In Response to the Harvey Weinstein Scandals: Men Are Not the Problem, Power is.

 

People are resourceful and incredibly strong creatures. We do what is necessary to survive, often without realizing it.

A few years ago, I was scrolling through my social media contacts when it struck me that I hadn't heard from a particular relative in a number of years. I wondered why and heard myself answer, "Oh yeah, she molested me when I was a child. I wouldn't write either." I had suppressed the abuse so deep into the back of my brain I had to remind myself that it had happened to me as well as the minor detail of me being abused by a woman and not a man.

In fact, I was sexually abused by two women. I was molested by my babysitter as a preschooler for about a year. My mother was often asleep in the house while the abuse went on since she worked night shifts at the hospital. I would pretend to be asleep in my mother's room in order to avoid the abuse but the babysitter would come for me anyway. I screamed and cried when the babysitter pulled me out of the bed. My mother thought I was being overly fussy and clingy. My mother forced me to go downstairs with the babysitter while she slept. My babysitter would take me into a dark bathroom where the babysitter would pretend to be someone else and touch me.

I eventually found the words to tell my mother what the babysitter was doing. I told my mother three times before she believed me. I found out many years later that my mother had been raped by her step-father and couldn't imagine a woman, a female caretaker, as a predator.  Itwas baffling and easier to believe that I was lying for the attention. Maybe I had seen something dramatic on T.V. and was just repeating it.

I didn't want attention, I just wanted it all to stop. When my mother finally did believe me, the babysitter was fired. I heard years later that the babysitter and my mother went into therapy while I received none. The rationale was that since I was so young I would forget about it as I grew up. Therapy might cause me to remember it more. Besides, it's not like a woman could do real damage anyway.

My father was not told anything for several years. The abuse was never spoken of again until I was in middle school. My father came bursting into my room one school night, "Did somebody touch you?! Who touched you?! How long had this gone on? I'll fucking kill them! You tell me when somebody touches you! Why wouldn't you tell me something like that?" He was so angry and yet so powerless over damage that had already been done that I did my best to assure him I was alright. It was so long ago that it wasn't worth the fuss. That's what I thought.

As the Harvey Weinstein story continues to break our hearts, the words "patriarchy" and "masculinity" get thrown around a lot as the cause of sexual abuse. I've heard the argument that if women had the upper-hand in society, sexual and physical abuse would all but disappear.

I disagree. In my experience, it is a person's unhealthy relationship with and access to power that is the cause of sexual abuse. A feminine gender does not guarantee moral superiority or sense.

I would love to believe that women are morally superior to men but it simply isn't true. Blaming an entire gender oversimplifies the problem and makes a solution impossible.

I have met other people abused by women and we find it easier to leave the gender of our abuser out of the conversation when sharing our stories with those who have not been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a woman. It is simply too jarring, unexpected and unheard of.

"You were abused by a woman? Really?" is the response I've gotten more than once.

After all these years, I still struggle with the affects of the abuse even now. I have been afraid to say anything for a long time in order to protect my abusers. Both of these women have moved on and have families of their own.

I wrote this because wanted to speak out for people who have been abused by the most unlikely people. If actresses have a hard time convincing people they've been harassed by a male movie mogul who is going to believe it when a boy or girl is being abused by a woman in charge of his/her care?

If anyone is dealing with this, seek help. You may not be believed the first or third time you ask for help but if you are persistent, you will get the help you need to heal.  Don't do what I did, just trying to forget about it and worry about being perceived as a victim. You are a survivor and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and love. You are not alone.