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The Toll of FAAB on FAAB Childhood Sexual Abuse

This is a guest post by Wiley R. Wiley R. uses female pronouns and masculine honorifics. She sporadically dispenses gems of wisdom on Twitter.

This is a highly subjective account of my experience with FAAB on FAAB childhood sexual abuse. Trigger warning for detailed account of abuse. In addition, I want to emphasize that this piece is explicitly about *my* process, and I will be focusing on outlining the difficulties I encountered in my recovery, and discussing what I believe could have helped me heal more quickly and fully.

When I was about fifteen my cross-country coach was accused of child molestation. The girls he was accused of molesting looked like me–blonde, blue-eyed runners. I was confused and angry about the whole situation, and I remember asking my mother why I wasn’t targeted. She responded that predators can tell when a child is properly looked after, and that they avoid those children. She said that Mr. Vespie* could tell that I had a mother who was my fierce advocate and that no one would come after me because they knew she would come after them.

That answer was bullshit. I had been experiencing sexual abuse for several years by the time the cross-country scandal came to light. My mother had done nothing. Her “protectiveness” had not prevented me from being targeted. In fact, it was her “protectiveness”that kept me from feeling like I could talk to her about what was happening to me – because it was happening at the hands of my romantic partner.

I have struggled with convincing myself that what happened to me was actually abuse. I feel like I can’t trust my own feelings. I feel like I need external validation that a 17 year old having sex with a 13 year old – and a 17-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old without talking about it first — is abuse. There is a vocal portion of society that would laugh at the idea that a 17-year-old lesbian could really rape the 13-year-old she was romantically involved with. I’ve had friends call it “surprise sex.” And it was. It was a surprise to me that I was suddenly having sex, without having agreed to it. It was not a pleasant surprise.

Another reason I have trouble believing that I was victimized is that I’m a liar. My version of the “truth” of what happens to me is occasionally incompatible with facts. I was beaten and manipulated by my parents as a child, and the result of that abuse was that I became a liar. It was a survival tactic–if I could pin mischief on my younger sister, I didn’t get beaten. But even when I didn’t get beaten, telling the truth often resulted in a disgusted reaction or the silent treatment. Or both. When Adrienne first kissed me, I excitedly told my mother, expecting her to share the joy of the moment with me. Instead, she disgustedly told me that she “didn’t think that was a good idea” and then didn’t speak to me for several days. I never willingly told her anything about my romantic relationships again. Conversely, when (at age eight) I told my mother a friend of mine kissed me with tongue and then asked me to get naked so we could have sex, she didn’t believe me.

Later on, I used lying as a coping strategy to get sympathy or help. My parents’ abuse rarely left marks. Much of it was psychological, and some of it, like forcing me to eat my own vomit, was physical but impossible to prove. In order to garner sympathy, or get authority figures to pay attention to my pain, I had to come up with believable accounts of abuse that simultaneously seemed possible and clearly demonstrated abusive behavior. No one believed me when I told them that my step-mother once punched me in the face for failing to heat up baked beans, but they did believe that my dad whipped me with a belt. So, I lie. I lie to myself, and I lie to everyone else. That makes it very difficult for me to trust that I am remembering my abuse correctly. I am not a model survivor. I am not a reliable witness, even to my own life.

The MOST confusing part of my recovery process, however, has been dealing with the fact that I was very sexual at 13. I wanted Adrienne. I liked it when she kissed me and I was interested in doing more. It has been and is so hard for me to call what we did rape, because I did want her, sometimes. It seems so strange, but I do have to remind myself that it was rape because there was no consent. You would think that I, the protagonist of the story about not consenting to sex, would be able to confidently assert that I’d been raped. But I have never written those words down before this piece, and I have never spoken them aloud. Even though I have been participating in the feminist blogosphere for years, I am still struggling with so much internalized shit about which survivors are the right kind of survivors that I failed to name my own assault.

When I do tell people about my first sexual experience, I tell two different stories. I tell most people that I lost my virginity when I was thirteen, in a trailer during school hours. I tell it like I was a badass, like I had agency. The other story is a little chillier. I had cut class and was making out with my girlfriend in an abandoned trailer behind our school when she abruptly asked me if she could “try something”. I said yes, and she went down on me. I was wearing a bathing suit, since my parents had not paid enough attention to my five brothers and sisters and I that week to realize that most of us were out of underwear. She twisted it to the side, which was uncomfortable, and what she was doing with her mouth was uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to react, so I stayed still. I have no memory of anything that happened the rest of the day except that my best friend was frantic with worry that I had missed four classes. It would be ten years before I had my first positive experience with oral sex. I mostly told my partners that I “just didn’t like it,” and, since thinking about it made me squeamish, never really delved into why I disliked it so strongly until I was in my twenties.

When I talk about my abuse, I often highlight losing my virginity non-consensually because it seems like the most obvious act. It seems like the one that is most clearly abusive and not just a slightly weird relationship dynamic. But the abuse continued for years. I dated her for two years and slept with her into my freshman year of college. She was a weird person all-around. She did things like pretend she was dying of cancer when I said I wanted to see other people. But the sexual abuse, I think, has had the greatest lasting effect on me.

