Dear Jewrotica #1 – Penance

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Dear Jewrotica Feet

Dear Jewrotica, 

When I was sixteen, I was sexually assaulted. A boy I’d known since childhood blackmailed me into giving him head in a synagogue.

I had already been diagnosed with clinical depression when this happened. At the time, I tried to write it off as yet another stumbling block in a difficult adolescence.

My attacker was the only boy who’d shown any interest in me physically. Maybe that was why I kept going back to him after that night. Maybe that was why I eventually let him take my virginity. Because as warped as it was, it made me feel wanted.

Ten years have gone by. I’ve started therapy. I have a loving, understanding boyfriend. Sometimes I’m even able to joke about what happened.

But I know, from looking him up online and from hometown gossip, that he’s led a charmed life since then. And while I’m better than I was ten years ago, I’m still hampered by self-loathing and doubt. I still have flashbacks.

I wonder, now, if there were other girls he hurt. I want to reach out to mutual friends and classmates but I don’t know how.

And even if I was the only one, even if I was “special”…I want people to know what he did.

~Rook from New England

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Dear Jewrotica is an advice column hosted by the Jewrotica staff. We answer questions about sex, sexual health, relationships, romance and other topics as they relate to the Jewish community, culture and tradition. Confidentiality is respected, and we'll do our best to tackle your questions with knowledge, sensitivity and tact.
  • You guys rock. “Rook,” you rock for coming forward with your honest story, pain, and journey as a survivor. STS, DA, AO, et. al. you all rock for giving of yourselves to this site. I’m blown away by the depth of caring you all share.

    • Daniel, YOU rock.

    • I have to tell you that as a guy, this is extremely difficult for me to discuss. I know my response was very cut and dried but his is still a hard thing to talk about. I mean, I have three sisters and many other women in my life that I care deeply about. The thought that a significant number of them have likely been victimized by sexual assault is literally gut wrenching. I read stuff like this: “Why I Talk About Rape” as well as ALL the comments from various women and it just blows me away. And I am far from perfect – I have made light-hearted remarks about rape and shown insensitivity in the past. Hopefully not again in the future, but like I said, I’m not perfect. So… yeah. I thank you for your kind words, but I will keep working on myself and continue to hope for a better world I suppose. As a big, burly guy, I will never be able to relate to just how much the fear and experience of rape affects women, but I will always be able to admire those that bravely confront these issues. Without them, we’ll never evolve as individuals and as a society. Thanks Rook.

  • Miri

    I was sexually assaulted too and like you these guys (plural) showed interest in me so I acted in a similar manner to how you did… Other times there weren’t assaults but because I was too insecure, I ended up fooling around with guys that I didn’t want to fool around with… all because I wanted to seem normal. It turned me on a little but I always knew that they saw me as just a number. Before that time, I had physically liked and romantically fantasized about men but as my teen years went on, my feelings for men nearly disappeared. I became prettier and guys started noticing me more, better guys but by then I didn’t care and I still don’t. I really do want to get married but emotionally I feel very little for men. In fact, they scare me. Every time I go out with a guy, I’m worried, is he going to try something? What will I do? It’s the worst when someone kisses you and you feel nothing for them. Part of why I feel nothing is because I was disillusioned at a young age. When I kiss girls, I feel something and I know rationally, it can be just as physical just as meaningless but my mind creates this fantasy that doesn’t happen when I kiss a guy. When I kiss a guy, it’s just physical and half the time, I’m thinking, why am I even kissing him if I don’t like him that much? I know I’m not going to feel anything. And it’s sad because unlike “lesbians” from birth, I wasn’t born this way. It’s not natural for me to be a lesbian, I’ve had to work at it. I always enjoyed kissing but I never really thought about being with a girl sexually… but I was and yeah it was good but sexually atleast physically I know I’m way more attracted to men, I know that I’d never even look at another girl if it weren’t for my crappy experiences… Atleast you can have a boyfriend!! About taking down this guys life, exposing him, you are definitely not to blame, but is he a different person now? Maybe he is just like you’re not that girl who did those things. Why ruin his life? Maybe confront him if it makes you feel better… tell him how disgusted you are at him for that time but don’t ruin his life, give him a chance to do teshuva.

