I was not traumatized

Brief report by the American writer Dan Savage about intimate experiences in his childhood.

Source: Article ‘Savage Love - I’m For Forbes’ by Dan Savage; The Stranger; 29 July 1999


According to The New York Times, the study concluded that the effects of childhood sexual abuse, or CSA, “were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women…. They {also} argued that treating all forms of sexual abuse equally presents problems that, the researchers wrote, ‘are perhaps most apparent when contrasting cases such as the repeated rape of a 5-year-old girl by her father and the willing sexual involvement of a mature 15-year-old adolescent boy with an unrelated adult.’ The authors also suggested that the term ‘adult-adolescent sex’ or ‘adult-child sex’ be substituted, in some cases, for ‘child sexual abuse.'”

What’s the problem here? Researchers reviewed the data and discovered that just how fucked up people were by CSA depends to a great extent on how old they were, what they did, and with whom. Why is this controversial? Speaking as a survivor of CSA - sex at 14 with a 22-year-old woman; sex at 15 with a 30-year-old man - I can back the researchers up: I was not traumatized by these technically illegal sexual encounters. Indeed, I initiated them and cherish their memory. My experience is not at all uncommon, especially among men, and it’s absurd to think that what I did at 15 (and what was done to me) would even be considered “child sexual abuse,” or lumped together with the incestuous rape of a five-year-old girl.