Once when we were making out in her car (I was fourteen, she was eighteen), she climbed on my lap and started grinding on me, which scared me because it was so overtly sexual. I didn’t have the desire, yet, to handle her desire. She was using me to get off and I felt no corresponding level of arousal. I was embarrassed and I didn’t know what to do. And I didn’t feel like I could ask her to stop, partly because I didn’t want to discourage her. I didn’t want her to think that she was bad at sex or that I didn’t like or want her.

Later in high school we started smoking pot and taking pills together. That, naturally, complicated things. I developed a sense that I owed her for the drugs she’d get me, so I’d sleep with her. Once, Adrienne came to visit me at college, for my eighteenth birthday. She brought me some amphetamines, about $100 worth, which was a lot of money to me. She didn’t ask me to fuck her in return, but I felt like I had to. So I initiated, and she very roughly fucked me, despite my turning my head away when she went to kiss me, and despite my whimpers of pain. I bled all over my sheets, and couldn’t fall asleep. So I put the sheets in the wash and put Adrienne to bed in my twin bed with clean sheets, and went for a run, still high. And then I took her to the dining hall to get breakfast and introduced her to my friends.

As a result of my environment, both my home life and my abuse, I developed a sense of self that completely depended upon being sexual available and sexually skilled. I still struggle with this. I truly, deeply believe I do not have merit beyond my ability to fuck. I feel a great deal of bitterness towards my mother, who created a home environment in which the only thing that mattered was my performance in school. If she read this she would accuse me of exaggerating, but she gave me the silent treatment when I didn’t do as she expected me to do in school, and punished me by removing me from activities I really loved and needed (like sports and music) when my grades fell. Unfortunately, traditional education has never been an environment in which I excelled, so I was left to find another source of worth. Adrienne gave me an easy answer: my body. And specifically, how often and how well I could have sex. After a while it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was only worthwhile as a sex object because I was stupid and lazy and had no other talents, and I didn’t develop other talents because I was stupid and lazy and only good for sex. To this day I have trouble developing close relationships with people without sleeping with them. And I frequently feel compelled to sleep with people I like or admire as a “reward” for being nice to me, or smart and funny, or just paying attention to me.

This is the story of my rape. I want to share it because we don’t talk enough about FAAB on FAAB rape. We don’t talk enough about rape within relationships. We don’t talk enough about child-on-child rape. We don’t talk enough about what happens when a child is sexual, and what it feels like to want and love the person who is raping you. We don’t talk about what it feels like to solicit the act that turns into rape. I want to share this story because my mother did not protect me by being “a fierce advocate.” I want to share it because the facts of my rape are not cut and dried. I am not a perfect victim. I am a lying, promiscuous, queer drug user. But nothing about my background, or my age, or my consenting to other sexual activities with the woman who raped me make it any less rape.

I’m not interested in identifying the conditions that “caused” my rape. I am at peace with my rapist, whose behaviour, I’m sure, was influenced by her abusive home life. But I am very angry about a few things. I am angry that as a thirteen year old who was already a sexual being, I had no access to information about intimate partner violence. I am angry that I was made to feel ashamed for my sexuality to the extent that I *still* have not told my parents that I was abused, because I’ve never actually told them that I am sexually active. I am angry that I believed for years that it was my fault that I was raped, and that nobody explained to me that children are not responsible for their abuse. I am angry that I had no one to guide me through exploring my sexuality in a healthy way. I am angry that I’m an adult who experiences intense depression and rage when I’m sexually rejected, because sex is still a power game for me.

I want to change the cultural narrative. I want children to be recognized as sexual beings. I was denied information that could have helped me handle an unsafe relationship because my parents didn’t want to deal with my sexuality. It seems so cliche to say that I’ve been failed by the system, but I have. As I was beginning high school, starting the process of figuring out what path I wanted to take in life, I was sucked into an unhealthy relationship that struck such an enormous blow to my self esteem that I struggle with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness ten years later. Not a single adult in my life helped me, not my parents, not my teachers, not a coach or babysitter or mentor. Adults, especially those who work with children, need to wake up and prepare children for the process of navigating their sexualities. Because young children *are* having sex, and denying that only hurts kids.

*name changed


56 thoughts on The Toll of FAAB on FAAB Childhood Sexual Abuse

  1. Thank you for writing this. When I was a virgin at 16 and had never done anything sexual I got initiated by a 21 year old male and had a subsequent two year relationship. I understand everything you wrote. We do, we so deeply and desperately need to find better ways to help kids avoid being preyed on in this way- and understand family dynamics they are dealing with that are hurtful to them and how to get access to positive relationships and self worth.

    I was bad at school also and my parents also didn’t see me as having functional worth, other than they let me live with them and still loved me even though I was bad and total failure and would never be good enough for the world until I became good at school and doing what they wanted.

