(Trigger Warning) I remember that night. I was sleeping in the living room together with my brothers. We had just watched our favorite TV show in the 1990s and I fell asleep. At midnight, when I was half awake, I saw the face of my uncle in front of me. He took my pants off and started to explore my vagina with his fingers. He opened my labia with a curious face. In the next few minute, I became so scared, as his curious face changed into an expression I couldn’t understand as a 6 year-old. I got up and left him sitting in the living room. I went to my parents and wondered whether it was just a weird dream.
Like many molested children around the world, that day of sexual abuse was my first encounter with sex. Childhood is the age of adventure and curiosity. As I read in a psychology journal, I found that sexual abuse could trigger a child’s curiosity toward sex. I also read that every child naturally explores his or her genital before the age of five, but usually this kind of exploration is harmless. In the case of molested children, however, the curiosity and the exploration are mostly harmful for the child’s psychology and adult sexual life.
What’s in there in my vagina that he was so interested in? I kept the question only for myself. Well, I had a pair of loving parents and wonderful family, but they all saw my uncle as a kind gentleman. During the day my uncle was known as a smart and cheerful adult who taught us the Quran in madrasah. Everybody loved him and I didn’t think that he was a bad person either.
So, there were only me, my curious mind, and my vagina. What’s in it? I tried to touch it and it felt good. I tried to rub it and it felt very good. Then I tried rubbing it in a rhythmic movement for a minute and I got the highest otherworldly pleasure, yes, the orgasm. I began to masturbate when I was 6, when I had just learned how to write and read. And nobody knew. My mother had five other children whom she needed to take care of. So maybe she didn’t notice this abnormal sexual development of his daughter. But I don’t blame her for that.
Since that first masturbation, I became easily turned on by sexual images and words on TV and newspapers. For reasons I didn’t know, I would look for something against which I could rub my vagina. I got addicted to it and deep inside, a voice was telling me that it was not right. As a child, I thought that maybe I had sex with Satan when I rubbed my vagina. I remember the day I turned 7, I promised to God that I would never do it again. But who can resist sexual desire when she already felt the ecstasy?
My social withdrawal also exacerbated my childhood misery. I was bullied by my friends at school. My body was so small for my age and very few people wanted to play with me. I didn’t like to play outside and I preferred to be alone in my room. And what’s in there in my room? My vagina and me. I had millions of sexual fantasies playing in my mind. Orgasm was an escape from rude reality in my childhood life.
As I became addicted to masturbation, my uncle occasionally asked me to come to his office in the afternoon. He said he had something for me. He didn’t touch my vagina though but he kissed me with a sexual drive. I would just stand, thinking what he was doing. I couldn’t differentiate good and bad kisses. My parents never kissed me. I never saw an expression of love from them, not even a hug. But again, I don’t blame them for that.
I didn’t tell this story to anyone until I reached puberty. When I was in first year of middle school, my uncle came to my house. I was alone and he tried to molest me. I refused and struggled to escape. Fortunately, my brother came in and my uncle pretended nothing happened. When my mother was home, I told her everything except my masturbation adventure. She was so shocked and told my father. After some investigation, my parents found out that my uncle had molested several children in my neighborhood. He was subsequently expelled from the Madrasah and ever since he rarely visited our house.
That’s not the end of the story. I continued to masturbate whenever I had a chance. Sometimes I think the orgasm was helpful for my mind as a teenager. Orgasm is good for human health. I had excellent performance in language and some other fields of study. I also began writing a diary to heal my wound in the past.
The guilty feeling visited me sometimes and I asked my mother about it: “Ma, do you know what masturbation is? is it haram?”
Unfortunately, my mother was not comfortable answering my question. She responded dismissively, “I don’t know – don’t talk about something like that.”
She had caught me masturbating red-handedly when I was a child, and told me, “Don’t rub your vagina, you can bleed.” But I never blame her for my fate.
My masturbation frequency decreased in my college years. The best episode of my life. I was busy studying something I really like. The trauma had gone and I began to befriend other people. I rarely had a chance to masturbate in this period of life. It was only the first time I knew that I can feel good about myself without rubbing my vagina. I was loved and accepted the way I was.
*Illustration by Karina Tungari