My name is Shermeeka Marie Louise Mason (Meeka for short).
I was sexually abused.
My trauma started at five in my grandmother’s home. I had an older aunt (who will be called Jean) who was around eleven or twelve at least. She was a heavyset young girl with hair that was straightened with a hot pressing comb. She was the ring leader of all of us kids, but I was the one who admired her the most. Jean was funny, bold, loud and playful. But she was also manipulative, cunning, disrespectful to Grandma (who adopted her) and whenever she decided to pick on one of us kids, I was often the target. However, I did not care because she was often loving to me in the end. Jean was more like a big sister to me than an aunt, so I did what she told me. She was my hero after all.
One day, I was at my grandmother’s house as usual, playing with my cousins Lonnie and his little sister Dana. My grandmother, in the living room, had her eyes glued to the TV set with a Paspt Blue Ribbon Beer in her hand. Meanwhile, I and my cousins were in Jean’s room watching TV, hitting each other in jest and actually getting aggravated when the slaps on the arm became out of control. Suddenly, Jean opened up her dresser drawer and said “Ya’ll wanna watch something?” We were curious because she opened her drawer in such a manner that made it seem she was going to pull out a rabbit. We younger kids bobbed our heads innocently, which made her pull out a VHS tape, black and rectangular (yes…this is before the Age of DVDs. What do you expect, huh? It was the 80s).
Anyway, she slid the tape into the VCR and we kids watched as the machine swallowed the tape whole. Snow and static shone onto the TV screen at first. Then…the images appeared. At first, I did not understand what I was watching. But my mind managed to retain the memory: men pulling out their penises and sliding their body part into a woman–or a few women. People touching themselves and each other and making noises that sounded like screams–only they were not hurt. Though I did not understand what we were watching and why Jean was showing this to us, I was intrigued and frightened at the same time. That porno was not the only one Jean showed us. She showed us one after the other on different days. Sometimes, when I stayed over, we would watch what I know now as “soft porn” in her room on Showtime. We were quiet, sneaky and underhanded, and it was our dirty little secret.
As time passed, the porn I watched on TV became live when Jean began having sex with us family members. She would have sex with my cousin Lonnie–who was already sexually experienced at 8 (we were the same age at the time). And I would watch all of this because I asked to watch. Believe it or not, it is the only time I felt at ease. On top of being sexually abuse, I was being verbally, emotionally and physically abused by my mother. So I thought like this: as long as I am not being hit or yelled at, I’m in a safe spot. Jean would eventually have sex with a 10-year old me (because I asked her to. I thought this was normal behavior).
When I was 16, we had sex again–a few times. Again, I thought this behavior was healthy and that everyone did this. At the same time, I felt ashamed, dirty, ugly (because I was called ugly by my peers on numerous occasions), and damaged. However, I felt she was the only one who did not hit me or degrade me in any way. I found myself enjoying it but feeling small at the same time. I was tired of keeping secrets, so I wrote it in a journal. Turns out my mother read it and told my father, who basically interrogated ME.
To make a long story short, my sexual abuse affected my relationships with other people. I never knew what boundaries were, so I would just have sex (or try to have sex) with everyone I met. I also wanted a long-term relationship with these people, yet I did not know them from a can of paint! I not only used sex to connect with others, but to obtian the affection that lacked in my household. At one point I felt so trashy that I would tell people to call me names during sex. I was meeting people through phone sex lines and chat rooms. I even had sex in public places with people I had NO business being with. Sex was all I thought about and I chased it as if it were a dangling carrot. My life was out of control and seriously did not know why. I was depressed, angry and suicidal often and I did not know the source of all these problems I was having. After years of therapy, I finally realized that the reason why my life was falling apart was because of what started in Jean’s room years prior.
So that’s my story in a nutshell. There’s more to it, but that’s for another day. But I started this blog not only to get the feelings out, but I know there are people out there who feel (or felt) the way I did: damaged. Many sex abuse survivors wear that label like a Scarlet Letter because the perpetrator took our power away and made feel this way. We lived in silence, so many of us acted out in a destructive manner as another way to be heard. We conclude we are so screwed up that we can’t even maintain or obtain a meaningful healthy relationship with others–platonic or otherwise.
Well, I’m here to tell you that your head is lying to you. Whenever a sex abuse survivor tells themselves they are not worth a damn, that’s the perpetrator talking, not you. You don’t have to listen to the voices or live a destructive life. You are worth the chance and YOU deserve to be happy. No matter what.