An open letter to my boyfriend after the ghost of my abuser appeared during sex
Content Note: This essay contains descriptions of childhood sexual assault.
When I finally cum, I fear it will be an ancestral libation, an offering to him. In death, he has only become even more persistent, and no less of a formidable task to resist. You are on top of me, fully man, but I am just a child again, kneeling in front of him in his pitch black bedroom. I have been led here by a story I just read that couldn’t possibly be about me, but it is. That couldn’t possibly compare to what you are doing to me, but it does.
The narrator of this story told of a time he was 12 and stumbled across one of his friends being made to give oral sex to an older family friend, and even with your pelvis blocking my view I can see the traumatic scene in full detail. Or, I should say, I am in it. It was once mine. I close my eyes as your dick slides in and out of my mouth and you become the older family friend, and you become him, and instantly I am so hard my body threatens to shatter.
My head spins, perhaps trying to cast off the sudden sweat now pouring from it, and just as quickly as I was turned on I am flaccid. You grab my soft penis and I know you are wondering what happened, what you did wrong. I don’t know how to tell you that my mind inadvertently collapsed you into my abuser. I don’t know how to tell you that when it recognized its mistake, it only knew how to shut my body down when it loved who you became.
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I find my way back to my abuser’s room often, no matter how hard I try to forget the directions, how many compasses I break. A few days ago, I stumbled too far down the porn rabbit hole, and suddenly I am watching “twink gets impaled by daddy.” And suddenly I am the twink, not a hair on my chest. He was nothing like the daddy, really, he was even younger than the twink and I was far, far younger than them both, but it’s close enough. And you are nothing like him, nothing like an abuser, but your dick is in my mouth, and it’s close enough. I swore off porn after it brought me back to that room, but I cannot swear off you, love.
A kink-aware professional (who was not treating me) once told me that recreating the dynamics of my abuse could be therapeutic when fully consensual. It could be a way to take back my power, and maybe they were right. But this is fully consensual and still I feel powerless. Even if I got to tell my abuser what to do for once, the only thing I could possibly think to tell him to do is to die, and how empowering could that be when he’s already dead?
I do not tell you to stop because I don’t want you to, just him to, and so you thrust deeper down my throat until I gag. I just want to be able to breathe, but also I don’t. I just want you to be him, but also I don’t. I just want to not have to think about what it means that my abuser follows me even when I’m alone with my lover. I want to wipe my mind blank. I want to be able to say I wasn’t thinking about anything when I came. I want to say I found my way out of his room. But I keep ending up here because in actuality there is no leaving. The room is everywhere.
I guess you could say I am in my own sort of prison, and as an abolitionist I don’t even believe in prisons. Funny how ceasing to believe in a thing doesn’t make it go away. I no longer believe I am a victim; now I say I am a survivor.
The other day I asked for consent before giving a new acquaintance a hug because I have ceased believing even these small acts of respecting another’s body aren’t important, and still I was offended when she said, “No.” “That’s completely fine!” I said a little too loudly, slapping a smile over my defensive face, trying to quiet the abuser he left in me. The one who assaulted a female friend in high school by drunkenly touching her body and excusing it by saying I was gay. The one who pushed up on anyone I was attracted to in clubs without a second thought. I am his horcrux.
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A famous abuser was killed this week. I want to join in on the jubilee alongside those who celebrate the demise of his evil, but I am stuck behind these bars, watching from afar. I want to let them know that even when abusers die, their abuse doesn’t. That he will come back to haunt the people he has harmed. But the only thing I could possibly think to tell them to do is be cautious, and how empowering could that be if they’ve lived their whole lives under hazards?
So I say nothing. I am relieved that I cannot speak with you in my mouth. But when I cum he is still there.
You told me that I have a hard time expressing my feelings, that I keep everything bottled in, and that again is me only knowing how to shut my body down when it doesn’t know how to explain what it wants. I do not want to shut down anymore, so this letter is me learning to explain.
I am trying to keep him away from us. He will hurt anything he can touch, like he hurt me, and I love you too much for that. But your love is helping me realize there is no fixing this, no ignoring this, just healing from it. Just learning from it. Just being as honest as I can be about it. And honestly, this is why I don’t really like giving head. This is why I go soft while we are having sex every once in a while. This is why I get depressed or anxious sometimes.
There is no escaping this prison, only burning it down. No moving on from this, only confronting it, head on. No safety from this world, until we make a new one. I am trying. And with your help, I believe I will get there.
Editor’s Note: June is LGBTQ Pride Month. At BYP, we will be exploring gender, sexuality, transgender issues and queer theory, and we are interested in publishing works that address these topics and the things surrounding them.