Here is the beginning of an article submission, which we have decided doesn’t work on its own but could be part of a series of stories from survivors (or possibly just from male survivors, because it’s a perspective less often heard):
Trauma will do strange things to a child. I think it’s possible as a child I was so obsessed with death and sex because a part of me saw my abusers as monsters.
It has taken me years of quiet whispers in the back of my head to be able to tell myself I was abused, exposed since infancy to explicit sexual behavior that changed the way my brain took shape. The abuse existed but it was committed by people who acted recklessly and without measuring the consequences. I didn’t, however, see them as pedophiles. I still don’t. I’m not trying to say they were less guilty, I’m saying attraction had nothing to do with it.
I remember my sister’s eighteen-year-old friend taking my pants off when I was six, right on my parents bed, before taking off her own.
I remember my next-door neighbor forcing me to perform oral sex on him, telling me he had rubbed a grape on it so it wouldn’t taste bad. I was eight and he was twice my age.
I remember my mother scratching my back, then putting her hand under my sweater and down my pants, cupping my butt.
At the same time adults talked about sex around me, mentioning how “hot” some of the girls my age were. I learned there was a difference between what happened to me and the actual feeling of being attracted to someone my age, because just as I can be considered the victim of rape and abuse, I should be considered the victim of a stupid girl, a horny, stupid boy and a mother unable or unwilling to learn proper boundaries.
The problem is when we as a society hear about child abuse, we link it to the abuser’s sexual attractions. It’s wrong and it’s damaging because we label every child-abuser as a pedophile, and that’s usually not the case. Sexual attraction and abusive behavior are not the same thing, and it would be wrong to stop saying “rapist” and start saying “heterosexual” because we are talking about actions. Pedophilia is not a verb, it’s the sexual attraction to prepubertal children, so it shouldn’t be used as if it’s an action.
It’s not that I don’t think it’s pedophilia because there was no grooming or van full of puppies, or that I think all pedophiles are innocent and everyone who abuses a child is something else. It’s that I know the statistics on actual pedophiles committing assault, I know my mother and she had never touched me like that before and she never did so again. I know sex games mix very well with recklessness, lack of parental watch and a child all-too-eager to fit in with the “grown-ups”.
If you are interested in collaborating with this author and perhaps have a story of your own that you think might fit with this one, you can add to this thread.