    We need to help kids who are not good at school find ways to value themselves and feel secure about contributing even if they do not have the skillsets that allow them to do well in school (and offer better assessments for executive dysfunction, variations in cognitive functioning, etc etc and mentoring and ongoing assistance with building areas of gap in skill sets).

    We need to acknowledge that not everyone is good at school and that even people who are not good with ceratin tasks associated with school can still have skill sets they can contribute with and deserve to find a profession that they can earn a wage that could support themselves and a family.

  2. And truly, no one should feel like their only worth is in giving sexually. And I know, I feel it too. I think innately as humans we want to give. When someone is kind to me I feel like I should give them sexual intimacy because after all I’m already all sexually wacky and it’s all I have to give.

    It’s a terrible way to feel.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. I asked him to fuck me. But then it hurt, too bad, and I asked him to stop. He didn’t. I’ve been in hell inside for years, thinking I should have done more. We do need to talk about this more. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for this. I lost my virginity non-consentually as well (I can’t bring myself to call it anything else yet), but this brings me one step closer to adequately naming it. And I never had the language to describe what happened to me- the dual stories you mention are similar to my own. I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to reconcile them, but it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there who can identify. Not to imply that i’m glad it happened to either of us, of course.

  5. “We don’t talk enough about rape within relationships. We don’t talk enough about … what it feels like to want and love the person who is raping you. We don’t talk about what it feels like to solicit the act that turns into rape.”

    THIS. Thank you.

  6. This post was beautifully written. I identified so much with your experience of not trusting yourself because you know you have been a liar. I still find myself wondering, sometimes, whether what I have been calling rape–never reported, mind you, and only even mentioned to one or two friends–was really so cut and dried, since I lie to myself (and others) too often. I don’t speak up because of that fear, and I admire you so much for doing so.

    As a (queer) service provider for at-risk youth, the way this piece ended,

    Not a single adult in my life helped me, not my parents, not my teachers, not a coach or babysitter or mentor. Adults, especially those who work with children, need to wake up and prepare children for the process of navigating their sexualities. Because young children *are* having sex, and denying that only hurts kids.

    was very difficult to read, but it cuts straight to the heart of a serious need. This is such a struggle for my colleagues and me, because working where we do (deep-red state) we could lose our jobs if we talk about sexuality with our kids. Even just talking to them about contraception/protection is a risk, let alone discussing the vast spectrum of sexuality. And yet they need this information so desperately. I have definitely broken the rules from time to time, but I simply can’t talk about sexuality clearly and consistently with my kids without putting my job at risk.

    The need for sex education and pro-choice policies in the states goes way beyond the basics, “can we teach this class,” or “can this girl get the abortion she needs.” It deeply impacts what sort of care, and what quality of care, people who serve the most needy are able to provide.

  7. Thank you for your bravery in telling your story. Like so many others, I was molested and it affected my sex life dramatically, especially being so young. It’s so hard to deal with a loved, trusted person when they are the source of our pain. Good luck.

  8. My thanks as well for posting this story; I hope seeing it all written down is more of a healing experience than a painful one.

    I too have struggled for years with behavior patterns related to early sexualization. I had sex with more people between the ages of 14 and 16 than I have in the years since then. And the lines of consensual/non-consensual got pretty blurred for a while there. It’s really validating for me, though, to see that I’m not alone in the experience of wanting someone yet still being violated by them. What a complex emotional shitstorm.

    I hope you continue to heal and find happiness.

  9. Thank you, you spoke directly to my heart.
    This may sound strange since I’m a het woman who only ever had full con sex starting above age eighteen: what got me was the lying to the point you start doubting yourself, and its connection to childhood abuse. Lies are the only way a child can protect themselves againsttheir parent(s).
    Bonus points for not all abuse being physical, or visible. I was forced to eat my own vomit once, and I still didn’t mind it so much as many things I was *told*.
    I do remember feeling very sexual at thirteen. Teenagers are NOT children the way six year olds are. They often have sexual feelings, sometimes strong. Thank you for speaking out on their behalf.
    Onegood thing about being a teenager now: information is there, online. I make suremychildren know which sites I consider trustworthy and learn to think on their own, but otherwise,they’re free to explore.
    Thank you,again.

  10. Thank you, you spoke directly to my heart.
    This may sound strange since I’m a het woman who only ever had full con sex starting above age eighteen: what got me was the lying to the point you start doubting yourself, and its connection to childhood abuse. Lies are the only way a child can protect themselves againsttheir parent(s).
    Bonus points for not all abuse being physical, or visible. I was forced to eat my own vomit once, and I still didn’t mind it so much as many things I was *told*.
    I do remember feeling very sexual at thirteen. Teenagers are NOT children the way six year olds are. They often have sexual feelings, sometimes strong. Thank you for speaking out on their behalf.
    Onegood thing about being a teenager now: information is there, online. I make suremychildren know which sites I consider trustworthy and learn to think on their own, but otherwise,they’re free to explore.
    Thank you,again.

