Girl Without Consent: Michal’s Story

Photo by Darcy, used with permission.

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Michal” is a pseudonym.

Content warning: discussion of rape, rape fantasies.

I’d like to write about all the craziness of growing up, but I’m afraid someone will know it’s me.

I want to write about how my mom didn’t tell me what menstruation was until it happened (THAT is terrifying . . . having blood coming out “down there” makes you think you’re dying). Then neither she nor my dad ever explained that or sex to me. They gave me a section of a health book to read. Which I did. And promptly blocked it all from my memory because it was too embarrassing to handle. Growing up in a home where sex can never ever be talked about can mean that even clinical discussions seem evil and dirty and are best forgotten.

That’s how I got to age 16 without knowing words like “vagina” and “vulva.” When inserting a tampon for the first time (my mom always bought pads, but I wanted to go swimming) I thought about inserting it as “sticking it up my butt,” (although I knew it was a different hole, I had no words or understanding of the anatomy involved) and felt ashamed and degraded by the experience. And I associated it with Eve’s sin and felt ashamed to be a woman. I barely knew the word “penis,” and it took me some time to figure out how guys were different physically (testicles I only learned about somewhat later). As a teenager, I didn’t know where babies came from. I didn’t know what an erection was.

I’d like to write about how always being taught that women were inferior, passive participants in sex and that men were ravenously hungry for women’s bodies contributed to my rape fantasies and a hard to shake addiction to degrading, humiliating rape porn (I hate it, but guess what? I’m turned on by thinking about men hurting women. Don’t tell me Christian culture respects and honors women. I know where I first learned to think this way). I never in my life imagined myself enjoying sex; instead, when I thought about it, I thought about being forced into it. (Amazingly my SO and I share a pretty healthy relationship, but it’s a miracle given that I always suppressed and distorted my fantasies in such a hideous way).

I’d like to write about the time I almost talked myself into marrying a guy because I thought having gotten close to him meant that I’d given a part of my heart away and that I’d be defrauding him if I walked out. Oh, and that I would fall in love after marriage. Even though I wasn’t attracted to him. At all.

I’d like to write about crying after kissing my first boyfriend asking if he could still love or respect me even though I was so “cheap.” About how I wondered if we broke up, if anyone else could love me when I’d given my first kiss away to someone else.

I’d like to write about how hard I find it to refuse my SO when it comes to our physical relationship. I was told that men can’t stand it when their advances are rejected, that it damages their egos terribly, that a woman’s job is to make him happy. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing something, and I know he’d listen if I said “no,” but I can’t say it, because I was told that once you have that man, you must never, ever tell him “no.” I can’t imagine the hell I would be in right now if my SO didn’t respect me and my body.

I want to write about how I feel like my loving parents raised me to be someone’s sex slave. What if I had married that first man? And didn’t feel attracted to him? But could never refuse him? And he was in charge of all our decisions? Including birth control decisions?

I want to scream.

13 comments

  • sounds like a narrow escape girlfriend! i think you should celebrate it like a re-birth-day! i would

  • I had a similar near escape. My parents told me almost nothing about sex and the Christian School I went to told me nothing either. I was given Josh Harris books by my first boyfriends parents and almost fell for the giving your heart away BS. I’m married to a great guy now but it scares me to think what almost got into.

  • Much Thanks ! All of your stories shared on this web-site are so ‘ Heart – Felt ‘ , Bold & Brave ! We Home – Schooled my daughter , K – 12 , with Conservative Christian families . Ignorance seemed like Bliss , i can see it wasn’t ! I’d , mostly unsuccessfully ,Build Bridges to these kids . My daughter had empathy for her classmates she’d try to befriend . So sad to see much of my Secular Invitations seemed received with ‘ Mind – Body – Spirits ‘ of people with ‘ P.T.S.D. ‘ ! Sinful when even invited to a school dance ! Yearnings seemed to heap ‘ Guilt ‘ onto the ‘ Sin’s ‘ !

