It Set Me on a Path to Betty Dodson's Door

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 10:29
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Over the past 8 years, we've received numerous requests to address sexual abuse here on D&R.

Betty's position is that we've all been abused by the culture by the lack of sex education and the blatant misinformation foistered on teens. I understand why she prefers to side-step the issue completely and focus on pleasure - she wants to create a positive experience where we celebrate human sexuality. She's sick of the fear mongering and that young girls are groomed to be pleasers and victims. Betty wants us to be warriors. I get it.

But as I was going through the comment approval queue this week there was another request for us to talk about sexual abuse. Everything we post here on D&R is written in the first person. We don't want to tell you what choices to make. We simply want to share our personal experiences and let them light your path. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant and feel more grounded than ever that I'm finally ready to share my own experience.

My dad self-medicated his depression with alcohol. One of my earliest memories is running one of my brother's matchbox cars in the groves of my dad's corduroy pants as he lay passed out of the floor. My mother did what she thought was best - she took my dad to church and they were "saved". He stopped drinking but traded one addiction for another.

The church became the center of my family. My parents were extremely active hosting weekly deacon and elder meetings at our home and Sunday church was an all day affair. We took a back seat to their conversion and spent most of our time surrounded by strangers seeking redemption. At a young age, I saw the physical manifestations of sexual repression. Women were the second sex. Children were sexualized. Our behavior and dress were dictated by church officials. Any slight infraction was met with punishment.

As I hit puberty, members of the church started referring to me as "Jezebel". Here I was a virgin being cast as the ultimate Bible harlot. I was attractive young girl and that was enough. In many ways, I can relate to girls forced to wear burkas, demonized for inspiring lust. I really didn't understand what had changed, why people who had watched me grow up now scorned me. I was still a child trying to understand my changing body. All I know is that it made me feel dirty.

It didn't take long before there were casual breast brushes and snickers when you bent down to pick something up. Eventually, one member of my parent's church focused all his pent up sexual frustration my way. He was married and the father of my best friend which intensified the betrayal. I have to say that the physical side of it didn't hurt as much as the emotional abuse. He made me into his girlfriend promising that we'd run away together when I turned 18. I wasn't prepared to fend off a grown man. All I knew was that men weren't questioned and, when they sinned, it was the woman's fault.

Male supremacy and the slut stigma are a lethal combination for young girls. Elizabeth Smart - the young girl taken from her bedroom and held as a sex slave - admitted that she didn't run away because she remembered her teacher saying that if you had sex before marriage you were like a chewed up piece of gum that no one would want. Ultimately, I told my parents offering a shoe box full of love letters he'd written me as proof. My father confronted him, he denied it, and I was labeled a whore...more specifically a "lying" whore.

That whore prism colored everything I did during my teen years. There was no escape. I was isolated, ridiculed, and blamed. It was a virtual honor killing and the whole family participated. I spent so many years consumed by anger, plagued by thoughts of revenge. And when it came to my sexuality I decided that I would be the aggressor. This I'm thankful for - I didn't armor by gaining weight or having a teen pregnancy. I decided to confront my fears and jump right back on the horse. If I was going down as a whore, then I might as well enjoy myself.

There were fiery confrontations with my family - times when we didn't speak for years at a clip. I felt therapy made things worse because I kept reliving the past. Tears didn't help. Rage was pointless. Time went by and I built a new life for myself. I racked up accomplishments...tackled all sorts of challenges...lived enough life for ten people but I was always off balance. There was always this underlying feeling of shame that I couldn't shake off. It was like I had "victim" tattooed across my forehead and there was no way to wash it off.

I realized that I would never make sense of my past. There was no way to put it to bed. What I had to do was to build a new identity for myself. I didn't have to be defined by what some pedophile loser did to me. I didn't have to assume the victim moniker. I had a choice. That was the revelation that set me on the path to happiness and sexual fulfillment.

I wanted desperately to be a successful, shallow attorney but my life path kept bringing me back to sex. And I knew working with women was going to be my future. Creating a safe place for women to learn self love - being able to spend most of my time with someone as wise and generous of spirit as Betty - it was all part of my healing. I learned to let go of my past and create new positive experiences, form new relationships where I wasn't the "whore" or the "victim". And I didn't have to share my past with new lovers. I rewrote my script.

