I was my neighbourhood sex toy….. when I was 6.
It’s funny how our memories work. In the moment my interactions seem so vivid but then as time passes I find myself grasping for shards that now seem so distant in all but my shame.
I carried and still carry with me the shame of being a victim of child on child sexual assault, one of the most taboo and ignored topics under the assault umbrella.
I always wanted to play with the older kinds. I think my grandma knew it was a bad idea. When she would come to visit, I remember her telling me to stay away from the older kids on the street. Women of her vintage just know things. They lived through depressions and wars and solitude with no social media to have them reinvent and forget.
It started out as a game. I would go play with the older kids, and they would make me do things. They'd have me steal things, I would tell lies for them, and take the blame for them. I don't know why I liked it, but I couldn't help but run back to them. What they were up to seemed so much more interesting then dolls and Disney films.
Please keep in mind, that this was the 90’s in white suburbia. Things were different; people kept their doors unlocked, neighbours were friends, and kids played outside all day with or without supervision.
One afternoon that summer while playing outside , the oldest girl on the street came and got me-- she must have been around 12 or 13-- andsaid she had an amazing idea. Her parents were out of town and it was just us and their nanny. I asked her what we were going to play and she said that her brother and I were going to get naked and have sex.
I didn't know what any of it meant; I thought it was just another one of our games. I complied. I went to her house and took my clothes off. She fingered me for a while and then went and got her brother.
She laid us down on her bed and made us rub each other for a while and move in ways she described. Thankfully we were too young to have actually had sex... I doubt a boy at the age of 6 can achieve an erection but for all intensive purposes I thought I was having sex.
We heard the vacuum coming (meaning their nanny was off the soap operas and back to cleaning) which meant the game was over. I had a gut feeling that what we were doing was bad. We all panicked to put our clothes back on and leave the room.
I walked home that day feeling so confused and broken.
There was a period of time where I tried to speak out about what had happened but neither of my parents paid it too much mind. I know my parents love me and so I think that perhaps they just couldn't fathom it, or felt that making a big deal out of this would make things worse for me.
In hind sight I wish they had taken me to talk to someone. Maybe it would have helped me cope later in life.
Anyway, after all this went down I wasn't allowed to play with the older kids anymore, and the truth is I didn't want to either. I knew that what she had done was wrong, even though I couldn't fully understand why.
I vividly remember walking through the halls in grade 3 with a deep, dirty secret and a pit of shame. I would look at all the others girls thinking how pretty they were and how clean they were and how good they were. I bet that they hadn't done what I had. I envied them.
I especially envied straight haired girls. I wear my hair straight now but as I child I had these wild messy curls and I felt that they had something to do with what had happened.
I lived with this shame throughout my childhood, believing I was the girl who had had sex at the age of 6. It was heartbreaking at times and worst of all I had no one to talk to.
There were definitely some moments to follow that really fucked me up.
As I was playing outside one day with other kids, minding my own business, the boy's mother approached me and asked me publicly if her son and I had had sex.
What an awful approach and a cruel thing to ask a child.
I didn't know what to say, so I said no and ran off to play.
Another time a teacher over heard me talking about sex to a classmate, and of course I was punished for it. My parents were called into the office and then they punished me again. I didn't realize it at the time but this was a cry for help that was once again ignored.
Flash forward a few years later when kids at school actually start talking about sex.
SEX, It was like this far-off distant thing you would do when you’re older and married and in love. I remember girls in grade 6 asking me when I thought I would have sex. I was too ashamed to tell them that I (thought I) had already had sex.
In grade 8 I was invited to a birthday party for my friend's older brother. The boy who had been implicated in this strange situation with me was also in attendance. I used to feel very uneasy and nervous when he was around. I never really knew if I could trust him, or if anything would come up. I hadn't seen him in years and had made huge efforts to avoid him and his family. I just knew something bad was going to happen that night.
I wasn't the prettiest child but after puberty hit I really came into myself and started getting a lot of attention from men. I remember some of the boys at the party checking me out and then one of them came up to me and said “ Is it true, did you have sex with him?” I immediately burst into tears and ran to the bathroom.
I remember going home that night and telling my parents what had happened. They acted as though this whole thing was a mix up and then my father had the boy call me to apologize.
And so again my shame was not tended to, and I carried a pit of it with me as I had to enter high school with rumours about me as the first girl to loose her virginity.
Thankfully in high school I made some amazing friends who had also suffered similar traumas. I don't know how, but by god's grace we found one another. We were able to share our secrets and begin to heal each others' souls. For the first time in years, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I started to feel less ashamed of who I was. I could begin to embrace my sexuality as a young woman.
To this day I have never spoken to my parents about any of this. The family I am referring to still lives on my street and they were at my brothers wedding last year. I attempted to ignore them as best as I could but where I’m from its better not to make a scene...just say a polite hello and then get busy and excuse yourself. So although it pained me, thats what I did.
There is a part of me that cant help but wonder where this whole situation stemmed from. I often wonder if their daughter was a victim of sexual abuse, or if their was abuse in the home. I don't know if I will ever get a clear answer but I do know that writing this piece has helped to heal me and I hope that one day I can share this with my mother.
Thank you for listening.
- a girl recovering from shame