  11. Thank you for your honesty. I have a birthmark on my neck which looks like a hickey, and I endured unwanted sexual attentions from grown men during most of my childhood. These men believed that my father had bitten my neck, and that meant I was available. The situation was compounded by the fact that his heroin-addicted second wife, who abused us severely and physically, attempted to pimp me for drug money and I would go to my dad for help to stop the sexual advances.
    He eventually decided I was lying about the advances, because they were so frequent, although I was not. It took years for both of us to see the problem for what it was.
    The attentions from “old men” have made me quite disgusted with men my own age, now that I am well into middle age.

  12. Thanks for writing this–it really underscores how learning about sexuality goes way beyond the physical. My kids are young, but I want to do a better job with them than the education I got. I’m thinking that scarleteen is a good resource for me and them–do you have any opinions on that kind of thing (good organizations, books, web sites, etc.)?

  13. Author here.

    Everyone, thank you for your comments. I’m sorry so many you have had similar experiences, and grateful for your kind words.

    Jennifer, where kids get information, in my opinion, is less important than that the info is medically accurate and delivered completely without shame. Planned Parenthood is a great resource. Any pamphlets or classes or anything they have is liable to be excellent. Scarlateen is a decent supplement to factual, inclusive sex ed, but I wouldn’t use it as a primary source. Another important thing is to have a doctor who is comfortable discussing ALL aspects of sexuality–such as anal sex, STDs, partner violence, sexual dysfunction, etc…without judgement. I’d say kids need to start seeing a sex-savvy, non-judgemental doctor right around puberty.

    The most important aspect of keeping kids sexually healthy is letting them know that you will be proud of them no matter what and that they can come to you for accurate information, help, or just to share the joy of a first crush. If kids learn about sexuality without shame, they are more likely to have safe and fulfilling sexual relationships. I’m really glad you care enough about this to ask! Rock on.

  14. I’m really grateful for your post. My experience was hetero, and the “relationship” with the 17 year old boy only a few months long, but in many other respects very similar. I’m currently struggling to define/name it for what it was, which was non-consensual, and abuse. I know if a friend told me my story I’d tell her that she’d been raped. I don’t know why I have such a hard time allowing myself the freedom to use that label to describe what happened to me.

    I also experienced abuse at home, and lied like a damn rug whenever I felt it would prevent another attack. I feel no guilt for that. Adults who hurt children shouldn’t be surprised when those kids lie their asses off to save themselves from more abuse. Once I found safer places, it’s amazing how easily honesty came to me.

    So, again, thank you. Thank you so much.

  15. @ Jennifer:

    I actually enjoyed Gurl.com up through college. Their sex-ed and body ed sections are pretty good and surprisingly LGBQ friendly. Not much about Trans or Ace issues in there, if I remember correctly.

  16. WTF with the use of FAAB in this context? Do you mean to assert that trans women don’t have experiences like this?

    Trans* women typically don’t transition into female bodies until they’re older than the ages mentioned in this article, so in this case, FAAB seems accurate. I read it as a sensitive way of framing the often ignored issue of female-bodied children being abused by other female-bodied people, without using language which ignores the fact that there are women who are not female-bodied and female-bodied people who are not women.

    Obviously trans* women can have experiences like this. But the specific experience the author is discussing is largely specific to FAAB people.

  17. This is a guest post by Wiley R. Wiley R. uses female pronouns and masculine honorifics

    To be clear, does this mean Wiley would be ‘sir’ and ‘Mr. R,’ but also ‘she’ and ‘her?’

    Sorry for needing to be educated, I couldn’t find any references to this particular combination in my usual places, and a google search just came back to Feministe.

  18. How is this experience “largely specific” to FAAB people other than the author describing it as FAAB specific? Is there some special way that the experiences like the one that the author describes which are shared by FAAB people are more like each other than they are like the experiences of trans* women?

    There is no universal and distinct experience of women. There is similarly no universal experience of FAAB people.

  19. I don’t want to speak for the author, but I took the focus on FAAB on FAAB sexual abuse to be important because most discussions of sexual assault and abuse focus on male perpetrators (or occasionally on female perpetrators who abuse men). I don’t think she’s trying to claim that there is some universal FAAB experience — the top of the piece specifically says that this is a highly-subjective account and that it’s about her experiences only.

  20. How is this experience “largely specific” to FAAB people other than the author describing it as FAAB specific? Is there some special way that the experiences like the one that the author describes which are shared by FAAB people are more like each other than they are like the experiences of trans* women? There is no universal and distinct experience of women. There is similarly no universal experience of FAAB people.

    And nobody claimed that there was. But FAAB people are far more likely to have female bodies as children than anyone else (because very few people transition as kids). As a result, the problem of female-bodied-person-on-female-bodied-person childhood sexual assault is much more pertinent to FAAB people than trans* women, or men, or anyone who is not female-bodied as a child.

    This should be obvious. Are you trolling?

