Today began as any other normal day might. But what was initially just another day in my generally monotonous life became an unwelcome reminder of my past. There are numerous experiences I have had that very few, perhaps even no people, are aware of. It is one thing to keep dark experiences a secret, but it’s another that they’re so often repressed. I’m only writing this so that I can finally acknowledge some of the shit that has happened, to actually see it on screen in front of me, to force myself to stop ignoring both what has been done to me and what I’ve done to others.
While trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast, I got a notification on my phone. It was an email from “Trump Headquarters” and said I needed to pay a dollar to renew my membership. I laughed because I’m not a fucking idiot; I’m not going to pay to get some useless membership to something I never even voluntarily became a member of. I clicked “unsubscribe” in the email, and it took me to a page where I could manage my account. The profile I had, that I never myself set up, had my name listed as “Friend.”
Afterwards, I went back through my inbox to see if I had missed anything important. I cleared my spam folder, checked promotions, etc. Then I noticed that my “sent” folder, or outbox, had more items than I remembered. I rarely send emails, let alone with this particular account. I clicked on the folder and remembered just how old this particular email was. I had forgotten about many of these things….
I saw that I had be conversing with what were very clearly pedophiles. I didn’t know that then. Probably because I was some pretentious “I’m so mature for my age, I’m such an old soul!” child that it didn’t concern me when grown men were interested in…befriending…me. It was very disturbing to see. I gave strange men personal information. If I could go back in time, I’d slap the shit out of myself. And honestly, that’s a very common sentiment I have when reviewing my past actions.
To be clear, at this point I was age 12-13.
And of course, no mention of myself at that age would be complete without mentioning my boyfriend of the time.
We met via the therian community (which is cringey in and of itself). He was a 17-year-old (later 18) who identified as a demonic wolf, and later, a vampire and dragon as well. I’ll refer to him by “W.” We, somehow, quickly became friends and decided to start a pack* together. Of significance in this pack was a person of about 16-years-old. This person was genderfluid or genderqueer and went by two different names. For convenience and anonymity, I’ll refer to them as “Kay.”
Kay and I had many things in common at the time. They were my friend before my pack member, and didn’t know W until I introduced them to one another. Both Kay and I were into the whole emo thing, Pagan, therians (we even shared a kithtype*), and really big into nature.
Shortly after the pack was created, we all exchanged Kiks (remember when that was a thing? Ha). We had a pack group chat on Kik, but we also spoke to each other individually. Outside of the group chat, W asked if I would be his girlfriend. Excitedly, I agreed. Why? I really cannot say. I honestly don’t remember how we even became friends, let alone what would make me romantically interested in him.
For awhile, everything was fine. But then I discovered W was cheating on me, and with multiple people. Almost all of whom were also members of the kin and/or queer community. Learning this, I decided to shut everything down. End the pack, end communication with them, end all of that. W didn’t want me to leave, and begged for me to come back. Naively, I agreed.
He began claiming he could use his witchcraft to spy on me. He said he knew where I was at all times, and he’d find out if I did something I wasn’t supposed to. I told him to prove it, and he did know my location. At the time, I had no idea that tracking, hacking, and all other kinds of internet shit could be used to do this. So I believed him, and lived in constant anxiety.
At this time, I wasn’t in my hometown. I was in Wyoming. He told me it was a particularly “magikal” place because of all the pioneer deaths and Native American spirits. He claimed there was a “thin veil” between the dead and living in this area, and that as a witch, I was particularly vulnerable. Of course all of this sounds fucking idiotic to anyone who isn’t an easily manipulated, weird preteen. But this just increased my fears.
What was supposed to be wonderful time to bond with my family in a very beautiful region was now a hell hole. I couldn’t sleep. I regularly stayed up until 3:30 am, just trying to calm down and sleep. In the same way that he ruined my time in Wyoming, he ruined St. Louis as well.
I would annually go there on winter break for my birthday with my sister and our friend. It was incredibly fun and I have several positive memories of the trip. However, one such trip occurred whilst I was in this relationship with W.
At this age, I was literally obsessed with hyenas. I previously made it a life goal to see them, and very few zoos at the time had hyenas. St. Louis did, though, and it was supposed to make this trip all the better. Yet when we got there, I was glued to my phone screen. I couldn’t not respond to him. I couldn’t delay. I didn’t want to anger him.
When I went into the Arch, as I had done many times before, I could only think of jumping from the window. I wanted to die. Though I was no stranger to depression at the age, it became increasingly worse, with suicidal thoughts consuming every waking moment.
So, here is where it gets disgusting.
W began threatening me, even if I was incredibly far way. How? With his suicide. If he wanted me to do or say something, he’d tell me to do it, and threaten to kill himself if I disagreed. And, I of course couldn’t let someone I “loved” die.
One such thing he requested were, well, inappropriate photos of myself. Of course. Although he did send similar photos to me so it would “make up” for the coercion. As though it actually made anything better…
He sent me videos of self-harming until I agreed. Literal videos of him cutting himself. Now that I am older, I realize they could have been fake, but I genuinely do not think they were. I think he’s just that fucking crazy. He sent me a photo of him holding scissors or a knife to his neck.