  • Yeah, you’re not the only one.

    All the feels, Michal.

  • I’m starting to wonder if it’s even possible to be female and come out of conservative Christian homeschool-land with a healthy view of sexuality. I know I didn’t (there were also my mother’s projected issues and sixteen-year-old me’s discovery of fanfiction mixed in there, but cultural emphasis on Purity didn’t exactly HELP). I know most if not all of the girls I grew up around didn’t. It’s feeling more and more like a no-win scenario, and I completely relate here.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Not just “Conservative Christian Homeschoolland”.

      In such an eroticized society as we have these days, I don’t think it’s possible to get to adulthood without getting screwed up sexually one way or another.

      “Conservative Christian Homsechoolers” are just as screwed up as everyone else, just in a different direction. And Conservative Christian Homsechoolland is just as eroticized, just in the opposite direction.

  • I didn’t come out of it with a healthy sexuality, but I think I have one now. It is possible to recover and enjoy things in a balanced way without guilt.

  • What happened to you is heart-breaking and my heart goes out to you. I am so glad you are healing, and that you were brave enough to write this! I hope one day you will be able to comprehend that what happened to you was not a “Christian culture” experience or homeschool experience, but rather an experience of oppression from an extremist camp. Any culture can become oppressive when power is not shared. This happens in secular and atheist settings and in every religion. It is a human condition problem that is not exclusive to Christianity and homeschooling, although Christian homeschooling was certainly vulnerable to the exploitation of power-seeking oppressors. Not every Christian homeschooler had your experience. You and all the kids who suffered similarly deserved so much better! I hope the rest of your story is one of healing and freedom.

    • I think that it is stating the obvious and rather dismissive to say “not every homeschooler”. We know that. We’ve been told thousands of times. But it’s ignorant to imply that the homeschooling culture we grew up in was not to blame for this shaming, non-consensual, unhealthy view of sexuality. And you don’t have to put Christian culture in quotations marks, like a christian culture doesn’t exist. It does exist and there are obvious coherent threads and teachings that are a vital part of it. Unhealthy, non-consensual, male-dominant sexuality is one of those.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I think that it is stating the obvious and rather dismissive to say “not every homeschooler”. We know that. We’ve been told thousands of times.

        Up to the point of the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

    • Thank you Darcy.

      I wasn’t homeschooled, but was brought up Catholic and went to private school until the 8th grade, and lemme tell you, the Christian culture we were brought up in was pretty similar. It’s not just an extremist camp of a few nutjobs, it’s all encompassing and affects almost all Christian families in varying degrees. I think Jenny means well, and she’s right about powers not shared being abused, but I hope someday she’ll learn learn for herself that the structure and bureaucracy of the Christian faith has many flaws.

  • How very sad. I’m so glad you’re able to identify these things and work your way through them. Best of blessings to you as you continue your journey to a new you.

  • “I’d like to write about how always being taught that women were inferior, passive participants in sex and that men were ravenously hungry for women’s bodies contributed to my rape fantasies and a hard to shake addiction to degrading, humiliating rape porn (I hate it, but guess what? I’m turned on by thinking about men hurting women. Don’t tell me Christian culture respects and honors women. I know where I first learned to think this way). ”

    Having parents that also gave me a book and didn’t say anything more, consent wasn’t something that was emphasized at home as a result. Essentially we were taught that boys/men make advances and we were to refuse them until marriage period, regardless of our feelings on it. I don’t think this was their intention, but what I gathered from it was just as you said, we were supposed to be passive participants, never starting anything but always finishing it. I find it hard to start romance with my husband, the only man I’ve ever been with, even though I love him to death and credit him with helping my mental health a lot. It bothers him that he has to initiate all the time, and I have been trying a little harder recently and I explained why, but I don’t think he understands it completely. He expected me to go wild and crazy after we got married, but it never happened.

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