  21. I usually hate getting into this kind of technical language discussion, but I think that the use of FAAB to describe the targets of the particular kind of sexual abuse that’s being discussed here (children raised female with bodies coded female, regardless of any subsequent gender identity or expression) was both entirely appropriate and trans-inclusive. Because not only are there very few trans women who transition socially as children, there are, to my knowledge, *no* trans women who have ever transitioned medically (not that that would really be possible) or surgically as children. (Another term that could have been used instead of FAAB is AFABARAF — or, from an adult’s viewpoint, WAFABARAF, MAFABARAF, or QAFABARAF– but FAAB is less complicated!)

    I will say, though, that technically speaking there’s no reason to limit the description of the abuser to FAAB people, since a trans woman could, in theory, perpetrate exactly the same kind of abuse on a FAAB child. Not that I’m advocating including them in the description!

    Donna (WAMABARAM)

  22. Just say WBW and be done with it.

    I think you are a troll. This is nothing like “womyn born womyn,” and if you were being honest you would admit it. I’m capable of making the distinction; why aren’t you?

  23. I think you are a troll. This is nothing like “womyn born womyn,” and if you were being honest you would admit it. I’m capable of making the distinction; why aren’t you?

    I’ll ask again: What about the experience described is specific to FAAB people? Why is making that differentiation important?

  24. I believe that both Donna and Justamblinalong pointed out that the experience has to do with the abused body being an abused female body, which, as Donna notes, is rare to non-existent among non FAAB people, combined with the experience of being raised as a girl. You may not think that either such socio-cultural or physical factors are relevant in how a person experiences and processes sexual abuse, but I would disagree strongly.

  25. I’ll ask again: What about the experience described is specific to FAAB people?

    Let me try a different approach.

    Marlene: How many non-FAAB female-bodied children do you know of?

  26. You may not think that either such socio-cultural or physical factors are relevant in how a person experiences and processes sexual abuse, but I would disagree strongly

    I don’t see any of those specific factors illuminated in the OP. That’s what I’m raising as an issue. Aside from the naming of this experience as specifically FAAB specific, I’m not seeing any FAAB specific factor to what is told.

    I’m not saying that there is no such thing as the influence of the factors you mention. I’m saying that they are not described here in any way that makes the author’s experience somehow universally specific to FAAB people.

  27. Marlene: How many non-FAAB female-bodied children do you know of?

    If 13 is a child, then plenty, if female-bodied includes anything other than cis female.

  28. I’d also like to point out that there are FAAB people who have experienced childhood sexual violence informed by that social situation (ie, being a FAAB child), who would not be included by the descriptors women or girls.

  29. Amblingalong, I’m sure there are intersex children who fit your description, but that clearly isn’t what Marlene was driving at.

    Having a discussion about the sexual abuse, by women, of children with female-coded bodies who were raised as female does NOT mean that the people who are having that discussion are lumping trans-female children (that is, trans children who were assigned male at birth and are being raised as male but identify as female) with cis male children. The way I experienced the world as a child who was very conscious of what I wanted to be and felt I should have been (even if I didn’t know the words to describe that state of being) bore very little resemblance — whatever transphobic people may think — to those of cis male children. (Which is one of many reasons why the obsessive focus of transphobes on experiences of “male privilege,” as if people magically go from cis man to trans woman, is so misplaced).

    On the other hand, I freely acknowledge that even though I didn’t have a “boyhood” in anything like the same way that cis boys do (there have been studies closely correlating, retrospectively, the childhood experiences of adult trans people, and the long-term effect of those experiences, to that of people who were severely abused by their parents in childhood, although I don’t like to think of it that way because the “abuse” of making me be someone I wasn’t was essentially unintentional), I also didn’t have a “girlhood” in the same way that girls assigned female at birth who are raised as female with female-coded bodies do, either. (Regardless of how much time I used to spend when I was alone when I was 5 and 6 and 7 trying to conceal my genitals and pretend they weren’t there.)

    Nor do I believe that I when I was, in fact, the victim of repeated sexual abuse in my later childhood and early adolescence by a particular male physician, I experienced and processed it in the same way that someone with a female-coded body would have experienced it, regardless of the sex of the perpetrator.

    My acknowledgement of the fact that my experiences in childhood were different in particular (but certainly not all) ways from those of children who were, in fact, assigned female and raised as girls with female-coded bodies does not, in my opinion, detract in any way from my being female, or a woman, now. (In my personal opinion, part of the meaning of “woman” is living as a woman in this world and being perceived and treated as such, which is why I did not personally use the word “woman” to identify myself until I began spending significant amounts of time a couple of years before my transition in 2005. But I realize other trans women feel differently.) In any event, one thing I have always tried to explain to people is that yes, I got here by a different path from most women — just as lots of women had unusual childhoods — but however I got here, I’m here now, and nobody can take that away from me. And I don’t see this thread as detracting in any way from my identity or my existence as who I am.

  30. Amblingalong, I’m sure there are intersex children who fit your description, but that clearly isn’t what Marlene was driving at.

    I apologize- the way I phrased that was clumsy. I’m glad what I meant was apparent, though. Thanks for pointing that out.

