that can affect them far beyond their curiosity. Even in a healthy relationship, there is a line that can go way too far where the person feels scared, helpless and victimized. I have to say something because someone is going to take this fantasy too far. There will be copycats. And many will pay the price long after it’s said and done. It makes my heart sad and sickened.