I did my Ask The Girlfriend Gyno chat in front of 400 students at Sonoma State University this week, and during my talk, I spoke about how I believe talking about your vagina can be very healing. After all, not only is the vagina where we create life and experience pleasure; it’s also where many traumas happen — sexual molestation, rape, abortion, childbirth traumas, painful experiences at the gynecologist’s office, and traumatic sex. When we don’t release these traumas, they fester and manifest in ways we might not even associate with the original trauma. They might express as depression, eating disorders, or chronic pelvic pain. But when we talk about our vaginas, when we seek solace in the company of others, we set ourselves free.
After the talk, dozens of college students came up to me to thank me and give me a hug. Several said, “I’ve been molested and your words were so healing.” And one of them asked me if I would be willing to write a post about girls who have been violated, either through childhood sexual abuse or rape. And so this one’s for you, S, and all the others out there who have been hurt.
An Open Letter To Those Who Have Been Violated
I’m so very, very sorry for what you experienced. I wish I could wave a magic wand and take it all away, but since I can’t, I can only outstretch my arms to tell you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you did absolutely nothing wrong. You may not believe me. You may have been telling yourself stories for decades — stories about how you asked for it, how you dressed inappropriately, how you led someone on, how you drank too much, how you should have been more cautious, how you could have prevented what happened. But these are only stories. Nobody ever deserves to be abused, no matter what. You did nothing wrong. You are innocent.
I am blessed to have never been molested or raped, but sadly, there are too few people like me out there. The statistics show that about 1/3 of women in the US have been sexually abused in some way. In places like Africa, this number may be much higher. Do you understand what that means? That means that when you go to the grocery store and look at the women standing in line, one in three of the women you see have been violated sexually. Which means that you are SO not alone. Everywhere you look someone else has suffered the way you have. And you don’t need to carry that by yourself any longer.
You also don’t have to keep secrets. You may be afraid to tell anyone about what happened. You may fear that others will judge you. You may worry that family members won’t believe you if you tell them that your seemingly jolly Grandpappy was sneaking into your bedroom after you fell asleep. You may question your own memory and wonder if you’re making things up. You may want to avoid hurting others.
You may think you asked for it, when you got all dressed up in your sexiest Madonna look-alike costume or when you drank all those beers. You may think you deserved it because you were stoned or you went home with some guy you barely knew or you were dancing awfully close right before it happened. You may feel angry at yourself for not saying “No” more forcefully. You may have consented — or even enjoyed the attention — because you were too young to know better and sexual molestation can feel a lot like love. Only it’s not. It’s abuse. And you didn’t deserve to be touched that way.
You may feel guilty. Or dirty. Or slutty. You may feel like damaged goods. You may have confronted your abuser or pressed charges or told your therapist, your doctor, or your husband. Or you may have buried your secret so deep in your pelvis that you’re barely even aware of it in your conscious brain, but your body knows. And it may have shut down because of this.
You might be like Mildred, who after being molested as a child, started using her vagina like a purse — stuffing keys, pens, wads of money, and lipstick in her vagina because it had done nothing but cause her trouble so she figured she’d put it to good use. You might have avoiding thinking about your vagina altogether. Or you might be putting it out there on display because you’re dying for someone to love you because you just can’t love yourself.
You may find yourself avoiding intimacy, resisting talking about your girly parts, and cursing your feminine body. You may feel like being female is what got you in trouble in the first place. You may feel pissed off — and you would have every right to feel that way. You have my permission to punch your pillow, to scream bloody murder on a quiet mountaintop, to write a letter to your abuser that you may never send, or to seek help from a therapist or crisis counselor.
You also have my permission to live a vital, glorious, joyful life filled with mojo. I don’t want to diminish anything you’ve experienced in the past, but that was then. This is now. You are beautiful and whole and untarnished and perfect, just the way you are right this moment. Every single experience in your life has made you exactly who you are today, and that person is worthy of so much goodness and love.
If you’ve healed the traumas of your past, bless you for doing the courageous inner work it often requires in order to move beyond such ordeals. You have my utmost respect and all my love. If these wounds still plague you, please, please, pretty please get help. See a therapist. Tell your story. Ask your body what she needs to feel healthy, vital, and joyful. Talk to those you trust. Take workshops. Attend support groups. Whatever you need to help facilitate your personal healing and growth. Life is just too short not to revel in the richness of the full experience of living a full, authentic life.
Most importantly, know that you are loved. Your body is beautiful and whole. Your vagina is precious and wondrous. You deserve to be touched, to feel pleasure, to be cherished, to know joy, to live bountifully, to radiate sparkles of a life fully expressed. You deserve to heal.
I’m a gynecologist, not a therapist, so my words might not resonate with you, and that’s cool. Take anything I say with a grain of salt. But listen to your own intuition and find your own path back to yourself. Remember, you already have all that you need to have all that you want. I swear. It’s true.
Regardless, do your body a favor and bless her now. Try doing a body blessing every day. I don’t want to diminish what you’ve experienced by suggesting I have some two bit cure for you — I don’t. But there are so many tools out there that can help you take the next step if you feel you need it. So please — check in with yourself and find out what you need. We are here for you…