  31. Amblingalong, I’m sure there are intersex children who fit your description, but that clearly isn’t what Marlene was driving at.

    I apologize- the way I phrased that was clumsy. I’m glad what I meant was apparent, though. Thanks for pointing that out.

  32. Author here again.

    I used FAAB because I have a female body but am not a woman. I used FAAB to describe my abuser because I am not in contact with them and do not know how they identify.

    As I said in my disclaimer, this is a subjective account of my personal experience. I am not a trans woman, therefore trans womens’ experiences are not what I am talking about with this piece.

  33. Author here again.

    I used FAAB because I have a female body but am not a woman. I used FAAB to describe my abuser because I am not in contact with them and do not know how they identify.

    As I said in my disclaimer, this is a subjective account of my personal experience. I am not a trans woman, therefore trans womens’ experiences are not what I am talking about with this piece.

    Thanks so much for clarifying that. I’m guessing you probably understand my concern if you look at it from the angle of considering the recent history of “FAAB” being adopted as a term by folks who really do mean “WBW” and their accompanying myth of a shared childhood experience that unites cis women and excludes trans women.

    I get your choice of language, and aside from the possible mis-interpretation I specified (and made myself) I think it works. I’m not sure if there is a better choice of term for your intention, but this is clearly rocky ground.

    Thanks for the hard work of writing a post like this and thanks for your clarification.

  34. As I said in my disclaimer, this is a subjective account of my personal experience. I am not a trans woman, therefore trans womens’ experiences are not what I am talking about with this piece

    Do you think your experience is somehow universalizeable for FAAB people in a way it is not for trans women?

  35. Do you think your experience is somehow universalizeable for FAAB people in a way it is not for trans women?

    This is a highly subjective account of my experience with FAAB on FAAB childhood sexual abuse.

    This is one account of FAAB-on-FAAB childhood sexual abuse. Not every account. The author doesn’t claim to speak for all FAAB children; the author also doesn’t claim to speak for anyone else, FAAB or not.

    We (as a society) don’t speak enough about sexual assault between peers/among minors, and this is one way to broach the conversation. There are many others.

  36. Do you think your experience is somehow universalizeable for FAAB people in a way it is not for trans women?

    Zhe’s trolling at this point. I’d suggest avoiding further feedings.

  37. Zhe’s trolling at this point. I’d suggest avoiding further feedings.

    Yeah. I can see how you’d think that with an earlier comment of mine still in moderation hold-up

  38. This was very cathartic for me to read. If I squint at the details, I could have written this. I had no idea that other victims of young intimate partner rape felt this way. It’s encouraging for me to see another liar grappling with rape. I identify as a compulsive liar, and that’s still a source of conflict for me. If I ever question the truth of my situation again, I can remember that there are other people out there going through the same confusion with the same long-lasting life consequences.

  39. Just to say, I was assaulted by a 21 year old male and not a FAAB. I shared my experience assuming it was appropriate despite the “FAAB ON FAAB” nature of the above post. I see a person of any gender of orientation sharing an experience they feel relates to the authors experience as perfectly relevant.

    I am pretty sure that the majority of people here feel that people of any gender deserve to be included in these conversations, and that this site being a feminist site that focuses on issues relating to female people it naturally involves acceptance of anyone who relates to that identification for whatever reason (their personal orientation/genitals/any other reason.)

    So, any one who is trans, if you do not feel welcome, I would personally like to state I feel that your experience is as valid as anyone elses experience who feels they went through something similar to the original post and would like to share. I could have launched a debate about the fact that heterosexual females can experience abuse at the hands of adult males and that I feel excluded– but I didn’t do that. Because I believe this is an inclusive space.

    And I think anyone who feels excluded by the mention of one persons FAAB on FAAB account is merely arguing semantics rather than assuming it’s simply what it is, one persons account of a particular type of experience that anyone who relates or wants to (of any gender) may share their subsequent thoughts/ideas/experiences in the comments.

    Truly this is a very inclusive place. I hope these semantic issues can be cleared up so that we can get to the important business of simply hearing whoever wants to share their voice.

  40. I also experienced abuse at home, and lied like a damn rug whenever I felt it would prevent another attack. I feel no guilt for that. Adults who hurt children shouldn’t be surprised when those kids lie their asses off to save themselves from more abuse. Once I found safer places, it’s amazing how easily honesty came to me.

    That so succinctly describes my childhood better than I’ve been able to, that I just have to thank you for saying it.

  41. You are most welcome, WHEOhio. I wish that there weren’t so many of us. Apparently there are.

    Oh, and what rox said. I’ve never felt like this was a community that was anything BUT focused on being inclusive while remaining exquisitely sensitive to the intersectionality of privilege. I find it impressive to watch in action, and highly instructive.

  42. I used FAAB because I have a female body but am not a woman.

    Yeah that is complicated, I can’t think of a better way to describe having been in a female body but not a little girl either.