As I replaced bad memories with good memories, thoughts of times past slowly left my mind. I slept better. I orgasmed better. I got better. The bodysex workshops were the final healing. Helping other women overcome negative body image and pleasure anxiety grounded me in a way I almost can't describe. Sisterhood is the heart of our well-being. I learned that division among women undermines our personal growth. It's so smart how the culture and the church set us up to compete with one another. They understand that sisterhood is how we connect to our power. They'd much rather have us chasing our tails playing the slut card then uniting together and having independent orgasms.

Looking back on my life, I'm grateful for what I had to overcome. It made me stronger and more compassionate. And it set me on a path to Betty Dodson's door. Without experiencing first-hand the overt subjugation and castigation of women, I would never understand why female sexual liberation is so important to the progress of our society. Until women have full equality guaranteed by law we'll remain backward, hateful, and paralyzed by fear.

You don't have to be defined by how other's perceive you, how others have treated you. All wounds heal. The scars remain as a reminder of our strength. If I can let go of my past and create a new life for myself, so can you. You're more powerful than you know. All things are possible.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Always strong & beautiful

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:05
NorthLondonHousewife

Hearing about your abuse and the response from your community left me feeling both sad and angry, a little bit sick.

I'm happy that you survived and became stronger, but would wish it had never happened. Please believe that you were always going to grow up to be strong and beautiful, a survivor. You and Betty were clearly destined to find each other.

Do you know whether this man was ever held accountable for his actions? Sadly, you are very unlikely to have been the only child he targeted, groomed and abused.

New follower

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:24
rhonda (not verified)

I appreciate your candidness in such a sensitive subject. I've been following you two exceptional ladies for less than a year. Thank you for the inspiration and all you talk about.
R

"It was like I had 'victim'

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:32
sister and survivor (not verified)

"It was like I had 'victim' tattooed across my forehead..."
I journaled just the same thing when I was struggling to find my strength after being raped for the second time, also at a young age. I too was able to find recovery by taking control of my sex life, by putting beautiful, consensual, empowering memories between myself and the bad memories. Truly, I can only imagine the catharsis of taking part in a bodysex workshop. Now I work at my university as a student advocate for survivors on our campus, and it has been the most fulfilling thing for me.
Always inspired by you, Betty, and any survivor who turn past pain into present passion and strength.

I have been singing the

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 15:33
longtime fan (not verified)

I have been singing the praises of your website to my wife and daughter for years now- this is a perfect example of the strength, courage and power to be gained from your "life-positive" approach to everything.

Thanks for sharing your

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 10:11
Jeffrey65802 (not verified)

Thanks for sharing your story.

I've come to regard religion as 'authorized mass delusion.' Until recently, I was more 'believe whateverr makes you happy' unfortunately it seems religions shoulders a lot of the blame for our generalized misery. Looking into this it seems religion actually thrives on misery as an article on psychologyday.com made mention of. Thinking on this further, I think both religion and government thrive on misery.

Without a constant varied, sometimes unknown threats, a government can't justify itself. Or at least not as the huge behemoth military and police force type. It's I think why there's always crime, and wars, they justify the government that we have. Without fear and violence and aggression there'd be no need for such a massive military, constant wars to 'keep us safe,' and police forces virtually indistinguishable from the military.

We know pleasure inhibits aggression in our brains. We've had that since the mid 70s thanks to Dr. Prescott's work. Yet instead of implmenting that knowledge into society, banning violent entertainments, videogames, junk food, and alcohol, we allow everything that contributes to violence. Whereas we ban everything that contributes to pleasure like cannabis, ecstasy, and sex. Ever heard of a rave turning into a riot? Of course not. Ever hear of a shooting or riot after a rap concert? Yup.

We are caught in a culture which in order to jusitfy itself requires a certain manageable amount of violence and discord. Until the government itself changes, we're never going to see a nation at peace with itself let alone the rest of the world. And as long as we set religion on a pedestal, people with institutionalized mass delusions and bebaviours will continue to plague some from every generation.

I've been raped too

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 05:40
JanetM (not verified)

So few women get through life without some form of sexual abuse. I strongly believe that women being absolutely empowered sexually is essential in both decreasing abuse and healing the victims.
Carlin, you and Betty have been both a revelation and an inspiration to me in the last year or so since I discovered this website. Thanks in no small part to both of you I am the happiest I've ever been (at the ripe old age of 46).
It's a wonder to me how much taking control of your sexual life and ridding yourself of guilt and anxiety at being horny and demanding and shock horror...just like a bloke...in bed can fill you full of joy and strength. Who knew!! Now my orgasms are just as important as his and my goodness, it's fucking fantastic!!!
Thank you both from the bottom of my heart for putting yourselves out there in such a brave and unashamed way. Screw the patriarchy and all that. :)