At some point, I got fed up with this and confided in Kay and some others. I told them what was happening with myself and W. Little did I know, however, that Kay and W had grown extremely close “behind the scenes.” Kay took his side, initially refusing to believe me at all. Eventually, Kay changed tactics and joined the whole “its your responsibility to keep him alive!” argument. Kay said it would be my fault if he killed himself.
I talked to other friends about it, who had no ties to Kay or W. They tried to help me get out of this mess. We, for whatever reason, thought faking my death would be the best route. For obvious reasons, this wasn’t going to work. So I resorted to serious considerations of actually dying. W found out about the friends trying to help me and started harassing and manipulating them as well.
So I was depressed, anxious, and stuck in a relationship wherein my sole responsibility was to be this man’s source of ametuer porn. He obviously didn’t love me, but he tried his hardest to keep up the facade. Until, I found out who he did love.
She was who he was actually dating this whole time. Probably before we even met. How he kept all his shit secret, I’ll never know. But he did. I found her and told her everything, how it wasn’t just me that he was engaging with.
She was an 18-year-old southerner. I’ll refer to her as L. She immediately noticed that I was much younger than herself and W, and replaced her feelings of betrayal with that of disgust and anger. She publicly called him out, warned other people of W, posted his full name and address for others to see. She called him what he was: predatory.
W had everything (poorly) planned though, which shows how deliberate this whole scheme was. He predicted something like this happening. He had initially told us an old address, altered his family member’s names, and used a vaguely fake name (W claimed his middle name was his first name, and his first name was his middle name). We then had difficulty determining what was and wasn’t true.
I deleted all my photos and videos of him, as well as our chat logs, to save myself anxiety. I later regretted this when he claimed I was abusing him the whole time, and took many things I said out of context. I did, however, send some of the photos to another electronic device and stored them there. And this morning, I found them again.
The images of him, an adult man, sexting me. The image of him holding a blade to his neck to threaten me with suicide. General selfies. And a few screenshots of our conversations and of those friends had sent to me of their discussions with him.
I didn’t find out until after the ordeal was over, thanks to the help of L, but W had also been trying to lure a girl even younger than myself into his trap. Her name was Emma, and I never found out how it turned out with her. But I pray she wasn’t as senseless as I was.
In addition to that, he had been sending people the photos of myself that he received as some sort of game or way of profit. Essentially, he was selling and trading child pornography….of myself, and presumably others. He primarily sent these to men in foreign countries, perhaps as a means of avoiding charges, because maybe I had been of age of consent in other places of the world. Maybe those nations didn’t care for child safety. I don’t know.
Either way, I know my photos are out there. God only knows how many people and where. But this is why if someone ever says to me “your cleavage is showing” or something like that, I would jokingly respond “But who hasn’t already seen it?” Most people assumed I was joking about my promiscuity, but it was actually a reference to this experience…that virtually no one knows about.
Every now and then some story pops up where some popular YouTuber has been coercing young fans into sexting. I see so many people defend those men with “it’s their (young girls) fault if they choose to send the nudes!” and “Why should we feel sorry for little sluts ruining a man’s life with their own choices!” Those young fans are consistently called “stupid.” And maybe they are. But it doesn’t change the fact that no one should be coercing or shaming another person into any intimate act. Nor does it change the fact that they are children whose minds aren’t yet matured and they cannot consent. We need to stop blaming the victim, even if they victim is an idiot. Even if the victim didn’t make the right choices. Even if the victim isn’t a “pure angel” or whatever the hell else.
I think part of what made me, personally, particularly vulnerable in my situation was abuse I had experienced at another time. It was far more disgusting and physical than in this circumstance. And far less people know about it. But I wouldn’t be able to write about it without it being obvious who the the other person was. It would remove the anonymity, so I can’t really discuss this until much, much later in my life. If ever….
I don’t exactly care about what has happened to me. I am, effectively, “over” my past. If my experiences still affect me at all, it is subconsciously. My problem isn’t what all has happened, but the fact that so much of it is secret. The fact that I can’t really talk about these things with anyone. The fact that it all seems very surreal. It’s as though the me who has experienced those things is entirely different than who I am now.
When I think of myself, I in some way see who I aspire to be, rather than who I actually am. When other people look at me, it is almost like they’re seeing someone else. When I look in a mirror, it doesn’t feel like me. I know it is, of course. But there is always something off.
Alternatively, I occasionally forget what I look like. If someone is talking about me, the image that comes to mind is the me who experienced the above situation. The me with long, dyed hair and a squishy face covered in heavy makeup. At these times, when I look in a mirror, I’m surprised at how much…better I look now. How I look more like I feel.
I almost have three different identities, or concepts of myself. In order of how frequently I see myself as each in my mind:
- Ideal: The me who is constantly progressing in life. The educated guy who tries to help others. The talented, rational guy who will live far from here eventually. The guy who is efficient.
- Past: The cringey girl who thinks with her heart, if she ever thinks at all. The pseudorevolutionary. She sometimes has trouble determining the legitimacy or authenticity of things. She doesn’t have a reason to live, so she lets other people give her that reason.
- Present: The butch lesbian-looking mediocre student who doesn’t have anything going on in life. Unreliable, inefficient. Forgettable. Only holding onto life because maybe I’ll be who I think I am one day.
I know I am only one of these things. But I can’t help picturing the others in my mind. Maybe one day I won’t have this bizarre problem. Hopefully addressing my past will help…