I was probably nine and she was around 14. Everything about my babysitter was sharp. Her eyes, her mouth, her fingers and her bones. Violent and bossy, she was much larger than me and took pleasure in dominating me. She would babysit me through the summer; I often slept over.
On days when we were mostly alone she would pull out her dad's hidden porno mags. Flipping through those pages she devoured the images. I suspect he had VHS's as well. I now understand the enormous roll those images played in my abuse. While the abuse was ongoing there are two occasions that are permanently inscribed onto my heart.
Staying the night. Staying until morning. Where is the sun? At the end of the day her mom would tuck me into bed beside my abuser, turn off the lights and shut the door. Each time I would internally scream for her to leave it open. As the handle turned securely into place a dread washed over me. I was trapped. These sleepovers were the most painful. Her razor edged bones pressing into the soft parts of me - her body hot and heavy on top of mine. Whatever she learned from her dads smutty secrets she would enact upon me. I would lie as still as possible, motionless. Learned helplessness, I think its called. I had no control over what was happening to me, I learned that very quickly. Eyes closed so I didn't have to see her palpable excitement. Lips clenched so that I wouldn't dare let out a whimper. How long would it last this time? How long until I was home with my hidden bruises?
One vividly sunny summer day she was pushing me on the tree swing. It didn't last long when she insisted we go play on her families boat. Once we climbed up and in the large vessel she began her usual routine except this time it was different. She was no longer satisfied with me lying on deck like a lifeless fish. She demanded I "try to get away" and "pretend like you don't want me to". This has had a profound effect on my life. I was confused. I DIDN'T want her to. I wanted more than anything to get away. Following her order I started squirming, fighting back for the first time. Trying to turn over on my stomach to pull myself away she became even more forceful; violent. I was complying to what she told me to do, but I was just being attacked...touched, harder. This reinforced that there was no escape. It also introduced a lifetime of confusion. I can't really explain what this exactly did to my psyche, but it has been the most backwards and hard fought battle of my life.
Growing up after this, I had a distorted view on women. I never took to other girls my age very well. I would much rather have friends that were boys. Girls were not to be trusted. Girls were evil sluts. At 12 years old I began dressing in all black and exploring alternative ways of being and experiencing the world. I became misunderstood by my parents who never had any inclination of my abuse. I struggled with shame and mental isolation. In the 10th grade I started doing drugs; mixing and matching cough medicine and pills. My past abuse caused me to have an abnormal view of sex which also affected my marriage. Since sexual abuse by women is such a taboo subject, I had never heard of any other stories like mine which left me feeling doubly silenced.
I have just recently started to bring my darkness to light. As a conceptual photographer I am starting to use photography as a platform for exploration and healing. I shot these last summer with support from some cosmic souls. "A touch that doesn't fade" is the first in what I suspect is a lifelong unearthing series. I refuse to be shamed or silenced any longer. I am currently looking for therapy for the first time in my life and I am searching for avenues in which to help others. Let's stop the silence together.
Photography by Macie Moon