I’ve just finished watching Big Little Lies, a TV miniseries that doesn’t shy away from the topics of domestic and sexual violence, the patriarchal control of women and emotional abuse. The overwhelming feeling I have about the show is one of immense sadness at some of the characters’ suffering at the hands of violent and controlling men. I am also grateful that these issues are being explored openly, no matter how sad they make me, because they need to be discussed, confronted head on, and hopefully eradicated from society. The recent paradigm shift that is the MeToo Movement also deals with similar themes: women sharing accounts of sexual violence, abuse, and misconduct, and refusing to stay silent about what is happening to them any longer. Read More
When I think about it I feel like I am made up of a billowy, wavy outline, that I am a container or a vessel with delineated edges but hollow inside. When I think about it I feel the electric heat of pain in this space, a shimmering, wobbly centre of self that fragments and becomes disoriented, incoherent. Pieces of a put-together-puzzle come apart and float about. I am not in my body. It hurts to breathe, I feel a pressure outside of my ribs behind me, as if there is a monkey on my back. I am frozen. I breathe shallowly and quickly and wish to flee. I rock gently.
This is how the story goes:
When I was 4 years old I was molested by a male babysitter. He was 16 or 17. I say “I was molested” but the truth is that both my brother and I were. My brother Michael*, who was 7 at the time, remembers what happened that day, but I do not. Or, rather, I have memories of that day, memories of the babysitter, clear ones even, but I don’t remember being molested.
I found out that I had been molested when I was 19.
A few days before finding out, I was talking to my brother’s (now ex) wife Jane* about the sexual and physical abuse in her family and in her own childhood. I wondered out loud whether I had also been sexually abused. It was an odd thing to say – I had no memories or reason to think this, it was more of a feeling, a gut response. Nevertheless, I said it. The question floated on the air.