Warning for this post: talk about rape, abuse, and intimate body parts.
When I was a child, I was beaten on my ass, most of all by my father. The word used was “spanking”, but I consider that a euphemism, so I will call it being “hit” or “beaten” here.
It’s hard to describe how horrible this was for me. Though I’ve never been raped, I think it must be a similar sensation; the feeling of having all your bodily autonomy taken from you, the feeling of someone affirming that you are an object and that he does what he likes with you. Incidentally the anus is a sexual area, and being hit there did cause unwanted sexual stimulation, so in that way I guess it could be considered some kind of rape.
I’m speaking rather clinically about this because to go into the actual emotions of my beatings would be too much to handle at the moment. For my young mind they were impossible, impossible. So horrible I couldn’t fit it into my head. I tried my best to black it all out. That’s all I can say, and I’ll leave you to try and fill in the details in your imagination.
The trauma from this has lasted until the present, though I’ve done a lot of work to try and shift it. I still have horrible dreams where my father attacks me in this way, or where we are physically fighting. When I was small I fantasised about hurting him back in some way, doing something to make me feel less powerless. And so in my dreams I’m sometimes fighting with him physically. Sometimes he’s winning, sometimes I’m winning, but he never seems to react to the hurt I deal him, and I still feel powerless and horrible.
For a very long time, I would have an acute feeling of discomfort in my butt whenever I felt shame. That seemed to mostly go away as I began to heal some of my worst feelings of self-hatred. But still, I notice that my sphincter still tightens reflexively when I feel shame. One time I was meditating, and very aware of what was going on in my thoughts and my body. In this state, I saw a shameful thought flit across my mind, and as an instant reaction to that thought, I noticed my sphincter tighten.
Actually, I think my sphincter is pretty much tight all the time. I think so because I can cause it to relax if I focus. But as soon as I don’t focus, it tightens up again.
I suspect that this constant tension was probably a cause of my long term illness, diagnosed as Crohn’s disease. The disease affected my intestines, not too far away from the part of my body I was constantly straining away at.
Interestingly, when you look at Crohn’s sufferers you can see a pattern of people who had some serious emotional issues stemming from childhood. I would be curious to see statistics on how many Crohn’s sufferers had been beaten as children.
The moral of this story? Don’t beat your children, and don’t “spank” them thinking that that is any different. It has taken me years of work to become functional after the way I was treated as a child, and it may take many more years of work for me to fully get over it… if I ever do.
I know some people try to argue that there is some kind of need to hit children, or some benefit in doing so. I know these people are more common in the UK and USA, where it is still legal to hit children, and are vanishingly few in countries where it is illegal. But no matter how hard they argue, my trauma remains.