- JL Whitehead
The guise of consent
When I was thirteen years old, I was abused by three different men. The abuse happened back to back; separated by several months or weeks before the next assault occurred. I wasn't scared when these events took place. In some of the assaults, I felt as if I were a willing participant in what took place. It was in that willingness that my silence was purchased...bought and locked down by my abuser.
For years, I thought that I was alone in what happened to me. I thought that my first abuser provided me with the attention that I needed as a young boy. Our days were filled with times spent washing his car or going on trips to the movies, out to dinner or to the race track. The abuse with this perpetrator was welcomed because he fulfilled a need in me that superseded any distinction between right and wrong.
When he finally assaulted me, it didn't feel wrong. In fact, it was totally the opposite. I was actually glad that he did. My body was changing from that of child to a teen-aged boy. I was susceptible to everything he said. I had no way of knowing that what happened to me was manipulation. Every dinner date, every movie, every trip was a ploy that would end up exactly as he thought it would. I thought I loved him. But hindsight being what it is, I realized that what I thought and the reality of what was happening was as different as night and day.
There is a part of me that remembers the grooming period; the times that we shared where I was getting what I thought I needed. It was the companionship of an older man who I thought would guide and protect me through a socially awkward time.
I didn't find out that I wasn't the only victim until years later. I was in my twenties and I ran into someone who attended the same elementary school as I. I remembered him as being this extremely smart, very handsome happy go lucky boy with an outgoing personality. As I remember, he was in the seventh grade, one year behind me. And he too had encountered the same molester.
He confided in me that he had used the molester; getting as much from him as he could. I realized that years later, the molester had used my friend just as much as he used me. That's when I knew that I wasn't special. I was another young boy to this man...a boy that could be replaced at the drop of a hat.
The damage had been done. The facade of meaning something to this man was gone. All of the things he said were a lie. But oh how I held on to that lie for so many years. It was easier to believe that I was special and meant something to this man than to believe that I wasn't.
It wasn't until I was in my fifties that I knew that I was one of many boys that had been victims. I can't blame them or myself. There is a part of me that remembers the grooming period; the times that we shared where I was getting what I thought I needed. It was the companionship of an older man who I thought would guide and protect me through a socially awkward time.
But he wasn't that figure.
He was just a horrible man that did horrible things to young boys like me.
And yet to this day, I still have a hard time reconciling the reality of what was with the knowledge of what is.
Many survivors don't share experiences of abuse like mine. Some of us may have been forcibly raped by our abusers. Many of us were coerced into sex.
No matter what the circumstance, you are better than what occurred. Your inner strength is bigger and better than you could have imagined. There is no need to hold onto a memory that will not benefit you. No matter how deep the hurt, pain or humiliation...you are better. Don't let anything in your past tell you differently.
This is a safe spot.
I just wanted to share this with you!
~ J.L. Whitehead