So, another Catholic priest has been arrested after police investigated an online child pornography ring in Sydney. The FBI has just freed 105 children from a child prostitution ring in the US. There is an increase in sexual abuse of indigenous kids in rural and outback Australia. Every day there seems to be more and more reports of children being sexually molested by people in positions of power, by priests, by neighbours, teachers, uncles, fathers – you name it.
Studies say children who have been sexually abused can experience depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, withdrawal, and acting out. They can suffer from sleep disturbances, eating problems, and non-participation in school and social activities. Some kids stop trying at life. Other kids try too hard.
Adult victims of child abuse can suffer from high levels of anxiety which can result in alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety attacks, borderline personality disorders, insomnia and depression. Victims can go on to engage in high risk sexual behaviour, including prostitution.
Let me tell you what happened to me. I became extremely depressed as a child, but was unable to articulate what had happened until I was 12. The disclosure was not met with a great deal of acceptance by my family. As a teenager, I began to display borderline tendencies and started to cut myself. I developed bulimia. Simultaneously, I became an over-achiever at school, committing myself to several extra-curricular activities at once in an effort to occupy my mind until I burned out at 17 and almost failed Seventh Form.
Outside of working in the sex industry, which you all know about, I would occasionally have indiscriminate and sometimes unsafe sex with random men and women. It’s actually quite amazing that I didn’t catch a sexually transmitted infection. That behaviour, together with the borderline traits and obsessive compulsive tendencies continued well into my adulthood, and still exist in much less severity to this day.
My parents live with an undisclosed sense of guilt that they couldn’t prevent the abuse from happening to me. We can’t really talk about it, simply because I don’t want them to feel that I’m making them responsible, and they don’t really know what to say. My brothers are the same.
My self worth and value is rooted firmly in my sexual attractiveness. I tend to use sex as a bargaining tool; as a weapon; as my armour. I have been working to offset this for a number of years. It’s hard, but I’m much, much better than I was.
Today at rehearsal, there were some child rape jokes thrown around. I am not angry at those who perpetrated these jokes because it occurred in a context that is difficult to explain. Needless to say, I had to walk out of rehearsal because it broke my head. And finally cemented home a realisation:
I will never get over being sexually molested as a child.
I have healed immensely and have worked very, very hard to not let that trauma impede on my everyday life. I am a very functional member of society, and my experiences have provided me with a very thick skin most of the time. I do not dwell on it, or cast myself as a victim in life’s drama. But it’s there. All the time, whether I acknowledge it or not. Today it’s very much at the forefront of my mind. And it hurts.
Child abuse destroys lives. It’s a topic that is drowning in shame and outrage and guilt and pain and it has to stop. Of course, it never will, because humans can be cruel and sadistic and nasty and apathetic of what impact their actions can have on others, so we have to be prepared to nurture and comfort and support and help heal those who have suffered this horrible, horrible experience.
My love and my heart goes out to all survivors of child sexual abuse. I’m feeling your pain right now because it is also my own.