Many survivors of sexual abuse often work to become very fat or very thin in an attempt to render themselves unattractive. In this way, they try to de-sexualize themselves. Other survivors obsessively diet, starve, or purge to make their bodies ‘perfect.’ A perfect body is their attempt to feel more powerful, invulnerable, and in control, so as not to re-experience the powerlessness they felt as children. Indeed, some large men and women, who are survivors of sexual abuse, are afraid to lose weight because it will render them feeling smaller and childlike. This, in turn, may bring back painful memories that are difficult to cope with.
A patient described how she gained 30 pounds at the age of 8. Her mother accused her of eating too many raviolis at the school cafeteria. She was scared to tell her mother that her uncle was sexually molesting her. Another patient had been abused by her alcoholic father starting at age 7. As a teenager, she binged and made herself throw up before going out with her boyfriend because she felt dirty, anxious, and guilty about her sexual feelings.
Yeah, all that. I said that being felt helped because it made me invisible. Little did I know or understand that I was blaming myself for the sexual assault that happened to me. I was looking for a to not feel or be sexualized. As a fat woman, that still happens. You can still be sexualized. Weight comes with its own problems, mainly that people feel they can openly disrespect you.
I’ve binged. I’ve starved. I’ve purged. I watched my mom purge. My entire life weight has been linked to sexuality. Skinny girls are wanted. When I was sexually assaulted.as a child and as a teen, I was thin. When I turned 16, I decided the best thing to do was gain weight so no one would bother me anymore. So I wouldn’t have to hear men call at me, talk about parts of my body, call me names if I didn’t respond.
Slowly I’ve been killing myself softly with this guilt, with this story, with this song…..