The nastiest of abuse is when you’re stripped from your own femininity; when the very thing that makes you a woman is used against you; when you are promised safety and suddenly you’re in for a blow.
Abuse is never pretty. It is about ignoring the humanity of the other, degrading them into an object to be toyed with, kicked around and thrown away when it gets boring.
If your date calls you a slut you don’t ever see him again. If your boyfriend rapes you in the first month you don’t stay with him, you go to the police and report him. If your partner of two or twenty years calls you a slut… or assaults you… what do you do?
Abuse doesn’t start as direct insults or sexual assaults. It gets there slowly… almost unnoticeable, so subtle that it’s hard to see how burning red the flags are. Until all you see is the red flags enveloping you and suffocating you, never letting you go.
We were two consenting adults having sex. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We were both adults, we wanted each other, there were no obstacles.
We experimented. We talked dirty. We did role-plays.
He called me ‘good girl’.
He didn’t make me call him ‘daddy’ but he called me ‘good girl’. And it was hot. He used it on his own terms, meaning whenever he felt like, he would call me this way, to express power over me, to make me obey him. And I did. And I liked it. I am leaning towards being submissive and he has always been dominant.
He had a way of saying it that melted me and there were countless times when this tipped me off to my orgasm.
Until he started to use it against me.
I remember how it started. I told him one night how sexy I found it and how it really turned me on when he said that.
And that was it. This sentence was enough for him to take my pleasure away from this point on.
Before I told him how I enjoyed it, he thought it was his word to use me and manipulate me to obedience. When I joined the fun, the source of my pleasure had to go.
This is how the sexy ‘good girl’ morphed into an abusive ‘good girl’.
This is when our circular conversations focused on my distorted sexual morals. Narcissistic people tend to use word salad — talking and not saying anything, drowning you in lengthy and excessively verbose sentences, confusing you with ill-fitting logical twists, surreal reasoning and endless repetition.
I consider myself mood disorder free, with a standard brain — and thus all I wanted was to make some sense of what he was trying to say.
He was saying one thing with thousands of words: that I was a slut.
Slut, whore, damaged goods, a worthless hole, a disgusting orifice.
He hurt me with words regularly. He hurt me sexually and physically too. Too many times.
And the trauma he caused is difficult to heal.
I was called fat, and I was called ugly. I can lose weight, get fit, wear nicer clothes, change my style, colour my hair, learn to do better make-up, hell I can go to plastic surgery and change me completely. Not to please him, but I have been getting fitter and dressing better, after I was allowed to. He didn’t like me dressing up, he was way too jealous. And he would have liked me even fatter, as that meant to him that no one else will want me.
I was called stupid and obnoxious. I could change the way I speak, I could get smarter (jeez that wouldn’t be too good, I am already smarter than most of the men I know. I should tone it down rather.) I can convince myself that he was the one who was stupid and obnoxious.
But he called me a slut. And it’s difficult to let go.
Up to this very moment female sexual liberation is very much in its infancy. We are getting better at destigmatizing sexuality, but the harsh reality is that the classic double standards still linger: While men are praised for having sex with a lot of people, women are shamed for it. That’s wrong on so many levels, but in principle, it means that no matter how far we have come, we still have an even longer way to go before an attitude of sexual acceptance and celebration truly becomes the norm.
The worst is the case for the number of sexual partners, but women are judged and stigmatized for being sexually open, for being eager or horny, for wanting sex without a relationship.
In my case, I was judged for even wanting sex within our relationship, as it was a clear indication that I wouldn’t be able to keep my panties on.
Being a good girl became an insult. It was thrown at me at random moments, tweaking my sentences, taking my words out of context.
He expected me to be the Virgin Mary and the most experienced hooker at once.
His favourite sentence was that guys want a good girl who is only bad to them. While girls want a bad guy who is only good to them.
He always said that I should have married my first boyfriend — as that’s what good girls do.
I internalised his abuse, I believed that I was a slut. I apologised for it, I told him I was ashamed and I regretted it. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t go back and unsleep with my boyfriends in my twenties. I couldn’t undo my past.
Then he left me and he came back and left me again and then I ran. And then it was over. And I wasn’t over it. I wasn’t over my own slutty past, I wasn’t over my number, I wasn’t over my behaviour. He brainwashed me into an internalised misogynist monster who kept shouting the same stupid sentences at my reflection in the mirror.
I told myself I was worthless, fat and ugly. I told myself what he taught me: that no one will ever love me again, and no one wants a slut. He stayed with me after he was gone, in my head, as a shrieking hateful voice. He pinched my belly with my fingers and hissed at me with my lips how my fat body is disgusting. When there was no more fat to pinch, he told me with my own mouth how ugly my skin is.
And when I felt it was time to start dating again and eventually have sex again with someone new, he made me self-conscious about my taste, my smell, my sizes — everything. I didn’t have to invent any insults, he told me everything before.
How do you get out of it?
Therapy, friends, casual dating was my combination of choice. And an awful lot of journaling, affirmations, self-reflection.
I’m still not there. Not where I want to be. But I know where I don’t want to be, and that’s progress. I know what I don’t want.
I don’t want to be a good girl anymore. I don’t want a label of good when I don’t agree with the meaning of good. I don’t want to be shamed for wanting and enjoying sex. For getting horny, for asking for sex, for initiating it. For getting naked with someone and enjoy their body.
I don’t want to not have sex until I am sure I found the one who will want to stay with me forever. Because that one might or might not exist and I might or might not meet them. I sure hope I will, but I can’t be sure.
I don’t want to settle for boring to ease someone else’s disturbed mind. I don’t want to keep silent about my needs or about my pleasure just because… good girls.
I am not a good girl to anyone and I don’t think that any mature guy (or girl) would want a good girl in bed. I wouldn’t want that. I would rather have a good fuck. A good orgasm. Or two. Okay, make it three. And a good night.
Just don’t ever call me a ‘good girl’ and then I might even be nice enough to bring coffee in bed if the night was that good.