The author of this piece has asked to remain anonymous. Please respect their privacy and do not speculate about their identity.
Trigger Warnings: CSA, rape fantasies, masturbation, self-harm
Violence Our Own Minds Play Out
My sexual violence isn’t necessarily inflicted by anyone else – it’s mostly been inflicted by myself.
So, before I get into anything recent, I’ll mention my history: I am the victim of childhood sexual abuse. My parents split when I was young, about six, and for about three years, I divided my time between my parents. My mother was a drug-addict and would often use sex to pay for/gain access to drugs. We lived in and out of hotels and the spare bedrooms of various friends, so I witnessed a lot of sex – usually fairly kinky sex. My parents would get back together every so often and I would see them going at it. Also during this time, the son of my mom’s best friend would engage in sex acts with me. (He was five years older than me.) I had no idea that this was wrong, especially with everything I saw going on. I can’t remember much of it, but I know I liked having the attention and the affection, especially when my world was so rocky.
It took me a long time to come to terms with being asexual, because I thought I was messed up. And I like intimacy, and I thought that wasn’t part of it, and I enjoy erotica. (I write and read erotica and explicit fanfics.) I still sometimes struggle with that. I’ve come to realize intimacy isn’t necessarily connected to sex, and for me, isn’t at all. (I generally view sex as a commodity.) I do know I don’t feel sexual attraction to people, and that I don’t want to actually participate in sexual acts. I just have fantasies.
The current/most recent situation: My father passed away a few years ago. I wasn’t particularly close to him, but he was the parent I was closest too, and the one who managed to stay involved in my life. (My mother left when I was 14 and my stepmother died when I was 18. I’m 32 now.)
His death did a number on me. I felt tons of pressure to take care of my younger siblings and do the right thing, when I only wanted to sort out my grief and try to be normal for once. There were times when it was impossible to sleep and I was filled with self-loathing, my already low self-esteem was taking a nose-dive, and I felt so alone. So I turned to masturbating before sleeping – it was a pleasant distraction from everything, allowed me an escape, and would help me fall asleep. (I would usually read explicit fanfic or erotica and picture two random characters going at it. It never involved me.)
It worked for a while and it was during that time that I finally cemented my feelings that I was asexual. But just masturbating didn’t cut it after a few months. That’s when my fantasies – and I use the term to mean what I pictured in my head while masturbating, not what I actually wanted – took on terrible elements. Kinks I was never interested in, a gross lack of agency, and rape and manipulation, always acted upon the character I identified with the most. Even my reading habits shifted; where before I would read more genre fiction and only the occasional fanfic or erotica piece, I found myself reading even more erotica and fanfiction. I was terribly unhappy with it – there were no pleasant feelings, I felt even more depressed, my identity was suffering, and I wanted punishment. There was no one I could talk to about this, and I didn’t want to bring it up with a therapist.
Everything in my life started to escalate with the fantasies/masturbation. I started withdrawing from my friends, dreamed of turning to self-harm, let my once active imagination wither away to nothing, and stopped producing creative works. I felt shame in identifying as asexual, despite the fact that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. (Which was furthered by the fact that I wasn’t out to my friends or family and people kept asking about me dating.)
I’m not sure what changed for me, but one night I wrote a poem about how lonely I felt and fell straight to sleep, and another night wrote a poem about wanting to scream. It helped. I woke up the day after feeling better – more alive, not weighed down with shame or disgust, and I felt like a human being for once.
It’s taken a while, but I came to realize I hid the lack of agency I feel I have in my life right now with these terrible fantasies – they were a way I could understand the feelings of entrapment, and also deal with my desire to have someone take care of me right now. It’s helped and I’m much better about reaffirming my identity and self-expression and not letting myself escape into the horrible feelings caused by my own mind. I have yet to see a therapist about depression and grief, but I’m using coping techniques from previous bouts of depression, and rediscovering my hobbies and creative ability. I still slip up and will find myself thinking of those terrible fantasies and masturbating, but it’s less common for me now.
Reading a few of the blogs on Tumblr has been helpful; especially seeing things about how it is okay to like to masturbate or enjoy erotica doesn’t invalidate my identity as an ace person.
I know this isn’t the traditional tale of sexual violence, but I wanted to share it. Sometimes we visit violence upon ourselves, not just by intentionally harming ourselves or putting ourselves in dangerous situations, but by perverting things we enjoy or letting our mind run away with our feelings. It’s important to recognize the violence our own mind is playing out and address it, or else our mind wanders away.