Was I abused as a child?

So when I was a kid about 6 years old my parents sent me to camp in St. Martin, another island north of Guadeloupe. It was carnival time and everyone dressed up. My fearless camp leader, a woman friend of the family, decided to dress me up as a little girl and may I say that I made a great little girl.

She decided then to parade me on front of all the people around the neighborhood showing off my pretty dress, earrings and make up. The disguise was so convincing that no one believe I was a boy so in order to prove that I was one she would just drop my skirt down and show them my little penis as proof of my gender.

So, fast forward to last year. I created a painting that would hint at this event. Here it is:


I was asked to explain it during critique and when I did. I saw the horrified look on people’s face. I think someone said that it must have been horrible.

The truth is that I really don’t know. When I think back, I remember that I was mildly annoyed but only because I just wanted to go play with my friends and not be paraded around however when I think about it with an adult mind I guess I am horrified which brings me to this point. What defines an actions or feeling, your state of mind then or your judgement looking back. And it makes me wonder about people coming out as adult that seems to be in agony and pain about their past. I wonder if they were in such agony as a child when all this was happening or if most of the psychological trauma comes as an adult looking back at the past and evaluating it with an adult mind.

I hope it’s clear that it is not my intention to belittle people feelings or to make light of child abuse. I’m just raising a question, throwing it out there and see what comes back.

Published by jeanjoel

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8 thoughts on “Was I abused as a child?

  1. Well, it depends… on the cultural context to begin with: in China, little boys have their little dicks hang out their trousers until they are about 3 years old. This is customary, because they are not potty trained yet and when they need to defecate, they can just squat and do it. Their pants have a wide slit around the butt area, so you can see the kid’s butt all the time. This goes for little girls, too, except it can’t be as easily seen when they wear little dresses or skirts.
    In Germany and other northern countries, little kids up to the age of 8 probably, give or take a year, run around naked outside when the weather is hot. Nobody thinks anything of it. I don’t mean, in the street, but in the garden or on a beach.
    And so on and so forth.
    So, if you did not feel abused then, only annoyed because you wanted to rather be elsewhere, and if this woman was not considered a pervert, all is normal.
    Just because we live in a different cultural reference system in the USA, where naked kids on display are easily being qualified as “abused” for “child porn” purposes, does not make it the same in a different culture.
    So you should only look at this incident in its original context of that country and that culture, anything else is artificial.
    I love that painting! Great work! Very strong!
    She’s got it all, lol… am I jealous or what ?!

  2. Je pense déjà que les moeurs n’étaient pas vu de la même maniere à cette époque et cette période de carnaval (non pas que tu soit un vieux JJ), car connaissant le carnaval de SXM pour y avoir résidé quelques années il est vrai qu’il est un peu plus “dévergondé” que les autres que je connais. Et je pense que cela peux choquer certain esprits “puritain”….Je ne cautionne pas pour autant ce qu’il t’est arrivé mais je peux le comprendre une fois remis dans le contexte…

    1. Ouai, mais le point que je voulais faire c’est que petit, je n’avais aucun problem avec cette situation mais en tant qu’adulte et en me rapellant mon passé, je le ré-écris non?…avec les ‘couleurs’ et attributs d’adulte.

  3. Salut toi,

    On a tous nos “petits” secrets. Pour ma part, cela fait quelques annees que je lock-on le nom de quelqu’un, le docteur et “moniteur” d’une colonie de vacances que je frequentais quand j’etais enfant…

    I think that the “child” has a great defence mechanism in “forgetting”, or locking away events he cannot comprehend or manage…
    The reaction one can have as an adult can be blurred by the strength of the experience, the feeling of having been violated either physically or psychologically.

    I don’t know how I would handle that if given the chance to face my own “demons”, but I’m willing to bet I would indulge in painful retribution.

  4. Maybe at 6 years old you were too young to understand and so hurt (emotionally) by what she did to you. Another 6 year old child may have been terribly traumatized by the same treatment. The reality is that your family friend could not have known how it would/would not affect you and so she shouldn’t have done it. Maybe the dressing up part was ok/fun as it was carnival, but going further in the way she did to prove you were a boy … I would say that was a form of abuse even though you didn’t regard it as such at the time.

  5. I love the painting.

    The definition of abuse:
    1. to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one’s authority.
    2. to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one’s eyesight.

    I would say you were abused, as it was non-consensual.

    Victims are those who allow their past to define their current life choices. For instance, I have a friend whose boyfriend in high school put out cigarette on her shoulders, which left burn scars. 20 years later, she won’t leave the house without a cardigan on, even in the summer. I feel sad that she allows that jerk from so long ago to dictate what she wears today.

    A survivor is someone who comes to terms with and owns their past. I think you did a wonderful thing by turning a potentially harmful life event into a work of art. It is healthy to express these things and turn negative into positive.

    Well done!

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