When sex and love are not one and the same
A heart-breaking work of staggering honesty: Sins of My Faith. In this Soul’s Code exclusive, a woman who lost her innocence to incest explains why she did not “out” her abuser
BY MARINA GIULLIANI: It’s commonly understood that incest refers to “sexual acts between close relatives”, but I know from first-hand experience that incest is a heinous act that no dictionary definition could possibly prepare you for.
Fondled by a respected member of our family, from the time I was much too young to know what havoc the guilt of sexual pleasure would bestow on my future, I lost my innocence to incest.
At one time I would have agreed with those who claim that rape is a far more serious abuse than touching. But now that I’ve put all the pieces together, it’s apparent that my subconscious made no such distinction.
My abuser was loving, fun and endlessly funny. I adored him, and I delighted in the extra attention he gave me because where he touched me made me feel good all over. As I grew older and learned more about what was appropriate when it came to personal boundaries, whenever his “indiscretions” crossed my mind, I suppressed them — trusting that he could never have meant to do what his actions implied. I could not possibly consider it to be abuse.There was too much pleasure.
What transpired after many years of loveless unions meant, that for me, sex and love could not be part of the same relationship.
Why I continue to guard my secret
I believe what occurs in our lives does not happen by accident or coincidence. I feel strongly that not realizing the full extent of what happened and why, until after my father died, meant that I was not intended to expose the perpetrator. My Dad would have been devastated — and since this man isn’t with us any longer, no other child requires protection from his actions.
I’ve chosen to publish under an alias so his (the abuser’s) only living child, now over 80 years old, will not have to endure the pain of knowing his father was a sexual predator. Keeping silent means the rest our family can continue to remember him for the things they choose, and none of them will suffer anxiety from not coming to my rescue when it happened.
Most importantly, an alias means that part of my life is truly over. A very angry woman wrote this book eight years ago. Reviewing it now, I hear the language of a fearful and confused little girl. As I’ve healed, the anger and fear have fallen away, and the person I’ve become is free to move on.
However, throughout the extensive healing work I’ve done, no source has ever explained that sexual pleasure at such an impressionable age wreaks the same emotional anguish as sexual pain. The purpose of this book is to bring the effects of this type of abuse to the forefront so other women recognize what has happened to them and will seek help. The only credentials I bring to this subject are my personal experiences and I offer them with love.
I seemed to have everything, yet was never satisfied
Mine was a regular childhood in an upper-middle-class family, the product of Italian Catholic heritage, and third generation Canadian. I had everything I needed and almost everything I wanted. I was totally spoiled without being spoiled rotten. Like most kids from my generation, I was polite when mom and dad were around and a complete brat when they weren’t.
I had a mean streak a mile-wide, and could be the sweetest child you’d ever want to meet. But whatever the situation, my tongue never stopped wagging. That said, I can’t believe I’ve kept my secret this long.
My parents did all the right things. Dad never ran around with other women. He worked hard, and even though neither of my parents were inclined to “keep up with the Jones’,” mom held a job to supplement the head of the household’s income.
They learned to be parents together, providing love, comfort and joy the best way they knew how.
And they always supported each other’s decisions with key messages like: “What did your mother/father say?”
Mom and dad did their best to encourage my older sister Angie and me, even when their best advice was, “perhaps you should take a secretarial course just so you have something to fall back on.” They were supported by, and trusted their Catholic beliefs.
Though the successes in my life have been abundant, I’d never felt truly satisfied. Mom and Dad gave me a solid start. I have an incredibly-loving husband, a house in the country and loyal friends.
I’ve had bigger jobs, better pay and plenty of responsibility that I’d carried with ease. I’d been riding the roller coaster of “when will I ever feel fulfilled,” for as long as I could remember.
But there was no evidence in my life that pointed to the cause of this discontent, until after my father fell ill with cancer, and died nine months later.