    Another reason I have trouble believing that I was victimized is that I’m a liar. My version of the “truth” of what happens to me is occasionally incompatible with facts.

    I am glad that you recognize how this has been a survival strategy, many of us have been in the same boat.

    I am not a model survivor. I am not a reliable witness, even to my own life.

    You are a *very* normal survivor and you can untangle this. This is one of the ways abuse works. I have been there too.

    I feel like I need external validation that a 17 year old having sex with a 13 year old – and a 17-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old without talking about it first — is abuse. There is a vocal portion of society that would laugh at the idea that a 17-year-old lesbian could really rape the 13-year-old she was romantically involved with.

    Yes, yes she absolutely can and yes it is abuse. Spend some time around 13 year olds, they are children with very exciting hormones but they are children. A 17 year old has a huge advantage in experience, assurance, social skill, sexual familiarity… The difference between middle school and high school(a junior or senior yet) someone who can drive a car, one year off voting. She took advantage of you when you were not only younger but traumatized at home as well which made you an easy target. You need external validation? You have it in spades! Bled all over the sheets? She injured you!! That is horrible. It isn’t just that occasion though, every incident from the very first when she took advantage of you was abuse not sex. Having sexual feelings does not make it sex. Having complicated feelings for your abuser does not make it not abuse.

    Adults, especially those who work with children, need to wake up and prepare children for the process of navigating their sexualities. Because young children *are* having sex, and denying that only hurts kids.

    I see your point but I think you are conflating two issues. You were not having sex, you were being molested!
    Kids having consensual sex with kids closer to their own age is an entirely different issue.

  43. Thank you for writing this.

    I relate “I didn’t know how to react, so I stayed still. I have no memory of anything that happened the rest of the day ”

    My survival strategy was forgetting the abuse, then believing a lie of a perfect family. This makes it so hard to work out what really happened.

  44. Falcon, thank you for your validating words, but I feel the need to point out that I was in high school when this happened and very aggressively pursued my girlfriend. When we had sex and I didn’t want it, that was rape/predatory behavior/abuse. When I *did* want it, it was sex. Ill-advised sex with problematic power dynamics, maybe, but sex nonetheless. That’s the whole point of this piece. Kids need to be educated on how to have healthy relationships because children having sex with other children is a tricky, but inevitable* situation that can be much healthier than my experience was.

    *for some kids, for example: me.

  45. Wiley, the author, has written poignantly about being FAAB having both wanted and unwanted sexual contact with an older teen FAAB during their teen years. If I’m getting this correctly, Wiley identifies in adulthood as being FAAB but not a woman, therefore Wiley now identifies as a trans man. I appreciate very much the opening of our awareness to all areas where teens and adults of every gender identification need help understanding and healing of sexual abuse by any gender of perpetrator.

    The comments have included some volleying back and forth about identity politics, and those identity politics at their best support individual civil rights to be free from bullying as well as free from such social evils as discrimination in housing and employment .

    Our individual life stories are, in a word, individual, but this article and its comments (including Wiley’s) have gone broader into the issues of appropriate education for teens more generally on this important subject. In that spirit, there seemed to one thing missing from Wiley’s account of teen-aged sexual abuse as FAAB that I remember from my own teen-aged experience of sexual abuse as FAAB. Before the MAAB-on-FAAB sexual abuse I experienced as a FAAB teen (now a woman), there was also FAAB-on-FAAB sexual content growing up, mixed between wanted and unwanted contact as Wiley experienced. As statistically the norm for pre-adult sexual abuse, by far the greatest severity and trauma I experienced in fact occurred at the hands and other body parts of MAAB. As FAAB I experienced terror every month my period was late that I would be pregnant, because the MAAB perpetrators were capable via their particular bodies of impregnating my FAAB body.

    In the course of the patterns of multi-perpetrator abuse I did suffer a pregnancy and all of the health risks, costs, choices and consequences inherently mine as embodied FAAB that can only come into play if MAAB (or donor sperm from a y-chromosome human being) has impregnated FAAB.

    We are overlooking an important part of the terror of teen-aged sexual abuse suffered by FAAB when we leave the health risks of pregnancy and/or abortion out of the equation of any discussion about sexual abuse in general, because cycles of abuse and multiple perpetrators after the initiating predator are all too common.

    There is, in fact, a universal and distinct experience of the overwhelming majority of women (all but the rare sterile individuals) who are FAAB. (And certainly FAAB who are unmarried teens are unlikely to know if they fit in that rare category of being sterile.)

    The universal and distinct experience of FAAB is the fear and capacity of FAAB during the lived decades of having menses to become impregnated (by MAAB) with an unwanted pregnancy.