    • Lady Friend

      Miri, have you gotten the help that you need? Have you been able to confide in anyone in your life? What about male friends? Do you feel close to them?

      I believe in the “sexual attraction spectrum”. I like men more than women, but find women to be more beautiful. That said, I did toy with the idea of being with women (“am I a lesbian?”) when I had negative sexual experiences with my male partner. Nothing resembling assault – it’s just that sex wasn’t introduced in a positive way and I was really small and really tight, so I started associating his penis with hurt and negativity. This made the idea of being with a woman – where there was no “hurting object” (unless you went for a strap-on, I guess) – all that much more appealing.

      Through emotional and physical self-work, I’ve gotten to a point where sex is pleasurable and men can be eroticized again – instead of bringing up my defense walls. If this is what you want, I hope you get to that point too. Either way, I support you and wish you luck. (Hugs)

      • Joseph

        Hope you get the help too!

      • Miri

        I really don’t think I can be helped. I mean – I can’t even date. Guys just want to move way too fast. Even if it weren’t for what I went through, I’m pretty traditional. I have values. I go out with so many religious guys and always feel that annoying pressure. It’s not that I don’t want to have sex. It’s just 1) I don’t trust people 2) I’m religious and to top it off, I don’t even look like a religious girl, I’ve always seen shades of gray and I’m pretty modern in terms of dress. I remember watching romantic movies as a kid and fantasizing about guys, sexually and emotionally. I had all these hopes, maybe too high hopes, maybe I was too innocent, too trusting and when those hopes were shattered, I had to look somewhere else. I remember that I started saying when I was 15, “If things don’t change, I’m gonna become go for girls” and it was so foreign for me but then after awhile, desensitizing it became more natural even though I still can’t get there completely as I’m not a lesbian. Emotionally I can be there but physically, I know just sexually I’d feel more for men. When I say sexual assaults, I mean what the article describes. I’ve never actually had sex with a man although I did fool around with men a lot. Sex never even occurred to me as I just couldn’t get there emotionally because of the things I went through and the way I was treated, although when I did stuff with men I was turned on. I wish I could find a guy who doesn’t think I’m a freak for being a virgin and can see past my f-ed up sexuality and who can also respect where I hold religiously because even if I didn’t have these f-ed up experiences, I’d still hold the same religiously and still be the eccentric, odd ball who doesn’t fit in – even though now you wouldn’t know that as I hide that pretty well, I have a good image and know how to not come across as a mess because sexuality, although a big part of life is not the main part. Maybe I just have to learn how to live without it or become a better lesbian. I hope one day I do find a husband but by the time I work out all these problems, I’ll probably be old. I really want to find a husband while I can still have kids because despite this crap from my past, I’d be a good mom and I have a lot to offer. That might never happen though. I have one friend that’s a guy right now who’s really great. I don’t feel attracted to him but he’s not ugly. I think one day maybe I could be attracted to him but don’t feel he’s attracted to me. I want to find a guy who has a sex drive, who has religious values and who can wait and not make me feel like I have to sleep with him. I can’t date guys for that reason… Eventually I believe if I trusted them enough, if an emotional connection was there, if I could see myself getting married, I”d want to sleep with them. My friend says, “How can you know if you are attracted to guys if you haven’t ever slepped with them”. From the ages of 1-15, I only thought sexually about guys. I just know and I believe I could get that back for one guy – my husband. Maybe all this crap happened, to stop me from turning into a super slut as I didn’t grow up religious but I don’t know G-d’s plan.

  • Banana

    this is such a hard topic to discuss… i admire your willingness and strength to do so.

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