Distorted body image and puberty after childhood sexual abuse

I was 9 when I got my first period. I knew what it meant—I could get pregnant. What I didn’t know is exactly how you got pregnant and if what my brother was doing to me could result in that particular affliction. It terrified me so much that I stayed on my best friend’s white horse all afternoon, bleeding through my yellow and white jumpsuit onto the horse’s back (we rode bareback).

I felt frozen. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone or get down from the horse. I thought that if I got down then everyone would see how the blood had stained my jumper and the horse. It felt like somehow the blood coming out of me was a sign that I was disgusting because of what had happened with my brother. I remember being devastated by this experience. I went home and my Mom brought a small TV up to my room to watch in private because I was mortified and couldn’t face my family. My Mom told my Dad and I felt betrayed and exposed.

When I was 10, I went camping alone with my maternal grandparents in Eastern Oregon. I got my period on this trip and I was so ashamed and embarrassed I didn’t ask for help. Over the course of the week while my grandpa hunted and my grandma watched TV in the RV, I bled through all of my underwear and pants. Even to this day, every time I have my period, it’s like it reminds me I have a body and in that body, my most wounded place is in pain and gushing blood.

As I progressed through puberty, my inner labia changed and got a bit longer. I was convinced that this “deformity” was punishment for what my brother had done to me or for masturbating.

Next, my boobs started to grow. It was pretty obvious from the get-go that they were growing at different rates. By the time they were all the way in, the left boob was three cup-sizes larger than the right one. They were pendulous, not perky like what I saw in the Penthouse magazines I found in my step-grandpa’s coffee table.

When I looked at my naked self, I saw what looked to me like a reflection in a funhouse mirror or a melting wax sculpture, but only one boob and my increasingly chubby belly looked melty and distorted. My freaky boobs felt like some kind of retribution. I believed that if anyone were to see my naked, deformed body they would automatically “know” what had happened to me. I often fantasized about pulling the chub out and just cutting it off with scissors or a knife, just like you might cut off a long ponytail for Locks of Love.

I had no idea that my changing body was completely normal. I was terrified that if I asked for help of any kind someone would find out what my brother did, so I stayed silent and tried my best to find the information I needed on my own.



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