    Initiating patterns of abuse (MAAB on FAAB, MAAB on MAAB, or the statistically rarer FAAB on FAAB or FAAB on MAAB) can predispose victims to encountering additional perpetrators of any gender in later cycles of abuse. Statistically and overwhelmingly, the most likely perpetrators in multiple-perpetrator cycles of abuse are MAAB. From pedophile priests preying on boys to older boys and men abusing girls, MAAB are the usual abusers. MAAB who are sexual predators typically have the biological body-form capacity to impregnate FAAB as a result of MAAB raping FAAB. This is not to minimize the individual experience of anybody in a FAAB-on-FAAB situation of sexual abuse, only to state that FAAB as perpetrator cannot add the additional trauma of pregnancy (or its fear) to the FAAB victim the way MAAB can.

    If we remove from our conversations about teen sexual abuse the universal and distinct experience of FAAB as having the only human bodies on the planet that are at risk of pregnancy in the ongoing cycles of sexual abuse — whatever the body form of the initiating perpetrator — we further marginalize and discriminate against the living context of all FAAB whether or not they later choose to identify as women.

  46. @ Wiley
    Thanks for the clarification. I tend to think in terms of the relationships that start as abuse and continue that way regardless of age. I couldn’t tell about your situation just from the post.

    Great post! I have a girls 13 and 11 and I am working on just the sort of thing you are talking about. They know they can go to planned parenthood and ask questions and read useful things online(like Scarleteen not crap) I am cool with them dating either sex. I am supportive of my trans friends and they(the kids) are happy in their female bodies. They understand about transgender issues and that I am supportive of my trans friends and they are happy in their female bodies. They have all the basic facts about human biology and birth control and a cool big sister to talk to as well as me. So far they think sex is totally icky(I am very glad I don’t think they are ready) but they know I have no weird moral things about it.

    Thank you ever so much for the warning about being so overprotective that they could not come to me with problems. How on Earth do I balance that? A lover their own age would be one thing, slightly older I would be uncomfortable with but could react moderately as long as there was no force or coercion but if the man/woman was a full adult? I would want to kill them and would actually go to the cops. How do I let the kids know that I would protect them but they are safe to talk about consensual lovers?

    My older daughter didn’t want sex til she was older(by 16 it no longer panics me) and took her to planned parenthood and talked about best birth control options and how to talk about how to have really good sex, not just use the he asks you say yes or no BS. I hope that will help sex ed from me that focused on getting what she actually wants.

    I started thinking about this when they were tiny and always told them they could tell people not to touch them and enforced it, no tickling, no unwanted hugs etc. no exceptions for anything but safety. I don’t care about relatives hurt feelings. Your body your consent, even as a little kid.

    Anyone please feel free to jump in with anything you think would help me and the kids.

  47. The universal and distinct experience of FAAB is the fear and capacity of FAAB during the lived decades of having menses to become impregnated (by MAAB) with an unwanted pregnancy.

    yep. WBW. Like I said.

  48. Maybe the issue isn’t that your kids have to feel able to go to you with anything, but that they feel they have a trusted adult to go to with anything who can run interference with them. What if your child doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you about sex and her lovers but does feel comfortable talking to an aunt or a godmother? Particularly if this is an aunt or a godmother with whom you have a good relationship, is that good enough? Or not?

    Even as an adult with a very sex-positive mother, I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to her about certain things, for a variety of reasons. Recently, when I needed advice/info about the morning-after pill, I called my aunt.

  49. If I’m getting this correctly, Wiley identifies in adulthood as being FAAB but not a woman, therefore Wiley now identifies as a trans man

    I don’t think you are getting it correctly, because the “therefore” doesn’t logically follow. Have you never heard of (for example) people who identify as gender queer, and not as either a “man” or a “woman”?

    I also think that sometimes the use of inclusive language — in this case, your reference to the fear of being impregnated by people who are MAAB — can be counterproductive. I haven’t known too many women assigned female at birth who were afraid of being impregnated by trans women, let alone who would have reason to be afraid of such a thing.

  50. @52 Good point. Sadly they aren’t close to anyone other than me and their big sis but it is a great thing if you can manage to find adults for your kids to relate to.

  51. To clarify, they aren’t close to any other adult women who they could talk to about sex stuff. My sister or friends would be happy to help them out if they needed anything but the kids don’t spend enough time with them to feel comfortable. I hope other kids have more people in their lives who are interested in spending time with them. I don’t know anyone who wants to get to know my kids.

  52. @Falcon, sorry I’m coming to this so late, but I just wanted to say it sounds like you are doing an amazing job of preparing your girls for healthy sex lives I didn’t go to my mother for help because she expressed disgust at the idea of me experiencing any sort of sexual thoughts or actions. You have already shown your children that you don’t think sex is disgusting or shameful. That’s the best a parent can do, in my opinion, as well as, obviously, giving them sound sex ed.

    @Jennifer Green, I agree that it’s very important to talk about coercive and unwanted pregnancies in the context of sexual abuse of people who can become pregnant.

    I do want to point out that while it would not be incorrect to refer to me as trans, I am not a man. I identify as genderqueer. Here’s a quick definition of what genderqueer can mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer
    For me, it means specifically that I have never felt like a woman but also do not feel like a man. I have pursued some “opposite sex” transition but not others. I just wanted to give genderqueer people a signal boost, since lots of people don’t know we exist!

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