Was it Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse? A Personal Experience
TRIGGER WARNING: This page deals with child sexual abuse. Although the content is not explicit, it does describe sexually inappropriate behavior between a parent and child.
When I was trying to figure out whether my experiences as a child were abuse, I looked a lot to personal stories. There were a few like mine, but it took some digging. Most of the time, when we talk about sexual abuse, even between a mother and daughter, we picture rape, whether it's penetration (fingers or objects), forced oral, etc. But that's not the only form. There is also covert sexual abuse. Finding real examples of that was harder.
Telling this story chronologically is nearly impossible, because I have distinct memories but so many of them happened consistently at different times. So instead, I have divided this page into 1. The facts of what it looked like, and 2. How I felt those effects afterwards.
All of the below happened while I was a minor, unless otherwise noted. I've tried to specify ages where I can.
- Asking questions about my sexual preferences, goading me into talking about sex despite knowing I was a virgin at the time, guilting me with "your other siblings trust me enough to talk about this."
- Refusal to knock on doors or let me dress/undress in privacy as a teenager.
- Commenting on the size of my breasts.
- Grabbing/touching my breasts by "accident" (but almost a daily occurance).
- Starting when I was a young teenager (13-14) she joked about older rich men staring at my chest and about selling me off to them to marry.
- Frequently flashing her breasts at me and encouraging my younger sister to do the same, despite me stating my discomfort.
- At least once flashing her genitals at me.
- Sending "jokey" sexual materials (i.e. cartoon/comics about sex, not porn, to my memory).
- Comments about my younger sister (at the time, maybe 12-13) giving oral to men on tv.
- Comments about my younger sister's male friends, how attractive they were, how they would view her as a MILF. (At the time my sister would have been 13-15 and I would have been 17-19.)
- Kissing my siblings open-mouthed.
- General jokes about incest (like comments about my brothers being sexually attracted to her, especially her breasts).
- Once when we were in a hotel (I was either 17 or had just turned 18) she sat next to me on the bed, caressed my thigh, and "joked" about having sex.
- Calling me a prude, frigid, unloving, etc. for not participating in/being resistent to these things.
For the full picture, she was also emotionally aubsive, which included behaviors such as:
- Threatening suicide whenever she didn't get her way (and did keep a gun in the house).
- Whenever my dad -- whom she's been divorced from since I was two years old -- got a girlfriend, she told us nonstop what money-grabbing whores they were, called my dad a whore as well.
- "Taking in" vulnerable friends of ours and then cutting them off and badmouthing them as soon as they don't treat her like a savior.
- When I expressed concern to her that my younger sister (15)'s older boyfriend (18) was abusing her, based on him holding her down and forcefully kissing her despite her protests in front of us, and on the fact that said boyfriend kept "accidentally" brushing against me, she laughed it off and said girls like that.
I don't think the way I coped with it looks exactly like the response to other sexual abuse. This is not a "if you did this, you might be repressing childhood sexual abuse" checklist; it's more like "if you did/do these things, you're not alone."
- I refused to change or be in my underwear around anyone; I was very modest.
- I did not want to be a boy, but I did bind my chest to minimize attention to it.
- I suppressed any sexuality; the thought of being sexual made me feel disgusting; I identified as asexual for a time. If the word had existed at the time, I probably would have also identified as aromantic, because I believed I did not feel emotions normally.
- I felt like a dysfunctional human due to being told I was frigid & unloving for not going along with her behavior; as a result, I was heavily interested in things that explained my non-humanity, like Indigo Children and otherkin.
How do you work through all of this? Personally, I had to process a lot of it when I started accepting I was gay. But I didn't process what actually happened in the past until later. My younger sister is still very attached to my mother, but our older sister was able to validate that she saw things that weren't normal. I later went to crisis counseling after being assaulted by a (female) coworker and with them I talked about a lot of it, and eventually accepted that it was, in fact, a form of sexual abuse.
I provide some resources below, but I also do recommend seeking advice from a rape crisis center (that may seem like an overreaction, but they do deal with victims just now processing things from the past, and if they don't think they're the best match for your particular experience, they can probably point you in the right direction) or other counselor.